Monday, May 11, 2009


I would guess that Mother's Day had something to do with my thoughts. I thought about why I was now a member of the group being celebrated. I thought about the births of my children - three kids, but two birth stories. Lorelei and Sawyer don't get the individualized tale of their entry into the world until it comes to the part about "one minute later..." Annabella loves to hear the story of when she was born; about how I had to wake up her daddy twice, because the first time I told him I was having a baby he said, "Uh-huh" and went back to sleep. I wonder if the twins will embrace their shared story or feel frustrated by it - their earliest lessons in sharing.

More than my children, though, I was thinking about myself (how often does that happen anymore?) I was thinking about how you can think you have plans, but all they amount to is thoughts in your head. Life changes in an instant.

I knew that Annabella wouldn't be an only child. I wanted three. Charlie thought maybe two would be plenty, and even briefly tried to suggest sticking with the one we already had, but I won't share that discussion, beyond the fact that it wasn't pretty. So that positive pregnancy test was beautiful.

I thought about the future. I would probably be going back to work. It was amazing staying home with Annabella, but our budget was showing the strain of trying to fit three people's needs into the small space provided by one paycheck. However, the timing seemed great. By my own calculations I would be due March 17 - almost exactly 2 years after Annabella. I could enjoy the long summer home with the kids, then return to teaching in the fall. We would look for a new house - something bigger and newer, after our adventures in this first experiment. We had a new car, an Xterra, that would be perfect for the bigger stroller I would need, and all the other extras that would come with a new baby. I even went so far as to think about the next pregnancy. I wondered if we'd have all girls. If we should space them evenly. If it would be this easy to conceive again. And then I didn't think as much, because I just felt too tired to think. Too sick to think. I was six weeks pregnant and it felt different. Little did I know how different it would be.

Charlie came with me for the first ultrasound. It isn't a huge deal, but in a normal pregnancy where you only get two chances to see that little bean in your belly, it was worth missing a little work. Annabella went with GeeGee. I sat there in the waiting room, looking at other pregnant women, thinking about the little person inside. Then it was into the ultrasound room, undressing, and settling onto the table for our first glimpse. Our OB's office has a great set-up for ultrasound viewing. The tech has her own screen, but there is also a large, flat screen monitor on the wall so that the expectant parents can see what she is doing without hovering over her shoulder or craning backwards to peek.

She is doing the chatty thing while she gets everything situtated and ready to go, then an image appears on the screen. "What does that look like?" she asks. I'm not entirely sure what transpired after that. I think there were some curse words, some expressions of disbelief. Definitely nervous laughter and possibly a tear or two. Even trying to speak about it I still feel a touch of that uncomfortable mix of fear, adrenaline, and total confusion.

Charlie left the office. I think it was more than he could process at that moment. Or maybe he already knew too much of what it meant, being a twin himself. I called my mother. She screamed. She said, "You'll have to get a new car. A minivan." Little did I realize then how right she was. I texted my sister that there was big news. She guessed - I don't know how. I sat there, shaky, somewhere between joy and terror. Everything in my life had changed in an instant.

Adjusting to twin pregnancy wasn't a pretty picture for me. After those first hours of feeling giddy with new information, it all started to sink in. I thought about Boogs - about the ways in which this was going to change her life. I thought about money. I worried obsessively. My thoughts veered back and forth in an instant. I convinced myself that I was going to have a vanishing twin. I couldn't decide whether I would feel relief if that was the case. I worried about bedrest, early delivery, complications, birth defects. I worried and worried and worried.

I don't know when it changed. I'm not sure it ever completely changed, but after a while the idea of it wasn't so terrifying. It was scary - I had lived with one newborn before and now there would be two! - but it wasn't so bad that I felt sick just thinking about it. There were scares - vision issues, headaches, signs of early labor that meant steroid shots and medications to stop contractions. Suddenly those things were all behind me and I was going in for my scheduled c-section, facing another fear necessitated by the fact that the wiggle worms wouldn't spin around in there.

How did their arrival change things? I never thought anything would change my life more than becoming a parent, but becoming a parent to twins was more life changing than I could ever have imagined. I knew that adding a second child would be an adjustment, but adding two at once threw my life into chaos.

The first six months with three children were an exercise in survival. I don't know that I slept longer than a three hour stretch in all those months. Some nights I was up every hour. I changed diapers, prepared meals, nursed, cuddled, comforted, and cried. I felt like the world was going on beyond my door, but I was stuck in this hazy place where there were only needs, all the time, very few of them my own.

The real changes are so much more than that, though. The change of plans. There is no job. No new house. No way to plan for a future that seems completely in question. Maybe this was a gift to me. Gifts aren't always what you want - any honest child will tell you that. But sometimes, what seems like the wrong size or color at first ends up being something special. Something amazing. Something that makes you feel like it was meant for you.

My children have taught me more in their short lives than I learned in all the years before they came. They taught me that life keeps coming, whether you are ready for it or not. I'm so glad that they were there to help me learn that lesson. It's a hard one to learn, but they are gentle and beautiful teachers.

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