Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tears of Joy & Pain

For the past 2 years around February and March, I realize that I have been a bit . . . emotional - teary eyed - sentimental (don't ask Papi what he calls it - remember, this is my story). Once I pause to acknowledge my emotions, I immediately know the origin of these sometimes unwanted friends = memories of my journey with Chloe & Claire and unabashed gratitude for their health & the health of all of you girls.
I still remember wondering why Stella started getting fussy and not feeding well when she was about 5 months old. I soon found out I was 2 months pregnant, and poor Stella was not getting enough milk. I have to be honest and say that finding out I was pregnant while on the pill & nursing a 3 month old did NOT make me happy - I cried. But as you girls know, God has His own plan. I wasn't too thrilled about His plan at that moment, but Papi and I quickly surrendered to it, and so when we found out there were two of you in my tummy we just laughed til we cried.
Part of our new adventure involved moving from the Dominican Republic back to the US. So when we came back to celebrate Christmas with Grammy, I went to the doctor and that is when we found out that the pregnancy was high risk. I cried. Monoamniotic - monochorionic pregnancy happens in 1% of twin pregnancies. Basically you guys were floating around together with nothing to separate you or your cords - which basically twisted into knots. So at 20 weeks pregnant we were told that the best odds at having 2 healthy babies was for me to go inpatient at 24 weeks to receive as much monitoring as possible. I cried, Papi cried, but we did it.
I spent 2 months in the hospital, and you girls were born 2 months early. This was when I first saw you together, and it was both wonderful & scary.
The first time I saw you in the NICU - I had just had my C-section that morning, but I insisted on being wheeled down to see you girls. I had visited the NICU, and thought I was prepared . . . but nothing prepares a mother to see her own child hooked up to tubes - not able to hold them - kiss them . . . I cried.

You girls spent almost a month in the NICU, and were able to come home the same day. It was a Sunday, because Arturo and I went to church, and Grammy took the morning visitation with you girls. She called Arturo's cell phone to let us know that the doctors said you could come home that day. We rushed back to Grammy's to get ready . . . I hid in Grammy's walk in closet & cried. It was overwhelming to think 2 little 4 lb. babies would be added to the crowded master bedroom we lived in while at Grammy's. I also thought what a miracle it was that my 2 month preemie daughters were coming home with NO health problems, breathing problems, heart problems, or medication - I cried with gratitude. I was happy, excited, rejoicing . . . and I was scared, nervous, tired, and unsure of our future.
Girls that first year with the five of you was brutal. I understand why sleep deprivation is a torture tactic. I was in awe of how small you girls were, and how healthy and strong you were - it made me cry in gratitude. I was in awe at how fussy you were at night, and how little I enjoyed being a mother of twins - I cried in frustration and guilt. Some people might assume that I was suffering from Postpartum Mood Disorder (PPMD). I wasn't - though my friend, Angela, can add some real insight into PPMD if you visit her blog. I was suffering from being overwhelmed with 5 little ones, and sleeping 2 hours tops at a time.
Girls, let me raw and real. I would NOT want to repeat that first year . . . ever again, not because you girls were not worth all that and more. I just think I can look back in deep appreciation, and gratitude that we made it. In all honesty, I made that year harder on myself because I would not ask for or allow help. Don't get me wrong, people helped, family helped, Papi helped. But I know that more was offered, and I felt like I needed to do it on my own. Why? um, hmm? I guess one good answer is that your mother is prideful, stupid, a slow learner or all of the above. I had certain expectations and standards of myself, especially as a wife and mother. I thought no one, except maybe Grammy, could care for you like I could. I wanted to be an excellent wife and mother, and I guess I thought doing it all on my own would prove that. It nearly broke me. I had nights where I would wake Papi up screaming, "I can't do this! I've got to sleep! I don't like this! Why don't you help - don't you hear them crying? Why doesn't God help?" Girls, it is very hard to receive help if you never ask. Papi was always more than willing to help me, even when I didn't ask.
Independence is a highly rated quality in the United States. Not having to impose on anyone, being able to manage on your own, not owing anyone - are all skills that are honored. I do not think being independent is bad, in fact I think Papi and I are raising you girls to be very independent. But being independent and living interdependently in community do not have to be opposing qualities. We all read inspiring stories about community and strength in numbers, but are we living it out? The Bible is full of God's exhortation for us to live and function as 1 body - some of my greatest memories and sweetest friendships have developed when I have allowed God's body to function in my life. Receiving is sometimes harder than giving, but both are equally important, and our family is a living testimony of how we give and receive to function in a healthy and God honoring way. I have cried many tears of joy and pain - especially in that first year with five young daughters, and God has seen, counted, and kept them all.