This bittersweet story is dedicated to my twin girls: Angelina and Catalina, on their third birthday.
I had been scheduled for a C-Section on March 13th, of 2020.
March 13th, of 2020
March 13th, of 2020
On Friday, March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared a National Emergency concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease Outbreak.
That's right! The same day I was supposed to have the twins - alone.
But God had different plans...
11 days before that date a weird thing happened.. A sudden rash started showing up all over my double pumpkin sized belly. It was like the surface of the moon: rough and bumpy but so red like that of Mars. It was also incredibly painful and itchy. Puppps rash is a rare condition that happens sometimes in boy or twins pregnancy. It is usually treatable or it could be an indicator of more underlying problems, and mine was obviously the later.
My mom came with "Nesha and Zet" or her flour and olive oil recipe to help me with the itching. I was scratching myself so bad that I was bleeding and the worst part was that I couldn't reach many parts of my belly.
I started looking like a huge pumpkin with old flaking paint... and every time I would move, I would shed.. And to make things worse: My blood pressure measured 165/110 which is pretty elevated!
My husband couldn't digest what was happening... I remember him saying: "this is not normal.. she needs to go to the hospital now"..
Going to the hospital at that time was the last thing I wanted to do because during a pandemic it meant that you have to go alone, or with one other person and that person at that time had to be my dad as my husband had to stay behind and take care of my eldest: Julia.
We arrived laughing and joking thinking that they will kick us right out with some allergy medicine..
But boy... that was not the case.
My blood pressure was now measuring 185 at "Triage". They found "protein" in my urine and my platelet count was 13!
13! How ironic - I was supposed to give birth to them on Friday the 13th - I was born on Friday the 13th and now I only got 13 platelets to close up my wound from a C Section.
Let me explain to you why 13 platelets is problematic.
Your platelets are your blood cells responsible for clotting any incision you endure - without platelets you can have a hemorrhage. A normal platelet count in adults ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood. A platelet count of less than 150,000 platelets per microliter is lower than normal.
Mine was 13!
The hospital decided to monitor me overnight.. and keep me under supervision.
That next morning; and on the third of March, a high risk doctor came into my room. He was snapping at me for keeping twins in my body, and because of all the life threatening risks I "put myself in". That morning my platelet count was now 3! and my iron levels were dropping as well...
I am not sure why but I remember having a feeling of bliss...
None of this mattered to me.
I had fully surrendered to God's will. I knew that there was absolutely nothing I could do and that it sounded like things are not going so well... I knew that only God could control the outcome at that point.
I asked the high risk doctor what his recommendation is and he said that my OBGYN should deliver me within five days.
As he left, I called the kitchen and ordered a massive breakfast: an omlette, french toast, orange juice, tea, everything... fruits.. I enjoyed bits and pieces of it all... I have no idea why I was weirdly calm... I felt: if this is gonna be my last week around here, I better enjoy my breakfast!
But it did not last a week.
Right after I finished breakfast, a beautiful Jamaican nurse came in. She looked like an angel, had a calm voice, and just a lot of presence. But little did I know she was not a nurse...
She opened my mouth and checked the inside.. At that moment I realized that she was my anesthesia doctor.
She told me that my OBGYN; Dr. Elena Bitar, had just arrived to the airport and she is coming straight to the hospital. She wants to do the surgery today!
Today I asked?
Well we have to wait at least 7 hours - right? I asked again
I just had a full blown breakfast (and everyone knows you cannot eat before anesthesia)
She said "no! The doctor wants to deliver you NOW - within an hour. We will give you medicine to keep the food down and keep you monitored, then hope for the best!"
Hope for the best?
I turned my face and looked at my dad.
He had dropped his phone down - and I have never seen his face this pale in my life. We both knew, that this is so urgent, they cannot wait anymore.
Then I said: "ok but why are you checking my mouth? Don't you just numb me waist down during a C Section?"
She looked at me in the eyes... held my hand.. and said ma'am: "we have to do general anesthesia - with your blood pressure being so high - we cannot take any extra risks"
Fast forward... They took me immediately to the operation room, and all I remember is them placing the breathing mask on my face and seeing the doctor's face for few seconds... she started disinfecting my belly and got to work right away. I couldn't even say anything to her, I was out of it in no time.
And that day, March 3rd of 2020
The twins were born: Angelina and Catalina
They were so beautiful, healthy, weighed 13.5 lbs combined! Everyone took pictures with them, the doctor, my parents, even myself..
But I cannot remember any of it.
That day was wiped out of my brain.
Besides the anesthesia and because of the emerging symptoms of pre eclampsia, I was put on Magnesium Sulfate. It causes confusion, muscle weakness, and in my case memory loss (that could be trauma related as well...)
I just remember that everything looked like an old TV screen with horizontal lines - it was blurry and I was in and out. I do not remember holding my kids in my arms (even though I have pictures of me doing so).. I don't remember their first shower; eventhough my parents say that I was watching them and laughing with them.. I don't remember any of it.
Few days forward...
I am still at the hospital, breastfeeding twins, can barely get up because of the incision and needed three blood transfusions at this point because my iron was so low.
My face looked as white as the wall.
I remember laying down and looking through the recovery room window... the light was shining on my babies face and I noticed a cup...
A cup with a balloon that said: it is a girl!
I told my mom "it was so nice of Em Khaled (my sweet neighbor) to come to the hospital and bring me this cute gift... my mom replied "but you were sleeping.. how do you remember?"
Then I remembered that I saw Em Khaled walking in to the "post operation room" and my parents sitting, with the cup in her hand.. But I saw them: from above!
I was looking at this scene that I can never forget in my life... and they were under me... and I could even see myself lying in bed.
I have no idea wether this was an out of body experience, a return from the world of the dead, a hallucination due to Magnesium Sulfate or what...
But I know for sure...
that at that moment I realized.
I was so close. And God has saved me and kept me for my babies..
Besides the heros in this story: my husband, my intelligent and fast acting doctor, the nurses that took care of me after, I really believe that with the birth of the twins a miracle happened that gave me life after all of my health was stripped away from me.
I was not able to leave the hospital until March tenth and then the shutdown happened on the 13th.
Despite the difficulty of the situation, I always thank God for having them a bit earlier than planned because this whole story would have been way harder had I had to carry all of this alone as many women did during the pandemic.
A year after I had the twins, I opened Maraseel, on the same day I left the hospital: March tenth, and a new life was meant for me.
If it weren't for Angelina and Catalina; I would have never started a business...
I would have never found my individual identity...
I would have continued to love everyone else before I love myself...
I would have never been as close to God as I am today...
I would have never lived as fully.
Motherhood - on that day - took everything away from me - my physical and a lot of mental health - my teaching job - my old me.
Motherhood took everything away from me.
And through their unconditional love.. the twins gave me everything back.
To my heart and soul: Angelina and Catalina
I hope our story does not upset you... I want you to know that along with Julia, you are the BEST thing that ever happened to me. And that I would do it ALL OVER AGAIN knowing the consequences I know today - and knowing that one of it is having you.
I would do it all over again even if it meant that I keep hovering above you instead of living with you...
I would do it all over again because nothing has ever given me the kind of life you have made possible for me through your presence and continue to do so.
I cannot wait to celebrate your birthday in exactly one hour from now at 2:02 and 2:03 the times you were born, and cannot wait to celebrate the rest of my life with you.
I love you,
Pictured above of Angelina and Catalina hugging before going to school last week.