Ali Sanders remembers all the details of the day they brought their twin boys home. “The baby seats took up the whole of the back seat,” she expressed.
Her husband, Michael, was already “head over heels in love.”
“I remember Michael’s dad meeting them,” said 35-year-old Ali. “He said: “Here’s Grandad!” He was so happy. Everyone was. My parents were thrilled, too.”
They were happy and thrilled as this puts an end to Michael and Ali’s struggle to start their own family. When they were told that they were infertile, the couple threw all their efforts into adoption processes.
Their prayers were answered after Christmas in 2014 when they were approved to adopt 8-month-old identical twin boys.
“They were chunky and squidgy, with huge brown eyes,” Ali shared. “Absolutely gorgeous.”
The couple spent weeks getting to know their little ones, decorating their nursery and visiting them at the foster home.
But something was wrong with Ali. She was not “getting it,” she expressed.
“It felt like I was playing – that it wasn’t real,” she said. “What made it worse was that Michael bonded with the babies immediately. He already felt like Daddy.”
She watched Michael cooing and changing nappies but she felt nothing.
“My overriding memory is of sitting there praying that the twins wouldn’t wake up, because when they did, I’d have to go back to pretending to be a mother again,” Ali said.
The day before they were due to take the twins for good, the couple had an argument.
“Michael couldn’t understand. He said: ‘This is what you have always wanted – why aren’t you more excited?’ that made it worse, because I didn’t know why.”
Seeing her panic and misery, Michael asked her to go to a doctor after they brought the twins home. The GP asked for a urine sample and returned with shocking news: Ali was pregnant.
“I said: ‘I just can’t be’ and he asked: ‘Why?’ I said: ‘Because we are infertile and we’ve just adopted baby twins.’”
The couple drove home and Ali asked her husband to buy a pregnancy test in case the GP was wrong. But she was really pregnant.
Ali and Michael called social workers and canceled the adoption process.
“I told the social worker I didn’t think we would be able to keep the twins,” Ali tearfully said. “It was the last time I saw them. I cried and cried. I hadn’t expressed any emotion until then, but when they were taken from my arms for the last time, something inside me broke and I don’t think it will ever be fixed again.
“I don’t think the guilt will ever go. I let down these babies who had already been let down.”
Ali thinks that from the moment she became pregnant, the adoption process was doomed as her body refused to let her bond with other babies who weren’t genetically hers.
“I think it was a physical thing. The way I couldn’t connect with the twins was completely out of character. I’d always been really maternal and desperately wanted those babies.
“I think it was my body saying: “Concentrate on your baby.” I put my biological baby first and will have to live with that for the rest of my life.”
Four years later, Ali became pregnant again with their second child.
She is comforted by knowing the twins found their forever home. But whenever she sees twin boys of that age, she wonders: “Could that be them?”
Her greatest wish is that one day the twin boys will come knocking on her door.
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