“Did you know you were having twins?” “Were you surprised to find out you were having twins?” “Do twins run in your family?”
Yes. Yes. Yes.
People ask me all the time if we knew we were having twins. Yes, we actually knew we were having twins almost from the day we found out we were pregnant. After two solid blood tests, I wasn’t scheduled to go in for an initial ultrasound until I was 6 weeks. Even then, it would be extremely early. Until then, I just had to have faith that there really was something going on inside my body.
It would have been a little easier to believe if I had some symptoms to prove it. As it was, I felt nothing. I felt great. Maybe a little tired, but nonetheless, great. Just when I thought I was having symptom, it would fade away. In a twisted way, I wished I would feel bad just so I would know I was pregnant.
I emailed my doctor and asked if he could run another blood test just to make sure things were still progressing since I had no symptoms to put my mind at ease. Surprisingly, he suggested we do a quick ultrasound instead. If all was well, at 5 weeks and 2 days, we should at least see gestational sacs.
I was already in tears before the first circle appeared. Through the tears of joy and amazement, I saw a blurry circle—my baby. The doctor continued moving across, stopping briefly, before saying nonchalantly, “There’s one, and there’s another one.” I saw the second blurry circle—also my baby.
He pointed out the speck inside the circle. We were seeing the gestational sac and the yolk sac. Both were right on track for 5 weeks and 2 days.
Were we surprised? Yes. In that moment, I was speechless. We knew there was a possibility of twins. We knew our numbers were on the high side, but for it to actually happen to us? Amazing. Marty claims he saw the doctor scan by both sacs before he even pointed out the first one. What was odd is that neither of us mentioned the word twins until we left the office. Honestly, to this day, I find myself saying, “Twins. Really??”
People want to know if twins run in my family. Yes. They do now. Actually, both of us have twins in our families, and there may be some genetic connection. But, I have come to be more open about the fact that we also used fertility medicine. I think many people who ask if twins run in our family are really wanting to ask that question anyway. Some want to know if the twins are “natural.” I would argue that all babies are natural. Asking if my babies are natural sort of implies that they might be unnatural, supernatural, or preternatural. Touch them. Hold them. Feed them. Play with them. They are 100% natural babies. They are a gift from God regardless of whether I took meds to juice up my ovaries or not. I have also learned that by being open about my struggles I have allowed others to be open about their struggles. Infertility can be such a lonely road, and if one woman can find understanding through me then why would I hide my story?
What’s the fourth most asked question? I’ll let you guess, but the answer to that question is also—yes.
As promised, the October story continues. Today’s tale begins on October 8, 2009.
I tested that morning as I had done so many mornings before, fully expecting the same results as before. I even used a cheapo test since it hardly seemed worth wasting the money on the digital one.
I saw what I thought was second line. I called Marty upstairs to take a look, again expecting him to say I was imagining what I wanted to see. I think I stopped breathing when he agreed that he thought he saw a second line, too.
It was time to pull out the expensive digital.
I couldn’t look. I paced the floor as Marty waited for the answer to pop up. He said, “I think you want to take a look at this one.”
I definitely stopped breathing. And then I started crying. And jumping up and down. And crying.
I nervously called my doctor’s office to ask for a blood test, not sure that they would agree since I technically wasn’t supposed to test for another three days. Thankfully, they had me come in right away.
I was so nervous I couldn’t even take the call from the doctor’s office with the results. Marty answered when our doctor called later that morning to congratulate us personally. It was official. I was pregnant.
I was to come back on Monday for a repeat test. Since it was only Thursday, I had several days to obsess. Initially, my obsession took the form of taking all the left over pregnancy tests still in the house. I think I ended up taking five more tests, which all came out the same. I have pictures to prove it.
We decided that we wouldn’t tell anyone until we had another rising beta on Monday. Okay, so I did tell Jeanine. I knew she could keep my secret.
After a blood draw early Monday morning, I headed to Greensboro for work. I am not sure how I made it through that school visit because my mind was anywhere but on poetry plans and test scores.
I called Marty every thirty minutes or so to see if the doctor’s office had called back with my numbers. When the call finally came, we had numbers to celebrate. My beta had risen from 75 to 496 in four days. They didn’t need to see me again until 6 weeks when they would do my first ultrasound. Marty asked about the possibility of multiples, but the nurse said the numbers alone didn’t seem high enough to indicate more than one.
We decided to tell Marty’s mom first. Since Marty so rarely goes home, Windy, his sister, guessed something was up when we called to say we were coming to Roanoke Rapids on a Monday night. We surprised Vivian, nonetheless.
We told my family the next night. I pulled Tanner to the side and told him our secret and asked him not to say anything, fully expecting he would blurt it out the first chance he got. Nope. He was not telling anything. Finally, I asked him if he had something he needed to tell everyone. He said, “No, Essy. It’s a secret!” After I assured him he could spill the beans, he whispers, “Essy’s going to have a baby.”
Little did we know, Essy was going to have two babies. But that is another October story and another post.
This is a story that will take the rest of October’s blog posts to tell. How appropriate, considering that this is a story that has a connection to the month of October at every turn.
One of my reasons for starting this blog was to record all the smaller stories that connect to the larger, most important story of my life—the story of me being a mom. The challenge, sometimes, is how to narrate a story in a way that is true (at least in my eyes), in a way that honors my love for family, and finally, in a way that passes along some important life lessons to my children.
So bear with me as I weave together a series of seemingly unrelated events that bring us to where we are today.
In my other life, I decided I wanted a baby. Of course, that’s all it takes, right? I had a husband, a job, an education, a house. Add one baby, and I’d be finished with my 2.5 kids by age 30. If we hurried, we could also add the white picket fence.
Instead, I learned that life doesn’t always operate according to my plans. Sometimes things get in the way. First, infertility. Then, infidelity. Enter incredulity.
This month, nine Octobers ago, my other life ended. Suddenly, I no longer had a husband. I changed jobs, finished another degree, and built a new house. Add a new attitude, and I was well on my way to finding out who Melissa was supposed to be. I traveled. I worked on my career. I spent some time alone and some time with people who helped me learn new things about me.
Five years ago, again around this same time of year, I met Marty. Something tells me he wouldn’t have recognized me from my other life. Truth is, I have a hard time recognizing that me.
When we got married, we both decided we wanted a baby. Of course, I now knew it takes a little more than a decision. But, this time, I had better ingredients. I had the right husband, a job that knows its place, an education in the school of hard knocks, and a house built on truth. Add one baby, and we’d be blessed. Add no babies, and we’d still be blessed. If we loved each other, talked to each other, and tried to understand one another, we could make it through this life together without building the fences that keep so many people apart--babies or no babies.
In this life, when, once again, getting pregnant wasn’t as easy as deciding on what color to paint the nursery, the story took a different turn. Infertility didn’t hurt any less the second time around, but having someone who was an honest partner in the process made all the difference. Marty held my hand after surgery, gave me shots in the tummy, and went along with my crazy diet, my acupuncture visits, and our daily vitamin regimen.
He was also there one year ago this week when we huddled together in the bathroom to read a pregnancy test that finally said YES.
That morning is another story that will get its own blog post--another story that ties into my baby story that started many Octobers ago.
When I think about the lessons in this story for Emily and Drew, I get choked up. I just don’t want to imagine my babies hurting. But, the truth is, one day, they both will learn that life doesn’t operate according to their plans. They will get their hearts broken at least once by someone who breaks a promise.They will face disappointment. They will one day believe that life will never be right again. They will find an old life passing away, only to give way to a new, different life.
What I want them to learn from this story is that God’s plans are always better than ours. Sometimes we have to give up what we think is best and trust that where we are, is where we are meant to be. Hearts break. People disappoint. Plans change. Dark, however, eventually gives way to light as long as we keep moving. When they doubt, they only have to look at each other. After all, they are living proof that God can take your prayers for one gift and give you two.
This weekend marked the beginning of Emily and Drew's official "closet switch-out" where I started packing away summer clothes and bringing out the fall/winter stuff. Yes, there was so much they never even wore. As summer babies, Emily and Drew have spent most of their days either naked in a diaper or in a onesie. So many of those cute outfits were never even touched.
I decided to combat the sadness of seeing them grow right before my eyes by going to buy new cute stuff. I rationalized buying more for the winter by explaining to Marty that they will be going out more frequently now. And they don't have enough already since everyone buys newborn clothes in the beginning. And they need picture outfits. And they will look really cute. And they will only be this size once. And Mommy is having fun. And did I mention they look really cute?
Today's weather was perfect for Emily's new dress and sweater and for Drew's dress onesie and TH khaki pants. They were adorable as we surprised Granny V with a visit to church with her this morning.
Both babies were great during the service. Emily loved the hymns and eventually fell asleep on Marty's chest. Drew was as alert as ever and decided he wanted to talk during the sermon. He can get pretty vocal, so Aunt Windy took him to the nursery where he played.
Once home, they kicked back and seemed to be as interested in the Panther's game as Marty was.
The only time they seemed any happier was when we stripped them down to their diapers and played on the floor. Go figure!