First of all let me say God is just full of surprises. I never in all my life thought that I would have a baby - much less TWO! I never was one to want to hold babies, never was a “baby person.” Boy, am I now! They are beautiful, wonderful little creatures that absolutely change your outlook on everything. When I look at them I am AMAZED that God would give up his only Son for us. I am astonished that anyone could ever hurt a child. I am appalled by abortion and I am struck by my own mortality. Truly they change everything. But as to how they got here that is a story all its own. And in my opinion one worth telling so here goes.
I had been married (well, remarried but who’s counting) for almost 4 months when on August 19th I had a dream I will never forget. In the dream I felt the Lord touch my abdomen and tell me by that time next year I would be pregnant. It was a potent enough dream that I gave up coffee (which I love) and wine. I’m a mom of teens so this is saying something :-) I also ate healthy, took vitamins but quite frankly hoped I wouldn’t get pregnant. I was a not-too-cooperative servant of the Lord! After all, I was 36 years old. My husband was 41 and between us we already had 8 kids (2 natural, 6 adopted, but again, who’s counting). Granted, most of them were grown up and gone. I had never been pregnant before - all mine were adopted. To make matters even more complicated just before Christmas I found out that my Army officer husband was being deployed for 9 months.
By the end of February, I found out I was expecting. When I took the pregnancy test I was out of town visiting my Dad. Instantly I was in shock. This was not part of my ten year plan. I called my husband and told him over the phone. He was more excited than me - of course he had already raised babies and he wasn’t the one who would be doing the birthing lol. It just didn’t seem possible. I took excellent care of myself (ate organic foods, took prenatal vitamins, immediately scheduled an appointment with the doctor) but not because I had any desire to be a mother (again) simply because I felt an obligation to the Lord to take good care of this life He had entrusted me with and because I knew at my age (well any age) something could go wrong and I wanted to know I had done all possible to make things go, well, right. But excited I was not. Scared? Absolutely. Nervous, unsure, feeling like my life had been highjacked from me? You better believe it. But excited. Not so much. Funny thing was just a few weeks prior when doing a Bible study in Job I prayed and asked God for a double blessing. My testimony (at least in my mind) reminds me just a small bit of Job and I prayed for this double blessing as a sign and a gift from the Lord.
Well, I found out I was pregnant on a Saturday and by Monday afternoon I was having my first ultrasound (I insisted as I was completely clueless about pregnancy and afraid I would do something wrong before I even knew what to do!) The tech looked at the image and said, “Oh, two babies,” just as calmly as if she had said she was having chicken for dinner. My husband and I looked at each other wide-eyed and I thought something similar to your last words if you were about to be hit by a truck. Shortly after, we were ushered into the doctor’s office where we found out that both girls were sharing an embryonic sac and a placenta. This wasn’t good news as it often can lead to complications. The doctor set up an appointment for me to see a specialist and we began to pray. We also called all of our friends and rallied all the prayer warriors at our church to pray as well. When we had our next appointment the ultrasound showed a thin tissue between the two girls - our prayers had been answered…there were two sacs!
The next 9 months were a bit of a blur. I was incredibly nauseated…all…the…time for the first 3. Didn’t throw up very much but just had a never ceasing desire to curl up in the fetal position and dry heave (I know, attractive right?). Second trimester was quite a bit better but as far as I’m concerned it only lasted a few weeks. By 20 weeks I was as large as most women well into their third trimester and I could feel it! At that point I started having weekly visits with a specialist an hour and a half from our house. My dad was so sweet, bless his heart. He drove up weekly to take me to my appointments since my husband was still deployed in the middle east. At one point when we went in to the specialist he said that there was uneven blood flow to one of the girls. Because they were sharing a placenta, this could be a big problem. Again we prayed and the next week when we went back the doctor said he was amazed that it didn’t even look the same. Everything was perfect. Other than being extremely uncomfortable for 9 months I think I had a relatively easy twin pregnancy. I went from 127 pounds to 176 at delivery day and was all tummy but a healthy, excited new momma.
The day that the girls came was quite a day! I was scheduled to deliver at 38 weeks. The doctor would have delivered at 36 but I insisted on waiting and he insisted on not going past 38 so that was our compromise. I was as naive and ignorant as anyone. I actually got up early that morning to put on make-up and fix my hair. I took a sweet little selfie with my husband as we arrived at the hospital. Things did not go exactly as planned. I joke that we prayed for the girls to be healthy, and they definitely were, but we should have spent at least a little time praying that I would be.
At the hospital the nurses did one last ultrasound when I arrived to see if it was possible to avoid a c-section. But, the girls hadn’t moved and with one twin breach it was decided a c-section was the way to go. Funny, the part I was most nervous about was the epidural. It was easy. Just one simple shot. The actual delivery was easy too. Really kind of fun. They wouldn’t let me watch so that was a bit disappointing but I didn't feel any pain just tugging. Then they pulled out baby Aand immediately she was crying. I’ve thought back many times how amazing it is that one minute a child can be in your stomach (well uterus) and you’re just a plain, old, pregnant woman and the next minute they are lying on your chest entirely human. What a beautiful, amazing thing. Next they brought out baby B just one minute later. She was crying as well, ruddy and healthy as could be. I asked my husband to stay with the girls while they worked on putting me back together.
Well, Humpty Dumpty did not want to go back together again. They had a terrible time of getting my uterus to contract. I ended up losing a lot of blood and needing quite a few blood transfusions. That part was ok I guess. It was a bit surreal. I remember the anesthesiologist repeatedly asking if I was ok and saying I was a trooper. I remember being a bit out of it. I also remember being very uncertain of rather I should accept the blood transfusions. I have always hated blood and wasn’t too crazy about the idea of having someone else’s in me! Despite everyone’s assurances that the transfusion was both safe and urgently necessary, I dug my heels in. No one was too happy with me about this. My husband was quite mad. I found out later why. It wasn’t just that I looked deathly pale…my doctor had told him privately that I’d lost so much blood that my life was in danger. Still, I resisted. At one point my OB/GYN told me he didn’t give a s**t what I wanted…I was getting a blood transfusion (unless it was for religious reason but not simply because I didn't want one). Later he told my husband I was the only patient he had ever cursed at in 30 years of practice.
Still, I really wanted to hear from God on the matter. I just wasn’t sure what to do and wanted His peace. I know it probably sounds goofy now and keep in mind I had lost a lot of blood. I was also in a lot of pain by this point. I was planning to nurse and so I didn’t want any more pain medicine than absolutely necessary. I opted to have the epidural that wears off within a few hours verses the one that provides some pain relief for the next 3 days. I also refused all narcotics and pain relievers - at that point even Tylenol and Alive. Probably not the smartest choice as it would have had little if any effect on my milk. To make matters worse post-delivery I was given two different drugs on a rotating basis to help my uterus contract as it just wasn’t wanting to do so on its own. So perhaps those are a few of the reasons for my hesitation to accept the blood transfusions. Also, quite frankly, I knew that God was full well capable of healing me and causing my iron level to rise back to normal without me accepting any one else’s blood and that was the method I preferred.
I prayed and asked my husband to put anointing oil on me and pray as well. One of the nurses aids joined us. At one point, I sent all the doctors and nurses out of the room except my OB/GYN. I asked him to run my iron count one more time which he said he would do (despite the fact that it was contrary to what they normally would do and in his eyes completely unnecessary) if I promised to accept the blood if the count hadn’t improved. The count hadn’t improved but after praying and retesting I did feel a peace about getting the transfusions. Actually, I felt like God was telling me that I was being silly and it would be the best for the girls if I just followed the doctors orders and got better. So at that point I became a much better patient. I received both blood and platelets as well as quite a bit of fluid. I took IV Tylenol and Aleve although I never did consent to any narcotics.
Throughout the process I found out that I am both tough and stubborn. [Editor Husband’s note: And how!] My sweet little people-pleasing ole self at one point requested that my doctor be brought in from a surgery he was assisting in so that I could explain to him that I didn’t really need the blood and that I thought the nurse was just exaggerating my condition because we didn’t really hit it off all that well. Almost funny looking back. I kind of hate to type it as it makes me look completely crazy but it also makes me a little proud because despite how wrong I might have been I was assertive, direct, stuck to my guns until I felt to do otherwise and didn’t really care who I made mad. All this from a woman who is generally terrified of upsetting or offending anyone.
I also learned that pain, even really bad pain is just that. It goes away. There are far more important things and you really can deal with it. I came to personally understand that God can most certainly heal but He does so in a number of ways and sometimes insisting on the way we think best is well…a bit silly. But without a doubt the most important lesson that I learned is that “man makes his plans but God directs his steps.” In other words often the most AMAZING, WONDERFUL, AWESOME BLESSINGS are the ones we never knew that we needed. God is so good! Sometimes we need to trash the ten year plan and trust Him.
There’s much more to the story but that’s all I have time to write at this point - my sweet girls are waking up from their nap. So I’ll finish up next week. Many blessings and I hope you have an awesome week!
Btw if you have any neat birth stories I'd love to hear them in the comments :-)