October 4th, 2002

This morning, DesignHer Mama linked to a post that really struck a nerve with me. Nearly everyone I know in my brick-and-mortar life already knows this story, but I realized that I’ve never shared it here, or at least not with many details.

From the beginning:

In May of 2002, I became pregnant for the first time, after very little “trying”. I was shocked, happy, and so excited I nearly wet myself every time it crossed my mind. David didn’t want to tell anyone for awhile, and I made exactly one (1) day at work before I went home and BEGGED him to let me tell at least the women I worked with. It was all I could think about, and it TORTURED me to not be able to share.
(I’ve never been a very secretive or private person. More of a yelling from the rooftops person.)
We decided to wait tell my family until we saw them on July 4th. In an uncharacteristic fit of creativity, I made up little photo frames for all of them that said “This frame is for a picture of your first grandchild, due to arrive in February of 2003”. I wrapped those bitches up and avoided talking to my mom for fear I’d spill the beans.
I had wanted to be a mother for-EVAH, and had only waited “so long” (about 1 1/2 years) after we got married to get pregnant because I was to be in East Coast Anne’s wedding, located on the, erm, East Coast, and I was to be damned if I would miss it due to a pregnancy slash flying restrictions.
And now here I was: happily married, pregnant, and finally going to be a mama.
Beyond everything else, the thing I was the most excited about was finding out the gender of the baby. I COULD NOT BELIEVE that I was supposed to wait weeks and weeks and weeks (not to mention 10 whole months, back before sonograms were available!) to find out if I was having a son or daughter.
I thought from the beginning it was a girl. Lots of other people did too. In truth, I really WANTED a girl. But more than that, I just wanted to know, goddammit, and NOW.
I expressed this to my doctor, and he suggested waiting a little longer than the routine 20 weeks for the sonogram, because it would be easier and more likely that we’d be able to determine the baby’s gender. I reluctantly agreed, for the only thing worse than waiting an extra week or two was having a sonogram where THEY COULDN’T TELL.
That would have killed me. Or at least, it would have felt like it was killing me.
You can see how much this issue was driving me crazy, can’t you? I wanted to know so badly, that I couldn’t focus on much else.
So, finally, my ultrasound date rolled around. October 4, 2002. I was 23 weeks pregnant, and my tum was just starting to look like “yep, definitely pregnant” instead of “Is she or isn’t she?”
David was with me, and in my mind I was thinking “I’m not leaving here today until they tell me if I am having a boy or a girl.”
So there was the dimly lit room, the cold gel on the stomach, the wand moving around. We saw a head, and the little string-of-pearls spine, and a foot. The tech got quiet for a few minutes, at first explaining she was doing a few measurements. Then she made a few “Mmmm” type noises.
I thought nothing of it, completely willing to be patient with her as long as she reciprocated and TOLD ME BOY OR GIRL.
After a few minutes she said “Oh. You know what we have here…”
And this is where I put the back of my hand over my head (Scarlett O’Hare style), closed my eyes, and thought to myself “This is it. This is the moment I find out if I am having a boy or a girl.”
“We have two babies,” she said, simply.
“What?????????????????” I thought for sure I heard her wrong, or that she was playing a little joke on me.
I really thought that; that it was a joke.
“No, I’m not kidding. See? Here is one little head- Baby A- and here is another little head- Baby B…” She kept talking but I was still processing.
“Are they conjoined??????” I blurted out. I mean, I had just seen that special on Discovery Health, so it was a natural question.
“No, no” she clucked. “See this? There is a membrane separating them. I can’t tell if they are identical or fraternal, but I can say they are two separate sacs.”
At some point I looked up at David, whose face was 17 shades of white, and who had yet to utter much of anything. “But I only want ONE baby!” I said.
Yes, I really said that. Over and over, in fact. I just simply was not planning for two newborns, was in no way prepared for two, and for christsake I was FIVE months pregnant.
I mean, how was I supposed to put my perfectly coiffed and obscenely adorable baby in a sling and be that cute mom- just me and my sweet babe- browsing Target if… if I had TWO babies???
(Answer: there would be few trips to Target, or any where else, for that matter.)
David answered me, gently and lovingly, as I kept insisting that I only wanted ONE baby by saying “It’s a little late now honey. There’s already two in there.” He said this as he gently patted my foot. Pat, pat, pat.
Call him Captain Obvious if you want to, but Boy was barely conscious, much less armed with comebacks for his nearly hysterical-with-disbelief wife.
When we left a little later, a string of blurry photos and a “probably two girls” prediction, we didn’t know what do to with ourselves. We actually sat in our car, in the parking lot, too stunned to move. Our world had completely ground to a halt- every single thing we had pictured about becoming parents had drastically changed in an instant- and we had no idea how to reenter life.
After a long, stunned silence, we both picked up our phones and started calling our families and best friends. To be honest, I was horrified with our news- mad even- but telling people was the fun part.
(Even though we had called our parents a couple years before- on April 1st- and told them we were pregnant with twins [that, friends, is karma kicking us in the ass], my mom said she knew right away that I was not joking this time, due to the horror she could detect in my desperate voice.)
Everyone was so very excited for us, which helped me with the overwhelmed, sinking, this-cannot-be-happening-to-me feeling that came over me much of the time. (Incidentally, this was a state that I had a hard time shaking for the next 2 years… Though I loved my girls as much as any mother- and certainly with a ferocity that surprised even me- I had a hard time adjusting to life with two infants.)
When we finally left the parking lot in order to fetch my car (at my workplace) and some dinner, I was still in a state of complete shock. It was surreal, going into my work and telling people- in person now- our news. Going to the mall to eat, and seeing stroller after stroller go wheeling by, each carrying ONE baby. Why did SHE get to have one baby, but _I_ have to have TWO?
As I said, as the word got around, and more and more people were excited for us, I was able to feel excited and happy and even giddy at times. I was scared about what taking care of two babies would be like, day to day, but I already loved them both.
That day, 7 1/2 years ago, remains THE most shocking of my life. I have never received information so unexpected and that would so directly impact my life forever.
I can see now, looking back, that I left my body for a bit that day- I remember much of it with such clarity that it seems as if I was above, watching myself live it. The needle pulled across the record, screetching, and we were momentarily frozen in time.
I know that people that have children with special needs sometimes describe their journey in a similar way: shocking, overwhelming, hard to be excited about. For a long time, I felt silly sharing my story since my girls were both healthy, and I should be more grateful, and how can I complain about such a fabulous blessing?
The truth that I wasn’t happy about it- that I was in fact depressed about it- is just that: my truth. Life threw me something difficult that I was not expecting, and as beautiful and perfect as those babies were, it did not make those feelings vanish.
Obviously, having twins was just exactly what I was supposed to do. It is no longer- nor has it been for ages- something “novel” in our lives. In fact, we never call the girls “the twins”, and having them as our daughters seems 100% normal and natural. I thought I’d blog about parenting twins quite a bit… but in reality I barely write about it at all.
It’s just us; our family. Our beautiful, not-what-we-expected-but-perfect-just-the-same family.
I wish I could have told my pregnant self that, all those years ago. It’s going to be fine. Hard, yes, but you can do it. It will get easier. And they will change you in ways that nothing else could.

10 thoughts on “October 4th, 2002

  1. I love that story!! I can’t even imagine the shock, and I can understand the disappointment of not getting what you are envisioning (like the one baby in a sling while shopping at Target). I get ideas in my head about what something is *supposed* to look like (parties, dates, gifts, holidays, children, etc.) and get depressed when it doesn’t happen the way I expected.

    BTW, you didn’t have to wait that long… they called Kate a girl at 13 weeks! My hubbie works in the radiology department, so I was constantly bugging him to take me in for ultrasounds.

  2. This is an eerily exact description of my experience when I found out I was pregnant with #3. From the constant repeating of “but I don’t WANT to be pregnant” and Jeff saying, “It’s too late for that.” to scared and giddy. Except instead of seeing people with 1 baby, I was seeing family vacations for 4, hotels for families of 4, etc.

    Thank you for sharing. It makes me feel less guilty of my reaction to such an obvious blessing in my life.

  3. Thank you for sharing this story with us!! I can only imagine the thoughts and emotions you experienced that day. Your girls are each so precious. 🙂

  4. Oh, I’m so thrilled you wrote this. I think your reaction was totally understandable! Having twins is a HUGE DEAL, and you had every reason to freak out. But obviously you handled it beautifully and continue to do so now, and it couldn’t be any other way.

  5. Five months! I can’t believe you didn’t find out until five months! Oh, the shock!

    But hey, you got the girl you wanted… and then some! Such an awesome story.

  6. Jess- yes- we joke sometimes that it would be REALLY SOMETHING if these girls of ours didn’t divide themselves into two (they are identical)… They both have such spunk that I cannot imagine it all contained in one body!

    Giselle- I think that since so many people struggle with either infertility and/or children with heath problems, it’s hard to express our feelings, simply b/c we ARE so grateful. And yet… those feelings are so real, ya know?

    Everyone else: You are filling me with warm fuzzies. Thanks you!

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