As I walked down the long hallway of the school, Grace plopped her hand into mine and started swinging our arms back and forth. She was skipping, and I was shuffling along side her.
"Let's see if Tante is in her classroom today," I said.
I stuck my head inside the door of her classroom, but Tante wasn't there. Grace hopped up and down beside me as she usually does before school. As I backed up to re-enter the hallway, I noticed two figures toward the end of the hallway. I recognized their profiles: Melissa's tall thin figure and Tante's belly was in its telltale form. There was no mistaking her pregnant figure...all out in front. I smiled as Gracie said, "There's Tante!"
Tante responded, "There's my Gracie!"
Melissa said, "Good morning Grace." as she turned around and walked down the hallway toward her classroom.
"I need my hug, Gracie!" Tante added.
As Grace wrapped her arms across Shanna's belly I said, "Big day today."
"Yep. Today's the day."
Later that day, Tante would have her 20 weeks ultrasound, where they would find out the sex of the twins.
"Well Gracie, we better get you into the gym (for her morning before school care)." I instructed. Grace ran off toward the gym, and we exchanged our morning hugs and kisses before I went off to work.
When I left the gym, Tante had gone somewhere else. I was excited for her, but began to focus on getting to work on time.
I had very little sleep the night before, and later that day, left work early. I was home before my girls and Charlie were. I was taking advantage of the quiet and had snuggled into my bed to grab a nap. I had just drifted off when I heard a loud buzzing sound. It startled me awake.
I finally determined it was my cell phone vibrating on top of my jewlery box. I grabbed it, and said "Hello."
"Hi Jen. Where are you? Work?" Tante asked.
"I'm at home. I came home early."
"Oh. Can I come over? I'm only about a block away right now."
"Sure." I responded sleepily and then I hung up the phone. "Gee, she sounded happy. I wonder if the twins are boys or girls."
I came down the stairs to the first floor of my house, and surveyed the gigantic mess which had accumulated over one weekend of me needing to work extra hours. I laughed and thought, "Oh well. She knows us very well."
I peeked out the window of my front door, and saw her silver car pull up. Tante got out and waddled up the front walk. She had a serious look on her face, and it made me nervous instantly. Having been on the receiving end of pregnancy complications twice, my "oh crap" radar went off inside my head. I was hoping I was wrong.
We sat down at the kitchen table, and I immediately asked, "What's up? What's going on?"
Tante sighed deeply, "I have twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome."
There it was...the "oh crap" moment I was hoping wouldn't happen. My dear friend had wanted to be a mother ever since we had shared an apartment as bachelorettes in 1996. She had some odds stacked against her in getting pregnant, and miraculously, it hadn't been an issue for her and her hubby. She was so excited, but very "morning" sick very quickly in the pregnancy. In fact, when she had her first ultrasound, and it revealed two babies, Tante being very sick made a lot of sense. Twins bring on lots and lots of HCG, which amplifies the morning sickness.
"What did Dr. C say? Tell me what he told you."
"My babies could die. I going to a specialist to find out for sure, but Dr. C thinks I'll need surgery to fix this, and then bedrest."
"Oh Tante! I'm so sorry this is happening to you..."
We kept on talking, but from my perspective, Tante was just going through the motions. She was in shock, and nearing tears. I fumbled through my words. I attempted to guide her in taking each day one at a time from that point on. I'm pretty sure she didn't hear much of what I said.
When I was diagnosed with severe preeclampisa, all that I heard was my life was in danger and so was my baby's. It was as if my ability to take in information was dammed off by those words. Nothing else could get in. Nothing. No emotions. No information. Just pure panic. I don't know for sure, but I imagine Tante was replaying "my babies could die" over and over in her head.
As Tante walked out my front door and toward her car, tears pooled in my eyes. I didn't want this for her. Why in the world do bad things happen to good people? Why? I kept wondering and worrying about her and the babies.
Tante has had a whirlwind of a week. She had the appointment with the specialist, who told her that he would need to perform surgery on her placenta. The surgery went well, but it was now a wait to see what happens time frame. So far, both babies are hanging in there. Tante is now on complete bed rest, and those babies, hopefully, will stay inside of her for a long time. God willing.
Most of you don't know Tante, but I ask that you pray for her and her beautiful, still growing baby girls.
Tante was an amazing amount of support and love for our family during both of my pregnancies and NICU stays. She helped keep Charlie sane when my life and my daughters' lives were in danger. Tante's ability to just listen to me during those scary, dark times was like a beacon of light. I only hope I can help her through what may be challenges in the upcoming weeks and months. Our family was dealt several curve balls in the last 5 years. I only hope we can help Tante and her husband to hit this curve ball right out of the park!