Memory Do Over

I am obsessed with photographs.  Yes, I love taking pictures but really, where my passion sits is looking at them.  When I go home to my parents house within the hour I will be lying on my childhood bed, on my stomach flipping through old photo albums.  Photo albums with pictures that my dad took of me as an infant and child as well as books and boxes of pictures that I took through high school, college and beyond.  I am fascinated with comparing what I looked like at five to what Hannah looks like today.  I love the nostalgia that each picture from my younger years brings. I love remembering the magazine editorial that inspired my outfit.  Remembering what made me fall for that guy with his arm around me (what was his name anyway?).  Remembering who I’m looking at over the picture taker’s head.  I love putting myself back on that field hockey team, remembering the thrill of playing on that field.  I love recalling the bonds I had with my high school friends and blushing just recalling some of the embarrassing things we did.  I could spend HOURS at a time going through these photographs.  Just remembering.

And normally, the picture reminds me of how I FELT when that photo was taken.  I recall the reason for the big smile.  What happened to make me look worried.  The love that I thought I felt.  That’s what pictures are for.  To bring you back.  Help you relive that moment.  And feel the same way. Even if, for just a moment.

Rarely do you pick up a picture and when you look at it, you have a completely different feeling than you had when the picture was taken.

Rewind to September 6, 2007.  It was my first visit to the Reproductive Endocrinologist’s (aka Fertility specialist) office after my pregnancy blood test came back positive.  I should have been thrilled.  Jumping for joy.  Giddy beyond belief.  But I wasn’t.  I was scared. Worried. Cynical even.  Because this was my fifth positive result I had gotten in my 18 months of trying to become pregnant with my second baby.  The first three ended in miscarriage at 8 weeks.  The last ended up an ectopic pregnancy also resulting in “not pregnant”.  So I was reserving my excitement for AFTER this doctor’s visit.  The visit where I’d hear a heart beat.  The visit where the doctor would say, “Take a deep breath Becca.  This one is real.”

Tim and I walked hand in hand into the RE’s penthouse office in midtown Manhattan.  We weren’t speaking.  Tim knew I didn’t want to talk.  When I’m worried I like, no I NEED, quiet.  My hand in his was the only communication I could bare.  We were called into the small, brightly lit office where I disrobed and lay cold on the chair, legs in the stirrups, ready for the drill I had come all too familiar with.  The doctor came in and said, “OK, you ready?”

“Mmm Hmm”, I meekly responded and held my breath as he performed the internal ultrasound. All I could think as I lay with my eyes closed for a moment was, “Please let this have worked.  Please let the hundreds of fertility drug injections, bruises from the needles, IVF procedures and emotional roller coasters have been WORTH it.”

I turned to look at the screen. Knowing what I Should see if things were going according to “plan”.  I saw this:

Two.

Double.

Twins.

I looked at Tim who was glancing with his head cocked to the side at the screen.

“Is that what I think it is?”, Tim asked.

“Yes, you’ve got two there!” the doctor excitedly told us.

“Oh. My. God.” I said.  I was nauseous. I was supposed to be Ecstatic.  But I felt sick.  THIS was not the plan!  Two?  Twins? How the fuck was I going to do that? What about Hannah? How would I be able to give HER any attention with TWINS to look after?  Where would they sleep?  What kind of car would I need? Twins? Fuck.

Tim was so excited.  And I put on a good face.  Of course “happy” that it worked out and that it looked like I was going to have a baby but… I walked out of the office, clutching that picture in my hand, holding back the tears.  Shaking. Trying to make sense of it all.  Imagining what my life was going to be like.

I spent three more weeks in this numb state, trying to fit Twins into my brain.  And wondering how they’d fit into my life. How I’d EVER make it work. And then, at 8 weeks I was told that one of them didn’t make it.  It wasn’t as strong.  Wasn’t as healthy. Wasn’t growing at the right speed.  Was gone.

And, shamefully, I was relieved. I could focus again. I could imagine how this would work. Things were NOW going according to “plan”.  I could breathe. I’m embarrassed to admit all of this, but I needed to be able to picture “manageable” and twins didn’t fit that picture.  Surprisingly, I was the one consoling Tim.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I found this picture.  This picture of my Twins. This picture of not one miracle but two. This picture of what could have been.  This picture of Luke’s twin, maybe his best friend, maybe his missing piece.  I wonder if it’s a girl or a boy.  If it would have looked like Luke or more like me and Hannah. I wonder if it also would have loved dancing and blueberries.  If it also would have been slow speaking but as fast as lightning. I wonder. And I got choked up. I grasped the picture in that same fist I had on that beautiful September day in 2007, and this time, felt a totally different kind of sadness.

Over the span of two and a half year, this picture completely changed in meaning for me.  This memory means something totally different than it had. I fought sadness when it was taken because I was petrified and unhappy with how what I saw would turn my world upside down.  And yesterday, I felt tears well up because of how wonderful I believe life would have been had that twin lived. My memory of how I felt when that picture was taken did not match it’s meaning today.  And that is an odd feeling.  A surprising feeling. One that I’m not used to feeling as I flip through old pictures.

I like to reminisce with fondness.  Fondness that I looked happy.  Or fondness that I got over whatever made me look unhappy.  I don’t like to be disappointed by memories.  So, this memory, I’d like to do over.  I’d like to pretend I was overjoyed on September 6, 2007.  Overcome with emotion that not one but TWO babies were to be mine. And I’d like to now admit my sadness, not relief, that one did not make it and say it would have been wonderful.  We would have been happy…

Maybe not sane. But happy.

This has been part three of Five For Ten with Momalom.  The topic for this “installment” is Memory.  Please click on over to Momalom to read the other wonderful posts.

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54 Comments

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54 responses to “Memory Do Over

  1. I was always scared of the thought of having twins. One baby is hard enough! So I understand your reaction to that news.
    Having twin pregnancies and then losing one baby runs in my family, although it didn’t happen to me. I’m sure it’s a mixed feeling.
    xoxo

    • I never even let myself think about twins which is odd considering I did IVF. I just didn’t expect it and discounted the possibility. I didn’t know it was something that was hereditary – losing a twin. I’m glad you didn’t have to experience it! Thank you!

  2. Becca, this is so honest and so lovely.

    I never wanted twins, either…it just seemed completely overwhelming. I’m glad you don’t beat yourself up over the way you felt then–I think it’s a completely understandable emotion.

  3. Becca, if the same thing happened to me today, I would feel EXACTLY the same. Where you were then and where you are now are too completely different places for so many reasons. So you can’t beat yourself up today for what was then. It wouldn’t be fair.

    Your reaction was entirely normal. I also think mourning it now is completely normal. You were coping with so much, wow! I can’t even imagine how much emotion was all wrapped up into that moment.

    Thank you for sharing this story.

    • I don’t know Christine. Somehow I think if the same thing happened to you, and most people, they’d be thrilled. They’d feel blessed. They’d accept it as what was meant for them. I however, did not. I wallowed in the fear of what would become of my “life”. I wish I could do it all over. But I can’t… and so now I must accept that. And this helped me. To have closure, and move on.

      Thank you. xo

  4. Thank you for your honesty. I think anyone who finds out they are having twins would feel the exact same way. Heck, I was only having one and I felt the same way! But things have a way of working out 🙂

    • Thank you Alisha. I’m actually surprised to find that all of my commenters are saying they’d feel the same. Maybe you’re all just being nice! 🙂 I just think if it were to happen to me again, I’d feel differently. Scared, but excited and so so blessed. But I can’t imagine my world any other way now… so I guess things did have a way of working out.

  5. Becca – thank you for this. This post encompasses all of the topics we have explored in Five for Ten.

    There’s courage – in writing this post (I’m still not ready to talk about my experience). In your attempts for a baby despite the heartache.

    There’s happiness – in finally being able to have your baby. In being a family of four, even if it was supposed to be five.

    There’s memory – of the 5th member that could’ve been part of your family. But you said you always miscarried at 8 weeks, and I know it’s hard to hear this but perhaps that was the 8-week sacrifice needed to appease whatever it was that took those others away. And because of that, you’re able to have a healthy baby Luke.

    And your beautiful, happy family of four.

    • Thank you so much Justine. This meant so much to me. Really. It was really cathartic for me to write this. I feel like I can accept all of my feelings now and not feel the guilt I felt the other day when I found that picture. And I do feel lucky. REALLY lucky that I was able to have Luke. I can’t imagine life without him… him alone, was a miracle. xoxo

  6. Becca, you should not be writing things to make me cry first thing in the morning!!! 🙂
    This was so beautiful, and raw, and painfully honest. Thank you.
    (and I love looking back and remembering the feelings of the day also, I spent a good deal of time doing that at my parents house last week!)

    • Thank you Corinne. I’m glad I have friends out there like you to listen to this. And understand. And not judge. I’d be lost without having this place for these words. xo

  7. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. It’s so very honest! I don’t know what I would have felt like if the doctor had told me I was having twins…but I imagine I’d have been about as nervous as you were. And I think that we can all agree to let you have your memory do-over. What a fine thought! I could use a few of those myself.

    • Yes, I think we should be allowed a few memory do-overs in our lives. Like a free pass to move ahead without regret…

      I think being nervous with the news of twins is normal. I think a woman would be crazy NOT to be nervous. But I was beyond nervous. I was angry. And scared. And bitter. And unwilling to see the positive side. The bright side that my dream was coming true times two. And for that, I feel so sad. And THAT is what I would do over.

      Thank you!

  8. What a beautiful and honest post. I think sometimes situations overwhelm us and fear clouds our true feelings…only in revisiting the memory later, the emotions come flooding back.

    • You’re right suzicate. I was floored with the emotions that came flooding back to me the other day. Shocked. I just didn’t expect such sadness to smack me like it did. But now, I feel so much better, now that my true emotions have come to light. And now, I can move on.

  9. The thought of more than one at a time is overwhelming, to say the least. I know that I was always worried they would find more than 1 baby at my ultrasounds. I still have no idea how parents with multiples do it.

    Beautiful, strong post.

    • I don’t know how they do it either! Especially twins after already having one. When twins come first I can see parents just not knowing any other way, but after already having one? Forget it. I applaud parents of multiples!

  10. Wow, Becca. What an honest, beautiful, meaningful post. I need to stop reading blogs at work because I am all teary now!
    I echo what Christine says… having that reaction then, but mourning the loss now is completely normal.
    Thanks so much for sharing. It was such an emotional post that really meant a lot to me.

    • Thank you Shannon. I’m actually glad that I found this picture now so that I could be in touch with my true feelings. I hadn’t allowed myself to go back to that time. Had barely thought of it since Luke was born. And now I can move on… and truly appreciate my little miracle all on his own.

  11. It couldn’t have been easy to speak so honestly about the emotions you felt after that ultrasound. It’s amazing how much we judge ourselves and deny the validity of what we feel before we’re even done feeling it. I’m glad you were able to write this.

    • Thank you CT. No, it wasn’t easy to write this but I am so glad that I did. I feel so much better reading how many others would feel the same. And I didn’t even realize that I was still “feeling” any emotions about that time… not until I picked up this picture and it all came flooding back to me. It was a very strange feeling..

  12. Oh, Becca. What a painful journey. The relief and now the heartache. A memory that has become more than a memory: A thought, an expectation, and coming to terms with all of that.

    Thinking of you.

    xxoo

    • Thank you Amber. It really was odd to have such a flip in emotions about the same thing. And now I have come to terms with it all and feel so much better. And I can mourn what never was while enjoying what IS – my little miracle Luke.

  13. Eva

    Oh, wow. What courage you and your husband had, and what courage you had to share this story with us. I can only imagine the emotions you felt. Sending you a hug today…

    • Thank you Eva. All of this “love” I’m feeling from all of these comments is unreal. I am so lucky to have this place with these friends to make me not feel alone in any of it!

  14. I’m crying right now, just blown away by your honesty here and your bravery in sharing what could not have been easy to share. Really, I don’t have words. So impressed by you.

    xoxo

    • Thank you Kristen. As I said earlier, if it weren’t for the friends I’ve found here, I would NEVER have been able to say all of this. So THANK YOU!

  15. What gorgeous writing. Sometimes you know what your memories of a certain occasion are going to be (wedding=happy day, hopefully, etc.), so to catch your breathe and realize, later, that the emotions surrounding a memory have shifting must be jarring? Unsettling? Sad? As usual, you have given me something to ponder further. Thank you for sharing this story and the photo–I mean, wow.

    • Thank you Kathryn. Yes, jarring. That is exactly what it was. I never expected to feel the way I did when i found this picture. Never. But now, I feel so much better. And I can move forward. Appreciating that I feel sad to have lost something that would have been wonderful, but so happy to have what I do.

  16. Oh boy. This post made me tear up real good, my friend. Thank you for writing this, thank you for your honesty and for this emotional post. So well written.

  17. What a heartfelt, open and honestly written piece. I can only stand and applaud you for writing it.

  18. Wow. I would have felt the same way as you, and now, I’d probably also feel the same way as you. Thanks for this honest post!

  19. So, Becca. You really got me in the post. For many reasons.

    I remember going to see my infertility doctor after an ectopic pregnancy. I remember waiting WAITING. Waiting to see if I ever would be a mother.

    I understand your relief and your sadness. Oh my, now that you have your beautiful son, I can understand your wanting a do-over. But, in some strange way, this is what was meant to be. Don’t regret your feelings. Those are natural. I would have freaked out. My husband and my mother are both twins. But its ok to feel sad, or mourn what could have been.

    And I know I like to think that Luke has an angel looking after him forever.

    • Oh boy Terry. You got me with the angel… what a beautiful thought and one that i will hold onto forever. I often wonder if I’ll tell Luke that he was supposed to have a twin. I go back and forth as to what that would do for him… something I still need to think about but MY knowing he has someone looking after him? I love that.

  20. I can’t imagine the place you were in: so hopeful yet so afraid. I think it’s a testament to your strength that you are able to allow those feelings now, to talk about them and work through them. Sharing your memory with us is especially brave considering that most would never be able to be this honest even with themselves.

    • Thank you Kelly. I think the only way I was able to admit these feelings was to write them here. I needed to feel them. See them. And appreciate them. And now I do. I feel so much more at peace with my feelings and the fact that Luke is my miracle… all on his own.

  21. Oh, Becca!

    I understand. The overwhelming feeling then, the loss you feel now.

    Having gone through some fertility treatments, I can honestly say I didn’t feel like myself, act like myself, wasn’t myself.

    Your honesty is refreshing and real. You have nothing to feel poorly about, other than you had both good news and bad news that jumbled up.

    Hugs to you friend. You are blessed with two beautiful children and a wonderful husband.

    Thank you for sharing this memory with us!

    • Yes. Yes I am blessed with the family I have. And I would have been even more blessed with that additional child… but now that I’ve written it all down, I see this was what was meant for us and I’m so lucky for that.

      Fertility treatments are horrendous. Everything about them from the physical pain to the emotional rollercoaster. But when the treatments WORK… there’s nothing more amazing in the world.

  22. ck

    I felt the very same way when I found out I was (unexpectedly) pregnant with my third child, all the way down the relief when I miscarried. So I know how much it took to write this. I really admire your bravery and appreciate that you shared it.

    (From time to time my daughter brings up her “sister in heaven” and it makes me sad in a way that it didn’t before. Like you, I know that we would’ve made it and been happy. “Maybe not sane, but happy.”)

    • Thanks ck. It helps so much knowing that I’m not alone. I NEED to hear that others would have felt the same way. So thank you. I haven’t told Hannah or Luke that I was at one point having twins. Maybe I will one day. Maybe not. I’ll have to see what feels right when they’re a it older.

  23. Wow… what a great post. I love your honesty and appreciate the courage you had to share it. It’s so interesting that memories can switch up like that and reactions can change.

    My brother has twins. They were trying for #3 and got #4 at the same time. When the twins were born, their eldest was 3 and her sister, not even 2. It is a lot of work. They had 4 under 4.

    • Thanks Sarah. I can’t imagine being in the place your brother is in now… but I’m sure he has a very happy family. And even though it’s hard now – it will be wonderful later! Like a party every day I’m sure!

  24. Oh, Mama. That’s exactly how I felt when we found out we were having twins. We were trying for #3 and got a little stow-a-way. Turned our world upside-down, that’s for sure.

    But of course we wouldn’t have it any other way now. Everything happens for a reason – I firmly believe that – and I hope that by sharing this memory with us you can feel some grace now.

  25. We had a similar experience. My husband and I went in for our first ultrasound at 5 weeks. I was on the table and they were about to start the scan and my husband said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if it was twins!” The ultrasound tech told us soon after that it was, in fact, twins. But one didn’t have a heartbeat and she guessed it never would. I bled for 3 weeks and worried I’d lose both. We still feel somehow like our family is meant to have twins.

    Thank you for sharing and for your honesty. I’ve been really excited for this opportunity to get to know other bloggers through 5 for 10.

  26. I’m an avid fan of honesty…I think it’s a wonderful trait. This is such an honest post and I really loved it. I’ll be back!

  27. Liz

    This was a really brave post, I think (courage, again, anyone?). When we were pregnant the first time, Hubby kept saying he wanted twins so he could do both at once…he thought it’d be easier. Then we had Ben, learned what it was like with one, and when we were pregnant with Aidan, Hubby prayed it wasn’t twins and told everyone who suggested “Oh, God forbid.” Your reaction, then, was normal, I would think. Your reaction, now, is also normal, I am sure. Love your honesty and raw-ness in this post, Becca.

  28. Gosh, Becca, what a lovely post. I remember sitting in the fertility doctors’ offices (three of them), undergoing procedures, having shots, I remember the disappointment of the miscarriages. But seeing that ultrasound (I always tell my son I fell in love with him as a little white peanut) is pretty breathtaking.

    It just reminds me of how powerless over all that stuff I was, never knowing what was going on inside my own body! Thanks for this beautiful story.

  29. Brave post. The rawness I felt losing one pregnancy was awful, waiting to hear what my blood work meant after they found clots at 8 weeks again… Excruciating. And, I would be scared of twins too!

  30. Jen

    Oh, Becca. I FEEL this as I’m reading it. My doctor thought my first pregnancy might be twins. I honestly didn’t even consider the possibility. And then, when I was told there was only one baby, I still didn’t know what to think. Pregnancy is so emotional. What you went through to conceive I can only imagine ramps up that emotional state to some kind of vibratory every day nervous existence. But we just can’t know. We can’t know what we are capable of until we do it. We can’t know what we want, truly, until maybe it’s take away. We can’t know so much. And so we live and hold on to what we have and don’t dwell on the past. But. Sometimes dwelling is just what we need. And it seems to me that’s where this post just might stem from. And. I love it.

  31. You are such an amazing writer. So much emotion, so much honesty. I’m so glad that five for ten introduced me to your blog.

  32. mummyjanie

    This is such a beautiful and honest post. The idea of twins has always scared the heck out of me.

    I remember watching a documentary on multiple births once and it suggested that twins happened far more frequently than the number of births of twins suggests. That it was not uncommon for one not to survive early on in a pregnancy and that by “not making it” it actually allows for the other baby to survive.

    I wish I could remember the name of this documentary, it also suggested that left handed people may have actually had a twin (if they don’t actually have one). Two fetus opposite each other in utero, one left handed and one right handed. I wish I could remember it …..anyway….I digress.

    This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it.

  33. This must have been hard to write. Admitting something like “I wasn’t totally thrilled” with the news just isn’t acceptable for a married woman, and I’d imagine much less so for a woman undergoing fertility treatments.
    A friend of mine was near tears when she told some of us that she was unexpectedly pregnant with her 3rd. And not good tears though she was trying to not show it. When I and our other friend who was also unexpectedly pregnant with #3 told her that we felt the same way, she got a lot of relief. I hope your story has done the same for others in your position.
    AND I hope that telling it helps you let go of some of the guilt.

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