I found out I was pregnant for the third time on my golden 24th birthday, Christmas Eve, 2014. We had family & friends over for dinner and I carried around a glass of wine with me the entire night. Every hour or so I would go into the bathroom and dump a little bit out, making it look like I was actually drinking some.
A few weeks later, I walked into my ultrasound appointment with only one goal: "just please don't tell me it's twins".
I dragged my just-turned two year old and 10 month old baby with me to this appointment. Those first ultrasounds are usually only about 5 minutes long, mostly to confirm an actual due date. My husband wasn't with me for this one because why would he miss work for a 5 minute wand-to-tummy appointment that he's already seen happen two times before? If there were any ultrasound appointment he should have been present for, it was definitely this one!
I knew I was having twins. I had the same dream of being given two balloons at a gender reveal party, over and over and over again. I probably dreamed that same dream about 10 times before my ultrasound appointment. I also felt so much bigger at only 9 weeks than I did with my other two. I tried really hard to tell myself that that was normal, that you get bigger faster with each pregnancy. But I knew. I just knew.
I sat down in the seat, looked the tech straight in the eyes and said, "I'm just here for you to tell me it's not twins because I'm pretty sure that it is".
She laughed, probably because she's heard people assume they're having twins a million times before. She put the gel on my stomach while I closed my eyes, feeling my heart race faster and faster with every passing second. I opened my eyes to see her face light up with excitement.
"Funny you say that!" she said, as she turned the screen to show me two little blobs right next to each other, "there they are!"
I instantly started bawling. How in the world was I going to have two babies at once on top of my two babies sitting in front of me? I knew this was happening but I could not, for the life of me, imagine actually living this reality. Four babies? Babies! Four! My other two were not that old!
Then I started laughing, "I have to tell my husband!". I had already shared my balloon dreams with Tim and we talked about the what-ifs of it all. So I dialed his number. When he answered I told him that it was twins and he refused to believe me. So I switched it to speakerphone and let the tech assure him that this was, in fact, happening. This. Was. Happening.
Over the next few weeks we met with a high risk doctor who ultimately decided to take over my care for the remaining of the pregnancy. We were having identical twins, or Mono-Di twins. For the record, yes, fraternal twins do run in my family. But identical twins are an anomaly and is not yet explained.
My pregnancy was pretty standard for the most part. The round ligament pain and pelvic pain was something you assume will happen, but never understand the extent of. Ouch. You know that your body is going to do this amazing thing by helping to develop two tiny humans, but you don't understand the physical tole it really does take. I didn't have morning sickness at all with the twins, even though I had it pretty badly with my other two.
My water broke between 35 and 36 weeks of pregnancy and after about 12 hours of labor, I was wheeled into the operating room to deliver. (You deliver twins in the operating room in the case of something going wrong). They were each born in a matter of seven minutes from the time I started pushing. They are three minutes apart, with Lennon being born first.
They set the babies on my chest, threw some white hats on them, and quickly took Halen away. She was struggling to breathe and they didn't keep her near me for long. Half of the NICU team was wheeling Halen away while the other half grabbed Lennon. Not 30 seconds later, I was being told Lennon was heading up to the NICU as well.
My husband said he was going to follow them up to see what was going on and I laid there completely helpless. The room that housed upwards of 15 people just 5 minutes ago, was now down to 4.
I laid there, wondering how my world just went from this exciting birth to being completely alone. My babies were gone. My husband was gone. I had just housed two babies inside of me while my husband sat near my head, coaching me while I pushed them out. We just went through this truly remarkable experience together; our lives changing the instant they both came into this world. My reward for that epic birth? Lay abandoned in this bed surrounded by people I didn't know, all while being kept in the dark about my babies' medical status. Oh and by the way, I'm losing blood and terms like "blood transfusion" are being thrown out there. I'm starting to feel dizzy, I'm not feeling super great, and I just want my husband to calm me down. I just want my husband. I just want my babies. Top-3 worst moment of my life.
I stayed in that room for close to an hour before I was wheeled back to my original room. Then I sat there for another hour before I heard anything from Tim.
I imagined the worst. The heart inside of my chest was crumbling into a million pieces. My face was so swollen from crying and my stomach was in such knots that all I could do was continuously throw up. I was a hot mess and I knew it. But I didn't care. I just wanted somebody to wheel me upstairs to my family.
Tim finally came walking into my room, holding Lennon, bearing that proud dad grin. He handed her to me and I finally was able to hold one of the little babies that was curled up inside of me. She was my smallest baby at just 5lbs and I couldn't believe how tiny her fingers were. Tim showed me pictures of Halen, telling me that the nurses would explain her breathing issues once we head up to the NICU.
Once I saw Halen in what we have nicknamed the "Bane Mask", I wanted to crawl into a hole. Those thoughts of "I did this", and "if only you would have just been more careful and kept them inside longer, she'd be fine", flooded my brain.
But she was fine after a few days, although they both needed the NICU support for two weeks.
The other aspect of our twin journey? Our identical twins looked nothing alike. I questioned every single doctor who told me they were identical. Halen was two pounds heavier than her sister. Two pounds! That makes a huge difference in babies that small. They started to detect twin to twin transfusion at our ultrasound a few days before, which explained the difference in size. Everyone assured me that they'd look alike once they hit 6 months old, and they were right.
After only three days, I was discharged from the hospital. Leaving the hospital without your child(ren) is a kind of hell I wouldn't wish on anyone. You know they're being taken care of. You know they'll be fine. But they're not with you, so how will YOU be fine? We walked into a home with an empty nursery, missing half of our children. My now flabby and still-pregnant-looking stomach reminded me every second of what was missing. I refused any kind of pain medication since the moment they were born, forcing myself to suffer. I thought "if they are in the hospital hurting, you can hurt too". My emotions were everywhere and I was far from feeling fine.
Tim and I rotated the feeding shifts at the hospital during the day. Then we would struggle to sleep through the nights, wondering how many more days it would be before our girls would come home.
We took our older girls to the hospital to meet their new sisters through the glass. It was one of the most beautiful memories I have in all of my parenting. They had no true idea that they were looking at real babies that were their sisters, or how their world would change. But they admired and ooh-ed and ahh-ed over them.
Once we finally were able to bring them home, that entire day felt like a whirlwind. Our little home was so ready to love on these little nuggets, although we would have absolutely no idea what we were in for. But what would our life be like without them now? It would be pretty stinkin' empty, that's what!