Monday, August 25, 2003

The Birth of Stacey and Tracey (April 11, 1972)

The Birth of Stacey and Tracey (April 11, 1972)
Julie Greenberg

The skinny on fraternal twins is that they are born every other generation and the tendency to have them is inherited through the Mother’s Father’s side of the family. And so it was with me and my cousins.... the right generation and the tendency intact.

When I was about 15, we were having a very rare (I remember this one only) dinner at my Uncle Ned’s house. All of my cousins on my Father’s side of the family were there - four plus me and all of them older. The dinner conversation got around to the fraternal female twins in the family and the fact that it would be the right generation for one of us to have twins. My cousins were quick to act and said rather adamantly, “Not me, not me, not me, not me, I won’t have twins!” I was quite shy - these people were basically strangers - but I pulled myself together and said, “I’ll have the twins.” A woman of my word, I made up my mind then and there that I would and I never wavered.

Having heard that twins were born more readily to women over the age of 30 (probably an old wives’ tale), I never considered the twin thing when I was pregnant with my first daughter. But, as I neared 30 and as I went beyond, I started really concentrating on the PLAN. I read the books, assumed the twin position, coached my body urging two eggs to come tumbling down, checked on the progress being made in controlling the RH negative factor, and persevered until I was finally pregnant at 32.

On my first trip to the doctor, I announced quite confidently that I was having twins and he smiled indulgently at me. Each visit, I tried to get the doctor to confirm what I knew to be true, “I was having twins,” but he put me off saying there was no indication that was the case. I didn’t lose faith until about the seventh month when the doctor, fearing I was going to have a difficult time with the truth, sat me down and said that every sign (who knows what these were in that day of no ultrasound) pointed to my baby being a large boy. Coming from a doctor who had a wall of pictures of twins he had delivered stared me in the face each time I went to his office, I wondered if all of that experience could mean he knew something I didn’t know. Surely not!

What a blow! My husband and daughter did not take the boy news well. We all wanted a girl baby (and I, of course, wanted two girls). We were devastated. It just couldn’t be. For a while we couldn’t talk about it. We even stopped picking out names.

Two of my daughter’s classmates’ mothers were pregnant - all of us due around the same time. When the second mother delivered a girl, Leslie came home and urged me to hurry up and have our baby before they ran out of girls - we’re a stubborn bunch.

I was very close to full term and had gained only 22 pounds. I felt great but was a little unsteady on my feet. All of my extra weight had settled in my stomach leaving me looking very thin everywhere else and very unpregnant if you saw me from behind. The doctor said I was having a very big baby and told me he wanted to induce on Monday if I didn’t go into labor over the weekend - a precaution to make certain the baby didn’t get too large to ensure a safe delivery.

My husband went to play poker on Sunday night to calm his nerves and Monday morning he came home to get me for the trip to the hospital. My mother took Leslie to school and then met us at the hospital.

The nurses did all of the standard prep work, gave me the drip to induce, and a shot for pain - although there was hardly any. After several hours of lying around, My husband got a call saying that there had been a robbery at one of his stores. Having assured him I was hours from delivery, he went off to see what had happened. He had no more left the room when the doctor came in, took a look and said we were ready to go. I can remember saying in amazement, “Now?”

I had talked with the doctor about watching. For some reason with Leslie, I didn’t seem to have a choice and so I wasn’t going to miss anything this time. He assured me I could keep my glasses on and they set up a very large reflector-type mirror so I could watch. It was a bit like following a bizarre TV show.

The anesthesiologist came in and gave me a spinal - so I could be awake - and he positioned his chin on my shoulder so he could see the birth along with me - at my eye level. It was a very unusual sensation - this strange man nestled in my neck watching this very personal experience which truly didn’t seem like it was happening to me.

As the doctor was about to start, a flock of students poured into the back of the room. He had invited them in to observe. It felt like the whole city was there - everyone except my husband, and my mother who was confined to the waiting room.

My “neck-buddy” and I watched intently in the big mirror and saw the doctor digging around. He suddenly pulled out a baby, proudly held it up, and said, “Here it is.” One of the students shrieked, “Oh, it looks just like the daddy,” and the anesthesiologist and I twisted around so quickly to find the source of this comment, we almost spun out of position. I asked what it was, and the doctor reluctantly said, “A girl.” I guess he didn’t like being wrong after all of our heated discussions. I just couldn’t believe it. The baby was tiny and so she was placed in an incubator by my side. While I was contemplating this amazing turn of events, the doctor said, “The baby was small, I think there must be another one.” I cleverly responded, “Another one what?” “Another baby,” said he. And I shot back, “Oh, that must be my big boy.”

We were glued to the screen as the doctor’s hands disappeared from view. There was much twisting and turning until lo and behold he whipped out another baby! This time he said, “Oh, this one is pretty.” “A boy?” said I. “No, another girl,” said the flabbergasted doctor. How wrong could he be! I was stunned and my shoulder-mate was finally speechless. The second baby was placed in an incubator on the other side of me, and the anesthesiologist and I proceeded to act like we were at a tennis match, turning in tandem from side to side to view first, the dark daddy-like baby with a mop of black hair, and secondly, the blond hairless baby on the other side. I was really glad I had watched because it would have been hard to accept that these two totally different babies came out of me. When we finally stopped popping our heads from side to side, it came to my attention that the doctor was back digging around, and this time I watched the mirror-screen in horror. I remember squeaking out, “There isn’t another one, is there?” (By now, having been brainwashed about a boy baby, I thought he was lost in there somewhere.) But the doctor calmly reassured me and said he was delivering the placenta.

They gave me a moment to recover and then asked if anyone was in the waiting room. I said my husband had been called away but my mother was out there. They turned on the speaker and told me to just call her and tell her what had happened. I said something brilliant like, “Granny, Mother, we just had twin girls.” There was a dead silence and Granny meekly replied, “”My name is Dotty and my daughter’s name is Julie. Was that message for me?” And so it went....

I understand that right after this, My husband walked in and my mother said, “Steve, we had twins.” He replied, “Thank Goodness, it was only twins. After the night I had at poker, I was afraid it would be worse.”

They brought me to a recovery room and sent my husband and mother in. We were all quite stunned and were eager to give Leslie the news. There was a phone in the room and Steve said he would call the school. They brought Leslie to the phone and he said, “Leslie, you have twin sisters.” Knowing Daddy to be a great kidder, Leslie suspected the worst. “Okay, Dad,” she said, “it was a boy, right?” It took him almost five minutes to convince her. I think she finally accepted it when the teacher at her school confirmed it.

My mother said, “What are we going to call them?” And Steve responded instantly, “Stacey and Tracey.” Where that came from, no one ever knew. I immediately said, “Well, if those are the first names, I know the middle names... Meredith and Tamara.” I had picked out “Stacey Meredith” as one of Leslie’s possible names and it didn’t fit her, and I had heard a lady calling her little girl “Tamara” in K-Mart a few days before and thought at the time it was a really cute name.

At this point, Aunt Judie and Nana appeared, and we told them the names. Aunt Judie said she knew which one should be which name and we all had the same thought. The daddy-like person would be the one with the T.T. name (for Poppa who was Theodore T.) since she most looked like a Greenberg at the time. Steve had a favorite uncle Mal who I had really liked, and so Stacey got the M for him.

My two little girls were beautiful and so perfect. How lucky I was to realize this dream of mine. Thirty years later, I still think of them as a miracle.

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