The year I was pregnant with my twins was a rough one. Not only was I extremely sick during the first trimester, but we had to move in with my parents. We had our house up for sale, since we would soon be a family of five, but it sold a lot faster than we expected. So, between throwing up, I was throwing clothes into garbage bags and running after my 2-year-old, as my husband moved all our furniture into one of those storage pods.
We arrived at my parent’s right before Christmas. Needless to say, no one was in the mood to celebrate. We got through the holidays in cramped quarters, right in time for our first trimester screening for the twins. I remember getting the results right around Valentine’s Day.
This screening was the beginning of a horribly complicated identical twin pregnancy. What was first thought to be a genetic defect, instead turned out to be an indication of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome and Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction (unequal placental share). This led to bed rest, a high protein diet, and bi-weekly ultrasounds for me. My poor 2-year-old was shuffled between grandparents, and my wonderful, amazing mother took care of me. My husband found us a house and moved us, well, rather himself, in. I moved into the hospital when I hit 24-weeks, the age of viability.
I gave birth to my beautiful, miracle boys at just 25 weeks, 5 days. They weighed 1 lb 7 oz and 2 lbs 2 oz, and required a very long stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit—91 and 93 days to be exact. I thought I had cried all my tears out during my pregnancy, but I was wrong. Those three months were some of the hardest I’ve ever had. Every day brought a new challenge for the boys, and we all battled exhaustion, both emotional and physical When they finally got healthy enough, strong enough, and big enough to come home, we were all so surprised and scared to really celebrate. We had to now worry about keeping them healthy from the dreaded Flu and RSV, not to mention a germy now 3-year-old brother.
Again, it seemed like a year without real celebrations. We stayed isolated for the twins’ health, with only visits from our nurse and physical therapist. My oldest couldn’t go to playgroups or preschool. We didn’t even see family for Christmas. It was lonely and stressful, but it was worth it to keep our boys healthy and home. I don’t think I could have handled being readmitted to the hospital.
Finally, spring arrived. We could open the windows, take walks outside, and even see our families again. It really felt like we had something to celebrate. We made it through one of the toughest times in our family’s life, so now it was time to enjoy each other and everything we missed. I felt like I could finally take a breath again.
So, began the year of celebrations. It started with the twins’ first “Nicu-versary” party. We made it a whole year away from the NICU! Friends, family, and even our primary nurse came to celebrate how far my tiny babies had come. We then were able to have a real birthday party, with other actual kids, for my now 4-year-old. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but it certainly is to a 4-year-old.
For Halloween, we went to a pumpkin patch and trick or treated. Thanksgiving and Christmas was spent with every side of the family. We decorated to the max! We didn’t just have a tree; we had a Christmas tree forest. We also then had a Valentine’s tree, which was pink of course, and then a St. Patty’s tree, a sparkly green with shamrock lights, followed lastly by an Easter tree, light blue with eggs, of course.
Not only did the holidays, the decorations and the people make it feel like a year of celebration, but I think we finally felt like we could show how grateful we were to have all survived such a tough, tough time. I know for me, I actually felt like my babies were finally safe, and that I was proving that I could take care of them. It took me a long time to get to that place, but that just makes all the celebrations that much sweeter.