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Baby A and Baby B. Part Nine.

On January 24, 2014, I calmly awaited to be taken to the operating room alongside Eric. The morning began like every other day while I laid in bed anxiously waiting for my ultrasound. Three days a week I had very in-depth ultrasounds monitoring the boys' growth and development. I looked forward to the appointments because in the silent, dark room I felt peace knowing my babies were okay. As I watched my stomach move up and down, and all around, I was happy. The oddest feeling started happening a few weeks prior to the births. I assume postpartum visited me early because I had thoughts of ending my own life. I felt like the world would be better off if I did not exist. Keep in mind, Bentley was only around nine months old during the time the thoughts began to manifest. I had not had thoughts of it before. It scared me. I prayed for God to help me. Thank goodness the thoughts never stayed for long. I was mentally aware and prayed for my way out from the lies I heard. And with the loneliness I felt away from Bentley I wanted so badly for me to have a safe delivery and us all home. Fear creeped in like I had never experienced before. On the outside I was calm, cool, and collective. On the inside, I was screaming for comfort and a loving hand. I wish I had someone to hold me and tell me the truth. To tell me it's okay to feel scared. To uplift me as a person, mother, and wife. I needed a godly mentor. I tried to navigate it all by myself and no one should have to experience such life changes alone. I did. It was not that I did not have family around me, I did. But what I needed was confidence. I had plenty of people around me full of opinions and information on "what is best" for me and my family. I did not need judgmental remarks about my body, or how I chose to feed my babies or the clothes I dressed them in. I was fully capable then and I have remained capable of parenting my own children.

Even through the scary unknown...on January 24th I felt joy hearing my baby boys cry for the very first time. I could finally breathe placidly knowing we all made it through delivery. I had been going into labor for about a week or so, but the doctor ordered medication to make it stop. The boys needed to stay in my womb growing and developing as long as possible for good reason. On January 24, the nurse checked me out and said, "call your husband. We are having the babies today." In that moment it became so real. They were concerned about baby B (Everett). The cords between the two were becoming more entangled which can cut off airways if wrapped tightly. Two babies. One sac. Two umbilical cords becoming entangled with each other and every movement. It is one of God's amazing miracles. So special.

I was anxious to have a cesarian. And Eric was so nervous! The nurse walked in the area where we waited prior to entering the operating room. She walked in with a razor to shave where the doctor planned to do the cut. I had her beat! I was laid up in a hospital bed with nurses checking out my personal body parts for a month. I was clean shaved. Ladies, ya'll know what I mean. Next, I was all numbed up after the epidural. Needles do not bother me. Eric's face when I had to get the epidural, or any kind of blood work done cracked me up. He is terrified. Men are such babies when it comes to certain things. He handled it like a champ though. He was medicated. So medicated that I resented him for a long time and did not even know it until attending therapy. Baby A and Baby B were born. My Cooper and Everett arrived healthy for tiny little fellas. All that was needed was to be monitored and grow their lungs and gain weight. Cooper weighed 3 lb. 2oz. Everett weighed 2 lb. 14oz. I was not allowed to hold them right away. Broke my heart. The doctor let me have a glance and they were immediately taken for observation. For good reason, but the hours leading up to the time I was allowed felt like forever. I was in a lot of pain. And I made sure I was receiving my pain medication. It helped relieve my anxiety worrying about the boys but made me super paranoid about Eric. Well, his drinking. I realize I have wasted so much time of my life worrying about what Eric was doing or not doing and how unhealthy that behavior is. He poured me a glass of champaign to celebrate. Any other time that may have been okay in my world. But considering all

the hormone changes and the fact that I just had given birth to three kids in less than a year-ten months; I did not want to drink. I wanted to see my babies. I did not express how I was feeling because I had to be happy and okay with my world. So, I thought. All the pretending led to my mental breakdown years later when I could not filter my emotions on substances, and I could not stop taking them to escape.

I was aggravated that I had just given birth and Eric was drunk. His friend Matt had come by to visit/celebrate and when I smelled the made me angry. I remember getting out of the bed and checking his long black coat for mini vodka bottles because he messed up and threw away a red bull in the trash bathroom. I fumed in my head. I think I may have made a comment, but no one cared except for me. It was like Eric always got a hall pass from family even when it was blankly in their face. I assume because he was the provider for our family and never made a scene like did or what I would come to do. He passed out and I was high off the pain medication. I grabbed his phone and snooped through everything. That was the beginning of the mistrust or my paranoia to his behavior. I do not remember finding anything interesting. I wanted a present partner and what I came to know is...he was just as scared as I was. I swept everything under the rug and even had to send him to the emergency room downstairs where he received hydration because he woke in the middle of the night..."sick." We both needed grace during that period. Had we known and learned to communicate in a healthy manner I do not think we would have destroyed one another later in our marriage.

It was around midnight when we were allowed to see Cooper and Everett. I cried tears of joy as I held my small hand over their tiny bodies. They looked like little aliens, not fully developed. But-they were my little aliens and I felt like the luckiest mama on earth. I could not help but worry about their development and gave strong and precise orders when asked about the boys' feeding. I made it known that I was breastfeeding (well pumping) my milk for them because they were not allowed to feed on me yet. They were not allowed to give my boys' another woman's milk. Period. I felt very strongly about that decision. I knew I would produce enough milk and it is a bonding between a mother and baby(s) that is very important. It was very important to me. Eric went behind my back and advised the nurses differently. I do not know if divorce ever crossed my mind prior to that point but immediately I felt disrespected and what I wanted was disregarded because he thought he knew better than I. I had just carried them in my womb, and he did not even address it with me. Because he knew he crossed a line and I let him know it. It was the first but not the last time he thought he knew better than me. And there were many lines he would cross and many lines I crossed of his. We wanted our relationship to be fun, happy, and free-like the beginning of our courtship. Eric wanted the fun, hippy girl that loved life from the beach. I wanted Eric to grow up. I was not that woman anymore and no matter how hard I tried to get back there, I could not. After I had my kids, my body chemistry was different. I was different and I wish I would have embraced the woman I was becoming and honored the changes instead of trying to be someone I was not.

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