Almost the first thing I said to the doctor when I walked in for my 7 week ultrasound last July was, “Just tell me it’s not twins.” Ha ha ha. The nurse and doctor laughed. He’s a fertility doctor, so I imagine a number of his patients are concerned about having multiples. Certainly some percentage of his patients using medication to increase ovulation or doing in vitro is nervous about twins, triplets…and beyond. This must be a sentiment that he recognizes.
The doctor started the ultrasound and shortly thereafter let out a kind of surprised “Oh-ho!” It didn’t sound negative enough to make me really nervous, as in “Oh-ho, there’s no heartbeat!” (That would be a poor choice of delivery and tone, certainly.) Still, Kiyomi very quickly and urgently said, “What?” sensing something was not quite normal.
The doctor replied, moving the ultrasound wand toward the left, “Well…here’s one baby and,” moving the wand to the right, “here’s another baby.”
I’m pretty sure we both looked, well, sort of horrified. Some people start out wanting twins, apparently. And, to be honest, there are some reasons I can understand this. I have a few friends who’ve had a very hard time getting pregnant or had their first baby very late in life…and hoped for twins as they weren’t sure they could get pregnant again. But, I have also encountered people who just think it would be fun.
Well, having one infant at a time is pretty much like a cyclone of chaos and sleep deprivation touching down in the middle of your life all by itself…so, I can’t say I related to the wish of having more than one at time.
I had said to both my mother and Kiyomi, “God, I hope it’s not twins” before this ultrasound. Why would I even be thinking about twins??? While the chance of having multiples is increased with use of certain fertility medications or in vitro fertilization, I have only ever seen my doctor for plain old insemination. As I like to say, our fertility problem fortunately seems limited to the fact that neither of us produce sperm. So, why were twins even on my mind? Who can say? Maybe it was the incredible increase in nausea compared to my first pregnancy, the very early onset of pregnancy symptoms (like five days after the insemination), or – and this sound pretty ridiculous – all these double sneezes I was having…which I’ve never had before. All I know is that it never crossed my mind when I was pregnant with Ila…but I was thinking about it quite a lot in the early weeks of this pregnancy.
At any rate, we were both in shock. Our doctor promptly said, “I’m sorry,” which is sort of an odd thing to say when telling a person they have what appears to be a pretty normal and successful early pregnancy. Congratulations seem more in order. I can’t blame him, though; I had essentially just told him I didn’t want twins…and I’m sure we both looked like we’d been beaten about the head.
Everything stressful is increased in a pregnancy with multiples – likelihood of miscarriage, slowed fetal development, lower birth weights, preterm labor, likelihood of stillborn babies. Pregnancy really is a joy. When we got to the car, I cried stormily for about ten minutes, wailing, “My life is over! I guess all the plans I’ve had for the next five years are shot! Oh my God, how are we going to do this?! What if something goes wrong?”
Then, pretty much I accepted it. I even started to feel excited – it certainly would be an adventure…and I have a pathological need to rise to any challenge. And, as one of our friends who actually has small children and still seemed genuinely excited about twins said, “Well, it’s more baby!” Indeed. For better and for worse.
So, I studiously researched what I needed to do to increase the probability of positive outcomes for a twin pregnancy. This included eating 3500 calories a day! I was supposed to gain 25 pounds in the first 20 weeks. That is work, let me tell you. I mean, you can’t just eat a bucket fried chicken and call it a day…these calories are supposed to be nutritional.
I was certainly more nauseated in this pregnancy; I got quite big quite fast and, as a result, my physical movement has been much more restricted. Still, the first two trimesters went pretty smoothly. Then, the third trimester started. I have had to go to the hospital three times to be evaluated for preterm labor…two of those times I got to stay for several days and got to experience the joys of medication to stop labor and constant fetal monitoring. Unpleasant.
At this point, I am 34 weeks, and all three of us are fine. However, it is a relief every day that I do not go into labor. I would like to make it to 37 weeks at least. Still, I am bigger than I was at the end of my first pregnancy…so, it’s hard to imagine where the rest of the baby mass is going to go in the next weeks. I mean, they are already stretched from well under my ribs deep into my pelvic bowl. They are each probably over 5 pounds at this point…and we’re six weeks out. Where else is there to grow? And where will my organs fit? I mean, am I going to have two 8 pound babies? That’s 16 pounds of baby. What? What??? How is that even possible?
Fortunately, Ila has been super excited about all this. She likes to talk about how she also has “monkeys in her tummy.” Actually, sometimes it’s babies…sometimes it’s bears or penguins. Or even one moose and one fox. Of course it will be an adjustment when the babies actually come, but she is very stoked about it right now. She loves taking care of her own “babies,” which is almost any object she’s playing with. She frequently commands me to snuggle whatever she is playing with. A lego train? An invisible mini-alligator (“it’s not scary, Mama”)? Her big rubber bouncy horse? Yes, they all need to be cuddled.
Part of this stems from the fact, I believe, that she has really turned into a snuggle bug herself. When she started pre-school in August, she needed about half an hour of snuggling with me every morning before she would consent to getting up. This snuggling time also helped with the very gradual weaning process we went through in the fall. It was not super traumatic…for her. It has been pretty upsetting for me. I stopped breastfeeding her with some serious reservations. I felt, practically and logistically, that it might be best since I will have two infants I needed to nurse. However, emotionally, I really did not feel ready to wean her. Even now, she’s so completely in love with my breasts – she may not be nursing, but she wants to pat, snuggle, touch and kiss “the boobies.” It’s so sweet…and really makes me wish I could still be nursing her. I know I’m already a statistical outlier as someone who nursed her child well past two…but it’s so sweet and lovely…and it’s such a tiny fraction of our life together. It’s hard to let go of this stage. Sigh.
On the other hand, heading toward three years old is pretty amazing. I feel like every week she says more and more. It’s funny that a year ago, she was still speaking this seriously limited baby pidgin - mostly nouns and verbs, only a few multi-word phrases. Now, she’s a real conversationalist.
When I was still taking classes at the end of last semester, she came into the room I was in and, with a sigh, said, “I have so much to do.”
I was amused, “Oh really? What do you need to do?”
“Math…” (I took two math courses last fall) “and jumping.” She paused for dramatic emphasis, “On the bed.”
Two is such an amazing age. When I think that we will get to have two more little goofy beasties running around our house, saying ridiculous things and concocting bizarre games and ideas about the way things work, I guess I'm excited about having two more. They just need to stay in a little longer...oh, and be super mellow and easy when they come out. Ha!