And this year... When we got pregnant with Alexander, his due date was technically May 3rd, but we fully expected an Easter baby. I even remember talking with a friend of mine, how I wouldn't be able to sing at church because I'd be too busy (or too fat and ready to pop!). Christmas without him was hard, but I think Easter was harder because, in my mind, I just KNEW that he'd be here. I had so much hope...
As Peter and I sat, side by side in the choir loft, on Holy Saturday evening, my heart began to crumble. This wasn't how any of this was supposed to be. We should be in the pews, two toddlers asleep in our arms, an infant carrier between us. We shouldn't be processing in with lighted candles, but rather, should have our neighbors light our candles once they returned to their seats (assuming we could even balance fire and babies). People shouldnt be asking in suprise and excitement, "Are you pregnant?", they should be asking how much sleep we're getting and if we still "want a bigger family". And I cried. I cried on Good Friday. I cried on Holy Saturday. And I cried on Easter. But, more than that, I was so filled with a sense of gratefulness. Pure and utter gratefulness for those months that I had with our children and those moments of beautiful life that we were able to hold in our hands and kiss and hug and love. Never before have I felt so incredibly grateful.
I know so many people who dont have an ultrasound to remember a baby they lost in the womb. Who dont have photos of the babies that were stillborn or who lived only moments in this world. Mothers who would give anything to have labored their children. Parents who would give up hearth and home if they could have had those few precious minutes of holding their children in their arms and seeing them off to the other side. We had that. We had the joy of seeing them on ultrasound and, especially with Alexander, being able to map every stage of growth with those pictures. We felt them all move and heard their heartbeats on our home doppler. We were able to experience three very unique labors that gave us special memories for each of them. But, most of all, for those seconds... those minutes... that they lived on the outside, we were able to watch their legs kicks and their hands grab. We were touched by them as they were held by us. We watched their noses wiggle and their heads turn from side to side. My God. What a miracle. What a lifetime of joy in those moments. And how enormously grateful I am for that. Who am I to regret what I didn't have at the expense of what I did have? I sure as hell wouldn't give that time back. Heaven knows I still want more, but in this holiday I found something else. A sense of happiness for the memories... For the beauty... For everything we were given that we could have lost. It was wonderful and, when we felt them with us, visiting us for this holy of holies, it was all the more sweet.
We have wooden windchimes outside our kitchen window, windchimes that used to never chime. The wind would blow, they would get caught in the tree, and we'd go untangle them. After last February, they haven't really tangled. They just chime and ring. We'll be talking about them and, out of the blue, chiming. We'll be looking at their baby books and pictures and their things- chimes. Kisses from heaven in the rain and hugs in the wind... It's what we hold onto these days.
And, of course, our new little ones. The joy of expecting twins again... There's the fear, of course, but also the joy. We're trying to keep the joy at the front of the line, but it doesn't always work. With every pain, there is the fear that this is it. Every time I go to the bathroom, the nervous thoughts of Am I bleeding and just dont know it??? pop into my head. But, still, we are trying to muster up the courage to be just as thrilled as we were in October 2007, when we found out we were pregnant and that there were two beating hearts in my womb. Okay. Deep breath. We can do this. (But can we???)
Thursday was such a shock. I'd expected to see an empty sac (or two or three) and to obsess for a week until I could have a repeat u/s to see whether or not there truly was life or if we were slated for another loss. We waited and waited and I felt the urge to chew my fingers to the bone (but rest assured, I still have 10 lovely fingernails!). Finally, when we got in and Dr. Lee fired up the ultrasound machine, my heart just stopped. She wasn't going to find anything and all these positive tests were in vain. And then those words: "There are two."
As she zoomed in on our little jellybeans, you could see their black sacs, full of amniotic fluid and the white shadow of placenta around them. You could see the circle that echoed their little bodies and then, the flicker. The flickers. Their heartbeats. I started crying the minute she told me that she could see the heartbeats and asked if we could see them too. Of course, we could! We could make out facial features in those little jellybeans if you gave us enough time! She looked at my ovaries (No wonder they hurt! Poor overstimulated walnuts...) and then... the dreaded cervix... "4.4" she announced. A good measurement. And, the best news, they babies implanted high. Both of them are well above my cervix, and well above where their big brother, Alexander, implanted. My uterus has already begun to swell to make room and the upper part has hardened, thanks in part to this not being my first pregnancy. She was pleased with our development thus far and said everything "looks great."
She asked about my job and I told her I was giving my notice. She expressed regret that I had to give up a job I had once cared for so much, but I told her, honestly, that I know I'm a different person that I was 15 months ago and that, honestly, I couldn't put our children in childcare- especially now. We discussed our Mother's Dayish timeframe for the cerclage, and made our repeat appointment for the 24th, when the babies will be far enough along to get their heartbeats per minute. Can't wait.
We told some of our family and friends on Easter. People have been thrilled. We have a lot of prayers on our behalf. Our pastor, as we were chatting, reached out and put his hand on my head and blessed me. It was a sweet jesture. After a long (but beautiful) Thursday night- Sunday morning, we went to Peter's aunt's for a late lunch.
This morning, I made the call to the main library and punched in the director's extension. When she answered after only a ring, I mustered up the courage and, in one breath, spilled out. "We found out on Thursday that we are expecting twins. Since this time, we know that I'll be having cervical surgery and that I'll be on some sort of bedrest for the majority of my pregnancy, I feel it's best that I resign." Once it was out, I couldn't believe what I'd said and just waited for the "WHAT???" But she took it so well and was so nice about the whole thing. She congratulated us and said she was worried, but that we had to think positively and send good thoughts to the babies, that positive thoughts were good for them. She asked if I had really thought the decision through, especially in the event that, God forbid, the babies don't survive. I had said that while it was a scary prospect, it was something that we had discussed and that yes, I was sure that this was the right decision. That I couldnt even begin to expect them to hold my job for 6 months while I was on bedrest. She told me that she would be more than happy to work with me, if I wanted to keep working, and that she would work around the bedrest. I hadn't expected that. I was really touched. I thanked her for the offer and came clean: I'd never be able to return to work after they were born. Especially after the last year and a half, I know that I couldn't put them in daycare. I just couldn't. It would kill me to be away from them for a minute, let alone a day. And she, graciously, understood. She told me how much she'd miss working with me, and how we'd work on a plan, and that we'd go from there. So, it's done. My final 4 weeks of work began today. 20 work days left. I'm telling my staff this week and we will tell my board at my board meeting next Tuesday. I dont expect it to go as well, but you never know. I was blown out of the water by today.
Such a weight has been lifted. I'm nervous, of course. I mean, financially, this is going to be a huge hit, but money isn't everything. We'll sacrifice and make it work. It'll be scary, but we've lived on much less. I'll keep praying that Peter's job continues to be safe and that everything will be okay. Really, what else can you do?