Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

So much more than I ever thought it would be

Fifteen years ago tonight, I was laying in bed with my heart pounding, thinking about what was about to happen early the next morning. I was going to the hospital at 6 am to have an amnio, and if it looked good with the babies lungs developed enough, my OB was going to induce me. Honestly, I had no clue of what most of that meant. I had refused an amnio much early on in my pregnancy due to my history of miscarriage, so I had no experience with that test at all. Additionally, I had read about being induced in the pregnancy books, but the books so rarely correlated to my particular pregnancy that I pretty much discounted what they said. The women on my Usenet parenting group had nothing but horror stories, which weren't all that helpful either. I was going in pretty much blind.

My doula, a personal friend for years, was going to stay with me through the entire procedure as the baby's dad was overseas working and unable to get away that quickly. She picked me up and off we went, two nervous friend having little idea of what was really going to happen.

The amnio went off without a hitch, both babies had mature enough lungs, and I was moved into L&D and hooked up to a pitocin drip. I had an amazingly easy labor, with labor pains less uncomfortable than my regular period cramps. Really! When I was 5 cm dilated, the most hilarious anesthesiologist came in to put in my epidural. He was from Japan and just visiting for the summer, and we had a great conversation about my collection of plastic food from Japan. Once the epi was installed, I didn't feel a thing until they finally determined that the babies were starting to be in distress, and moved me into the OR. There were 15 women and one man, a med student, in the OR. It was this huge feeling of sisterhood.

My OB told me to push, and after 6 pushes, Baby A, aka The Boy arrived at 9:05 pm. Baby B was transverse and stuck tight. My OB had her arm so far up my cooter that I couldn't see her elbow, and she couldn't get The Girl. She called for a C-section team, and tried once more, grabbed a foot, and birthed Baby B as a footling breech at 9:12 pm.

The Boy was 6 lbs even, the Girl was 4 lb 5 oz. She was IUGR, her placenta was black with calcification, and her cord fell off in the OR. She was very near death, and was whisked off to the NICU before I ever got a glimpse of her. The Boy latched on almost immediately and was a great nurser. The Girl never was strong enough to nurse without a supplementer that I had to tape to my nipples. Eventually I bagged that and just pumped for her, which was less of a hassle and easier on her weak muscles.

The first year flashed by in a haze of sleeplessness, bad diagnosis after bad diagnosis, early intervention, and about 10 million appointments to Children's Hospital. We had PT, OT, ST, and a special DD playgroup. I was told the Girl would never walk. I was told she might be developmentally delayed. I was told that they didn't really know what to expect. No truer words were ever spoken. The Girl didn't sit up by herself until she was over 9 months old. By 11 months she was rolling over at last. She crawled for 2 days and then started to walk. She has never stopped moving forward since then.

The Boy was a happy baby with low muscle tone. He was a late walker (14 months) because he was so fat. He weighed 29 lbs at his 1st b'day office visit. The Girl was a more petite 17 lb. He was a voracious nurser, a big happy baby with a love of Popsicles. The Girl was the most miserable baby ever to exist. She cried non-stop her first 18 months. She never slept. She was very sensory oversensitive, couldn't stand loud noises, anything touching her, being held, sleeping, and motion. Other than that, she was a piece of cake. At 18 months I finally shut down, called the pediatrician at 2:30 in the morning and told him to get her the hell out of my house, I couldn't take it anymore. He called an emergency appointment with Dr Richard Ferber, and 2 weeks later she was sleeping through the night, her personality had changed, she smiled and acted like she wasn't an axe murder.

Preschool years were OK. The Boy had trouble with kids his own age and his best friend was his teacher, who was in his mid-twenties. They had an amazing relationship. Both kids thrived, learned, and were ready to move to Kindergarten when they were barely 5.

Elementary school had serious ups and downs. We tried 3 private schools before I gave up and homeschooled. Then we moved to the public schools and things got markedly better. But until the Boy was grade advanced, he just didn't really fit in. He does much better with kids that are older than him and get his sense of humor and his interests better than age peers. The Girl always was socially active and had a ton of friends, but was often left behind academically because private schools would not address her learning disabilities. Public school changed those issues, and we've stuck with it every since.

Middle school....we'll just say it was a total disaster for both kids and leave it at that. But it was also the onset of the boy's Bipolar issues, and the identification of the Girl's somewhat hidden learning disability. Those were the hardest parenting years I ever hope to have. I've never felt so alone, so mystified, so angry, and so confused by 'experts' that didn't know their ass from their elbows. I've never been so glad to get out of a learning environment as I did middle school.
Now we're in high school, we're learning about each other's foibles, talents, habits, and disappointments. We're moving forward as a family, even with all the crap thrown in our direction. We're doing OK. Honestly, we are.

My children are not what I thought they would be when they were in-utero. I had ideas about how my kids might be great readers like I am, but what they really love are movies. I thought the Girl would end up doing high school athletics because she's so gifted in sports, but she was so discouraged in middle school that she refused to even try. I thought the Boy would be a geeky math and science nerd, but he's so not. He's a bit nerdy, but his specialties are movies, TV, sports, and politics. I thought both of my kids would be equally interested in college, but that the Boy would end up in an ivy league school and the Girl in some art school. The Boy isn't even interested in going to college right out of high school (which I'm more than happy about, because he's so young), and the Girl is thinking about medical careers, or maybe science. She's even talking about maybe being an astronaut.

I've learned so much about my kids and yet they continue to be a mystery to me. I can't wait to see what kind of adults they'll become. I know that I've prepared them well to be able to carry on by themselves as adults. They can cook and clean and do laundry. They can use the Yellow Pages, know how to call for a Taxi, how to order a pizza, how to take public transportation all over the city. They're not afraid to ask for directions or ask for help. They like to visit museums, they are willing to try new experiences even if they aren't 'cool'. They're kind, good friends. They have empathy for other people in crappy situations. They fight like complete whackos, but they care about each other more than they're willing to admit. They're nice people, my kids. They drive me freaking nuts much of the time, but isn't that their job?

For all I complain about them, I cannot even imagine life without them. The other day in the shower it crossed my mind that in a few years they'll both be gone. How will I manage without them? Who will I talk to? Who will go on little special trips to see this or that? Who will entertain me? Who will pick out movies I have "got" to see? And even more compelling, who will take out the garbage on garbage night? I panicked. I don't think I know how to live without them anymore. But I know, no matter what, they'll always remain close to me. My kids show me every single day how important I am to them, and how important they are to me. My kids still hug me before they go to bed at night. They still want to snuggle on the sofa. They tease my about my horrible hair and rub my head when they walk by (which, btw, drives me insane). The Girl picks out clothing and little presents for me. The Boy isn't capable of stepping outside of himself to do things like that, but he shows me over and over again that he does care. He doesn't want to disappoint me, and cries when he does.

Parenthood is harder than I ever thought it could be. When we go into it, it's hard to see beyond those tiny babies and little toddlers. It's difficult to imagine that eventually those babies turn into grown ups, taller than you are. They will surprise you with their own contrary ideas, they will astound you with their interests that are so different than yours, and yet they will melt your heart over and over again. Because after all, they are your babies.

Happy Birthday to The Girl, The Boy, and the Triplet. We love you all so very much!

They still enjoy a nice naptime almost every day!

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Blogger Robin said...

Happy birthday to both of you, and to the terrific mother who got you here.

24/8/07 7:24 AM  
Blogger theotherbear said...

What a lovely description of your children. I loved reading this, just loved it! Thanks, and happy birthday to your kids.

24/8/07 7:43 AM  
Blogger Sechakecha said...

This is a beautiful post. You are a wonderful mother.

Happy Birthday to both of them!!

24/8/07 7:49 AM  
Anonymous LVGurl said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to The Boy and The Girl!

What a great post! And, what an interesting road you all have traveled together :)

Your kids will always be there for you. You have poured so much love into them.

24/8/07 10:49 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Big SIGH! Truer words about parenting have rarely been written. What a long, strange and wonderful trip it has been! Love to the Boy, Girl and the Champion Mother.

(Mom of the Triplet -- Gabriel, also born 15 years ago today during Hurricane Andrew)

24/8/07 10:59 AM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

I think those of us who have older children know exactly what you're describing. And I like to hear the real stories of parenthood, not the hunky dory everything is cute and poop stuff.

Happy Birthday to your real kids. They sound like great kids.

24/8/07 2:09 PM  
Anonymous MaryP said...

Happy Birthday, Girl and Boy!

My son was 30 pounds at a year, and didn't walk till he was 15 months old. Takes a while to develop the muscle to heave that bulk off the ground!

You have had quite the ride with these two lovely young people. And you met Dr. Ferber? In person? Wow. He saved my sanity with my boy - ten days to ten hours/night. I love that man. I do not, however, wish to have his babies. I have enough of my own.

24/8/07 6:27 PM  
Blogger L. said...

Happy b-day, to the kids and to mom, too!

24/8/07 7:09 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Awww! That was nice! sniff.

My boys birthday is tomorrow and I can't believe he's turning 13. I'm not sure how that happened over night but I understand what you mean. What would we ever do with out them?

Happy Birthday to the kids.
and hi from Micheles

24/8/07 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Becky68 said...

Michele sent me back Margalit- After I had already read this to say how much I liked it.
My oldest is 17 & you're so right about the loss you feel as they begin to seperate & depart for their own life!
Happy birthday to your kids & many happy returns.

24/8/07 11:24 PM  
Blogger Shane said...

Your kids will be fine because you are a remarkable parent. In reading your posts I can say in hindsight that if I were a kid with no parents I'd be writing "please adopt me" letters. lol

25/8/07 7:26 PM  

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