This month’s inspiring mom is a guest post from Tiffany Williams. She has a such a phenomenal story of heartbreak, strength, perseverance and most importantly triumph. It is my pleasure to introduce you to this truly inspiring mom.
When Ken and I met it felt like perfect timing. I had already finished getting my master’s degree in theatre arts and Ken had a very successful career in technology sales. Life was grand.
Our favorite dates were spent eating out at fancy restaurants, traveling to fun locations, going to concerts, or just riding around in Ken’s BMW.
After tying the knot the next logical step for us seemed to be to start a family. So on our 1 year anniversary we decided to start trying, and I got pregnant right away. Panic set in. I wanted to be a mom in theory but I was really scared. I had a ton of dreams and goals for my life. One of my biggest core values is to live life to the fullest. New experiences, fun, and adventure are high on my priority list. I wanted to travel. Like everywhere. I wanted to star in a movie. I wanted to eat food from every continent. I wanted to salsa dance on Friday nights. I wanted to start a ministry. I wanted to speak to women on large stages. And though I liked kids, I liked them for short periods of time. And I really didn’t love babies. I pretended to. But let’s face it. I hated being spitup on, their piercing cries were deafening, and they couldn’t have a conversation or play a game with me=no fun. But after we lost our first baby to a fairly traumatic miscarriage, it was a like a switch flipped inside of me, and I was desperate to be a mom. I didn’t care about the extra work, the extra weight, the extra responsibilities. I just wanted a baby.
We had our first child, who had severe hearing loss and also some other significant special needs. My world was rocked. Life suddenly got really serious and really hard. A year later, I was pregnant again. My water broke with baby #2 8 weeks early. I spent 2 weeks on bed-rest in the hospital and then my sweet baby was in the NICU for weeks after that.
Life was HARD with two tiny babies, both with differing needs and neither who slept through the night. Then, one day it occurred to me that I ought to think about getting pregnant with our third and final baby soon—so that I wouldn’t be having the baby during the big spring musical I was directing. I thought, “I guess we could get pregnant this month or I’ll have to wait 6 more months.” On a whim, we decided to try to get pregnant that month.
WELL, much to my shock, it worked! I dropped that pee-ridden, positive pregnancy test and ran to look at the calendar. Wait a minute, does this mean…oh no. I am going to have 3 kids in 3 years! Tears streamed down my face. “I am not cut out for that, God,” I cried.
I will never forget looking at that first sonogram during my 12 week doctor’s appt, thinking to myself “3 kids in 3 years? Tiffany, you are going to die.” And then I heard my doctor say two little words that would change my life forever. “IT’S TWINS!”
My head went completely blank and all I could remember was the countless times that I had specifically told God, “whatever you do, please don’t give me twins.”
I was going to have 4 kids in 3 years. ME! The non-baby person. The person who wants to live life to the fullest. The person who slept til 11:40 every Saturday morning. I was going to have 4 little kids. What was God thinking?
Thankfully, I was reminded of a scripture early on in my pregnancy that says “2 are better than 1.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9) I kept telling myself that God must have a plan. This was not a mistake. This was not a setback. This was a promotion. I told myself that until I believed it. And I actually got excited about what was ahead.
My twins pregnancy was straight out of a Stephen King novel. Horrific at best. Everything that could’ve gone wrong did. I will spare you the gory details, but look up “worst case scenario” in the dictionary, and you will find my story. In and out of the hospital 7 different times, trying to keep the babies from coming WAY too early, all kinds of nerve pain and PUPPS and anything else you can imagine. In the end, they came right on time, were healthy as horses, and weighed 7.5 lbs each. Yeah, I got huge. Eight days after I had them, though, I was rushed to the hospital, only to find that I was having heart failure. You heard me right. Congestive heart failure due to pregnancy. It is so rare that it took a few days for my doctors to even figure out what the heck was happening. I will never forget a doctor waking me up to tell me what was happening. I’d finally dozed off 17 straight hours of gasping for every breath. Not sure if I would be able to make it for one more second. The doctor said, “you won’t be able to have any more kids. And let me tell you that the odds aren’t in your favor. 33% of the women who have this don’t make it. 33% of them survive but have major issues—like heart transplants, a pace-maker, or other life-altering changes ahead of them. And 33% of the women will make a full recovery.” “What would it take for me to be one of the lucky 33%?” I asked. “You’ll have to rest your heart for the next 3 months. You will need someone helping you take care of your kids 24/7. You can’t sweep, mop, or lift children.” And the list went on. I smiled and said, “hey doc. Are you going to pay for that?”
We had no family within 2000 miles, but somehow, God provided enough help for us and I made a full recovery. My heart has never been better. God showed up for us in miraculous ways. Friends put together schedules and people would show up at my door with food, babysitting help, toys for the kids. I had several God-dreams that kept me encouraged. I even had an experience (during the worst part of the heart failure) where I went to heaven and heard heavenly music. It was 4-D. It breathed and was full of color. I have never seen or heard anything like it. God proved to me over and over that he was very real and he wasn’t going to let me down.
But then the real work began. Raising 4 tiny kids. There was a time about a year into it that I literally collapsed and said, “I cannot do this for one more day. I have absolutely no more grace to be a stay at home mom of 4 tiny kids. One with significant special needs, another who is a freaking genius, and two twin babies.” People like to say stupid things like “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” but I just don’t think that’s true. There are lots of times in life where we’re confronted with more than we can humanly handle. But hey, that’s where God comes in. He says “my power is made perfect in weakness.”
In this time when I was so incredibly stretched beyond anything I could rationally do, I learned to rely on God like I’d never relied on him before. And he never let me down. He turned up again and again. In the midst of that time, I didn’t feel victorious. But looking back, I can’t believe what all I was able to accomplish. We traveled! Not often and it was mostly horrifically stressful, but we did it! I started my own successful business! I wrote a blog, I made new friends, I took my kids to playgroups. I SURVIVED! There were tons of stuff I didn’t do well, too. I always had mountains of laundry in our guest room, I never really cooked dinner. I wasn’t able to work out like I used to. Or ever. And I was far too addicted to caffeine. But I also learned to let go of the ridiculous standard I’d managed to set for myself and just do my best each day. At the end of the day, my best was enough.
The thing that really surprised me is that as hard as that season was, it was just that—a season. It didn’t last forever. It left almost as quickly as it came. This year, my 4 kids are all in school full-time for the first time ever. I blinked and suddenly, I went from changing 4 kids’ diapers every day to having 6 glorious me-filled hours every day to do all kinds of adventuring. My latest triumph is I’m attempting to eat at all of the restaurants that I’ve wanted to try for years but couldn’t because they didn’t have a drive through (and you know I was NOT going to drag 4 little kids into pretty much any restaurant. Too stressful!). So far, I’ve tried 12 of them!
You know how it feels when your hand goes numb but then the feeling slowly returns? That’s kind of how I’m feeling these days. Creativity, innovation, and space to dream are slowly returning to me. And then I’m oh so happy to see my kids’ faces when I pick them up every day at 1:55.
Another thing that people say that used to make me mad is this, “enjoy every moment while your babies are little. It goes by too fast.” I usually wanted to throw a poopy diaper into the person’s face. I think a better way to say it is this, “each season is complete with something to celebrate and something to grieve.” As we enter motherhood, we are excited to get to know our baby! We are so blissfully blessed at the privilege of being a mom. But at the same time, we are grieving the loss of our former self. Our freedom. Our abilities. The relationship we had with our husbands. It’s a lot of change, and that’s hard. It is true that it is important to enjoy every moment. We MUST find something to enjoy every day, even the ones that end in tears, or we will regret it. But at the same time, we must also recognize what it is that we’re grieving and give that attention too. Or else we will become bitter and we can even take it out on our kids! But the trick is to spend more time enjoying than grieving. Because seasons always change. They go so fast. And they can be so good.