Pregnancy was such a strange thing at this point. It still is, really, but less so now that I can feel the boys play their daily game of "Which one of Mommy's internal organs should we assault now?" But in this modern age, most folks have had at least a couple sexual partners in their lives, right? And for those of us heterosexuals who have, we've been working pretty diligently to make sure no pregnancy tests come up positive, actively preventing and hoping against hope that no babies come into our lives before we're ready for them. So even in the act of trying to conceive, the world was turned asunder. And with something growing (at the time more or less imperceptibly) in Amanda's belly? It was a massive change in perspective, but something was missing. We're both trained academics. Neither of us really believe all that easily without strong empirical evidence, so we both wanted some significant visual representation of the event but none were yet discernible. Amanda would sometimes say that she felt different from before, but typically she said that she “didn't feel pregnant.” She actually lost weight in those first few weeks, and this (and absolutely everything else, basically) made us worried. I've become a champion actor, though. She worries enough for both of us, so I always present the nonchalant "oh, it'll be fine my dear" front. I wager I'm just like tons of other first time dads that way.
So we waited, and waited, and the three weeks dragged on and on. Amanda had a habit of giving a countdown that morning, calling out “X days until we get the see the babies!” while getting ready in the morning. When we finally reached the night before our appointment, I encouraged Amanda to go to bed early with me and then I had serious difficulty falling asleep. I felt like a kid the night before Christmas.
That morning (10/22), we rushed off to the ob/gyn to face a mountain of paperwork and dozens of questions. We saw a nurse, asked a ton of questions, saw a doctor, asked more questions, sat through a short examination and then sat through a seemingly endless wait, all while filled with a breathless sense of excitement and nervousness. Finally it was our turn in the ultrasound room. I held Amanda’s hand in the dark room illuminated by two large monitors as the technician squeezed the (mercifully warm) jelly on her belly and I thought to myself, completely in jest, “wouldn’t it be funny if she said twins?” The technician placed the transducer on her stomach, causing an indeterminate black and white image to splash up on the screens.
...And then the technician said “So, you’re having twins” in this nonchalant manner, kind of like she was commenting on the entirely unsurprising weather conditions that day. “Here’s baby A…” she continued, to which Amanda responded “Baby A?!” The technician moved the probe a little and said “And here’s baby B…” to which Amanda responded “Baby B?!” It was taking a moment to sink in, apparently, so the technician offered the initial information again: “Well, yes. You’re having fraternal twins!” Amanda’s subsequent response was a not-so-surprising “Shut the f*** up!” My wife has a bit of a mouth on her, as do I, but I think I was too deep in shock to comment in any manner. My knees grew rubbery under me, threatening to give out under the strain of so massive a number as two. It's seemed so large, so much more massive than one could ever be. I squeezed Amanda's hand in a weak attempting at feigning giving her support because I was the one who needed it then. The technician just laughed and continued on, I squeezed Amanda’s hand some more while my mind grappled with the new information, and we finished a perfect check-up on our twins. After wiping away the ultrasound goo, we left the ultrasound room with our prize: empirical evidence that, yes, we are pregnant and yes, there really are two of them in there.
As an aside, I don't believe anything is really ineffable, but the moment we heard the heartbeats of both these little almost amorphous blobs of cells was pretty darn close. The failure to describe is not with language itself but rather with my mastery of it; my words are inadequate to capture the true spirit of what I was feeling in that small spans, but I'll try. It was an unusually quiet moment, contemplative and filled with a sudden reflection on mortality, love and on the wonder of nature. We had merely done what billions of people before us had done and trillions of other animals do every day, and yet in that minute blip in space and time it felt like an entirely unique experience. I didn't feel the burden of responsibility, at least not yet, nor did I feel pride, either, because ultimately this was just the result of sex. I also did not immediately feel love--to me, they were still just a mass of cells that I had great hopes for--but I did feel an instant, extraordinarily strong bond to their potential for being. The almost overwhelming initial sense of awe has since faded substantially, but it has been replaced and exceeded by the wonder that comes from watching something you helped create grow and by an ever-increasing bond as the little beings make their presences known in constantly changing, more noticeable ways. It's still pretty awe-inspiring...but I've gotten off topic. Back to the story at hand.
We walked outside in a daze, passing the ultrasound pictures back and forth while discussing just how badly we wished we still smoked. Once outside, we whipped out our cell phones and broke our pregnancy news silence. Although we told our parents and our oldest, closest friends immediately when we saw the results of those first home pregnancy tests, we were trying to wait to tell others at least until we reached the 12th week. Once we found out that we were having twins, however, all illusions of withholding this information broke down. After a few phone calls each and after Amanda sat through having roughly 300 vials of blood drawn (ok, more like 12), we hopped in the car to head home. It was only then that Amanda seemed to reflect on her earlier exclamation.
“Kevin, did I really tell the tech to shut the f*** up?” she inquired.
“Yes, yes you did.”
"Was she offended?”
“No, not at all. She seemed amused.”
We both laughed until tears formed in the corners of our eyes. We laughed because of Amanda’s sudden outburst, because of the wonderful, terrifying, awe-inspiring news we had just received, for the strange and audacious notion that we—two people who barely know what they want to be when they grow up, let alone how to raise kids—have somehow produced twins, and for joy at being so privileged as to have this opportunity. We settled down after a bit, drove home, and tried to go about our day as though nothing had changed.
Just in case you were ever curious, reading and understanding Kant hours after finding out that you have twins coming is an extraordinarily difficult task.
We’ve since struggled with worry and fear, adjusted to the idea of twins and embraced it fully, and fell in love with them before we even knew their sex. The day we found out that we were having two boys was a little bittersweet as we were both hoping for one of each, but we quickly got over that initial hesitation. We even decided on names rather quickly, something we thought we'd never accomplish with males. Now it’s just another waiting game punctuated by occasional doctor visits and both of us attempting to get the many things done that need to be finished prior to their arrival. We’re anxious, nervous and ever so ready to meet our boys in person. How can eight months seem so short and yet simultaneously so long?
Next update: A Top 10 List of Near-Universal Maxims for Partners of Pregnant People.