And finally, not only was I pregnant, but I was pregnant with twins - something else I had always wanted.
I happily went about my business that summer, even when I felt a strange tightening in my abdomen at only fourteen weeks.
Then, at my twenty week appointment, my doctor lowered the boom. Not only did one of my babies have a birth defect, but I was also in pre-term labor and would have to go on bed rest for the duration of my pregnancy.
This was one time in my life that my stubbornness served me very well. I ended up being on bed rest for fourteen and a half weeks. Luckily, I was at home, and only on three medications.
Two days before New Year's Eve, I started having excruciating back pain. Since I wasn't due until February, I didn't think anything of it other than the fact that I was carrying two babies. When the pain didn't abate two days later, I went to the hospital to be checked.
Upon my arrival, I promptly threw up, and the nurse announced, "Yep, you're in labor."
It was six and a half weeks before my due date. My babies were born on New Year's Eve.
After Joey and Slim were born, they were immediately whisked to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I didn't even get to hold them.
The NICU was a scary place to me - all the plastic incubators, the hand washing stations, the caution, the quiet. I'd never experienced anything like it.
The day I left the hospital without my babies was the hardest day of my life up to that point. I remember taking a random part of my rented breast pump up to the nurses station and trying to ask what it was for, but bawling so hard the words wouldn't come out.
I spent every day in the NICU, rocking, holding, and learning how to nurse and take care of my babies. I look back on their days there with fondness.
I was lucky. We were lucky. All the boys needed was some time under the bilirubin lights. They needed to grow and eat and get strong. They were never in any danger. There was never the possibility that I would not be taking them home.
Right next to Joey and Slim's little section was a section reserved for a little baby girl with an exotic name. The curtains were always closed because her condition was very dire. Her parents lived three hours away, so they were never there with her. The nurses had become very attached to her.
One morning I came skipping into the NICU, excited to see my babies. I noticed that the curtains to the girl baby's section were open, and she was gone.
She had died in the night. All the nurses were crying that morning.
I drew the curtains on our section, gathered my two babies up in my arms, and we rocked and cried for quite a while.
After 12 and 17 days respectively, Joey and Slim got to come home, and we never looked back. We were very lucky.
More than an estimated half million babies in the United States alone are born prematurely, and I found a statistic on the Huffington Post that put the number at 8 million world wide. Yesterday was World Prematurity Awareness Day, and I'm linking my story up with Four Plus an Angel. The linky will be open all week and for every link shared, a donation will be made to the March of Dimes.
Incidentally, the March of Dimes has given a "C" rating to the United States in regard to preterm birth rates. That's a First World Problem we don't want to have.
Please read other's stories and share yours if you have one. Let's help shed some light on this issue one story at a time.