For those of you who either know me or know some of my stories, you’d probably agree that I’m not usually at a loss for words. But I was just that when I first found out Caroline was pregnant with triplets. Given my workload at the time of the first ultrasound, Caroline and I both thought it’d be best if she went without me. Afterward, she swung by the office and took me out to lunch to break the news.
I’m not sure what I thought the ultrasound images would look like, but the first one I examined wasn’t what I expected. All I saw were a few white blobs, three more pronounced than the others, contrasting starkly against a black background. It certainly didn’t look like a baby to me. It looked more like an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
“What are those blurry white things?”
“Those blurry white things would be babies.”
Babies? Plural? I must have misheard.
“I’m sorry, honey,” I said. “I just don’t get it.”
“Well then let me help you. Each blurry white thing is a baby. As in three of them. Babies that is.”
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the one I was holding left me with just two.
Any choices my wife and I had that pertained to parenting immediately vanished. We’d not even have the luxury of choosing to lead a normal life. At least not for the foreseeable future. We already had one child, and in trying for a simple addition to bring us just below the national average, we had somehow morphed into the Waltons in one fell swoop. And in that swoop, many decisions were made for us.
Expensive decisions. Like ones about cars and houses. We’d need a bigger one of each. And hired help. We decided that we’d need some of that, too. At least until the babies were sleeping through the night.
We survived those first few months, and we did so by coming to grips with one simple fact. We didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. So there was no sense in fighting it. Our lives had been turned upside down and we were forced to find a new normal. One that had less to do with us than we ever could have imagined. Virtually every single thing we did was impacted beyond belief leaving us no choice but to go with the flow.
Fast forward to this past fall. We had survived the worst of it. Or so we thought. The triplets had just turned three, and though we knew we were in for a tough year of toddler tantrums (it’s been brutal — possibly the hardest year yet), we took solace in knowing that the end of the hard times was near. You see, Caroline and I always thought that things would finally settle down by the time the triplets turned four. It felt good to know that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Until we learned that we were expecting surprise love child number five. Oh, the irony. A choice we didn’t make, namely, blowing off permanent measures of birth control, led to a scenario where we’d, once again, have fewer choices. That tunnel Caroline and I have been in for nearly four years? The one that has left us with virtually no social life and next-to-zero time for ourselves? It just got a bit longer.
We will, indeed, return to normalcy. But it’ll be three years later than expected. Maybe four.
I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t take us time to get our hands around that fact, but we eventually did just that. And even though it’s not how we would have drawn it up, and even though we’d love to resume living a more normal life, one thing’s for certain.
Now that we’ve got a grip on the situation, we wouldn’t want it any other way. Assuming we had a choice, that is.
Which we don’t.
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Image: Our 2007 Christmas card.