If you have read many of my rambling posts, or even if only just a post or two, you know that my Mother is often a humorous subject—and there could be more to come! What you don’t know is that when I read them to her word for word before posting, she giggles good naturedly and urges me to post them, and she never once has asked to change even one word of what I have written. But, since so many of my writings lovingly tease her, the time has come for a compliment.
People ask me frequently if twins run in our family. “Well, they do now”, I say. And, sometimes I say yes and tell them truthfully that my grandmother was a twin, she is believed to have lost a set of twins herself, and her sibling had a set of twins. And, sometimes, I tell them that and how we needed help.
Joel and I miscarried five times before seeking help. Two of those five losses were ectopic, and one of those ruptured requiring emergency surgery. Ultimately, we sought evaluation and testing with specialists because of an inability to carry to term, and then an inability to even conceive after the fifth loss. Five long years and multiple surgeries passed by. (And, eventually we would have a sixth loss after Joel‘s vasectomy. A darkly humorous story for another day.)
But, joyfully, our second attempt at in -vitro fertilization resulted in a twin pregnancy. Despite the remote possibility of a multiple pregnancy, we did not expect it. And, during a routine ultrasound when no one had said anything to us about more than one, I asked matter-of-factly, “So, it is just one?” The doctor replied equally matter-of-factly, “Oh no, its two. Here look.” Joel and I were both taken aback. Delighted, but shocked. Joel just about fell off the stool where he was seated next to my head.
But, only weeks into the pregnancy, I awoke one Sunday morning to the unmistakable and dreaded spotting. I had been down this road before, and with a heavy heart I called the doctor and went in early that morning for an ultrasound. Since it was Sunday, Joel, as pastor, went to church and carried on. We both knew that science could do many things to help one become pregnant, and conversely medicine could do very little to keep us pregnant at this early stage. After all, we had been there, done that, and gotten the hospital i.d. bracelet several times.
Mom and Dad drove up from Knoxville, and after my early morning appointment, we sat glumly in the Krystal’s restaurant located on the corner of the intersection within view of the medical center where I had just been. Only time would tell whether we would lose one or both of the babies. Mom and Dad tried to encourage me as best they could, but we all knew that lives hung in the balance.
Miraculously and unexplainably, weeks turned into months. More quickly than singleton first timers, I needed maternity clothes since I was showing larger and earlier. I am a shortwaisted 5’3’’, and there was only so much room for two in there! The nearest maternity store was in Knoxville, and I drove there to meet Mom in the mall.
We walked into Motherhood Maternity…about five-hundred square feet of clothing and maternity accessories covered every nook and cranny of the store and assaulted my fragile senses. Within minutes of entering this foreign world, and one which I never had any reason to enter before, and utterly overwhelmed by selecting even the first garment to try on, I began to cry. Not dainty moist eyes, nor merely a few leaky tears, or a stray salty water drop. No, I began uncontrollably sobbing and the more I wanted to stop, the more I continued to cry. Waterworks, blubbering, ugly cry….that and more. Tears washed mascara over my cheeks and dropped onto my blouse. I was afraid to try on actual maternity clothes because I had never made it to the point of needing them, and I did not equate being pregnant with actually becoming a mother. Here in bold letters hung MOTHERHOOD over my head above the doorway, while simultaneously hanging emotionally over my heart. If I bought clothes, then I would have visible reminders hanging in the closet if we miscarried again. My body had crossed into a developmental stage before my mind caught up.
The saleslady graciously retreated and said something along the lines of she would give us a few minutes. But, I couldn’t breathe or think straight and Mom lovingly pulled me out of the store “for some fresh air”. We sat on a bench smack in the middle of the hallway in West Town Mall while Mom encouraged me to let it all out.
Mom is a retired surgical nurse. She never minded blood, guts, or vomit, but strangely if you came at her with a little mucus she couldn’t stand it! Just try handing her one little damp Kleenex and she would lose it and run away. But, there she sat wiping snot bubbles as they blew from my nostrils without flinching. She patted my back….like I was five instead of my actual thirty-five. Mom employed a delicate mixture of sympathy, strength, encouragement, humor, and practical bluntness. She expressed confidence and faith that we would make it this time, dried my tears as I hyperventilated in the middle of the mall, and finally plainly said I couldn’t go around naked and if I didn’t buy some clothes then that that would be a looming possibility. She calmed my nerves and instilled the courage to buck up and keep going. She talked me off the bench and back into the store.
So, with much less mascara on my eyes, and black streaks still on my cheeks, Mom gently ushered me into the store for the second time. As I began to try on clothes, the saleslady gave me a contoured pillow to place under the garments to simulate advanced months of pregnancy. We laughed as they all seemed impossibly large, and there was no way I would ever need that sized clothing. Shows what we knew! By the end of the pregnancy, I exceeded those pillows! I was so round that I had my own zip code.
And, that is how our twin boys joined our family. Mom did some of her best mothering that day. She bore my pain but masked her own fears, selflessly wiped my snotty nose, and motivated me to buck up and persevere. Mothering is hard, and I learned my first early lesson in becoming a mother that day. Thank you, Mom.