It's hard to believe it's been nearly five years since Hurricane Katrina unleashed her wrath upon our shores. So much has happened since my days with the American Red Cross. Dan and I bought a house, got a dog and had twins. And yet when something like the earthquake that rocked Haiti happens, the memories come flooding back.
Memories I'd prefer to forget.
Young and a novice in crisis communications, I was deployed to Louisiana in the hours following the hurricane. I was terrified - of the unknown, the danger and feeling doubtful I could be a good spokesperson for the organization I was sent to represent.
After landing in Houston and before driving into Baton Rouge following the storm, I caught glimpses of the devastation on the news. CNN was reporting that chaos and desperation was mounting inside the Superdome, FOX was showing images of people being plucked off their rooftops by the U.S. Coastguard. Images that are eerily similar to the ones I'm seeing coming from Haiti as a result of the earthquake.
I am reminded of those dark days following Katrina - of the haunting, shell-shocked expressions evident on the evacuees faces, of the unpleasant behavior demonstrated by people when faced with desperation.
I am reminded of the tears I shed hearing the stories of families ripped apart by the storm. Of the pets lost. Of the children left homeless. Of the LSU foreign exchange student who came to me for help who was lost and confused...and all I could offer was a bottle of water and a hug.
And yet despite the darkness, despite the horrible circumstances, I am reminded of the gentle hand of humanity. Of the people who volunteered countless hours schlepping cots and blankets, food and water to the survivors. Of the people who donated money to help people get back on their feet. To start over.
And all I could do was try to tell their story. Try to demonstrate for the world that grace and selflessness was evident in times of disaster.
I can't help but feel proud to be a Red Cross "alum" as I watch my Red Cross friends handle the disaster with urgency and dignity...getting help and hope to those who need it most.
I cannot forget. I shouldn't forget. For now, I'll keep those memories tucked away for a day I can share them with my boys. I'll share my experiences with them...the joy and pain of witnessing something so raw and horrific. And yet so wonderful at the same time.
How is it possible my pumpkins turn three today? THREE! Wasn't it just yesterday I was pregnant, battling preeclampsia and in labor (for about the 87th time), being told I could no longer sit up because I'd be sitting on Jonathan's head?! Weren't the boys just starting to eat baby food and learning to crawl? I mean really...I could have sworn they just started saying "Mama" and "Horo." Now they are talking in complete sentences expressing their thoughts, feelings and growing imaginations. Really?! Has it been three years already?
Born four weeks premature, our little twinkies' arrival was such a blessing. Dan will tell you it was one of the worst days of his life because he was so stressed out, but really...it was a beautiful day. We had two healthy little peanuts to complete our family. Jonathan, born one minute before James, weighed 5 lbs, 14 oz and was 19.3 inches long. James was a bit smaller and weighed 5 lbs. 3 oz and was 17.9 inches long. The hospital's NICU doctors met with me prior to their birth to prepare us for the distinct possibility they would need to spend some time in the NICU following their birth. We were pleased that, despite a few complications, the boys were healthy enough to go straight to the regular nursery after birth. The nurses kept them in the same bassinet and often swaddled them together in the same blanket for comfort.
It's hard to fathom our 35 lb., rough-and-tumble boys were once too small to fit into their car seats coming home from the hospital. I can recall feelings of inadequacy as a new mother and a terrifying fear of hurting them when I'd hold and feed them, but it's amazing how quickly those feelings melt into unabashed love and devotion, with a sprinkling of a little more confidence.
Three glorious, crazy, amazing, stressful and blessed years with our little ones. They are growing like weeds and developing faster than I care to even think about. Dan and I still find ourselves asking each other, "How the heck did we end up with twins?!" I have a few theories, but we'll save that one for another day.
Today, we'll celebrate their birthday.
Today, we'll savor the day our sweet little boys made their appearance, making the world a better place and our lives that much sweeter.
Today, I am reminded of all they've accomplished in their three years on earth and how lucky I am that I get to be their mommy.
“You are going to want to sit down for this.”
That’s how we found out we were having twins. The ultrasound tech was running the probe over my already bulging belly at my 7 week appointment when she looked at my husband and gleefully recited those fateful words. We both burst out laughing as we realized we were officially "in" for it! Twins! How the hell would we handle twins?! From that moment on, our lives were changed forever and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Robert Frost once said he lived life twice - once when he experienced it and a second time when he wrote about it. I hope to relive the joys life has to offer through this blog.
Profile photo credit: Cameron Kelly Studios.
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