Jackie’s Journey #1: The News

On the day that we found out that we were having twins, I called my husband a m*therf*ucker – well, in my head, I called him one. We’d been given the opportunity to have an early ultrasound and, originally, I wanted my husband to be there so that we’d see the baby together for the first time. Now, I just wanted to throw something at him. Luckily, I was still in the stirrups and anything that would make a good weapon was out of reach.

At this point, we’d been together almost nine years. We’d supported each other through school and internships and fellowships and new jobs. We’d started out in a shoebox –sized apartment and eventually graduated to a shoebox-sized row house. (Honestly, I’m a little nervous about how we’re going to fit growing kids and all of their accouterments into our little house, but that’s an issue for another blog entry.) We co-parented my stepdaughter and now she is a thriving, beautiful teenager with strong ideas and opinions of her own (if you think the babies in your belly are demanding with their food cravings, flips, and kicks, just wait until they can talk).

We’d discussed having two more kids “at the right time” and had begun trying. It took a little longer than expected so when the doctor said there were two babies – I was ecstatic. Two! At once! That’d be fun! We got what we wanted and they’d each have a best friend for life. Plus, my first trimester had gotten off to a rocky start so I was thrilled to think I’d never have to experience that again. Then I looked over at my husband. His hand had gone limp in mine. He was pale, sickly pale – I mean, my husband is already really white but now his face blended in with the doctor’s snowy walls. Then he said, “No. Can you double check that?” And that’s when I almost called him a terrifically bad name before going Spaghetti Western on his ass. When the doctor confirmed that we were having twins, my husband just went silent.

I practically danced home with joy, my feet barely touching the sidewalk. But from watching his face, I knew he was getting himself all worked up inside. He’s a smolderer, slow to boil, so I took a deep breath and asked what was wrong.

It turns out that while I was thinking about all of the pluses of having twins, he was thinking about the minuses. He was thinking about the cost of buying two of everything, including college educations, and wondered how we were going to manage two infants at the same time. Okay, so, yeah, I hadn’t really thought of any of that. But I was okay with not thinking about that quite yet. Today, I had eaten breakfast and not thrown up, I didn’t wake up bleary and bone weary as I had the first few weeks, and I found out we’d have two babies! Life was good.

Luckily, he’d taken the morning off work so we could talk for a while. In the end, we decided that while there were a lot of details, large and small, to be worked out, we could do it together. And that he would try to hold his reservations in-check for a few days and just be happy. Then we’d sit back down after we’d had time to digest the news and begin to plan for the more practical realities of having two babies in a small, vertical space on a limited budget.

Now that I’m further along, and we’ve had time to think and plan, he’s less anxious and completely over-the-moon to be a daddy-to-be of twins.

One thing I didn’t realize before getting pregnant was that pregnancy would be such a time for growth in our relationship – growth in my waistline, yes, but our relationship, no. We’d pretty much been in sync from our early days of dating and over nine years we’d developed a shorthand language of our own. I could tell how his day had been by the way he entered the house every evening, and he seemed to always know what was making my nose wrinkle up in frustration. But our very different reactions to the twins forced us to be better and more attentive communicators. We have to make sure that we’re being clear in communicating what we’re feeling and why (and if the “why” is unknown, it’s okay to say “I don’t know, I just feel this way”). We’re consistently checking-in about what we need and want, what excites us and what scares us. This is the first lesson the babies taught us, and on the first day we met them. Pretty smart, huh? Yeah, I know: geniuses my kids! Geniuses!

My friends reacted many different ways to their pregnancies and they’re all good parents. So don’t worry if you don’t feel how you’re “supposed to” or “expected to” feel in those first hours after the news. (Unless you are thinking of actually hurting yourself, another, or your baby – at which point, please talk to your doctor and get help.) Here are some of the joyful, scared, wonderful, and all truly normal reactions from my friends upon learning the news:

“First one: excited disbelief that the fertility treatments actually worked finally. Second one: shocked tears and exasperation that the first [baby] was only 5 months old and I actually got pregnant without treatments!” –Christen

“My husband and I were trying to get pregnant. We wanted to get pregnant, and then, one morning, after I realized I was about a week late, I peed on the stick I’d secretly purchased the evening before. I refused to look at it while it came up with its results. I brushed my teeth, I rinsed my mouth, I looked down. Oh. Nervous. Anxious. Scared. Did I want to be pregnant, really? I went about the day with my secret. Every time I went to the bathroom I was thinking, ‘Will there be blood this time?’ About half way through the day, I realized I was praying, ‘Please don’t let there be blood this time. Please don’t let there be blood this time.’ As this thought simmered through my brain, the nerves died down, and a happy, joyful peace descended. The anxiety was replaced with awe, wonder and excitement. My daughter turns two in February, and I’m still in awe and wonder of her, and looking forward to our next exciting bundle. (That’s not an announcement, just a hope.)” -Katy

“I was feeling sick for a couple of days, so I decided to take the test. I didn’t wait for my husband to get home as he was away with some guys for a TV shoot. I got the positive results and the first words out of my mouth were ‘Oh Sh!t, what have we done!.’ I called John immediately and told him. No joke, the first words out of his mouth were ‘Oh Sh!t, what have we done!’ I laughed so hard.” –Elaine

“I took the test while my husband was out as well. Because he wasn’t answering the phone I called him eight times in 30 minutes and left a voice mail along the lines of ‘Come home; I have something important to tell you. No one died.’ When he got home and I told him and showed him the six tests I’d taken, he said, ‘Oh yeah, I knew you were pregnant last week when you kept claiming every chicken dinner we ate had gone rancid.’ Being a man, I suppose that isn’t the kind of thing you think to point out to your wife.” –Amy

“Both times were pretty much “oh f%#%!!” moments for me. My girls came when THEY decided to, not when we decided we were ready for them. Good thing they’re both awesome.” –Jenn

“I basically had the same experience as Jenn. “Oh f%#%!!” It was 6:30am, I started crying and my husband said, ‘I’m so confused, didn’t you know this was going to happen?’ It was just a lot to take in and it all happened so fast. Then when I went to tell my mom, I started the conversation with, ‘I’ve been crying for two days.’ She thought I was insane! Well, I am!” -Sara

“Erik and I were told that we would never conceive. The doctor was wrong, a few times actually, as we had a couple of miscarriages before Ian was born, so when we discovered that our digital test stick read ‘pregnant’ we felt a sense of total vindication. Kind of like a ‘haha, take that f-er!’ sort of reaction. So yeah, not really the “soft-focus, touching and tender we’re pregnant moment,” but it was special to us, just the same.” –K.

“It was such a joyous moment, as if we had won the lottery. After previously having had a miscarriage that precipitated an array of unexpectedly dark and challenging emotions, once we got to the three month-mark this second time, it was unlike any happiness we had ever experienced. It was right near Mother’s Day. I remember we went for a walk in our neighborhood and I couldn’t stop smiling. I think I might even have skipped. As we strolled, we passed a young man on the street who called out to me while smiling ‘Happy Mother’s Day!’ Now, how he knew I was a mother–well, mother-to-be– I have no idea. I certainly didn’t look pregnant yet. But I recall beaming and saying ‘Thank you.’ Shortly afterwards, we were window shopping on Magazine Street to pass the time and ducked into a tiny jewelry store wedged between some antique shops. On a whim, we bought a beautiful round onyx ring for me to mark the occasion of my first Mother’s Day. I had never worn rings aside from my wedding ring, but when I slid it onto my right hand, it settled in so perfectly. Since then, this ring has become a kind of talisman from which I am rarely apart.” –L.

“I think my most interesting response was from my parents. I had recently been accepted to grad school and Brian and I were living in a one-bedroom apartment. We called them and told them very excitedly that we were going to have a baby. Then there was a LONG pause. And my mom ventured – “And we are excited about this?” And Brian and I enthusiastically said yes and then there was lots of jumping for joy.” -Jamie

“My jaw hung open at first and I was shaking a little. After the third positive test I realized it was true and I started sobbing uncontrollably because I was so overwhelmed with fear and shock and joy.” –Jillian

“I think my most interesting response was from my husband. I had told him that it could take a looooong time to get pregnant so that we should start. I think he was imaging like a year of unending sex in pursuit of making that baby. Well, like three weeks after we started trying I was like “Honey I’m pregnant”. Pause. Pause. He said, ‘But I thought it was going to take a year.’ Ditto with second kid. Two years of lost mad sex = two kids! We laugh about it still.” –Andrea

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