Saturday, April 7th was my twins’ second birthday. The older I get, the quicker time seems to go by, but these last two years have definitely had some help. I can’t believe that the tiny little babies I brought home are now rowdy toddlers who can feed themselves, hit and, yes, bite! Let me give you a little background on the subject…
In June of 2009, Peter and I started talking about having another baby. Of course, I was pregnant by the beginning of July. That’s one of my superpowers: reproduction. Peter used to joke that I got pregnant using the same soap as him. We were both pretty excited… we had three little boys and really wanted a daughter to round out the crew. We both also knew that this would be our last child, little girl or not. I was determined to savor every moment of the pregnancy and babyhood of this, the caboose of our family. (When we got married, I had wanted 5 kids and Peter had only wanted 3, we decided to compromise and have 4.)
At the beginning of August, I had a miscarriage. I was stunned, to say the least. I had never had a miscarriage before and was pretty devastated by it. The doctors I went and saw told me to wait a few months before trying again. This doctor also told me that it would be at least 4-6 weeks before my hormones came down to normal levels and would even allow me to ovulate again. So I went home, heart heavy, thinking we’d try again in three or four months.
In the aftermath of the miscarriage, I really started to freak myself out. What had I done to cause this? I scrutinized my diet, activity, vitamins, sleep patterns… had I taken ibuprofen for a headache? Did I stand too close to the microwave? What about that piece of sushi I had indulged in? I was sure I had done something to bring about the end of my pregnancy and I felt horrible about it. With all of our other children, we decided it was the right time and I got pregnant immediately. I had healthy, easy pregnancies followed by quick deliveries. Like clockwork. This was definitely a ‘wrinkle’ I hadn’t planned on. Maybe 3 was it for us? Maybe God thought we had enough children and He was cutting us off? I was heartbroken at the thought of not having any more children, but I knew if it was the Lord’s will, then no amount of whining on my part would change that. I started to try to accept that maybe we were always going to be a family of 5.
About 2 ½ weeks after my last visit to the doctor, I had a positive pregnancy test. I had been feeling strange and took the test simply because I had purchased a 2-pack and had one left. I was sure it was residual hormone leftover in my system from the miscarriage, but three weeks later, it was still positive. Hmmm.
I was thrilled when I realized I actually was pregnant again and that God had not ‘cut me off’ in the baby department. J A few weeks after that, a routine ultrasound at my first appointment with my midwife revealed not one, but two tiny growing babies snuggled safely together inside of me. I was dumbstruck. Two? But I already HAD 3 kids! Now I was going to have 5.
As the pregnancy progressed and I became larger and larger, I realized that I had always known that at some point, I would have twins. I didn’t know when or why, it was just one of those little truths the God tucks away in your heart long before you realize it. I was still surprised and overwhelmed, but that reassuring hand on my shoulder, that little whisper of, “It’s going to be ok,” from my Heavenly Father made me really believe that I could do it. I could handle this. I could be a mother of 5.
At about 18 weeks, Peter and I headed over to get an ultrasound to find out if we would have sons or daughters or one of each. I was convinced that I was having two daughters, that these twins were my reward for having 3 boys in a row. On the way to the ultrasound, Peter said to me, “I think you ought to at least consider the possibility that it could be two boys…” My response was, “I don’t think God would do that to me!”
I was right. Andrew Steven Richins was born in one push on April 7, 2010 weighing 5 pounds and 2 ounces. He was so tiny and perfect, I was in love. Nearly 2 hours and an emergency c-section later, his twin sister Olivia Kate Richins was born. She was 6 pounds, 9 ounces and had a very healthy pair on lungs.
In the intervening two years, I have learned a lot about patience, love, sleeplessness and my own inadequacies. My plans to savor this pregnancy and babyhood were replaced by a survival mode mentality that is just starting to ebb. I have felt extremely guilty, lonely, and inadequate to the task of mothering two babies at once. I was sure that I wasn’t giving them enough attention or love or reading to them or playing with them enough. I felt, at times, that I was doing irreparable harm to their little psyches. But now that I can see them being just as healthy, joyful, and rowdy as all of my other children were at 2, I know they are none the worse for wear. The Lord knew they were going to be twins all along, He knew they could handle it. He knew I could handle it.
Brandon, my 8-year-old, said to me a few weeks ago after a close family member suffered a devastating 2-trimester miscarriage, “Mom, remember when your baby went back to Heavenly Father and you were so sad and we went for a walk by the lake?” “Yes, I do remember,” I said. “That’s why we had Andrew and Olivia next, because Heavenly Father knew they were buddies and wanted to go together.” I think Brandon was right. I had a tremendous loss, followed by a very literal ‘double portion.’ J
So I think the thing I have learned the most from being a mother of multiples and a mother of 5 children is this: Aligning our will with the Lord’s is one of the most difficult tasks we have in mortality. It was His will that Andrew and Olivia come together and that I be their mother. As unequal as I felt to the task, as much as I wished I could have changed things early on, the thing that got me through (that STILL gets me through) is that He knows I can do it.