I will never forget it. Ever. The doctor walked in solemnly on the morning of December 17 (after I had slept through at least twelve hours of contractions), and told me the babies might have to be born today. I went blank.
They sent me down to triage to start an IV of Magnesium Sulfate - a drug used to slow down the system, mainly my uterus. I had been "magged" for four days the week prior. "It worked last week; it will work again." The OB returned after only ten minutes, not acting hopeful. She looked sad, and she said she was sorry.
The doctor discontinued the Mag, and a nurse scrubbed the epidural site. They gave me another IV. I think it was my ninth in two weeks. I complained; I complained about a freakin' IV. Mike and I asked for a minute alone, and we escaped into the bathroom. We held hands and cried, and I remember watching tears fall into the sink.
They wheeled me into the OR, and it was silent. They asked Mike to step outside while they pinned me down to a bed like high school students preparing to dissect a frog. No one said a word. I didn't even know they had made the cut.
Owen entered the world first, with an indignant cry. Eliot fought off the rude intrusion, but cried within seconds. I asked the doctor whose babies were crying, and she said they were mine. "My babies can cry?"
The NICU delivery team held my tiny, new twins in front of me, and I kissed one of them. I don't even know which one I kissed. They were rushed to intensive care, where they would remain for the next few months. I begged for them to fight.
I was wheeled into recovery with a bunch of women who all had their babies. I listened to them ogle all over their new bundles, while I wondered if mine were still alive. I sent Mike to check. I sent Mike to check if our children were still alive. Why should anyone ever have to do that?
Lying groggy and sore from surgery, I was in the middle of the worst moment of my entire life. And, to make it worse, I had to watch and listen to other mothers basking in their best. I doubt it could ever get more depressing than that.
When we made it to our post-natal room later that morning, Mike and I stared at the ceiling. "Should I call our parents?" he asked.
"No," I said. "I don't want anyone to know." What . . . did I think I was going to hide it?
That morning Owen defied all odds by breathing on his own, and we felt a sense of hope. That evening, Eliot's breathing started to struggle, and we were once again consumed with fear. (This was the beginning of a long series of emotional "up and downs.")
Around 5am on the morning of December 18th, I woke up in a panic. "Call the NICU nurse," I said shaking. "Please call to check." We both held our breath as we knew Mike wasn't calling to "check" on the twins, he was calling to see if Eliot had made it through the night.
When Mike told me Elie was doing "okay," I smiled. It was one of the first smiles I remember after giving birth, and it didn't happen until almost 24 hours later. The nurse just said that Eliot was doing "okay." And I was so happy. "Okay" was so much better than what I had prepared myself for.
The first few days after the 17th are blurry. I know I prayed a lot, and hoped a lot, and wanted - so badly - to be celebrating the birth of my children. But last year, it just wasn't so. We had too many mountains to climb.
But TODAY. Today is a different day and a different story. Today is Owen and Eliot's birthday. And we will gladly smile and celebrate it by putting cupcakes in our hair instead of in our mouth (nice, Owen); by eating our birthday party hats (nice, Elie Mak); and by ripping open wrapping paper, only to ignore the new toy for the giant empty box in which it came.
And while tomorrow will undoubtedly bring Eliot's stubborn refusal to swallow pureed peaches, and Owen's mind-splitting, loud scream, we still have today. And THIS December 17th is a great day. Today my babies are one, and one is so much fun. Happy Birthday to my strong, amazing miracles.