Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Backstory, Part 1: The BABIES are OK!!!

Most girls have a truly clever way of breaking the news of their pregnancy to their families. I should have. After all, I learned that I was pregnant about a week and a half before my husband and I were planning on going to our hometown of Memphis for Easter. Wouldn't it have been perfect to plan some grand way to deliver the news in person? That was my original thought, at least! Then I got dreadfully sick and wanted my mommy immediately, 
so I called her up -- the day after I found out I was expecting.

(this is the first picture we have of my pregnant self, and this was taken at Week 9):

"Mom!" I exclaimed. "Where are you?"

"Driving home from work. What's up?" This should have been enough to stop me in my tracks, but dang it, I felt horrible and needed some sympathy!

"Well I just feel awful. My cold is getting much worse. I'm coughing, sniffling, sneezing. I can't even focus on my school work!"

"Well then, go to the doctor."

"I already did!"

"Did he give you some medicine?"

"Yes, but I can't take it."

"Why not?"

long pause on my end... "Because I'm PREGNANT!!!!"

And this, folks, is how I broke the news of my pregnancy to my mother. Minutes later I was skyping with her and my Dad. I think both of them actually thought I was kidding at the time. After all, the very notion of pregnancy and childbirth had always really freaked out my squeamish, scared-of-needles self, and I'd always secretly wondered if I would ever be up for the challenge, as much as I wanted to be a mom someday.

When I came to town for Easter, Mom and I spent that Saturday going all over town, checking out baby beds and nursery paraphernalia, shopping and planning and talking nonstop about it all. It was beginning to feel a little bit real. Mom and Dad took Chris and me out for a celebratory dinner at Houston's that evening, but when we got back to their house, something horrible had happened. I was bleeding.

"Maybe it's because I was running around all day," I thought. "Maybe I just need to rest." But no matter how much I rested, the bleeding continued. By nighttime, I was in full-on panic mode. Never had I ever heard of bleeding during pregnancy that didn't result in something unspeakable. I called the doctor, who informed me ever-so-helpfully(?) that it could be something bad, or it could be nothing. I would just have to wait about two weeks(!!!!!!) and see, since I was still so early on in my pregnancy. “So bleeding during pregnancy could be normal?” I asked, grasping at any remote kind of hope I could find. “Well, it’s never normal,” said the doctor, “but it happens sometimes.”

Waiting was (obviously) excruciatingly difficult. “It’s never normal,” I kept thinking to myself. We really didn't want anyone outside of our families to know that we were expecting so soon, and yet I found myself breaking down and asking for prayer in our Sunday School class when I was only about six weeks along -- which, by the way, I am very glad I did. I didn't know how I would make it until it was time for that fateful ultrasound. I cried constantly, fearing the worst.

Finally, the day came when I went in to get the news. I had been told that if the ultrasound tech found a heartbeat, the odds that everything would be OK were significantly high. Sure enough, we saw a beating heart. "There's your baby!" she exclaimed. "Oh, thank the Lord," I said amidst tears of joy.

"Wait a minute, what's this?" she asked. "Wow! You have TWO babies!"

I immediately started laughing. "You're kidding, right?"

I'll never forget her response: "Would I kid about something like that?"

"I don't know, would you?" is what I wanted to say, but I couldn't even gather my thoughts at the moment! I was too busy staring at the image before me of two little living beings that were apparently inside of me, of all people. Never had I ever thought twins would happen to me! In fact, Chris used to joke about how "easy" it would be to go ahead and have two kids at once -- that is, before I would cut him off by assuring him that carrying two babies would be the worst thing ever! The thought of actually having pre-existing twins had always sounded fun, but the idea of being pregnant with them was nothing short of terrifying. And in my What To Expect When You're Expecting book, which I had immediately run to Target and bought as soon as I found out that I was, I had noted that there was a chapter on multiples -- but had meticulously avoided it, for fear of freaking myself out unnecessarily. But surprisingly, in that moment, I was suddenly overjoyed at the prospect of twins. I already loved those tiny little beings on that ultrasound screen!

"Can I really carry two?" I asked, thinking of my skinny little frame.

"It happens all the time!" she said.

Returning to the lobby, I couldn't contain my excitement, so I immediately called my parents and delivered the news in what must have been the most cruel way possible, looking back on it now. "The baby's not OK," I said. "The BABIES are OK!!!"

Once I heard the doctor's analysis, however, I was filled with a fear I was never able to shake throughout the rest of my pregnancy. Upon looking over the ultrasounds, she informed me that I was indeed having twins, but that they were sharing a placenta - which is apparently the riskiest type of twins to have. She told me I would need to come in every week until the bleeding had subsided, that it was probably OK but that it was concentrated in particular around Twin A and therefore needed to be monitored closely. She also informed me that there was a high risk of their eventually developing Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, which was a terrible condition that could potentially terminate the pregnancy if it were to occur too soon. Consequently, I could expect many doctor visits and ultrasounds throughout the duration of my high-risk pregnancy. In fact, she even termed my visit that day a "threatened miscarriage" on the paperwork. She tried to assure me that she did this so that insurance would understand the necessity of so many doctor visits and tests, but in the moment I wasn't very comforted. Each visit in which I received good news, however, would increase the chances of everything turning out just fine.

After the visit, I called my parents back to let them know that, while the babies seemed to be OK for now, there was no guarantee that they would continue to be so, and that all of us would need much prayer to make it through this thing successfully! At the very least, I knew when I left that day that I was in for a long seven-and-a-half months!
((To be continued...))

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