I’m thrilled to share this post with you by my lovely cousin, Ashley Sabins. Last year her world was rocked, but I was blessed to be a bystander to her and her husband’s rock-solid faith and determination. She is now a mostly stay-at-home momma to three beautiful little girls.
On a nature program I saw recently, I learned that a grasshopper and a locust are actually the same creature. A run-of-the-mill grasshopper is a docile, solitary bug. However, when exposed to lots of physical touch, chemical changes cause it to transform into cannibalistic, angry locust. Eventually a hungry swarm amasses, in which every bug is predator and prey. When they can’t eat each other plants will do, so they chase and are chased from field to field and the farmer’s crops fuel their chaotic mob.
Sometimes, there are moments when I feel like I may be starting to change from a grasshopper into a locust, and I hate that. The characteristics that I have tried to bury rise to the surface and I spend much of the day feeling irritated at best.
Their beautiful little hands grab and pull me; they slap and yank, and they smear my forearms with whatever messy stuff they are having for a meal this time. And sometimes I think, “Can everyone just stop touching me?! I feel like I’m about to lose it.”
“Lose it.” I say the words to myself because it helps me put things into perspective. I know I’m not really about to lose it because there were a lot of times last year when I really did almost lost it. I almost lost it all and I remind myself of what that felt like. Real loss is something I haven’t had to deal with yet, but having come so close so many times really changed me.
In July 2014, I was checked into the hospital. At 23 weeks pregnant, my body was preparing to give birth. The chances were slim that either of the two baby girls inside would survive being born so early. A month before, after having a very negative trend in ultrasounds, I had surgery in Philadelphia to correct a problem, twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. It was a life-saving procedure for my babies. Survivability rates had gone from less than 10% to over 90% for each girl. I had counted my blessings and was overwhelmed at God’s goodness. My husband and I had thought the worst was behind us. Our miracle babies had been saved from almost certain death and now my body was posting an eviction notice on our twins’ tiny duplex. I felt betrayed by my own body.
Bed rest and hormones for me, and steroids for the babies, plus intense monitoring for all 3 of us – that is all that could be done. I would stay at the hospital for most of the summer, away from my husband and our 15 month old daughter. Each day I would thank God for keeping my babies in for one more day, and the miracles continued.
On birth day my twins were still almost 3 months early, each weighing just over 2 ½ pounds. They were so small and so pretty, even when they were covered with cords. To take one of them out of their incubator was like trying to hook up a new TV. Every once in a while though, I would stare through their little boxes and notice that there was one less cord. They progressed slowly.
Each twin left the hospital after 97 days with a surgically installed feeding tube that came out of the front of their bellies. To have such perfect little bodies interrupted by plastic tubes seemed tragic. I couldn’t help but think of words like Frankenstein and Borg. It had been the right call, but I felt guilty for having given permission for the surgeries.
After two months at home my baby girls got to have their feeding tubes removed! Our house was no longer filled with words like “milliliters”, “bandages”,” pumps”, and “gauze”. It has been getting better here ever since. The only visible things that remain from the whole ordeal are two lumpy, star-shaped scars, one on Libby and one on Claire. The doctors said cosmetic surgery could remove the scars, but I want to see them. I want to see those scars at every diaper change and every bath so I won’t forget that these babies are here because of miracles. Apparently God wanted 2015 to have a Claire and a Libby so here they are… with me, the recipient of extreme blessing.
Daily life with its intense variety still happens, as scheduled, daily. The pile of arms and legs on the floor has four faces. The first face is two years old and is laughing between repetitions of her word of the day, “bonk” and wears a Steve Urkel grin as if to say “Did I do that?” The second and third faces are nearly identical except that one face currently has a visible tooth and the other does not; they are almost a year old. The fourth face is attached to the body on the bottom of the pile and belongs to me.
Despite the fact that I reached full capacity for physical touch hours ago, and despite the clammy feet that found my pony tail and the sharp elbows that seem to be attacking me, the fourth face is not that of a locust, but of a grasshopper. Remembrance is key and perspective changes everything. This pile was the miracle I was asking for and truly the best-case scenario that, before a year ago, existed only in my daydreams.
I don’t think I will ever be able to say for sure what the exact reasons are that God does things, but I do know for sure that the reason I’m not about to lose it right now is because I almost did lose it… all.