Monday, March 31, 2014

What I’ve Learned from Pregnancy: I Always Want Jesus Close

The twins are two fairly mellow girls, which is appropriate because we had enough drama during the pregnancy.  It was ever-so-slightly the most high maintenance pregnancy I have ever had, ripe for opportunities to learn about patience and trust, faith and hope. 

I became pregnant two months into my Jesus year when Dennis and I felt God telling us, “Now”.  After coming through the fear of the what-ifs spawned from Sammy’s pneumonia and Wren’s Celiac, we started feeling ready again, like we might be able to hand our hearts over even if they got stomped.  But we weren’t sure on timing.  I was in grad school; we had just started settling into life post-Celiac diagnosis for Wren and D.  It was relatively calm.  Should we wait a bit longer?  No, God said now.  We were pregnant very quickly after we received our response.

 I’m not sure what I expected.  I thought I would spend this pregnancy prepping for a vaginal birth after two c-sections (VBA2C) and just trying to get the little one out would be the big challenge.  My prior pregnancies were, for the most part, simple.  I wasn’t anticipating much different. 

That is until I started feeling different.  My teeth hurt.  I went through a period of not being able to walk more than ten steps without exhaustion, and at one point, tears over how tired it made me.  This was all before I knew I was pregnant officially.  But I knew.  And I knew it was different than the first times.

I started showing, seriously showing, at about four weeks.  I typed  “my teeth hurt + pregnant” in a search engine after we had a positive pregnancy test.  The top responses were from twin message boards where mommies who were carrying twins also had pain in their teeth and gums.  Well, then, I thought.  Makes sense.  I told Dennis we were having twins.

We rolled on from five to eight weeks without an official ultrasound, but I knew.  I started planning for two more babies.  D says he believed me.  His response after the first ultrasound would make it seem otherwise (he was elated but girl-screamed “identical twins?” on the phone so loud I may have partial hearing loss). 

God gave me this early glimpse, I believe, to get me ready for the idea of twins.  By the time I was on the ultrasound table at eight weeks pregnant and the sonographer said, “I have a surprise for you”, I was able to say, “it’s not a surprise”, not because we had any reason to suspect twins besides my gut instinct but because God had already gotten me ready for this.  Now I know why he prepared me early for twins: because there wasn’t much of a way to prepare me for what came next.  He was giving me little pieces of surprise to let sink in so I could handle what was coming, one piece at a time.  God knows how I work, He made me, and He knew I needed this broken into small parts.

The next six weeks were a blur of ultrasound appointments and a lot of “no membrane”, “50% survival rate” “inpatient monitoring, if they make it that long” and the such.  It was dark in that place, but we had tons of support, though the reality came to me that this might not go our way.  It might be a tragedy of epic proportions.  We contacted our Pastor to figure out where we could bury our children should we have to.  We talked about how to prepare our kids for the possibility of two new siblings, or the possibility of this all falling apart.  At Christmas in a hospital out of town with a doctor who told me he thought I was miscarrying (he was wrong; I had the flu), I cried, a lot.  Finally.  I had the body-racking, red-faced near screamfest I had been holding back.  Then I released.  Two weeks later we found out there was a membrane, a flimsy excuse for one, but still a membrane separating our identical girls.  We were then introduced to the slew of other risks that were still present in mono-di pregnancies.  We didn’t listen too carefully.  After being dismissed from in front of a firing squad, you don’t look back. 

I lived those first 14 weeks and the ones that followed knowing this for a fact:  No matter how it turned out, I wanted Jesus.  That might sound obvious, but my attitude when Sammy was sick was quite different.  Sure, I prayed and leaned on Christ.  I knew I could lose Sammy, and I was about as angry about it as a human being can get.  I thought if I lost him I would probably be very mad, turn my back and run from God, make Him chase me through the hell I was going through to retrieve my heart.  I wanted His will and my way and for my child to stop hurting and, I wanted it all delivered quickly. 

With the twins, it was different.  I knew whatever happened, I’d be running straight towards Christ, asking Him to help me, hold me, fix me.  I’d need Him to heal what was broken, and I knew I wouldn’t trust anyone else with that job.  Maybe spiritually I had grown some.  Maybe the whole pregnancy was supposed to encourage that growth.  Either way, I knew the worst loss I could ever suffer would be losing Him.  It’s a relief to know I can’t. 

The girls were born at 37 weeks.  For all the monitoring that is done during these pregnancies, it has since been speculated many months after their birth that they probably had the beginning of twin anemia-polycythemia syndrome (TAPS) since Asher looked like she was sunburned and Eowyn’s skin was pale and a bit saggy (the link will show you a pick, and that’s about how our two looked, though their case wasn't as extreme.)  TAPS is a slow form of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), one that is not hugely on the radar due to how it happens.  Most of the time TTTS can be compared to a huge water hose flooding a basement; TAPS looks more like a slow drip from a leaky faucet.  Both can be fatal.  TAPS is sneakier.  Both girls were fine; they got out of the womb in time.  But, again, the Lord controlled that.  The doctors and all the machines never mentioned TAPS or suspected it until they were out.  Shows who’s in charge.

I have too many friends who have angel babies, children waiting in Heaven for them.  I think of them more than they know.  And they are still here, raising children, being wives, glorifying God, taking solace in Jesus now.  They have fallen into the arms of Christ fully knowing He can heal, and He’s all that can. 

No one is immune from tragedy and none of us know when and how it may come for us.  But I do know now that when something happens, something I can’t handle, I will run.  It’s just that now, I know I’ll be running in the right direction. 

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