Sunday, August 24, 2008

Multiple McNuggets

My husband, Charlie, and I were married in December 2003. We started trying for children almost right away. Each month I would wait expectantly for a chance to test, but each month I instead greeted an unwelcome monthly visit. I began charting. Everything seemed to be in working order, but things weren't happening.

After a year of trying I made an appointment to discuss my options. First there was an HSG, then a prescription for Clomid. Ever hopeful, I decided to wait to fill it until I started my period.

The day I was supposed to start was Fathers' Day. That morning I decided I might as well use my last test. It was a cheapie one, but slowly it seemed there were two lines appearing. Wait, two lines? Charlie was still sleeping, so I jumped in the car and raced to Walmart. A digital test. Couldn't wait. Official discovery of my pregnancy? Right there in the Walmart bathroom. I got back in line and bought my husband his very first Fathers' Day card. What a perfect surprise.

After waiting so long, Annabella was such a welcome addition to our lives. I couldn't imagine anything better, except adding more little ones to our growing family. It had taken so long to conceive that we decided to stop preventing just after her first birthday. I'd been nursing and still hadn't started having periods again, so I didn't know what would happen. Just after Annabella was 15 months old I finally saw another period. It was the first time in a long time (ever?) that I was happy to have one.

The next month I realized that I was a few days late. There was no way, was there? Another positive pregnancy test and we were thrilled again. It had happened so fast - the first month we were "trying." I started feeling pregnant right away. Morning sickness returned, a problem I had faced the first time around. This time, though, it was worse. Much worse. Twice as bad. I joked that maybe that meant there were two in there. Everyone laughed. Right up until the ultrasound at my first appointment. The tech pointed to the screen and asked, "What does that look like?"

Shocked doesn't even begin to describe the feeling. I won't say I embraced the idea of twins right away. In fact, I was upset. Could we do this? Emotionally, financially, exhaustedly - how would having two babies change things? Charlie and I fought. We were both feeling the stress of things. I felt guilty about what my daughter would have to face. What had I taken away from her? I read the warnings about twin pregnancy - high risk, bedrest, preemies, problems.

My pregnancy wasn't problem free, but I did manage to avoid some major issues. I failed my first GD test, but (just barely) passed the three hour. I was checked for pre-term labor and got the steroid shots, but moderate bedrest helped. I struggled with the morning sickness, the massive weight gain, the aches and pains that carrying 15 pounds of baby can cause. By the end I couldn't walk without wincing. Making it from the car in the parking lot to the doctor's office three times a week was serious exercise. I couldn't lift my daughter, couldn't reach to put on shoes, couldn't live my life without help Yet I am thankful for every day of pain that meant the babies were growing and thriving.

I made it to 37 weeks and 5 days. Seeing those two healthy babies for the first time was more of a reward than anyone could ask. Lorelei Bradley entered the world weighing 7 pounds and 8 ounces. Sawyer Patrick was right behind her, one minute later and two ounces lighter, at 7 pounds and 6 ounces. Despite some major blood loss, two transfusions, and an extra day in the hospital I was as happy as I could be.

What have I learned from being blessed with twins? I have learned to appreciate my family. The ones who let us come live with them for a week when the first week home from the hospital our plumbing decided to push things in the wrong direction. The ones who showed up every day to hold babies, to let me sleep, to encourage me, to feed me, to show their love. I have learned that laundry smells like a hermit crab cage when you leave it in the washer for days. I have learned that sometimes an episode of Curious George will appease a two year old and let you get babies to nap in peace. I have learned that everything worth having in life is hard work: my marriage, my children, my life. I worry about the future - about money and our little house that seems to shrink every day and insurance and keeping these kids as healthy as they started out and everything that pops into my head when I finally manage to get three kids in a bed and have a minute to sleep. More than that, I smile. I laugh. I feel my heart bursting with joy at just how lucky one person can be.

My support through all of this, my other "family" who I'll probably never get to meet, has been the girls who are all a part of this blog, of our board. As a mom to three under three, there isn't much time in the day to do things for yourself, but I always try to find the time to check in on the board. I see myself in others, whether through their struggles or successes. I've found a place where others can understand the unique frustrations, challenges, and joys of having two or more together. The obstacles of nursing and napping, the mommy guilt over giving more attention to one or the other (or the other!), the questions about strollers and cribs, diapers and cars, pre-term labor and how on earth you can get them to sleep. I'm grateful each day for my children and for the fact that without knowing anyone in my "real" life that I can talk to about these things at all hours, I can always log on and find someone there. Love you ladies!

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