My New Life

Today I brushed my teeth while unloading the dishwasher. My Christmas decorations are still sitting in the middle of my garage and I haven’t showered in two days. It’s 12:45 pm. This is my life. The twins have arrived.

As usual, I’ve had a thousand blog posts swirling in my head for the past four months, but finding the time and the presence of mind to write them down is like trying to keep the living room rug uncluttered with toys. Impossible.

At the precise moment when I was brushing my teeth, stacking cereal bowls in the cabinet and scolding my son for drawing on a piece of furniture, my two precious girls were sleeping. Thank God. That’s something not a lot of us are getting these days.

There are many times when they aren’t sleeping, and many times when I have five crazy kids running around my house. Okay, three kids running and two babies just lying there. But it’s STILL crazy. It seems like each child is progressively louder which is basically like saying my two year old sounds like a leaf blower. Our house is LOUD. And getting babies to nap in it is sorta like…well, keeping the living room rug free of toys.

Tonight, as I sit here, is the first night in four months where I am actually sitting in a comfy chair with a blanket on my legs and a computer on my lap in a quiet house at 8:00 at night. The evenings, my friends, have been my enemies. And tonight, TONIGHT, the girls fell asleep on their own! Okay, they still cried some, but we DID NOT have to go in there! (Excuse the overuse of ALL CAPS, but some things cannot be emphasized enough!!)

So what has happened in these past four months? Oh man, so much. But how do I sum it all up? I can’t possibly go back and remember every emotional meltdown, every time I fell to my knees and begged God for mercy, or every amazing person who brought us a meal and some sanity, every little illness we’ve weathered, or obstacle overcome. I don’t have the memory or the time.  And you probably wouldn’t care to hear all the details anyway.

But if I were to tell you a few things about these past four months and how I’ve handled them, I will be honest and tell you that it has been hard. Hard like nothing I have ever experienced before. Once a week I would shuffle into the kitchen in yoga pants and say through tears, “I can’t do this anymore.” And once a week I would be on my knees praying, pleading for mercy! At one point, I truly thought these girls might be the death of me. That I seriously might not survive this. I felt that I would never sleep again, and if I never slept again, I would get so sick that I would not be able to recover and then… I would die. It was that simple.

The day after my doomsday prediction, I found out I had mastitis, which I think, helps to explain my bleak outlook. I was indeed sick, but I did not indeed die. Antibiotics and sleep are amazing things.

And then there’s God.

He is so so good. He is faithful, just like the Bible says He is. He doesn’t lie. Did you know that? He has answered so many of the prayers I prayed on those dark nights as I knelt on the nursery floor. He sent little angels in the forms of neighbors and friends to remind me of His great love and care for me. He sees all my troubles. He doesn’t forget or ignore them. He knows every single thing I go through every single day. And He cares about it! Isn’t that amazing? He knows the piddly stuff, the significant-only-to-me stuff and He cares enough about it to do something about it. He has truly gotten me through. His Word, and His people have encouraged me and kept me going. I am beyond grateful!

So here I am. Still alive and blogging. Amazingly enough.

I don’t expect it to be a cakewalk from here on out. But, we are getting there friends. We are making progress. They are growing, and getting to be fun and interactive. They laugh and smile and are super duper cute. And one day too soon they’ll be sitting in a high chair feeding themselves cheese and I’ll wonder how we got there. I just hope I still won’t be brushing my teeth while I unload the dishwasher, but I could very well be. There’s a good chance the Christmas decorations will be still be there also. I beginning to accept it. 🙂

Nerves and Newborns

One week. Just one week and they’ll be here. By this time next week, Lord willing, I will be snuggling two little baby girls!

I am excited, and nervous. Mostly nervous if I’m honest. And actually more nervous about the c-section than twins. It’s all just kinda strange, lying there with your arms outstretched like Jesus on the cross.

There I lay alert and awake on one side, while on the other side of the curtain it’s quite a different scene. Blood, guts, babies. I’m just glad I’ve never watched a c-section on T.V. I probably never will. (By the way, I can’t believe they actually show those.)

I know that I shouldn’t be thinking about this because it doesn’t help or change anything. And you might think that since this is my fourth c-section, I’d be less nervous, but that just isn’t true.

My third baby was my first planned c-section. So it wasn’t until the third time around that I truly knew I was going to have a c-section. It was planned a month or so ahead of time. And all went well. According to plan. Recovery wasn’t too bad. So why all the nerves?

Well, you see, now I know. I know what it’s like to quietly and calmly prepare for this major life event to just “happen.” There’s no labor, no physical build up…it’s just kind of…strange.

We calmly drive to the hospital. I check in like I would for my regular doctor’s appointments. They walk me to a room where I step into my hospital gown like I’m putting on pajamas. I stuff my clothes into a little plastic bag. My hair and makeup have been done, because, well, I had time to do them. It’s not 3 am. Then I go and lay on a hospital bed where they strap on monitors to check the baby(ies). The nurses hook up my IV with little commotion. Just another day at the office. I sit and wait for a while until they call my name.

I walk/waddle (whatever you want to call it) to the operating room, where just an hour or so later I will be wheeled out lying flat on my back on a hospital bed not able to move from the waist down. And I’m holding a baby. This time, two.

Strange, right? I think so.

Two. Two babies. This time they are going to hand me two babies!

What in the world?

I’ve been thinking a little about that moment. What will it be like? To be handed one beautiful baby, and then a few minutes later be handed another beautiful baby that looks exactly like the first! It’s wild, I tell you. Wild.

Even now just thinking about it tears come to my eyes. It’s so overwhelming. As many emotions as I feel about it now, so many more will be swirling through my system at that moment. (And a few drugs too)

But here’s some good news I was reminded of just the other day: the instantaneous overwhelming love connection you have with your baby. There’s nothing like it. I remember it clearly each time.

It wasn’t something I mustered up, it was a connection that just happened. Because he was my child. Because he had been moving around in me for the past 6 months and I was finally getting to meet him. And maybe also because I’ve been part of a miraculous moment. Life is truly a miracle.

God has amazed me in this pregnancy time after time. His hand has been present in every thing. So, I’ll have to remember He goes before me and behind me. He is the Creator, the one whose breath gives life. Who gives peace in storms, and operating rooms.

Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement. It’s exciting to think about meeting these girls so soon.

twinsies

 

The Belly

IMG_3684It’s official guys, I’m huge. Last Tuesday, at my weekly doctor’s appointment my belly measured 44 weeks! And, ahem, I’m only 34. In the span of two weeks I gained eight pounds and my belly grew 8 cm. I’ve entered the stage of the freakishly abnormal belly and it feels like it.

I am starting to get some comments. Mostly I get “any day now,” to which I smile and nod. Sure. Whatever. I am getting tired and don’t need to explain the whole long story. (“Well, I’m actually having twins, and actually there is three weeks left, but actually even more than that because my actual due date is December 17. Actually.”)

Then there are others who might be too scared to say anything as I waddle past them. And there are a few chosen ones to whom I decide to disclose the entirety of my situation and there is inevitably a nod of understanding and almost a prideful smile for noticing that I am larger than the average belly. Then there are the people who say things like, “I was gonna say, there couldn’t be just one baby in there!” I am starting to get those more and more. It’s okay. I’m not too offended. I am carrying twins after all.

And then there are my friends. My good, true, and sweet friends, who keep saying I don’t look “that big for twins,” and tell me I am looking good. Thank goodness for good friends.

For the record, the above picture doesn’t do my belly justice. If you think I look big here, you should see me in real life! In some weird amazing way, I think I look smaller in pictures than I am in real life. My honest mother agrees with me.

In the picture, I am smiling. And yes, I am doing well. Really well all things considered. But the amount of sighing and groaning I do come afternoon and evening would put an overweight middle aged man to shame.

I lug these two precious girls around all day, and by the end of it I feel incredibly uncomfortable. There’s not room for all three of us in here anymore. I am getting squished. I have no idea where my major organs are these days and I am seriously in awe at times that my body can keep on functioning. 

I can feel my skin stretching so much that it hurts. And I can’t even really tell if I have stretch marks because I can’t see half my belly. When standing in front of the mirror there is only so much twisting and bending I can do…like, um, none.

Thankfully, it isn’t much longer. November 24 is D day. My scheduled c-section. I think, praise God, I am gonna make it. Or at least close to it. That leaves me about two more weeks. Holy Moly.

I can do this! I just might not be able to get up off the couch by myself for the next two weeks. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Trusting God When Things Are Good

It’s November 1st! The birth month of our precious baby girls. I am so happy, relieved, and amazed to be here, 33 1/2 weeks pregnant and rolling (not quite literally) into the month of November.

Honestly, it feels nothing short of miraculous.

I remember all the feelings I had early on in pregnancy. The fear of having twins, the fear of losing twins, the fear that all these different things could go wrong with my monochorionic identical twin pregnancy. All the risks were clearly presented and I wrestled through every single one. What if this? What if that? What if? What if? What if?

And now here I am, 33 weeks, still pregnant, walking around a harvest festival on Halloween with healthy babies in my belly, eating candy, and feeling pretty good (well, for pregnancy standards). No twin to twin transfusion, no gestational diabetes, not even bed rest. I am amazed. Amazed at how God has carried me through this pregnancy with no problems!

But even as I type these words above, fear creeps in. Don’t get ahead of yourself, Brooke, I caution. They could come today. They could be in the NICU for a month. There could be complications with the delivery. There could be, there could be, there could be.

Sounds a lot like my “what ifs” from earlier.

Sometimes I wonder when I am going to stop being afraid and just trust God. When will I remember to not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6)? When am I going to learn to fully trust Him with my whole heart, and not hold anything back?

Through this pregnancy He has proven again and again that He is LORD over it. So what am I afraid of?

I haven’t even told you dear friends of all the amazing ways God has confirmed His plan of twins for us through the mouths of my doctors. Through this process I’ve seen probably seven different doctors who have all have said wonderful things about how the babies are growing and how I am doing. They have said things about my frame being good for carrying twins  (a shocker to me), how my placenta is placed perfectly, my cervix is basically amazing (a longer story than these parentheses can hold) and how the babies are growing “even stevens” in the womb. In addition to the glowing reports of my cervix, not once, but twice have I heard the phrase “made to have twins” directed at me.

Me? Made to have twins? From the mouth of a medical professional?

Yes, I think I finally believe God has made me to have twins. I often think back and marvel at that conversation with my mentor when I was 8 weeks pregnant. I was blubber crying at the scary, shocking and overwhelming news we were having twins. I was mourning how life would change, how my body would change, how much sleep I would lose, etc. etc. But her calm quiet words keep coming back. She assured me that this had always been part of God’s plan for my life, even if it never was part of my plan. And if it’s always been a part of His plan, then He has prepared the way for it to unfold. He has gone before and after. He’s already been there. Every one of my days has been written in His book before even one of them came to be (Psalm 139). Even the day I will give birth to twins, and the 100 other difficult and wonderful days that will come after. I believe it.

It’s all starting to make sense. Yes, He planned it, He prepared it, He made my body capable, and He (not me) will carry these babies safely into this world. It’s all in His loving, gentle, wise hands. All He asks of me is to stand firm and trust in His good and sovereign character.

So I will try to do just that.

Do’s, Don’ts, Wont’s

Well, it’s week 23.

Which, for me, really means I am starting the third trimester. You think I’m kidding. Sadly, I’m not. At my 21 week appointment they measured my belly at a whopping 26 inches (or 26 weeks). Yikes! So it’s probably safe to say that at this point–I am as big as a prego lady is at 28 weeks with one baby. Oh, Lordy.  How, just how, am I going to make it to the end? Anyway, here are a couple things I learned this week:

Do:

  • Buy an awesome broom like this. (Because bending over stinks.)
  • Have the cleaning lady come once a week.

Don’t:

  • Wear shoes with laces.

Won’t:

  • Have any cabinet below four feet organized till Christmas. (If I knew how to add an emoji here I’d add the sad faced one with a tear falling down it’s cheek.)

Want:

  • To buy some slippers you can mop the floor with. Next time I’m in Wal-Mart in the “As Seen on T.V.” isle, I am looking for them.

Big news, Big change, Bigger God

Let’s just pretend you all already know the news. I am having twins! And they’re GIRLS. Identical GIRLS.

I am now 19.5 weeks pregnant. Yes, I am counting half weeks now. My belly is growing mysteriously large by the day, so in this case, I think half a week makes a difference. Don’t you? Just smile and nod.

Anyway, over the past 11.5 weeks that I have known we were having twins, a million different thoughts have gone through my mind. I wish I could share them all with you, dear reader. I wish I could tell you all the little stories that have happened since then. About how I found out at my 8 week appointment all by myself that there were two little babies growing somewhere inside my uterus. Holy cow. Where was my husband!?

About how I noticed two little kidney beans on the ultrasound screen before the midwife had a chance to say anything. About how I had a near out of body experience when she handed me the “mom’s of multiples” pamphlet. What?? This is me? This is my life?

I will say those first few days were very hard. I spent most of that afternoon crying, laughing, or in denial. I had planned to run some errands after my appointment. I didn’t. There was a part of me that wanted to pretend that whole appointment never happened, so we could just watch a movie and enjoy the evening together like we had planned. But we couldn’t. Neither of us slept much that night.

It was at the time the most shocking news I have had in my life, so if I sound like I’m being over dramatic, bear with me. Our family already consists of three children. Three boys, ages 6, 5, and almost 2. Twins were not on my radar nor in my plans for our life. (As if I have that control). We had always said we’d like to have 3 or 4 kids. After our third we were leaning towards three. Things were juuuuust starting to get easier. Enter twins.

So I cried one day as if my life were over. (I’d like to think some pregnancy hormones also played a role.) Truly, I mourned a little for the days I had known. And begrudged the fact that come December I would wave goodbye to the world for probably a year, maybe more. (Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement).

Those were my first thoughts. Not very inspiring, but true.

And then a very wise woman spoke into my life. She spoke about how although these babies had not been a part of my plan, they were always a part of God’s plan for my life. He knew, she said, it would be a huge shock to me, but it was never a shock to Him. He has a plan for these little babies. These lives that He created.

There was something about those thoughts that comforted me. God wasn’t surprised like I was. He had planned this. He was prepared for this. And perhaps in His plans he had also prepared me for this. Even though I wouldn’t have noticed, maybe He has preparing me for a while.

Plans to prosper and not to harm me. To give me a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11).

More than any other pregnancy, this one has shown me who truly is the author of life. It isn’t us. If there’s one thing we can’t control in life, it is when an egg and a sperm meet. Or when an egg divides in two. Yes, there is fertility treatments that can help the process along, but it is STILL in His hands. The Creator of the Universe, then, is the Author of Life. It’s such a simple thought we often miss it.

So I began to be thankful. Thankful for these little lives He was blessing us with. Yes, it would be crazy. Yes, it would be hard. Yes, I wouldn’t sleep much for a while. Yes, I would struggle to nurse two babies. Yes, we will have three kids 2 and under. Yes, we need help. Yes, I will grow a ginormous belly that may never recover. But in the end–children are a blessing. They aren’t a curse. (You’d think I would already know that.) Sadly, it’s easy as a mom to focus on the ways that children can make life more difficult rather than focusing on the joy, love, warmth, and purpose they add to our lives.

I started to embrace my new found identity as a, “mom of multiples.”

And then God did something that totally blew me away. He gave us two GIRLS! At our 17 week ultrasound at the perinatologist, we found out we are having identical twin GIRLS!

I could barely believe it. We had been prepping for the visual of two pee-pees on the ultrasound screen, while holding out a little hope there could maybe possibly just be ONE girl in the mix. But TWO girls? It was the one scenario I hadn’t imagined. I never let my mind go there. It didn’t seem possible. I mean, we have three boys. Logic and science say, we’ll have more!

The day we found out I felt like it was my birthday. I kept thinking of the verse in one of my favorite passages in scripture, “…to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…” (Ephesians 3:20). It was way more than I could have imagined. Or asked. Two girls. Amazing. I could barely ask for one!

With the news of twins, God was showing me that He is in control. He has plans for my life, and things He wants to teach me that I had no idea about. With the news of twin GIRLS, I felt like God was just pouring out His love and grace upon me. He was showing me that He loves to give us good gifts. He loves to lavish us, surprise us. He is amazingly kind and generous. Like no other.

What will He teach me next? I have no idea.

But I am learning to trust Him, for He knows the way. This road before us is totally unknown to me, but thankfully, not to Him. There are a thousand things I could worry about. When will they come? Will they be premature? Will I be on bed rest? Will any of the scary complications happen to me? How big will my belly get? How will I even wash dishes or take care of my 2 year old? How, how, how will this all work out?

Everything is new and unfamiliar, and when that happens to me questions and anxiety abound. But by God’s grace, for the moment I am calm. I am trying to take Him at His word, and question a whole lot less. Because I know He loves me and He leads me. I am safe with Him.

www.amyatkinsphotography.com

www.amyatkinsphotography.com

** I wrote this a few weeks ago, but never posted it. Currently, I am 22 weeks! Still going strong, praise God!**

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