I’m exhausted. I am sitting here surrounded by birthday presents, picking pieces of Gigglebellies carrot cake out of my hair, feet aching from an afternoon of running around, stomach rumbling because I forgot to eat and two 1 year olds safely tucked away in their cribs. All in all, the first year birthday party was a complete success. The guests enjoyed themselves and we survived. The day wasn’t without its hiccups, but much like this first year, it has ended beautifully.
I honestly think part of my exhaustion this day is the emotional roller coaster I’ve been on these past several weeks remembering the journey that began one year and nine months ago. It was then we learned our surrogate, Jess, was pregnant with our twins. The absolute profoundness of our experiences, since we found out, makes me heady; weepy and excited, melancholy and cheerful – but totally intoxicated in awe and wonder!
How can I even begin to explain the enormous joy we felt when we saw our two embryos had turned into thriving microscopic beings? Imagine something you have yearned for, an ache that was laid upon your heart for years, never knowing if you would ever be free from it, and then learning that – wow – it could very well happen! Your familiar ache could be banished – to be replaced with the fullness of motherhood!
But our happiness wasn’t without fear – any what-ifs that google could throw at you ended up plaguing our minds. It was all too easy to envision our dreams being whisked away by some tragedy – we would be helpless to stop it. Knowing that bad things happen all the time, why wouldn’t it happen to us?
And the waiting, oh – the waiting, was almost as bad as the fear; it left me with prickles of anxiety at times. The endless waiting was tempered only by brief ultrasound glimpses into the water world our babies called “home.” I’d stare at their faces in the ultrasound photos for hours. Mundane to some, perhaps, but the only thing this future mom had to hold onto and dream about.
Later, in the third trimester we learned what it meant to be “dilated” and “effaced,” or what it was like to get a stress test, hanging on to any symptom that might mean contractions were starting, just to be sent home by the doctors… it wasn’t time yet.
Then at 37 weeks and 4 days we got that call – Jess’ water had broken, NOW is the time! We were so close then… so close. I’ve experienced nothing like it in my life – those feelings were frankly indescribable.
After several hours, we donned our scrubs and moved to the operating room where all twins at this hospital are born. Jess asked me to be her labor coach. I didn’t want to disappoint her but I was afraid I wouldn’t know what to do – so I just did the best I could and I think she appreciated that. And, I was so grateful to be in that room with her because, in truth, she didn’t have to pick me as the intended mother! She had several choices, but she chose me!
Then, we pushed… 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.9.10, counted the nurse, we rested then we pushed again. Rested then pushed again. And then he was out! I cut the cord and they rushed him to an incubator. My husband went to him immediately – his son, his first born, his namesake – his only son. I hurried back to Jess and we started again – this time the baby was breach. But they pulled her out by her feet and she was born.
And, just like that our new life began – where we were once two, we had immediately become four. Our little family, our very own microcosm of everything right in the world.
Onward in our journey to the first year!
Now, I look back over this past year and just can’t believe it really went by that fast. It’s cliché I know. But, while I was in it, and experiencing it, it went by slow; those first several months felt like forever.
Then, one day, seemingly out of nowhere, Phoebe gave us her first smile and Robbie’s was shortly after. We had finally made it through the 4th trimester as the first 3 months of an infant’s life is sometimes called and our movement from one phase to the next was bridged by a smile; at that, they began to turn into little people. Sitting up, playing with toys, eating real food, crawling, saying momma and dada and best of all, they started to give hugs and big sloppy open mouthed kisses.
I admit there have been times when they have rolled off the bed, climbed out of their cribs, gotten bruised, eaten dirt, licked the floor, gnawed on my shoes, squeezed the dog, pulled each other’s hair, puked in Temple or puked on Daiga. Oy vey, lots and lots of puke!
Indeed, as you can see, we had plenty of repeated hiccups – but nothing we couldn’t and didn’t handle.
So, this first birthday party was as much for my twins as it was for us as a family. We survived – all four of us persevered through the good times, the tired times, the happy times, and the crying times.
And together, bound by love and the occasional hiccup, we will joyfully tackle Year Two, knowing that one year from now we will have even more new experiences to remember, and another awesome birthday party to look forward to!
All photos courtesy of Scott Photography!