My Wild and Precious Life

Catherine and her Children

Submitted by Catherine Arveseth:

Five four and under. Two sets of twins. One big sister. That’s our home.

When our oldest daughter was 19 months old, our twin girls were born. After years of disappointing infertility, the heavens seemed to be cracking open. Thanks to wonderful doctors, new science, and some divine assistance, I felt like the woman in Psalms, “He maketh the barren woman…to be a joyful mother of children” (Psalms 113:9).

Amid all the longed-for joy and delight at our growing family, our first year with twins was blinding, exhausting. We lived away from family, my husband had a demanding job that included working long hours. I weathered many crazy days on my own.

Yet, when the girls were a little over a year old we felt that nudging to try IVF one more time. I didn’t feel ready but we were anticipating a move cross-country and wanted to use our current fertility doctors.

The birth of our girls was scary. An emergency c-section. Both babies required resuscitation. Approaching IVF once more raised some eyebrows. The doctors said they were willing but they would only do a single embryo transfer. We were happy to comply.

It worked! We moved. And at sixteen weeks gestation, I had an ultrasound to assess some bleeding. I was worried something was wrong with the baby. To my astonishment, I saw TWO round heads next to each other on the monitor. You can imagine the shock. Twins!? Again!? This time, however, they were identical. That “single embryo” had split.

What are the chances? 1% with IVF. We were stunned. I laughed and laughed (or I was going to cry!) My husband’s faith-filled response (after asking “What did you just say?”) was, “Of course we can do it again!” So together, we marveled that the heavens had intervened and we embraced this unpredictable gift.

Our twin boys were born one week after our oldest turned four. This picture was taken when they were 3 months old. The look on my face is not an unrealistic portrayal of how I felt.

We have four cribs in the house, four in diapers. Every day I jostle babies, bottles and bedtime routines. I never seem to have enough hands. And sometimes I worry I’m not enough. But despite the mayhem, I am still (some days better than others) “a joyful mother of children.”

Our life is wild but precious. Five remarkable miracles in three pregnancies. Arms full of children when once upon a time we sorrowed over the emptiness. We have a house full of giggles, dress-ups, strewn books, baby food, binkies, and yes, diapers. Basically, we hit the mother lode of love.

The poet, Mary Oliver wrote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

What could be more wild? What could be more precious?


  1. April Perry says

    I whole-heartedly applaud you!  What a wonderful, wonderful story.  And that picture is hilarious (and precious).  Thank you for your excellent writing and your healthy, happy perspective.  We’re happy to have you here on The Power of Moms.

  2. Leslie says

    i loved reading the story that goes along with this photo. children are a precious gift and you have been very blessed.

    i love your attitude and your outlook. i am always so glad when i see that a mother is so grateful for her children.


    thank you.

  3. Anna says

    Catherine, I was checking through our author list to make sure all was well and read this article.  I have seen your photo before on the random site photos and always wanted to know the story behind the picture.  Thank you for sharing your wonderful story!

  4. says

    Oh my goodness! I can relate to half your story. We too struggled with infertility for about four years. After two miscarriages and many unsuccessful attempts at AI, we were thrilled when our first round of IVF resulted in our oldest, also a singleton daughter. Nine months after she was born, we learned that our second IVF attempt had also been successful and, after a check regarding some early bleeding, learned that we were having twins! Three under 18 months was rough. I remember those days just as you describe them – survival mode is the only mode! However, when our twins hit 18 months and we went for another round of IVF, we were shocked that not a single embryo took. Not nearly quite so shocked as we were two cycles later to discover we were pregnant on our own! Our youngest, a singleton boy, was born at 29w3d and underwent several surgeries while in the NICU, finally coming home with a trach. It is crazy busy around here but I love my kids dearly and wouldn’t trade a single day of this hectic busy life for the world! Some days I hate that my house is such a mess; I want to cry as it takes a map and compass to merely navigate one’s way through out living room. But I have to step back and think, I’d much rather live in a messy house full of happy children than a spotless one without children.

    Much love to you and yours! You are an amazing woman!

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