This past year has been one of enormous change – not only on a global level, of course, but on a personal one, and since this is a personal site of sorts it’s the personal news I’ll share. The long and short of it is that last November, I became a mother to twins.
That’s quite a sentence to write! I still, almost ten months later, have a moment every single day where I have to stop myself, let me eyes pop, and realize – really realize – that I have two babies. The initial surprise my wonderful OBGYN gave me at my first ultrasound appointment last spring has never worn off; and nor have the incredible sensations which, again, come every day, attached to what wonderful little people these children are. As I write this my intrepid, feisty, loud, demanding daughter, with her shock of springy red hair, is trying to lift herself up into a standing position in one of her playpens. When she crawls, it is more of a galumph. Sometimes she sings, in small, gentle, loving coos. My son is sitting in a chair, chewing on a strap, philosophically contemplating the ceiling fan. He can army-crawl all the way down a hallway at one go, hates loud noises (even cheering at a sports game on the TV alarms him), and smiles, wide and toothy and crinkly-eyed, at the drop of a pin.
(Two babies. TWO babies! There we go, that’s my moment for today.)
I’m not sure how to even mention, let alone properly address, the fact that my entire pregnancy took place after and during the current Covid-19 pandemic. There’s little more I can say about the world at large than anyone else has not already said and mourned, both about parenthood and life in general. It was weird not having my husband with me at any – that’s right, any – of my appointments until I went into the hospital for delivery, even though I was automatically classed as a ‘high-risk’ patient due to having twins. Driving home from that first appointment, my whole body shaking, alone, having called him and saying I needed to tell him something important while I hurriedly got dressed, my OB waiting down the hall to give me more information. My mother and sister quarantining in our upstairs bedroom, having flown in overseas, until their negative test results came back and they could finally hold the tiny, five-pound babies. Wearing a mask in the hospital and having to disinfect our hands, our phones, our everything before being able to touch them in the NICU, where they stayed for 10-12 days after insisting on coming out weeks early. At the time, it was all just joy anyway – in retrospect, all of this is overwhelming. Frightening, even. I’m not sure how we got through it.
And we were the lucky ones. We have nearby family to help. We live in a state where my husband was able, miraculously, to take 12 weeks of leave from work after the birth. I didn’t have to go back to a job where I have to stand for many hours a day, or have the sort of job where I’d be fired for falling behind in the first trimester where it was all I could do to stay awake (and certainly not to stay vertical) for only eight hours out of every twenty-four. We have good health insurance, though we’ve still ended up paying close to $10,000 dollars in out-of-pocket medical bills for the babies and myself – not an inconsiderable sum thanks to various pandemic circumstances.
I was also personally lucky in the generally smooth course the pregnancy took. I had to give up eating beef thanks to – shall we say, unpleasant – consequences – but otherwise the ups and downs were relatively manageable. Sciatica was ameliorated with a simple stretch; loose joints usually settled without pain; I ate, and ate, and ate again, so many times a day. Nevertheless, there were things about it all that I had never heard of or read of before, and which reminded me of the documented lack of knowledge many women don’t get from either their familial/friend circles or from medical professionals. How incredibly painful round ligament pain could be, for instance, or the overall point that – having had such a quiet pregnancy generally – my post-partum experience was truly hellish in comparison. Despite some rough times, I had never in my life been in such shuddering, painful bodily confusion that my mind was blasted completely blank. Hormone crashes are no joke, folks. I have a C-section scar, now, and my body is not yet back to what it was, or to what I would like it to be.
It was all worth it, of course. The feeling of walking into a room and being greeted by two beautiful tiny creatures whose faces light up at the sight of you is truly priceless. I cannot wait to see what they’re going to turn out to be like. Every day, their gestures, their desires, and their skills become more distinct; every couple of weeks, I’ve found myself thinking that oh, this is their most perfect, cutest, sweetest age. No, this is. No, this is…and that constant process of realization and enjoyment hasn’t stopped. I can only hope it never will.
A bit more sleep would be nice, though. Just a tiny bit more. Just a smidgen. Please? Please, babies? I will beg. I have no shame left to stop me.