July 19, 2016
Alexa Wilding + West & Lou
I came home from a brutal tour and announced to my husband that I wanted to get pregnant. A month later it happened. But at twelve weeks I lost the baby. The night of Hurricane Sandy I was making broth, and my husband Ian and I each made a wish by pulling apart a wish bone from dinner. Pretty sure that's how we got twins! The day after, I tested positive. I didn't believe it so I made Ian run out and buy five more tests — all of them positive. Come to think of it, I didn't believe I was pregnant until I felt my boys kicking months later. I was bummed that I couldn't just leap for joy, but my heart had been so broken by the miscarriage that I had to take it slow.
I knew something out of the ordinary was up when the morning sickness kicked in. It was two times worse than it had been with my first pregnancy. Spontaneously conceiving identical twins was crazy enough (twins don't run in our families), but then finding out they were boys was next level. I'm a real girls girl, it never occurred to me that I would have boys. "What the hell do you do with boys?" I remember asking the ultrasound technician when she pointed out their flying penises on the screen.
All my friends were having orgasmic births in their bathtubs while listening to Joni Mitchell. But I ended up with an old fashioned OB practice on the Upper East Side and it was the exact sort of care and monitoring I needed to keep me sane. My friend Odile was my doula, and I had known her since middle school. Because she had seen me through all stages of young adulthood, I couldn't bullshit with her. She knew when I wasn't speaking up for myself, or when I didn't know how to ask for something. Plus I laugh like I'm 14 when I'm with her, and I really depended on our stupid sense of humor (and embarrassing 90s Lilith Fair playlists) to get me through it all.
I had an epic baby shower with forty women. It was magical being the guest of honor and having my own games turned on me, in particular the "Everyone go around the room and tell the guest of honor [me] how you know her, why you love her, and what you wish for her" game. So many tears. The shower filled me with so much love and saw me into the brutal last month. The last month of my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, had to take blood three times a day and go on the South Beach Diet. I was starving, cranky and swollen. I wore a support belt, had hit 200 pounds, possibly broke a rib, and had a strange bubble growing on my lip. The boys were so big that I had sized out of everything at Destination Maternity and was basically wearing a sheet, which was convenient because I had to painfully lower myself onto the toilet every fifteen minutes to pee. I couldn't walk more than a block, which I discovered one day when I had to sit down at a bus stop. It felt like they were going to fall out of my vagina. I hailed a cab and rode the two blocks home, crying. I got into bed with Mad Men on my laptop, ate almonds and called my mother. My doctors kept telling me that the babies were going to come early, that there might be complications, that I had to be prepared to go with the flow. So all I had on my birth plan was please no medication and I want to breastfeed.
Despite the doctors warnings, the boys showed no signs of coming out. My cervix was locked. So we set a date for an induction. I did everything I could to go into labor naturally. At one point I was hooked up to the breast pump, making out with my husband, drinking red wine and even attempting to dance to the Bee Gees. When the day came, Ian was more nervous than I was. A little before midnight we hailed a cab I had never been more excited in my whole life.
I labored at the hospital for hours, and by the time the OB arrived, and it was clear something was wrong. In the end, Baby A (West) was stuck around the cord. It never occurred to me that I would have a C section. I agreed to it, but got really scared when all the doctors and nurses huddled in a circle and made me sign things. When they wheeled me in, I looked at my husband and Odile and suddenly it dawned on me that I could die. When we got to the operating room, they put a sheet up so I couldn't see what they were doing, but I knew. I felt like a real failure This was the exact kind of birth that the movie said you shouldn't have and here I was, totally out of control, pumped full of chemicals. I lost my breath when they pushed down on me, and I thought of all the things I had yet to accomplish, the music I would never write, and said to myself, "God, Alexa, are you such an ego maniac, this is what you are thinking of when you're about to meet your children?" Then I heard West's cries and tears welled up in my eyes and I forgot about all of it, and then I heard Lou's cries and I was so overcome with feelings I just wanted to make sure I stayed alive!
I couldn't hold them since I was locked down to the table, but Ian brought them to me one by one while they sewed me up, and I pressed my cheek against their sticky faces. I felt a current run through my body a hundred times more intense than my first kiss. I had to wait forever to hold them, the anesthesia made me shake so hard, and I was furious that my parents got to hold them first! What a mess! But it was more of what was to come. My pregnancy showed me the importance of letting go. I was a real perfectionist, my own worst enemy, and carrying those boys forced me to make friends with myself. That is the beauty of motherhood. You are quite literally forced to surrender, and for me, it was in the surrender that I finally came into focus as a person and an artist. What a romp.