“One and done!” I must have said it two hundred times. It was my stock answer whenever anyone asked me if we were planning to have any more children. “No. This is it. One and done.” I was not planning to have more children. I had my hands full with one and felt I was at maximum capacity with the amount of life (work, marriage, child, house, dog, cat, yard, bills, misc.) I could possibly handle.
But you know what they say about the best laid plans.
My husband was away on a business trip when I had The Dream. The Dream that I was pregnant again. I got out of bed, consulted the calendar, determined that at most I was only a couple days late and returned to bed. But I could not sleep. I arose in the morning promptly at 6 AM when my 18-month old alarm clock, Devi, sounded her wake-up call. I couldn’t shake the dream so I decided to buy a pregnancy test kit when we went to Target that morning. I would take the test, see the negative result and be able to get on with my life, unencumbered by the “what ifs” that had taken up residence within my thoughts. I took the test (while feeling ridiculous for giving in to the suggestion of a dream) and awaited the negative result. Positive. Wait, I did the test wrong. Better do it again. Positive.
I was in complete shock. This was not part of my plan. I fumbled through the day as best I could. But I couldn’t stop myself from remembering just how hard the pregnancy and first year with a new child was for me. I didn’t want to go through it all again and worse, I didn’t think I could get through it all again. I tried to hide the fear in my voice when Bryon called from the road, but he could tell something was wrong. I burst into tears and announced “I’m pregnant again”. He later told me that he smiled at that moment. The idea of another child made him happy.
We talked it through and I slowly adjusted to the idea. Sure, it wasn’t part of the plan, but it would be nice for Devi to have a sibling. After all, I had brothers and loved playing with them when we were younger. And I could suffer through another pregnancy. I would hate it (again) but it was only a short term thing. I began to see the possibilities. I knew it would be harder in the short term to take care of a new baby with a 2 year old running around, but once they got older they could play together, have tea-parties and make blanket forts. All those fun sibling things. By the time we went to the doctor for the first ultrasound, I was really beginning to believe that I could handle being a mom to two children.
And that’s when my re-laid plans went awry.
“Twins” the doctor announced. No, that can’t be right. Check again. “There are definitely two”. I started crying. I was shocked. Overwhelmed. Confused. I had barely adjusted to the idea of coping with another baby. How could I possibly handle adding not one but TWO children to my daily to-do list!! I didn’t see how it was possible. How would I manage? How could I be a good mother to 3 children at once? How could I even get things like grocery shopping done? Did we need a new car? Every thought overwhelmed me. I could see only obstacles and no solutions.
I muddled through. My husband supported me. My family supported me. My doctor supported me. My boss supported me. And I needed all the support I could get. It was a high-risk pregnancy and it was a complicated and anxiety-ridden pregnancy. I had weekly ultra-sounds. I had 3 MRI’s. I was tested for pre-eclampsia 4 times. Oddly, the overwhelming stress of the pregnancy made me let go of the anxiety over actually having three children. I focused on making it through- getting us all to the finish line and bringing them into this world. Finally, after 36 ½ weeks of stress and anxiety it was over.
I was foggy from the medicine, but I remember Bryon bringing the boys to me and I smiled, overcome with happiness. I was surprised by how completely I loved them at that moment. I had struggled so hard for months to bring them into the world. I had been weighed, measured, tested, poked, prodded and endured many other demoralizing medical inquiries for them. And here they were: Stirling and Crawford. Healthy. Whole. The two babies that I had not planned for.
I am not a person who believes in God or fate or some grand master plan of the Universe. I do not believe that “everything happens for a reason” or that “life only gives you as much as you can handle”. I have no delusions that I had these babies for a greater purpose, like they are going to be the first twin Presidents of the United States. What I do believe is that my boys have been the biggest, most wonderful surprise of my life. I believe that I love them utterly and absolutely.
And I believe that my life would have been twice as empty had it gone according to plan.