You have (one or more) gorgeous, well-behaved little angels. The world deserves more of your offspring. You and your partner decide to try for one more. You follow the rule book, pee on ovulation sticks, ask Google some very intimate questions, and, eventually, there it is: That second red line. You’ve boarded the train to preggersville! Congratulations — in just nine short months, there will be one more little mini-you to grace this Earth.
After asking Facebook about the perfect OB/GYN and counting down the days that lead up to your first ultrasound, the tech is quiet as they poke around. One eyebrow raises. Your heart is in your throat — all you want to know is if your little parasite has a heartbeat. The tech looks up, and back at the screen, then up, then back at the screen. One more minute of this and I am going to start shouting some choice rated-R words. What is going on?!
The tech took a deep breath, looked at me then pointed to a blob on your screen and said, “Here’s your baby!” They pointed to another blob and said, “Here’s baby 2” and pointed to another blob… and “Here’s 3.” They say a picture is worth a thousand words but I couldn’t form a single one at that moment. “GOOD LUCK” they added, and ran out of the room.
Here’s where things get weird. The next thing you know, a doctor is using terms like “inferior fetus,” “selective reduction,” and “risky.” We tried for one more — why all of the sudden am I carrying a litter?
Prepare to Be Underprepared
You think that you have hit the top of the rollercoaster once you see three babies on the screen? That’s cute. You hardly left the station. I remember the good old days of being pregnant with a singleton. The sore boobs and nausea; the constant worry that not everything is swelly in the belly. Logic would tell us to multiply that by three — but do yourself a favor and don’t try to do math right now. Every tingle, every pinch, and every little cramp sent my mind into the darkest downward spiral.
The ultrasound table becomes your second home. You will get to see those gummy-bears quite often, and it’s pretty fun. It is sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact that while you are looking at teeny tiny arms and legs, the physicians and techs are searching for teeny tiny red flags. So when a very young tech looked at me and said, “Did all three have a heartbeat at your last appointment?” I knew what was coming next. I was unprepared, and I promise you, there’s no way to be prepared. There’s no way to answer that question that could change the chain of events that will follow. I nodded.
I was very nonchalantly told that “Baby C” had stopped growing, and my body was reabsorbing the fetus. Everybody knows that a miscarriage is hard. Everybody knows that it will change you. I don’t need to tell you about what goes through a mother’s mind when the unthinkable occurs. You can assume I was heartbroken. Loved ones (whose hearts are in the right place) would say, “You still have two babies in there, so it’s ok.” It’s not OK, and that’s OK.
People Say the Darndest Things
Between the nerves and the grief (if relevant), you can be entertained by some of the tactless questions that people ask when you are carrying multiples. Questions that you’d never hear if you weren’t pregnant.
One day, just as my bump became noticeable, a coworker that I only knew at a professional level began to ask me about my nipples. “I sure hope they are not inverted. Are your nipples inverted?” I am not sure why a pregnant belly deems these questions acceptable, but I decided to enjoy the ride. People are hilarious, and if you let it bother you, then you’re only making your journey rougher.
Get ready for stories, because every woman who has had a baby loves to commiserate with a pregnant lady. But every once in a while, you will meet another mom who is either pregnant with or is raising multiples, and you will find yourself being welcomed into a very special club. Ask these moms EVERYTHING! You are entering your own uncharted territory, and every piece of advice is a light in the darkness.
Although you are growing human beings inside of your body, the world will not slow down. In my case, I had a 4-year-old and 6-year-old to care for. Spending time with my two older children is my favorite thing to do, but being the over thinker that I am, I worried about whether my older two will feel deserted when there are two newborns added to our family, which will take their parents’ time and energy. Time and energy that used to be solely for them.
As my belly grew, so did my guilt. It was not easy to shake the feeling that my kids would feel jealous, angry, or forgotten after we grew our family by four feet. Since you are likely not a fortune-teller, I will give you a little glimpse of my own experience: My children’s lives changed significantly — but in a good way. They learned new roles in our family dynamic; they learned that they can do things that their little siblings can’t do. They learned that they can be teachers, best friends, protectors, clowns, and mentors to their little siblings.
Before your gaggle of babies arrive, try to find activities for your older children. While you are constantly caring for newborns, your older ones might feel the need to do something that gets them out of the diaper-pile that you call a house. I signed my two older kids up to be in a musical while the babies were newborns. Yes, it was an extra responsibility to schlep them there, but it was worth it. They need a break, too, and they need a place where they can express themselves and get their energy out.
The Top of the Rollercoaster
You’ve survived the tests. You’ve laughed at your growing belly. You’ve cried over a burrito and a cute puppy on a commercial. You’ve sneeze-peed, cough-peed, laugh-peed, and blink-peed. Your pregnancy is coming to a close, and you are hilariously top-heavy. Now is the time to make plans while simultaneously knowing that your labor and delivery will probably break every plan.
Multiples come with many “maybes.” Maybe NICU; maybe not. Maybe premature; maybe not. My duo arrived at 36 weeks via C-section due to preeclampsia. Pre-eclampsia was certainly NOT on my birth plan and neither was a C-section, but when I held Simon and Felix for the very first time, nothing else mattered. Their little hands curled around my finger and their little eyes wandered from side to side. They were perfect. Every stupid question, every TMI-story, and every worry dissolved into thin air.
Ladies, we make HUMAN BEINGS with our bodies. So much in life is temporary but you will forever and always be the mother to the child that you bore (or adopted). Nothing can change that.
Now you have reached the top of the rollercoaster, and the train-car is creeping over the top. The moment you drive away from the hospital with babies in your back seat… well… enjoy the ride down.