A year of celebrations….

Every New Year, I have a conversation with God about what the year ahead will bring, and He tells me. For the last three years, I’ve not liked what He’s had to say, or what we’ve had to walk through at times, but it has always come to pass, and He has always been GOOD!

This year, as the fireworks exploded in multicoloured blossoms over the jetty at Victor Harbour while I watched from the silent lounge room of a house we had rented with friends for a few days, I asked the question again: What will this coming year be like? While seven adults and eight children slumbered peacefully through this magical moment, I heard him whisper the secret of 2014: It will be a year of congratulations and celebrations. I knew I was up for a promotion at work, so my mind drifted toward the possibility, but it wasn’t just me I saw being congratulated, people were shaking my husband’s hand and smiling….it was intriguing to say the least!

January was a busy month, though nothing special happened apart from the choice Andrew and I made to let go of the idea of having a fourth child. We both grieved the decision, but knew it was the best choice for our family for where we are at, and considering the ages of our boys (now 12, 10 and 7). The thought of going back to nappies and sleepless nights was overwhelming, as was the possibility that, at my age, one baby could easily become two. It was not without many tears that we decided that we’d missed our opportunity and it was time to move on and let go of the little person we had always hoped would fill the empty chair at our table. Just because a decision is the right one, doesn’t mean it’s not painful!

In February I accepted the promotion at work and was lining up my life and my diary to move into more of a leadership position filling in the dates of upcoming meetings all the way to December while booking in interviews with future consultants and taking trainees out with me. There was the terrified buzz at the back of my brain asking me how I was going to juggle mothering my beautiful boys, keeping our marriage strong as well as making a go of my career…but I’ve always been up for a challenge!

The juggling of work and life did lead to problems when I was called in to school to collect my youngest son who had thrown up in the classroom, and then again when I was called back a week later when the same thing happened. Come to think of it, I was feeling fairly unwell myself and because I work with food and was preparing 5 course meals for groups of people up to four times a week, it seemed only responsible to check I didn’t have something I was inadvertently passing on.

I scribbled a note in my diary to book in to see the doctor that week, but I knew the first thing she’d ask me is if I was pregnant…which I wasn’t, and couldn’t be, as we were using birth control. But doctors are all the same, so I thought I’d check my last cycle dates so I could reassure her that it wasn’t an issue…except that the last period I remember having was on New Year’s eve, at Victor Harbour, watching the fireworks. This in itself was not enough to worry about because the two months since then had been very challenging, and it was not uncommon to have a long cycle when I was under stress. I forked out the money for the pregnancy test because it was $5 worth of peace of mind that nothing was happening.

I did the test late that afternoon while the kids unpacked their school bags. There was nothing special about it, no need to tell Andrew…until two pink lines appeared within seconds! I had been so sure the test would be negative! My poor husband got the news at the end of a very frantic text: “I can’t stop shaking! The test is positive.” and the photo of those two pink lines! I hid in my wardrobe shaking like a leaf and in complete shock not sure if I wanted to laugh, cry or do both. Then I realised that I’d just texted life-changing information to my husband without thinking that he might take it worse than me. The phone rang and the rest is a blur really- except I remember asking him to pick up another test as this one could well be faulty- the results never show up that fast! The second test was the same- two pink lines within seconds. It was happening. We were going to have a baby!

The middle part of the story is less exciting- telling my branch manager that I was going to have to pass on the promotion because I wouldn’t be able to put in the hours with a baby on the way, telling friends and family who all had their own opinions about a pregnancy they believed, or doubted, was unexpected and coming to terms with all those fears about sleepless night, the increased risks of pregnancy at my age, and the fact that I had not been preparing my body for a baby (had I been having enough folate? how often had I had alcohol? how could this have happened?). Thankfully the boys were delighted and took to the idea with such enthusiasm it dispelled all our concerns about adding another child to our family. Our youngest started each day with a fresh suggestion for a name for the baby, and the other boys started thinking about what they were and were not prepared to do: burping is ok, nappies are not.

…and then it hit me…morning sickness like I have never experienced before. Within two weeks I was barely able to get up from the couch and spent the better part of every day hunched over a bucket retching- me, who never, ever, throws up! I saw the doctor and went onto daily nausea suppressing medications to enable me to function, but they did little to alleviate the nausea, and nothing to stop the retching, the lightheadedness and the exhaustion! I did my best to fulfil my commitments to my customers, and it was one of these customers- a professor in obstetrics here in Adelaide- who put the pieces together. “If you feel this sick, Arianne, you might be having twins.” I knew I wasn’t, but when he offered to do an impromptu scan at his office the next day in-between his other patients, I thought it might be a little peace of mind. I was sure this sickness was only because of my age, and maybe this time it was a girl and the different hormones were making me sick. Andrew drove me to the office on the 5th March because I was too ill to get there myself…and there they were on the screen: two little jelly beans each in their own amniotic sac, each with a heartbeat.

There are no words to describe the shock we both felt, the feeling of disembodiment and … no words! We were expecting twins. Twins. Two babies. Two. If people disapproved before, what would they say now?! If sleepless nights were a concern before, what were they now? If finances were an issue when we were expecting one, where did that leave us now? What would the boys say to this new development? Thank God we were still in shock and denial, or we may have imploded!

On the way home, we called the one person who would understand-the girlfriend who had called me roughly 7 years earlier to tell me exactly what I was calling to tell her now. She was amazing! Theresa, you are amazing! For the next fifteen minutes, she spoke life, and confidence, and faith, and hope over us before anyone else had a chance to sow a seed of doubt. There would be many people over the next few weeks who thought it was their job to make sure we knew this was going to be  hard- really hard- just in case we had forgotten how to whip up a fear tornado on our own…but Theresa had beaten them to it and spoken such life over us that I still remember her words over and above all the negative comments of others. They are treasures a mother buries deep in her heart! Friends like that are worth their weight in gold (or in Theresa’s case- worth my weight in gold!).

Every step of this journey has been unexpected. Every step has taken us  where our ‘feet would never wander’, to deep water ‘where feet may fail’, but what an adventure! A year of congratulations. A year of celebrations! A year to remember!