Nearly 2.5 years after deciding we were ready to have a baby, we’re getting two. In two days, at 38 weeks pregnant, I’m scheduled to birth twin girls. I realized with a horrible start in the middle of the night that I failed to document any of it in any real, concrete way. I suddenly feel like I have to put it into words and make sure it’s an existing story, rather than one I might have imagined in a fever dream.
In October 2010, we went to Aruba and I stopped taking birth control. About a year later, my husband had his sperm tested and the results showed low motility. With low sperm motility, all you can really do is hope for the best. Couples often still get pregnant, but it can take much longer. Finally, after 16 months of trying, I was pregnant. We were thrilled and embarked on a weekend getaway to Moab, UT and Arches National Park. On the way home, I started bleeding. It didn’t stop, and I miscarried at 7 weeks. I barely remember the entire incident.
I’ve known for years that I have bipolar disorder. I’ve taken medication off and on, but never found one I liked. I was managing okay for several years, but the miscarriage pushed me into a dark space I’d never experienced before. Being desperately depressed on my birthday, even while shopping and eating and drinking and doing all of my favorite things, was a good sign that I needed to see the doctor. I waited, however, and soon I was so depressed that I couldn’t eat. I’d go home from work and drink and stare. And so I got myself to the doctor and started taking Lamictal. It worked.
Just as the levels were hitting the right mark, I found out I was pregnant again. It was July and I was stunned that it had happened so quickly. And I was shell-shocked. I didn’t allow myself to believe any of it. My husband was thrilled, but I could tell he felt the same sense of fear. We were leaving for New York City a week later and I was certain that while we were there, I would have another miscarriage. I made it back, still pregnant, and then around 10 weeks I started bleeding again.
Without being able to feel my body at all, we went to have an emergency ultrasound. When the technician asked if we’d been using fertility medications, I could barely breathe. I knew he was about to tell us that there were two babies. There were. And they were fine. The bleeding had been a benign hemorrhage and it had stopped. Leaving the hospital that day, I’d never in my life felt better.
People don’t really talk about how much harder it is to carry multiples. They mostly talk about the many diapers and twice the toddler messes. But with these sweet little vampires attached to my insides, I felt the life drain from me. The all-day, all-night nausea made me wish I was dead. It made me say aloud that I wanted to die. The horrible sickness was like nothing else I had ever experienced. I struggled to make it to work every day. Eventually, I had to go on Zofran, an anti-nausea medication, and even then I was unable to eat more than a few hundred calories a day.
And then I realized that the depression had returned. It was as if I had been so lost in the physical symptoms that I didn’t even realize I was mostly wishing I was dead because of intense sadness. One day, crying on the bathroom floor at work, I realized I had to talk to my doctor. I told my OBGYN and he said that the extra fluids had most likely diluted my Lamictal levels. I also found out that prenatal depression is just as common as postpartum depression. Sure enough, there was no Lamictal showing in my blood. Over the next few months, we increased and increased and tested and finally found an amount that made me feel like some kind of human again.
My pregnancy has been a ghostly blur. The nausea never went away, though it did get better. I often throw up just because Baby B is pushing too hard into my stomach. I’ve gained just 6 pounds (see: I’ve lost 30 +). I’ve been paralyzed by sciatica. I’m sometimes so thirsty that my stomach can’t even hold the amount of water that I desperately want to drink. One of the saddest parts is that I’ve withdrawn from most people because I hate how pregnancy has turned me into a “pregnant person”. In other words, it’s all anyone will talk to me about. It’s all people see. Strangers stop me to ask about it. And I’m suddenly not a person at all.
But, I’ve brought to fruition a dream my husband has had since before we met. I’ve created something that I’ve always wanted. I worked just long enough to hold onto my job (I had to switch to work from home at 32 weeks and start my 12-week leave at 35). I’ve been lucky enough to feel life move inside my body. Honestly, I’ll miss the way my stomach ripples with hiccups and kicks. I can’t believe I’ll be seeing the little faces in such a short time. And I can’t wait for my life, my new life, to start.
The best ultrasound picture — the one that shows them both together: