My dreams were correct; I was pregnant. From day one, I told the doctors and nurses I’d have twins. They listened to my belly, then smiled and shook their heads.
“Just one healthy heartbeat,” they proclaimed. Repeatedly.
Even my mom, who’d always wanted twins herself, warned me not to get my hopes up.
I sighed. “Hope has nothing to do with it, Mom. I just know.”
After the ultrasound, everyone knew. My mom fought tears, then laughed. “Even as a little girl, you had to make things even.”
I’d made it even, all right! The babies were monozygotic: two embryos with nearly identical DNA formed by the division of a single, fertilized egg. Because they shared both placenta and sac, they were also considered the riskiest kind of twins. Frequent ultrasounds were necessary to ensure their safety, but I felt certain they’d be okay.
The one thing I didn’t know was their sex. To the doctors, they were Baby A (from my perspective, on the right side of my growing abdomen) and Baby B (on the left), and apparently, babies never switch sides during a twin pregnancy. Dan and I decided on four full names, two for boys and two for girls. The baby on my right was either Connor Tarian or Gwyneth Sterling; on the left, it was Geoffrey Debrett or Evelyn Fay.
When Dan announced the names to his mother over the phone, her response was instantaneous. “They’re going to be boys!”
Her reasoning was simple. At work, the coworker on her right had a child named Connor; the one on her left, a son named Geoffrey.
Sure enough, my next ultrasound confirmed it. The babies were boys.
On the heels of this revelation, I met with a friend who was a Reiki Master. She worked on me for a bit, then wanted to chat.
“I don’t know if you noticed,” she said, “but my hands were farther away from you this time. When someone’s pregnant, it’s good to form a protective bubble and work around it.”
Immediately, I recalled the odd experience with the other energy worker. Whoever—or whatever—had lifted her hands and pushed her back must’ve shared this view and resolved to protect my body’s precious cargo.
The Reiki Master continued. “The babies seemed so excited about coming to earth and having you and Dan as parents. They can’t wait to experience everything and don’t seem to remember how difficult life on this plane can be.
“I also kept seeing a strong individual around them in spirit. This is going to sound strange, but he looks like Albert Einstein or Mark Twain, with white bushy hair and a moustache. Did anyone in your family or Dan’s look that way in life?”
I racked my brain for images from old family photos. “Not that I know of.”
“Well, whoever this is, he’s going to be present at their birth. Actually, a lot of spirits are. I don’t know why, but it’s like they’re crowding around, vying for the chance to be there.”
As my pregnancy progressed, I discovered the joys of projectile vomiting, day and night. I started to waddle, and my feet disappeared under a near comical girth. My niece’s prediction was correct. I was fast becoming a big, big mama.
Dan was offered a job on the island of Nantucket, so we left Virginia and moved into the only place we could afford: a shoebox apartment above someone’s garage. I was five months pregnant and big as a whale, prompting jokes about the return of Moby-Dick.
It wasn’t long before my new doctor dropped a bombshell. The complications inherent in multiple births made them impossible to perform on the island. Our twins would need to be delivered at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Even worse, the likelihood of premature birth meant I had to move to Boston six weeks before the due date and remain there until the twins were born.
We had no clue how we’d cope, financially or emotionally, because Dan had to stay on the island to work. Both of our families lived far away, and there hadn’t been time to make many friends.
Like magic, everything we needed unfolded before our weary eyes. A specialist, one of the country’s leading authorities on multiples, visited the island once a month for the ultrasounds. Hospitality Homes set me up with a family in Brookline; they’d provide me with free lodging on the third floor of their Victorian house for the duration of my stay in the Boston area. One by one, the details worked themselves out.
On the night of Wednesday, June 2, I donned my white, cotton granny nightgown. Then I heaved myself onto the bed beside Dan and rested my hands atop my voluminous middle.
The babies were at it again. It never failed. Whenever I settled into bed, they perked right up, doing God knew what. Tennis, gymnastics, Irish jigs…nothing would’ve surprised me. We even joked that one of them fancied himself “Lord of the Dance.”
I tried to take a deep breath, but it was impossible with two babies pushing against my diaphragm. “Dan, I’ll miss you when I’m in Boston.”
He kissed my shoulder. “I’ll miss you too.”
“I might end up having these babies alone.”
“Jude, don’t worry. Once I know you’re in labor, I’ll catch the first flight out.”
Everything was set: the ferry, the rental car, my estimated arrival time in Brookline, and my first appointment with the specialist in his Boston office. Early Saturday morning, in just two days, the plan would commence.
Or so we thought. The boys had hatched a plan of their own.