I wrote this about a month ago, but I am finally free to post it now.
So… it’s been a while.
I’ve heard that’s the number one way you shouldn’t start a blog, but it’s the truth.
So where do I start?
A few days before school started, Jacob and I found out we were pregnant. I peed on the stick, walked back into the family room where he was watching “America’s Got Talent”, and told him, “I guess we’re pretty good at this. Making babies I mean.”
I curled up on his lap, and we held one another tightly. Already I thought: “This is the last time, the last time I will marvel at such an announcement, the last time I will stare in wonder at my tummy that somehow holds something that is Life, the last time we will share this kind of surprise with friends and family.” Four kids. Every seat at our kitchen table will be filled.
I started feeling sick really early on. By the second day of school, I was nauseous. By the end of the first week of school, I was falling asleep as soon as I got home from work. I would hear tears and yelling and laughter from downstairs, and I’d curl up on my side and wonder how Jacob wasn’t going beserk. By 6 weeks, I was in full-swing nausea mode. Jacob was going beserk.
I remember one morning I was swaying back and forth as I brushed my teeth because something about establishing a rhythm would stave off wanting to hurl. I stared at the mirror and the hair I hadn’t straightened in weeks, I bent low over the toothepaste-stained sink, and I thought that philosophical thing churched people are supposed to think: “When there’s no strength left in you, rely on the strength of God.” But as I continued to sway like a maniac, I told God, “What am I suppoed to do when I can’t find the God in me?” And I heard the whisper: “Lean on the God in others.”
A few days later, I had my first ultrasound. Jacob was running late from work, so we decided to meet in the parking lot of the doctor’s office so he could take the kids before I went into my appointment. I ran into the appointment in stained blue sweatpants and a wrinkled Augustana T-shirt. I was 20 minutes late, and I was the last appointment the ultrasound tech had that day. “I’m so sorry I’m late,” I muttered profusely as the tech led me back to the room. I couldn’t bring my kids in because I didn’t even put shoes on them, I kept to myself. Really. I had forgotten Sophie’s shoes.
The lights dimmed and I laid back on the table. I felt the cold goo slide across my tummy, I heard the tech’s long fingernails clack against a keyboard. “Well congratulations,” she said, “You have a live pregnancy.” I breathed the sigh of relief– the sigh all women know they are holding until after they hear the “thump thump thump” at their monthly appointments. I waited for a few more minutes as she continued to click away on the computer.
I don’t remember exactly what she said next, but she turned the computer screen to face me. Her finger began to trace the outline of something on the screen. “So here’s baby number one,” she said. “And here’s baby number two.” I blinked a few times and made my eyes focus on the grainy circles on the screen. “You mean twins?” I asked. I began to feel the thump of my heart in my chest. I think I might have also asked, “Really, are you sure?” And then I couldn’t see the screen or the circles or the little flashing heartbeats anymore because I was crying.
“Congratulations,” she smiled. She walked me out of the room and held up two fingers to the nurse in the hallway. “She’s still a little bit in shock,” the tech told the nurse as I stumbled into the bathroom.
How will this work? How is there room? I crouched over the toilet, and held the little plastic cup to gather my pee. Will my feet get extra swollen? How will I tell Jacob? How will I tell my parents? Will my stomach be big enough? What if I have to have a C-section? The pee continued to gather in the cup, it was almost half full. How will we give them enough attention? How will I breast feed? How will we be able to be involved in anything anymore? How will we fit around the kitchen table? I finished peeing, and moved to the sink to wash my hands. Will it ever be quiet again? Will two cribs fit in the baby’s room? When will we sleep? I watched the lather of soap fade from my fingers. Will we get invited anywhere anymore? Who would want to hang out with 5 kids? Will we ever go out to eat again? What if people think we’re like those quiver-people, like the Duggers? Will my maternity clothes even fit? Is this enough of an excuse to get a cleaning lady? Like now? I turned off the sink and followed my legs as they led me back to the appointment room. Congratulations times two, the doctor began, shaking my hand…
It’s been almost a month since then, and the nausea has left a little bit, but most of the questions still remain. But in my questions and my worries, while my stomach churns like a roller coaster and I fight to stay awake until the kids go to bed (which never happens)… I’ve been leaning on the God in others. Everyone has been taking care of me… really, everyone. My mom has organized my pantry and done my laundry. She’s gone on emergency smoothie runs and let me take naps on her window seat. My best friends lined a mason jar with the words of the serentity prayer and we sat around the table and talked about my fears. “Breastfeeding,” we wrote and placed the slip of paper in the jar, “Being like the Duggars…” “C-section…” We filled the jar and laughed and they told me I was crazy and that I wasn’t crazy. My co-workers have continually leant their support, my boss has shown me grace as she listened to me puke. “I’ve so been there,” she told me, and when she said that, I could have cried. And Jacob– he does dinner, bath, books, and bed– all solo. He’s taken 3 children to Mariano’s. Three children. He wakes up in the the middle of the night when Sophie whines or Ellie screams. He literally rolled over last night and looked at the kids who had appeared in our room and calmly observed, “There’s literally a line forming by our bed.”
That line’s going to get longer, and life is going to get a bit harder. There will be more moments of maniacal swaying over the sink– and they probably won’t be caused from nausea. There will be times when the God in me is hard to find– it will be then I look around and see God in the multitudes of those who surround me– who lift me up and carry my worry, who clean my pantry and tell me it’s okay to be crazy for a while.
A writer centuries ago told us God holds all things together– the pain and the sickness, the laughter and the joy. He holds the two tiny new heartbeats in my womb, and will he hold me together too.
He might even hold me through you.