The Struggles Of My Twin Pregnancy – Part 2

Twin Pregnancy

There is no plane in existence where I could ever imagine knowing what it feels like to have a miscarriage. Similarly, there is no plane in existence where I could ever imagine what it feels like to lose twins.

To have the ability to carry life is nature’s gift of love, and to be able to do so times two is a bestowment of grand proportions. It is a blessing that comes with emotions I will never be able to describe aptly. To have the opportunity to feel not one set of arms and legs but two! The joy of hearing two separate heartbeats at your ultrasounds. Feeling an equally immense responsibility to assure their survival is almost primeval – something I felt with my other two children but even more potent this time. This time because there was a nemesis working against us that was the same that brought them to life – my body.

I left off my twin pregnancy story with the beginning of my journey to getting a cerclage. (Read the first part here.) As I said then, it carried the risk of rupturing the twins amniotic sac because of my dilated cervix but also the factor that I was carrying two weighed heavily as well. When we were given the time to think about our decision we knew there wasn’t a decision to make. The odds of these boys surviving were far better with the cerclage than just lying bedridden until infection (practically guaranteed because of the bulging sac).

Both options were risky, and if anyone reading this post has dealt with the heart-wrenching decisions that come with complicated pregnancies, I send you virtual hugs. If anyone reading this post has dealt with the loss of a child (at any stage) or loss of twins, I send you virtual hugs. I have pictures to prove that I did not have to deal with one of those realities, but we were lucky. As I stated in the beginning, there is no existence where I could imagine what you feel. My heart goes out to you.

My surgery to be scheduled for the next morning.

When I was in labor with my oldest the nurses gave me the option of having an epidural. Not knowing anything about pain management and the varying types of pain medication available, I just said yes. I was 18 years old. When my daughter was finally ready to be born, I felt nothing. My abdomen, my legs, my insides were all numb, and the only way for me to know when to push was when the graph on the monitor ticked the highest. It was one of the most disappointing moments in my life. (Being pregnant at 18 was only disappointment in that I had followed all the rules for preventing pregnancy but was one of the 1% – or whatever the small margin is – that got pregnant while on birth control – yay, me.)

When the time came, and the epidural had kicked in, I started to panic. The comfort of my coping space had kept me from panicking earlier, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about waking up to bad news. In that space and time, my façade of optimism started breaking away. The creepy feeling that I could not feel my legs and I could not feel my belly began to upset me.

I thought, “I can’t feel my babies!”

The realization made me panic, and I started crying. Internally, despite my horror, I tried to rationalize and understand that everything was OK, but it wasn’t working. The nurse noticed my despair and suggested that I be knocked out. It wasn’t even a suggestion. She told one of the other nurses that I was upset therefore I needed to be knocked out. No sooner had I realized what was going on before I started to drift to sleep – probably for the best, I figured later.

I don’t know how often you have been put under for anything, but the sensation is the oddest. Every time I’ve gone under and then awakened, I feel like a chunk of my existence was just erased – in reality, I know that is not true. I have been laying on the table the entire time, the world hasn’t just stopped going or disappeared, but in my mind, I’m poof gone. If it were like a dream, it wouldn’t be so weird but even when you’re asleep and dreaming there is still a sense of being and living. Being sedated is different.

Anyway, when I wake up, I want to cry again. This time because I’m disoriented, I vaguely recall my last memory, and knew I couldn’t feel the boys but realize that now I can. I realize that THEY ARE MOVING! At this point, I’m a mess about everything and bless the nurses (men & women) for knowing that I am pregnant and susceptible because when they come to wake me up, they immediately assure me that everything went well. That there is nothing to worry about and that they are wheeling me down to see my family. I haven’t been away from the hospital room for more than a few hours, but damn I miss them.

So, there’s the happy news. The boys are now safe. The cerclage was a success, and after another day of observation, I am allowed to go home. Yay! Except, there’s some fine print written on my discharge order, it says, “Strict bed rest, no lifting, no standing more than 30 minutes, showers no longer than 30 minutes, and sitting only when tolerated and for as long as it is tolerable.”

Yes, this will be difficult, but at least the twins are safe, again.

This is the part when you think everything is going to be ok. The rest of the pregnancy will be difficult, but there won’t be any more surprises – WRONG! I’m not done yet. There are still a few more hospital visits left for me. Apparently, I liked it there. The doctors and nurses were kind, I guess.

Let’s get to it then. This next stage setup is pretty mundane. When pregnant there are a few necessary tests given around approximate gestation weeks. I was due for my blood sugar test. (Yep.)

You probably guessed it already. This wasn’t even a week or two after my discharge. I suppose I didn’t have enough stuff on my plate.

The next stage of this story is gestational diabetes. Whoo hoo!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The information contained in this blog post is not meant to assist in diagnosing any medical condition. Diagnosing medical conditions is the job of a medical professional; I am not a medical professional. The sole purpose of this blog post is to inform the reader of my personal experiences.

A Mother, A POC And Having Four Children – The Stigma

Stigma

The stigma of being a mother, a POC, and having more than two children is alive and well. Growing up this stigma was seared into my brain by way of watching my mother struggle to raise her four children. Also, by comparing my extended family, like aunts with 5 or more children, to those of my non-Mexican peers at school. Then, by the government and the media where they automatically assumed that a POC family with multiple children is likely on welfare. If I wasn’t drawing comparisons in real life, then I was busy analyzing them from the TV shows on Nickelodeon. Those where the white families of the main characters never had more than two or three brothers and sisters.

Eventually, I learned it would be in my best interest to not have more than two or three children – any more and I would risk looking like a poor, dirty, can’t keep her legs closed Mexican woman. The same as (I admit) I thought of other family members because they were POC, like me. Maybe not that they were dirty or poor, but definitely that they didn’t know how to plan for a family. I thought, “who on earth would want to have more than three children?” “They’re uncontrollable, they constantly cry, and the moms are always mad. I won’t be like that.”

Oh, how naive I was.

Ironically, I have now found myself with one more child than what I considered “ideal.” (Funny how life throws you curve balls.) Here I was, perfectly planning to have my third child, and suddenly I was presented with not one but two.

Now let’s flash forward to today. I have been avoiding going to any store with all my kids for fear of being labeled. How crazy is that? None of the things I once thought of people who fit into that monstrous stigma are real, and yet they are keeping me from going about the regular chores that come with being a mom. The stigma is then aggravated further when I read stories from other moms dealing with strangers’ snide comments about how they “need to learn how to control their children,” or “if you can’t keep them quiet then why did you have them?” Plus other nasty things people say.

So, why is it then that this stigma haunts me? Raising my children has taught me what reality truly is. You cannot plan anything. It was not my fault that I had twins instead of one child for my last pregnancy. My beliefs have evolved. I would have thought I knew how wrong it is to assume anything about any race – that striving to be white isn’t the end all be all. However, I am living in the environment that I idolized on those Nickelodeon TV shows when I was young, where the white family has a beautiful home, nice cars, a SAHM, and nearly the perfect amount of children.

It would seem this stigma has turned into much more.

Luckily, I DO presume my beliefs have evolved. Labels are meant for our food, not people. There should never be a basis of self-worth stemming from the number of children you have and what your skin color is. There is no such number.  Your race is not better than mine.

I want to highlight this stigma because I am well aware of how prevalent it is throughout the POC community. Sadly, even my family has been critical of my brood, and it is unacceptable – even if said in a joking manner.

So, my job as a mother, a POC, is to overcome it and learn – so that I can teach my daughter that she can be a full woman regardless of how many children she has. Irrespective of her skin color and most of all her choice to “keep her legs closed” because what she chooses to do with her body is none of our business.

One of my coping mechanisms is always to put on my brave face and separate the self that cannot with the self that can. So, in keeping with my personal growth goals for this year, I am ready to put my big girl pants on and take ALL my children to the mall by myself. I am opening up to feeling exposed but not being vulnerable.

Finally, if you find yourself in the midst of someone’s unruly children, don’t be an ass. Instead, offer assistance, a gentle smile, or “I’ve been there” knowledge. After all, raising children is hard work and never ends. Let’s not pile criticisms on top of that already tremendous job.