This is a story ten years in the making.
It’s not that it’s a tragic tale, it’s far from that, but it’s one of those cheesy, cliche’d lines that parents always use that comes to the fore.
“I can’t believe it’s been ten years!”
Particularly since the last two years . . . and it’s only been two since their mother, my wife, Andrea, died . . . have felt like ten themselves.
The boys were never supposed to have happened. That’s not to say we were planning on terminating a pregnancy . . . it’s that Andrea had been so badly injured, both from infection and from poor surgical technique, that we had been told there was a slim to no chance Andrea could ever get pregnant again.
Then she got sick . . . like morning sickness, but it couldn’t have been that. We looked for answers, went to Andrea’s doctor, all of that. Then they did tests and told her that she had a kind of pregnancy that was dangerous, that the result could lead to cancerous cells, possible chemotherapy, monitoring for the next 2-3 years, all of that.
Then a week after we’re trying to figure out how to deal with the possibility of cancer setting in the doctors told us “oops! We are sorry, you’re just pregnant!”
“Oh . . . and it’s twins!”
I don’t know about you guys, but when we went from “you can’t ever get pregnant again” to “cancer” to “you’re having another child” to “it’s twins,” I just about collapsed from exhaustion. For years – and I do mean years – Andrea was angry and offended by my actions. I never considered not having the boys, but we literally were about to double the number of children in our home in one fell swoop. I also figured it would be two girls so that I’d have five women in the house, all with PMS at any given day of the week so I’d never get a break. “God has a sense of humor,” I tried to tell my wife, hoping the joke would break the tension.
It didn’t. She was so angry, in fact, it almost ended our marriage. She didn’t understand how I couldn’t be beside myself, jumping for joy. I couldn’t figure out how she couldn’t be totally stressed by the fact that we weren’t making a ton of money and barely made our house payment with two kids. Now we were about to be four kids.
When Andrea carried them, she carried them for 36 weeks, roughly. When the doc told her that it was now to the point her blood pressure was too high, they had to get the boys out, I swear she skipped like a schoolgirl down the hallway. After the major problems of Hannah’s birth she was scared. When I walked into the OR in my scrubs, I asked how she was . . . and she said she was waiting for the surgery to begin. I informed her they were taking the first boy out already and she was floored. Hannah’s c-section, you see, saw Andrea feeling the scalpel on her skin and the cut of her belly. They had to eventually, after 3 times of this, knock her cold.
Noah came out, blonde, and Andrea said immediately, “that’s Noah.” Sam was the same way, it was obvious who they were. They had separate personalities and they were distinct, from day one.
So once they were born, the stress turned into care. I had two boys, had two little characters who wanted to look to me for help and support.
We made up, eventually. If you love each other you work on a relationship, you don’t ignore it or keep the other person at a distance. The first 3 months of the boys’ lives were a whirlwind that I cannot remember for the life of me. So much work and so little sleep.
We moved to California for more help (which was less than helpful) and to be closer to family, which now we take full advantage of when we need it. Their sister, Abbi, looks out for them. Hannah fights constantly with them.
But they were the last holdouts to go double-digit in age. When they lost their Mom, these two boys were so amazing. Noah, who was hard to contend with, had constant temper tantrums, always wanted his way, always wanting the toys he desired yesterday, not when we had the money . . . changed. I can say, with certainty, that this child has not had a tantrum the likes he showed with his mother since she passed away. From that first day, March 26th, 2011. That’s amazing to me. Sam, who was reckless and crazy and jumping off playground equipment . . . well, he still does that. He broke his arm, but took it in stride, where he’d have fallen apart before.
Some of that is age, some is just growing up faster than they should.
Ten years have gone . . . sometimes it feels like ten days. In the last ten years, they may have felt like it’s more than twenty years. Still, they’re amazing little gentlemen . . . we had a party, at their aunt’s house, love surrounding them, hugging and kissing their terminally ill grandma (Andrea’s mom) and they swam all day. Noah, as a project, made his own pinata with a balloon, paper and glue for the other kids at the party. They’ve grown more than I could ever have hoped.
Ten years have gone . . . I can only hope I am as amazed and delightfully surprised in the next ten as I have been the last two.