For those of you who either know me or know some of my stories, most of you would likely agree that I’m not usually at a loss for words. But I was just that when I first found out Caroline was carrying triplets. Given my workload at the time of our very first ultrasound, Caroline and I both thought it’d be best if just she went. Afterward, she swung by work and took me out to lunch to break the news. Only we didn’t make it out of the parking lot.
Suffice it to say I didn’t quite get it. At least not immediately. Take a stroll down memory lane with me, won’t you? And hear about the time my charming wife told yours truly that our little he or she was really our little three.
Caroline opened the center console and pulled out a manila envelope and waived it before my eyes as a hypnotist might a watch.
“What are those?” I asked.
“What do you think they are?”
“The first images ever captured of our son?”
“Oh, so you think it’s a boy, huh?”
I did think we were having a boy. But she wasn’t going to delay my first ever glimpse of our baby with a garden-variety gender debate. “Just give ’em to me,” I replied impatiently as I reached for the envelope.
“Ah, ah, ah,” she said as she moved it away from me. “I’ll get them out. The last thing we want is a bunch of grimy fingerprints on them.” Caroline reached into the envelope and pulled out four images and fanned them before me. “Pick a card, any card,” she said. I chose the top one.
I’m not sure what I thought the ultrasound images would look like, but the first one I viewed wasn’t what I was expecting. 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 the blurry white things?”
“Those blurry white things would be babies.”
Babies? Plural? I must have misheard.
“Are these blobs his eyes and this blob his nose or something?”
“Um, no. Maybe one of the other pictures will make more sense to you.”
The second picture looked just like the first — three fuzzy blobs with a hazy black background. The third image was a little different. In it, each blob was circled and had a corresponding letter assigned to it. “What do they do,” I asked, “assign a different letter to the various parts of the body? Like maybe this is his head, this is his torso, and this one’s the start of his little legs?”
“No honey. It doesn’t work that way,” she answered casually.
“Then what do the letters stand for? Different parts of his, um, stuff? Like A is his ding dong and B and C are his, you know, his…”
“Honey,” she interrupted mercifully, “a baby at six weeks is half the size of a lima bean. Do you really think his junk would be that far along? And if it were, do you really think they’d circle it like it was some kind of medical breakthrough? You can’t even determine the sex of a baby until 18 to 20 weeks.”
“I’m sorry, honey,” I said. “I just don’t get it.”
“Well then let me help you. Each letter stands for a baby.”
Silence. Wonder. Much more wonder. I looked into Caroline’s steel-blue eyes for the answer and they looked right back, beaming an emotion through me that I had never felt before — a genuine and thick emotion that could not be diluted, not even by the big tears that began to well up in both of them. A pit developed in my stomach.
“I have a question,” I said. “If each letter stands for a baby, why are there three letters? We’re just having one.” Caroline didn’t say a word — at least not with her mouth. Her eyes were still trying to explain, but I wasn’t listening. Her eyes didn’t know what they were talking about. We hadn’t signed up for three of them. It simply couldn’t be.
I looked at the fourth picture but it was pretty much the same thing. Fuzzy circled blobs with one natable distinction from the last one. Instead of just A, B, and C, this picture read Baby A, Baby B, and Baby C. There was no more denying it. The situation was finally clear.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this one left me with just two.
We sat in the parked car in the parking lot of my small business in silence that was occasionally broken by soft sobs, holding on to each other over the center console that just minutes ago had held the images responsible for our tears. Elation, fear, hope, concern, and, again, wonder. Three? Three cribs, three pacifiers, three highchairs, three doctor appointments, the soccer games, three piano recitals, three high-school graduations, three college educations. Three?
I immediately found myself thinking about something else that started with three.
Three stiff-ass cocktails. After all, we already had Alli. In trying for a simple addition to bring us just below the national family average, we had somehow become the Waltons in one fell swoop.
There’s no way I’m naming one of them John Boy.
The preceding was an excerpt from my book, Tales from the Trips.
Do you have a pregnancy discover story to tell? Because I’d love to hear it!
Image: family photo