Today is my due date. Today is the day I held on to all those times I spent throwing up until my whole body ached. Today is the day that I daydreamed about during every shot, every early morning blood draw, every sonogram. Today is the day I imagined every day of the 168 days I was pregnant. Later, Today became the day that I longed for during every visit to the NICU…the day they might get to come home.
Today is my official due date. In a perfect world, that would mean that two hundred and forty days ago I ovulated and that egg fertilized. In reality, the timing is a little bit wonkier than that what with the egg actually being fertilized during IVF in May, then frozen, then thawed for a FET in July. Nonetheless, roughly two hundred and fifteen days ago, I found out I was pregnant. I knew as soon as I heard the nurse’s voice when I answered the phone. I’d heard so many bad news phone calls and this wasn’t one. My mother was about to get on a plane to come visit when I called her with the news. Approximately two hundred days ago, we found out it was twins. We joked about how much trouble and worry they were already causing that early. That’s how we dealt with the stress and the fear…we joked. We worked hard to find as much happiness and joy in my pregnancy that was so hard won. We knew the risks, we knew the concerns and we elected to be as well-educated as we could, to take all the precautions we could but to not let those fears prevent us from getting every ounce of pleasure we could from the fact that we had finally acheived this goal.
Don’t get me wrong. I had no illusions regarding the risk of a twin pregnancy. It was always in the back of my mind that complications were a VERY real concern. From the beginning we’d discussed the chance of premature labor. Every sonogram gave us a brief respite from the worry when everything looked good, but the worry would creep back in. We worked hard to find all the happiness and enjoyment we could. We planned and dreamed of course, we’d been doing a lot of that for two years. Heck, I’d painted the room that would be the nursery a year before…it needed to be painted and who wants to paint twice? We shopped, some. We got the big ticket items early on, a little at a time to spread out the hit to the budget in case there were unexpected expenses later on. We took steps to make sure that if things got hairy, we’d be as ready as possible. I had one gift registry that I was using to keep track of everything people recommended, I had another gift registry that I planned to use for co-workers and friends…little things, nothing very expensive, easy to get, and a third registry…well a spreadsheet really…of the cloth diapers, the organic clothes and toys, websites of things I liked…that I gave to close family and friends. That third one is the only one I ever got to share with anyone. I had to get it done early in the pregnancy because Thanksgiving was going to be the only time I’d get to have a baby shower with my family (and to be honest, I figured it would be the only baby shower I’d have.)
I remember the day I called Shannon from the parking lot to tell him one was a boy and the other was almost certainly a girl. That day ties with the day he asked me to marry him and the day I called and told him we were pregnant for the happiest days of my life.
First, we thought the gall bladder surgery was the worst thing that could happen. We had conversation after conversation with doctors about the risks, the pros and cons. Half an hour before leaving for the hospital, we realized we hadn’t taken any pictures of me pregnant. I don’t really like having my picture taken. Those of you with PCOS can probably understand why (it’s the same reason I don’t have any full-length mirrors in the house…my self-esteem just can’t handle it). Anyway, neither one of us said it outloud, but I know I was afraid I might not come home pregnant and I wanted a picture. I had assumed I just looked fat, so it was a surprise to me to see that I actually looked pregnant. It’s a terrible photo of me since you don’t tend to look your best heading into major surgery, but I love it. It’s the first moment I REALLY felt pregnant. Up to that point, it hadn’t seemed all that real. When I came to in the recovery room, the first word I said was, “Babies?” The next day, I told Shannon we needed to come up with nicknames for them because I didn’t feel right calling them Baby A and Baby B any longer. We got the confirmation that Baby B was a girl just a few days after my surgery.
I remember the afternoon we spent in Barnes and Noble cracking each other up with the silliest names we could find in the baby names books. Oh, the dirty looks we kept getting, but I think that was the first day the pregnancy really felt real to both of us. Shannon had already started calling our little boy Ozymandius, after Ramses II of Egypt (Ozymandius is what the Greeks called him). Then, he found Zeuxippe in one of the books. The Malaprop got added because he liked the rhythm of it (and he has been guilty of more than a few malapropisms, so it was sort of a tribute to daddy as well). They seem like just silly names, I know, but Ozymandias was a regarded as Egypt’s greatest and most powerful pharaoh. Zeuxippe was the daughter of the river Eridanos. Daddy named his son for a king and his daughter for the daughter of the King of Rivers, maybe not so silly after all. So, they became Ozymandius and Zeuxippe Malaprop…silly names with happy memories of a fun day after so many days of worry and stress. They would hold us while we worked on picking names that would serve them for the rest of their lives. I rather liked the names, even though I gave Shannon hell for picking them. He’d threaten to really name them that, I’d threaten to have him banned from the delivery room. We both knew the other was kidding. Settling on Zoë Harper and Lennox Maximilian was much harder. In fact, I didn’t agree to Lennox Maximilian until Saturday, January 5…the day Lennox died. I feel stupidly guilty for putting up resistance to giving him a name sooner. Maybe someday I’ll write about how we picked those names.
Time has taken on a strange aspect now. It seems like years ago that I got that wonderful call from the nurse, but it also seems like it was just yesterday. I can’t believe it’s been sixteen weeks since they were born. I can’t stand that it’s been thirteen weeks since I last held my Sweet Zoë. I was supposed to be bringing them home today. How did it all go so wrong?