I am nervous. My leg keeps shaking and I shift around in my seat. As I glance around the waiting room, I think back to what it was like when I was a little girl and came to see the doctor once a year for what we called a “checkup”. I can’t believe we used to do that, set aside a scheduled time to come visit the doctor, spend unnecessary amounts of money to be told we are doing just fine. Now, my home and electronics let my doctor and me know when I need to come in for a checkup and when I need medical attention.
Jacob takes my hand and squeezes it, and gives me a reassuring smile. I put my other hand on my tummy and we both look down. I got the news that I am pregnant two weeks ago now, when my fridge and bathroom systems detected changes in my dietary choice and hormone levels. It’s such a strange feeling to think that there is a little someone growing inside of me. I can’t even imagine being a mother right now, but everyone tells me that I have the next 9 months to prepare, which is surprisingly comforting. Jacob is already so excited; just the other day, he bought a little football for our new, little Niners fan.
A nurse walks into the waiting room and calls my name. Jacob and I stand up abruptly and start following the nurse down the hallway. “Mr. and Mrs. Burroughs, congratulations on your pregnancy! You must be so excited for your appointment today,” the nurse says. Jacob and I look at each other, a bit confused, and he tells her, “Neither of us were told exactly what the appointment today would be for.” “Oh! I’m so sorry, I just received your updated files and data collection, which indicate that today you should be ready to meet your baby!” My walking slows. Meeting my baby? Today? I didn’t know it would be this soon, I feel so unprepared. “The 4D room is right here”, our nurse says as she guides me into a light yellow room with big windows and long, soft curtains. There is a reclined chair for me to lay on and a large screen mounted on the wall in front of me.
The nurse had only left us for less than a minute when our doctor arrives. She introduces herself quickly and briefly, mentioning that my data had suggested that she would be the best suited doctor for my body type and history. She begins applying a gel to my tummy and the nurse returns with a heavy blanket to cover my legs with. Before I know it, a little, peachy fetus appears on the screen, floating around aimlessly in a bubble of liquid. Jacob and I stare in amazement and I feel overwhelmed, but only for a moment.
“Alright, it looks like we have two fetuses in here, where’s the other guy…” The doctor does something that changes the angle of the 4D Ultrasound, revealing that there are in fact TWO fetuses in my tummy. “We’re having TWINS??” Jacob sounds breathless and I realize that I’m not breathing myself. The doctor continues, “Yes, we have two girls here. From these scans, however, it looks like one might have a slight case of autism. The one on the left. I’ll schedule an appointment for you both to see our children’s neurotherapist after our appointment here. The one on the right seems fine, although her has been having sporadic movements and spiked emotions, so there is a big chance that she may suffer from depression or an eating disorder. Her legs are also somewhat disproportionate, so let’s get you acquainted with our chiropractor so that she can start therapy early on to avoid back problems–” “Whoa whoa whoa. I’m sorry, what is going on?” Jacob interrupts with my exact thoughts. I can tell he feels overwhelmed by this information, not as much as I am. Fifteen minutes ago, I was wondering what it would be like to be a mom, and now I am staring at these two girls who are oblivious to the struggles they are about to face once they grow too big to hide away in my womb. And once they’re out, they’re ours to take care of. I don’t know what I’m doing! I don’t know anything about caring for an autistic child or a depressed daughter with back problems.
While my mind is running wild, the doctor has talked some more about the conditions that our daughters may face, offering services and support groups for us to sign up for. I look at Jacob and he is completely pale. The doctor has pulled up the predicted 3D scans of what our girls will look like in four and six months, then as one year olds. We stare at the faces, unsure of how to react or what our lives are about to be. The doctor misreads our stares as wonder and gives us information about pre-family bonding services, where we can take monthly visits and see 4D scans of our babies, spend time with them and get to know them. She also happily suggests getting a live stream of our babies to play at our baby shower. She leaves the room to start the medical records for our girls, and Jacob and I are still staring. I am mesmerized by these little faces, the softness of their cheeks, the acute sameness of one’s nose to Jacob’s, the predicted blonde curls of our one year old daughters. I wonder what Jacob is thinking, and I’m a little afraid to know. I wish I could keep them in my womb forever, save them from the horror that they will face when they enter the world. I wonder what kind of mom that makes me.