Two years ago today, I went for an early ultrasound. A dating ultrasound. Standard practice. I had one with both of my pregnancies.
Sunshine’s was at 5+0 weeks. She was just a fluttering lump of cells, nothing discernable. But her heart was beating, and it was magical.
My second one was at 7+1. I was far more sick the second time than I was the first time. I could not find ways to quell my nausea.
I bloated quickly. If it is possible to begin showing at conception, then that is what I was doing. My BFFL said my face looked different at just six weeks. She knew it was a boy based on my face alone. My best friend knew I was pregnant before I told her because I looked “five pounds heavier” mere weeks after conception.
Sunshine said it was twins. I will never forget that. When Saint Daddy and I told her about my pregnancy, just shy of the five week mark, she said it was not a boy or a girl but both. Two babies, she said.
At that first ultrasound, at 7+1, I was nervous. I think every expectant momma in the first weeks feels that. She knows she is pregnant. She saw the test change before her eyes. She felt the early symptoms, but she had no real proof that a baby was coming.
I refer to it as pregnancy limbo. The momma knows, but she has little to show for the knowledge and she does not really want to tell anyone. So she is walking around with a big anxious secret, unsure of what the future might hold.
I once tried to explain that to Saint Daddy, but he did not quite grasp what I was saying. Mommas know it. I am sure.
Saint Daddy and Sunshine came with me for that ultrasound. Saint Daddy rarely missed any of my appointments. He is quite proud of being at all but one for Sunshine. The second time, he missed a few more. In his defense, I had a lot of appointments the second time. No one can blame him for missing a few.
We went back into the ultrasound room. The tech was very nice. She asked me some questions about how I was feeling. She assured me that the intense all-day nausea, the exhaustion, and the discomfort were all excellent signs of a healthy pregnancy. We would know soon enough, she said, just how healthy it was.
When I laid down on the table, I never imagined what I would see. Pregnancy limbo involves a fear that there might be nothing to see whenever an ultrasound occurs. Pregnancy limbo is a scary time. I prepared myself for the worst possibility. I steeled myself for it. I could never be ready for that devastating news, but I refused to be blindsided by the possibility of it.
Miraculously, I never had to use that preparation. I am lucky, I am grateful, and I am blessed.
What I did not truly prepare myself for was Sunshine’s guess that there were two babies in my belly.
I had laughed about it. I had told my best friend about it. I had told my BFFL about it. They laughed with me. “Could you imagine?” “Where would you put a second one?”
So I laid down on the table, I lifted my shirt up, and I waited.
The tech put jelly on my lower abdomen and she pressed the wand against me. The screen in front of Saint Daddy, Sunshine, and me remained black. She would not turn it on if she had bad news. I knew it. I held my breath. I prayed to God that it would be okay. That the baby would be okay.
We had already been calling the baby our Seahorse. That is what that ball of cells becomes next, a seahorse. Come on, little seahorse, be there. We want to see you.
I am sure it was only a minute, but it felt longer. But then, she turned on the screen. I let the air out of my lungs. That screen turning on meant our seahorse was growing, its heart was beating, the pregnancy was going well.
The tech told us all about our seahorse: the heartbeat, the size, he was measuring on schedule. It was exactly as expected.
“And then, this one.”
And she flipped her wrist ever so slightly up, and suddenly, there were two seahorses on the screen.
If you saw me tell this story in person, I would not be shy about the language I used at that moment. In the interest of keeping this a little more PG, however, suffice it to say, I dropped the f-bomb. Not angrily. It was in complete surprise. HOLY FRIGGING POOP! I said. Only not quite that way. IT’S TWINS! IT’S TWINS! SUNSHINE WAS RIGHT! IT’S TWINS! SHE SAID IT WAS TWINS AND IT IS TWINS! HOLY FRIGGING POOP!
I am sure everyone within a mile of that room heard my exclamations.
I laughed and I cried at the same time. It was so many thoughts and feelings at the same time.
The first thing I heard outside of my head was Saint Daddy. “We’re going to have to get a new car, aren’t we?”
I spent three days in a mystified stupor. I wanted to tell the world, but I was terrified.
I remained terrified throughout my twin pregnancy. I was prepared to carry a singleton. I had done it before. We could afford a second child. We bought the perfect car and perfect house for a family of four about a year beforehand.
I am a planner. It is one way I tackle my anxiety. I had planned this pregnancy. We had planned for Saint Daddy to begin working outside of the home again within a couple of years. We had planned. We had planned. We had planned.
We did not plan for twins, and I was terrified.
My mom carried twins once. Just briefly. Between two ultrasounds, one twin disappeared. This was completely normal. Six months later, the remaining twin arrived healthy and thriving. That remaining twin was me. And here I was carrying twins myself, and I worried about the possibility that I would face a similar story.
One of my colleagues learned that I was having twins, and she stopped me outside of an office to tell me about how she had lost a twin and survived. She wanted to reassure me that one healthy baby was worth the sadness.
But the second there were two seahorses, I wanted two healthy babies. I wanted two healthy babies in a way I had never expected to want them, and I was terrified that one would be taken from me.
I was selective about whom I told about the pregnancy. When my cousin texted me a congrats around ten weeks, I cried. I wanted another ultrasound before people knew. My mom called to apologize for telling her sisters. She did not realize how I was struggling. She made a mistake, but she was too excited not to share.
After a reassuring thirteen week ultrasound, I felt comfortable going public. The chances of losing either baby after the first trimester were slim. I never stopped worrying about it, but I breathed more easily.
Then I worried about pre-term labor. I read that gaining weight quickly could help prevent that from happening. I needed to build up my fat stores before my stomach ran out of space and I ended up eating less than I needed to support the three of us each day. Twenty-five pounds by twenty weeks was a daunting task. I had gained only three pounds in as much time with Sunshine.
But I did it.
It was one way to handle my fears. To feel like I had some sort of control.
I worried about bed rest. Saint Daddy and I could not afford three children, and an extended maternity leave was not going to help matters. I needed to work as long as possible.
I needed to rest. I needed to stay off my feet. I needed to lower my stress. And I needed to stay pregnant.
I had to give up running, one of my coping mechanisms, early in my pregnancy. Doctor’s orders. I needed to stop picking up Sunshine and carrying her. Doctor’s orders.
I needed to attend many appointments, miss work, take frequent breaks.
Then, Grumpy was breach. I would have to have a C-section. I had a beautiful natural delivery with Sunshine. It was all I wanted.
Part of my desire to have a natural delivery was because of my squeamishness in regards to the human body. IVs make me lightheaded. I do poorly with them.
However, no matter how I delivered my twins, I would need an IV. They would want me ready for immediate surgery. Twins meant considering a lot more “just in case” scenarios. Even if A and B are both head down, my doctors would want me ready for an emergent cesarean. It was not unheard of for a Baby B to flip around as soon as room became available.
I would also have to deliver in the OR, even if both babies came vaginally. The OR is big enough for the team of medical professionals needed for twin deliveries. It is big enough for two babies to come at the same time.
That was nerve-wracking enough for me.
But then, Grumpy was breach and a C-section was guaranteed. And not only would I definitely need an IV, but I would definitely need a spinal and I would definitely be having abdominal surgery while wide awake and I would definitely be strapped to a table and I would definitely have a panic attack while all of that was happening. That was a definite.
I was horrified.
My entire pregnancy came with fear. Fear that there was nothing. Fear that I would lose one. Fear that they would come early. Fear that I would panic on the table.
I was afraid.
The only fear that was actually realized was the last one. I did panic on the table. But my anesthesiologist recognized what was happening and she gave me something to lower my adrenaline-fueled response.
I lived in constant fear. I could not even talk about most of my fears.
I was happy. I was excited. I wanted to meet my sons. But I was terrified.
My boys were born at 38+0. I had a textbook pregnancy. I went on modified bedrest at 33+1. We passed all of the tests with flying colors. My delivery was perfect. My recovery went well.
My sons are amazing. They are perfect and beautiful. I love them with all of my heart and soul.
They were worth every fear, every tear, every moment spent in prayer.
I would never choose a life free of fear if it meant a life free of them. They have taught me so much about myself in the two years since I first saw them on that screen, my tiny flickering seahorses.
I am lucky to know them, to love them, to have them.
The end of my pregnancy was not the end of my twin fears. I am sure I will have new fears cropping up all of the time.
But my sons? They will always be worth it.