Thursday, December 12, 2013

Twin pregnancy: Week 32

It's been another crazy roller coaster week, but today I'm happy to be on the upswing.

Things improved since last week's visit to labor and delivery, thank the heavens above. But it still hasn't been a cake walk. It's been just over a week and I've only left the house a handful of times. While that normally would make me nuts, this time it's been awesome. I really need to be hunkered down. I'm getting to the point where moving around is difficult not because I'm so big, but because I have contractions pretty much all day every day. Thankfully they're not too intense (yet), but the pure fact that they haven't stopped in 9 days and will not stop until I deliver these babies has just made the situation really ridiculous. Frankly, I'm now kind of pissed off about it. It's just exhausting and so pointless. Nothing else is changing physically, the babies are not on their way yet (at least so far). So hey, body, let's just settle down now, huh?

At 31 weeks

OK, so the attitude is not part of the upswing (although it does keep me from getting depressed, so maybe). Today I'm feeling good because I had another appointment and everything looks great. Plus, I have a possible explanation for all the pain and craziness this past week. Last Wednesday Baby A was head down/feet up and Baby B was feet down/head up — a little yin-yang position for the two. This morning, Baby A was still in the same position but Baby B is now on top and perpendicular, so they're making a "T" shape. That's 4 lbs. of baby, plus a placenta and amniotic fluid, jostling around and turning every which way — not to mention the other 4 lbs. of baby trying to stay put while all that goes on around her. With all this jockeying for position, no wonder my uterus is angry and not reacting kindly. That's a lot of action in such close quarters.

Speaking of close quarters, I am baffled at how so much is going on in such a small space. I am 32 weeks pregnant with two babies measuring right on track for their gestational age, so there's roughly 8 lbs. of baby with another 3-ish lbs. of placenta and fluid, and yet I'm only measuring 35 weeks. Even more confusing: At 29 weeks I was measuring 36. Some more numbers for ya: Despite eating like a linebacker the past month I have only gained 33 lbs. total, 3 of which happened since my last appointment. And, I am only 5'2" so there's really nowhere to go but out.

Ouch. Math makes my brain hurt — especially math that doesn't actually add up.

I'm guessing that the babies' new positions make my stomach seem ever-so-slightly smaller. Or maybe my organs have been pulverized by the weight and vigor of two very active babies and are not actually solid mass anymore. Or maybe my doc is just messing with me.

Mostly likely it's just what I've been saying all along: Growing a baby is HARD WORK. Growing two must be double that, because although I've been sitting or lying down for the better part of a week and stuffing my face indiscriminately, I still feel like I've run a marathon every day. So in a really weird way, getting pregnant with twins is the best diet I've ever been on. My body has never been so efficient at putting these calories to use, even when I don't put the best ones in. Almost makes up for the constant pain and agony and the likely permanent scars I'll bear at the end of all this.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Twin pregnancy: Week 31

Yep, I hate this.

As a fellow mom of multiples put it, a twin pregnancy is the one crazy time when you've never wanted to simultaneously stay pregnant and be done being pregnant so badly in your life. 

I can handle the physical aspect of being big and slow (other than the daily contractions, but more on that later), but I hate how it's messing with my head. I'm not one to say "I can't," even when I should. I'm a pusher. It's what's gotten me through the awful times in my past, so it's an instinct I can't easily turn off. That's why it's so hard to suddenly feel useless and helpless--and even harder for me to ask for help or even take it when offered. I survived on grit alone for years, but now it's not healthy to do that. This is probably exactly why I've been given this challenge. I haven't learned these skills, but I literally cannot do all the things my brain tells me I can totally handle if I just suck it up. I need to stop, I need to lay down, I need to let others take over... But I can't shake that feeling of duty and responsibility that drives so much of my life. 

What I need to keep reminding myself is, my duty needs to be all about these babies. Even my son can wait, because I am literally the only person who can take care of my daughters right now. 

I was slapped with that reality today when I ended up in the hospital, again. I started having contractions around 10 p.m. last night (side note: Why must these things always happen after hours?). By 4:30 a.m. they were every 6 or 7 minutes, so I made my way into labor & delivery around 5 a.m. 

The good news is it didn't look like the babies themselves were coming, but my body couldn't care less about that fact. The twins are healthy and doing just fine, I was only dilated to a 1, and the fetal fibronectin test that predicts imminent labor came back negative--but still, the contractions got to be just a few minutes apart and weren't slowing down. 

My doctor put it this way: I may only be 31 weeks along, but with the size of my uterus and the weight of these babies, my body thinks it's 41 weeks along. It can't figure out why I'm still pregnant and is trying to do something about it. 

And yes, all of this is common and even expected with a twin pregnancy. So yes, this could be my life for the next few weeks. Cue sad, self-pitying tears. 

Around 7 a.m. I was given a steroid injection to help the babies' lungs mature, should they decide to come early anyway. I was also given a shot to relax the uterus and stop the contractions. It didn't work at first, but they couldn't give me another because it made my heart go crazy so I sat and waited for another hour. At long last, things settled down and the contractions, while still consistent, were down to 10 minutes apart. Finally, at 8:30 I got to go home. 

The other blessing in this is that I'm not on strict bed rest, which I really feared. Some women are in such dire straits they are relegated to the hospital for months on end. Even though I only have 6 weeks to go and even if I could have take my bed rest at home, I still think I would absolutely go mad. Thankfully, my doctor says that while it can help you relax, there's no concrete evidence that bed rest prevents or stops preterm labor--and in fact, new studies are saying it can do more harm than good. So I'm in bed today and probably tomorrow, but after that I just need to take it easy. Which is ironic, because if I take it too much easier I might as well be on bed rest anyway. 

I've already had to stop doing, well, pretty much everything I do around here on a daily basis. My husband has the house taken care of and Evan is pretty low-maintenance for a 3-year-old. But the biggest change is that I recently lost both of my jobs unexpectedly, for unrelated reasons that are beyond my control. This has been frustrating beyond compare and terrifying financially, especially right NOW just weeks before Christmas and before we become a family of 5. I don't have any clue how it's all going to come together, or if it really will, but I'm trying to just have faith and focus on the positive--mainly, the belief that this is God's way of telling me to let go. 

I have been pushing and struggling for months trying to find a better way, trying to give us more of a cushion post-birth since there's no telling when I'll be able to work again, if ever (at least while the kids are young). I have tried about everything I could possibly think of, and all to no avail. And now to have this door slammed in my face, I have no choice but to finally take it as a sign that I need to put it down, all of it. You have no idea how hard it is for me to essentially be told, "Your job right now is to do nothing." But that's the only guidance I'm getting. It is all completely out of my hands now, so I need to let it be. I don't know what the answer is, but I know it's not me. It is not my job to come up with or be the solution. If it was, then something would have materialized long ago. It's cold comfort at best, but just another one of those things you have to wade through before you finally find the lesson and see the light. And hey, there's still time for a Christmas Miracle!

So that's where I am now: metaphorically waiting in the dark while literally sitting on the couch or sprawling out in bed. Frustrating? You bet. But I can still find plenty of blessings, and that's what I'm holding onto. 

In the meantime, I'll just binge on Christmas movies and get all the Evan snuggles I can before two more tiny people need my complete attention. And I'll focus on the most important duty I have right now: to get these girls here safely. After all, no one else can do it but me. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Twin pregnancy: Week 29

Just a quick update with some significant numbers:

Months pregnant: 7
Weeks pregnant: 29
Weeks belly is measuring: 36
Pounds gained: 30
Number of babies on board: 2 (I keep asking my docs to make sure no one else is hiding in there)
Minutes I can stand before the pain takes over: 15
Final eviction date: January 14

That's right: These babies will be here in 8 weeks or less!

Kinda freaking out right now...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Twin pregnancy: Week 28

Good news and bad news on the twin pregnancy front.

The bad news is, despite really watching my diet, I now have gestational diabetes. 

Apparently the "experts" don't actually know what makes someone develop diabetes when pregnant exactly, aside from making an educated guess based on risk factors. And I do have a few: I'm over 30, I have a family history of diabetes, and I have more than one baby on board. Seems that the placenta is most likely what affects insulin use, and having two placentas put me at a much higher risk for developing gestational diabetes. So now I have to take a class on it and test my blood sugar four times a day for the next week and hope that a more controlled diet will take care of business. Keep your fingers crossed for me, because I really don't think I can handle going off carbs completely. My depression would not take to that kindly.

The good news is, I have just 10 weeks left to go!

I am now 28 weeks pregnant, which translates into 7 months. When I see that written out, wow, I can't believe how much time has already passed. It seems crazy how this pregnancy, with all its ups and downs (OK, mostly mopey downs), has just flown by. What's even more nuts is that "10 weeks left" business. It's not "10 weeks give or take" — it's "10 weeks maximum." Twins are full-term at 37 weeks  but often come even earlier. My doc won't let me go past 38 weeks, so if the babies aren't here by then, she'll make it so. 

That's right, folks: I will officially be a mom of three and a Mother of Multiples no later than January 25!!!

This is incredibly exciting and terribly daunting. For the last few months I've been going back and forth between, "How on earth am I going to manage all the craziness that comes with having twins???" and, "Hey, I got this. Yeah, it's going to be tough, but I can do tough. I AM tough." 

Today, like most days, I have experienced just about all of that and everything in between. This morning when Evan nearly had a meltdown because I attempted to put gel in his hair, I had one of those "Why is being a mom so full of this kind of crap?" moments where I can't believe these are the things that make up my life. But an hour later, when he was off at preschool and I was alone in the peaceful quiet of an empty house, I put all the baby clothes into their dresser and closet. Pulling out each little onesie and pair of footie jammers put a little flutter in this mommy's heart, mostly because my hormones are working on overdrive but also because OH MY GOSH BABY GIRL CLOTHES ARE SO CUTE!! And even though the nursery isn't even close to being finished (though it is remarkably cleaner), stocking it up with supplies gives me the illusion that I am prepared (or will be in time) and this is really happening and it's going to be great.

In the meantime, I am just trying to survive physically. After my last post things unfortunately got much worse and I ended up in L&D again, but then they also got better for a while. I'm somewhere in between now. I realized that I am going to be in terrible pain by about 3 p.m. no matter what I do, so I may as well try for a little productivity in the morning if only for the sake of boosting my mood and making me feel like I am still participating in life. Admittedly I'm still really limited and can't do much; putting the aforementioned clothes in the room was about all I could handle this morning, and a quick afternoon jaunt to the store (read: a slow and painful hobble to and from the pharmacy) had me doubled over in pain when I got home. But at least I can still walk! I may not be able to say the same in a few weeks, so I'm trying to make the most of it while I can.

On a related note, I'm thinking my progress pics just aren't doing my belly justice. I thought the camera was supposed to add 10 lbs., but in these it seems it's whittling me down. I swear to you I am so much bigger in real life ... or maybe that's just because I feel enormous and heavy beyond belief.

At any rate, here I am at 28 weeks. And yes, even though I felt ridiculous, I smiled.

I may seem small for having two babies in there, but kindly compare this to my pregnancy with Evan at 35 weeks:

So, yeah... That pretty much speaks for itself.

But you know what's really making this phase of my life more enjoyable? My awesome little family. If I haven't mentioned yet how amazing my husband is, I'm going to do it now. He's taken over the housework with no complaint — and not only that, he's the one who forbade me from doing it anymore. He's helped me with all my projects and things I can't physically do anymore, AND it seems we might actually be meeting in the middle on some baby names (finally!!). Throughout all of Evan's life, Aaron has absolutely been an equal parenting partner, and I know that when the twins get here we'll be an awesome team. It takes so much stress out of this situation knowing that I will be supported by this guy 100 percent.

And even though he may put up a fuss like nobody's business, my little Mr. The Dude is pretty awesome. Evan turned 3 last month, and it's like he turned a corner that day. He has been so much more content, happy, and silly, not to mention more independent and loving. Yes, he has his share of tantrums, but what child doesn't? Besides, they are dwindling and he's happier to get with the program and live up to his "Big Boy" status now. Evan is absolutely one of a kind and has me cracking up with the things he says and does. Being stranded at home most days is actually pretty entertaining with this knucklehead putting on a one-man-show.

This is still to say nothing of the truly wonderful friends and family who have also stepped up to help out. I can't say enough about my parents and in-laws taking care of Evan when we need it — especially my dad, who will drop whatever he's doing and take Evan for the entire day if I need it. I know Evan really loves his days with Papa, and it's a bond that will last a lifetime. The offers of help from friends and neighbors keep coming in, and rest assured I will take every single one of you up on those offers when these babies finally make their arrival! I feel really blessed to be surrounded by such a wonderful community. 

Until then, don't be shy to come for a visit. I don't get out as much as I used to, and I fear the days will get pretty bleak without some more social interaction. So drop me a line and stop on by. I may be slightly unkempt and plopped on the sofa, but I'm always up for a little chat.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Twin pregnancy: Week 26

I've worked really hard on being upbeat about this pregnancy, but the time has come to just say it:

Being pregnant with twins sucks.

It's a good thing I got this silly, goofy belly pic out of the way at week 24, because from here on out, you probably won't see such happiness from me for a while.

Granted, I was being sarcastically happy here. I keep getting flak from friends and family about having such cranky, mug shot-looking belly pics, like so:

I'm not trying to look grumpy, and I don't even feel grumpy in these shots; I just really dislike my profile and don't relish having pictures taken of it.

Now, however, I'm feeling the grumpy.

Actually, what I'm really feeling is pain. Before, I'd get the occasional twinges and stretching sensations — uncomfortable and unpleasant, but bearable. Now it seems that about every four or five weeks the babies (and, subsequently, my belly) go through a growth spurt. The first round of this at about 17 weeks wasn't great, but it wasn't so bad either. Week 21 was pretty painful, with Braxton Hicks contractions starting in earnest, but still bearable. Now, at week 26, I'm dying. I'm ready to just curl up on the couch and stay there until this whole experience is over.

It's not just the pain itself that has me wanting to throw in the towel; much of the agony is due to the sheer repetition of it. Just when I start to feel a bit better, in a few short hours it starts all over again. I am now on day 5 of this growth spurt with no end in sight — and my doctor tells me this is likely to be the norm from here on out. Which makes sense, considering the babies are about 2 pounds each but only have 12 more weeks to grow about 4 additional pounds apiece.

What's worse, there's not much to relieve the pain. That's because it's not a muscle pain or even a contraction that you can ease with a warm bath, Tylenol or massage. These babies are growing, fast, and while that's a wonderful thing, my poor belly just can't handle it. Every bit of tissue is being stretched, every muscle is being pulled apart, every organ is being smashed. And on top of it — literally — two hard, writhing, thrashing lumps of baby are bursting out every which way, apparently trying to make a break for it directly through my skin.

Oh, and have I mentioned the throat-boiling acid reflux and the return of the morning sickness? And the exhaustion that never left? And the shortness of breath that occasionally sends me into a panic attack because I can't get enough air? And the restless leg syndrome that keeps me awake all night — that and having to pee every two hours and the fact that we cannot agree on names for these baby girls for the life of us?

Yeah. Being pregnant with twins sucks.

This is why it always boggles my mind when people tell me they're jealous, that they've always wanted twins. I can kind of get this in theory; if you have terrible pregnancies and you really love babies, then sure, having two at once sounds like a dream come true. But this is no dream, my friends. This nightmare is my reality, and guess what? I have three months to go, and it's only going to get harder — to say nothing of the next 18 years ahead of us in which we must parent not one, but two children at the exact same stage (along with their older brother). So forgive me if I stare at you, incredulous, and ask, "Really? You really want twins??"

All right, that's enough out of me. I can't be all doom and gloom with no silver lining. When I look at the bigger picture, I actually have it pretty great. Yes, this feels pretty icky right now, but in the grand scheme of things I'm having an incredibly healthy pregnancy. Both babies are growing right on schedule and are as healthy as can be. And other than the pain and discomfort, there is nothing actually wrong with me — such a great blessing when you consider all the horrible things that could and often do go wrong in a twin pregnancy. In fact, I've actually had some really great things happen. For instance:

  • I have zero stretch marks or varicose veins!
  • My babies are perfectly formed and growing strong!
  • My husband has taken over all the housework!
  • My son has started kissing my belly and "giving loves to the babies"!
  • I finally found some really cute and comfy maternity jeans!

And this is just some easy-to-find surface stuff. I probably could have devoted this entire post and then some to all the wonderful things in my life right now, just as easily as I did all this negative stuff. But sometimes, a girl just has to vent. And when that girl has twice the pregnancy hormones coursing through her veins, it becomes an imperative.

To keep myself focused on the positive, a few weeks ago I came up with my twin pregnancy mantra. I should probably plaster this all over my house to remind myself that yeah, this does suck, but I'm actually doing something pretty amazing, so it's worth it:

"Some people run marathons or climb Everest.
I grow two babies at once."

Thank you for indulging me in this rare but necessary pity party. I just want the reality to be known that this is no picnic. It is exhausting, physically demanding work — night and day, day and night, taxing my body from head to toe. Not that I want some pat on the back (though a massage of some sort would be awesome right about now); I just want the truth to be known, that growing babies — whether one, two, three or more — is incredibly, astoundingly difficult.

So the next time a pregnant woman in your life starts crying over "nothing" and will not be content until she has consumed an entire carton of ice cream, give her a hug and then go get her a refill. The lady has earned it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nursery odds and ends

Now that we know we're for sure having twin girls, I've been dying to get the nursery set up. The trouble is, the room looks like this:

It's currently the office/junk room. (And yes, that is a painting of Jimi Hendrix. Long story.) It's killing me that it's such a disaster, but I have been relegated to the couch and/or bed most days lately, so it's really slow going getting it cleaned out. My husband's been a champ getting a lot of it done, but most of the stuff in there is mine so I still have a lot to do.

Nevertheless, my wheels are turning. After kicking around a few twin nursery ideas, we have officially decided to go with an "Alice in Wonderland" theme. I'm so excited to actually have a girlie space in my house, as most of it is pretty dark and masculine (what can I say, I like visual drama), but this also allows my bold and colorful side to come out. 

When I first started putting together a mood board, I designed more of a nod to the stories by Lewis Carroll and the bygone era from which they came:

If you'll recall, I already have the $15 thrift store chair and the vintage dresser (plus the boring crib, but it pays to be frugal so I'm keeping it) so I'm well on my way.

But then one day while cruising through Target I was stopped dead in my tracks by these crazy curtains:

I was smitten. True, they are pretty bold, and not in keeping with the soft, delicate feel of the mood board. But what is "Alice in Wonderland" if not wildly vivid, even a touch psychedelic? It made me take a closer look at the Disney movie and the concept art by Mary Blair:

Truly inspiring. So the vision has been adjusted, and a new mood board is in progress trying to mesh the two ideas:

Not as complete or cohesive, but I'm still working on it. In the meantime, I keep finding totally awesome stuff for the nursery, like this $5 huka-looking lamp from the thrift store that my husband has painted bright purple:

And this teapot nightlight that makes me want to die of cuteness:

I also have a little medicine bottle and heart-shaped keepsake box for an "Eat Me" "Drink Me" homage, and wait until you see the piece de resistance: the mad tea party-inspired mobile I'm going to make. It's gonna be awesome.

In the meantime, I'm stuck picking away at the room one itty bitty piece at a time (*insert sad, pouty face*). It's maddening to be so restricted, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Twin pregnancy: Week 21

One of the best things about the frequent doctor's appointments required for a twin pregnancy is the number of ultrasounds we get to have. Our latest set was last week, the big anatomy scan, otherwise known as the 20-week ultrasound where you're most likely to find out the gender of your baby.

For us, the prediction made by the tech at 14 weeks was confirmed: We are expecting two girls!

And by the looks of things, we are also expecting two kickboxers. It's no wonder Baby B likes to hide out on my right side — she was getting a foot-to-face beatdown from Baby A, whose feet were right in her face.

It was funny to watch and a little sad that in response, Baby B kept putting her arms and hands in front of her face to fend off the kicks.

But not to worry; Baby B could give as good as she got.

I guess it's to be expected when they're in such close quarters. Even though they are in separate amniotic sacs, the membrane is about as thin as cellophane (though thankfully much stronger). It's no wonder I feel these two kicking and moving all day long. They are not only jockeying for position and fighting for space, they're constantly throwing elbows and knees and then trying to get the heck out of the way. Must be rough being a twin in utero. I mean, can you even tell what's going on or who is who or what is what in these two pics?

While the ultrasounds are always fun, they've taken on a more serious tone of late. In the past I have always taken this milestone for granted. When I was pregnant with Evan (and even before), the 20-week ultrasound was just the chance to finally get a glimpse at your baby-to-be, find out the gender, and take home a cute little black and white photo of Junior. But now having three vastly different pregnancy experiences, I realize this is actually serious business. 

It's called an "anatomy scan" because that's what the doctor is doing: scanning the baby's anatomy from head to toe to be sure all the organs are in working order. I have known too many parents whose scans did not go well, and in the week before my own scan there were three other mothers on my Twins and Multiples message board who found out they lost one or both of their babies at such an appointment. After having lost a pregnancy myself and realizing that a twin pregnancy contains many perils, I now approach these appointments with equal parts excitement and trepidation. It's another reminder of how precious life is, and that the things we take for granted are not always given to everyone.

With that all going through my mind, it was with great relief and joy to hear that both babies are healthy and growing perfectly. There are no deformities or imperfections, and their growth is right where it should be. How blessed we are indeed to have such a healthy pregnancy.

And it's a good thing I was able to have that perspective, too, because this week has been particularly rough. I've started having Braxton Hicks contractions, which is normal at this stage of a twin pregnancy. But I was having them for more than 48 hours straight, followed by an intense shooting pain. I could still feel both babies moving, so I knew they were OK, but the doctor was concerned that too many contractions (mild as they were) could be preparing my body for labor already, so I had to check into the hospital to be sure everything was all right.

The only thing worse than going into the Labor & Delivery ward for pre-term labor is leaving without any answers. The nurses were able to determine that there has been no actual labor progression, thank the heavens above, but they don't know why I was having so many contractions or what that horrible pain is. It could be that the contractions were causing the pain, or the pain causing the contractions. It could be that the babies are just growing so fast that my body can't keep up. Whatever is going on, it hurts like the dickens and I am terrified that the next 16 or so weeks will be more of the same, or worse.

Subsequently, I've been on the couch or in bed for two days straight, and although it has helped with the pain, it's killing me to be incapacitated. I don't like feeling helpless, and even worse I don't like actually BEING helpless. Luckily I have one amazing husband who has been taking care of Evan and me and doing all of the housework (a girl can definitely get used to THAT!) and we have wonderful family who jump to help when asked.

So thank goodness for silver linings, or else I would probably be losing my mind right now. I'm choosing to focus on the thought that I am just so awesome at growing babies my body can't handle the two supergirls and their bodies of steel. I am hoping that it's just a growth spurt and in a few more days I'll be back on my feet, at least enough to feel like I'm participating in life.

In the meantime, if you need me I'll be catching up on my Netflix queue. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Twin pregnancy: Week 20

Here we are, the pregnancy midpoint: 20 weeks down, 20 to go — that is, in a typical singleton pregnancy. When you've got two (or more) on board, you're blessedly spared the last few agonizing weeks of pregnancy. Full-term for twins is 37 weeks, and my doctor assured me she wouldn't let me go past 38. So what I'm saying is, I'm more than halfway there!

I have some oh-so-kind friends who jokingly claim I'm just too small to be hiding two babies in there. A lovely thought, and perhaps seemingly true, until you contrast this picture with the one from my pregnancy with Evan also taken at 20 weeks:

Also as proof, though no one but myself can tell: the constant chaos that is two babies moving in utero. I've been feeling them for weeks now, which is actually quite a delight — especially since they're too small to be causing real pain yet. The funny thing is how differently they move: Baby A (the "technical term" given by my docs for the lower twin) hangs out super low in my pelvis and makes her presence known with constant pressure and a flurry of little rapid-fire kicks. Baby B (the top-bunk twin) hardly kicks at all but instead hangs out on my right side, occasionally trying to push her way out through my skin. It's the strangest feeling, not just because of what she's doing (and because a hard little lump will pop up right where she's pushing) but because of where she is: If my belly button is 12 o'clock, then she's over between 2 and 3 o'clock. Very odd feeling indeed.

The good news about this pregnancy is, it has been entirely uneventful. Such a relief after the last time. Not only that, but although I am still pretty exhausted, am starting to have occasional intense back and pelvic pain, and have 24/7 heartburn and reflux like the eternal flames of hell, the nausea is gone and I'm actually feeling really good. I have two doctor's appointments and an ultrasound this week (hooray!), and hopefully the medical squad will confirm that all is well and we are progressing like champions.

The other bit of good news is, I'm no longer terrified. I've had nearly three months to adjust to the thought of two newborns at once, and here's what I've decided: No doubt about it, it's going to be hard. It may even be the most challenging thing I've ever undertaken, and I may be wallowing in misery and hating life for a while. But I've got two really good things going for me: perspective and help.

Although this twin business is entirely new territory, motherhood isn't. Honestly I have no idea how I made it out of Evan's newborn period alive, what with the colic, reflux, milk intolerance, torticollis, plagicephaly, and bleak postpartum depression. But we did in fact make it, and now I know this: It passes, and soon enough the rough stuff will all have been forgotten. As a first-time mom, all I knew was, "This SUCKS. My life is over. This agony is my reality. I will never be human again. Woe is me." Now I know that, yes, I will probably feel that way at some point this time around, but when my rational mind returns to me I will remember that it will not, in fact, last forever. It WILL pass quicker than expected. I'm OK to live in my pajamas, unshowered, eating microwaveable meals and surviving on four hours of sleep a night for the first few months, because it will only be a few short months. Even if those months actually turn out to equal a year (or more), eventually it will all pass and a happier, more clean and well-fed era will begin.

As for the help, all I can say is how touched I am at the offers that have already begun pouring in. I am incredibly blessed to have the support system that I do, with family, friends, neighbors and even people I barely know offering one service or another when the time comes, or even before. One amazing gal even came over to play with my child for a while I took a nap — an act that was so desperately needed and greatly appreciated. There are so many good people in this world, and I am humbled to realize I live among them.

So, onward and upward! Here's to a healthy and happy 17-ish more weeks!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The great minivan debate

A little something from the files of "Things I thought I'd never hear myself say":

"Believe me, my dear, if I ever got to the point where it was Mom Jeans or perish, I'd take the jeans. I'm not a defeatist, I'm a survivor. You do what you have to do."

This gem comes from a text message conversation with the hubby in which we discuss, yet again, the very real possibility that some day we might actually be begging for a minivan, despite our current vehement moral objections.

His position is that a minivan is certain death. This used to also be my position, that to concede to a minivan would be to admit that you no longer resemble the person you once were or ever hoped to be, and that any semblance of dignity, pride or lingering "coolness" would be smashed, ne'er to return again.

But now, I am about to be the parent of three children ages 3 and under.

Let me be clear, I do not WANT minivan, now or ever. But I can actually, for the first time, see that there might be a moment in the not-so-distant future where this kind of moral compromise would be the very thing that saves my life, in terms of sanity — precious, fleeting sanity.

So I said to my husband, "I won't admit defeat yet; all I'm saying is we may get to the point where dignity be damned, we need that freaking minivan."

I get why he's holding out so dearly. I mean, after all, becoming a parent is quite a shock — not just for the fact that parenting is mind-bogglingly difficult and OH MY GOSH IT NEVER ENDS, but that it is drastically life-altering in and of itself before you even factor in trying to do it the "right way." All those things you rolled your eyes at or swore you'd never do, at some point, you will do some version of those very things. Mark my words, friends: you will, and there will be no going back.

So yeah, I get that as a parent who had at least some semblance of identity and self-esteem once upon a time, there are certain things you want to be able to say you resisted, that you never did no matter how fiercely the demands of parenthood beat upon you.

And so I likened a minivan to Mom Jeans:

"We all have our limits," I texted to my husband. "Mine is Mom Jeans and general frumpiness, so don't worry, I'm not giving up either."

But wait a minute... At this moment, I'm only wearing half of the cute outfit I put on this morning, the funky yellow belt long ago ditched and the non-maternity leggings replaced by oh-so-divinely-comfortable maternity pants, and I am literally barefoot and pregnant right now, and I am certain that I will be wearing muumuus by the end of this twin pregnancy and loving it.

Because you know what? Dignity be damned, I need to get out of this business alive.

So, are we rushing to the dealership to trade in the 4Runner for a minivan? Nope. Not even close. Will that day ever come? Who knows. As my husband says, if he has anything to do with it, no. Never.

But I say, never say never. I just want to survive parenthood, and if that eventually means Mom Jeans and a minivan, well, sorry, husband, and sorry Lindsay of days gone by. Girl, you had no idea what you were getting yourself into.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Twin pregnancy: Week 17

This pregnancy thing is getting real. 

I'm 17 weeks along, which in a twin pregnancy is almost halfway there. Sadly, that does not mean I'm free of the fun first trimester symptoms, like nausea and if-I-have-to-take-another-step-I-will-literally-collapse exhaustion. Now, I also get to add on belly pain and acid reflux so bad I'm not so sure I'll have an intact esophagus after all this. 

I'm also pretty noticeably pregnant. It's hard to objectively say how far along I actually look, but at my 15-week appointment the doc said I was measuring about 17.5 weeks (excellent for twin growth). Even though I felt so big, I had only gained 7 lbs., so it must be all in the gut (I flatter myself).

Now, at 17 weeks, I feel crazy big -- ridiculous, because I'm not that huge. I don't have a pic this week, but it's just that compared to when I was pregnant with Evan, I look more like I did at 22 weeks: 

Oy. And I can definitely feel it. I have crazy pains all throughout my belly -- sometimes like cramps, sometimes like muscles stretching, sometimes like shocks of lightning, always like there's a bowling ball pushing down on my pelvis. It is unpleasant, to say the least. And it's only going to keep going.

The irony is, some days I feel enormous while others I worry that I'm too small and the babies aren't growing enough. Such is my paranoia. 

But all that -- that's just me being whiny. On top of the not-so-fun aspects of double pregnancy, I am really getting excited about having twins. This is largely due to the fact that, at my 14-week appointment, both the fetal-medicine specialist and the ultrasound tech were about 75% sure we are having TWO GIRLS!

Baby B with her little hand underneath her chin

Notice the line across the middle with Baby A's face peeking from the bottom.

It was still pretty early to be sure, but at my next ultrasound we should be certain. All I know is, with the kind of wacky hormones I've got going on, I know there's at least one little lady in there. There's just no other way to explain the crazy. (At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

The funny thing is, I had no idea how much I wanted two girls until they told me that's (likely) what we have. When I was first pregnant, before I knew there were two babies in there, I thought I wanted a boy. I get boys now, and Evan would have a buddy. Plus we have all boy stuff. But when they said two girls, I could not believe how excited I was. I guess I wanted this all along but perhaps didn't dare to hope. 

It's funny how, along with seeking out some sort of crystal ball to help you get any potential glimpse of the future, your mind also turns to the past when you're pregnant. At least it has for me. I've been thinking a lot about myself as a little girl. 

When I was young I was a very typical girl. I loved playing dress ups, spent hours coloring and drawing princess dresses, and watched "Cinderella" so much I had each and every word memorized. I loved to read and even used my beloved toy kitchen to play library. When I was 3 or 4 I was in dance class, but then I discovered sports and that was it for me. I was kind of on a tomboy incline from then on out. 

Now, at 31 years old, what has changed? I still love sports and play a grown-up version of dress ups whenever I get the chance. I love words almost more than anything, and I still have "Cinderella" memorized. 

It's amazing how, no matter what happens in life, so much of who we are is boldly evident almost from day one. As a parent, this is both daunting and endearing. It's fun to wonder who these little people will be and hope our mini-me's actually become the best versions of ourselves -- and yet the challenge is to understand their complexities and love them no matter how baffling they and their actions may seem. (I feel this almost daily with a wild and wacky little boy who is so often such a complete mystery to me.)

So while I may daydream of two little dark-haired, dark-eyed darlings who will twirl their princess dresses and stay up late reading their favorite books, I know that I don't get to choose who they are or who they will become. I can hope and pray they turn out OK and then do everything in my power as a parent to steer them to correct paths, but it's up to them to decide who they are going to be. They come to this earth with a spirit all their own and an important mission to accomplish. I only hope I can love my children for who they are, no matter what they may ultimately choose to do, and encourage them to be the absolute best versions of themselves, not just figments of my pregnant, idealistic imagination.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Mommy Wars: Just let it go

I'm going to break away from the twinsanity for a minute on this post, and it probably won't be very popular, mostly because I may be alone in feeling this way. But I wanted to chime in on something that's getting a lot of attention lately: The Mommy Wars.

What I have to say is probably not what you've heard before. At least, I've never heard it before, and that's why I wanted to speak up. What I want to say is, I don't get it.

I just don't get what the fighting is about. I mean, I get it — moms are judging other moms, and some leave feeling superior while others leave feeling insecure and beat down — but what I don't get is, why are you mommies letting it get to you?

Hear me out: I know that "just letting it go" is so much easier said than done. I know that although we may have heard and said a million times, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me," we have all been deeply wounded by words, by glances, whispers, and opinions. Words, whether spoken or not, do hurt, and can scar. But what I'm about to say next is very important:

Non-physical pain can only hurt us if we let it. 

This is not an empty phrase, some mantra I cut and pasted from a self-help book. This is a truth that took me years to believe. And I do believe it, with all my heart. I absolutely know that it's true, because I've spent just as many years learning to heal non-physical pain without anyone's help but my own, in spite of the people and circumstances around me and despite brain chemistry that tells me I am incapable of peace and happiness.

So I'm going to say it again:

Non-physical pain can only hurt us if we let it.

Yes, it is easier said than done to "just let it go," but believe me when I say that learning how to let things go will change your life. I don't mean in a vague, "This is a nice way to live" kind of way, although that's true, too. I mean it will literally change everything about yourself, because it will change your outlook on life, the people around you, and how you feel about the person you are becoming.

I promise you this: If you focus your energy on letting things go instead of on the hurt, you will be a different person, one who feels love and patience for others, no matter how frustrating their actions may seem. You will feel confident in your own actions and be able to cut yourself some slack when you're not at your best. You will be ready to try again tomorrow, because you will not hold onto the mistakes of yesterday except to learn from them before leaving them behind. You will not be blinded by the faults of others but instead be eager to see all that is good in them, and you will be much more capable of helping to bring out those shining qualities. And because of this, the people around you will seem to change before your very eyes.

How exactly to "just let it go" is for another post, because it could probably fill an entire book. And I am no expert, I have just walked the path and learned how to do it for myself. I will share my experience another day, but for now I'm going to get back to the Mommy Wars.

Here's where my opinion is not going to be very popular.

The fact is, some mothers are better than others. It's a plain truth that's easy to see when you read of a drug-addicted mom who leaves as many dirty needles as dirty diapers lying around the house. Even outside of extreme examples, this is still invariably true. But from my perspective, rather than engage in the wars and the pity parties and the backbiting, I believe my time is better served learning from the mothers who are better than I instead of tearing them down or being jealous of their accomplishments. So much of what I know about parenting (which, as a relatively new mom, is admittedly not a lot) I've learned from other mothers, and I am so grateful for their ideas, experiences, and wisdom. Without it, I'd still be in that newborn-phase fog, unshowered and wandering around in my pajamas wondering how to survive from day to day.

On the other side of the coin, just because I can learn a lot from other mothers doesn't mean I have to be exactly like them. Diversity in motherhood is a beautiful thing. I can get 10 good ideas from 10 different mothers — and even 10 ideas of what not to do from moms who aren't at their best — and use them to enrich my situation tenfold. It's an all-you-can-eat buffet of life lessons, free for the taking ... but there's a catch.

When we take the good, we have to let go of the bad. This means that when I learn something great from another mom, I can't beat myself up over the fact that I have been doing it wrong. It is not a judgment on my character or my abilities as a parent that someone else figured it out before I did; and even if another mother tried to make me feel that way, it doesn't mean I have to believe it.

The best part is, I know that I don't have to be everything to everyone. I don't have to be crafty and stylish and an amazing chef and homeschool my kids and teach them to read by the time they're 3 and have clever, exciting dates with my husband every week. I can work on the talents I have and maybe try some new ones, but if I'm not great at making tissue paper pompoms or refinishing furniture then so what? I am who I am, I like what I like, there's room for improvement when I'm up for it, and that's the end of it.

As long as I am truly doing the best that I can, that is all that matters. And truth be told, I'm not doing the best I can every minute of every day, because I'm human and have some really rough times, too. (Full disclosure: While writing this article I stopped and yelled at my son for banging on the bedroom door when he should have been taking a nap. This is real life, folks.) But I know that I can always try again, and life will get better and I will be better and my son will be happier and better off.

In the end, no one else can make me feel bad about myself without my permission. That's another cut-and-paste mantra I believe, because it is also very, very true. Once the words leave someone else's mouth, it's up to me to decide if I'm going to let them go or hold onto them indefinitely.

So are you going to learn from other mothers, condemn them, or condemn yourself?

It's entirely up to you to decide if you're going to get caught in the war.

Now that I've gotten to the end of my message, I realize it's been said before by someone so much more capable than I, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I'm going to leave that with you, and a beautiful visual reminder from My Sister's Suitcase:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nursery for two

Ever since I received the shocking news that I was not expecting one baby in February, as I had suspected, but two babies in January, I did what any normal person would do in this situation: freak out.

But now that reality has sunk in and I've been assured the babies are healthy and growing (thank goodness), I'm starting to get more excited. Yes, having two newborns and one preschooler will be an incredible challenge, but I'm up for it. You know how I know this? It's not because I actually believe it myself, or that I have any clue how I'm going to make it work. It's because Heavenly Father does not give us more than we are capable of handling. Period. (And really, there's just no way this could possibly be as difficult as what I went through in my untreated bipolar days, and I not only lived to tell the tale, I became an infinitely better person because of them.)

So you know what?


OK, now that I've gotten that out, let's get into to some warm-and-fuzzy baby stuff, shall we? Today's item of business: the twin nursery.

Back when I thought there was just one little tot in there, I had already planned the perfect boy nursery: a space-themed room that wasn't a space-themed room, ya know what I mean? Definitely spacey, but sophisticated. I actually started working on this idea when I was pregnant with Evan, before we knew he was a he. When I was 16 weeks pregnant we were at Disneyland and discovered you can buy prints of vintage ride posters, like so:

The problem was, we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl, so we didn't end up buying any. We came up with a gorgeous nursery inspired by these posters instead:

Funny enough, I never actually took pictures of the nursery itself (probably because it wasn't finished until after Evan was born), and now that he has a Big Boy Bed it's all been changed. Just take my word, it was lovely — craftsman style, classic, yet soft — and my favorite room in the house.

So anyway: I went back to my first idea and drew inspiration from Disneyland's Tomorrowland posters and came up with this little boy nursery:

I already have key pieces, like the crib, rocket night light, toy robot, and a similar floor lamp and clock, so the rest would be easy enough to put together.

The girl's nursery has been harder for me to dream up, perhaps because I've never actually created a truly feminine space in my life. Seriously, while there are plenty of feminine touches in my house, it's all pretty heavy and masculine. I must have quite a bit of a manly side.

At any rate, I have this amazing vintage dresser I adopted from my aunt and uncle, which I painted like so:

Dreamy, isn't it?

To go with it, I pictured lots of soft pastels, like salmon and pale yellow; a fluffy white sheepskin rug; and of course a chandelier. Perhaps something like this gem from Project Nursery:

I even fancied an "Alice in Wonderland" nursery, but it's SO theme-y it seems a little hard to pull off with any practicality:

So I let the girl nursery ideas simmer for a bit and thought, "I'll cross that bridge when I get there." But then with the twin news I had a new scenario to content with: a shared, gender-neutral nursery.


This was a tough one for me, but I did find some lovely inspiration online:

(Again, a bit on the masculine side, but I could soften it up)

But what really caught my interest was this "Fantastic Mr. Fox" nursery mood board from 100layercakelet:

I think it's the colors that I really love, so I kept the mint dresser in mind, went with the color palette, and came up with something I love for a boy/girl shared nursery:

I am smitten. Sadly, though, I don't have as many pieces (and I could never afford that $1,170 orb chandelier!!), but I do have key ones: the crib, both dressers and that chair — yes, the actual chair, that I picked up from the thrift store today. It is dreamy, in excellent condition, and with enough color in it that I could push it silver for my space-boy nursery or pale blue for the girlie pastel nursery. The best part of it is, the guy gave me a discount. I walked away with my dream chair for $15! 

So, perhaps it's fate. Perhaps there really is a boy and a girl in there (although can I pause and freak out again for one little moment that there are TWO FREAKING BABIES IN THERE!!?!?!!!), and now that I have the perfect gender-neutral nursery, I can REALLY start getting excited about my little twinners.

In the meantime, here's to hoping that it's not too early to tell: I have my first appointment with the fetal-medicine specialist and we're going to try to find out the gender TOMORROW MORNING!! HOORAY!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Along came a miracle...

The unintentional blogging hiatus hasn't truly been for naught. So much has been going on that I've wanted to write about, but we chose to keep the news to ourselves for a while. But now the time has come to make our big announcement:

You read that right: We're expecting twins!

Believe me, no one was shocked more than Aaron and I to receive this news. Learning that you're going to have not one, but two babies at once is mind-blowing, to say the least — especially after what happened with my last pregnancy. It truly is a testament that God does not forget us. Things may not happen the way we want, hope, or expect, but if we have faith they will happen just the way they're supposed to.

Confession: That's not to say we're completely thrilled with the news. To be honest, I think we're equal parts excited and terrified. We realize what an incredible blessing this is, but it is also incredibly daunting. Every single day for the past few months I've had to balance the excitement of pregnancy with the fear that something will go wrong again. I've been just as grateful as I have been anxious, and it's exhausting to have those two emotions raging in equal share.

Now that I'm almost 12 weeks along and the risk of miscarriage is practically nil, I have a host of different worries, some of them great, some of them small. Will I be able to carry the babies full-term? At 5'2" with narrow hips, what on earth will happen to my body to make this pregnancy possible? And how am I going to come back from that?

Then there's the issue of helping Evan adjust to life with not one, but two new siblings — to say nothing of what a challenge it's going to be having two newborns at once! Will my postpartum depression come back? Will they be just as difficult as Evan was as a baby? Will they be easier? Will I be able to give all three children the love and attention they need?

And lastly, how on earth will we be able to afford any of it?

I don't want to sound ungrateful — words simply cannot express my gratitude that I am not only pregnant again, and we are healthy, but that I am being entrusted with two little spirits at once. But the plain truth is, I just don't know how to process it all yet. I don't know that I ever will; I think it will be one huge learn-as-you-go experience and I will have no choice but to take it as it comes. This does not sit well with a person like me, but perhaps that's why I'm being given this challenge. Therefore, I will accept it, and do my best to accept it gladly.

Now that we're finally spreading the news, however, I am simply loving all the well-wishes. Your enthusiasm is contagious, and it's what I desperately need right now. So thank you all so very, very much! I know that as things progress I'll be able to take it all in better and see the joys more than the unknown, and for that I am excited indeed.

I've been getting a lot of questions since we broke the news, so I thought I'd post a little FAQ.

Q: When did you find out?

A: Two-and-a-half weeks ago, at my first OB appointment. I was 9 or 10 weeks along and the doc wheeled in the little portable ultrasound machine so we could make sure there was a heartbeat and to check the dates. After just a few seconds she said, "Oh! There's two!" Shocked, I yelled, "Shut up!" And then I started laughing. It was so unexpected, and so baffling and exciting at the same time. She immediately sent me to get a full ultrasound to confirm this, and sure enough, there were two little babies, their tiny hearts beating away.

Q: How did you tell your husband?

A: He was at work and I wanted to tell him in person, so I had to wait about five hours for him to get home. It was torture, but I kept quiet and waited. When he got home I casually said, "I got an ultrasound printout. Take a look." His reaction was exactly mine: "Shut up!" Then he refused to believe me (as if I'd ever played a practical joke on him), until he finally realized this was legit.

Q: Do twins run in your family?

A: Not really. I have one set of  fraternal twin cousins and on Aaron's side there are twins a few generations up, but nothing to suggest we were predisposed to have twins ourselves.

Q: Were you on fertility drugs?

A: Nope. This is completely spontaneous.

Q: How far along are you?

A: Almost 12 weeks, so a third of the way done!

Q: When are you due?

A: The official due date is February 10, but twins are usually born between 35 and 37 weeks, putting it some time in January.

Q: How have you been feeling?  

A: It depends on the day. I'm exhausted beyond all reason and have had some terribly sick days, but on the whole I think things are improving at last. Hooray!

Again, thank you all for your enthusiasm and kind words. I'm starting to see all the wonderful benefits of having twins, and I am eager to keep going down that road.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Two pregnancies, one baby

Today is April 29, 2013. This date doesn't have any significance to most people, but to me it will always be the day that my second child was supposed to be due.

Supposed to be. If things had gone according to plan. But of course, things don't always go according to plan. In this pregnancy story, hardly anything went the way it was supposed to.

This story actually begins before the beginning, long before the birth of my son, Evan, who is now 2-and-a-half years old. Aaron and I were trying for a baby the last few months of 2009, but we decided to put things on hold when I was offered a new job. I always joke that Evan must have heard us talking and didn't want to wait, because just a few months later, to our great surprise, I wound up pregnant anyway. Little did I know just how lucky we were.

The pregnancy went better than expected at first. I was hardly nauseous and only threw up once, and other than the occasional migraine, I felt great. So great, in fact, that I felt confident staying off my bipolar medications and have been without a serious episode ever since. Toward the end of the pregnancy, however, I developed pre-eclampsia. At 37 weeks labor was induced, and there I stayed for 36 hours —12 of which were unmedicated as I went through an entire day not realizing that awful cramping pain was from contractions, and the last 6 hours were of back labor that the epidural didn't touch, as the baby became posterior. The midwives were finally able to turn him after my water broke, but he was still breach, so after a few hours of pushing it became clear that a C-section was necessary. Still, off I went to the operating room with a smile, excited to have it all over with and get this baby here, safe and sound. But then the shakes started, so violently I had to be held to the table. I didn't dare open my eyes, using every ounce of concentration to calm myself so that I didn't bite off my tongue or sink into a panic attack.

And then Evan was born.

He was healthy and thriving, 7 lbs. 1 oz. 20 inches long, with little wisps of dark blonde hair and eyes so brown they were almost black.

I don't remember much about the rest of that night, only that I was too scared that I would drop him because of the shaking, so I wouldn't let the doctor give him to me yet. When I finally did hold him, I was so exhausted I could barely open my eyes. But he opened his, and I was shocked to find out that his eyes were exactly like mine, that this tiny little boy actually looked like me.

After that experience, well, I kind of wished there was some medal to be had for enduring a ridiculous labor, because I was sure I had earned it. But then, there's no pretty way to deliver a baby. You do what you gotta do, and then you thank heaven for a healthy baby if you're blessed to get that far. And we were.

The months (and years) that followed weren't easy, either. Evan is as strong-willed as they come, and he's made it known since day one. More often than not, he was doing this...

And this...

And this...

Don't get me wrong; it has also been a truly wonderful journey, and Evan learned how to be happy at last...

But between that and the memory of my marathon of labor, neither Aaron or I have been brave enough to take on the task again. So we waited for the day we would feel ready for baby #2.

We never felt ready, but that didn't stop Mother Nature. Again to our great surprise, I ended up pregnant last August.

This time, everything was different.

When I saw that little pink plus show up on that home pregnancy test, I burst into tears. I was terrified. Could I really do it all over again? And how could I with an angry toddler at my heels? But the scariest question was, how would we pay for any of it?

Aaron was only slightly less afraid than I, but we did our best to be excited, teasing each other once more about the horrid names we could give this child. But try as we might — and believe me, we tried — we could not truly get excited. For me, beyond the financial anxiety, the hardest part was trying to find some sort of emotional connection to the pregnancy. My belly grew and the nausea was ever-present, so I knew it wasn't a hallucination. But I just could not get my head around it and my heart into it.

Around week 8 I had resigned myself to the situation, and then all-out forced myself to be happy about it. And by week 9, I kind of was. I was excited for the possibility of having a girl, and I started pinning nurseries to Pinterest with reckless abandon. Aaron and I agreed on a name for a boy and continued the good-natured trash talking of each other's choice of girl names. Evan was getting easier by the day, and it seemed like things were starting to fall into place. Like I could do this, we could do this, and it would be great.

But then, one Thursday afternoon in late September, I started spotting. And again, I burst into tears. I called Aaron in an absolute panic, and in between the sobs, I told him what happened and said, as calmly as I could, "I don't think there will be a baby." For all my weeks of wrestling with ambivalence, suddenly the thought of it all being over shook me to my core. I was devastated.

When I regained my composure I called the midwife. She told me not to jump to conclusions, that this happens to many women and I could still go on to have a healthy pregnancy. I tried to hold onto hope, but somehow I knew it would not happen.

The midwife also told me that if it was to be a miscarriage, there was nothing to be done. You cannot prevent it, you cannot stop it once the process has begun, and most importantly, it was not my fault.

I went into my first prenatal appointment the next day, a Friday, trying to keep an open mind. The midwife said it wasn't clear that a miscarriage was imminent, and although I could have had an ultrasound to find out for sure if the baby was alive and growing, I declined. The $600 bill was a huge factor, but beyond that, despite all the encouragement, I still just knew that a baby was not coming.

For two more days I waited, swallowing the panic and trying to get lost in everyday activities. Besides Aaron, only two other people knew that I was even pregnant, so to call someone up to say, "I'm pregnant, but probably not for long," was unthinkable. Even with Aaron there wasn't much to be said. It was a cross I had to bear alone.

And then on Monday it happened. The bleeding had steadily increased over the weekend, but on October 1st, when I was 10 weeks pregnant, my fears were finally confirmed. I called my parents and had to say what I had dreaded: "I was pregnant, but I'm having a miscarriage." They were so caring and sympathetic, and took Evan for the morning. In what was another tender mercy, Evan took a three-hour nap, and in the afternoon I called our babysitter and again told her the news. Without question she came and picked up Evan, and again Aaron took him out in the evening. I was alone, but it's just what I needed. I was in such physical pain — a parallel to labor, but less intense — but by that point, the emotional anguish was gone. Worse than the final knowledge that we would not be having the baby was the four days of agony of not knowing one way or the other. The question was finally answered, and at long last I could put it all to rest.

And somehow, the next day, I was all right. I knew there was nothing that could have been done, that it wasn't my fault, that it was not meant to be. I was calm, and even at peace. In a lot of ways I think I knew it all along — perhaps why we could never get emotionally attached: There was never meant to be a baby. Perhaps it never even was a baby, no spirit to go with the flesh. Just an experience we had to go through, but for what reason I do not know.

I'd like to say that it made me stronger, but I don't think that's true. I think the truth is even better. This experience confirmed the strength I had built over years of trials and tribulations, confirmed the faith I had that my Heavenly Father is in charge and everything will be all right if I follow His will.

There have been constant reminders over the months, however. Like the friend who announced her due date just a week after mine, and the call from the lab at the hospital asking if I wanted to take part in a pregnancy study two months later, and the box of maternity clothes we had brought up from the basement but never bothered to put away, and the occasional thought that "I would be finding out the gender this week," or "I would be eight months pregnant by now," and of course, "Today is the day my baby was due."

But then again, I would be lying if I said I didn't also have feelings of relief. Not in the days that followed, but in the months. At first I held to those thoughts of, "Well, now we don't have to worry about how we're going to make it all work," to look for the bright side. Now I have thoughts of, "I am so glad I don't have a screaming newborn keeping me up at night right now." But then those thoughts are also tempered by guilt — guilt that I could be so ungrateful for the opportunity, that I would put my selfish comforts above the commandment to raise a family. It's a mental battle I can't win.

It's been a strange journey. But it's given me many fresh perspectives. For one, I realize how blessed I am not to have been destroyed by this. I know this experience has utterly devastated many other women, and my heart aches for them.

Most importantly, it's made me realize how truly, astoundingly blessed I am to have a healthy son, here with me now. It is an unspeakable gift to be given a child of our own, and I am so grateful for him — even all the trials and angst we've been through from birth until this very day, when he spent half of it whining and wailing for reasons I just could not decode. And that childbirth medal? I'm grateful just to have been able to make it that far.

I truly understand now that life is a gift — all of it, every bit of it — even the life that only grew for a few short weeks.

I do not know what is in store for us. Supposedly I am at no greater risk for additional miscarriages, and chances are that any subsequent pregnancies will go according to plan. I am not even sure I can get pregnant again or that we'll ever have another child ... but I still have that unshakable faith that what is meant to be will come to be, and I will survive every storm. No matter what happens or what does not happen, I am not in charge, but that's OK. We will be all right.