Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Big Two Turned Four

Today is the big day!

Leila and Sarah turned four today. I can't believe it's been 4 years...
Four years ago right now I was just an hour away from meeting my baby girls for the first time. I had no idea what the future held. I wasn't sure how I'd mother two daughters. I was excited and terrified at the same time. I was still in disbelief that I was having twins. Two babies at once?! Seriously?
And here they are today.

My sweet girls have been on this earth for four years and yet I don't remember life without them. I don't remember what it's like to hold a single baby. I only know life in pairs. My days have become repetitive... change two diapers, nurse two babies, hold two hands, carry two children in my arms, and share my bed with two sets of twins. I can't believe how blessed I am to be the mother of these amazing children!

Sarah has decided that she's ready to be a big girl. She has been accident-free for nearly a week. (Don't get too excited, we've gone through this before.) She's always been attached to her mama and has always wanted to sleep near me and twirl my hair. Sarah is rough and tumble and can hold her own with her four brothers, but she's a princess and she knows it.

Leila is always my fiercely independent, yet reserved, little diva. The slightest scratch can induce a blood-curdling scream. She likes to be beautiful and she's always been a clean eater. She hates to be dirty. She is also Daddy's girl and he has him wrapped around her dainty little finger. She and Sarah are opposites in many ways, yet they are so much alike too.

These girls love to play together all day and share secrets. They can sometimes disappear into their own little world when they are playing pretend. Their bond is unlike anything I've ever experienced myself and it never ceases to amaze me. They are such special little girls!

In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month, I'm going to share some memories of the girls' birth. If you don't want to see the harsh reality of a pregnancy with multiples, turn away now. (You've been warned!)

This is what 90 lbs of weight gain can do to a body. It's not pretty. It feels pretty miserable too. But, this body held two babies inside it so it was all worth it!
This is what I looked like the day before I gave birth to Leila and Sarah. I was 39 weeks pregnant the day I took this photo. That night I went to bed, as usual, feeling like I was never going to have these babies and that I wasn't even really pregnant and it was a sick, cruel joke.

Just before 1 am, my water broke. It was actually more of an explosion all over my bed. I had been asleep on my left side and I was drenched from my knees to my neck. The "pop" actually woke me from my sleep. When I stood up from the bed a huge splash hit the floor and my poor dog who was sleeping next to the bed. Everything was wet and Jason mumbled something about me ruining our new mattress.

I'll spare you the details, but if you want to read the whole story you can find it here.

I labored alone for pretty much my entire labor. I let Jason and the boys sleep. Matthew was 3 and Joshua was not even 2 yet, so they played in the other room once they woke up. I retreated to my bedroom and waited for the midwives to arrive so I could hurry up and have the babies already!

Around breakfast time my midwives arrived. I was uncomfortable and couldn't find a good place to labor. I spent a few contractions in the shower (nice) and then a few on the toilet (miserable) and then a few on the bed (terrible) and finally just got on my hands and knees. When I reached a break in my contractions the midwives went into the kitchen. I could hear them talking about me and my labor and how the contractions must have spaced out. I was sitting quietly in Jason's office chair, next to my bed, as the contractions rolled through my body like waves. I was silent.

Suddenly the urge to bear down hit me like a ton of bricks. I was pushing. There was no thinking, no hesitation, no stopping it. I dropped to my knees out of the chair and draped my upper body across the foot of my bed. And I pushed. And I pushed. And pushed some more.

The midwives rushed into the room and Jason brought Matthew and Joshua to see me. After a few big pushes, I reached down and felt Leila's slippery body shoot out into my hands. The midwives helped me lift her but her cord was too short. They cut her cord and I held her as they checked the position of "Baby B" (aka Sarah.) Sarah's hand was presenting which caused a bit of excitement and they took Leila from my arms so that I could push again.
I hated pushing out the second baby. I was irritated that I had push again so soon. I just wanted a break. I buried my face in the bed covers and cursed. I even tried to flat out refuse. "I'm not doing this again. I need a break! I just had a baby!" But there was no break, and 14 minutes later, Sarah was born.

The midwives helped me climb back into Jason's chair (and he was silently cringing at the sight of my fat, naked, bloody butt in his precious chair) where I held both girls for the first time. I nursed them both and delivered the placenta. Then the midwives helped me climb into bed.

I marveled at the fact that I'd just given birth to twins, at home, after a previous cesarean. It was such a healing experience. It restored my faith in natural birth and it really made me feel as though I could accomplish anything. It was, quite literally, a birth high. I've often tried to use my experience to help encourage other mothers who are considering homebirth, or even just a natural birth with twins. The difference between a cesarean and a homebirth (especially with twins) is just incredible. I was up and walking and feeling remarkable, just hours after giving birth at home. It was just completely awesome!
We spent the rest of the day staring in wonder at the two little girls who had just entered our lives. Matthew helped us name the girls. We had decided on their names but had not decided which baby would get which name. Matthew decided that Leila was the first born and so we named her Leila Beth. "Baby B" became Sarah Grace.We could tell them apart easily because of their color difference due to TTTS. Even so, it was odd to have two babies that looked and sounded just alike. It was still sinking in... we had TWINS!

I find it especially humorous now to remember my apprehension at the thought of having two babies. I was so unsure of what life would be like with twins. And now... well, now I just have to giggle.
Happy Birthday Leila and Sarah! I hope someday you realize how blessed we are to be your parents and special you are to our family. We love you so much.

(ETA: By the way, head on over to Kate's blog and wish her twin girls a happy birthday too! They are the older of her two sets of twins and they share the same birthday as Leila and Sarah!)
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