From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Twins and More
Blessings from a Hurricane
By Lynel Washington
I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.
~Louisa May Alcott
The year 2005 will forever be embedded in my heart and mind as a year of tragedy and triumph for me. On June 2nd, I joyfully suspected that I was pregnant, and I completed a home pregnancy test before work. Once I read the positive results, I was so blown away that I contacted a friend on her cell phone who was en route to work and asked her to come over to my home right away to confirm the very thing I knew I was seeing. Upon looking at the test, she said, “Yes, you are pregnant!”
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Miraculously, I got an appointment to see my doctor that same day, and he confirmed that I was indeed four weeks pregnant. Somehow, I managed to keep my news to myself for the rest of the day, but when my husband walked in the door after work, I handed him a gift bag. He proceeded to empty the contents — a baby bottle and some baby spoons — and was speechless at first, but when the meaning of these gifts hit him, he instantly began to cry tears of joy. We then called our families to give them the happy news.
Then, the unthinkable happened… on June 29th. I thought that something was wrong with the baby, so I went alone to my doctor’s office for an emergency ultrasound. I remember hearing my doctor question his nurse, “Do you see what I see?” But, mysteriously, his nurse was smiling. My doctor then turned to me and said, “You are not just having one baby. You are having two.”
“Twins? Doctor, you are lying.”
“No, you are having twins.”
“Doc, I am about to faint.”
“Well, faint while you are lying down!” he laughed.
What a way to begin parenthood.
I arrived home with the ultrasound photo of our two-ounce babies and couldn’t wait to share the news with my husband. When I showed the picture to him, he looked at it in shock, but did manage to utter the word, “How?”
My pregnancy progressed beautifully until August 27th when the threat that Hurricane Katrina would hit my hometown of New Orleans became a reality. I was forced to evacuate my home and temporarily move to Baton Rouge, a town I knew nothing about. And as if that wasn’t enough, I had to leave my husband behind because his job required him to stay. After I evacuated with my in-laws, I was certain that the hurricane would dissipate rather quickly so that I could return home. However, that was not the case. Once the hurricane passed, I finally came in contact with my husband, who informed me that his employer had evacuated him and his co-workers to Mobile, Alabama. Furthermore, he told me, the levees had broken, and our home was flooded along with a majority of the New Orleans area. All we had worked for, all of our belongings, all we had started to collect toward parenthood was gone. My husband told me he would join me in Baton Rouge in a couple of days, and we would figure out then what was best for us and our unborn children.
I never went to see my ruined home in person; I only saw the pictures my husband took once he made it into our dirty and mold-infested house. I felt helpless and devastated, and couldn’t say goodbye to the memories that remained. Then reality hit: I would have to adjust to a new “normal,” which would mean being uprooted from the safe haven we had started to build for ourselves and our children. Despite the tragedy, my husband and I were determined to forge ahead in order to build a new life for our babies.
Eventually, I found a new doctor in my adopted city to care for me and my unborn twins, and my husband and I participated in classes to prepare us for their birth. Unfortunately, though I tried to alleviate as much stress as I possibly could, my babies were delivered prematurely during the thirty-fourth week of pregnancy. They weighed only three pounds, seven ounces, and three pounds, fifteen ounces, but they were quite beautiful and healthy. They remained in the hospital for a bit of time in order to gain some weight.
Since the storm, we have moved five times (twice in Baton Rouge and three times back in the New Orleans metro area). At the same time, we have had the enormous task of dealing with insurance companies, contractors, roofers, plumbers, electricians and more in trying to put the pieces of our lives back together.
For the first year and five months of their lives, the twins became acquainted with apartment living and outgrew it rather quickly. But they were content as they didn’t know anything about the day that changed their parents’ plans forever.
Today, two years after the horrible storm that uprooted our family and turned our lives upside-down, I am back in my rebuilt home and loving parenthood. The twins are healthy and strong toddlers, still oblivious to the unusual beginning to their lives.
Reprinted by permission of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC (c) 2010. In order to protect the rights of the copyright holder, no portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent. All rights reserved.