Day 1: Walking (and Gestating) Through Fear

May 20th, 2015

Joslyn Hamilton, freelance editor, Salt Lake City, Utah

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing experiment. See Kale & Cigarettes for details.

I have wanted to have kids since I was a kid. The idea of family has always really meant something to me, so it was a confounding situation I found myself in when I turned 40 and there were no babies in sight for me. Then just as I was resigned to my childless fate, BAM, I was pregnant with twins. I was terrified. I felt like my bluff had been called. I was 42.  

People ask, “Was it on purpose?” Yes, it was on purpose, in the “Let’s just see if anything happens” way. Like kids playing with matches.

Vanessa was one of the first people I told. “I’m scared,” I wrote. “At least it’s not twins!” she texted back. 

When I found out I was pregnant, I was already making plans to move to Utah to live with Jon. A few days before Jon arrived to help me move, I had my first ultrasound. The ultrasound tech pointed to a heartbeat in the screen. “There,” she said, “is your first baby.” “What?” I said. “And there,” she moved her finger, “is your second.”

One of my very best friends, Karen, was in the room with me. I looked at her, and her eyes got wide. I laughed, not because it was funny, and not because I was happy. I was incredulous, in shock.

My first reaction to having twins was, of course. Twins run in my family. My dad is a twin. And I’m older, which makes twins more likely. And then there’s the fact that I had always hope hope hoped for multiple children. 

My second reaction to having twins was terror. I could not imagine how we would pull it off, a couple of 40-somethings without much money and with a life we hadn’t even yet begun to build together. It sounded impossible. 

But I adapted to the idea of twins. I walked toward the fear, and tried to act confident, for Jon’s sake. “As long,” I thought, “as it’s not two girls.” The idea of double girls overwhelmed me. Two entire sets of female emotions. Not to mention that Jon was already surrounded by girls in his life: me, his ex-wife, his teenaged stepdaughter, his cat. Jon is a guys’ guy. I thought, he needs boys. 

At our next ultrasound, in Utah: “Looks like that one’s a girl. And…. yes, another girl.” Jon was relieved. He admitted that he actually prefers girls. And I admitted that I love the idea of baby girl outfits. 

So, girls. At least they weren’t going to be identical. They were di-di twins, meaning, two amniotic sacs and two placentas. This meant they were fraternal. I thought.

At one of our last ultrasounds, Dr. Ball offhandedly mentioned that they could still be identical. Ten percent of identical twins “split” early enough that they get their own living quarters in there. I broke out in a cold sweat. The idea of identical twins freaked me out. How would we tell them apart? How would they ever grow up normal? Would they fail to develop distinct personalities, forced to grow old together, weirdo spinsters bound by DNA and creepy matching outfits?

I assured myself that wouldn’t happen. Obviously, I was having twins because of science. Because I was old, it runs in my family, etc. Identical twins are a freak accident. These two girls were going to be fraternal.

Spoiler alert: they are identical.

We think. We’re actually not sure, because we haven’t gotten them cheek-swabbed to find out. But these two, they are hard to tell apart. Not just physically; they are so similar in disposition.

[Update, two years later: We did actually end up having them tested, and yes, they are identical.]

Now, of course, I can’t imagine it any other way. I feel charmed, blessed (yes), taken care of. And, most of all, I feel like it was meant to be.

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One Response to “Day 1: Walking (and Gestating) Through Fear”

  1. anemone says:

    oh my goodness. that is so lovely. brings a tear to my eye. the subject and the way you wrote it are wonderful. so glad you got your family. now you know why people say things like “i feel blessed”! heehee and glad you’re writing again!

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