More Than Enough

A few months ago, Madeleine had an MRI to look at her ventricles one year on from her shunt surgery.  It showed a perfectly normal toddler brain.

Perfectly.  Normal.

It’s the news we hoped for, but never thought we would get.  It’s what we thought about on the really bad days in the NICU, when the updates were starting to get scary and we wondered if she could possibly still end up being a hilarious, rambunctious, 18-month old one day who runs and talks and laughs and squeezes your face when she gives you a kiss on the lips.  But here we are, with all of it.  And yet, somehow, it is still bittersweet.

When I speak to new preemie parents, one of the things I sometimes share with them is that having a baby in the NICU teaches you just how much you are actually able to accept when it comes to your children.  When you first get pregnant, you probably more or less want a perfect baby.  A happy, fat, screaming baby, and you figure you’ll probably get it because, isn’t that what most people get?  But then something goes wrong, and your baby comes out far too early, but late enough to still have a shot at life.  And you think, “well, as long as they’re still mostly perfect, as long as they can still run and play and laugh and go to school and make friends…it’ll be okay.”  You lower the bar, but not too much, because this can still work out.  This could still be nothing.

And then the day comes when you’re standing there, waiting for your kid to be wheeled into the OR, watching her scream as the anesthetist puts a mask over her face so she’ll go to sleep, and you find yourself thinking, “as long as she lives, I’ll take anything.”

Madeleine’s MRI results are a testament both to the fantastic medical care she received as an infant, as well as to her remarkable, inspiring preemie warrior spirit.  But the thing is…I really didn’t need for it to be this good.  We didn’t actually need to dodge all the bullets.  She didn’t have to escape from this pretty much unscathed.  I realize now that it could have all gone horribly wrong in the worst ways and I’d still be head over heels in love with being Madeleine’s mom.

I don’t really know why I feel the need to say all of this, why I always have to urge to qualify our good news.  Why it doesn’t quite feel right when our loved ones express their joy over our wonderful outcome.  I certainly don’t mean to sound ungrateful, or like I don’t understand how incredibly, incredibly lucky we’ve been.  And I’m definitely not saying that I don’t want this amazing outcome, because, my goodness, I do.  I guess I just see now how little it actually matters.  The things we thought meant everything, the scary, supposed “worst case scenarios” we had envisioned, now I realize we could have handled it all.  And that we still CAN handle it if something unexpected happens in the future.

If you have a baby in the NICU right now, I know this might be hard to believe.  But you can actually handle this.  You will actually be okay eventually.  Your life as a parent might not end up looking anything like what you thought it would, it might not look the same as anyone else’s life around you, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter so much what it ends up looking like.  And It doesn’t have to go right to still be beautiful.

Rockstar Preemies | Life With Twins, Born At Twenty-Five Weeks Gestation

Sharing Our Stories: Warren & Dean

Meghan’s beautiful twin boys, Warren and Dean, were born at 26 weeks and 6 days gestation.  They arrived after a difficult pregnancy, and were also Meghan and Andrew’s rainbow babies, born after a fertility struggle, the early loss of a twin, and the eventual stillbirth of their daughter, Reagan.  Thank you, Meghan, for sharing your incredible story of strength, love and faith!  

I married my college sweetheart shortly after graduating, and from the beginning of our marriage, I couldn’t wait to have children.  But after a year and a half of trying without getting pregnant, we decided to finally move forward with IVF.  It took just over two years, but then we learned the amazing news – I was pregnant with twins!  There was a sense of disbelief, an awe that I was growing two tiny human beings inside of me.  I felt so incredibly blessed!

Things didn’t progress quite as I thought though, and I lost one of the twins by 7 weeks.  It was such a bittersweet moment, to see our remaining child but feel the ache at our loss.  Moving forward, the pregnancy seemed pretty normal.  I started feeling her kick by about 16 weeks, Andrew felt her by 18.  I never felt her kick on a regular basis though (she moved positions a lot), so I didn’t think much of it at first when I didn’t feel her kick for a day at 21 weeks.   I made an appointment with the OB to be safe, and that’s when we saw the ultrasound.  My sweet Reagan’s beautiful profile, perfect little hands and feet, and empty chest.  There was no heartbeat.

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Number Three

maddieWhen you’ve had a traumatic pregnancy and birth experience, the question of having more children becomes very complex.  With healthy, relatively easy pregnancies, the question is, “would we like another?” and, if yes, “when should we try again?”.  But after two 25 weekers, it’s not that simple.  Then the question is, “I’d really like another, but should we risk it?”

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Congratulations, You’re Having Twins

Dear Twin Mom-To-Be | Rockstar Preemies

Dear Twin Mom-To-Be,

When I found out I was having twins I was a little, oh…terrified.  Maybe you felt the same?  I hadn’t even considered the possibility of more than one child prior to that day, and the realization that I was going to have two babies was immensely intimidating.  I wondered what it was going to be like, how it would feel, how gigantic I’d end up becoming.  I thought about giving birth to two children and then taking them home and never sleeping again.  What did I get myself into?  

(Sound familiar?)

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Conquering The Park

The thing about being a mom (at least in my experience) is that suddenly, plenty of normal, everyday things become completely terrifying. This is very different, of course, from the legitimately terrifying experiences that occurred between the twins’ birth and their discharge from the hospital. I’m talking about the stuff that should be easy. Like, uh, leaving the house. Eating at a restaurant. Going on a trip. Being alone at home while your husband is away on a business trip. The kind of stuff you wouldn’t bat an eyelash at during your pre-baby days that now seem akin to, I don’t know, getting a root canal. Without anesthetic.

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