One of the best days of my life, no question.
So many of you have emailed/posted to ask about my sweet miracles Ellie and Abby, and it means the world to me that you care enough to ask. I just poured a cup of hot tea (thank you, Kristin), the house is quiet, and it still smells like a home-cooked meal (I haven’t cooked in weeks…progress!) I thank God for these simple moments, where normalcy sneaks up on me. I sat with the girls as they fell asleep, and I thought about a time, not so long ago, when we didn’t know if we would get to have them in this life. I am a terrible at keeping journals (although I have a full stash of fresh, beautiful ones in my kitchen drawer…I have an addiction to buying pretty notebooks), and I don’t (everyone, prepare to gasp!) scrapbook. No, seriously. I get stressed out because there are too many options…brads, paper-crimpers, stamps, special pens…I am sweating as I type. I can barely buy shampoo without spending 10 minutes smelling them all. So, this is a great way to talk about my life and have something to look back on years from now. And it’s just black and white and true. I love that.
A little background…Todd and I were married on August 26th, 2001, just before 9/11. We found out in December that we were expecting our first baby, and we were shocked. I was only about 7 or 8 weeks along when I miscarried, but it was long enough to fall in love with the baby. I have vivid memories of standing in the bathroom of our little apartment brushing my hair and crying tears of joy because I was going to be someone’s mommy. It wasn’t meant to be. I wasn’t where I am now with the Lord, and to be honest, I felt like I had been abandoned. I went to the library and checked out a book about miscarriage, crying and clinging to it every night. In March, I was on the road with Todd in Maryland and I told him I thought I was pregnant again. I went to the store and bought a test, and when I got back to the hotel I said, “You know if I’m pregnant, you are never going to forgive yourself for not coming to Walgreens with me.” We laughed and I walked into the bathroom. Todd says I walked out about 10 seconds later with a huge smile. He also said he should have gone to Walgreens.
I checked out a book on being pregnant, and walked on eggshells for a few weeks waiting to see what would happen.
At our first ultrasound, we were staring at the screen to see a heartbeat, and Susanna kept saying, “You see it, Todd? Right here.” He looked confused. I told him he could tell us if he didn’t see it; he didn’t need to be embarrassed about it. He told us that he did see the heartbeat, but he was wondering what this other flickering was.
Susanna moved the ultrasound wand up a little on my tummy and there they were. Two little heartbeats. I screamed.
I went back to the library (same check out girl) and got a couple books on twins. She smiled at me and laughed.
“Quite a year you’re having, honey!” She scanned the books and told me about her twin cousins, who, based on her description, are probably in prison by now. She thought it was hilarious. I thought I was going to puke on the counter.
In late September, I went to Alaska with Todd for some concerts. I felt uncomfortable, but I figured that it was part of pregnancy, so I didn’t really think much of it. We had a great trip, and when I got home (I was 24 1/2 weeks along), Dr. Trabue said he thought that even though everything was going well, he thought I should have another ultrasound. I know that was the voice of God, and I am convinced that we would not have them if he had not been obedient to this prompting. It was a terrible day. Many of the feelings I had with Audrey’s ultrasound were bad memories from this one. The sweet man started the scan, and instantly, his face dropped. He told us that something was wrong, and I started shaking. I asked him if they were alive. Actually, I think I told him to tell me they were alive. I will never, never forget what he said.
“They are alive right now.”
The supervisor came in and explained what was going on. Basically, I was dilated more than the size of their heads, and my bag of water was “exposed.” My cervix was about 3 mm (if you are in this business, or have any experience with this, you know that this is bad…really bad). They barely let me stand up to go to the car. We went straight to the hospital. There were a couple days in there where they weren’t sure what was going on, because my cervix looked normal…it turned out that it was changing constantly, and depending on the exact minute they did the scan, it either looked normal or horrendous. They told me I needed to check myself in and plan on being there until I delivered. One of the first nights I was there, a nurse came in and found me crying. I told her I wanted the truth about what they thought was going to happen to my babies. She was incredibly sweet, but she explained that they were both well under a pound, and on “the cusp of viability.” I remember the words. I remember the smell of hospital soap. I remember that I already loved them so much that I fought every minute I could to have them.
It turned out to be a lot of minutes. Ten weeks to be exact.
I was on magnesium sulfate for three and a half weeks (the stuff is nasty…I hallucinated that my IV pole was a robot and told Audra to let the trick-or-treaters in one night…she told me she loved me, put on a Jim Brickman CD, and turned off the lights). I was on a lot of medication to keep me out of labor, including a pump thing that I had to inject myself with. Time passed slowly, slowly. I was really scared and depressed, and I want to tell you something else, because we are all friends here, and I think you should know.
I hardly ever opened my Bible.
I believed in Him. The whole story. I loved Him fully, but I learned to keep Him at arm’s length in the event that He let me down. I hate that part of the story, and if I could do it over…well, I can’t. I just have to know that He pursued me even when I acted like a jilted bride. He wanted me when I didn’t want Him. He taught me about Himself, even as I resisted loving Him back. I am forever grateful for the tenderness He showed me during that time, and the grace He showed me when I came running back with remorse in my heart.
At 34 1/2 weeks, they had to send me home because my insurance wouldn’t pay for me to be there anymore. I went home, and a few days later they let me stop taking some of my medication and I went into labor. I pushed twice and Anna Elisabeth was welcomed into the world. Two minutes and one push later, Abigail Grace followed. At 4.11 and 3.11 respectively, they were really tiny. Abby wouldn’t cry when she was born and they were worried about her so they whisked her away before I could see her. They brought Ellie to me and I squeezed her and kissed her and smelled her and just loved her completely.
Abby was in the NICU for almost 3 weeks, trying to get her weight up. She kept having “spells” where she would stop breathing and they would have to keep her for a few more days. Todd and I brought Ellie home and about 10 minutes after we set down her baby carrier, he left to go on his Christmas tour. I would nurse Ellie, pump, drive to the hospital, nurse Abby, pump, nurse Ellie, go home….and on and on. I felt so divided. My husband was gone, my baby was in the hospital, and Ellie was with me. I cried every night dreaming about when we would be together, praying Abby would be with us for Christmas (she was).
I want to tell you more, to tell you who they are and how many ways God has blessed us through their miracle, but I know it’s late, and my tea has gotten cold.
Another day, right?
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the incredibly kind Tippa, who bid almost $600 on a purse that she will never carry. She actually lives in Belgium, and I have truly been blessed getting to know her heart. She asked me to keep Coco, although I had already taken it to be mailed when I got her email (it had gone into my “junk” folder, so I almost deleted it). Todd ran to the UPS store and they were really confused, but handed the box back to him. I cried when I read her words to me, not so much because of the purse (although I am blessed by that generosity), but because God showed up in her kindness. I am going to The Hope Clinic on Friday with a check that I have no doubt God will use for His glory. Tippa, may you be blessed in return (you and I both know what we’re praying for!!!! Quickly, Lord!!! )
I also want to tell you that it is great to “know” you all. I want you to know that I read what you write, and it matters to me.
Lastly, I want to ask for your prayer for a friend of mine who is early on in her pregnancy and praying that God will bless her with a healthy baby…there are some complications, and I covet your thoughts on her behalf. I will keep you posted when I have her permission, but for tonight, know that there is a woman with life growing within her, and she is asking the Lord the same thing I did almost 6 years ago…may God bless her as richly as he did me, and may He be glorified in the midst of it.
Love and thanks,