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Unexpected Twins: A Fathers Perspective
When we were expecting our first child, my wife and I had selected two of our favorite boy names and two of our favorite girl names. We naively thought that we would choose the one that seemed to best fit at the moment we first met our child. The doctor we were seeing was very old fashioned and believed that ultrasound technology could be harmful, so we went along thinking, or not thinking (in retrospect), that it would be kind of nice not to know until the birth, a surprise you might say. I thought I was ready to become a father but looking back now I was not prepared for the real surprise that was to come.
At the last appointment the doctor told us the baby was close and pointed to where its head was positioned. Late in the evening of December 28, I tried to feel where the head was through my wife’s stomach. It didn’t seem to me like the baby’s head was where the doctor said it would be. Early the next morning we were off to the hospital. The child was arriving 6 weeks prematurely, but we remained confident and calm.
Our small town hospital was not well equipped to handle premature babies so they sent us driving to a larger nearby city hospital that had a neo-natal unit. When we arrived and were checked into a room, a fetal baby monitor was place on the scalp of our soon to arrive child. The doctor that visited was at the end of a straight 36 hour shift. Despite our repeated questions about our concerns he was not willing or able to answer even one. At that point he was pretty worthless as a physician. Being new parents we thought this was just routine and we sensed nothing to contradict that feeling from the nursing staff. My wife was pretty comfortable for awhile, but soon the pain began. An epidural was given, but that wore off quickly and she was engulfed with the pains of labor. The attending nurse announced it was time and she was wheeled into the delivery room with me following closely behind. Only a few minutes later and just seconds after a doctor finally showed up with his intern, the baby was ready. He arrived quickly and soon was crying and placed on my wife’s chest for us to adore. We had a son, his name would be Daniel Adam, we were so happy. It seemed to me at the time he had a slight resemblance to my father-in-law. Dan was wrapped in blankets and placed in a little crib for the neo-natal doctor, Dr. Chan, to check over. He announced everything was fine but needed to take Dan to the neo-natal unit as a precaution. Just as he left the room, my wife said to the attending doctor that she felt she still needed to push. “It’s ok” he said, “just wait”. I heard the intern whisper to him, with a slightly panicked tone to his voice, “I think there is another one”. I questioned the intern in what was probably a tone of disgust and wonder about his competence, “HAVEN’T YOUR EVER DILEVERED TWINS?” He firmly replied “OF COURSE I HAVE”, glaring at me for just a few seconds. While this little inquisition was occurring, the nurse yelled for Dr. Chan to come back and frantically ran out of the room, but quickly returned pushing an ultra-sound machine and slamming it into the door frame as she entered. The sensor was lubricated and placed on my wife and as soon as it was verified that there was another child, Alexander James arrived. The air was filled with disbelief. How could this happen? Why did no one know? Isn’t it standard procedure to have an ultra-sound for premature deliveries? Alex was not as healthy as Dan. He was rushed to neo-natal surgery to repair a collapsed lung.
While my wife was in recovery I went to the waiting room to tell her parents. I walked in and paused a long time before I said anything. “Well???” my mother-in-law questioned. I said my wife was doing ok and the boys are in the neo-natal unit. “Did you say boySSSS?” Everyone was astonished. Twins are common but it’s not often any longer that they are a surprise. Both boys recovered with only slight complications.
Dan wore and apnea monitor for a year and Alex developed asthma briefly about a year later, but no longer has it. Dan was 4.5 lbs. and Alex was 3.5 lbs. It was hospital policy that infants remain in the neo-natal unit until they reach 5.0 pounds. It took Dan two weeks and Alex five weeks. Our family vehicle at the time was a small pickup truck, so I also had to purchase a new car to transport the family. Those five weeks were long and we spent as much time with them as possible. As I was holding them in the hospital an intense feeling of desire to protect my children overwhelmed me. I did not expect this kind of intensity. I knew then I was a father, a little afraid of the new responsiblity, and unaware of just how much my life had changed.