There are two questions I’ve been asked repeatedly while pregnant.
“Do you know what you’re having?”, which is always followed up with, “Twins! Was that a surprise?” I’m definitely not a scientist, but I feel fairly certain no woman has responded with, “No, not at all. We were planning on twins.”
It’s only been with repetition that I’ve come to realize the motives behind the second question. Sure, its a simple act of making conversation; the curiosity that women have about each other’s journey. Frankly, until now I’ve never understood why mothers talked about their babies so much. “Ugh, babies.” I’d think, any time I was stuck in a conversation with two mothers. Alas, like all women who don’t have children (and who are quick to judge mothers) I’ve quickly learned why pregnant women want to talk about this stuff so much. It’s because it’s so weird. You go through your whole life with one body and then suddenly, you’re dealing with a new one, and when someone asks you about it, it’s a relief.
The second reason, I’ve come to learn, is a veiled attempt at asking if we’ve conceived naturally. This one took me months to clue into. It’s rather personal question, especially from a stranger. It also has an unfortunate underlying implication: you’re old. As I’ve become aware of this motive, it’s given me a lot to consider about the answer. I wonder if this is anyone’s business, and then feel empathy for those who have had trouble conceiving. I wonder if I should be generous with my honesty, and allow them to open a dialogue about a difficult topic. And lastly, and I confess, the one I’ve wondered most, is, “Do I look that old?”
Here’s the deal: I’m a 38 year old, who (along with my husband) is expecting twins imminently. I don’t have a long and winding conception story, I have moderate experience being a “cool aunt”, and extremely limited experience changing diapers. I was not a babysitter in highschool, and have been career-focused since the age of 16. I have no idea what to expect, and simultaneously am worldly enough to know what’s coming. I’m trying to be relaxed about it, I let people touch my belly, and I have read only half of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. I am told to both ignore and pay attention to all the advice I receive, register for daycare immediately, and to prepare for every aspect of my life to change. When people tell me this is going to be the greatest experience of my life, I quietly wonder if they ever lived with five female roommates downtown Toronto in their early 20’s.
I’ve decided–and perhaps this is optimistic–I’m going to be writing about this new-motherhood thing twice a month, for a year. My sister, a mother of two, says I can achieve this, and she knows more than me. As does every mother, grandmother, and child-less daycare provider. I doubt I’ll be offering any earth-shattering advice, but I will be seeking to share some of the perks and pitfalls of being a first-time mom of two, flying as blind as any new parent, with just a few more years practice at being an adult than most.