My twins are turning 3 today. Their preferred words are “no” and “mine”. Although I love them with every inch of my being there are days when they make me so crazy I could curl up in a ball on my closet floor and pull out my hair strand by strand. Some days I have to take a deep breath and remind myself why I thought having kids was a good idea.
I spent my 20’s trying not to get pregnant. Not that it was that difficult. I was busy with law school, traveling and training for the Olympics. Kids were the last thing on my mind really. But then I met my husband when I was 26. Suddenly I couldn’t think of anything more perfect than a baby that was a little bit of me and a little bit of him. We got married when I was 30 and started “trying” about six months after our wedding. A year later I called to make our first appointment at a fertility clinic.
We hid it like a dirty little secret. It was not until recently that I have become more open about how our twins came to be. Guess what? Twins don’t run in our family even though there are 3 sets. They are all the product of love and modern science.
Who knows why I had to be so secretive. At first I think it was denial. The first year we waited in limbo convinced that it was only a matter of time and patience. Then I think it became embarrassment. We had to admit that something wasn’t working, that something was “wrong”. Like it was shameful that my body didn’t work right, that our bodies didn’t work together. That I was broken. After awhile the embarrassment just gave way to dull, aching pain that was too raw to talk about.
Making a baby became clinical and sterile and expensive. It involved needles and drugs and schedules. It was white paper sheets, hospital gowns, lubricant and ultrasounds. And crying. A lot of crying.
I cried at the clinic. I cried every time the pregnancy test was negative. I cried every time someone announced they were pregnant. I would smile and congratulate them, then I would find the nearest room with a door and cry until my head hurt. I cried the day the clinic called and told me for what seemed like the millionth time that I wasn’t pregnant and then I got dressed and went to a baby shower. I wanted to hide in the bathroom and cry. I cried when I was holding my niece and my husband’s grandmother said to me “Doesn’t it feel nice to hold a baby? Don’t you want a baby?” As if I were holding out. I had to remind myself she didn’t know. I smiled and walked away afraid I was going to be sick. I cried after every time someone asked us “Do you want to have kids?” and I had to watch my husband awkwardly reply “Oh yeah, some day.” My husband held me silently so many times while I cried.
Even though time seemed to creep by I felt such a sense of urgency. I wanted a baby so desperately that I could feel it in my arms. Each time I believed I was one step closer to having that only to be disappointed again.
Then that day came. I was rolled into the O.R. On the flat screen in the corner I saw two perfect little cells. They looked like they were practically bursting at the seams. The doctor said “Those are your embryos. They are beautiful. They look just like we want them to look.” I smiled and then I fell asleep.
So despite the excitement of the candles and cupcakes and gifts today I will remember how my twins came to be and I will celebrate that quietly.