When my son turned two, I was just getting the hang of the Mom Thing. It was still tough, though, don’t get me wrong. Being a colic baby, my son had remained sensitively wired and prone to meltdowns. He also had WAY TOO MUCH ENERGY. But I was about to turn 33, and my husband and I decided that even though we weren’t ready for the shell-shock of another infant, the clock was tickin.’ We started trying to conceive one month before my birthday, thinking, Who knows how long it’ll take? One month later, I was pregnant. I was lucky to be able to conceive so quickly, so I don’t want to seem ungrateful when I say I was shitting bricks, but I totally was. (There were actual bricks. I’m in the Guinness Book of World Records).
Being one of six kids, and having a taste of what it was like for my mother to manage all those kids at a time (think Survival Mode; think Barely Organized Chaos), I was terrified. I didn’t think I was genetically capable of multi-tasking, and there was tons of proof. Take my work history. My first real job was at a drugstore, and I was just a measly cashier. On Senior Citizen Tuesdays, with all those mean geriatrics lined up to pay for their Geritol and Depends Undergarments with a 15% discount, I would get so flustered I’d forget how to work the idiot-proof cash register. After that nightmare, I thought it’d be a great idea to be a waitress. It was a suck fest. I couldn’t even remember to smile and chit-chat with the customers, as most wait-people are prone to do if they want a fat tip. I was so focused on my most important task, which was not screwing up their order, that I could barely remember my own name. So I would end up with a robotic script, and all I wanted to do was stick to the script and bring people food! Essentially, I was the waitress version of “Seinfeld’s” No-Soup-For-You Soup Nazi. Hi, my name is Ashley, welcome to Ruby Tuesday. Can I take your order? What? How am I doing? HOW AM I DOING? Do you really want to know how someone you’ll never SEE AGAIN is doing, or do you want your effing breadsticks with honey butter? NO BREADSTICK FOR YOU!
I could detail my other forays into multi-tasking (shoe salesperson, NANNY, proposal writer), but I don’t want to scare you. Suffice it to say, my self-confidence was low when I got pregnant with my second child. I knew, however, that I had 9 more months to prepare myself. So I went about my merry way, growing my belly baby and raising my son as best I could in a constantly exhausted manner. As the months and OB visits passed, I found I had more issues than I’d had with my first pregnancy. First it was anemia, which explained all the exhaustion, and then it was a thyroid issue (easily fixed with some meds), and then it was some wonky blood test results. The wonky results worried my husband and I, as well as the doctors, so we were sent to the ultrasound technician to check everything out. This was right around 20 weeks, when I’d be getting an ultrasound anyway.
When we got inside the ultrasound room, the technician was making chit-chat with us. My husband Todd told her about our weird blood test results, and she said, “Well, you know, sometimes people just get skewed blood test results because they are having twins.”
I chortled, “Oh, no, nooo, that’s not us. I had an ultrasound at 6 weeks and there was only one baby.”
“Oh,” she said. “Well then let’s take a look.” She started circling the jelly-coated wand all around my bulging belly, clucking along, with her “ah’s” and “oh’s” till I broke in impatiently.
“What do you see?”
“Whelp, there’s definitely two in there,” she said, distractedly.
“Two WHAT?” I shrieked, louder than I intended to. “Two arms, legs, hands, feet, everything it needs two of?!”
“Noooo,” she answered, looking at me like I was a mental patient. “Two BABIES. There are two babies in there.”
I looked at my husband, who was staggering backwards towards a chair, pale-faced with eyes bulging like a bullfrog’s. He was obviously taking a psychotic break, so I turned back towards the technician and gulped.
“So, so, so they’re healthy?”
“Yes, they look to be totally healthy. Do you want to know the gender?”
Gender. So that meant there was one gender. I had been hoping for a girl. I had observed the differences between my 2-year-old boy and my friends’ 2-year-old girls lately with much interest. The difference was this: my boy was obviously on CRACK and their girls were on XANAX. I wanted desperately to be on Xanax too, in order to counterbalance the Crack. So, yes, my multi-tasking dysfunctional self wanted to know the singular “gender” and I wanted that “gender” to have nothing swinging between its legs.
“You’re having two BOYS!” the technician announced triumphantly. Aaaaand, that’s when I decided to have my own psychotic break.
Part Two of this story is called “I’m Having Two Penises?!”Never miss a Big Top Family post! Click HERE to put the Ringleader in your inbox!
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