Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Seeing Double (from February 2004)

It's been a week now since we found out we're having twins and I still haven't quite come to grips with it — two newborns, double feedings, twice the diapers, double strollers, double baths, not to mention the extra weight I'm supposed to gain.

The pregnancy itself was a surprise but Brett and I quickly adjusted to the news and started planning and anticipating our third little one, due to arrive in September. Blake and Nicholas were ecstatic, all the grandparents were thrilled — they thought the possibility of another child from us was slim to none, much closer to none — and I quickly went from feeling overwhelmed to experiencing mounting excitement at the thought of having one more little one.

In those early weeks I anxiously awaited Feb. 10, the day of my first prenatal appointment, so I could see the first ultrasound and be assured when I saw or heard that tiny heart beating. The day finally arrived. It was a Tuesday, which meant Nicholas was to go to preschool. But he wasn't feeling well. So Brett would have to miss my appointment to watch him, and would meet me at the doctor's office afterward so he could hand Nicky over and go straight to work...

I was mildly disappointed that he wouldn't be there with me, but we were old pros, we'd done this twice before. I'd share the grainy, sometimes-difficult-to-decipher black and white ultrasound photo with him afterward, proudly showing him our inch-long child and (hopefully) report that everything was going great.

My appointment starts with the usual mounds of paperwork, the nurse taking my blood pressure, going over medical questionnaires, and reviewing major pregnancy do's and don'ts. At one point she asks if we had been trying to get a pregnant for a long time, perhaps based on the ages of the boys, now 7 and 3. "No, it was kind of a surprise," I meekly reply, quickly adding that we're excited about our future arrival. So then we proceed with the physical examine; everything looks "normal."

Finally I'm taken into the ultrasound room. We'll just do a quick one, she assures me. I lie back and a garbled black and white blob appears on the monitor, which faces both of us. Things are moving around so fast, but I definitely see a baby. There's its ear, she says. It's kind of a back/side shot of the baby. She then shows what I thought then was a different view — the baby is facing us. I'm still oblivious at this point.

"Well," she says, with a cautious smile on her face, "there's that one." Wait a minute, what does she mean by "that" one. With my mind racing, she then announces "and there's that one," simultaneously showing me a screen shot that shows both the babies.

Fear, shock, exhilaration, amazement — did I say fear? — run through me. "Oh no," I shriek. "I can't believe it. My husband is going to freak," I tell her, wishing so much Brett was there to share the mind-boggling news firsthand.

She starts talking but I just hear bits and pieces of what she says — they're both in their own sac, don't know if they're fraternal or identical but fraternal is more common, they're both good-sized for their age, you definitely won't be delivering in September, you won't make it until then; twins come early, she tells me, we'll be monitoring you more closely, more appointments, more ultrasounds.

Any questions, she asks. My mind is numb, incapable of remembering where my purse is, let alone form any intelligent questions. Um, no, I mumble … at least not right now...

I then somehow end up with the medical assistant again, finishing some paperwork and ordered to immediately go to the lab to get some bloodwork done.

I slowly get up, everything's a blur. I get dressed, grab my purse and try to find my way out of the maze-like medical suite. "Other way," one of the medical assistants tells me as I clumsily head out in the wrong direction.

I finally find the elevator and head back down to the lab on the first floor. My feet feel weightless; my head feels heavy. I feel like I'm holding a $1 million secret. I find my way to the lab and a packed waiting room. I glance at my watch. I have about 15 minutes before Brett will be in the parking lot to meet me.

Part of me wants to call him. The other part wants to wait, wants to see the look on his face, see how far his jaw will drop. 15 minutes go by, then 25, still in the waiting room. I need to call Brett to tell him I'm running late, but I don't want to give anything away on the phone. I call him up and casually tell him I'm still waiting to get some bloodwork done, shouldn't be much longer. I feel like I'm about to burst.

Finally my name is called. I have to tell someone, so I tell the friendly woman drawing my blood that I just found out I'm expecting twins. "Oh my goodness. Congratulations," she says. I finish and leave the medical office. My head continues to spin. My hands are sweaty. My legs are shaking.

Brett was probably expecting me to get my car from the parking garage and then pull up to where he was parked across the street. Instead, I dash over on foot to our two-week-old minivan (good thing we made that purchase) and jump in the passenger seat.

"Hi," I say, nonchalantly handing him the ultrasound photo that shows what the nurse practitioner has dubbed — and labeled on the image — "Twin A" and "Twin B."

Brett looks at the photo long and hard, a good five seconds, his eyes grow wide. "Are you kidding me? Is this a joke — someone else's ultrasound?"

"No," I tell him, not sure whether to laugh hysterically or burst into tears. "We're having twins."

I think it was surreal for both of us, not knowing what to do or say. Nicky's in the back seat getting antsy and Brett needs to head to work. We just look at each other in disbelief.

He gives me a kiss, ultrasound picture still in hand, and says he has to take it to work with him.

We call each other several times that afternoon, checking on each other's emotional state.

Neither one of us slept much that night.

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