I was five years old when Little Becky Davis edged me out for the title of “Little Miss Bonnie Straw & Hay Days.” All because I told the judges I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, and she said—in her sweet little voice—that she wanted to be a mommy. So cute. There are those, like Little Becky Davis, who plan from an early age to be mothers. Some get hit with an intense pull to nurture children. I never had that, really. Not that I didn’t want children—it was just more of a given. I had a childhood, I had a mom, I liked both, so, yeah. When it came to family planning, I figured children would be a part of the equation.
That said, my approach to family building was pretty laid back, but I did develop some reasonable preferences.
I would prefer not to have three daughters. I’m allowed this opinion because I am one of three daughters. And though my two sisters are my best friends, I’m sure you can imagine the drama. Our lives have been riddled with phone conversations with Mom that go like this:
Mom: I heard you’re visiting (Insert sister name here) this weekend. That’ll be fun.
Me: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. Here it comes.
Mom: I don’t know if you invited (insert sister name here), she’d be hurt if she found out the two of you were getting together and didn’t ask her to go.
Hence, it is impossible for any two of us to hang out together and not have guilt. Surely this must only happen in female triangles? So give me sons. Give me a daughter or two—but not three.
No twins. Lots of people, as it turns out, are fascinated by twins, wish they had a twin, hope to have twins. Pre-parenting, when I thought of twins, I thought of Doublemint Gum commercials. Zero fascination. Then my oldest sister had twins. I loved them from day one. But for two years, my sister’s family would blow into my parents’ house for a family occasion, strained from carrying car seats, eyebrows furrowed with frustration, and a faint trace of PTSD. There was no part of this that I wanted. More than once, I said, “I could never have twins. I don’t know how she does it.”
So, it was a done deal. No three girls. No twins.
In 2009, my husband and I had our first child, a little girl we named Sabrina. Then, in April of 2013, after two years of trying for a second child, an ultrasound technician looked at a screen and said, “so, you’re having identical twins,” as casually as if she were telling us the day’s lunch specials. (Sidenote: while we were undergoing fertility treatments, that only got us pregnant. It didn’t cause the twin split.) In July, we found out that they were girls. I’m sure there’s a very long Good Will Hunting math problem that could explain the statistical likelihood of all this taking place.
I came unhinged. It had been a frustrating, emotionally draining couple of years trying to get pregnant the second time. And the only two things I had asked for had been completely disregarded. My panic at the thought of going from one to three children—girls!—caused me to magnify the possible negatives by a factor of 100. Sabrina would be neglected, my personal goals would shrivel up and die, and the universe would be forever altered. And God was pointing at me and laughing.
Then they were born, and—no lie!—the first six months like’ta killt me. And one night, as I ate a five minute “dinner,” and four-year-old Sabrina ran in with a nearly face-splitting smile on her face saying, “Okay! I need help here! I got two cryin’ babies, and I don’t know which one to go to first!” She was loving it. The fears that Sabrina’s magic would be snuffed out by neglect and resentment have dissolved into glitter and sunshine.
It’s still so hard some days. Colds and vomit come in twos. Often. We both work full time. I’m tired, stretched too thin, and I’m not gonna lie—I have no regrets about having my tubes tied. But I can do three daughters. I’ll master the art of my mom’s guilt phone call and have panic attacks at the costs of prom dresses and weddings. My husband, like my dad, will someday tell my daughters that I am being difficult because I am going through “the change of life.”