Aimee is our guest blogger for today. Aimee lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Adam. They have been married for almost 15 years. Together they have 4 children: Lexi who is 19 years old (Lexi is Aimee’s step-daughter, but she claims her as her own), Lainie (7), & Gus and Lucy (1). Life in their house is crazy, but totally awesome.
Planning For The Future
After suffering a miscarriage in early 2017, my husband, Adam, and I discussed our future plans at length. We aren’t the young(er) parent’s we once were. I’m not sure how or when we started feeling old – but, here we are. My doctor mentioned that at our “old” age, realistically after about six months of trying unsuccessfully, we needed to discuss fertility treatments if we planned to expand our family.
We thought and prayed about what we should do. We prayed for a healthy baby without medical intervention. Fertility treatments are awesome and if we were younger, we wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But we aren’t young and the thought of having multiples was terrifying. There are so many unknowns and the idea of having two newborns at once – YIKES! We decided if we weren’t able to have a baby on our own, our family would have to be complete with two kids. We couldn’t handle multiples. Not us. Not now.
Do You See What I See?
Fast forward three months. What happened next? Well, I picture God laughing at us and saying “you know, you’re not the ones in charge here. You may think you are, but you’re not. I’ve got a plan. And it’s a good one… but it’s not at ALL what you had in mind.”
My husband Adam was out of town and I got a positive pregnancy test! It was super early and my doctor had me taking preventative progesterone each cycle because of the issues with my previous pregnancy. I texted Adam (who was in a class and couldn’t talk), messaged some of my closest friends, and immediately called my doctor to have labs drawn. My labs turned out great and my pregnancy hormones were super high! So far, things looked great!! Yay! I topped off my first trip to the doctor with a happy dance… in the hallway… alone.
Because of my history and a prior miscarriage, my doctor brought me in for an ultrasound earlier than usual. That first ultrasound following a miscarriage is treacherous (but let’s be real, every. single. ultrasound. following a miscarriage is hard). Despite having a wonderful medical team and knowing the nurse practitioner really well, my heart rate skyrocketed. I was shaking. I felt sick. I thought I might actually pass out.
We held our breath as she started looking for our baby. And for that little flicker of a heartbeat on the screen. Finally, there it was! But there was more… she asked us if we saw what she saw (and I’m tearing up, even now, as I write this). There wasn’t just one little baby with a perfect heartbeat – there were TWO. My response: “HOLY CRAP!!!” Then I apologized. (She said she’s heard much worse.)
She took us down the hallway to find my OB, ultrasound pictures in hand. He paraded us around to the nurses. Another happy dance in the hallway followed – but this time I wasn’t alone. We celebrated together. Our doctor said God really knew what He was doing. No truer words have been spoken.
Months went by and it was a pretty uneventful pregnancy, marred by my complete inability to fully trust God. I let fear steal my joy far more often than I care to admit. Those are moments I’ll never get back. As they say, hindsight is 20/20.
After weeks of prodromal labor, I ended up with Cholestasis (which is pretty common with twins) and had to deliver the babies a month early. I drove to the hospital with our teenager, expecting to have labs drawn and be sent home. It was New Years Eve. Adam had been working at Church Under the Bridge (a church service for the homeless population in our city). It was cold and he had been up for hours. I told him to take a nap. I’d be home in a few hours. If you haven’t already guessed, I didn’t go back home that day.
I arrived at 1:30 pm that day and had apparently developed a high tolerance to contractions because I was in labor and didn’t realize it. Let me be real, being pregnant with multiples HURTS all the time. In my mind it was just another uncomfortable day.
I called Adam and told him not to come to the hospital yet, but that it was probably baby day. I hadn’t spoken with our doctor – just the doctor doing rounds (who was approximately 12 years old, I swear). Of course, Adam didn’t listen and showed up shortly after (thank goodness). In the meantime, my doctor arrived and l was prepped for the OR. Less than 3 hours after I checked in to the hospital Gus and Lucy were born.
Meet Gus & Lucy
I vividly remember every single thing that happened next. Gus wasn’t breathing, but no one told me. They still had to deliver Lucy and I needed to be calm. They called “code pink,” which was the code for a baby in distress. He was resuscitated in the OR and rushed off to the NICU. My birth plan went out the window – I didn’t get to hold either of my babies until hours later (actually, it was days later for Gus).
Things like this are common with multiples. We actually spent months mentally preparing for a possible NICU stay – but then we hit 36 weeks and thought we were good. In retrospect, I don’t think anything can prepare you for the reality of a NICU stay. It was the hardest thing we’ve ever been through.
Even with support groups, awesome nurses/doctors, and other NICU parents – it is so isolating. You spend hours a day sitting next to your baby surrounded by the equipment keeping them alive (feeding tubes, IVs, breathing machines, and oxygen). Or, you have to leave your baby and return to work or other responsibilities at home, squeezing in minutes here and there, as often as you can. It’s an entirely different world. One where tiny lives hang on by threads. It’s filled with victories, small and large, and heartaches of the most devastating kind. It’s not something I would wish on anyone, but our NICU time gave us perspective unlike any other. Through all of the ups and downs (and my gosh, there were SO many), we were there for just under a month.
Life with Multiple Newborns
After spending just under a month in the hospital with our littles, the doctors sent us home with these two tiny humans we created. That’s when life got really crazy. When you have multiples, the only way to make it through with even a tiny bit of sanity is to find a support system. I can’t stress that enough. If you’re about to have twins (or triplets, or more) prepare yourself to say yes to any and all offers. Baby rocking. Dinners. Whatever. Just say YES. I’ve never been one to accept help, but we needed it.
I also connected with some amazing moms that have multiples. Some who we met in the NICU, some through local twin mom groups, and some through church. They kept me sane. They were the people who made me feel normal when not many people understood just what it meant to have multiple newborns at home.
Side Note: Every mama has challenges while raising kids. We don’t need to compare. Saying things like “my kids are close in age so I might as well have twins” isn’t helpful! So just avoid that. While on the subject, don’t ask moms of multiples if they had fertility treatments. Goodness. That’s private! And no, my boy/girl twins aren’t identical.
Surviving with Multiples
We survived those first months. Barely. Sleep was nearly impossible. Breastfeeding was a huge challenge. We had to supplement with formula for quite some time, which hit me exceptionally hard. None of it was how I planned, but isn’t that how it always works out? I’ve had to let go of so many pretensions through this journey. My house is rarely clean. Everything is chaotic all the time. Leaving the house is a multiple hour fiasco and that’s just to get everyone out the door. Every single stage has new challenges.
If I’m being completely transparent, even after a year as a family of 6, we still don’t have this all figured out. Some days feel almost normal, but most still feel overwhelming.
If you’re in the middle of “momming” and don’t feel like you’ve got it all together, take heart – none of us do. I can’t count how many times I’ve been told “I don’t know how you do it!” You know what? Neither do I. But we make it. We power through because giving up just isn’t an option. My kids need me because I am the one God planned for them. And as hard as these days are, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
If you have questions for Aimee about birthing or caring for multiples or just about life in general, feel free to contact her here.