Some people know what they want to be when they grow up from a very young age. For me, I knew that no matter what I did for a living, I was definitely put on the Earth to be a mom.
Having grown up the youngest of three kids and the only girl, I had my fair share of being ‘the baby.’ My oldest brother, Korbin, was born a year after my parents married. Fourteen months later, came my second brother, Lane. My mom later admitted that she desperately hoped Lane was a girl since they originally only wanted two kids (I never miss an opportunity to remind him of this). Needless to say, they were clearly surprised when a bouncing blonde haired, blue-eyed baby girl came along 4 years later! They named me Rowen Quinn (Rowen after my dad’s Grandma), but they’ve always called me by my middle name ‘Quinn’.
My dad, Dalton Vaughn, was a professor at a community college a few towns over. And my mom was a receptionist at a law firm just a few miles from our house. She quit her job once I was born and stayed home until I started school. After that, she worked part-time at a hotel near the entrance to the highway in our town. We were what you would call the ‘typical’ family. We went on family vacations every year. We attended church together on all the important holidays. We thought our parents had the perfect marriage. So it was especially devastating when they sat us down and told us they were getting a divorce when I was just 7 years old. We were completely blind-sided and confused. In the chaos of it all, my brothers decided they wanted to live with my dad. Of course, I wanted to stay with my mom. So we all spent a good part of our childhoods going back and forth on weekends and holidays. It put a huge strain on my relationship with my dad and brothers. Neither of my parents ever remarried, but they both had several unsuccessful relationships; which was hard to deal with during my most impressionable years.
As soon as I turned 13, I began to put all my spare time into babysitting kids in our neighborhood. I was able to save up quite a bit of money. I found that spending time cuddling little ones was a nice distraction for everything else going on in my life. I couldn’t wait until one day I could have one to call my own. The babysitting, however, became more of a hobby my sophomore year of high school when I met a popular, good-looking, red-headed junior by the name of Bryce Carter. He had transferred from another local school and worked at the library in town, where I spent many free nights getting lost in the horror novels that I loved to read. We were inseparable from that moment on. Things got serious pretty quickly, and the summer after I graduated high school, he surprised me by getting down on one knee in front of my whole family and proposing!
We married in a small, but beautiful ceremony at The Langville Banquet Center, just outside of town, in February of the following year. Naturally, I wanted to start our family right away…but I knew we needed to finish college and get a decent job first. Bryce was already in his 3rd year of school for Physical Therapy through our town’s hospital campus when we got married, so he was finished the following spring and was offered a job right away with the hospital. I had just been accepted into a local college for Business Finance. In the meantime, I was applying for jobs at different banks, just to get my foot in the door. I couldn’t believe my luck when the bank across town called me for an interview to be their Personal Banking Associate-in-training! Because it was such a great opportunity, and they were willing to train and certify me with classes of their own, I couldn’t turn it down. I immediately withdrew from the college I had been accepted to. Things were going so great for us, that we decided maybe it was time to start adding to our family!
Unfortunately for us, after a long and frustrating year of trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, my doctor felt it necessary to run some tests. I was heartbroken to learn that I had a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and my doctor wasn’t sure if I could even carry children. We explored our options, and decided to give fertility treatments a try. We even tried several rounds of treatments with no luck. I had just about given up hope, when we were surprised by two little pink lines on a pregnancy test just before New Year’s!
We were so overjoyed, that we told everyone right away! I started buying all kinds of pregnancy reading materials, and watching closely to what I ate and did. About a month later, however, our joy turned to sorrow as I lost the pregnancy for unknown reasons. What’s worse, is I was let go from my job that same month due to budget cuts in the company. I felt myself slipping into a deep depression and thought that my dreams of motherhood were over. Thank goodness for Bryce, who constantly reminded me that he would always love me no matter what, and he never let me give up on our dreams of having a family. We agreed to give treatments one last try before our doctor suggested we move onto IVF; which we knew we couldn’t afford.
I remember vividly counting down the days until I could take a pregnancy test again. They were the most anxious, nerve-wracking few weeks of my life. To add to the pressure, it was coming up on our 3rd anniversary. I really wanted this to happen for both of us. Pacing the bathroom and staring down at that blinking digital stick, I kept trying not to get my hopes up and telling myself that it would be ok no matter what the outcome.
When I came out of the bathroom holding the test and Bryce saw the sad expression on my face, he immediately reached out to console me and started to tell me yet again how he loved me no matter what. I handed him the test and watched his expression turn to disbelief when he glanced down and saw the word P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T in bold letters! We cried tears of cautious joy and decided that we would keep the news to ourselves this time until I was far enough along to know that the pregnancy was viable.
The weeks until the first ultrasound seemed to DRAG on for what felt like an eternity! When the moment of truth arrived, we went through the familiar process of saying a quick prayer as we stared at the monitor and hoped for good news. And the doctor went through the pain-staking ritual of pointing out everything we were seeing. In my head I was thinking, “C’mon already…Get to the good part, would you?!” Finally, about five minutes into the ultrasound, we heard the words we had waited 3 long years to hear: “And there are the nice, strong heartbeats! Everything looks perfect!” We were so overcome with relief, that at first we didn’t hear exactly what he had said. “Wait, WHAT?! Did you just say HEARTBEATS?!” I practically yelled. He grinned at our stunned expressions and said, “Congratulations…You’re having twins!” To say we were shocked was a complete understatement. I was beside myself with joy, relief, anxiety, panic and every other emotion that goes along with first time motherhood…times two!
The first trimester went easier than I had expected. I didn’t have any nausea and I had very little weight gain. Our friends and family thought we were joking when we told them we were expecting twins because of how easy the first few months had been on me.
The next few months, however, were a totally different story. I couldn’t even think about food without wanting to get sick, yet somehow I was managing to gain anywhere from 1-3 pounds a week. My back hurt. My feet swelled. And I couldn’t sleep for more than three hours at a time without having to get up to pee! Because they were twins conceived by fertility treatments, we were having doctor visits every two weeks. It was a pain, but it was also a relief because we were getting more frequent updates and peeks at the babies. Another upside came at my 16 week visit, when the babies just so happened to be in the perfect position to be able to tell that Baby A was actually a GIRL and Baby B was a little BOY! We were so excited! This was the best possible outcome we could have asked for, since we knew another pregnancy was not in the cards for us.
Once we knew what we were having, it was time to prepare. There were so many things we needed that we had absolutely no clue about! The stress was beginning to take a toll on me; emotionally and physically. Seeing that I needed a break, my Saint-of-a-mother surprised me with a mother/daughter ‘Spa Day’; complete with facials, massages, mani/pedis, and then a relaxing dinner afterward. It was exactly what I needed. We shared some laughs, talked about motherhood, and reminisced about some of our favorite memories from when I was a little girl. She brought up the times when I used to tag along with her to visit one of her psychic advisors many years ago. She recalled one of those visits when the psychic had motioned to me and asked my mom if she was aware that I also had “the gift of sixth sense.” Of course, at the time, I had no idea what that meant. But over the years, people have frequently described me as ‘intuitive’. And I’ve always had a fascination with all things supernatural.
That’s when the idea hit me and blurted out, “Let’s go see a psychic!” My mom chuckled at my outburst, but then realizing I wasn’t kidding she says, “Seriously?”
“Sure, why not? I’ve always wanted to go for myself and maybe she could tell me more about the babies!”
Little did I know, this would be the beginning of a very scary ordeal for me and my family.