When my husband and I first started dating, he confessed to me that one of his deepest fears was having identical twins and mixing them up during infancy, thereby sentencing them to tragic lives of permanently altered identities.
I thought it was hilarious.
We joked about it from time to time over the years—when I got pregnant with our first, when his sister got pregnant with twins, whenever we saw Arnold Schwarzenegger OR Danny DeVito on TV. It became a favorite in our stable of increasingly lame, married-people running gags. Just remember, kids, its all fun and games until somebody hyper ovulates.
Exhibit A (Well, Exhibits A and B if we’re being technical):
Two little miracles. Two beating hearts. Two adult children to support through their post-collegiate artistic period. Oh, and even though they have separate sacs, they can still be identical.
It happened. There it is, my husband’s greatest fear creeping toward fruition for all to see. It’s safe to say that the morning this precious vaginal snap was taken, the happiest person in the room was the ultrasound tech. We weren’t UNhappy. We were straight-up terrified. Expletives were written all over our faces, and I could practically see my husband calculating how long it would take him to drive from Nashville to Juarez and trying to decide if he knew enough Spanish to survive there for the rest of his life. Even my 2 year old’s mouth hung open in disbelief, his lollypop smashed all over the floor.
“How?” my husband asked me when we were released into the waiting room that day. I reminded him that when somebody says, “Keep going” in bed, it can mean a lot of things.
I probably should have been specific, but he probably should have picked another phobia.
But really, I wondered how it was possible too. We were in the midst of mourning a miscarriage (also multiples), but our doctor had assured us that the conception itself was a random event. And we believed her. The chances of conceiving multiples again were “very, very low.” I’m not exactly one of those people who bounds through life ricocheting from one extraordinary act of fate to the next. I won a $10 gift certificate from the GAP in a high school raffle once, but that was literally the last cool thing that happened to me. Somehow, I’d gone from BOGO angora cardigans to human beings.
This was great news, right? Another baby…er…babies. The stenographer was so excited I though she was going to set off a Roman candle turn on Kool & the Gang, but we were just kind of sitting there smiling awkwardly because both of us were afraid to not smile. Nobody wants to be the parent who doesn’t smile at the ultrasound. Theoretically, we were thrilled. Theoretical twins are wonderful and adorable and not at all like those little zombie girls in The Shining, but we were having actual twins and we had no idea what we were going to do. We didn’t even have the right car. I looked over at my son who let out a long belch, half of his face was stained Dum-Dum blue, and he was reading an issue of Sports Illustrated upside down. His socks didn’t match, and his hair looked like it had been styled by Beetlejuice himself. My heart cringed with guilt. At this rate, things weren’t exactly looking great for number two and three with this mama at the helm.
The situation presented a million different reasons to be afraid. My very sweet and sensible doctor was wonderfully reassuring and confident that all of this twins business would go off without a hitch, but of course, I ignored her medically sound opinion, and when we got home, I googled until my googler was sore—until I’d read about every 15 ounce baby and birthing tragedy in America. Pre-term labor, bed rest, low birth weight, C-section, tandem nursing, double colic, double strollers, mini-van, DIVORCE…I saw all of it in our not-so-distant future. The looming collection of inevitable catastrophes melted away momentarily as my son crawled into my lap. He was perfect (albeit, raging two-year-old perfect), everything I hoped he would be.
“It’s a BABY!” he squealed slapping my tummy excitedly.
“Well, actually, there are two babies…” I countered, not even knowing how to explain the situation to somebody whose hobbies included rubbing applesauce into his belly button and flushing the toilet just because.
He looked at me like I was crazy.
My throat went dry. I didn’t know what to tell him.
Right then, I realized the true origin of my fear: my complete and utter lack of control over the universe. I was fully, completely, unequivocally unprepared for this. The very idea that I could be unprepared for something after two years of the emergency snack packing, infant CPR learning, contingency plan making that is mothering was rather unsettling. Our first pregnancy had gone exactly as I’d planned it. Every. Single. Detail. From the gender of the kiddo, to the taco selection at the baby shower (Yes, I worried about having the right tacos; and yes, I was completely obnoxious.), to the All-American hospital birthing experience complete with epidural, ice chips, and ever perky nurses, it was all exactly as I had imagined. The entire thing aligned perfectly with my trusty “What to Expect” book (but not that scary section where they basically tell you what to do if the baby starts crowning at Costco). NO surprises—just the way I like it. Naturally, I expected that this experience would be the same. That’s how I’d mapped it out anyway.
We women tend to think we really know our bodies, if we cramp on day 14 of our cycle, we’re ovulating. If we start retaining water, we’re about to PMS (and if you’re me, you eat all of the good and chunky crap out of the ice cream). If the west side of our left boob starts to itch three inches below the nipple, the trade winds will blow unusually strong when winter falls. You get my drift, yes? Well, ladies, I can say with relative confidence that we might not know ourselves all that well after all. Maybe that deep sense of womanly connectedness we feel within ourselves—you know, the one they always allude to in the tampon ads with the ballerinas and lady mountain climbers? Maybe it is a bit of a fallacy. And that, ladies and gents, might be one of the most terrifying realizations I’ve come to in my adult life.
After a few weeks of deep contemplation (most of which occurred while I was splayed out on the floor of my bathroom trying to keep my off-brand saltines down), I have concluded that the surprises in this life are far from over. While I nearly went into cardiac arrest when it dawned upon me that I may not always be able to accurately predict the future, a certain element of wonder isn’t a necessarily a bad thing. With three kids under the age of three, expecting the odd bout of bewilderment might be downright essential to my survival.
If you’re worried that I’ve actually got my s*** together, don’t worry; I’m still in WAY over my head here. There’ll be plenty more to read about as the Twinvasion gets closer. For now, I’ll leave you with this:
Look! It’s like the front of me is the back of a Kardashian.
18 weeks preggo: