Since November 8th and that miraculously ultrasound, those two unforgettable heartbeats, I’ve pretty much been in hiding, simply waiting out my first trimester.
I’ve cancelled lunch dates. Missed two supper clubs. Worked from home when schools have allowed. Stopped working out. Stopped going out.
It’s not that my faith became small. It’s that my fear became large.
“Required hospitalized bed rest at 25 weeks.”
All the things a bright and shiny new mom doesn’t want to hear.
Shouldn’t have to hear.
I wasn’t mad at God. How can I be? I’m a miracle! They are miracles!
But like all the things we have endured before, God was preparing us. Jason and I are equipped to handle this. I just didn’t want to.
But my Wonder Woman doctor gave us hope. There are two types of Mono twins, there are “Mono Mono” twins and there are “Mono Di.” Twins.
“We’re praying for the ‘Mono Di’ kind,” she explained, just thirty minutes after our life altering ultrasound.
With a blank sheet of paper, she is scribbling two scenarios. One, where the amniotic sack is wide open and the twins have free range to float and swim about bumping elbows and throwing imaginary high fives (seriously, that’s what I was thinking).
“But ‘Mono Mono’ twins come with a lot of challenges.” I didn’t like how that word floated into the air. “Pretty much hospitalized bed rest beginning your third trimester so we can monitor hourly for cord entanglement.”
And while my non-medical brain is trying to process that worst-case-scenario, and the imaginary high-fives move to WWE sleeper holders, she moves on to scenario two.
“But in some cases, there is a tiny sliver of a membrane that we can’t really see that separates the twins, protecting them from each other. And we call that ‘Mono Di’ twins. That’s what we’re hoping you are.”
Even though she asked if we had any questions, I don’t think I asked any. Too much information. Too much to process. The next few minutes were like listening to the adults in the Peanuts cartoons, a lot of “Wah wah, specialist.”
“Wah wah, see you in a few weeks.”
“Wah wah, don’t Google this.”
“Wah wah, congratulations.”
But the haziness soon wore off either from excitement or the from the potato soup at Atlanta Bread (cause that’ll do it every time) and after a quick stop at Best Buy to finally buy a Nespresso I’ve been too sick to use, we were off to share our good news with our parents.
But the pregnancy high wore off in a few days and I was soon doing exactly what she asked me not to do (great teachers really do make terrible students). I was researching all the terrifying differences between Mono Mono twins and Mono Di. Phrases like “mortality rate,” “entanglement,” and “twin to twin transfusions” were the complete opposite of what the doctor had ordered.
“Just get me to Thursday,” became my daily prayer and mantra. Our first maternal-fetal specialist appointment was just one week away. And he looked top notch. (Yeah, I Googled him too.) He was just awarded a 2017 “Top Doctor” by Atlanta Magazine. I had that issue so I dug through my pile of I-probably-should-have-recycled-these-by-now and found his article. Ok, he looked legit. I could do this. Just one week. And that’s when the hiding began.
Focus on work.
One day at a time.
One saltine cracker at a time.
One mini can of Ginger Ale at a time.
Thursday came. We estimated I was about 8 weeks along. All good by traditional standards. The 3D ultrasound wasn’t nearly as cool as we thought it would be. Our tiny little orbs are now slightly bigger tadpoles with tales and everything so I didn’t have a clue what we were looking at.
We not only saw both heartbeats fluttering on the screen but once again we heard them. Such relief! But no membrane. “Don’t worry,” he later concluded. “You are still early on and it’s usually ten to twelve weeks before we can see if it’s there.” “Then why are were here,” I wanted to shout. But of course, I didn’t. I thanked him for my tadpole images and made another appointment. Another Thursday but two weeks again.
The week in between I was back to see Wonder Woman. Determined that she would be the one to discover the membrane, she wheeled in a traditional ultrasound machine and was swiping away on my barely bump. “It might be there. Do you see it? I wish I could be sure,” she talked as much to herself as to Jason and I. But we once again saw the flutters of heartbeats and for now, that’s all I needed.
With every appointment Jason was growing visibly more excited and I more anxious. When you’ve waiting for so long, prayed for so long, dreamed for so long, it’s hard to break the cycle of waiting for the other shoe to drop.
But all the signs of a healthy pregnancy were there; nausea, extreme fatigue, aversions to pretty much every food, all the scary genetic testing came back negative. God is good! He’s two good! Yet, why am I having a hard time celebrating the joy and miracles of the moment?
Thursday finally arrived with our specialist. We had an early morning appointment and Jason would bounce off to school after finishing up the daunting week with students before a much-deserved Holiday break. The good thing about specialist appointments, you seldom have to wait.
Within moments we were in the back with the 3D ultra sound and for the first time, our children looked like children. Well, more like gummy bears but we could see them. Their legs, and arms, and bulbous heads. They were snuggled up next to each other. Baby B had its head all nestled up against Baby A’s stomach. I imagine they were listening to each other’s heartbeats making mischievous plans after they bust out of this joint come June.
But being so close together, also brought all my fears back to the forefront. “There mustn’t be a membrane to separate them,” I was thinking to myself. But the nurse kept moving right along; measuring Baby A. Getting the heartbeat of Baby B.
“Is there a membrane?” I hesitantly asked.
“Let’s see,” she quickly responded with a click, click of her equipment. Zooming in closely I still had no idea what we were looking for. On some of the ultrasounds that I Googled, it was obvious. A think white line that divided the kiddoes from each other. But here, I didn’t see anything like that. Nothing remotely like a white line (yeah, I know. I shouldn’t have done that either).
But then there it was. Like a shooting star across the screen, a crescent moon in one corner, a sliver of an iridescent line was there and just as quickly it was gone. “Did you see it?” she asked both of us. “I don’t know. I think so,” I responded. Jason remained quiet. “Baby B is moving around a lot, let’s see if we can get a picture of it again,” she replied.
And with a few more movements, a few more clicks, there it was. Proof that our babies were indeed inexplicable miracles of God, defying the odds in every way; natural conception to a woman above “prime conception years,” who was told by reproductive specialists that she would never conceive “without medical help,” one unexpected egg that split to produce two identical twins, who despite the rarity and unlikeness, are the best possible of rare; Mono Di twins.
One amniotic sac. One membrane to protect them. And our God to receive the glory of it all.
You know I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. It’s not a coincidence that I’m thirty-three, the same age as Jesus during his peak ministry, death, and resurrection. Being 33 (and a third), His death completed the trinity of God, the Father, Jesus, His son, and the Holy Spirit.
It’s not a coincidence that God gave me the word Whimsy and he fulfilled it more abundantly that my human mind could have comprehended.
And it’s not a coincidence that God gifted these miraculously lives to us in any other season but Advent.
I’ve been thinking more and more about Elizabeth this season. Her husband Zacharias, “righteous” but doubtful rendered speechless after his encounter with the Angel of the Lord (Luke 1:18-25). Elizabeth, way past her childbearing years, a woman of secret shame and disgrace but such faith. That’s what I love most about Elizabeth. Her unyielding faith. Unlike me, when conception occurred, she’s didn’t doubt. She didn’t deny it or hide from it. She rejoiced. “How kind the Lord is,” she spoke (Luke 1:25). God performed a miracle for a couple who had probably stopped asking for one, and took away “disgrace” from a woman who probably thought she didn’t deserve it.
Elizabeth’s story prepared the way for Mary. And her son’s ministry prepared the way for Jesus.
I pray that my story has done the same. Regardless of what season of waiting you might be in, regardless of your heartbreak, your discontent, your loss, I hope the story that God has given me has prepared the way for a little more Jesus in your life.
Lastly dear friends, I want to encourage you all to use this Christmas season to enter into God’s presence. In fact, did you know that in the Old Testament, when people came before the Lord, they were required to leave His presence though a different way. Either a different gate, or a different direction all together. “They should not return by way of the gate through which they came” (Ezekiel 46:9).
And on that day, this season, many years ago, the wise men did the same. They came from the East, and as quickly as they came, they went back to their country from “another way” (Matthew 2:12).
Even today, it’s all still true.
This year of my life has proved it.
Because you can’t come into the presence of God and leave the same way.
You will always leave changed.
Merry Christmas, dear friends!
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation