The Home We Live In

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By Aimee Tafreshi

Today was a momentous day. Today we closed on a house in Midland, Texas. Now, if you know anything about the housing market in Midland, you would know this is an enormous feat. But if you are not familiar with this area known as the Permian Basin, please let me fill you in. The rents here rival San Francisco’s, and it’s not because of the panoramic views of trash blowing along the highway or the smell of carbon emissions from the jacked up trucks clogging the roads. This flat and desert-like area in West Texas is in the midst of a huge oil boom, bringing workers in every day from places like Canada, Louisiana or in our case, Amelia Island, Florida.

Our family’s road to home ownership in Midland was a rocky one. The first hurdle was to sell our home in Florida. When we first listed our home for sale in the early summer, I assumed the house would sell in about a week. According to our realtor, our house was priced to sell, and we agreed with her assessment. When we bought our family home in 2013—the first home my husband and I had ever purchased—Florida’s real estate market was still recovering from the Great Recession. The house had been sitting as a spec home for about a year and was within our modest budget. After being a seasoned student of real estate prices in my hometown of Austin, we jumped on the purchase price and were newly minted homeowners.

The two-story, stucco home on Amelia Island sat in a quaint neighborhood of exactly three streets. The house with its porch and columns resembled a Craftsman style home with a Florida vibe. It was perfect for our then family of five—the updated kitchen opened up to the family room, which contained high ceilings and a sliding glass door to the patio and backyard. A separate living area greeted guests upon entry into the house, which later became a quiet spot to work, read a book on the couch or host a relative on the pull-out sofa. I jokingly referred to the front room as the “blue room,” with its soothing ocean-hued couch and abstract paintings decorating the walls.

Our master bedroom was situated downstairs, while the three secondary bedrooms were upstairs with a loft in the middle, which served as an additional living room for the kids. (This play area usually bought us a little more sleep in the morning pre-twins). When we moved into the home, it was the summer of 2013, and our youngest had just turned one. We also had a two-year-old son and rising kindergartener. We were in the toddler/young children years, and my husband Alex was about to start a grueling sea tour in the Navy. My daughter attended her first day of kindergarten at the local elementary school as we were moving in, and we found a great Mother’s Day Out program for the boys. The pristine beach and local YMCA were a short bike ride away.

We spent five years in that wonderful home, the most time I have ever spent in one house in my life. During that period, Alex had several months’ long deployments. We visited Disney World for the first time ever. We welcomed two rescue dogs to our family, Faith the German Shepherd and Dolly the Great Dane mix. Our kindergartner grew up into a rising fifth grader, with long limbs and glasses, but maintaining her red hair and creativity. And our youngest baby graduated from Pre-K (twice!) and was finally ready to begin his own kindergarten journey. In our last year in the house, we brought home boy/girl twins, the first babies of ours not born on Texas soil. Our oldest football-loving son was convinced they were destined to be Florida Gators. Our daughter helpfully suggested, “Let’s just tell them they were born in Texas.”

After five years in the same spot, we knew most neighbors and celebrated various birthdays and some holidays together. When the twins were newborns, they pitched in to help with driving the older kids and walking them to and from the bus stop. Our extended families were thousands of miles away, but we had created our very own village in Florida.

As we made the difficult decision for Alex to leave the submarine force after 12 years of service, I was torn between wanting to stay on Amelia Island or return home to Texas. He job hunted in both areas, as well as the Southeast, and I mentally prepared myself that the odds of staying on our little island were slim. On the occasional night out, filled with merriment and a little booze, I was fond of declaring, “I’m never leaving the island!” Many came to our little island for a slower way of life; few left it willingly.

As the final months elapsed, we tackled some fun things on what I thought of as my Florida bucket list. Alex surprised me with a trip to swim with the manatees at Crystal River for my fortieth birthday, an excursion I had coveted before I ever lived in the Sunshine State. My daughter and I explored the (man-made) tropical paradise Discovery Cove to celebrate her tenth birthday and swam with a dolphin. We never did make it to the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot, the Florida Keys or the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, which boasts live mermaid shows.

When we decided on a job offer in Midland, and the “For Sale” sign went up in the yard, I remember thinking that one day, this would be the house that we “used to live in.” We would drive by and say to the children, “Look, we used to live there.” My present was about to become my past, and the thought made me sad and nostalgic. Change is hard and also reminds us that our time on earth is fleeting and impermanent. During my evening walks with the dogs, I would take in the dense trees, circling hawks, lizards scampering on the sidewalks and honking geese dining on the field behind our fence. I know now that Midland does have some trees and nature but Florida is exploding with natural beauty.

When it was finally time to leave, our chaotic departure felt like a surreal break-up with little closure. A few days before vacating our home, we celebrated my son’s sixth birthday with my in-laws at their rented beach condo, and then the twins’ first birthday at our favorite Mexican restaurant where they always treated us like family. While the movers packed and loaded, we stayed at a VRBO property near the beach, where we walked on the shore for the last time. I wondered when I would walk on the beach again. I took in the constantly churning water, the soft sand, the thousands of little shells, the carefree feelings of my children. They had no idea what the future held. The innocence of children is perhaps a great coping mechanism. It is not their job to worry about moving logistics and real estate. They simply live in the moment, enjoying the experience only for what it’s worth.

We barely had time to say goodbye to our friends, neighbors or church, where we were baptized as adults. And our house hadn’t sold yet. Alex reassured me, when a family looks at our home, they will make an offer. The current crop of retirees scheduling showings didn’t appreciate the stairs or proximity to schools, but we knew a family would.

When we finally arrived in Midland after a very dramatic cross-country drive, involving an unexpected pit stop in New Orleans, we were fortunate to stay in a corporate rental, a new construction home in a booming neighborhood filled with young families following the smell of oil.

Fast forward to today, and we have now spent four months in the temporary house about half the size of our old one. We are all sharing rooms, and most of our worldly possessions sit in storage. A family of five finally checked out our house in Florida, and they jumped on it. From the looks of their Facebook posts (I’m not stalking them, I swear! We have a friend in common, so I happened upon it in my Newsfeed), they look ecstatic in their photos, holding up a picture of their new home, the house we used to live in.

And in the crazy real estate market they call Midland, we found a house of our own. After months of searching and losing out on listings, we were finally in a position to buy. As of today, we are the proud owners of a sprawling ranch style home in an established neighborhood with mature trees. In Florida, we took trees for granted; here, one is lucky to own a single tree; the newer neighborhoods boast beds of multi-colored pebbles. Walking through our new home over the past month to figure out tile backsplash and paint colors, I felt a sense of excitement and hope as I watched my now young toddlers walk briskly in circles around the house and shut themselves into bedrooms. The bigger kids excitedly picked out their new bedrooms and weighed in on wall colors. I noticed the Halloween and then Thanksgiving and now Christmas decorations adorning our future neighbors’ front lawns. Baby swings suspended from tree limbs dot the street.

I miss our curated village and house on Amelia Island. And I hope our old neighbors let us tag along to the annual Food & Wine Festival next year (hint, hint). But I’m ready to turn the Midland house into the home we live in.

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Daddy’s Birthday Disaster

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by Aimee Tafreshi

August is the worst month for a birthday. It’s hotter than hell. In most states, kids go back to school in August. Goodbye sleeping in, hello pre-dawn wake-ups. My younger sister sometimes showed up for the first day of school on her birthday. My mom usually had to delay her birthday party so they would be able to invite children from her class. If you have a child with an August birthday, you may have to grapple with the issue of “redshirting” him for kindergarten, or starting on time, making him the youngest in the class. My husband and I debated the August birthday/redshirt issue at length before we even had children. For various reasons, August is a month fraught with issues.

So it makes perfect sense that I would marry someone with a late August birthday. I am drawn to this punishing month for whatever reason. My husband has not been spared from the wrath of August. Many of his birthdays have been spent on a cold submarine in the middle of the ocean, but that circumstance could have happened during a more reasonable month. Two of his birthdays immediately followed the birth of our second son and boy/girl twins (all born in late July). During those postpartum times, I was self-sequestered at home in a permanent state of disheveledness and recovering from two tough c-sections. Luckily, my mother-in-law saved the day last year, buying thoughtful gifts, wrapping them beautifully, and picking up a quality cake from a great bakery. Despite the chaos of newborn twins, my husband Alex seemed to enjoy his celebration, especially with his mother visiting from afar. The day felt special and a brief respite from the pool we were drowning in daily, caring for newborn twins.

This year I had no excuses (well, other than two demanding 12-month-old babies). We had just moved cross country to Midland, Texas, and with the older children in school and the little ones in care while I worked remotely, I could venture outside the home, buy gifts and even balloons! This year would be the one to make up for the past birthday failures. We had only been in our new home about two weeks when I started buying presents I thought he would enjoy—Texas Longhorn fan gear—a car decal for his new truck, a Texas shirt, a ball cap for the field, a bottle of quality bourbon, a nice pair of Longhorn dress socks. I got a recommendation from a local for a quality bakery and placed my order for a birthday Bundt cake, something unique and new to try. This birthday would be one for the books!

The big day for my husband arrived, and I began to complete the final touches. I had the children sign (and decorate) a heartfelt card for their father, and I found a humorous one that seemed to match our current state of chaos. I picked up a bouquet of balloons from the store, a family tradition. I decided on a restaurant for dinner, which did not accept reservations, but I figured if we arrived early enough, we should be able to get a table, as it was mid-week.

The day trudged on, and finally it was time to celebrate. I could tell Alex liked the balloons, and the tidy array of tastefully decorated gift bags and cards looked festive on our kitchen table. We gathered up our large brood and called the restaurant to inquire about a potential wait. They informed us that there wasn’t currently a wait, and a large table was open. So far, so good!

We arrived at the dinner spot, a place we had been dying to try on advice of our realtor since arriving in West Texas. I could almost taste the tequila of the margarita in my mouth. We approached the hostess stand where we learned that there would now be a 30 to 40 minute wait. Apparently others had showed up in the last 15 minutes. Okay, that’s just Midland, we thought, and amiably took a seat in the warm glassed-in waiting area. The kids were holding up okay, some on their electronics, and we fed the babies some puffs. After about half an hour, I sauntered back over to the hostess stand, where a host told me that the wait would be at least another 30 to 45 minutes. “But we’ve already been waiting 40 minutes,” I protested lightly, “and I saw a six top table available.” The host informed me that the table must have been for someone else. “Is it because we have children with us?” I asked somewhat rhetorically. “I don’t know,” he responded, “I’m new.” Huh?? So you’re saying we may possibly never get a table because we have children in tow? Couldn’t they have told us that from the get go and saved us all a lot of time?

I marched back to the waiting area and informed Alex of the latest development. “We may never get a table,” I lamented, “They’re going to make us wait until we just give up!” Alex, not one to take things sitting down, returned to the new employee to discuss things further. He returned a few minutes later and abruptly said, “Let’s go.” Apparently he’d christened the new host with a few choice words, and the next time we visit the restaurant, Alex will need to wear a disguise for us to get a table.

Not willing to give up, we headed back to our car and pulled up Yelp. I found another Mexican restaurant with excellent reviews—all 5 star!—and we headed to our new destination. We drove through downtown, across the highway, and found ourselves next to a junkyard. And here our new dining location stood. “Oh wow, it’s a junkyard,” the kids exclaimed, either sarcastically or with genuine excitement, I’m not sure which. I hope this restaurant has a liquor license, I thought, not wanting a “wine-a-rita” style drink. “It looks small,” another helpful child chimed in.

We headed inside to a cute mom and pop type restaurant with red and white checked table cloths. It was charming in a kind of minimalist, Dollar Tree sort of way. A kind woman greeted us and directed us to our table, right under the window AC unit. She cranked it up to dispel the heavy heat surrounding us. Getting right to the important stuff, I asked if they served margaritas. “Oh no,” she said, crushing my soul, “we don’t sell alcohol.” I helpfully offered to Alex that we could buy margarita supplies on the way home from the drive through liquor store. “Well, we have a table and no wait!” I said cheerfully, “These ‘hole in the wall’ places are the best!” The nice lady brought menus with photos of food and no prices. I ordered the mole enchiladas, and they were honestly some of the tastiest I’d ever had. The mole was perfect and probably an old passed down family recipe. At the end of our meal, the waitress brought Alex a slice of cake, and we, and a few other patrons, joined in to sing Happy Birthday. Things were looking up!

After a satisfying meal, we gathered our belongings, and Alex went to pick up our baby boy, Rhett, from his high chair. Unfortunately Rhett was covered with a gooey brown substance, but it wasn’t chocolate. I’m not sure how it ended up all of over the front of his clothes, so we hoisted him up, held him at arm’s length, and made a mad dash for the car. With the junkyard as a fitting backdrop and the blazing hot sun melting us, we spent the next 15 minutes changing Rhett and cleaning him in the back of our car. We were exhausted and beat down. We couldn’t even muster the energy to hit up the drive through liquor store. We finally arrived home, and Alex collapsed onto the couch. He was too tired to eat cake or open presents. We would have to save them for tomorrow. “I’m sorry it was so terrible,” I told him, feeling awful that an evening with such good intentions and effort failed so miserably. I added, “My father always had a saying ‘When a day starts like this it’s all uphill from here.’” (A little gem from Zach Galifianakis in Due Date.)

The next day, we devoured the chocolate chip Bundt cake, and Alex opened up his Longhorn curated gifts and read the thoughtful cards. He seemed genuinely happy, and I didn’t even mind the cream cheese icing (too much). We laughed at the irony of the Facebook picture I had posted for his birthday of him wearing a sombrero and imbibing a huge margarita with a big grin on his face. “Everything’s bigger in Texas!” someone had commented. “Enjoy the margarita!” another had said. Well Facebook is a big fat liar. That huge margarita was consumed months ago in Florida! Alex has (half) joked before that he’s the lowest in priority on the totem pole—behind the kids and the dogs—but this super dad deserves a birthday for the books. I’m already planning next year’s. What could go wrong in Vegas?!

The Dog Days of Summer

by Lacey Appolito

Being a parent is a rollercoaster. Every day is different, though it can feel like ground hog day, and some days are better than others. This summer has been particularly challenging for me as a parent (and really as a functional adult, too).

For those of you who don’t know, I am a work from home mom. I own and operate an e-commerce business out of my home, but I also wear the hat of stay at home mom. My three kids, who are currently 5, 3, and 2 years old, attend a mother’s day out program for 20 hours per week during the school year, and I really do have a pretty sweet gig when school is in session.

BUT school ended May 18th, and summertime has been a little rocky to say the least. Caring for three children under the age of six is a full-time job. Every minute brings new demands for snacks, more milk, potty help, diaper changes, attention, redirecting, and SO. MUCH. REFEREEING.

On top of the daily grind, I am trying to run a business. When my kids are home for the summer, it is difficult to work on growing or improving Little World Organics. I do what I can to get by and then it is back to my kiddos, because they need me almost all of the time.

Now here is where things get really interesting… I am currently 34 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. I am tired. I am uncomfortable. And most days the temperature is over 100 degrees, making our much needed outside time pretty freaking miserable.

So what is a super pregnant, stay at home/work from home mama to do?

Do better. I have to do better.

Better for my kids. Better for my business. Better for myself.

My little tribe and I have exactly one month until school resumes for the fall semester 🙌, and six weeks until our family grows by one, which will inevitably change our family dynamic forever.

During the dog days of summer, when all I really want to do is curl up with some Netflix in a very cold, dark room, I vow to:

  • practice patience
  • find time to work on my business while the kids are sleeping
  • be present when they are awake
  • exude love
  • minimize exasperation
  • play more

We’ve had a rough couple of days around here, and it is time to turn it around. Despite the enormous amount of energy it takes to pack up three little ones and take them to the neighborhood pool alone, I am going to do it. They need it. I need it. It’s time to breathe some fresh air into our summer routine. I am ready for a change.

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Snack time at the pool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newborn Twins. Enough Said.

Photo credit Boston Photography

By: Aimee Tafreshi

The fact that I am writing this blog is a miracle in itself. I cannot make any guarantees about proper grammar or a logical progression of thoughts. You see, my husband and I welcomed twins approximately five weeks ago. We were not “trying” for twins, and we did not avail ourselves of the latest medical technology seeking out two bundles of joy. But Mother Nature laughed, thought “I’ll show them,” and here we are with a boy and a girl.

We had a “pleasant” enough hospital experience. We were lucky to be at an excellent medical facility with great nurses and doctors. The nurse anesthetist deserved a gold medal as she seemed to be the face and main brains of the anesthesiology portion, and she also played DJ and took excellent photos post-delivery. I was so excited when she told me that she would play music in the OR, I immediately began thinking of songs for an impromptu playlist before being wheeled in for my c-section. “Sucker for Pain,” Ludacris and Snoop Dog with a touch of the Texas Fight Song seemed like a great soundtrack to welcome these babies into the world. The rap started blasting, and a member of the medical team said, “It’s like we’re in the club.” We were off to a promising start.

And then the spinal block wasn’t quite working one hundred percent, and my blood pressure started tanking. I then threw up on the operating room table. They were ready to put me under general anesthesia, a plan I initially welcomed, but then a part of me thought, I don’t want to miss this, no matter how miserable I feel. They injected some more drugs and voila, my blood pressure stabilized, and the doctor proceeded. He finished sewing me up with some chill Jimmy Buffett playing, his choice, which I appreciated.

I felt like I was on that table forever. My mom paced in the hallway wondering what was taking so long. At 2:33 p.m., we welcomed a beautiful baby girl with a healthy set of lungs, a feisty 5 pounds, 7 ounces bundle of attitude, whom we named Marin Elise. One minute later, we met Rhett Wortham, her younger but larger brother, weighing in at 6 pounds, 5 ounces. I always suspected that Rhett was siphoning all of the food in utero, leaving his sister crumbs. No wonder she seems so angry now and screams incessantly until fed.

I don’t remember too much from the recovery room, other than telling the nurse that I was so happy to be here. “Why?” she asked, clearly confused by my comment. “Because I’m no longer on that operating table,” I replied. They brought the babies in, none of them requiring any NICU time, and Marin latched on right away. Rhett seemed confused but would learn how to nurse with the help of a lactation consultant who was a baby whisperer of sorts. Unlike past lactation consultants at other hospitals, she wasn’t the kind to pressure you to exclusively breastfeed. “Tandem breastfeeding twins by yourself will be very hard,” she said, “especially with other children at home.” Another nurse told me, “Fed is best.” I appreciated them planting these seeds of wisdom in my head, so I would later not be so hard on myself if I couldn’t live up to my own expectations of how feeding twins should go.

Recovery in the hospital was painful, as is typical with a c-section and tubal ligation. I felt massive pain, vomited many times and could barely walk without crying or hunching over in agony. They let me stay an extra night and even offered more time, but by day five, we were ready to split, as ready as new parents can be. On the day of our hospital departure, we loaded the twins into their new baby carriers and tried to take a photo together as they bawled their eyes out.

We were able to get settled in at home before our other three children traveled back from their summer trip to Alaska with my mother- and sister-in-law. It’s hard to predict how siblings will react to a new baby (or babies), but our kiddos were at least excited to meet them. Our daughter was ecstatic to finally get a sister, although she mistakenly believed Marin might be ready to play with toys right away. I explained that babies are a little boring at first; they basically eat, poop and sleep.

There has been an adjustment period for the kids and us parents. My husband had to take over school duties, such as attending the new school year “meet and greets” with the teachers and taking the kids to the bus stop in the mornings. I have felt some guilt about missing out, but then I thought how neat it was that my husband was able to participate in some events that he had missed in the past due to work. We have been fortunate with help from family members and neighbors for rides to activities and hot meals. Eventually we will be on our own, but hopefully by then we will be ready.

Life with newborn twins is not for the faint of heart. We have had our share of hiccups and off-color jokes at 2 a.m. We may have referenced North Korean prison camps and crack houses. (Don’t ask.) We have felt like mistreated livestock kept just enough alive to pass muster before the inevitable slaughter, popping Advil like bovine antibiotics and growth hormones. About two weeks after first meeting the twins, my youngest son looked lovingly at Marin, and sweetly asked, “What is her name again?” Ahh, the pitfalls of a large family. I guess he can simply refer to her as “Twin A.” Just yesterday, I looked at my baby girl and said, “Well that’s a funny face Marilyn.” I then realized I had called her by the wrong name and prayed no one had heard me. In my defense, an HGTV show taking place in Maryland played in the background.

When the day begins to spiral out of control, we have developed different coping strategies. I started watching Outdaughtered on TLC, a show featuring a couple with the only all girl quintuplets in the country. If anyone can make me feel better about having twins, it’s a family that is dealing with five two-year-olds. Plus I have learned some helpful strategies from watching them, and the fact that the parents are still alive and sane is reassuring. We are also thinking of buying stock in Nespresso and Blue Bell Ice Cream, given our massive consumption of their products. I couldn’t survive at this point without a large stockpile of caffeine and refined sugar. Looking for more natural remedies, my mom gifted me a lavender stress ball, which I often squeeze and vigorously inhale like my life depended on it.

My husband made the helpful suggestion a few weeks ago that when our older children act unruly, we should play a song to redirect them and release some tension. I started brainstorming and chimed in, “Oh yeah, we can find some Native American tribal music, grab hands, and run in and out of a circle,” envisioning a kind of spiritual coming together. My other half looked at me amused and said he was thinking more along the lines of Lady Gaga. Regardless I’ve already found a song with a great tribal beat. Sometimes you need to reach out to the universe or a higher power for guidance.

When my husband and I used to hear of someone having twins, we used to caustically remark, “How terrible! Can you imagine?!” Then twins happened to us. It’s called karma. I can confidently say that caring for twins is the hardest thing either of us have ever done. It’s harder than law school, studying for a bar exam, taking a bar exam, practicing law or going on a submarine deployment. I don’t know what would be harder. Oh yes I do—triplets. In a recent nightmare, I dreamed I was tending to three babies, running around the house, trying to stop the crying. The next day I remembered this dream and felt gratitude that there were only two of them. We think it will get easier once they turn three. Until then, I will live vicariously through the Beachfront Bargain hunters on TV and dream of a kids’ club on a cruise. And I will try to pause during the chaos, breathe in their baby smells and memorize their funny expressions before they sprout up into independent big kids.

 

Aimee Tafreshi is a mom of five, freelance writer and attorney who also contributes to Nameberry.com.

When ‘Just One More’ Becomes Two

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By: Aimee Tafreshi

It’s the question that simmers under the surface among friends with kids. Are you done having kids? Will you have one more child? Part benchmark, part sheer curiosity, both close friends and passing acquaintances have murmured this seemingly casual but loaded question at a game night, at a park, in a bar.

My and my husband’s answers were usually similar in response. We already have three children. I didn’t want to go through a pregnancy again for health reasons. When I hold a baby, I don’t feel any strong desire to hold another one of my own. I’m almost 40! I remember meeting a Pilates instructor at a local watering hole on a rowdy night out with friends who seemed especially dialed into other’s feelings. If you don’t know, she said with her wise gaze boring through my soul, then I think you will have another one. I shrugged her words off. Maybe . . . but highly doubtful.

The encounter with the empathetic Pilates instructor was several years ago.  During that time, I merengued into some of the best shape of my life as a Zumba instructor. I was dancing so much that I couldn’t eat enough food to stay full.  I was dancing so much that the annoying pain in my right foot turned into a broken sesamoid bone, which took away my ability to walk for the good part of a year and required surgery to remove the crumbled bone. I hung up my dancing shoes and suddenly had to make an effort to eat healthfully and relearn how to walk so I wouldn’t pack on the pounds.

Post-foot surgery, I discovered two blood clots in my arms, which led to testing to determine the cause. I found out I had a genetic blood clotting disorder and immediately had to end my twenty-year relationship with birth control pills. My husband and I discussed vasectomies, an option I couldn’t quite commit to in the past, because I wasn’t one hundred percent sure. We decided he would undergo the procedure following the holidays, as his work schedule was conducive.

We were in a good place in our lives. Our children were 4, 6 and 8, and all of them slept through the night (mostly), toileted independently and could attend school or daycare while I worked at my new remote desk job. They had activities that required early Saturday mornings and weekday practices, a schedule that is not conducive to a needy newborn. How could I bring a baby to a five-hour swim meet in the Florida heat?  There was something liberating about being “hands-free.” I could fly on a plane with three children or take them to the movies or restaurant solo. Why would I want to disrupt this careful balance we had finally achieved?

It was the height of election season, so crazy was in the air. I got tired of watching CNN as I wanted to hear about anything other than Hillary and Donald.  I’m a news junkie, but this was twenty-four seven saturation. My husband and I threw caution to the wind and figured we’d leave the last few months of his virility to fate, God, whomever. This wasn’t a major effort, as we both strongly felt the pros and cons of adding another child to our family. I was settled into my new job, and we weren’t certain if he would continue on his current career path or make the leap into the private sector. Economics would dictate that we were finished, but our hearts were still open to one more.

In late November, after queasiness from the election began to subside, I started to feel a new sort of queasiness. Other than with my daughter, I was pretty lucky during my pregnancies in the morning sickness department.  But this time I felt different, and I knew that night I should forgo that cherished glass of red and buy a pregnancy test the next day. 

I was actually shocked when the positive test result appeared in a millisecond. Wow, there was no doubt, no faint line to scrutinize, no need for a re-test (though I think I did.) At around four weeks pregnant, there was nothing to do but wait. I didn’t know if this pregnancy would progress or fade away as several had. I didn’t even call the OB until six weeks; I didn’t want to waste my time.

My husband accompanied me to see the doctor at around seven weeks, and he congratulated us but recommended we might want to consider banking sperm in case this pregnancy didn’t work out. We assured the good doctor that we were at peace with our family if this one was not to be; we weren’t looking for a medical intervention.

At this stage, the doctor didn’t try to hear a heartbeat or get a visual image. Instead, I was told I would be giving myself a shot every night to deliver a blood thinner that wouldn’t affect the developing embryo. And as the delivery date got closer, one shot would turn into two daily, and then there would be more needles postpartum, to avoid post-cesarean section blood clots.

It took me until 9:00 that evening to give myself the first shot, after religiously studying the package insert, scouring message boards about injection techniques and telling myself it was a matter of life and death. Many months later I am a confident shot administrator (with the help of my nurse/husband who delivers the burning substance) and would feel comfortable injecting anyone in my family, if needed. The only battle wounds are bruises occasionally left by a needle. Once the shots are a distant memory someday, I will notice that witching hour every night, tucked between a shower and snack, and wonder what I am forgetting and then remember the days of the shot.

At ten weeks pregnant, feeling more confident but not out of the woods, my husband accompanied me to my next doctor’s appointment. The doctor hooked me up to his old ultrasound machine (this was his scaled down “island” office), and the unmistakable image of a small bean of a baby in a sac appeared on the right. My eyes scanned to the left (backwards, I know), and I saw a second sac with another blob inside. “Is that two babies in there???!!!” I exclaimed before the doctor had a chance to get a word in. He confirmed my impression and proceeded to talk as we filled out forms while our heads swam. We were now floating in an alternate, undefined universe. I honestly wasn’t convinced there was a viable baby inside of me until its image flashed up on the screen; never in my wildest dreams did I imagine two life forms sharing space in my womb.

Twins could certainly explain the extreme feelings of nausea and fatigue and the sense that my belly was beginning to show before the second trimester. I was immediately referred to the high-risk obstetrics group on account of the twins, blood clotting disorder and that lovely designation, being of advanced maternal age.

Since that time, my husband and I have made progress. We now accept that we are having twins. We were ecstatic to learn that one is a boy and the other is a girl, and my daughter will finally get the sister she has always wanted. My middle child is psyched that he will be elevated to “oldest son” status. And we have embraced the idea of having two newborns. Every time I see them on an ultrasound, bigger and more baby-like than the previous month, these two blobs become more real to me, taking up residence in my heart, each future version with his or her own dreams, talents and hopes. Still, I won’t completely believe this news until they hand me two crying infants at the hospital.

And while on the topic of twins, here are a few myths I’d like to dispel, in case you are considering adding “just one more” child to your family and think multiples could never happen to you.

First, not every twin birth is a result of a medical intervention like IVF or Clomid. In fact, back in the old days, women had twins well before these medical advances. Secondly, you do not need to have twins in your family to become pregnant with them. And finally, if you are an older mother and have already had multiple pregnancies, you are at a higher risk to have multiples. And if I were a mom who had undergone grueling rounds of IVF, I probably wouldn’t want strangers inquiring about whether my twins were “natural” or not. They’re all human babies, people. Growing and nurturing a life in the womb is pretty miraculous, whether one baby or more, regardless of how they got there.

And finally, if you do find yourself blessed (or cursed, depending on your outlook) with twins someday, many people will react as if you’ve been diagnosed with some incurable form of disease. Some of the reactions we have received are as follows: “Umm, congratulations?”; “I’m so glad it’s you and not me!”; and “Wow, we were going to have one more child, but not anymore!” I don’t take these comments too personally, because this is simply others’ reaction to how they would handle the news of twins. Yes, we are scared. And yes, we will be vastly outnumbered. But am I beyond excited to join the sorority of twin moms? My answer is “Yes” times two.

Aimee Tafreshi is a freelance writer and attorney who also contributes to Nameberry.com and her own blog once in a blue moon, aimeetafreshi.com. She is also a mother and professional chauffeur to three spirited, young children.