This past year as Christmas came and went, I thought about how our Christmas celebrations have changed over the years, and of the places I have been on Christmas Eve.
As I have said before, if you marry a farmer, you can assume that any forthcoming children will be born primarily during winter months, lest there is a crop to plant or harvest, or hay to get cut and baled before the rain comes.
Our daughter, our oldest child, came to us in early December, and had her first Christmas just days into her life. From her demeanor that first Christmas, it became apparent that holidays weren’t her thing. She told us in no uncertain words … well, in no words … that our focus should be on our own baby, and maybe not so much the one Mary had all those years ago.
Still, we celebrated both amazing babies.
Fast-forward a year and a few months when I found myself in the doctor’s office again on a prenatal visit. It was exciting to give our daughter a sibling – but our doctor had a surprise.
He frowned as he measured me on my second prenatal visit, and I only slightly panicked. After all, I had frowned many times over the years myself taking my measurements.
He said there could be more than one in there. And a July sonogram told just that story.
I remember well the drive home. My husband was silent all the way, imagining the financial impact. I was aghast with much more practical thoughts like, “Sheesh, I have to push two babies out,” and thinking that once again, I was back to being a pregnancy novice.
When we got to my in-laws’ home to pick up our daughter, we gave them the first news of twins. My mother-in-law said very factually what we were all thinking. “Well, I’ll be damned.”
She just laid it right out there. And she said it twice – she was already getting the hang of this twin thing.
Time marched on and after six weeks of total bed rest and two sieges of nauseating labor-stopping medications in as many months, they decided to arrive three weeks early – just four days before Christmas. After a whole day of Houdini-ism, they were taking too long to break out, so the doctors decided to go in after them.
It was ironic to me that the longest day of my life was on the shortest day of the year.
The next day as our two brand new sons were in their isolettes in my room, I remembered sitting on the edge of my bed looking at them, and being aghast again with recurring thoughts such as, “How am I going to take care of two?” I knew already how all-consuming one baby was to care for; now we had two at the same time, plus a two-year old.
A neighbor had earlier sensed my fears as an expectant mother of twins. She told me, “You know honey, one baby takes all of your time. Two aren’t going to take any more of it.”
Somehow, those words really helped, and stuck with me all these years.
That Christmas Eve I found myself alone in a hospital room in a town 45 minutes away from our home, waiting for my husband to arrive.
I was overcome with gratefulness for people who work on Christmas Eve, caring for other people instead of being with their own families.
Luckily, there was room for us at the inn, disguised as a hospital, when time came for us to bring forth our children. And being hog farmers, there truly was a chance that my husband could arrive smelling like a stable on that first Christmas with three children.
We all came home together, healthy, on Christmas Day. Talk about some kind of Christmas rush.
And so – the happiest place I ever was on a Christmas Eve was in an unfamiliar hospital room in a strange town after a long journey, knowing no one, but getting to know our new family members.
It was very Mary-and-Joseph-like. And it was part of the miracle of our Christmas, and the miracle of so many other things.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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