Sunday, September 30, 2012

2 X 2 (Two Times Two)

     First, I'm sorry for the hiatus in writing this blog.  The end of the summer really blew up, from playdates and excursions, to home improvements that contractors were doing (patio, lighting) and those that we ended up doing ourselves.  We ended up painting the entire downstairs ourselves - I painted the entryway over three days, and the kitchen and back hallway over a week (damn trim!), and Doug and I spent 8 hours painting the living room and dining room over two nights after putting the kids to bed, plus I spent another two hours doing finish work.  We saved $2400 dollars doing the painting ourselves, and I just wanted new color, our colors to decorate the walls in time for the twins' birthday party (I'm hoping to paint all the trim before Thanksgiving), which I spent the past two weeks actively planning, and actually setting up for over the past week. 
     After the wall color was done, I immersed myself in planning the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme and everything to go along with it - I just wanted everything to be special for them, to go all out like I did for Quinn's parties, and quite honestly, I think it was easier to immerse myself in the party details than to admit that - oh my God - my little baby girls are turning 2!  Now that the birthday party has come and gone, I can't help but face those emotions and remember their birth story, and I'm forced to come to terms with my feelings of probably never having a one-year old ever again, for the rest of my life.  Yikes!
      I'm definitely remiss for not telling it before now, but I truly treasure the story of my twins' birth (no gorey details, don't worry!), (I treasure Quinn's, too, of course, but I'll tell that another time).  I'd found out in February 2010 that I was having twins.  I was only 6 weeks pregnant but after having had a miscarriage a few months before, I was worried that something was wrong when I had spotting again.  Thankfully, we found that aside from that fact that I was having twins, everything else was progressing normally.  We had sold our condo in Watertown in May 2010, moved to a cute little apartment in Concord, and after a summer of househunting with my two year old boy in tote, we finally moved to our Sudbury home at the end of August 2010.  I spent three weeks cleaning the apartment and then the new house, packing up the apartment, unpacking in Sudbury, and attempting to decorate and prepare for the twins' arrival, Friday, October 1st arrived.  That day was a whirlwind - we had a playdate with our friend Stacy (and 2 year old Peter and newborn Sara) in the morning, then I feverishly unpacked the last boxes, made three meals for the freezer, took Quinn to the playground, and made a dinner of baked chicken, steamed green beans, and baked potatoes - my first clue that labor was eminient should have been that I ate an entire breast of chicken, which I had been having strong aversions to my entire pregnancy (I could cook it for Doug and Quinn, but I couldn't get it anywhere near by plate without literally gagging).  I bathed Quinn, kneeling in the massive bathtub so I could reach him, not minding that I ended up soaked, too, just enjoying laughing and playing with him.  He seemed so little then, so small wrapped in my arms in his lion towel, growling in the mirror afterward with his most ferocious voice that still came off soft and sweet with that smile and those little baby teeth.  I read him three stories, and then layed with him in his new big-boy bed, holding him under his covers.  He asked me to tell him a Lucky story (stories I make up for him, based on a horse my grandparents once had), which I did, and then we said his prayers.  About the time he drifted off, I felt a strong POP in my stomach, much stronger than one of the babies kicking me.  I knew what it was - my water had broken.  I layed there debating whether to tell him that I was going to be having the babies, but I decided against it, thinking it better to let him go to sleep peacefully in his own bed, instead of him waking up more now, with questions and concerns.  I held him a few seconds longer than normal, kissed his soft, fragrant hair, and crawled out of his bed.  I caught a glimpse of him sleeping as I left the room; putting his gate in his doorway, I couldn't help a light groan as I felt the water break more.  I rushed to the bathroom; Doug came to the doorway - he had been in the living room, just settling into his leather recliner for some Friday night beer and TV, but I think he knew that my sound leaving Quinn's room meant something.  I told him my water had broken, I sat on the toilet trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this was "IT", waiting for contractions.  I don't remember what he might have said to me; we both knew that we needed someone to come stay with Quinn until Doug's parents could get to us from southern Vermont.  I left a message with one friend while Doug tried another, and I called my doctor in Cambridge who told me to get to the nearest hospital.  Long story short, we got the neighbor across the street to come sit until another friend from Arlington could get out to our house to wait for Doug's parents to make the three hour drive from VT. 
       We left for the hospital around 9:30 p.m., my contractions were painful and about 90 seconds apart, and grew to only about 45 seconds apart very quickly.  It was a beautiful night - it was warmish but the air was crisp, it had rained earlier in the evening, but had cleared up by this time.  It smelled of wet woods outside, and there were stars everywhere and a bright moon was overhead as we drove Doug's truck through rural parts of Sudbury and Concord.  We arrived at Emerson Hospital, parked close to the door, where I had parked many times for a prenatal yoga class over the weeks before moving.  I stopped and looked up at the sky, and asked Doug to do the same, despite his urging to get inside - I just wanted to stop and remember being a parent of one, remember being pregnant, grasp that we would VERY SOON be welcoming TWO BABIES.  I took a deep breath of the crisp air, took one last look at the stars, let out a deep sigh with a wave of contractions, and we went inside. 
        I was the only one in labor when we arrived that night.  They already had my records (thanks to Mount Auburn for forwarding them so quickly, so late at night!) and greeted us at the door, already knowing our names and that we were coming, and they'd already contacted a second team of doctors, nurses, and pediatricians, since we'd be needing two teams of labor staff, since I was having twins!  It's strange but I remember every moment of that first part of the night with acute detail - we arrived through a certain door that made a specific sound, we went to the desk just inside where there was a vase of pink carnations, went left to the first room in the hall, I used the bathroom first and remember the scent of the soap there, then was monitored on the bed along with two monitors, one for each of the babies.  My contractions were at least every 45 seconds, very intense but I could talk in between.  I remember it all almost with a feeling of static electricity; I felt very aware of my surroundings, remember specific conversations and feelings, wishing I'd asked them to see if I'd dilated on my own before doing the ultrasound to confirm that Twin A was still breach and that I'd require a c-section.  I remember using the bathroom one last time before making that walk to the operating room, waiting on the table for all of the various doctors and nurses and specialists to arrive, waiting for the epidural which was required for the c-section.  I remember Nurse Ellen letting me squeeze her hand so many times when contractions would tighten and wrap up across me every 30 seconds in that stark white, bright room while we waited for more people in blue scrubs to appear as I went in and out of awareness.  Pretty soon, the epidural was administered, Doug was allowed in the room, and Dr. Rubin and an older doctor started.  I remember lots of pulling and pushing and pressure - it's a strange feeling lying on a table, being fully conscious and aware that someone is cutting-CUTTING- into your body but not being able to feel the pain of it, knowing that your body is gaping open, imagining blood and guts hanging out, and you have to rely on these complete strangers to do everything precisely right, that THREE LIVES depend on them!  I had to just focus on the babies and stop thinking about that stuff, but even that felt surreal. 
     At 11:27 p.m. 10/01/10, Twin A, Sierra Harriet, was born.  She cried out loudly in a deep, raspy voice when they pulled her out, which I wasn't expecting because Quinn hadn't cried until his first bath.  They suctioned her, wrapped her, and put a "Twin A" sticker on her hat, before bringing her around to my head - I saw her and sighed "Hi Baby", and she immediately stopped crying, her tiny eyes looking right at me, feeling my forehead against her baby skin.  My first girl, inadvertent middle child, sweet little round head; we hadn't decided on her exact name yet, but there was a clear winner.  They took her over to a warming bed to check her over, while the doctors kept working - I remember one of the doctors actually getting on top of the table and pushing on me with his elbow and forearm, apparently pushing the next baby toward "the opening". 
     At 11:28 p.m., 10/01/10, Twin B, Kelsey Grace, was born.  She, too, cried when they pulled her out, but in a softer way.  They prepared her, a "B" sticker on her hat, and brought her around to my side of the curtain, and like her big sister, she stopped crying when I called her, by name, my "Little Kelsey".  Twin B, the baby of the family, so tiny and soft against my cheek; she was "poor Kelsey" because she'd already had fits of hiccups daily, and I felt like she'd been elbowed and squished by her sister.  She, too, was taken to a warming bed to check her out. 
     Thankfully both girls appeared healthy, but since they were twins born at 36 weeks (and 4 days) and just over 5 lbs each, they were placed in a special care nursery.  Doug accompanied the girls for their first baths and screenings while I was "patched up".  A short time later, we were reunited in a recovery room, the first room I'd been to upon arriving to the hospital.  One of my favorite pictures was taken by one of the nurses - Doug and I with the twins on my chest, both girls crying (as we'd soon find out was their norm), but both of us smiling, Doug looking a little uncertain and sheepish, and a disbelieving but loving smile on my face.  I knew immediately that I loved them, beyond any feeling I'd ever felt, but it was just so surreal to have two babies - two teeny tiny babies, they each fit in one hand with jerky, twitchy arms and legs hanging over, who were hungry and tired and crying, probably from being traumatized just being born and being out of their comfy little warm dark womb.  They were already louder and seemingly more needy than their big brother.  My hospital time after having Quinn had felt almost like a vacation; I'd ordered meals from a special little menu, been watched over my doctors and nurses, got plenty of sleep, and he wasn't really a crier unless he was especially hungry, just made little baby sounds, like petite little sneezes and lots of farts and burps.  The twins, on the other hand, were super needy from Day 1, needing to eat every one to two hours, crying a lot, gassy, not sleeping very well, scaring each other into hysterics.  I had to learn how to breastfeed them at the same time, dealing with holding these wiggly little babies in place, keeping them awake long enough to get a good feed so they'd gain weight just to survive, figuring out how to console two babies at the same time (and just when I thought I had it figure it, it all seemed to change all the time throughout that first year!).  They were just so tiny and I was severely outnumbered and overwhelmed; I was pretty scared and immediately exhausted.  Still, I had so much love in my heart for them, and ever the optimist, I knew it would all turn around at some point. 
      Their homecoming was even a bit lackluster.  It was pouring down rain that day, and it was interesting trying to get them into our new minivan in what seemed like giant carseats because they were so tiny.  But, after spending 5 days in the hospital with them, I was anxious to get them home and find our way into this new phase of parenthood, our new family of 5.  We arrived back to our house in Sudbury, where my Mom was watching Quinn - he was napping at the time, and she'd just showered and was getting dressed.  No fanfare, no warm home overflowing with family, no yummy dinner scents in the kitchen like we'd had with Quinn.  But still, our girls were home, in our new house, with their big brother who in my head was still my first baby although he'd grown into such a little man since holding his 5 lb baby sisters; he just seemed so much bigger now than when I'd left him sleeping in his bed less than a week before. 
       Over the next two years, the twins transformed from these tiny, helpless babies, into the sweetest little girls with two separate personalities.  They started off  nursing every two hours around the clock for 13 months, not sleeping through the night consistently until 16 months, crying for 5 hours a day every single day for the better part of first nine months, at the same time!, requiring drives just to fall asleep for naps and then having to be in their carseats in their rooms in order to sleep during the day...  They were so much work for so long, but slowly the most wonderful things started to happen - they both smiled at 6 weeks old, they were quick and easy laughers, finding joy in the simplest things, they loved going for walks and being outside, they absolutely loved their brother instantly, they started doing yoga poses as they learned to crawl and cruise and eventually walked at 13 months.  They started sleeping through the night and waking up happy and smiley, saying words and now sentences, wanting certain books or toys or foods, feeling purely happy and proud as they do new things and can get their points and needs and feelings across to us.  They've started to play together and act like little girls and not just little babies anymore.
        My babies are turning two tomorrow!  I cannot believe it!  I don't want to forgot those early moments when they were newborns, despite some very low lows, there were so many amazing times and highs "so high you had to look down to see heaven" (to quote one of my favorite movies).  In addition to watching all three of our children play together, it's just so special to have identical twins, two babies who will always have each other, who have known nothing else, and they'll always have a big brother to look after them.  I still look at the twins some days and wonder how I have two babies, two little people at the same stage in their lives, to go through everything together.  And, I feel so blessed to have my son, too; my clever, amazing little boy...  I am so fortunate to have my beautiful children; they give my life purpose and bring me so much happiness.
         Of course, looking at these three little faces everyday, seeing how big they're all getting, makes me realize that, in all likelihood, I will never be pregnant again, will never have those feelings of watching my stomach grow with a new life, hear a little heart beat for the first time, see my baby on an ultrasound, feel those little punches and kicks as they move around in my belly.  I'll probably never give birth to another little one, hear a little voice for the first time and feel that baby skin.  I'll never breastfeed another baby again, hold this tiny little baby in my arms and know that it's part of me.  And as my baby girls go from being 1 to being 2 year olds, it doesn't seem possible that I'll never have a 1 year old again.  It may sound crazy to think of it like that, but I guess I've spent a lot of my life just looking forward to having babies, and then the past 4+ years raising babies from infancy into preschool age, it just seems hard to let go of that mentality.  It makes me feel a little sad to accept that that phase of my life is passing, has passed, even though there are so many wonderful phases to come.  I guess I'm just not quite ready to let go of that feeling of hope and impending joy that carrying a new baby brings.
        Still, on the eve of my daughters second birthday, I can't help but savour the memories that THEY have given me from the moment I found out I was pregnant with twins, these two babies!, to feeling them move in my belly, to their birth, and every smile and baby step and milestone since.  I just want to keep all my babies safe and help them learn, and make things special for them, and just enjoy being with them from day to day.  I don't ever want to forget these moments for as long as I live.  It has been such a rollercoaster, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. 
      Happy 2nd Birthday, Sierra and Kelsey!  Thank you for helping to make me the luckiest, happiest Mommy in the world!  You're beautiful, you're smart, and you're important, and I love you so so much!