A cliche saying if ever there was one, but it couldn’t be more true of my life right now, in this moment. On this day one year ago, we got the call that 11 of the 15 eggs retrieved during our first IVF procedure completed the day before had successfully fertilized. That call kicked off the most exciting and fearful journey of our life. Throughout that week, we would receive daily updates of how each embryo was progressing, knowing there was a possibility that none would be viable for transfer. At the end of that week, we were back at the doctor for the transfer. An embryologist had chosen the best of our 4 viable embryos to transfer into my body. Then we waited. 10 days later, a blood test gave us the news we’d been hoping and praying for for 2 years. We, finally, were pregnant.
We went in for our first ultrasound at 6 weeks. The doctor told us we were having twins. We were blown away – in shock and overjoyed at the same time. I remember it with full clarity – me lying on the table crying and laughing; Chris grinning from ear to ear with tears in his eyes. All of the waiting and frustration seemed to make sense when we saw those 2 little bright spots on the screen. There had been a plan for us all along.
My pregnancy was challenging. I had some heavy bleeding on and off for the first 10 weeks or so. We were scared multiple times that we wouldn’t make it to the second trimester. I developed terrible headaches that medicine and sleep couldn’t alleviate. I was insatiably hungry while also experiencing strong food aversions. I cried a lot. I eventually had to go on medicine that I would take for the length of my pregnancy in order to be able to function normally. In my third trimester, I developed gestational diabetes. I had continued to exercise and eat as best as I could manage. I was frustrated. Fortunately, I was able to manage my blood sugar solely with my diet. It seemed as soon as I got that under control, I started to swell like crazy. There were days when I could barely get out of bed and walk through the house. I started having my dad drive me to my doctor appointments and out to do errands because getting in and out of the car behind the wheel was almost impossible. Around week 34, after I had gained 14 pounds in 2 weeks, I called my doctor concerned. She ran several tests and determined that I had preeclampsia. She monitored me for a few days and made the decision at 35 weeks that it was best to move forward with an emergency c section.
There are so many things people don’t talk about regarding childbirth and those first few weeks of having a newborn (or newborns, in our case). First, no one talks about how freaking terrifying it is to have a c section. It’s major surgery. The anesthesia is no joke. We got asked if I had a living will while they were poking holes in my spine. You’re spread out on a table like you’re Jesus on the cross. Your insides become your outsides in less than 5 minutes. Neither of us dared look behind the curtain, but I’m certain it was full-on Braveheart back there. And the recovery…holy hell. When the strong stuff finally wore off, I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to walk again.
No one talks about what it’s like to have your babies taken away from you after a quick photo op and directly to the NICU where you can only see them once you hobble your way out of bed and get pushed to their room in a wheelchair. To be able to only look at them but not touch them until they are stable and safe. To get stuck in your room because your pain medication is making you sick and your blood pressure is high and have other people come in and out showing you videos and pictures of the babies you haven’t even had a chance to hold. To go home and leave them behind until they’re strong enough to come home with you.
No one talks about the intense sleep deprivation of the first month or so, when it seems like the babies are always awake and needing to be fed. Or the range of emotions you experience at having these tiny things depending on you to live. I felt like I was losing my mind when I would be simultaneously the happiest and saddest I had ever been in my life. And then there was guilt for feeling anything less than happiness because of what it had taken to get us to that point and knowing that others were not so fortunate.
It’s all real, and it’s in-freaking-sane.
And now we’re here. 4 and a half months into the lives of the most precious and amazing little creations. These things smile and laugh at us. They play. They KNOW things. They love us. And, oh my God, how we love them. That’s something people do talk about – how much you love your children. But it doesn’t make sense until you feel it. My heart aches when I look at them. It’s almost too much. I don’t even think love is the right word for it. There probably isn’t actually a word that exists for it. This time last year, I didn’t get it. I didn’t know what was in store for us. But now…God is good.