It's official! I am no longer a recruiter. I am now simply "wife" and "mother". Simply? Maybe not. You see, for the past two days, while I've been excited to be able to focus on my family now, I've struggled a little bit with feeling alone, overwhelmed and not knowing where to focus first.
My journey to this point has been a very long one. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this day would come. When I turned in my laptop of Friday and hugged a few close coworkers goodbye the moment was one that I never dreamt I'd experience.
In high school, our coach used to make us run extra horses for using the word "can't". Back then, I didn't understand why saying I couldn't lift five more pounds or run 100 more feet or jump 50 more times was a bad thing. Today, I stand before you and say there isn't much that I "can't" do. I never became the college athlete that my mom or my coach or even myself may have wished I'd become. But the lessons I learned then have helped to carry me through so much in life. As humans, God makes so much possible for us. Our perfectly designed bodies and minds are capable of so much more than we often believe. This past year has proven to me just how far I can stretch both my body and my mind.
There was a day in the not so distant past when I didn't know if it was possible for me to ever become a mother. Adam and I knew that getting pregnant would be a challenge for us but Adam knew that my dream in life was to be a mother and he wanted to do whatever he could to help me achieve that dream. Little did we know the ride we were in for to achieve that dream. When we first learned we were having quadruplets right at a year ago, one of the first things Adam told me was that we weren't going to allow any negative thoughts into our lives regarding the pregnancy. There was no option for anything but the two of us going home from the hospital with four babies. In fact, we were so focused on this that as silly as it sounds, in never crossed my mind that I might not go home with all four babies. It pains me to say that since my babies were born, I've learned that many quad mommies cannot say the same. I wasn't so naive that I didn't know the risks I was taking in regard to my body being able to sustain four new lives and to this day I still feel the effects of that pregnancy on my body and I probably always will. There were days when it took every ounce of energy I had just to get out of bed and push myself to the couch to work from home. There were pains I had no idea could ever happen. There was itching. There was swelling. There were headaches. I couldn't breathe. There was exhaustion. There was dehydration. There was a flu illness. My poor husband had to help me with almost every aspect of life -- cooking for me, cleaning for me, shaving my legs, helping me get dressed, you name it, he's done it and I'm forever grateful.
It was never an option in my mind for me to stop working. In fact, I worked up until 28 weeks and four days into my pregnancy and I fully intended to return to the office, have my Mom and Adam's Mom help watch the babies and possibly hire someone to assist my Mom with them long-term. After all, with four babies, we knew our budget was going to take a huge hit.
I'll never forget the moment that my water broke at 28 weeks and 1 day. I was home alone that day. I had told Adam earlier in the morning that I didn't feel good and he wanted to come home from work to take care of me. I told him not to, that I would probably be fine but if something happened, I'd call him. I had no idea that that something would come at about 1:00 in the afternoon when I stood up from the couch to go make me some macaroni and cheese. I never got that macaroni and cheese and I wouldn't get to eat again for about 36 hours. My Mom got me to the ambulance on the side of the highway and after that, my panic was gone. I was able to remain calm the entire ambulance ride by texting Adam and talking to the EMT. When I arrived at the hospital, my MFM was there waiting to access me. The news wasn't bad. Baby A's (now Baby B) water had broken but as long as we could prevent infection in both her and me, she'd be fine with a tear in the sac. I got another round of steroids that day to help the babies' lungs develop and 24 hours of magnesium to give them neural protections. I was ready to go for another month in the hospital. But...five days later, the babies had other plans and when I suddenly went into full-blown labor, we knew we weren't going to try to stop it.
My delivery happened fast. It was my first day knowing I was officially on maternity leave and work wasn't lingering in the back of my mind. It was a Saturday and around 3:30 in the afternoon. I told Adam to get the nurse because something was wrong. They opted to watch me for a little while but notified the resident on duty. When the resident arrived to check on me around 5:00 PM, it was determined that the babies were for sure going to be born that date. They immediately began rolling me down to labor and delivery and poor Adam was left in a panic to pack up everything in the room. I had no idea that I'd be met with complications in delivery when preeclampsia suddenly hit. I didn't know what was going on at the time nor did I know how serious it actually was. All I knew was that my belly HURT, my babies were coming, and the anesthesiologists kept stabbing my arms because they couldn't find a vein; there was also a woman in there shaving my belly for the incision and this MAY have been the most painful experience of it all (this poor unidentified nurse also happens to be the only person I let know they were hurting me except for the one who wouldn't allow me any water after delivery). I was in too much pain to realize how swollen my body was and too excited to meet my babies that I didn't realize my own body was trying to shut down. I'm not sure at what point when I actually realized that I was actually being treated at the same time my babies were but I think it was around the time I also realized that I wouldn't be able to see my babies for the first 24 hours of their lives because I was on magnesium again and they don't let patients on mag attempt to stand.
It was about two weeks into our NICU stay when it hit me. We were going to be in the NICU for a long time and there was even a chance that one or more of the babies wouldn't be home by the time my maternity leave was up. I remember sitting across from Adam at a table in the dining area at Texas Children's Women's Pavilion and telling him that maybe I didn't want to go back to work after all. I struggled because for the first 52 days of their lives, my babies were cared for by someone who wasn't me. How could I ever abandon them again to go back to work? But how could we afford for me to not work? Our situation really meant we both needed to work to be able to provide for the babies. Over and over again, I was met with statements from others that automatically assumed I would be staying home with the babies. When I told nurses that I would be going back to work, I could always sense their shock. The day we came home, the plan still was that I'd go back to work. And I did. Fortunately, my employer was sweet enough to allow me to work from home for the first six months.
As time went on, things got harder and harder. When we had to hire someone to come in and help care for them while I worked, we realized just how silly it was to be paying someone because that basically cancelled out my salary. Not to mention, it was hard to even work at all because of the little amount of sleep I was getting. So Adam made some changes and along with some help from God, found a position that meant I would be able to stay at home. I requested a time to speak with my boss and broke the news to her. When she asked me to stay on for three months to help hire and train my replacement, I knew it was going to be a stretch for me, but I also knew she needed my help so I agreed.
And here we are. On Monday (when this will post), my alarm will go off at six AM as usual, but instead of feeding the babies and then setting about all of the work stuff I have to get done on top of my mommy responsibilities, my focus will be on my family. We've got a lot going on right now so having the time to do that is such a blessing. I know God is with me and that He's going to lead me through this journey. I'm trying very hard not be afraid or to feel alone in this. I feel like I've had so much on my plate for so long that to have such a large amount of responsibilities removed, really should allow me to just knock out so much more but I'm afraid that if it doesn't, I'll be let down.
Adam and I have been through such an emotional roller coaster ride together over the past year. Of course, there are many battles we've been fighting together that most people don't know about. The road has been hard both emotionally and physically. But never once did we give up. We always continue to push through the fight with everything we've got. There are days when both of us are drained of every single ounce of energy and patience we have, but we know that with God's grace, we will live to fight through yet another day and another and another. One thing is for sure, you will never hear the words "I can't" slip from my mouth in regard to all of the heavy physical and emotional burdens being a parent to quadruplets entails.
So as I start my first week of no longer working outside of the home, I am praying for God's help. I pray that He will guide me and help me learn a routine that serves my husband and my children well and allows me to begin to put some much needed organization into our lives. I pray that in moments when I doubt myself, He will provide me with the strength to press on.
If you have time today, would you mind saying a quick prayer as well? You have no idea how thankful I am for all of the prayers we've received during this journey.
Wishing each of you a beautiful Monday full of love,