This time 9 years ago I was lying in a hospital bed crying. Everything was too much. I had spent 60 days lying around medicated to keep my preterm labor at bay and the doctors had agreed to take me off the medication at 35 weeks and let nature take its course. When nothing transpired after a few hours, the doctors joked that maybe the babies had gotten comfortable and would stay the 40 weeks after all. Hahahahahaha…no.
I was enormous and miserable. My back hurt, my legs and feet were swollen, and the thought of eating made me sick. I just wanted to give birth. But as with the 9 weeks before, I also didn’t want to give birth and have there be complications with the babies. I was between the proverbial rock and the hard place. I received an email from the boys’ father informing me that he wouldn’t be participating in our lives any longer. Not that he had been the doting father-to-be up until that moment, but there had been brief periods of hope on my part that it may all work out the way I thought I wanted it to: two happy, loving parents and two happy, healthy baby boys.
But that night my future was so uncertain, my emotions so erratic, that I couldn’t see how it would all be OK. My happily ever after seemed so very far away.
The prior few weeks my San Diego friends (read: ANGELS) had been working hard to assure a happily ever after scenario for the boys and me. They cleaned and organized my house. They set up the nursery. They fed my cats. They took care of my mail. They brought me meatballs (I was a vegetarian, but hey, the babies wanted what they wanted!) They brought me toothpaste, books, movies, funny stories, company, “happy hour”, music, and burritos. They did my laundry and my errands. They took care of my car; installed the baby seats, got an oil change, and a tune-up. My friends and family from further away kept me supplied with magazines and movies and emails and phone calls and prayers and well wishes.
Don’t cry, the one night nurse told me, then your babies will be sad and cry all the time too. Awesome. I was fucking up my kids while they were still in the womb. Great job, mommy. I couldn’t manage to keep them in my body properly. I couldn’t manage my roller coaster of emotions, from the moment I found out I was pregnant to all the ups and downs of my ridiculously unstable relationship. The doctors warned me constantly that I was at risk to give birth at any time and that the boys would likely have lifelong health problems if that happened. I needed to be grateful that they were still inside my body baking (and I was!) But I was also terrified. And miserable. And excited. And depressed. And oh-so-gigantic. I couldn’t really move without pain. But I was lucky. And I knew I was lucky. But sometimes, like this night 9 years ago, it was hard not to lose sight of all that grace and just feel the “whys”. Why can’t this be a little easier? Why did I bring this all on myself? Why does it have to suck so badly? Why can’t I just have it go my way?
I don’t remember if I cried myself to sleep. I do remember that I stayed up until my last monitoring which had to be just before midnight. Sometimes I would try to sleep before the nurse would come in and barely acknowledge the routine of trying to find the heartbeats and strapping the contraction monitor on me. I think I was hoping for some sign that the last 9 weeks of being in the hospital on medication had been necessary. That the boys would have come and it would have been disastrous. That now the medication was out of my system, my body was free to do what it had been trying to do all along…get those babies born.
But the night nurse cheerfully told me all was quiet. And repeated the doctor’s joke about them happily staying put for the next 5 weeks. Wasn’t I lucky? Yup. Super lucky. Miserable and fat and in pain, but very blessed thank you very much. Now get out.
Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning I had to get myself out of bed and waddle to the bathroom. This was no easy feat. I had to rock myself back and forth a little to get the leverage to sit up. Ridiculous. Anyway, I remember going to the bathroom thinking how lousy I felt. Wondering how I would make it through another day. Thinking now I had to deal with a stomachache and cramps on top of everything else. Terrific! I waddled my sick body back to bed and hoped that there was still an hour or more I could try to sleep before the morning nurse came in. I dozed, but didn’t sleep and I didn’t feel great. At no point did it occur to me I had started going into labor. After all that waiting and wishing, you’d think I would have clued in. But no. It was only when the morning nurse came in to monitor me that it became clear: the contractions had begun and the babies were coming.
I was thrilled and scared, but so very ready. I made sure they called my doctor right away. She had said she didn’t want me to labor too long because they had already determined I needed to have a C-section and they didn’t want to risk either of the babies getting into distress and causing an unnecessary emergency after all the caution we had exercised over the previous two months. I remember speaking to the doctor on the phone and hearing the most delightful words I had ever heard: “Today is a good day to be born”. And then the wait began.
After 9 weeks, you wouldn’t think 8 hours would seem so long. But it did. I called my mom and sister and dad. I talked to my local friends who were on standby. Two of my angels agreed to come and be in the delivery room with me. One of them called the father and let him know he was about to miss out on the most important day of his life. He agreed to come. He agreed to come and stay. To once again attempt to put it all behind us and really be a part of this. It was happening. One of my favorite nurses was on hand in the afternoon to help me get prepped for surgery. She was none too happy to hear that “papa” would be around, but told me to focus on nothing but the babies. I followed her advice. Nothing else mattered.
Once we were in the OR, I was happy I had asked a friend of mine to print out my Will. Suddenly, I had this horrible feeling like I had served my purpose. I had done a terrible job being pregnant, but now the babies were finally coming, and I might not make it through the ordeal. I had already had a horrible reaction to the medication they had first used to stop my preterm labor and in general, I do not do well with anesthesia and drugs. After they had given me the spinal, I had this pain in my neck and I was hot and cold and nauseous and could feel pretty much everything and was convinced something was about to go terribly wrong.
I tried not to panic. They gave me more drugs and I became completely numb. He who shall not be named was in the OR with me. He had shown up after all and I was grateful for a hand to clutch. The actual surgery was a little surreal. I could hear the doctors chatting. I could feel the pushing and pulling on my belly. I kept asking if they were coming and what could he see. Finally, I heard something: a faint cry and the doctor held G up for me to see and then whisked him away. And then seemingly an instant later, C was held up for me to look at and taken away just as quickly.
By that time, I was sobbing. With joy, relief, and a million other emotions I couldn’t name then or now. I kept asking, are they OK? Where are they? Can I see them? It seemed like an eternity before they brought them over to me, but I was so drugged up I couldn’t hold them. I had to wait. They eventually wheeled me into the recovery room where at least most of my upper body movement returned. And then the sweetest moment of my whole life.
This was just the beginning of our story. And every year from July 12 (the day I was hospitalized) through their birthday I start thinking about how differently our story could have ended. How there are so many people who made sure we survived. I wrote something on Facebook a few years ago which really sums it up and acknowledges those angels who made it happen. And since then, we have continued to attract amazing and wonderful friends into our lives. The boys are surrounded by good friends with good families who are always willing to help us out. Our family continues to be the rock to which we cling for safety and security, without whom, we could not be where we are today.
9 years ago tonight, I felt so desperate and sad and just wished I knew it would all turn out OK. I now wish that scared, lonely mama-to-be could have caught a glimpse of her amazing future.
Here’s an excerpt from the note in 2011:
But luckily, God had a plan. It was a very intricate plan and one I still don’t fully understand the meaning behind, but a few things I know. God gave me twin boys so that G and C would ALWAYS have each other no matter what. They would never have to be alone. And God made sure that I was surrounded by angels so that I would be able to get through those first few days, weeks, months and learn that I could do it on my own…with a little help from my friends (and family).
I try to thank these angels personally at least once a year to let them know I haven’t forgotten. It has been on my mind a lot lately. And for these and so many other things I want to thank:
Danielle Tannourji & Bo Diklich for taking me in and giving me a home until I had my babies, being there when they were born, and helping me out every chance you got after they arrived.
Gina Frazier, Laura Whelan, Kim Berry for keeping me company in the hospital, washing untold amounts of baby clothes, bringing me burritos and having game nights while the babies were sleeping and in general, relaxing the “no babies club” rules.
Dustin Schueneman for being the “fairy buddha father”, cooking us meals, and for showing up that very first night and bringing me pizza and watching the boys so i could take a shower, for sleeping over when they first got their shots and I was worried that they’d get sick.
Katie & Gary Grisko for helping to prepare my house and car so that I could bring my precious cargo home, for keeping my spirits up, for not thinking i was too crazy and printing out the will at the last minute and for the very important job of actually BRINGING US HOME!!!(along with Tami Reano who provided extra support)
Blair & Rob Mitchell who were also part of the “preparation” crew and Blair who literally swooped in and organized my life the next day when I thought I might drop from exhaustion, letting me sleep and waking up to a clean house, groceries ordered, happy babies and positive outlook.
Joel Williams for his help with the house and making sure I always had a smile on my face and making my return to work that much easier.
Joe Ueno for showing up that first day and getting me my medicine that I so desperately needed.
Jerry Garrett & Eric Zeiner for taking care of my OTHER babies while I was in the hospital.
Ace Pemble,Toutu & Ken Gold, Uschi & Jeremy Morris, Heather Domenico, Bonita Patterson, Vanessa & Michael Spencer, and Jenny & David Brumley for providing so much support both while I was in the hospital and in the months to follow, allowing me to get my strength back and to know that I had such amazing people on my side.
David Sarlo, my most loving cousin and amazing Uncle David to the boys, for too many moments to count.
Obviously, there are so many more people to thank in the roles that they’ve played in the boys’ lives and in mine. My family and friends who lived outside of San Diego have provided so much moral support and visits and advice and love. But the angels in San Diego that God sent to me deserve this special shout out tonight, six years later, because I truly couldn’t have done it without you. It really does take a village. And I am stronger for it and a better mom for it and I believe that as I’ve faced these years as a “single” parent one of the important things I’ve learned is that none of us is ever truly alone if you’ve got a friend and sometimes just knowing that is enough to get you through anything!