Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of the birth and death of James and Penelope. Looking back to that day and the days that followed there was so much pain. The kind of pain that takes you over and makes it difficult to just breathe. There is much of my life during those weeks and months after we lost them that I don't really remember. I know that life went on, I had my almost two year old to take care of. But what we did, what I did during that time I'm not really sure of. I know there were lots of tears, I know there were some happy times too, but much of it is just blank. So today, instead of trying to go back to that time of intense grief I am trying to live in the moments of joy that led up to it.
In April of 2012 I took a home pregnancy test and was thrilled to discover that I was once again pregnant. My excitement was mixed with fear because I had recently suffered a miscarriage several months ago. But mostly I was thrilled. We quickly calculated what my due date was and I was due the week of Christmas. This baby would be born just weeks after our daughter's second birthday. I called my Midwife's office later that week to schedule our first appointment.
Our first appointment with the midwife was the last day in April. I was 6 weeks pregnant and as sick as a dog. Because of my previous pregnancy loss she offered us an ultrasound which we happily agreed to. The ultrasound technician began and on the screen I couldn't see much, just two small black circles. Within a couple of minutes she said the words that I will never forget, "Well, there are two". Micah and I looked at each other and then asked her if she was sure. She assured us that yes, there were in fact two little embryos and both had a strong heartbeat. We got to hear of their hearts beating and it was music to my ears. Twins were not something I ever thought would happen, but in that moment I felt so lucky.
We went back for another appointment the beginning of June. I remember walking into the office that day terrified that we may have lost one or both of the babies. When the ultrasound began and I could actually see two little babies squirming around I instantly felt relief and joy. These two babies were growing inside of me and they looked healthy and amazing. We were also told that day that the babies each had their own amniotic sac and placenta, which made it a much lower risk pregnancy. That was good news.
By the time my next appointment rolled around it was the second week of July and I was almost 20 weeks along. I was getting big, I already looked 30 plus weeks pregnant. I couldn't wait to catch another glimpse of my twins during the big ultrasound, the anatomy scan. If the babies were cooperative we would also be able to find out if we were having boys, girls or one of each. By this ultrasound the babies had gotten so big you could no longer see them both on the screen at the same time. The technician started with Baby A. We got to hear the heartbeat again and she took measurement after measurement, everything looked perfect. Then she asked if we wanted to know baby's sex, "Yes!" we both said. "It's a boy"! I remember crying a little at the excitement. She then moved onto Baby B. Once again we got to hear the heartbeat and all of the measurements looked perfect. "This one's a girl"! I cried again. I couldn't have been happier than I was in that moment. I already had one amazing daughter at home and I was being blessed with not just one healthy baby, but a son and a daughter. I couldn't believe how lucky I was.
Over the next couple of days I finally began to feel fetal movement. It had taken a long time since both of the twin's placentas were anterior, or located on the front which was blocking much of their movements. By 20 weeks though, they had gotten big enough that I could feel them both. My son was down low below my belly button and my daughter was up high. Micah and I would often joke about me being pregnant with an octopus since there were eights little limbs in there. Their kicks and punches were big enough for Micah to feel as well and we spent many nights sitting on the couch with his hands on my belly, one up high and one down low. These short few weeks of anticipating the birth of my twin son and daughter were among the happiest of my life. I couldn't wait to hold them in my arms, to watch my daughter Gwenevere become a big sister, to attempt breastfeeding two babies at once, to see my number of children triple in one moment. My heart was about as full as it has ever been.
Three weeks after that ultrasound I went into labor. But that moment forward I have rehashed enough. It is those weeks and months before that I want to remember today. Those magical moments when I got carry two lives inside of me. Those appointments holding my husband's hand and seeing two babies that we made with love and listening to their hearts beat. Those nights spent on the couch watching Mad Men and feeling my son and daughter squiggle and kick in my belly. Having my one year old daughter walk up to me and touch my belly and say "Babies". The phone calls to our parents to tell them the double good news that we were pregnant with twins. The reluctant shopping for minivans when we realized the difficulty of fitting three car seats into a sedan. The buying of matching outfits and decorations for the nursery. These are moments that I wouldn't trade for everything. Even though I only had several short months carrying Penelope and James I will always cherish that time. Tomorrow is their birthday and I will remember every amazing moment that I had with them. Happy Birthday my lovely children, where ever you are I hope that you can feel all of the love I am sending your way.