Illustration: Gillian Wilson
My daughter was only 18 months old when my husband and I started talking about whether we should try for a second child. It had taken almost a year for me to get pregnant the first time and I knew that, if we were going to have another, I wanted the kids to be close in age. But my husband was reluctant. As much as he loved our daughter, he didn’t know if he actually wanted another child. Truth be told, I was still fairly uncertain myself; life with the three of us was pretty great. But I pushed. “I’ll never regret having another one,” I told him, “but I might regret not having another one.”
He still wasn’t convinced, but the more he resisted, the more determined I became. I ached to be pregnant again, and every conversation between us revolved around the question “Do we or don’t we?” Finally, I strong-armed him into agreeing that I should go off the low-dose birth control pill I’d been on and “see what happened.” Three weeks later, I was pregnant. We were both shocked, but any qualms I had about expanding our family disappeared the second I saw the positive sign on the pregnancy test. His initial hesitation quickly gave way to acceptance—and even a little excitement. When I had to haul out the maternity pants less than a month later, he was even able to joke about it. “Maybe it’s twins,” he said, eyeing my rapidly expanding midsection. “Can you imagine?” I replied.
With any pregnancy, the first ultrasound is nerve-wracking. Not only is it the first time that you get to see your babe-in-belly but it’s often when potential problems are discovered. With my eldest, the ultrasound revealed a velamentous cord insertion—an abnormality that could be deadly for both of us. While this meant that I would have frequent ultrasounds and watch my daughter’s development in a way that most moms don’t, it also meant that I would spend the next six months terrified, researching everything that could go wrong during the birth. We both came through her delivery without major complications, but as the first scan with my second pregnancy loomed, I couldn’t help but feel scared. Everything felt different this time—kind of “off.” What if there was an even bigger problem with this baby?
The morning of the ultrasound, my husband and I hopped on the subway and made our way to the radiology clinic. I was quiet, worried over what the scan would show, and he held my hand and kissed me, lending me his certainty that everything would be fine. We arrived at the clinic and the radiologist called me in first, alone, to take the nuchal translucency scan and other measurements. She placed the wand on my lubricated belly, glanced at the screen and immediately removed the wand. “Is this your first ultrasound with this pregnancy?” she asked. My heartbeat sped up and I felt tears spring to my eyes. I nodded.
“Hmm,” she said, placing the wand back on my belly and moving it around a bit. “The first ultrasound?” she asked again. Again, I nodded. What the hell was going on? She angled the screen so I could see it, placed the wand on my belly once again and said, “What do you see?”
What I saw were two perfect ovals, side by side. “Two?!” I sputtered. “Two,” she nodded. “Twins.”
My first thought was that my husband was going to leave me. He hadn’t even really wanted another baby, let alone two. When the radiologist called him in and showed him the screen, he looked at me blankly, as if it were some sort of joke. Thankfully, he didn’t leave, but he did look like he was going to puke.
After the ultrasound, we sat in the waiting room while the scan results were analyzed and babbled at each other semi-coherently. “Two!” we would suddenly exclaim, as though saying it repeatedly would make it feel more real. We started listing all the things that were going to change now that we were expecting not one baby but two. Two! We’d need a bigger house. Our narrow semi had three bedrooms, but the smallest was the size of a walk-in closet that would barely accommodate two cribs. We couldn’t force our eldest, who would be 2½ when her siblings arrived, to give up her room and her coveted only-child status. One of us would have to learn how to drive because we were going to need a car (my husband resolutely refused for his first vehicle to be a minivan, so we decided that we’d find the widest car that could accommodate three car seats). I’d have to put my barely begun career on hold to stay home with the kids for the foreseeable future—there was no way that we’d be able to afford daycare for three kids.
Literally, every aspect of our lives was about to change. It was overwhelming.
As the reality that we were having twins sunk in, we became giddy. Oddly, my husband seemed happier after finding out our startling news (go big or go home, right?), and he was fully on board from that moment on. We were blissfully clueless about what was coming our way, but as we walked out of the radiologist’s office, we were laughing and holding hands again—this time not out of fear but out of excitement.
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