...Scarier than finding out I was pregnant with one child, with Archer, was seeing that image on the screen. Because more than the two babies, it represented life in all it's unpredictable craziness. That after months, years of going back and forth between wanting a third child and thinking we were crazy to, we finally went for it. We were going to be a family of five.
I did a reading the other night of an essay that first appeared here. An essay I adapted for this book about a moment that changed me, or rather, moments... of beginnings and endings and if I could have written another piece to go along with it would have been this one. It would have been about the day I saw the two circles in the sonogram, like two eyes opening for the first time.
...It would have been about that day, March 9th, 2011 and how I realized that there's no such thing as a planned anything. As a planned pregnancy or a planned career or a planned life or a planned afternoon. Even when I try to plan... it rains. Or someone gets sick. Or there are two babies in my uterus instead of one.
That's the magic. We have no idea. Ever. We have no idea until the storm passes and we are on our backs in a field ten miles away from home.
Maybe I knew all along I would end up married with four children by the time I was thirty. Maybe I spent years trying to rebel against all of things I knew I wanted. It doesn't even matter. It doesn't matter what I wanted or what I thought I'd be or who I wished I was. Things happened and then more things happened and then more things happened after that. Things will happen and then more things will happen and then more things will happen after that.
And all of the things that aren't supposed to happen will because all the things that weren't supposed to happen did. Because that's how life moves forward. By dealing with the aftermath of the unplanned.
Surprise is where the magic lives, between the margins of to-do lists, the aftermath of the eviction notice, the tiny movements on the ultrasound machine.
Surprise! Your flight has been cancelled. Surprise! You can't live here anyone!
This time last year, with a shaky phone, I snapped a photo of the ultrasound that would double our brood and double our joy and our stress and change everything. I snapped a picture with my phone and emailed it to him. And waited on the curb outside the doctor's office for him to call me back.
Surprise! You're going to be a father. Again. And again.
And he cried and I cried and it was horrible and wonderful and planned and unplanned and right and wrong and left and right and yes and no.
In August, a month before the girls were born, I wrote this about my experience that afternoon:
When I first found out I was pregnant with twins... and I was sitting in the doctor's chair, staring at the two tiny bodies on the ultrasound screen, my VERY first thought, before it even occurred to me to have a panic attack was that someday, I would attend their graduation ceremony.It was the closest I've ever come to an out of body experience, like the next eighteen-years were gone and suddenly I was sitting in the stands with Hal and Archer and Fable, watching these babies graduate from high school in matching gowns and two different shades of hair flowing out from under their square caps and we were cheering. All four of us were cheering for the graduates and I was trying to make out their faces but they were too far away to see...
And maybe it was just a coincidence, the girls that came to me in a flash with their different colored hair. Maybe it was a coincidence that Archer drew this the summer before I got pregnant with twins and that this happened at the same time a man with a real estate pamphlet for this house came knocking on our door. Maybe it was a coincidence that the "engagement" ring we picked out during our almost divorce was a pair of fraternal stones... Maybe all of this is just stuff that happens and when enough stuff happens, more stuff happens after that.