Five years have passed in the blink of an eye but I remember October 10, 2008, as if it were yesterday. I remember waking up to go to the hospital -- late, because I was up all night and dozed off just as the sun broke through the clouds. I remember sitting in traffic, calling the doctor, apologizing. Joking that after months and months of waiting, we were going to miss our scheduled time for the big event. The birth of our identical triplets.
I remember kissing our kids, then 1 and 3, goodbye and hugging my parents as I thanked them for being there. I remember squeezing my husband's hand and searching in his eyes for reassurance that everything would be OK. I remember the fear and the queasy, anxious feeling in my stomach. Oh, that stomach! It was HUGE. My small frame had packed on over 50 pounds as three babies grew inside me. Few told me I looked beautiful with my baby bulge; most were honestly horrified by it. One woman even said it was grotesque. And she meant it. You don't forget things like that. Just like you don't forget the details of the day your children are born.
I remember sitting in the waiting room, watching CNN with other expectant families. Hearing about our country's financial collapse while worrying about the little lives inside me. Would they be OK? Would they spend time in the NICU? How long would they stay in the hospital before we took them home? Then my name was called. Into the room we went. Out of my stretched-out, too-small maternity clothes and into a supersized, scratchy, cold hospital gown. And socks. I remember the socks. They were warm.
I remember the nurse. Her name was Jessica. he held one hand while my husband held the other. She told me everything would be OK as she led me into the operating room. The lights were blinding; the room was freezing. And filled to the gills. Doctors, nurses, specialists, students. It seemed everyone had received an invitation to the birth. The birth of identical triplets. The say the odds of naturally conceiving such a trio is about one in a hundred million so, it's fair to say this was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them. And me.
What happened next is a bit of a blur. The epidural. The growing fear. The curtain going up. The noise level in the room going down. Show time. A tug, a pull. Baby One arrived. A cry. Relief. More tugging, Baby Two arrived. Thank God. A forceful yank. "Meet Baby Three," they said. Cries, cheers, laughter, applause. Exhale. The fear was gone. The babies were born. They had defied the odds. They were OK. They weren't going to the NICU. In a few days, we'd all be going home. Baby One was six pounds. Baby Two, five and half. Baby Three, five pounds, three ounces. Hearts healthy, lungs developed, cries strong. What a sound it is, the sound of three babies crying. And then, my tears. Tears of joy as I squeezed my husband's hand, smiled at my new hero, Jessica the nurse, and thanked God that everything was indeed ok.
Fast forward to today. There are still tears. Those same tears of relief and joy. The joy they give us, and everyone they meet. Today they are 5. They are thriving. They are happy, healthy and, as I told a reporter back in 2008, they are "cute to boot!" We never expected cute. We never expected healthy. We just didn't know what to expect. And frankly, we still don't.
I suppose that's the thing about parenting... you never know what to expect. And, I think perhaps that's the wonder of it all. How these small humans change our plans, change our lives (and while we're at it, our bodies too!) and fill them with joy. Which, at the end of the day, is what I remember most about the past five years and hope to have for all the years to come. For all of us. Happy Birthday boys!
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