Today my miracle babies turned 6. Happy birthday to my dear Prince and Princess. It is amazing to think of how far they have come...how far we all have come. I will admit that their birthday is not necessarily a happy time for me. I try so hard to make their day special and as long as I am busy and not thinking about the tough time we had when they were born, I do well. It usually hits me at the end of the day after they have gone to bed and all is quiet. Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for the blessings God has given me and I know that it all ends happily, it's just that I have a lot of scars that haven't yet healed.
We all deal differently. Hubby and I hug our children a little tighter and tear up easier as we remember the struggles and thank God for our little family. My mom has a tradition she started when the twins were 2. She has always made it a point to spend time with them on their actual birthday, even though their party is usually not on the real day. This afternoon was no different. She came over with a small gift and a cupcake for each of them. She also brought her little Grandma's Brag Books from when they were born. Every year on their birthday, she sits with my children individually and tells them all about the day they were born and how she first met them. She shows them pictures from their first days and of her and my dad holding them that first day they were able in the NICU. It is so precious to see this interaction between my mom and my children.
Six years ago today, we were quite surprised when our twins decided to make their appearance into this world 7 weeks early. Nothing about their arrival was how we'd planned and it all went really quickly. Princess was born after about 30 minutes of labor. Prince, however, was not especially cooperative. He was transverse and the doctors couldn't turn him. His heart rate began to drop so I had an emergency c-section with him. Yes, I gave birth both ways with them. I don't do anything the easy way. The twins were sent to a Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) just over an hour away. Due to the circumstances of their birth, I was not able to hold the babies before they were transported. The transport team brought the babies in their isolettes into my room, and I was able to touch them but I was in such a fog from the drugs that I don't remember much of it.
The days that followed were pure hell. Hubby, my parents, and his parents were travelling back and forth from my hospital to the twins in the NICU. My parents and sister were the first family members able to hold my babies and they took pictures to bring to me. The day after the twins were born, my body began to shut down. I had HELLP syndrome and my liver and kidneys were losing function. I was diagnosed with acute renal failure and was told that I would be moved to ICU. Let me stop and say at this point that I had always been a very fearful person. I struggled for many years with anxiety and unfounded fears. I tell you this because it is an important part of my testimony. I was dying, my organs were shutting down. I was aware of this, but I am not sure if I knew really how serious it was, I think I was too sick to be fully aware. However, I knew I might die. The thing was, I wasn't afraid. I suddenly realized that all of those years of fear were unnecessary. All of those years the root of my fear was that I might die and now here I was so close to death and I wasn't afraid. I knew where I would go, and I was at peace with it. I was sad that I might not see my children grow up, sad that I wouldn't experience all of those firsts, but I wasn't afraid. This was a turning point for me. I realized that I have nothing to be afraid of. Those days I was in ICU and we were waiting for my kidney levels to come down and normalize, I felt the prayers people were sending up. I could feel the love of all of those who were praying for me and I felt lifted up. It's really hard to explain if you have never experienced this, but I was aware that there were people praying for me that I didn't even know. As Hubby would enter and leave the hospital, both where I was and where the twins were, hospital staff would say, "Aren't you the dad of the new twins? We are praying for your new family. We are praying for your wife." God used the encouragement of these people we didn't even know to give us hope. After 8 days in the hospital, I was finally discharged. I was going to meet my babies and get to hold them.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story, The NICU Experience.