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Her twins were too quick out the womb. But they’ve made it to another happy, healthy and joyous Mother’s Day | COMMENTARY

Tanika Davis and her family.
Tanika Davis and her family.(Baltimore Sun)

Mother’s Day and my sons’ birthday are conjoined twins in our house, and have been since 2010.

Here’s how it all began:

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My aunt and cousins were in town, and to celebrate, my mother planned a seafood feast, complete with my favorite food of all time: lobster. My husband and I couldn't get down to Mom's house in Prince George’s County fast enough. Our boys – our first babies – were due in June, and I was heavy with pregnancy and downright miserable. I couldn't sit for long periods of time or stand without tiring. Climbing stairs was out of the question. And that day, I realized that eating was also a chore. I barely touched my bowl of sweet lobster meat, sprinkled with fresh lemon juice and soaked in melted butter. Anyone who knows me knows this was a sign of severe distress.

I laid on the loveseat in Mom’s family room, testy and uncomfortable. I couldn't wait for that coming Thursday, when I was going back to the doctor for my 35-week checkup, so the perinatologist could tell me if one of the babies was lodged under a rib and the other one stuck in my pelvis, because that’s sure what it felt like.

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My cousin – who had birthed three children by then – watched me toss and turn on the loveseat, and said, "Honey, I hate to tell you, but you're not making it to Thursday." I ignored her.

Tanika Davis's boys when they were newborns.
Tanika Davis's boys when they were newborns.(Baltimore Sun)

I HAD to make it Thursday and to the following Thursday, too. I was determined to make it to 38 weeks, but if not, then 36 weeks gestation was my absolute floor. Anything else would be a failure. I wanted that lobster, but if I had to suffer without it (and without sleep) for two more weeks for my babies’ sakes, then I would do it! Two days later, in the middle of the night, I woke with a start. My water had broken.

As my husband rushed around getting the hospital bag and calling my doctor, I stood in the shower with my head against the wall and cried. I was 34 weeks, 5 days pregnant. I hadn't made it to 38 weeks. I hadn't made it to 36 weeks. I hadn't even made it to 35 weeks! My babies weren't ready; they were too small, too young! The boys weren’t even here yet, and I had already failed them. Later that afternoon, Baby A was born at 4 lbs., 4 oz. His brother followed 90 minutes later at 4 lbs. 10 oz. They stayed in the NICU for two weeks and one week, respectively.

I worried about them fiercely! What would happen to them, having been born so early? Would they struggle? Suffer? I had never prayed so fervently for anything in my life as I did in the days and weeks following their premature birth. I prayed for their protection and that they would eat, breathe and thrive, despite my failure to keep them growing and developing inside me.

This past Monday, those twin preemies turned 10. And everything I wanted for them, so far, has come to be.

Baby B struggles with thinking he’s the boss of everyone, and Baby A suffers from an inability to remember that he’s lactose intolerant (especially when pizza or mac and cheese are on the menu), but there’s no other real suffering or struggles to speak of. Both boys eat – mightily. They are excellent students, well-liked in school, kind, helpful and justice-oriented, creative and hilarious. Baby B can now fit my running shoes. I have long since stopped checking their breathing while they sleep.

Ten years truly blinked by.

This year, Mother’s Day landed the day before their 10th birthday. I sat at the kitchen table (which they’d set) and opened presents and cards they’d handmade for me. The presents said things like “You’re the Best Mom” and “You Inspire Us.”

I looked around at it all and breathed, relieved. Every successive year, the back-to-back staccato of Mother’s Day and the twins’ birthday is a reminder that:

I made those big boys.

They made me a mother.

And every year that they eat and breathe and grow and thrive, is one year more that I haven’t failed them. Yet.

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Tanika Davis is a former Baltimore Sun reporter who works in communications at Constellation. She and her husband have twin 10-year-old sons, an 8-year-old daughter, a perpetually messy house and rapidly appearing gray hairs. She also needs a nap. She can be reached at tanikawhite@gmail.com. Her column appears monthly.

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