“…and here we have another baby,” said the ultra-sound technician in a way-too-calm voice.
“No.” I said.
“Yep — twins,” she said, and continued, measuring length and heart beats, while pure panic enveloped my brain and I searched the room for some sign that I was dreaming. You know like if the ultra-sound tech suddenly handed me a math test that I hadn’t studied for. That would’ve been awesome.
And so began my “real” pregnancy (as opposed to the pretend one I had been living in for eight weeks before — thinking I would just have one baby to care for).
My husband and I had decided to “give it a shot” back in December, figuring it would take a few tries anyway. I found out I was pregnant on December 18th.
A bit shocked it had happened so fast, I spent much of Christmas in a daze, taking inventory on how my life was about to change. I pored over birth stories, settled on a midwife, and started contemplating a home birth. And then the sickness hit. This was nothing I was prepared for. Life as I knew it stopped. I couldn’t eat my regular stock of healthy foods; my stomach flip-flopped at the thought of wild rice, or roasted squash or steamed kale. Just turning on the stove seemed beyond my scope.
For the first time since I had learned about the benefits of a vegan diet, I suddenly had cravings for grilled cheese, Kraft Dinner, French fries and chips. I had an insatiable sweet tooth which fruit was not satisfying. I was spiraling into self-loathing for the way I was eating, worry of the damage I was doing, and disbelief that I could feel so terrible. At my first midwife’s appointment, she recommended that I have an ultrasound done to date the pregnancy. Since I was considering a home birth, she wanted to be as accurate as possible with the dates. And off I went.
Here’s something you should know: when I was 16 my mother had twins. My little sisters were wild, mischievous children, who ran my mother ragged. We all (five girls in total, a dog, a few cats, my mom and step-dad) were living in a townhouse with a tiny backyard. Things were cramped, things were stressed. And by the time my rambunctious twin sisters arrived, my mom was… tired.
I remember that time with a certain level of anxiety. I was 16, trying to be independent and “grown up” and helping to care for these little girls was cramping my teenaged style. I remember feeling resentment and obligation towards my little sisters, at the same time loving them and wanting to care for and protect them. My strongest memory of my little sisters was when I was out walking with them one day when they were about two. Suddenly one took off in the direction of the river and one took off in the direction of the road, both laughing and looking behind to see who I was chasing (I ended up going road first, I figured if the other one went into the water she had a few minutes before she went under, but a car would take her sister out instantly). I used to say I wouldn’t wish twins on anyone.
Fast forward to the discovery going on in the ultra-sound room, and suddenly all those feelings came flooding back. I immediately forgot about my fear of child-birth or my extensive plans for a calm and natural birth. All that I could think about now was I can’t do this — twins are hard work!
After my mom and my friends talked me down from the ledge with many offers to help and promises that it would all be okay, my anxiety found a new outlet. We needed to move. We needed a bigger house. We needed to move to the suburbs. I started searching the real estate web sites, dragging my husband out to open houses, saying things like, “Do you think the basement is finished? We’ll need a finished basement. I’m not sure if that back yard looks big enough. How far away are the schools?”
Yesterday, I woke up feeling… better. I’m approaching the 14th week, and I guess it is true; the nausea does slowly start to go away. I made a healthy dinner and I was chipper and awake in the evening. While watching TV last night, it dawned on me that I’ve been acting crazy. I don’t WANT to move to the suburbs. I’m basing this need on two babies I haven’t even met yet, who can’t even walk around a basement or a back yard. I realized that the anxiety I have about twins is the anxiety my mother had felt, raising her five kids in a small townhouse. But that isn’t MY situation. In fact, I still don’t know what my situation is, or what these babies will need.
Up until three weeks ago, I felt completely in control of my life. Seeing those two little bodies swimming around in my uterus changed EVERYTHING. I am not in control. Out went my home birth, out went my dreams of breast feeding, cloth diapering and baby wearing (of course, I’ll attempt all that, but I’m not going to set myself up for heart-ache if it doesn’t work out). But changing my identity — exchanging urban for suburban — is not the answer right now. I don’t think city is better than suburbs, but change does not need to happen overnight. I’m going to love my babies no matter where I live. Isn’t that all they need?
Here’s the part where I find the silver lining: I always knew that having children would help me to continue to grow and to discover who I am. I just didn’t realize it would happen this fast. These two little beans are already testing me, teaching me that I need to find my inner strength, not freak out, and not try to muscle my control back by making unnecessary, life changing decisions.
It might take me the next six months to completely wrap my brain around the fact that I’m going from no one’s mom to a mother of two. But I’m getting there. And the best part? I know where I can find a couple of babysitters who owe me one.