2018: Hospitals, Breastfeeding on Toilets, Postpartum, Counseling & JOY.
It’s been a different kind of year. One filled with so much proof that the Lord is good even when things feel HEAVY.
We started off 2018 with weekly appointments with my OB and Perinatologist to make sure the twins were growing healthy and there was no sign of TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome). Every week we were all still ok and still pregnant, was a week celebrated.
Then my poor mama, she is a heart transplant recipient and celebrating 4 years with her new heart in January. With the blessing of a new heart also comes with some downsides. Her immune system is suppressed to fight against rejection and she is prone to illness more easily. She caught a virus from her donor heart (that her donor carried but the Dr’s had kept at bay for the past few years), and was in unrelenting, uncontrollable pain for MONTHS. The virus found its way into her nerves, which created painful neuropathy which she still is suffering the consequences of. Because the virus was harmful to the twins, we weren’t able to see her for almost 2 months (the kids and I) which felt like eternity considering we see my mom multiple times a week if not everyday. We would drive by the house and she would wave from the doorway and we would just cry not being able to go and hug her knowing how much pain she was in. It was a rough few months, but she slowly got better and has regained a lot of her strength. At the end of the day, she is HERE.
We got to celebrate the marriage of our sister and brother-in-law in April, and celebrated that I didn’t go into labor at the wedding HA! After that, it was game time.
The twins arrived, and the next “hard” journey started with a 10 day NICU stay (which pales in comparison to how long most twins or others have to stay in the NICU) but God sustained us with MANY helping hands with the big boys so that we could get to the babies daily and get them home.
Once the twins came home it was a whole new “hard”. Mack was just BARELY a year old, Cade was independent but still under 3 and requiring a lot of attention, and the twins needed a lot of attention and burping during feeds every 3 hours in addition to pumping for them somehow in between it all. I remember looking at Stephen like, HOW will I ever do this alone while you’re at work? HOW are we going to get through this? We had a lot of help from our families. Friends would come by unannounced and I’d hand them a baby to feed. Meals poured in and we were fed. I don’t even remember most days other than by the time everyone was in bed all I could say was THANK YOU GOD for getting us through one more day. His grace for everyday is just incredible.
Then poor mama, she got hit again. At a routine appointment for rejection check, the Dr. accidentally nicked the main artery to her heart… ending her up in the hospital once again because of blood draining into her chest cavity and needing a chest tube for a few days to drain it. I remember the day after she got the chest tube, my dad had to work. The twins were maybe 2 months old? and I couldn’t let her be in the hospital alone. I could tell she was so discouraged after having just recovered from her virus a few months earlier and now being in pain again (she said the chest tube being worst pain she EVER experienced…and she’s been through A LOT of pain being a heart transplant recipient!!) So I got there ASAP. I dragged the twins to the hospital (an hour and a half drive) got into the lobby with the babies, bottles being held in their mouths as I spoke to the receptionist as she told me that I couldn’t go see her with anyone under the age of 18.
WHAT. No. I’m going. I finished feeding the babies (which at this age was pretty hard to do alone with all the burping they needed) loaded them back up and headed to the floor she was on. They again proceeded to tell me I couldn’t see her, and then the water works let loose. The poor security guard who didn’t know what to do with a hormonal, weeping mama of twins called the charge nurse and thankfully she made a way for me to come up with the babies. We got to see her and spend the day with her until my dad could get to the hospital. Once they were transferring her to another room… the twins started to lose it. Normally, I can hand off a baby to my mom and get one settled then handle the other… but nope, we were on our own. I left the room so to not stress her out, but there wasn’t really anywhere to go! They needed to eat, but…. breastfeeding twins isn’t the most discreet thing to do! I didn’t have warm water to thaw out the breastmilk I had but it for the most part had melted. So I attempted to breastfeed one while bottle-feeding the other cold breastmilk. I was a sweaty mess trying to calm two screaming babies in a lobby full of people while also trying to not give them a nipple show. I looked up and saw a bathroom, and ran in. I just barely fit in the handicap stall with the stroller… then sat on the toilet as I breastfed the baby and bottle-fed the other…. finally… they calmed down. I was just crying and laughing at the same time, so stressed and feeling so bad for my mom, but also not really in any place to be going to “help” either. We headed home once she was settled and my dad could be with her. She came home a few days later only to head back to the hospital for my dad’s knee replacement… OH MY WORD. Thankfully, it was an uneventful surgery and my dad healed up so well.
We tried to soak in summer as much as we could, heading to families houses with pools. We made a beach trip with the help of friends which was definitely more stressful than relaxing, but when you’re stuck at home the majority of the time… it feels nice to get out of the house even if it is SO MUCH WORK. We are so thankful to our friends who go with our crazy ideas of outings and help us along the way.
I wasn’t feeling very much like myself though. I found myself struggling with anxiety like I had never experienced before. I would get to the end of the day BARELY, and Stephen would look at me staring off at the wall like a zombie asking how I was, and I could hardly form sentences.
I remember calling Stephen one day sobbing once I had gotten the kids down. I was standing in the kitchen getting food ready for the bigs, the twins eating in the other room, basically 8 eyes staring at me all needing something. I felt uncontrollable anxiety. I could hardly catch my breath and all I wanted to do was run into a corner and curl up in a ball and hide for days… but I couldn’t. I prayed, and tried to just breathe until I got them all down for naps… then finally lost it on the phone with Stephen. I’d never felt this way before. I’d typically been able to curb anxiousness with reciting scripture or turning on some worship and calming down. But nothing helped. I knew something was off.
Then one day, my milk supply TANKED. I had been able to pump MORE than enough breastmilk for both babies… and within one day, my supply cut almost in half. I did everything I could to get it back up but nothing worked. I proceeded to get some blood work done to see if there was some issues with my hormones or if I was maybe anemic again. The Dr. let me know that all my levels were good and there were no issues. I went on a bit longer, and it only got worse. I was daily struggling with the anxiety, and in ways that felt so strange. I remember walking into women’s prayer one day with the babies… a place that normally brought so much peace and comfort.. being surrounded by many women I call friends. But this time my insides were turning, I couldn’t escape the anxiety, I felt extremely overwhelmed and like I wanted to hide. I knew there was something wrong.
I called my Dr again and he saw me right away. He assured me again my levels were in a healthy range and I might actually be struggling with some postpartum depression and anxiety. I started on a low dose of medicine to see if it would help. Once we got my dosage figured out, I haven’t struggled with those uncontrollable, anxious feelings anymore. Praise God. I let go of the fact that I was no longer able to breastfeed the twins. I was able to function better throughout the day. I started to come back to life a little and I am forever grateful that the Lord can also use medicine to heal.
Then marriage. It felt like ALL THE THINGS were happening. We were tackling just SURVIVAL each day, getting through postpartum, all while trying to still maintain our marriage. It felt impossible, and ultimately was without Christ. I broke one day and we decided to start counseling with one of our Pastors at church. I think we both know that we don’t want to be 18 years down the road, the boys in college, and start to tackle marriage and sin issues after years of damage had already been made. We wanted to tackle it now, even if it’s quite possibly the hardest thing to arrange getting 4 kids watched for over an hour once a week while we have counseling. BUT, the Lord has been good. We’ve had incredible, biblical counsel from our pastor. We’ve been able to see our sin for what it is, and how we fall short without Christ. We’ve been able to implement scripture and study into our marriage… we’ve been pushed to have more intentionality, selflessness and trust that the Lord wants our marriage to succeed even more than we ever could. We have by no means “arrived” and never will. There are still lots of things we are working on each day, but we’ve made and are making progress.
We’ve also had many sweet moments with our family and friends. We added a little baby GIRL to the family with the arrival of my niece Maddie… whom the boys ADORE. We had a wonderful time creating new traditions and memories during the Holiday season, and are looking forward to all that 2019 will bring and how we can bring God the glory each day.
This year has definitely been one for the books. With it all, the good and the bad, I am full of JOY. When we get out of the house, it’s not uncommon for us to hear “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!”. I try as often as I can to respond with, “Yes, very full and full of blessings.”
These boys ARE a blessing. A heritage from the Lord. Although our lives look quite different than they did 3 years ago, I can’t say I would change a thing. Each child he has entrusted us with is A GIFT. Each trial we have endured this year is a GIFT because it is shaping us more into the people God is wanting us to be. I write this to hopefully encourage you that I too am a sinner, in DESPERATE need of God’s grace. My life has continued to point me back to James 1:2-4: “Count it all joy, my brothers,2 when you meet trials fof various kinds, 3 for you know that gthe testing of your faith hproduces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be iperfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
So I am counting this year JOY because I know that God is producing good things in me and my family in all of the hard and the good too! Praying you find JOY in your year as well as what is to come, whether it be filled with new challenges or full of blessing…God is doing a work!