I left off somewhere right before the exciting time of finding out the sexes of the babies. Around this point, I was just starting to believe I was pregnant. Nevermind the four or so ultrasounds leading up to this, they could be witchcraft for all I know. I needed to see my belly grow and find out what really makes them human: their genitalia. Bobby was and is an amazing partner. He went to about 83% of my 1,052 OB/GYN visits. We, of course, were really anticipating this all important appointment. Although, I must confess, I already knew the answer. I knew they were boys. About an entire year before I last said good-bye to my fe
male hygiene products, I announced to Bobby that one day I would produce boys. And strangely enough, I had used the plural as well. I'll never forget seeing them on the screen that day. More fascinating than their little penises was how their heads looked like little babies. I could see their nose, their mouths, even their hands greeting their lips for the first time.
And now it was time to start worrying. Now I was in love and I started to fear all that could go wrong. When you're pregnant with twins, nobody ever feels the need to share the wonderful stories about being pregnant with twins. I even had one man tell me it was the worst year of his life after his wife gave birth to two boys. Your life is consumed with worrying week to week about their development and a particularly new body part that I had never paid much attention to, my cervix. It was to operate like the Hoover Dam and if it would at all start to fail me, I'd be doomed to a hospital bed. Talk about pressure, no pun intended.
Luckily, I had a wedding to worry about that helped take the stress off of my
burgeoning belly and instead something much more important, what size and shape flowers would be appropriate for the middle of tables. I had to return my beautiful, skinny dress and pick out something a bit more 'forgiving'. I stopped worrying about being my most beautiful self and just worrying that there would be enough fabric to let the dress out by my wedding day. I confess, I wondered if Bobby would be disappointed he didn't have the thin, sharp-witted Tammy on October 25th that he did two years prior. I was getting tired, fat, and a bit grumpy. Amazingly, all of our wedding plans came together in spite of it all and we had an amazing party. We both fought back tears saying our vows to one another, we both were giddy at the thought of being Mr. and Mrs., and we had an amazing party. I had not had a happier day up until that moment. I knew I was making the right decision. That hadn't happened that often before, so not only did I have an absolute trust in my new husband, but I gained a renewed faith in myself. We had a glorious week off from work and focused on each other. We both knew that our lives as newlyweds would be short-lived as we were jumping into parenthood, so we needed to make the most of it. He has always been the person I could tell anything to, even when there was no reason for him to listen. We spent a lot of time talking, dreaming, and laughing that week. It was a sad reality when the freedom came to an end and we realized we didn't have huge trust funds to live off of and needed to return to work.
I made the choice to continue working. I was really afraid to stop working, working was my life. I thrive off of meeting goals, accomplishing the next step, and finding I've made a good decision. In fact, when I eventually cut back to three days a week, I cried. And not just once. I cried every time I realized the world went on without me: decisions were still made, business went on, and nobody asked me. I felt dispensable. Perhaps it was more than a feeling, may
be I WAS dispensable. In my short-sightedness, I couldn't get past this. I believed that while I was home with my babies, I would long for work. Work had become like a naughty relationship; you knew there were parts of it that brought out the worst in you and made you do things you'd never have done before, but it felt oh-so-good and you could always call it late at night when nobody else wanted you.
Luckily, I'm not a completely two-dimensional person and have another growing part of me. This part is a bit jagged, since it's still growing and I haven't nurtured it much, but it's there. As my belly swelled, so did my need to clean my plastics and put them in the recycling bin. I used to throw them with a touch of arrogance and a lot of eagerness into the trash prior to impending motherhood. I suppose, in my little way, I started to realize I wanted the world to be perfect for my boys to arrive in and their mom to be a little bit of a better person. I wanted to break out all of my old CD's, put on a sundress, kick off my socks and dream about how I would hold my babies, with longer, more natural looking hair while converting to vegetarianism. Yes, apparently motherhood equals 1960's transient hip
pie in my mind. By the time December rolled around, I was a full 30 pounds heavier than my usual self and fully believing that I would be a mom by January. Since every person I came across, whether it was my doctor, a friendly stranger, the grocery store clerk needed to tell me that I would be having premature babies. After all, every set of twins born was doomed to the NICU. I prepared myself for this, perhaps too much. Becoming obsessed, I spent countless hours on the old, completely accurate method of information gathering: the internet. I read everything that could go wrong, no everything that WILL go wrong. At this point, I was going to the doctor every week. This doesn't help your nerves. I had the nursery ready by week 30, I cleaned the house top to bottom every weekend since the babies would be in my arms by the next.
There was something hilarious about my pregnancy. Everyone told me how little my belly was. This wascompletely untrue as you can see by the lovely picture to the right. I think it proves the point that most people will tell you the exact opposite of the truth if they know it will preserve your feelings. It wasn't until I saw this picture, taken the night before my delivery, that I really started to question if everybody was on hallucinagenic drugs in my close circle of friends and family. Maybe they weren't all as well-adjusted as I had previously thought. That belly was an amazing obstacle to contend with. It was beautiful, painful, ugly, and most importantly, grossly uncomfortable. My skin gave up on me around week 32. It just decided I was asking too much and began the dreaded process of stretch marks and the unbearable itch. The weight of it made me become intimately aware of that otherwise silent body part, the cervix. There was no sleep to be had, every part of me hurt. My left leg had gone numb around week 24 and didn't start to regain feeling until after their birth. As the doctor so eloquently put it, "Your uterus is just too huge." Gee, thanks. I admit, at this point I was secretly (well, maybe not so secretly) wishing that the babies would come early. I figured I was past the dangerous zone of 35 weeks and I was really anticipating their arrival. Although, at this point it was still a completely selfish request. imagine my dread and disappointment when I found myself still getting ultrasounds at week 36, 37, and 38. The irony is, after everyone had told me to worry so much about premature birth, the doctor now told me they would be inducing my labor at 38.5 weeks. I skipped out of the office that day. Although, the reality of being a mother still was not real.
I worked my last day, the day before my induction. I tied up all my loose ends, I worked late, and I cried as I left my desk. It is really very true that with the birth of anything new your life (in this case, quite the literal sense) usually is accompanied with the mourning of something else. I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep that night. I packed my bag, re-checked it, checked it again. Walked in and out of the nursery, out and then in. I made sure the molding was clean and that all of the spices in the kitchen were hanging on the rack. I kept saying to Bobby, "Can you believe this is going to happen?". I had no idea what I was in for. I had nonchalantly disregarded child-birthing classes. In all of my arrogance I believed they could teach me nothing. I was having twins, I was sure they couldn't help me. At about three in the morning before I went to the hospital, I was really wishing I had considered them. I had watched birthing shows over and over again, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Would I know how to control my pain? Would I even know when to push?
Speaking of pushing, I was one of the lucky few who was going to be able to deliver my twins the good, ole' fashioned way. It all comes down to the stress of the babies, how they're positioned, and the general confidence of the doctor who is delivering you. Delivering you. Funny I chose that phrase instead of delivering the babies. It's the one doctor in your life who has the pleasure and gift of delivering you. Delivering you into motherhood. You'll never go back.
It was my doctor's rule that a twin delivery must be accompanied by an epidural. I suppose this made me feel safe. Bobby and I headed to the hospital at 4:30 am. I was scheduled to begin at 5:00 am. It was a completely surreal moment for both of us. We chit-chatted normally, not realizing the incredibleness of the day. Once we got there, the early morning nurse crew greeted us, told me to change into my sexy gown, and began wiring me up. I was already used to this wiring process. Most women who are having a baby are getting wired for the first time when they deliver their baby, but for the mother of twins, this is old hat. They strap two monitors on you, one for each baby, and another to measure your contractions. They started my IV of fluids and then began my IV of pitocin. This was the 'it' drug. This was going to make it happen. I suppose I thought it was going to go quickly. I don't know why I thought this, I probably read it on some silly website devoted to sweating pregnant women. So we waited. People started to show up to stand on the sidelines around 11am. Naturally, this was when the pain really started. I had felt contractions for weeks now, it's just something that happens with a multiple gestation but I had never felt anything like this. Now this was real. I was instantly hot. My whole body felt like a vice was squeezing it. My contractions were coming every 2 minutes now, which was to be expected with the 'chemically-induced labor' I was experiencing. The doc came in to check me. I nearly burst into tears when she informed me I was only 4 cm along. I knew that meant I would be laboring for some time more. I dealt with this pain for about another 2 hours when tears just started uncontrollably coming out of my eyes. I realized I was a wuss. I could actually hear the tag-line for the Hefty garbage bags commercial in my head, "wimpy, wimpy, wimpy". For some reason, I had in my head that I would gleefully take on labor and only get the epidural when I was 'forced' to by the doctor because it was 'required'. Well, it was required. Right now. I rang the nurse and demanded drugs. She smiled and called for the anesthesiologist. That particular doctor renewed all faith I had in the medical community. I could almost see the white glow emanating from her as she swept through the room with her beautiful cart of needles, medicines, and sanitary wipes. As soon as the epidural was placed and the medicine administered, I sat back, felt the pleasant warmness throughout my body and smiled at the doctor. I told her how much I loved her, would she like to come over for tea sometime, and I'd never met someone quite like her before. She gave me an awkward smile and told me "Thanks". Apparently, she didn't see us going off into the sunset hand in hand quite like I did.
The hours were passing us by. At this point, I decided that I just wasn't going to be giving birth. They probably would stay in there forever and I would have to attend elementary school again so that they could begin to learn their ABC's and 123's. Dr. Black, my OB/GYN was this sweet, compassionate doctor. Every time she would check me and deliver bad news, she assured me that it was inevitable that I would be wheeled into the operating room eventually (when you give birth to twins, you must be in the OR regardless). Finally around 9:30, I started to feel pain again. I turned to Bobby and commented how odd this was, considering I had felt like an 80's era starlet who had just returned from 'powdering her nose' up until this point. It got worse and worse. It occurred to me I should check out the status of that cute little medicine bag hanging from the IV hooks. IT WAS EMPTY. I called the nurse and explained to her that I didn't know why I was in so much pain (it didn't sink in yet that I was here, in this hospital, because I had to deliver two babies) but maybe we should check the status. Well, it was time. They let me begin to push while I was in the room before they rolled me into the glaring lights of the OR. Since my epidural had run out, I felt everything. It was exhilarating. After a bit, they decided I was close enough that we needed to change location. Once they asked me to stop pushing, I immediately felt sick. I was going to get sick. All over myself. In the hallway. Luckily, the nurses who were rolling my bed banged my arm into the wall and almost tore out all of my IV's. It hurt like hell. As they were apologizing profusely, I thanked them because I had totally forgotten about getting sick. The OR was bright and not nearly as comfy as my room. I had to switch beds. There were now around 25 people in this tiny room. Nurses, pediatricians-in-waiting, Dr. Black, other OB's, a few doctors who hadn't witnessed a twin birth before who were still learning .... yes, I was a freak show. As soon as they strapped me in, the whole room started yelling at me. It was awesome. They all looked like I felt, determined, focused, just plain old mad. You will never in your life feel so connected to a room full of people as you do when they are sharing the birth of your child(ren). As my little Ben was making his journey, I happened to catch eyes with one young man who was training to be an ER physician. His eyes were huge. I may have convinced him he never wants to see a woman naked ever again.
I was never so focused in all my life. I felt Bobby's hands on my head. I heard his voice. He sounded so sweet and yet so excited. As soon as I heard Ben's sweet little cry, all the other people faded away. I looked into Bobby's eyes and it was a moment I will never forget. It was him, me, and our beautiful little baby. They handed me Benjamin after they bundled him up. Wow. He was mine. He was gorgeous.
This would be the moment when other moms might get to bond with their newborn and bask in the afterglow. Not for a twin mommy. This is where everybody starts to yell at you, "Okay, let's get ready for the second one." I have to do this again? Really? During my last push for Kyle I knew that if it took just one more push, I would pass out from exhaustion, so I made it worth my while. I heard his little scream and just smiled. Tears came down my cheeks and everything was real and right. When they handed Kyle to me, his little bottom lip was quivering. I kissed it and tried to make it better.
I had to be under observation for another two hours and my babies were taken up to the nursery. I don't know another better method of torture than to leave a new mom alone without her babies, her husband, or anyone for that matter. Finally, around 2am I was returned to them and I could lay in bed while holding them both. Once I saw them both in my arms, I couldn't quite grasp that just two hours prior, that had somehow fit inside my belly.
Let's fast forward here. Motherhood is amazing, to say the least. I think it goes without saying that you will never love another human being quite as much as your children. They could keep me awake all night long and all the next day, and I still smile at them every time I hold them. I can't say that for anyone else. They can pee and poop on me, and I find it cute. I definitely can't say that for anyone else. They were born both around 6 pounds and now at 3 months, they are more than double that. Luckily for me, I have not doubled my own body weight in that time. Their smiles could disarm the most cold of hearts. The way they instantly stop crying as soon as I hold them is something I hope we share for many years to come.
This isn't to say that new motherhood isn't all daisies and rainbows. The days of doing what I want to do are long gone and probably not going to return for quite a while. Every two hours, no matter what I want to do, these two little lives will want to eat. My entire day revolves around eating, pooping, and timing all events around these two blessed events. I find a trip to the grocery store as exciting as I might have found an all-night party in college. Those images of me floating around the house with my natural hair and pretty sundresses, while tending to my children were wild fantasies. Most of the time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realize I look like a shloppy, disheveled woman who has forgotten that pants come in anything other than 'drawstring'. If I realize somewhere around 2pm that I haven't brushed my teeth, I wonder if the boys have been mad at me up until that point giving them kisses with my yucky morning breath. Bobby returns home from work to find a very different person who has replaced his original wife. This 'replacement' can sometimes be grumpy, always grateful to see another adult, and overly obsessed with Clorox-ing the counters.
But then every night, the most wonderful thing happens. We both sit on the couch and each hold one of our precious babies. There are always smiles and rarely deadlines that need to be met while sitting on that couch. I wouldn't trade my milk-stained, knotty haired, diaper-champed world for anything.
And now I can start my blog ....