Please note: This column ran in May 2003 in the Anchorage Daily News as part of a series of columns under the title: "Midlife Mom."
Seven years ago my husband and I uttered these fateful words: Let’s start a family. In early July, last year, our wish came true with a vengeance. On that day, three babies entered our lives. Three girls. All. At. Once.
How did this happen? A convergence of events came together in a way that can only be explained by starting at the beginning.
I am now 45. I was already in the fertility Bonus Round when we began ‘trying’ to have children. Over 40, a woman’s miscarriage rate rises to nearly 50 percent. In two years, we had endured four miscarriages. Since the point was to have a child, not necessarily ‘our child,’ we began to look into adoption.
Here’s the way most people think it works: You adopt, then suddenly you ‘relax’ and get pregnant. If only it were that easy. What most people don’t understand is that for couples like us, who pursue both having children and adoption, what often occurs is that the two come together. That’s what happened to us.
On a Monday in early July, the adoption agency we’d been working with left a message for us to call them. One week earlier, we had had a positive pregnancy test. The next day my husband went to work and returned the call. Meanwhile, I called my doctor to go in for a check up. By the time my husband had called the adoption agency, he not only learned that we had been chosen by a birth mother, but that the baby had already been born that very morning.
My husband gave me the news as he drove me to my doctor’s appointment. We quickly reviewed our options: To go forward with the adoption or not. Without hesitating, we said ‘yes.’ We could handle two.
At the doctor’s office, we had an ultrasound and saw a heartbeat. We were overjoyed. My husband then asked about a dark circle in the corner of the monitor. ‘Oh, it’s probably nothing,’ the doctor said. But as he moved the ultrasound wand over my belly, we all saw it: A second heartbeat! We were having twins.
My husband was left having to explain to the adoption agency that we were pregnant with twins. They conveyed this information to the baby’s birth mom, who said ‘no problem,’ she wanted her daughter to have siblings and to be with us.
Over the next 48 hours we had to decide what to do. We called a myriad of friends, including one mother of twins, who also had two young children under the age of five. Bill called his boss, the father of three. We spoke with counselors who warned us against the idea (it wouldn’t be fair to any of them, we were told). One woman who had worked with us in trying to have children, scoffed at the idea. We each called a half dozen or more friends to get their opinion. I had never felt such intense pressure. I’m the kind of person who agonizes over what socks to put on in the morning, much less a life changing decision such as we were facing. I was both drawn to and terrified by what we were contemplating. I was not afraid of the cost of raising three children, or how tired it would make me, or how overworked I would be, or how my life would change, because I certainly hoped that it would.
What I worried about was precisely what the one counselor had warned against – could we give all three what each needed, especially in their early years. Could we hold them enough, answer their cries, be there when they needed us?
But as I look back over that time period, I realize it was not so much a decision as it was a foregone conclusion.
Two days later we brought the first of our three babies home from the hospital. Despite how many times we tell people the story, they still say ‘Did you hear about Kim and Bill? They adopted and then learned they were expecting twins!”
I correct them every time. What the above implies is had we known about the twins beforehand, we would not have adopted; that it was some kind of cosmic mistake. It wasn’t and it will always be important to us that she know that.
Are we nuts? Perhaps. My editor thinks deciding to have children is about being drawn by a life force and fulfilling a powerful longing. In our case, our love and desire to have children was so strong, that it brought three babies into our lives. I like that.
As my husband put it: Think of the story we can tell the girls – of how they all came together on the same day and how they were destined to be together.