Friday, September 2, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want...

Last spring, we gave up trying for a baby. We had been working on this little project for over a year and we did not want our son Quinn to be an only child.  I was 38 and I felt that time was running out.  After all, the older you are, we thought, the greater the chances of having a baby with "problems".  We didn't want that,  so it had to be now.  As time went on we started saying things like "maybe we should go see somebody about this" and then we'd get busy and forget or I'd go back on nights and then whoosh!  Another month would go by. Then we'd look at each other again and say "we should really go see someone"... and so on.  Finally, in June we gave up.

Somewhere around then, Mother Nature looked over and said "You what?  I don't  f☠cking think so.  [Blam!] Twins!"

By July I knew I was pregnant and by the time Quinn started school I was perpetually green and frequently had my head hung over a toilet.  In the second week of September (at the twelve week mark) I knew something was "different" and I was dying to know what was going on in there.  I had the first part of my IPS screening on the Thursday, but by Monday's night shift I was really antsy.  Luckily, I'm a nurse who works in an ER and has friends who need to practice with the ultrasound machine.  After an unsuccessful attempt at the doppler (to hear the heartbeat... I just wanted to hear something) my friend advised me to come back later.  It was our little secret agent mission, Operation: Baby Peek. Meet you at oh-three-hundred.  Drink lots. Bring the machine. 

Thankfully, it was a very slow night.  My friend started expertly poking around with the ultrasound wand and then she found what she was looking for.

"Awww, there's the little nugget!" she said.

"Yeah... but what the hell is that?" I asked, pointing at the screen.

It was gone by the time I opened my mouth, but for a second there was the ghostly image of another baby, another sac, just beside the one she had found. Then it quickly faded back into the gloom.  We tried for 45 minutes to find it again.  Forty five minutes in the dark, poking and prodding and "Umph!"-ing and me saying things like "Ow!  Do you know what you are doing?" and some frantic button pushing on my friend's part.  Colleagues started poking their heads in as they noticed the lights were off, heard weird noises and wondered what the hell we were up to.  By the time we gave up, the room was pretty crowded and we still hadn't confirmed if there was a second baby or not.

My husband was noticeably silent the next morning on the phone and advised that we didn't know anything for sure and we should not worry about it until we did.  That period of logic induced calm ended Thursday morning after my tests. After blurting out "well, it's twins!",  I burst into tears.  We were both a little grey for a couple of days.  Two babies wasn't exactly what we had in mind. 

Earlier that year, in February to be exact, we had traded in our Saturn Ion for a sexy new red Equinox.  It had room, it had flash.  It was complete and total awesomesauce.  It also came with a pretty cool stereo, in which we popped a compilation CD of all our favourite tunes.  Quinn's taste in music is pretty eclectic sometimes, but he would always ask for  You Can't Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones.  Every car trip.  First it became annoying, then it became a joke, then it became a family song.  Quinn would entertain strangers with it in the grocery store and would sing it at daycare.  It would be sung at random and when we were looking for something around the house that we couldn't find.  It became a "thing", a touchstone for our little family of three.

When we found out that we were having twins, we switched into action mode.  Where is all our baby stuff?  Is our stuff good enough?  Do we have enough stuff?  All we had was "boy" stuff... what if we had a girl?  Girls?  It was a lot to think about.  It was also increasingly evident that our vehicle was inadequate.  There was no way that two baby seats and a booster could fit comfortably across the back seat.   We also needed storage space as twin strollers take up a LOT of room.  Much deliberation ensued.  Sean took me to the dealer lot one Saturday afternoon to show us a van that he was considering buying.  Not a mini-van.  A VAN.  As in holds 8 people and has room for everything that the kids own plus a small Shetland pony.  It was huge.  It was white.  It would hold all our stuff.  It was awful.  It was also the only vehicle that met our needs that we could afford.  So we bought it.  We held a contest on Facebook so that all our friends could help name the abomination on wheels that was eventually christened "The Whaaambulance"  (think three kids screaming down the highway).  It was dreadful.  It was also a couple of years old and the stereo wasn't as advanced as the one we'd just given up, so we couldn't have our CD sing along on the way home, sorry kiddo.  We turned on the radio to hear the angelic childrens chorus sing the opening of You Can't Always Get What You Want.  "You got that right!!" I grumbled as Sean swung the nose of our new white beast out into traffic while an enthusiastic little voice serenaded us from somewhere in the recesses of its body.

Having a baby with Down syndrome wasn't exactly what we planned either.  While we were waiting for our genetic counseling appointment in October, Sean and I talked at length about what the possibilities could be and what that would mean for our family.  He confided in me at the time that a delayed baby, such as one with Down syndrome was always his biggest fear.  To him, that seemed the worst case scenario.  I knew that wasn't the case... There are some pretty awful things that could happen out there.  However, I was pretty sure that I didn't want a baby with Down syndrome either.  We accepted the counselors odds all too quickly, all too easily;  one in three hundred.  We are just not that lucky, we told ourselves.  There is no way.

We certainly did not expect one of our babies, who by January had names and  personalities (at least in our minds) to have a hole in his heart.  We also did not expect them to arrive 6 weeks early, at 34 weeks and 4 days. I had discussed with friends prior to this that I feared prematurity and the idea of them being small and spending a lot of time in the NICU... which they both did:  Zoe for two weeks and Wyatt for a month.  So much unexpectedness in such a short amount of time.

I found a begrudging acceptance of the van the first couple of times we went grocery shopping.  That grew as time went on.  On our first road trip, I truly appreciated the amount of cargo space as we practically had to pack up the house to go away for a few days. 

Now that the twins are over six months old, they have really started to be fun.  Each has their own separate personality, set of likes and dislikes and methods for communicating and exploring the world around them.  They are fascinating to watch as they interact with one another and roll around on the floor.  Without sounding too clichéd (or like a gum commercial) they are truly double the pleasure.  Now that they are working on their first teeth, they are always looking for a ready chew toy.  Since they have learned that biting their own hand hurts, it's much more fun to nibble on your brother or sister.  It's a very interactive game; the down side is you may get hit or kicked  in the face.  You will also find them holding hands frequently and always orienting themselves by where the other is. If one loses track of the other for a period of time, there is hell to pay.  I can give example after example, but with twins you truly get to experience many beautiful things that having one baby simply does not provide.

Sleepy Kisses - 7 weeks old

We were sure that we did not want a baby with Down syndrome, but here he is.  In the time from his AVSD diagnosis in January to now, we have realized that this is not a "worse case scenario" at all.  We still have a long road ahead of us to be sure, but it is not as dark and foreboding as we once perceived it to be.  Every day he shows us something new, something unique to him that is so wonderful that it threatens to break my heart into a thousand pieces.  I'm not so sure things would be as noticeable if Zoe (his "typical" twin) was not here for contrast, but they are.  From the way he lifts his feet up to touch you in greeting, to the way he watches your mouth intently as you talk and tries to mimic the shapes you are making with it.  How he says "Ah-whoo!" when you enter the room as if to say "He-llo!" and only really cries when he bonks his head or gets very scared.  How his "bean bag" body snuggles perfectly into your arms and how extra fantastic it is every time he masters a new skill.  He is a wonderful little baby who will one day grow into a wonderful man.

I was in the middle of getting them dressed yesterday and was mulling over a few things when that song came on the radio.  You Can't Always Get What You Want.  I had to smile.  It is so true.  You can't and don't get everything in this life that you think you want.  When we were trying all those months ago, it was for one baby, not two and certainly not one with Down syndrome.  But here we are.  You can't always get what you want. Since last June we have been on a roller coaster ride, one that has necessitated a complete overhaul of our relationship, of our lives, of our finances, of our house, of our family.  We have had to learn to be more focused with our time and our energies.  We have made difficult choices.  We never would have asked for any of this.

What we've gotten in return is immeasurable.  What was unobtainable is now ridiculously easy.  What was troublesome is no longer an issue.  A view that was clouded by the past is now clear for the future.  You can't always get what you want. But, like the song says "if you try sometimes, you get what you need".

You really do.  We sure did. Our beautiful baby son showed us that.

Good Morning Wyatt - 6 mos


  1. Feel quite tearful after reading that. Beautifully written

  2. Well, I caught the post this time around so thanks for re-sharing. Still smiling picturing you and your friend fumbling with the equipment.

    We sing that song a lot in my family too. But we've modified it: "You can't always get what you want, but if you CRY get what you need." Surprisingly, it drowns out the screaming quite well. ;)


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