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Our second pregnancy started uneventfully. Even my wife’s extreme nausea was expected, since she was very sick during our first pregnancy.
But we certainly noticed when Alysha’s weight gain seemed to march forward on a daily basis, despite healthy eating habits and daily workouts.
My “don’t worry, honey” comments could only calm my wife for so long before we headed to the ultrasound clinic for a peace-of-mind scan five weeks before our scheduled ultrasound.
“Is this your first ultrasound?”
“So am I the first to tell you that you’re expecting twins?”
“Twins ... oh my God.” (Hysterical crying begins.)
“Yes ... um ... I need to go get my manager.”
Then we hear the words that will change our lives forever: “Baby A, Baby B, Baby C.”
Let me share what that feels like: A massive wave of heat hits the body all at once. You feel faint. Your mind races. Denial is triggered, but quickly subsides given the ultrasound screen directly in front of you. Your brain starts a massive, all-encompassing life evaluation. Do we need a new house? Do we need a new car? Should we move closer to our parents? Do we need a nanny ... or two? Is this dangerous? Will my wife be safe? Will our babies be safe or disabled? Should we abort?
For two young urbanites used to stage-managing our perfect life down to the last detail, spontaneous triplets break The Plan. The Plan was to have two kids. The Plan was to have a family of four.
In one sentence, life is suddenly taken out of our hands, deftly reconfigured by an amazingly potent combination of ovum and sperm: Two kids become four kids. Downtown living becomes suburban living. Overseas vacations become Florida road trips. Career independence becomes employer servitude. Investments become debts.
This is a joyous occasion, a blessing, to be sure. We know at least four couples dealing with conception issues; it feels downright rude to question receiving an abundance of children. But still, you can’t help but focus on the life changes that will result.
Can we handle three infants simultaneously? Do we have the resources and support? Will our marriage survive? What about our toddler, Audrey? Her life will be blown apart ...
Within 24 hours, we are sitting in front of a high-risk obstetrician to discuss “selection” – the elimination of one or more fetuses for health, economic or psychological purposes.
This is a common first conversation for parents expecting triplets or quads. If you want, you can end one pregnancy in order to establish a more viable pregnancy. After all, there is only so much room in the womb. Selection is risky, emotionally traumatic, and requires the mother to carry the aborted fetuses until delivery.
A day of joy would turn into a day of sadness. For us, it isn’t an option. We elect to proceed with our spontaneous triplets and begin redesigning our life.
Preterm labour is the biggest possible complication. It can start as early as 15 weeks, and if it’s detected, bed rest will be immediately prescribed. We have to prepare as fast as possible.
Our toddler is immediately enrolled in full-time daycare. An ad is placed for a nanny with multiples experience. A house renovation is started. Minivans are evaluated and selected.
Our family, friends and co-workers deliver blunt, identical questions and comments. “Well, you are taking fertility treatments, right?” (No, all natural.) “Are they identical?” (No, all fraternal.) “Wow, your boys can swim!” (Thanks!) “You’re screwed!” (Thanks!) “What are the odds of triplets happening naturally?” (About 1 in 10,000.) “Oh my God, what if they’re all girls?” (If they are healthy, that’s all we care about.)
We have discovered how much love and support we have in our lives. Our families deliver daily calls, e-mails and texts of support. Our friends offer to hold a second baby shower to help offset the costs. Neighbours deliver dinner. Employers offer to unlock the hidden gold inside benefit packages and promise time off as needed.
The immense fear of pre-term complications starts to dissolve, and is replaced with resolve to get past 32 weeks and deliver healthy children.
These are certainly emotional days. We are still kids, 32 and 30 years old. Our friends are still acting like kids. We still act like kids.
Since we were teenagers, we’ve been planners. We took life by the reins and made it what we wanted. Our teachers and parents told us we were in control. Society told us we could decide.
No one told us that life does what it wants, when it wants. But the more you plan life, the more you realize life plans you.
In our case, we are lucky that life has provided us a joyous adventure. We will just have to learn to enjoy the ride.
Kris Lawson and Alysha Maxwell are proud parents of triplets Millie Anne, Violet Elizabeth and Edie Mae, born May 24 in the 33rd week of pregnancy, each weighing more than four pounds.