(This post is the latest in the recent series, “Down the rabbit hole: What the hell happened this past year.”)
Last year, on April 13, I posted the following on my fledging StreamDoubleTrouble blog.
I am normal! After what seemed like eons since our last visual visit with our little ones, Jon and I returned to the doctor’s today to see how the twins are faring…Our high-risk perinatologist, Dr. Crites, smiled at the four of us and proclaimed, “Congratulations. You are having a perfectly normal twin pregnancy. You are now RELEASED!”
I’m normal! I’m still paranoid, but we are no longer classified as high-risk. My next appointment is with my regular doctor – who serves the general population of pregnant people. (Although appointments every two weeks mean I’m still being monitored very closely. I bet it’s “normal monitoring.”)
Go ahead. I’ll wait. When you’re done laughing uproariously at the absurdity of my bravado in announcing such a silly thing, and shaking your head at the now well-chronicled reality of the situation, the rest of this post awaits you.
I was 21 weeks pregnant. That week would mark the single week of my pregnancy where I enjoyed the warm glow of blissful ignorance of all that could truly go wrong. I spent that week coasting on the high of hormones and a See’s sugar high.
I began envisioning what life would be like the following year – two babies snuggling up with me, Jon and the dogs. The picture perfect family. I started to look forward to my upcoming baby showers. “Funny,” I thought to myself. “I’ve always wanted this, and yet I still can’t picture myself as the guest of honor – waddling around a room of friends, laughing at my ever-expanding circumference.”
Jon put together the two cribs. I stood in front of them, holding my stomach and trying to feel the as-of-yet-unmuppeted babies kick. I would stand there in my jammies imagining what it would be like to be admiring two sleeping baby boys.
I proudly marched back to work and announced my normalcy to my boss. I remember watching her across our meeting table, while “Tricia Mat leave – Aug.” appeared in upside down letters in her notebook. I smiled, and reminded her I had one more quick appointment the following week.
My back was really bothering me that week. I could barely walk. But the pain came and went, so I chose to embrace the rhythmic cramps as my first experience of “normal” pregnancy symptoms since 50 to 70 percent of women experience back pain during pregnancy. As I climbed the stairs one evening, I felt a kick and my heart lurched. I stared toward the nursery with a frightening feeling of dread. Two cribs sat empty, waiting. What if both residents didn’t make it home to claim their crib? Immediately I shook such a horrid thought from my head (we’ve established I was paranoid) and chalked it up to exhaustion and crankiness from back pain.
Never did the thought of preterm labor cross my mind. Besides (advance apologies for the TMI here – so fair warning), as a final farewell from the high risk department, the perinatologist informed me that I had a very strong cervix – all the better to carry twins with. (Reality check – an incompetent cervix was my ultimate downfall.) In any case, 21 weeks was far too early to even consider the thought of delivery. I had just sailed passed halfway with a “normal” diagnosis.
It only took seven days for my world to turn topsy-turvy as I hurtled down the rabbit hole.
Halfway through this post, Destroy started screaming. (“I don’t WANT to be asleep right now!”) I took a break to comfort my cranky child. I picked him up and held him, staring at the two cribs in front of me. I rocked one sleeping muppet back and forth while looking down on his twin brother, who was breathing deeply in and out, baby bottom definitively airborne.
Who knew? One year later, and my picture perfect family is right where I imagined we would be. The path to get here was just a bit wonky. I am well aware that our story has a happy ending – for this, I am thankful every moment I see our sons remember to breathe.
For anyone finding this blog as you frantically research preemies from a lumpy hospital lounge chair (I spent many days asking the internets what was the outcome of X-weekers – starting with 23-weekers), I can’t promise everything will turn out perfectly. But I can assure you it’s worth every second of the fight. And for those of you enjoying a normal pregnancy – waddle with pride!