Lying on the chair with gel on my belly during my routine eight-week ultrasound, I saw what I thought was our third baby — a little tadpole with a beating heart. The technician moved the wand across my uterus, and I saw the image flash again. I thought, “Are there two in there?” Knowing how terrible I am at reading sonogram images, I figured the same fetus appeared twice.
“You’re having twins!” the tech shouted. I nodded my head, too stunned to speak. We didn’t use fertility treatments, and twins don’t run in my family, so the possibility never occurred to me.
In despair, tears rolled down my face, and my shoulders shook as my OB/GYN entered the room. Handing me tissues, she kindly said, “I want you to know that this is a normal reaction to having twins.”
As I drove home, I thought about how I’d have four children under 5 and that my youngest son had only turned 2 the day before I found out. How would we add two infants to a mix that already felt overwhelming? What would my husband think? He was initially resistant to having a third baby. How massive would my stomach get? My last baby was almost nine pounds alone. My nausea was already unbearable. Would it double in intensity? How could we configure four car seats in our minivan? Would my life consist solely of bucking and unbuckling squirming children in car seats in between changing diapers? Would I ever leave the house again? And biggest of all, how could we afford four kids?
My husband saw my tear-stained face and enveloped me in a hug. “Whatever it is, it’ll be OK,” he said, anticipating horrible news. “We’re having twins,” I sobbed into his chest. “Oh,” he said, his mouth falling open, eyes widening.
We quickly told family and friends, but behind my smile, I secretly wished we were just having one baby.
Over the course of a few weeks, I slowly accepted having twins — and even got excited. We discovered they were both boys and started tossing around names. Matching newborn outfits made me smile. The ultrasound pictures got cuter with their heads nestled together. We bought a double stroller, and I pictured my big brood of young kids, eagerly anticipating the chaos to come.
Once I bonded with the babies inside me, new worries emerged. During each doctor’s visit, before they’d find the heartbeats, I’d hold my breath thinking karma was going to get me. The more I loved my unborn twins, the more ashamed I felt of my initial reaction, especially when a single baby or big family is a struggle for so many. I took comfort in my doctor’s words that my experience was typical and expected.
Surprisingly, my pregnancy wasn’t much harder than my singletons, despite delivering two babies over six pounds via C-section. Once we held them, the thought of only one of them being there felt unconscionable.
My twins are 4 now and can almost buckle themselves into their car seats. They still sleep side-by-side, heads resting together. I’ve loved having a front-row seat watching their best friendship blossom, and their antics make us laugh daily. Our family’s budget is tighter with four kids than it would’ve been with three, but we’d never wish our life was different. I love my twins for countless reasons. They’re my reminder that you never know what surprises life has in store for you — and they can turn out to be better than you’d ever expect.