Did You Say 'Twins'?
The first scan. What a moment. Utterly terrifying but also, hopefully, wonderful. We'd had some time to absorb the news of the pregnancy itself by this point, of course, and I had begun to adopt the air of someone who now had absolutely no control over anything whatsoever. The Standard Father Position.
So many things to consider on the approach to the hospital: will the baby be healthy? Will we even know yet? What sex will it be? Is there even a baby in there or is this just one almighty error by the test kit?*
*This was a key question for me because I still find it extraordinary that an event this important and life-changing can come down to a small, thin piece of plastic that you just piss on. I assumed, reasonably I thought, that once that home kit version had been done we'd be straight off to the doctor to have it confirmed properly by a blood test or something. But no, they trust the home testing kit and the next bit is the scan.
Having realised that I no longer had a physical role to play in the entire process ahead of us (I had clearly 'done my bit'), I dedicated myself to making light of the whole situation: my way of dealing with something I was actually finding increasingly scary. In a way, we were both still stunned by it all. And, inevitably, it was all we talked about from the moment she said "I've got something to tell you".
We had discussed whether we preferred a boy or a girl (for the record, I wanted a girl because, after exhaustive research via my friends, I reasoned that girls were a bit easier than boys in early age and only became a nightmare in their teens, by which time they could be at boarding school.). We thought about where the nursery would be in the house, or if we needed to move. We wondered how it might affect our jobs, who would look after it. The usual.
The ONE thing we were absolutely in agreement about, without question, was that we would only have one.
I'm an only child and loved it, despite the modern fear of it among many parents I know who seem to think only-children are automatically loner psychopaths who can't make friends. But we were happy with the idea of one. There was absolutely NO WAY we would have any more. No need to populate the world unnecessarily. One was DEFINITELY enough, thank you very much.
So in a way, it was inevitable when the nurse at the scan said, with no build-up whatsoever, "Oo I see two hearts!"
Of course you do, the baby's and the mum's! "I'm sorry, what?" was my predictable response. "You're expecting two babies. Twins!"
Mum burst into tears. I swore at a slightly inappropriate volume.
I gather this is a very common. Twins are usually a surprise. And they certainly were for us. NOW WHAT??!! First things first: call the not-yet-grandparents. We hoped they'd be sitting down. Then it was off to our favourite cafe in town where we sat and stared at each other for at least an hour, saying nothing much except "Holy Shit", otherwise our minds tumbling with thoughts of Double Everything We Originally Thought.
We knew nothing about looking after babies. Nothing. Nada. Now there was the prospect of looking after two. Feeding two. Buying two school uniforms. Two car seats. Two cots. TWO OF BLOODY EVERYTHING. Most people could spread the cost by having one child and then another a few years later. We, without any effort whatsoever, had gone for the Twins Option of getting it all over with in one go .
That's what people said, actually: "At least you get it all done in one go: they develop at the same time, go to school at the same time, need new shoes at the same time." But that assumes you want more than one. And we didn't. We hadn't, in fact, considered it as an option at all. And suddenly there we were, with the most extraordinary adventure about to begin.