God Bless You
I realize that having big families is not necessarily the norm these days and I realize that having two sets of twins 18-months apart, I will inevitably receive stares and comments wherever I go. This fact I have accepted and am normally gracious when people ask questions or smile as we pass. What I cannot tolerate are the comments like, “Oh, God Bless You” attached to an eye roll or “You sure have your hands full!” First off, yes, God did bless us more than you will ever know or comprehend and yes, my hands are more than full, but as the quote goes, “so is my heart.”
Eight years ago, my husband Ryan and I decided we were ready to start a family. We anticipated the journey to go smoothly, but month after month, a positive pregnancy test alluded us. In the meantime, I was teaching in an elementary school surrounded by young, pregnant colleagues. What was wrong with ME, I would think to myself. Why can’t I have a baby? We finally sought the help of a fertility doctor. Anyone who has gone through fertility testing knows it can be pretty invasive and will quickly educate you on anything and everything related to the male and female reproductive systems. Once we sought the aid of fertility doctors, we thought that success would be ours. But even with the help of one of the best fertility doctors in Massachusetts, a baby still alluded us. We started to think that conceiving our own child might not be in the cards for us, but we were unwilling to give up. We resigned ourselves to doing anything medically possible to have a child, but with each failed treatment, our hearts and spirits would be broken and it felt like no one quite understood what we were up against.
To us, each failed procedure felt like a miscarriage. The stress and roller coaster of emotions was unbearable at times. I finally began to treat the shots, appointments, and procedures almost like a part-time job in order to reduce the anxiety and emotional roller coaster of it all. Then, finally, after 3 attempts with IUI (Intrauterine insemination) and 3 attempts with IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), we received the most wonderful news of our lives—we were pregnant! Weeks after finding out we were pregnant, we received even more exciting news—we were having TWINS! It was truly surreal and amazing to see those two heartbeats on the ultrasound screen. Then, when the baby boys arrived, we thought our lives couldn’t be any more blessed. Little did we know that, 11 months later, we would get the shock of a lifetime! We found out that I was pregnant, and this time, it was all on our own without medical assistance. A few weeks into the pregnancy before our first ultrasound, I was having some issues that I did not have with my first pregnancy. My OB/GYN wanted to be sure everything was ok, so she had me come in for an early ultrasound to confirm it was a viable pregnancy. Well, it was viable alright—we found out we would be having a second set of twins just 18 months after having our first set!! Although we were a little terrified at the prospect of four children under two and in diapers, to be pregnant on our own with a second set of twins seemed like a miracle.
So, when we get looks and stares from people, they will never know what we went through to have this beautiful family. Just a few weeks ago, I had all four children—now ages 4 and 6–in a public restroom after seeing a movie at the theater. She looked me up and down as I juggled children in and out of stalls and washing hands at the sinks. With a look of disgust, she said to me, “Oh I get it—is this a day care or a school or something?”
I responded, “Nope—they’re actually all mine!”
She followed up with the typical eye roll and, “God Bless you.”
I simply replied, “Thank you—He did! Merry Christmas!”
So, I guess the moral of the story is that you never know the story behind how someone came to create their family—the struggles and/or challenges. In our particular case, our big family is an incredible blessing and no matter how crazy or challenging life gets, we wouldn’t have it any other way!