As I’ve noticed, storytelling and writing can be healing. That is why, I’ve been asking other mothers to share their stories.
« As we reveal ourselves in story, we become aware of the continuing core of our lives under the fragmented surface of our experience. We become aware of the multifaceted, multichaptered ‘ I ‘ who is the storyteller. We can trace out the paradoxical and even contradictory versions of ourselves that we create for different occasions, different audiences… Most important, as we become aware of ourselves as storytellers, we realize that what we understand and imagine about ourselves is a story. And when we know all this, we can use our stories to heal and make ourselves whole.«
-Susan Wittig Albert
Here’s the touching story of Hana’a a hardworking mother of twins.
Mother-to-Twins: Part I
What I wasn’t expecting when I was expecting
Hi! I’m Hana’a, but my new name is ‘mama’ (1,467 times a day)… courtesy of Karim and Maria – my 3 year old twins. My name however, isn’t the only thing forgone when I decided to become a full-time mom.
To motherhood, I have given up a lot… and it has certainly changed me. My life, my priorities, and my physical abilities are no longer what they once were; and I am humbly thankful despite the exhaustion.
Of the countless blessings I have received, none have required as much maintenance as the two that once filled my belly and have since occupied my mind and my heart.
They announced themselves with a string of ‘horse galloping’ heart beats: the ‘sound of hope’ at every one of the 20-plus ultrasounds I undertook throughout my high-risk pregnancy. All my trimesters were drama-packed and all of them were spent on bed rest for various complications. I suffered every symptom in the book, from nausea and heart burn to leg cramps and eczema…
Remembering a conversation with my late grandpa: ‘My grandchild’, he said complaining about the constraints of old age, ‘I worry every time I leave the house because the slightest activity makes me pant. I worry if I reach someplace and there is a staircase I must climb…. I can’t even eat what I want because I can’t chew properly!’
‘ Me too Grandpa!’, I found myself saying – to all of his complaints. I wasn’t allowed any activity; and by the time my muscles had gone flaccid as a result, getting dressed was enough to start me panting. I worried every time I needed to visit my doctor because the elevators to his 2nd floor clinic weren’t always working due to power cuts in Lebanon. And by that stage, I was suffering from an inflamed jaw joint, so mashed food was in order.
I was literally living the life of an old lady, and it took me considerable energy to accept my family’s help with humility. It was very difficult being that dependant, and I struggled with my pride to accept my temporary disabilities.
The biggest blow however, had little to do with my day-to-day sufferings. The worst was announced at the 20 week morphological scan: My twins had a 37% growth discordance (i.e. growth difference). My daughter was sizably smaller than both her brother and her gestational age requirement. Medically, a growth discordance of more than 20% this early in the pregnancy signaled little survival chance for the smaller twin, and a threat to the surviving one. In English, it meant that I was most likely to deliver a premature baby boy – and a lifeless baby girl.
‘What do you mean if she doesn’t continue?,’ I kept asking the doctor
‘It means if she dies ‘In utero’ she would have to stay in your womb until the birth of her brother – the closer to the 7th month mark the better – so as to allow him a chance of survival’.
Nothing could be done. No medical intervention could fix the situation. No vitamins beyond those I was already taking would be effective. I was ordered to bed rest again, continued progesterone shots, and weekly ultrasound monitoring. It was during that week that our unborn daughter earned her name Maria: meaning ‘a wished for child’ in Hebrew.
Uncertainty is a raging fire… and only prayer kept it at bay. I prayed, and so did countless family members and dear friends. I also cross-stitched and counted baby kicks. More nudges always came from the (left) side where by son had taken position. My left side was also the more swollen and stretched-out side. But despite the odds, and the tiger stripes that never crossed over from the left, my right side continued to flutter.
As time passed, Maria did alright… and her growth – although slow – continued to bring us much needed joy at the weekly milestones. And when both galloping hearts made it into the 7th month, the doctor confessed both his disbelief and relief at the outcome. By then my husband had proposed we name our son Karim: meaning ‘generous’ in Arabic. A distant relative who found out we had picked names for our babies asked me: ‘Karim? Are you naming him after your father-in-law (a common tradition where first born males are named after their grandfathers)?’.
‘No’, I answered (for my father-in-law had a different name). ‘We are naming him after God’.
My children’s birth was scheduled at 36 weeks 2 days (8 months gestation). It was miraculous that all 3 of us had made it that far. By then, Maria’s amniotic sack had totally dried up and Karim seemed large enough to avoid the incubator. I was strapped to the operating table and a large green cloth was stretched vertically across my chest. No wonder some doctors also refer to the operating room as the operating ‘theatre’: The story of my motherhood was about to unfold.
Hana’a B. Ltayf runs a start-up called ‘Craft Dust’, specialized in turning creative craft ideas into professionally designed decorative objects, gifts, and souvenirs. She holds degrees in Architecture, Philosophy, History of Art and Business. Before becoming a mother, she held a career in construction and industrial manufacturing. Married to her best friend, Elie Ltayf, she currently resides in Sharjah with her twins.
Curious to know more about what she does? Kindly visit the following links:
PS: Don’t forget to check her page, she does awesome stuff!