4 years ago, on Super Bowl Sunday 2015, I was in labor 16 days early. Our third child was supposed to make her debut on February 17, but since it took 28 hours or so (who’s counting?) to deliver the twins, I thought I had time.
So I woke up husband to tell him the news and he looked at me like I was nuts and said, “It’s too early, and it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Are you sure?” and promptly went back to sleep.
I was sure. Once you’ve done it before, you know.
So I labored all day, nearly 12 hours, monitoring my contractions, practicing my breathing, while he made arrangements, took care of our 28-month-old twins, and watched the Super Bowl.
Finally, I said it was go-time and we headed to the hospital.
At admittance, they too asked if I was sure. What is it with questioning late-term pregnant women?
They admitted me, my water broke, I was very dilated and really ready to get the show on the road. I was having trouble talking between contractions, and the pain was significant.
Unexpectedly, the baby was breech.
WTF?! She was just checked on Friday, two days before. You think they would have noticed. I wanted another ultrasound then, and it wasn’t granted. I must’ve had an inkling, a premonition, an inner knowing, something. Trust the woman carrying the baby. Dammit. I knew.
My OB was called and recommended a cesarean. I refused, especially after delivering the twins naturally.
I had the cesarean. Since I had been laboring all day, everything was too far along to try to turn her. It was way past go-time and we held our baby less than 30 minutes later. It was a whirlwind, and I was only semi-conscious for most of it.
I always knew I would have kids. I always knew I wanted to be a mother. I wasn’t in a hurry though. When I pictured it, it always seemed far away, for when I would become a grown-up.
I could see my future in so many ways, but was fuzzier on the relationship, beyond knowing that I wanted to get married first.
I didn’t even meet hubby until I was 30 and I was ok with that. I was having a grand ol’ time on my own. Plus, I thought I had time.
But then his cancer diagnosis came and went, and after a year of painstaking treatment, his oncologist suggested: “why don’t you wait?”. We didn’t understand. Wasn’t time of the essence? Weren’t we already old enough? Mature enough? Grownups? What about biological clocks? Okay, to be honest, I couldn’t hear it ticking, but I felt like I should be able to hear it. Maybe if I listened closer. We decided to wait for the all-clear…but it didn’t come.
I pushed and pushed (a character strength and flaw) for the go-ahead, every chance I got, and finally, at one appointment, Dr. R asked for a moment alone…with me. This was a first. We were always together, for every appointment, every treatment, except one. During a bone-marrow-biopsy, loved ones aren’t allowed to watch. Too harrowing. I try not to think about it.
Dr. R said, “He’s not out of the woods. Even after treatment, there’s a long road ahead for him. Your babies need a father, and right now, there’s no guarantee of his future.”
It was like my plans were stacked up, an impressive house of cards on the table, and he kicked a leg out. I could see them sliding off. I didn’t even reach to grab them. I just watched it all tilt and slide in slow motion off the table. Even the spreadsheet. There was a spreadsheet for God’s sake. I mapped out everything (character strength and flaw).
I read to my husband while he sat in his chair with a steady stream of toxic cocktails pumping into his port. His mouth tasted metallic, and his stomach was a wreck, and I made him eat anyway. Peanut butter smoothies and pizza and veggies and superfoods and please God don’t lose any more weight. It wasn’t so bad. We weren’t just buying time, we were celebrating another chance at life.
So we waited. And waited. Each year that went by, we waited. He got healthier. We got older. I achieved advanced maternal age.
We never wavered on our goal to become parents, but we did learn to appreciate what we already had, to live in the moment, not just in the meantime, but “this might be the best there ever is” right now. We truly enjoyed each other, we traveled, we got a dog, and then a house with a yard for the dog and a lot of bedrooms for our future kids. It was a demonstration of our faith in our future.
We golfed sometimes, went to football games more often, and Las Vegas a lot. We visited friends and family all over the country and our relationship deepened. It was some of the best years a couple could have.
You can do a lot of living when you are wholly focused on the moment, when you have no expectations for the future.
And the trust and intimacy we forged during the tough stuff served us well during IVF.
In December of 2011, three years later, we visited Paris, celebrating NYE at the Eiffel Tower, before heading to London to kick off the new year by touring palaces. They were two bucketlist cities that we always wanted to see, so it was symbolic in a way. Another demonstration of faith.
We renewed our vow to become parents, and in fact, were already in the thick of it. I was giving myself injections in the stomach during the entire trip, with meds in cold storage in three countries, and the doctors’ orders on my person to satisfy TSA.
10 months later, we had twins.
28 months after that, I was watching Beyoncé during the halftime show, and the game was tied (I think) leading into the half. The Patriots would ultimately beat the Seahawks, and we were just about to welcome baby number three.
Here’s the weird thing about having a baby/babies. You can remember your life before you became a mom, you can picture the highlights and achievements and heartbreaks, but you become distant from it somehow. Unattached. It’s like a new life started for you too. Hubby was given another chance, and now I was too. Here’s to second chances! Fingers crossed.
Today, we celebrate this little four-year-old. Four years later. So much living and healing and life. What incomparable chaos. It hasn’t always been easy. She was born with a congenital heart defect for example. Who saw that coming? No one is the answer. Not after all that other stuff…but that is a story for another day or maybe for her to tell herself…someday. She’s doing great by the way. She thrives and the twins do too. We all do and I’m so very grateful.
Happy birthday baby girl. You three, no you four, no you five (counting the dog), are the best thing that ever happened to me and I will celebrate you, savor you, and love you with my whole heart for my whole life.