The Little Whiles
I’ve sat and wondered for some days just how to write about these images and what they mean to me but I can’t find the words. Or perhaps it’s that there are too many words. As I said to Anya, amidst a flood of tears after seeing them for the first time, I could never describe just what a gift they are to our whole family but especially to me. They are so incredibly beautiful in every way. The fragility and the perfection and the togetherness. But it’s not just that. They speak, in small whispers, of the very worst days of my life, and sing in glorious song of the very best.
These babies. Because of their sister. Because of one small moment in time that changed everything, and because of every moment after that spent trying for them. The enormity of that takes my breath. These images take my breath. Thank you, beautiful Anya. One thousand times over, thank you.
Tucked Away Under // FamilySay Something Sweet
Goodness. A month? Our little girls are now past full term! Their actual due date was last Saturday and all of a sudden they look like bigger babies. Well Luella does, Maeve is still quite teeny tiny but I have noticed her lungs have matured somewhat ;p I feel very behind with sharing of photos and updates – it’s just challenging, nay impossible, to find enough spare minutes in the day. Given the option of blogging (or eating, or conversation, or anything else really)..I’d rather sleep. Today however, I’ve had a total of 7 hours sleep over a 12 hour period and I’m feeling all Wonder Woman.
The girls are actually quite good .. just the usual newborn demands and the juggling of two which gets most interesting after dark as I take care of them myself through the night. Crayton sleeps in another room so at least one of us can function enough to manage the other three and get them to school on time. Kind of. This half crazy notion was actually my idea and mostly, it works well. It means a lot less bickering over who did what and who’s had less sleep. I just win on every count. Given the girls really just need me right now, or my bossoms, it does seem a little pointless to both be awake all night. That doesn’t mean there isn’t some horrifically sleep deprived moments between 3 and 4 am where I fantasize about throwing a bucket of cold water over my beloved.
The personalities of the girls are starting to show and we’re realizing just how very different they are. Luella is so laid back – she literally just eats and sleeps. She never cries unless she’s hungry and after meal time she’ll lay in her crib awake with no problem. And feeding her is a very orderly affair. Hop on, drink enthusiastically, hop off. Then sleep. Rinse and repeat. Physically, she’s very fair, strong and quite long. I’m half expecting her first language to be German.
Then there’s Maeve. Smaller, hairier and the opposite of chill. She’s making sure we get our moneys worth with shorter naps, longer feeds and a rather constant demand for cuddles. She’s a fussy eater and light sleeper. Feeding her is akin to a picnic in the park. No set time for lunch and no one’s in any hurry. Leave and come back later if you wish. Take a nap even. Lots of naps. Physically they are also different. Very different. As in Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins different. It’s harder to see in photos but close up, there is no mistaking one for the other.
It’s still so amazing to have two babies in our home and it’s been the most beautiful thing to see Luca Mason and Ivy completely dote on them. When I first began trying for another I so wanted a two year age gap, like the other four. When I missed that window and the gap began to widen considerably, I fretted a lot. I wondered how it would work, if it ever did happen..having older children and a tiny baby. Would they play together? Would the tiny baby end up feeling lonely? As it turned out, baby arrived with a friend anyhow but it’s also been such a bonus to discover how very much the older kids adore them. Sometimes keeping the unruly mob at bay requires more energy than the twins themselves.
I guess I can say that we’re getting the hang of this twin thing. I think. Each day is different and I constantly change how I’m doing things but we muddle through and the girls seem settled and happy. And, the best bit? I feel settled and happy. Sooo happy. I’m really thankful to be able to say that..for all my excitement and gratitude I still worried about how one actually manages two new babies. I’m so lucky to have a lot of help from Crayton and Mum every day so it never really gets overwhelming. Perspective is a funny thing though isn’t it? When I look back to having a singleton it seems so incredibly easy but I certainly didn’t think so then..quite the opposite. I do find it amazing how we adapt to different situations and cope..or even enjoy them..when they would have seemed near impossible in another life.
So here’s a lot of photos, taken in hospital in the days before coming home. (Luca had a cold so doesn’t feature in too many). The first three are iPhone snaps, taken the moment the boys and Ivy saw the babies for the first time :)
Tucked Away Under // FamilySay Something Sweet
Cradled in thin arms lies a small golden glow
Bright eyes that gaze upon the great mountain snow
Cradled in fabric soft lies the little arms that reach
For things that lovers dream of – sunlight across the sea.
Mamma’s feet will walk with her child with crimson hair
Her lover’s hand, he’s holding on caught in her moonlit stare
Daddy’s singing slow to a child with heavy eyes
Tiny hands are curled up softly by her sides
Her smile makes him weak and her gaze makes him strong
Tiny crimson girl this is your dreaming song
With the happiest of hearts, on Friday February 08, 2013 we welcomed Luella Miette (2820g) and Maeve Emmeline (2610g) into our arms.
Finally, finally, our beautiful girls are here. Two weeks later and I am still giddy with elation and disbelief. I’m actually smiling, with stinging eyes, as I type. I cannot really grasp that I am sharing the birth story of our fifth and sixth babies. Every little thing, every single day, reminds me of the incredibly difficult journey it took to get to this place and then, so very often, the gratitude brings quiet happy tears. I spend so much of my day staring and kissing their heads and reaching for a camera and wanting to preserve every moment. I want to slow time and I want to keep them right here with me. For always.
So, here it is. The birth story of our girls. Luella and Maeve.
I’d heard that if you think the months before babies arrival go slowly, wait until the day of birth. Yes, this is very true but for me, it was the entire week of birth. Instead of busying myself with nursery preparation and excited chatter with the family, I found myself alone in hospital on bed-rest for seven days prior to their arrival. I didn’t plan to end up there, I just did. The evening of the belly shot I shared previously, as pathetic as it sound sounds, I cried my sorry self to sleep. I didn’t want to admit it but things really were becoming difficult, or maybe it was just that I was, and Crayton had begun speaking in sentences that frequently included the word ‘hospital’. In my usual obstinate fashion, I had begun protesting loudly against the idea. The thought of leaving everyone behind and waiting it out by myself across town did not remotely appeal – I just wanted to be able to soak up the anticipation together. I had painted the picture in my mind, counting down with the kids and repacking the suitcase and laying awake at night with my love, dreaming of meeting them. It only took one more night of no sleep and the complete inability to make it down the stairs the next morning to change my mind. For all my protesting, once I’d made the decision it really was fine and by the time we got to hospital, I was actually looking forward to the adjustable bed and meals on a tray.
I thought at some point I’d get bored and restless and impatient. I didn’t. Time did slow down but I actually began to really enjoy the quiet and the chance to write letters to the girls and the many many minutes of uninterrupted staring out the window. It was a time to really prepare for the biggest change in our lives since 2007 and to bask in the anticipation. The midwives were so sweet in sharing my excitement and it felt like our twins were the most important thing happening that week :)
A quite surreal something also took place over those days though. On February 5, the anniversary of Ava’s passing, I was laying in the same hospital where I held her and said goodbye. I watched the clock that morning, knowing it was coming. The same minutes my darling made her way from this Earth, in that same place. It was hard. More than hard. But it was also a different film reel this year. Before, it always stopped at the moment she left. Beyond that, just a time of unavoidable sadness. This year, this week though? It played on. This week I imagined the path between then and now and what was waiting at the end of it. I said endless thank yous to our sweet princesses. All of them. Ava, Ivy and the two tiny miracles about to arrive in that very same space. Those extra frames in my mind brought a new calm to some difficult moments. And when I made my way out of my room that day, for the first time since arriving, I wandered slowly down the quiet halls looking for something to photograph. I wanted to preserve a moment from that day. The late afternoon sun streamed through the huge windows and just steps from my door, I found this.
A small something but it felt like the perfect symbol for that day. From where I stood I could see the balcony of PICU..the place I’d gone to take shallow breath six years earlier. I don’t feel Ava often but I did that day. I felt her all around and I felt peace. I may not have been at home with the rest of my family that week but for at least some of it, I was with my darling girl and for that, I’m so grateful.
My ob had agreed that Friday the 8th of Feb was a good day to be born and I started counting down the minutes. I also began researching ways to make the whole operating theater environment and surgical birth experience a little more personal. In the UK, there is the option in some hospitals of having a ‘natural caesarean‘ and while I knew the big tertiary hospital I was in would never allow some of those concepts, I drew on the smaller elements to make it more special to us. I enlisted the help of wonderful midwives and spoke to key people who would be present for their birth. All in all, while I’d ideally have loved a natural birth, the girls had stayed very comfortable in their breech/transverse arrangement and I felt really happy that the team of people who would greet our babies were on board with the little requests I’d made. I was careful not to get too fixated though, I’d been warned numerous times that twins at 37 weeks may or may not need special care and if so, all the plans for personal touches would go straight out the window.
Seven days of bed rest and seven nights of pesky pre-labor contractions later, their day of birth dawned and I was literally bursting with excitement. Crayton arrived and we ‘gowned up’ and waited to be wheeled into theater. We were a huge mix of nerves and happiness and anticipation..hoping the surgery would go well, hoping they would be healthy, praying they were ready to be born. As we traveled to theater, I found it hard not to shout to strangers walking by that we were about to meet our twins. I giggled and squeezed Craytons hand and felt a thousand butterflies in my tummy.
At 1pm, I climbed up onto the bed and tried to prepare for what was about to happen. Both the imminent birth and the idea of the spinal anesthetic had me shaking. The tears rolled slowly down my cheeks while Crayton smiled to reassure me. The lovely medical staff did a great job of calming our nerves and my wonderful ob went to find speakers for my iPhone and happily popped on the music I’d asked to be played. Alba’s Lullabye, by Elle Graham, filled the room and helped me refocus. I still can’t say I found the spinal fun but we got there and thank the Lord, it worked. I’d asked for the medical team to keep mindless chatter to a minimum (I wanted the focus wholly and solely on this amazing event!!) but they did end up making small talk about silly things and to be honest, we probably needed it. The distraction meant I couldn’t focus too much on the incredible pushing, pressure and rummaging sensation going on below. I used every hypno-birthing technique I had to keep my breathing steady while I silently begged for it to be over and for everything to be okay. Crayton held my hand tightly and I searched the ceiling trying to find a reflection. And then, there she was. Luella. Big and beautiful and every bit a baby. Our baby!
She cried immediately and while that doesn’t quite fit with my ideas for a perfect arrival, it did mean lots of reassurance for us. They took her to be checked and we shifted focus to our other sweet-pea, still tucked well and truly inside. A few more minutes of more intense rummaging and then I heard the ob say she was out. I waited to see her but instead, the ob said “Sheye, she’s going straight to resus”. I’d been warned that babies only go immediately if they’re having problems so being honest, I was pretty afraid. The aimless chit chat had stopped and the silence of our second baby completely drowned out Luella’s cries. It seemed like forever but in reality, it only took a minute for her to cry also. Oh, the relief. My ob explained she was being over cautious and while it meant we have no birth photo of Maeve, I am very happy she took no chances.
The next ten minutes were spent with my darling girls perched on my chest, blinking and sniffling and taking in the World. I saw right away how different they looked – Luella was pink skinned and fine featured. Maeve..well she was like all the other Rosemeyer babies – dark skin and eyes with a little button nose and very round head. I wanted to feed them right away but lying on a narrow theater bed didn’t allow for it so Crayton went with them to the nursery for some skin to skin. It wasn’t very long before I got to see them again – perched up on Daddy’s chest eagerly waiting for lunch. I was thrilled to find they both fed well and that they were able to return to my room with me.
All our worries, all our hesitation about when they should be born..and here they were, healthy and beautiful. I can’t describe how elated I felt in those moments and still, forteen days later. How did we got so incredibly lucky? It still feels so unreal. It feels like when we had Luca and couldn’t fathom the hospital lets you take them home. Without a chaperone. Like, you just get to keep them? Wow. Wow. Wow. Every single day, I still say to Crayton “Can you believe it?”, to which he replies “No, I can’t.”
When I found out I was having twins, I worried about carrying them. I worried about their birth. Never, though, about caring for them. I know it’s hard, on some levels, but we’ve done so much harder. It’s almost laughable when people say the things people say when twins are discussed. The most popular so far seems to be “glad it’s you and not me” to which I cheerfully reply “me too”. I am absolutely loving every single second of life as a Mother to twins. I can’t imagine feeling otherwise, after what it’s taken to get here. All throughout my IVF journey, if you’d asked me my ideal outcome, I would have first said a healthy baby of course but if you’d have pushed me, I’d have told you, in my wildest dreams, it was twin girls. While I do know about life delivering situations that are impossible to comprehend, I still struggle to believe we are here. To have their older siblings doting on them too is just the icing.
Of course there are the practical bits that aren’t quite as much fun as staring and cooing all day. I’m finding out that the sleep deprivation is a whole different World to the sleep deprivation I experienced in pregnancy. There is a big difference between waking up yourself all night and being woken out of a deep sleep. Add in a set of breasts on fire and then times it all by two and well, it’s demanding for sure. The good thing is I’ve figured out quickly how important routine is and have stuck to it pretty well. At the moment they are usually only waking twice overnight to feed, or I’m waking them if need be. It does mean being awake for at least an hour or more each time but at least they’re in sync and it’s not all night long. Being early, they do sleep a lot and I’m under no illusion that it won’t change. I do expect there to be much harder days ahead but gratitude carries you so much further than you can normally cope with. I never forget, not for a second. My heart literally sings with the appreciation of this gift..even at midnight. And 3am.
And speaking of appreciation..you. All of you. I am totally overwhelmed – yet again – by the incredible love and support shown to our family. Your excitement and enthusiasm, your beautiful words, the gorgeous gifts, the sheer celebration of our babies arrival. It’s incredible and it’s all things good in human nature. Endless thank you’s for making this magical time even more special for us.
Oh, and the girls names..I’ve been asked a few questions about them so here’s how they came about.
Luella – a name Crayton really loved and often put forth but I always had 2 syllables in mind..in line with the other kids. When I realized I could shorten to Lula, one of my top contenders, it seemed like the perfect choice. It’s the first time Crayton has had a look in with baby naming and given there were two arriving I figured I couldn’t be entirely greedy. I think Lula is very sweet for a baby and little girl and Luella is a lovely grown up name. Miette, her middle name, means “small sweet thing” in French. I loved it so much the first time I heard it and I was quite intent on it being Twin 2′s first name. After test driving it on anyone who’d stop and listen, I gathered that it could be problematic. From bad pronunciation to just plain confused expressions..I decided it was best as Lula’s second name. I still adore it very much and it will be the perfect nickname for when she is being small and sweet :)
And then Maeve. A name I heard quite some years ago and fell hard for. A little more unusual than Mae, which I also adore, to me it conjures up everything cute for a small child and everything elegant for a grown up. I do think it suits her so perfectly. Emmeline, her middle name, was for no reason other than it just sounded really pretty. Melodic and feminine and again, French. (One of my alternate Universes has me raising children on the Côte d’Azur you see). So, I hope they love them as much as I do. For the record, they’re pronounced Lou-ella Me-ette and Mave (rhymes with brave) Emma-lene.
So, the sky looks different once again and for the first time in six long years, I remember what real, pure, true happiness is. Thank you for choosing us, our beautiful baby girls. You are so very loved.
Tucked Away Under // GeneralSay Something Sweet
Here I am, about to start 37 weeks!
The long (and the real):
Here I am, having the photos taken that I’ve promised I would for months. And only because my husband was wise enough to insist and kind enough to take them. I admire his bravery to be honest. I really am the most difficult, self critical woman on the planet when it comes to photos and I wouldn’t want to capture me. Knowing that, the events that took place around this seemingly small task should not have come as any surprise. Let me paint a picture.
Before this moment, I begrudgingly struggled up the stairs to try and find something to fit. I changed more than once and cursed more than twice. I watched the light falling outside while I tried to apply false eyelashes to eyes that were too far from the mirror.
I struggled back down the stairs to three children who wouldn’t change into photo appropriate attire and traipsed the endless bed of bindies to the the closest patch of light. All the while, snapping instructions to my poor beloved who somehow wasn’t born knowing how to a) operate a camera on manual b) capture sunflare or c) see inside my mind. Don’t get my legs, I said. You’re too far back. Get Ivy with my tummy. Not that low. I said no legs. What are you doing? What am I doing? Seriously.
Seven minutes later and wise, kind beloved looks confused and regretful. The boys are fading and Ivy appears crest fallen. I loudly and dramatically admit defeat and stomp (as best I can with a broken pelvis) back indoors, proclaiming I’m going to find another family on match.com who will actually make a real effort.
And then.. cue the wailing. The latex glue on my eyelashes are causing an allergic reaction and my feet are morphing into cushions. Everything, every. single. thing, hurt.
But worse than that? The LCD told me what I already knew. Sniffling and pathetic, I sat flicking through frame after frame of images that looked nothing like the ones in my head and wailed some more. I wasn’t being rational and I had no intention of trying to be.
Later that night, with less puffy eyes and feets, I looked again and still, I saw the same frames and flaws. I saw nothing that I’d wanted captured and everything that I didn’t. But also, as I saw the happy smiles of my children, I realized that the clothes I’d gotten cross over were barely noticeable. And that the photos themselves were technically fine. They may not have donned the perfect outfits or pressed the exact buttons I’d wanted but they all happily came to capture this moment. They came because it was important to me and even when I slid into tantrum mode and none of it was the least bit fun anymore, they didn’t walk away. And so, with new seeing, I’m sharing this with you.
The Really Real:
Here I am, starting 37 weeks tomorrow :) I look at this image and it makes my heart burst. I see my gorgeous Ivy and her pure excitement. I see the months of anticipation and gratitude and I see the years of hope and perseverance. I see my amazing belly that’s holding the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me. I see a new door opening. I see a different February to the last five and I see that even from the very, very darkest of days that the sun can shine again. I see Ava, my sweet, sweet Ava, and all that has become because of her. Most of all, I see an image taken with so much love, by the one I love.
Thankyou my darling for helping me see as you saw.
ps A favorite song, for you, and to remind me.Say Something Sweet
The third of February, 2007. I think of it and in my head, I see a cartoon layout. The one where there is a jagged line down the frame showing two different moments. The morning and the unknowing. The laughter and the chatter and the normality of it all. And then, still on that same day, the opposite of that. The mayhem and the yelling and the panic. The allknowing.
Then the calm. The utter shock and the staring out the window of the police car en route to hospital. The surreal. Hating that I couldn’t see the ambulance ahead and hating more when I saw it pulled over on the side of the road a little later. I knew what it meant. Her Daddy holding my hand and telling me we would be okay. Not that it would be okay, but we would. One day.
Arriving at hospital in my pyjamas and realizing I had nothing else with me and wondering why that mattered and knowing that I had to ring my Mum. Seeing my darling girl and seeing the tubes and lines and beeping machines and wondering how, how, how?
Traveling to a new hospital and being met by my sister and not recognizing her through the veil of shock. The eternal waiting in PICU and wondering why Ava was taking so long to arrive. They didn’t tell us she was too unstable for the one hour journey.
But she did arrive and they added more tubes and gave us less hope and we sat by her bedside in silence. I focused on her toes so I wouldn’t have to see everything else and even with her there, with her right there beside me, I could not find her.
This day will always be the day we lost Ava. Her headstone may read otherwise but for me, the third is the last day I had her here on this Earth..my sweet girl. Happy. Perfect. Adoring and adored.
In the days that followed, no..in the years that followed, I wondered so many things. Would life ever feel normal again? Would my children grow up happy? Would Crayton and I make it through? Would we ever feel whole again? It does, they are, we have and we do. Time helps so much to heal, if you let it. I have spoken endlessly about perception and priorities and gratitude. Six years have given me more heartbreak and more insight than I could have possibly imagined and today, through the tears and the wishing, I am still so thankful to have survived it..with my family, and my heart, in tact.
Superprincess, thankyou for you.
xoSay Something Sweet