I’d been lying in bed like an invalid for months. Gone was my interest in writing and life beyond the couch, gone was my strength and my desire to see humans. Even though I hadn’t vomited or bled or had any extra pain, I worried that on a basic level, I must not be cut out for what other women could handle. Psychologically, I was wrecked. I felt I was not enough: I was weak; I was less than. A couple weeks ago it got so bad that I called the depression hotline and set up a psychiatric evaluation. Something didn’t feel right. Why was this baby taking such a toll on me? Yeah, they say the first trimester is hard, but nobody seemed to understand the level of negative emotion that had claimed me as its own. What didn’t seem normal was the complete lack of control I felt over my own mind and body. Even my therapist, who has given birth twice, commented that my level of exhaustion seemed profuse. She wondered if I might have had the flu.
But today, all that changed in an instant.
We were at our 12-week ultrasound. My new doctor put the gel on my belly and moved the wand around. We saw a little fetus on the screen. It was much bigger and clearer than it had been three weeks ago.
“Have you guys had an ultrasound before?” she asked.
“Yes, we had a vaginal one at nine weeks,” I said.
“Just to see the heartbeat?”
“Yeah. We saw the little embryo, but the picture wasn’t very clear.”
She slid the wand along my stomach and the picture changed. “Did you see both the babies?”
I looked at Kai, whose eyes were round as globes. “What?” we both said.
“You’re having twins! You didn’t know?”
We burst into loud, nervous laughter. “Are you serious?” he said. It felt like finding out we were pregnant all over again, but this time, more joyful. What were we going to do!? How did this happen? What was this world we were suddenly inhabiting?
“I’m terrified,” I said, but I was laughing. It seemed like a hilarious joke the Universe was playing.
“Here’s baby number two,” the doctor said. On the screen we saw two distinct sacs with two distinct babies. “These are not identical twins. They each have their own placenta. You had two eggs and they both got fertilized,” she said.
She lingered for a while on the front baby, who was doing flips, clearly visible. The doctor said she was 80% sure of its sex: most likely a girl. Then she moved to the baby in the back, who was lying in child’s pose with his butt above his head. She couldn’t tell the sex of that one. I think of him as a boy right now. We shall see. She played both heartbeats out loud, and they sounded so strong. She said they looked like two beautiful, healthy babies.
And I am a different person now. I’ll tell you why.
I had been flogging myself nonstop for months. But suddenly, I stopped. The depression, the lack of motivation, the exhaustion, the out-of-control way I behaved when I thought the world was ending…it wasn’t because I am weaker than everyone else! It wasn’t because I am less-than! I hadn’t lost myself! I WAS GROWING TWO BABIES AND TWO PLACENTAS! I was barraged with double the hormones, double the fatigue for good reason!
In fact, now that I know this, I can reclaim my true birthright as a superhuman! I may have been slow to work, joyless, and ill-feeling for a while, but even through those symptoms, I kept doing my yoga, kept walking, kept eating healthily, kept looking for solutions for my maladies. I felt like giving up a few times, even uttered “I want to die” a few times, but I never did.
And now that I know there are two babies in my belly, it feels right. I had felt so lonely, worrying what my stress would do to this one baby. Now I picture these two beautiful quarter-Japanese little humans bringing so much laughter and light into our home, being there for each other, really making us a family. I feel nothing but excitement.
For now, all my fear is gone. I can do this.