This evening we attended a beautiful Missa Cantata for All Souls’ Day. It was a Requiem Mass celebrated by Fr. Altman.
If you’ve never attended a traditional Requiem Mass, I promise it’s worth whatever sacrifice one needs to make to get there–time, travel, enduring tired children, etc. The prayers alone are striking and heartrending. I’m thinking in particular of the Sequence, or the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath). Tonight, I was struck by verse 14, “Worthless are my prayers and sighing, Yet, good Lord, in grace complying, Rescue me from fires undying.”
For those of you who are interested, I will post a few photos and captions below.
For those of you who are new to this series, click HERE for Baby #1 and HERE for Baby #7. (Yes, I know, these are a little out of order.) Today, I’m writing about Baby #2 and Baby #3, for you see, we unexpectedly had twins, nine years ago. So here we go.
Pregnant with Twins
This was a wild ride. We were so excited to be pregnant again, because we wanted a big family. Our little girl was just one year old, and she would get a new brother or sister before she turned 2!
But this pregnancy was different from my first “dream” pregnancy. I was growing wider and wider faster than the time it takes to blow up a big balloon. Everyone would smugly look at me and say, “Well, this is your second baby. Of course you’ll be a lot bigger.” I knew that, but would insist that, “No, this pregnancy really feels differently. I think I’m having twins.” At this point, most people smiled and laughed at me. But if I said it once, I said it 50 times. “I think I’m having twins!”
And I was right. A week before my scheduled 20-week ultrasound, I began having severe lower abdominal pains, and so I was ushered to the ultrasound room to see if anything was wrong. The technician squeezed that cold gel on and maneuvered her magic wand, as my husband and I gazed at the screen. Hmmm, I thought, there seems to be a lot of arms and legs in there.
Sure enough, twins! We both laughed and laughed, and I felt vindicated. So we celebrated and ate at Taco Johns.
This was also about the time that I began having contractions too, which landed me right in Bed Rest. This was not fun. Thankfully some very kind friends helped watch my daughter, and we also received quite a few meals. But in the meantime, I reread the Lord of the Rings series and listened to Rush Limbaugh on the radio for entertainment. (If you haven’t read the Lord of the Rings, you should. It’s so good. And as for listening to Rush Limbaugh, I can only say that I was desperate. We didn’t have Catholic radio at the time.)
Towards the end of my pregnancy, however, my body had had enough. I began to retain fluid and my blood pressure skyrocketed. I was preeclamptic and made to come back to the hospital the next day at 5am for an induction.
Labor & Delivery
We were excited, nervous, relieved–all of it. What was this going to be like? There was only one thing I knew. It would be drastically different than my first labor and delivery. First of all, I had to be in the operating room, in case of an emergency cesarean section. And secondly, I was given pitocin to start the contractions and an epidural to block any pain. It was wonderful to not feel all that pain! (With my first, I did not have pitocin or an epidural, and it was dreadfully painful.)
As I said, I went in at about 5am and by 10am was ready to push. It all happened so quickly. Boy # 1 was born easily, but whisked out of the room so fast that I didn’t even hear him cry. I was worried, but was not able to ask about him because immediately after he came out, multiple nurses were sharply told by the doctor, “Hold that baby in place! We don’t want him to flip!” The doctor wanted Boy #2 to stay in his head-down position to avoid a c-section, so the nurses firmly held him by pushing down on my lower abdomen.
He did stay in place and was born just minutes later. And I heard him cry, which was a relief. He was alive and healthy! And so was the first one, I would soon find out.
I asked my husband what he remembered about all this, and he said, “I sliced through the doctor’s glove while cutting the first umbilical cord. He wasn’t very happy with me.”
In the end, it was all so very beautiful – a great gift from God. Even though I had to take some kind of terrible magnesium drug for the eclampsia afterwards, I was only so grateful to have three children!
We have a cat named Strider. Yes, he is named after the noble and manly “Strider,” also known as Aragorn, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, which is one of the best books ever written.
Strider’s official territory consists of our 3.5 acres, but he does not heed these human boundaries. He reigns where he rambles.
His humble abode used to be our heated garage, where he had free access to come and go through a swinging pet door. But this is where he got himself into trouble. Lately he’s been entertaining too many neighborhood friends, who do not know the rules of the place. Now it’s not that these friends were too loud and raucous. No, it’s that they began to relieve themselves on our garage steps, thus violating Rule Number 1.
And Rule Number 1 is, use the litter box! Or find a suitable place outside to do your business.
It was my husband who discovered this gross violation of rules, for he leaves the house first in the morning, and of course he got stuck with cleaning it up. Now a man can only handle this effrontery for so long (two times) before something happens. After all, we already have to clean up the bowel movements of 7 children. We are not about to clean up other people’s cats’ feces.
So last weekend, my husband kicked that cat and all his friends out. The swinging pet door was bolted shut. No more heated garage for Strider. Now, he gets to live in this:
Lest you think we’re being too hard on the cat, do take notice of the cord coming out of the back of his hut. We put a heated pad in there. And we took care to place his hut out of the north and west winds. His friends may come visit him all they want now.
If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll heed Rule Number 1 and keep his friends in check, however.