Early February hits and somewhere in the deep pit of my stomach a very heavy feeling settles ... until I realize: it's that time of year again. The time of year when - now 3 years ago - we were handed the worst news we had ever received and our lives changed forever. I can't believe it's been 3 years that the girls' were diagnosed with Twin-to-Twin-Transfusion Syndrome and yet I remember it as if it was yesterday. I don't know why ... but 3 years seems like a long time, and part of me thinks that maybe I should be "over" it by now. But then I remember that any mom who has ever received that kind of life-threatening news about her children will probably carry that experience and feeling in her heart for the rest of her life.
What time has given me, however, is something that I lacked when I was going through the experience ... and that is perspective. For one - and most importantly! - I know that the girls are ok. That against all odds, they survived this terrible disease, and not only that, but are healthy and thriving today. We found out about the girls' TTTS on February 5th (a Thursday! - much like today) and they were born almost exactly 3 months later on May 4th, 2009. And during those 3 months, not a single day, not a single hour and often not a single minute when by without me having to ask myself that heart-wrenching question: Will they survive? Will they BOTH survive? And during those long 3 months - most of them spent in a hospital on very strict bed rest - I would have given ANYTHING in this world to know the answer to that questions would be that they will be ok. Because more often than not, it didn't seem that way. Statistics told us that it wouldn't be that way.
Another piece of perspective that the last 3 years have offered is that for the best or the worst, life moves on. For the better part of a year, every single moment of my time and every ounce of my energy was consumed with keeping my children alive - both before their birth and after. We had more than one truly traumatic moment when we thought we'd lost one of them ... and yet now, a mere 2 years later, life seems to go on as usual. For the most part, I find a lot of comfort in that and rejoice in the normalcy of our lives now ... but sometimes when people ask about my pregnancy or when a group of women are sharing birth stories or are talking about their early days with their newborn babies, then I just stand there at a total loss as to what to say - because how could you possible sum up this experience ... and all the ways it has deeply shaped us .... into a few words?
I think the biggest revelation that just came during this last year, however, was that we finally left all this behind. That there really was a light at the end of the tunnel. It took us a good 2 years to get there, and we often wondered if it was going to come - knowing full well that for many TTTS-families the nightmare never truly ends. But it did. We moved on. And we came out the other side of it. I did ... without losing my faith, my love for life, myself.
And for that, I hope I never go through this time of year without pausing and remembering. Remembering that before our daughters' were even born, they were almost taken from us. Remembering that what almost destroyed us, didn't. Remembering that when we could have felt the farthest from God, we knew instead that he was right there with us, providing the strength for every single day. Remembering the many people - friends and strangers alike - who reached out to us through words, prayers, gifts and acts of kindness to make us realize that we were not fighting this battle alone.
I tell the girls literally every single day how lucky I am to have them. And that's the way I feel - so incredibly lucky and grateful that they are here. I feel like the luckiest mom alive. And maybe for that, it takes remember just how close we came to losing them to - and I'm okay with that.