In 2008 when I finished my Masters degree I started a job at a private college in Brooklyn. The job was alright for an entry level position. For the most part I didn’t care for the institution, but I walked away with one important thing when I left… friendships. Today’s guest writer is a good friend of mine. We started at the job around the same time and grew very close when she found out she was expecting. I refer to her kids as “my babies,” although they are not babies anymore (nor are they mine!). I asked her to be a guest on my blog because she has an amazing pregnancy story. The kind that you might see on TV but not really believe happens in real life. But it did happen, because I was informed almost immediately of the news (you will read about her going to a conference after visiting the doctor- that is when she told me) and I can vouch for her experience before her pregnancy discovery and her genuine shock when she found out. I want to thank her for being generous enough to find the time to write this while working, going to school and raising two kids. Here she is, my friend and mother to “my babies” Justine:
Twenty-nine years old and I’d never really had heart burn before. Suddenly, I had it all the time. I also HAD to eat every four hours or I felt sick, an intense gnawing, nauseated feeling. At the time, I was fairly unhappy with my living arrangements and deduced that because I was so stressed out, I had developed an ulcer. I went to my primary physician who listened to my symptoms. He agrees that I had some sort of acid issue and put me on Prilosec and Zantac for two months. I start to feel a little better.
In the meanwhile, I have a regularly scheduled gynecologist appointment, early one Friday morning before work. This is only my second time at this practice and the first time I saw one of the regular OB/GYNs and assumed I would see him again. I’m called to the back and the medical assistant asks some of the usual intake questions including, “when was your last period?” I can’t really recall. I know I hadn’t had it for a while but this raised no flags for me because my cycle was intermittently irregular over the last few years, since I started taking birth control pills. The assistant stopped writing on her clipboard and looks at me. She suggests I take a pregnancy test. I guffaw and oblige because I just KNOW I can’t possibly be pregnant.
I pee in the cup and wait. A few minutes pass and another woman enters the room who introduces herself as the midwife. I think, “What the hell are you doing here?” She tells me the test was positive.
Uhm, Positive for WHAT?!
You have GOT to be kidding.
My head is spinning at this point. I can’t believe it. A million thoughts and questions are rushing in at me, in no particular order. How didn’t I know? The guy I was seeing…we’ve broken up. That’s why my breasts were hurting? Is that why I was feeling sick? But it wasn’t just in the morning. This acid-related bloat is actually baby inside of me? I can’t be a single parent. My aunt did say the only time she had heartburn was when she was pregnant. I’m almost 30 and I’ve never been knocked up. And I got knocked up on the pill?! What am I going to do?
Oh yeah…the midwife. She tells me that she can use a Doppler device to listen for the heartbeat. If she hears one, we’ll know that I am at least three months along. I lay down and she places the instrument on my belly which suddenly seems enormous. And there it is…ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom. The smile on the midwife’s face irks me. She’s giddy about the prospect of catching my baby. I don’t’ know what I want to do but we need to know exactly how far along I am. My insurance wouldn’t pay for ultra-sounds in-office so I make an appointment for Tuesday at a lab. I make my way to a conference in Manhattan, as though I had not just heard some of the most mind-blowing, life-altering news…ever.
I make it through the conference, the weekend and Monday, with the suspense killing me. I finally make it to the lab. The sonographer takes me in the back and I lay down. She lobs a hefty portion of that cold gel on my belly and the wand and begins looking inside. She squints her eyes at the screen and runs out the room. I hear the technician yelling in the hall, “We have to call doctor. We have to call doctor!” I’m freaking out now. What is going on? She returns to the room, as though nothing happened and resumes her investigation. She tells me that she thinks I am 18-20 weeks (I later learn she ran out the room and was so concerned because I was so far along, had no pre-natal care and had been taking a plethora of drugs: the Prilosec, Zantac, Loestrin and my high blood pressure medication.)
She looks again at the image, which is turned away from me, and I can almost see the wheels turning in her brain. She runs out the room and there’s more talking in the hall. She comes back and places the wand on my belly one last time. She smiles and says,
“You like I give you a story?”
“It’s two babies!”
There goes that head spinning again. In a matter of five days, I found out that I was not only pregnant, but five months pregnant with twins. Later that week, I went for a Level II sonogram and got to look at them- those two babies, and learned I was pregnant with a boy and a girl. There were no more options to consider. I was going to give birth to, and raise a twin boy and girl and somehow it was going to be okay.
And somehow, it has been okay. There have been bumps in the road from being on bed-rest; C-section complications and recovery; struggling to pay for child care; moving to a new home; dealing with the absence of their father; therapies with my son; and missing the support I know my mother would have gleefully provided. However, all in all, I recognize that I am extremely blessed.
As their third birthday approached this year, I wrote a poem commemorating that momentous occasion:
February 23, 2010
February 23rd two-thousand-ten.
Freedom just ahead.
Free from bed.
Them free from me.
In the middle of the night, I cook for the first time in months.
No fear they’d drop out now.
So, I stood. And cooked.
And ate scrambled eggs, grits, turkey bacon, toast, butter, jelly.
Belly full with babies and breakfast, I sit. I wait.
We pass the chapel and I am reminded to pray.
Insides will be on the outside. I pray.
Spontaneous births are priority. I wait.
Lowly student holds my hand.
Incompetent resident pokes.
It’s nothing like the videos.
I don’t recall a warning about electricity.
A bolt courses through my leg and I kick the ridiculous intern.
Something makes me nauseated.
Something makes me high.
“Auntie, it’s nothing like the videos!
“What’s wrong with her?”
Aunties sometimes replace moms and husbands.
She never takes her eyes off me.
4:15 Twin A
Didn’t even know they were cutting.
4:16 Twin B
Insides back inside. I pray.