Diary of a Real Mama

One mom's endeavour to become an authentic woman of God

Letting Go of ‘Normal’ and Embracing God’s Best

In my previous post, I shared briefly that my pregnancy experience was nothing like what I had expected and I’m grateful for this opportunity to share a bit more of my story with you. This post has taken me a looooong time to write. I could literally write page after page about how far my experience was from my idea of ‘normal’, but how good God has been through it all. Because I really want you to get that. That God is good. Always. So I’ve tried to condense my story into one that you can read in one sitting.

We found out about 10 weeks into my pregnancy that we were expecting twins. What an emotionally overwhelming moment, when I received that news! I laughed. I cried. I sat in silent awe. Somehow I found my way out to the car where shaking hands dialed the number and a shaking voice exclaimed to my husband, “We’re having TWINS!” How merciful that we could enjoy the excitement of that moment without knowing what all this would mean in the months ahead. As awful as it was to endure weeks on end of 24/7 nausea with accompanying sleepless nights, there were far scarier things to come.

It started with a vague voicemail from my OB’s office notifying us of a follow-up ultrasound appointment just a week after our first full anatomy scan. “To check the growth”, they said. That was all. Is this normal? So we waited. Worried. Prayed. Then we were sitting in the OB’s office and hearing that one twin was smaller than the other and it could be twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), a condition that affects about 15% of identical twin pregnancies. One twin shunts blood to the other, effectively starving himself and overloading his brother. This can be fatal to one or both babies. This isn’t normal. And then we were told it looked like I might also have vasa previa, a condition affecting only 0.05% of pregnancies, where fetal blood vessels run across the cervix and are at risk of rupturing once labour starts and the cervix begins to dilate. If this happened, the baby could quickly lose all his blood and we could lose him. This isn’t normal.

What followed that appointment was some twenty plus trips to Toronto to see a high-risk pregnancy specialist. It was like a 15 week long roller coaster ride, knowing each visit could bring the news that I might need to be admitted to hospital on bed rest, or far worse, that things were not looking good for the babies and the doctor would have to operate in utero, a procedure that afforded only a 65% chance that both babies would survive.

While a full TTTS never developed, at 32 and a half week’s gestation the doctor finally confirmed the existence of vasa previa, and I was admitted to our local hospital on bed rest (this just happened to be on our 3rd wedding anniversary!). The plan was to deliver the babies by C-section at 34 weeks. I needed to be in hospital in the meantime so an emergency C-section could be done if I went into premature labour. To say I was on edge would be a bit of an understatement! After only two days in hospital, it looked like I was starting to dilate. The doctors wanted to hold off on delivery and monitor me closely, but they needed to send me to another hospital because they didn’t have room at the time for both babies in their NICU if the need to deliver did arise.

After a horribly uncomfortable ambulance ride to Sunnybrook Health Science s Centre in Toronto, I was hooked up to a machine to monitor the babies’ heart rates. The next thing we knew the doctor came in and quickly explained that the one baby’s heart rate did not look good, and we were going to meet our babies that night! Then I was being rushed down the hall into the OR and at least half a dozen medical team members descended on me with at least as many simultaneous questions. This was all happening so fast! Is this normal? Then Hudson was born! And then Silas! But I didn’t get to hold or even touch my babies as they were rushed away to receive the emergency medical attention they needed.  This isn’t normal.  And then I couldn’t stop violently shaking and I heard the doctors talking about how high my blood pressure was. And my chest started to feel strangely congested and I heard the doctors asking each other whether they should call the rapid response team. This definitely isn’t normal.  I got a brief glimpse of each of my sweet babes in their isolettes en route to the NICU, but it was more than 24 hours before my condition stabilized enough that I could be wheeled downstairs to stroke baby-soft skin and whisper tear-soaked prayers. Even then, it would be almost four weeks until we could bring our boys home.

This was not the way it was supposed to be. And not fair. Somehow I had the idea that I deserved better than all of this. Even now, I have to resist the notion that because I endured a difficult pregnancy and delivery, I deserve to have an easy time with my newborns. Because it has nothing to do with what I deserve, and everything to do with grace. God knows my weaknesses and because of His grace, He comes into these weak areas in my life and fills me with His power and His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9; Hebrews 4:16).

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” I have been so blessed and encouraged by other women who have openly shared with me their own ‘non-normal’ experiences. My desire is that by sharing with you some of the difficulties of my journey through pregnancy into motherhood, you would be encouraged that God’s hand is upon each of us and that His best for us is always better than our preconceived ideas of normal.

Fourteen weeks have gone by and we are all home and doing well. As I reflect on my experiences, I can clearly see God’s hand of protection over us in so many ways: our OB detected these potential problems at the very early stages; we lived within commuting distance of the one clinic in Canada that could perform corrective surgery if necessary; being admitted to hospital with vasa previa allowed the doctors to detect that Silas was in distress; we ended up in a facility with expert medical personnel who could provide the high level of care we all needed.

Even with these glimpses of grace, I still don’t fully understand why everything happened the way it did. I may never know. But I believe that God knows what is best for me far better than I do (Isaiah 55:9) and that He ultimately intends good to come out of my every circumstance (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). And that is more than enough.


*I know there are many people who have endured much more difficult heartaches than my own and who didn’t come away with a happy ending. Know that my heart breaks for you. I wish I had the answers for your “Why me?” and I wish I could promise you that it will all make sense this side of heaven. My prayer is that you will receive the comfort promised to those who mourn (Matthew 5:4) and that you will know without a doubt that you are never alone (Deuteronomy 31:8). 


Becoming Real

Ahhhh, September.  Blame it on a full 20 years of ‘back-to-school’, but September has always felt more like the beginning of a new year to me than January. A perfect time to reflect, kick some bad habits and establish some good ones, set some goals, try something new. Like blogging. Because if my time spent online recently is any indication, apparently that is what moms do. So here goes this new twin mama on a blogging journey. Thanks for joining me!

Over the past year or so, there have been several occasions where I felt the Lord challenging me to ‘be authentic’. To resist the temptation to hide behind a mask  and actually let people see the real me. Easier said than done, especially in this age of social media. It has occurred to me  how platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram facilitate our ability to portray a false, one-sided, ‘perfect’ life, and how this can negatively influence our expectations, our self-esteem. This really hit close to home in regards to my recent (twin) pregnancy. How many adorable ‘baby bump’ photos have you seen online, where the mom-to-be has her hair and make-up perfectly put together and is wearing the cutest maternity outfits, with status updates documenting all the joys of her week-by-week pregnancy progress? Perhaps it was in part this plethora of images and messages that set me up for such great disappointment in expecting my pregnancy to be a cute, enjoyable experience, with minimum impact on my day-to-day life. Well for those of you who know me at all, that’s certainly not how it all went down.  This got me thinking about whether I am partly to blame for perpetuating these unrealistic expectations. Let’s face it, I wasn’t about to post a selfie of how glamorous my hair was after 5 days of being too sick to even shower. Nor was I going to post a video clip of myself dry-heaving over the side of the bed. Sorry if that’s a bit graphic for you, but that was my reality.

So how exactly am I going to be ‘authentic’ ? That’s something I’m going to have to figure out as I go along. I’m not saying I’m never going to post another photo when I’m having a good hair day or when a new recipe or DIY project has turned out well. But the challenge I’m undertaking is to examine my motives, because more often than not, what motivates me is insecurity; a fear that if people really knew me, they wouldn’t like what they see.  This is something I have wrestled with for a long time, and I have a feeling I am not alone in this, that to some degree this resonates with every woman’s heart. We try so hard to put our best foot forward that we give the false impression that we’ve got it all together. We end up comparing ourselves to each other and wondering where exactly we went wrong and why we don’t measure up. Galatians 6:4 warns against playing the comparison game. When we compare ourselves to others we end up feeling discouraged, discontented. Or heaven forbid if we find ourselves coming out on top, then we’re giving a foothold to pride and arrogance. And I don’t want any of that!

What I want to do is give you a well-rounded picture of who I really am. To admit that I don’t have it all figured out. To admit when I’ve had one of my not-so-good days where I lost my temper or never got out of my pyjamas or had brownies for breakfast (and lunch, and supper). Because we all have days like that. The problem with what we see in social media is that we’re not comparing ourselves to something real. And it’s not helpful to Susie or Jane or Mary if the only thing they see of me are my successes, because heaven knows I have my share of failures too.

So will you join me on this journey of becoming ‘real’ women of God? Of leaving behind the temptation to present only the good, which ultimately leads us to doubt ourselves and secretly resent each other? Of sharing our triumphs and failures as we work out our faith with fear and trembling, and as He who began a good work in us faithfully carries it to completion? It could be scary at times and humbling, no doubt, but oh so very worth it.