One year ago today, I was looking toward New Years Eve. This was the day we had settled on with our Doctor for a scheduled c-section to bring the Twinstroms into the world. You may think it had something to do with the last minute tax deduction, or my general urgency to get them out of my stretched to the limit, hormonal, pain ridden body. That is not the case (although all of those things sounded attractive). It was simply the time.
That particular very normal Tuesday morning, I had kissed Mr. Lindstrom goodbye on his way to work, and anxiously awaited the time that my scheduled babysitter was going to take the four year-old (then three) off my hands. I was in no condition to match his energy. Usually I was able to move with a modicum of ease, but not one year ago today. One year ago today, I had to take breaks while walking between the refrigerator and the toaster (in our teeny kitchen, that’s about 5 steps). Something was up, but I wasn’t about to admit it. When the babysitter came, her first and most memorable words to me were something akin to, “you look like shit.” Okay, to be fair, she didn’t actually say, “you look like shit,” but she definitely said some Minnesota nice version of that. She politely told me that she would keep Ollie as long as I needed, because she suspected I would be making a trip to the hospital shortly. “I have a c-section scheduled for Thursday,” I told her, confidently. Certain that whatever she thought was going on, was most certainly NOT going on, and could definitely wait a couple of days.
You see, while nobody would accuse me of being organized, I definitely don’t do surprises well, so I plan. I plan and plan and plan, almost to a fault. So I had just the day prior sent out the “birth itinerary” to all concerned parties, letting everyone know when they would be responsible for the four year-old, and when they could visit the hospital. The four year-old had a very important job, it was to deliver the babies their pacifiers, so I had packed them away in his luggage in little baggies with notes telling the responsible party what they were for, when to bring them, and that when they arrived at the hospital, the four year-old was to be wearing his “I’m the Big Brother” shirt. Okay, so not organized, but definitely a control freak. So, I was pretty positive I was not in labor, because that wasn’t on the schedule.
Here are the Cliff’s notes of what followed:
9:00 am - I started timing these odd contractions with the help of some whack-a-doo website that would keep a chart of the intervals and duration. (Control-freak)
9:15 am – Recalled EVERY piece of pregnancy literature that clearly states, “if you think you are in labor, try having something to eat and relaxing to see if contractions slow down.”
9:20 am – Ate one egg and one slice of toast.
9:45 am – Realized that holy shit these hurt, and they are consistently about 4-5 minutes apart.
10:00 am – Called my mom. Conversation went exactly like this, “Hi mom.” “Hi Colleen, I’m in the middle of an appointment, can I call you back in 5 minutes.” “Sure.”
10:01 am – Called one of my nearest and dearest friends, Liv Lane.
Me: “Hey Liv, I need you to keep me company.”
Liv: “I don’t think I can get there until later, maybe. I have the kids all day.”
Me: “No, I just need your company on the phone. I’m having some weird contractions.”
Liv: “Maybe you should call the Doctor.”
Me: “No, I have a c-section scheduled for Thursday.” (Have you noticed yet that I’m completely and totally crazy?)
[Other line beeps]
Me: “Hey, Liv, can I call you back, that’s my mom.”
10:03 am – It was my mom on the other line. I told her what was going on. She said (wisely), “Well, why are you calling me? Call your Doctor!” (Can you guess what I said next? All together:) “I have a c-section scheduled for Thursday.”
10:05 am – My mom convinced me to call the Doctor. I call the Doctor.
10:15 am – Oh. My. God. I have been on hold forever. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller… Bueller…
10:20 am – After being tossed from receptionist, to triage, to I don’t know whom, but I’m hoping that Tom Jones is available, they tell me to go to the hospital.
10:25 am – I called my mom back and said, “They want me to go to the hospital.”
10:27 am – I decided I needed a shower. On the way upstairs to shower, I wondered why I was feeling just like Hilary Swank who won the Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry, and never thanked her then husband. HOLY SHIT, I HAVEN’T CALLED MY HUSBAND!!!!
10:28 am – I called my husband. This was especially exciting because we had never had that “honey, it’s time” moment – and it happened, and it was awesome… for him. I reminded him that I had a c-section scheduled for Thursday.
11:30 am – We arrived at the hospital and after assessment, it turned out that I was definitely in labor. My doctor happened to be in the building (Thank God!) and she came to check on me. I reminded her, the nurses, the janitors, the lab techs who draw blood, the parking lot attendant, and anyone else who I crossed paths with that “I am scheduled to have a c-section on Thursday.” They told me that I had to wait a couple hours, because of that DAMN BREAKFAST I ATE (never believe anything you read. NEVER).
2:30 pm – As they are bringing me into the surgical suite I reminded them that “I am scheduled to have a c-section on Thursday.”
2:58 pm – I heard the cries of Baby A, Thing 1, Tilla Violet Lindstrom. She was 5 lbs 5oz, and every bit as beautiful as I could have imagined. I called her my petite delicate flower. She is still petite, but is nowhere near delicate. Named for two very strong women, she shows on a moment to moment basis that she has earned her names.
2:59 pm – My youngest, my last… Baby B, Thing 2, Keller John Lindstrom arrived. He was 6lb 2oz. He was so quiet, and reminded me in that short moment of the way he had been in the womb, so Norwegian. He just wasn’t going to bother anyone. He still is that way. This child claps his hands when he’s mad. That’s the truth.
They were rushed to the special care nursery because their lungs were not quite strong enough just yet. After 36 hours, we got them back, and we have lived happily ever after ever since.
We’ve been through a whole lot as a family. Having experienced the loss of our 3 ½ month old daughter, our first, and then our third, another girl at 20 weeks gestation. I am acutely aware that these losses made way for the amazing life that we are blessed with today. Quite simply, if Brady and Parker were here, these children that make each day of my life here on earth a beautiful chaos would not be. It’s a mixed bag, and every day is juggling the feelings around that. Knowing that I parent and love in two very distinct worlds, and that, at least in our human understanding, they don’t mesh too easily. In other words, I cannot hold all of my babies at once. I can only physically hold the ones that are here.
Christmas is an emotional holiday for me. After becoming a mother, I understood the feeling of a long awaited birth far better than I ever had in my life. So, the theme of new life around the Christmas holiday holds so much meaning for me. I can never finish singing the song “Away in a Manger.” I cry, without fail, each time. “Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.” This Christmas Eve, as that verse was sung around me, and I could feel the tears tickling my eyes, I looked at my family, and realized how amazing this journey has been. I had my daughter in my left arm, my youngest son next to me in my husband’s arms (he was pulling my hair), and my oldest son on my right side standing on the pew hanging on to me. My arms were full. And right at that very moment, as the music swelled around me, and the tears were poised to burst without my control, my daughter pulled the top of my dress down, and exposed my breast to all my surrounding fellow congregants. Beautiful chaos. I could not do anything but laugh, because five years ago, I could never have imagined… all of this.