Monday, August 25, 2008

"You're joking. Seriously, you're pulling my leg, right?"

Growing up I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I was never that girl who picked up every baby she saw at family parties, but I knew that motherhood would be a part of my life. I knew I would marry my best friend and have babies.

I did marry my best friend in July 2005 after 4 years of dating. One of Rich's best attributes is his love of children. He is the kind of man who has always wanted to be a father. We wanted to wait to try until after I became tenured. We started trying in June 2006. My hope was to become pregnant by September or October so that I could be pregnant during the school year and give birth at the start of summer break. At 29, I never thought we would have trouble conceiving, but we did. It's called unexplained infertility. After testing both my husband and me for possible reasons why we were having trouble, nothing came up abnormal. I was irregular, but aren't most women?

Every month that went by caused more heartache. It also seemed that everyone we knew was getting pregnant. It was not that I was unhappy for them, but we just wondered why it was not happening for us.

So I went on a mission to do everything under the sun to help improve our chances of conceiving. If you can think of it, I tried it. Of course I did all the things my doctor recommend such as monitoring ovulation and having intercourse every other day. Well, then I took matters into my own hands. I saw an acupuncturist for 6 months to regulate my period, I took herbs, I ate more organic foods, I charted my monthly cycle and the days we had intercourse, I tried different positions, I stopped drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages, I cut down on my sugar intake, and I saw a nutritionist. After 12 months of trying, I began to lose hope. My husband never lost hope; he told me that he knew we would have a child. Our next step would be taking Clomid. My doctor recommended no more than 6 months. My husband and I decided to give it 4 months; if that did not do the trick, we would pursue IVF. Well, after 3 rounds of Clomid we were finally pregnant!!!

The morning I found out we were pregnant I was in disbelief. I became so used to seeing negative pregnancy tests that I thought this one was broken. We were on cloud 9. I was still in disbelief that we were actually pregnant. We went in for my 8-week sonogram to check the heartbeat. The sonographer just held her two fingers up. I knew immediately what she meant. Well, lo and behold, there were two tiny heartbeats. I thought, "You're joking. Seriously, you're pulling my leg, right?" I thought it was a mistake, but when I realized there were actually TWO heartbeats, I started crying immediately, not out of joy, but out of fear. I knew several women who were pregnant with twins and lost one. I knew there were all kinds of complications that arise in multiple baby pregnancies. I also weighed about 110 lbs, and thought, "How the hell is this body going to support two babies?" My husband was beaming. He was so excited, and I sat there scared and worried. That night was one of the only times I ever became nauseous and threw up. It had nothing to do with morning sickness.

After the initial shock, I was ecstatic. Two babies!!! TWO!!! We could not be anymore blessed…doubly blessed! I loved being pregnant. I was teaching high school English, and the students were wonderful to me. My pregnancy was great up until my seventh month. I only gained weight in my belly, and it was pushing down on my lower half. I could barely walk without wincing in pain. The rest of my body still looked like it did when I was 110 lbs. After a couple of visits to the hospital with contractions and a shortened cervix during weeks 29 and 30, I was put on Niphedipine to reduce the contractions and ordered to stay on bed rest. Bed rest lasted 6 weeks. It was very hard on me emotionally and physically. I left my career without saying goodbye to any co-workers or my students because I was put on bed rest during spring break. My body was already so sore from pregnancy, but it became worse when I was not getting any exercise whatsoever. My father who is retired moved in with us to take care of me. We credit him with the health of our twins.

We initially feared that the babies would arrive too early, but I actually had to be induced at 38 weeks and 5 days. My son and daughter were born on May 23rd, 2008, after a long labor and a grueling 3 and a half hour vaginal delivery. Both Quinn and Keira had to be vacuumed, and I almost had to have an emergency C-section for Keira whose heart rate dropped, but the vacuum worked in time. Quinn weighed 6 lbs. 6.5 oz., and Keira weighed 6 lbs. 12.5 oz. My small frame supported those babies much longer than any of us expected. (Thanks, dad!)

The first few weeks home with the twins were quite trying. The hardest time for me was the week my husband went back to work after his paternity leave ended. I had a major meltdown every day. We don't have help, so I am doing this all day every day until 7 when my husband gets home from work. It was also an adjustment going from having a career outside the home to being at home alone every day with our babies. It was hard because I have worked since I was 16, and now I am a stay-at-home mom. I no longer contribute financially and I do not have regular adult interaction each day. I have to say that I am TOTALLY over those two things. I make sure I get out at least once a day with the babies whether it's to take a walk, go shopping, get together with other moms, or visit family.

After the first month we now have a nice routine, and Keira and Quinn sleep between 8 and 11 hours each night. I breastfed them for one month, but it became too much. Doing the football hold with two babies is something I will never forget!

Everyone says, "You must have your hands full." Any parent with a newborn has his or her hands full. The great thing about being a parent of multiples the first time is that you do not know any different. For example, holding a bottle up to Quinn's mouth with my left foot, holding a bottle to Keira's mouth with my right hand, and waiting on hold with the pediatrician's office while looking up directions online is completely normal for me!

Keira and Quinn are almost 3 and a half months old. The babies are content, and their blossoming personalities make me melt. I feel like they've been a part of our life forever. All of the problems with trying to conceive, the stress over having twins, the complications with the pregnancy, the extremely difficult labor and delivery, the pizza dough-like belly, the stretch marks, and the initial baby blues are all worth it. Keira and Quinn are a double blessing (and double the trouble!). We are so grateful to have them in our life. I cannot wait to see what life holds for them.

~Erin Leland

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