The Birth of the Twins, Part 1 of 4

OK, folks, I’m back in story-telling mode. The beauty of having a blog is you get to tell your own stories, your own way and people can read them or not! But it is my way of getting our family history recorded while I can still remember it. This blog is somewhat of a legacy for me, both with stories and sketches. So here goes a 4-part series to relate how my twin sons arrived on the scene over 40 years ago. They’re getting to be old farts (so I don’t know what that makes me!) but who doesn’t like to hear the story of their birth? And this one is pretty entertaining…

Having a baby is a BIG event in any family. But having TWINS really ramps things up quite a bit!

So let me give you a little background here before I tell you the story…

  • My former mother- and father-in-law, Bill and Betty, were a big part of this story. Sadly, Betty passed away this past week and I am mourning for her. I wrote about her here.
  • After the funeral, Bill called me to chat and we talked about so many things… including the day the twins were born… and that’s what prompted me to write this blog entry.
  • The fact that the twins were a “big deal” is in no way derogatory to the rest of the grandkids or my own daughter who arrived a couple years later. Every child in a family is precious. That goes without saying. And this is just the story of when my boys were born into the Daubenmire family. It was a very fun event looking back. I’m not exactly sure what it was to everyone else at the time, but I’ll attempt to tell my side of it because I am recording my family stories here on my blog.

Flashback to 1973. I’m 21 years old and have been married just over a year. My husband and I are expecting a baby. It was surreal because major life changes were happening so fast.

There were no sonograms at that time. You had to wait until the baby was born to find out if it was a boy or a girl. It was a major issue of curiosity, but it was the same for everyone, so it was part of the experience.

My husband really wanted a boy. And I wanted a boy so that I could “please” everyone. That sounds rather ridiculous now, but you must remember it was an expectation born of many centuries of carrying on the family name. It was important to achieve. Honestly, even then, if the newborn in the Royal Family of England was a girl, she would not inherit the throne if a son was born after her. It’s just the way it was. And I felt that pressure… bigtime.

While I was pregnant, my husband and I would go out in the car at times to get an ice cream cone and just enjoy a drive. We often stopped at a ballpark across town to watch the little league play for a while. I could see the wistful look in his eyes of having a son who would be playing there in a few years. I hoped upon hope that the baby would be a boy.

Naturally, we would not give it back if it was a girl, so please don’t criticize me here. Like I said, it’s just the way it was.

Time passed and I grew bigger by the day. It was distressing to look so huge and be gaining so much weight so quickly. I would go to the doctor and he would say, “Whoa! You need to slow down! You’re gaining way too fast!”

I was devastated because I watched my weight constantly and no matter what I did, it seemed to be out of control. And I got mysterious looks from everyone I knew for the size of my belly. Finally, the doctor said, “You must have calculated wrong. We need to move your due date up by a month.”

That was a relief to me and the family responded by immediately having a baby shower. It was so fun to get the tiny newborn outfits. Most were “neutral” since the gender of the baby wasn’t known. But there were more than a few hints with “blue” gifts. And that made me uneasy (although I had a smile on my face) because my gut feeling was that it would be a girl. Now I wouldn’t be one bit disappointed with that outcome, but I still worried about not “delivering” the highly anticipated male child for the family.

Now let’s clarify this again…

Young women today may not realize the significance of this time period when I felt such pressure to birth a boy baby. They might say, “that wouldn’t have mattered at all! We would love a girl as much as a boy!” And that is absolutely true. But what I am trying to acknowledge here is the generational pressure to produce “an heir” – which embodies the traditional expectation of many families past and present. It is unspoken now, to be sure. But it was – and is – still there. And maybe it was more my own impression because it certainly wasn’t voiced specifically outside of a few “hints” that I was very sensitive to.

So back to 1973…

I grew and grew.

I was enormous.

I felt like an embarrassment.

The day after the impromptu baby shower I had a doctor’s appointment. I gathered up all the “doubles” I had gotten at the shower and made store returns on my way to the doctor. I was proud of myself for being so organized.

When I got to the doctor that day in May 1973, my personal doctor was out on an emergency and another doctor was filling in at the office. “Oh, no!” I thought. “Now I’m gonna get yelled at by a new doctor when he sees my weight. That’s just great.”

I went in when my name was called and faced the dreaded scale. Then I climbed up on the table and prepared myself for a good scolding. I felt like some kind of failure at being pregnant.

The substitute doctor came in and sure enough, he said, “You’ve gained way too much weight and it is piling on every week. What’s going on here?”

I began to cry. “I’m not doing anything different,” I wailed. “I just don’t understand!”

He softened at that point and had me lay back on the table. He took out his tape measure and recorded my belly size. Then he began to gently feel my belly with his hands. An odd look came over his face. I waited to hear what he had to say.

Finally, after several tense minutes, the doctor looked down at me and said, “I think I know what is going on here. I’m pretty sure you have two babies in there.”

I was stunned. That thought had never occurred to me but it would explain a lot. Boy would it ever!

“I’m going to send you for an x-ray right now,” said the doc. “It’s right down the street and they can tell immediately if you are having twins.” I got up and left in a daze.

I drove over to the hospital where I was greeted by a clerk in the x-ray department. She directed me to a cubicle where I was to change into one of those hospital gowns that ties in the back.

Ahem… needless to say, this gown wouldn’t begin to go around me and now my entire backside is hanging out. And while I am trying to do something about it, the x-ray technician comes to get me. I am mortified.

“My gown doesn’t fit!” I exclaimed.

“Don’t worry about it.” he replied. But I did because he was a very handsome, very young MAN and I was a hippopotamus. I was embarrassed to death.

“Follow me,” said Mr. Dreamy. And I did.

I laid on a slab of a table while he pointed an x-ray machine at me and left the room. I heard the clicks and then he returned.

“What did it show?” I asked.

“I’m not allowed to say,” Mr. Dreamy replied. “Your doctor has to get the results and then he will call you.”

I began to cry again. And this seemed to affect Mr. Dreamy in a sympathetic way.

“Alright,” he said. “I’m not supposed to say anything, but either you are having twins or your baby has two heads.”

“You saw two?” I exclaimed.

“Yes, but don’t say I told you so. Just get dressed and get out of here so I don’t lose my job.”

And that is what I did. I was so befuddled I didn’t care that my gown was open in the back. I got dressed quickly and left.

But I only drove half a block when I spied a pay phone outside the drug store on the corner. I wheeled into the parking lot, got some change out of my purse and called my husband at work. I simply could not wait another minute to share this news.

“Hello,” came his voice at the other end of the line. “What do you need?”

“I just have to tell you something,” I replied. I paused for a few seconds and said, “I just had an x-ray at the hospital and we are having twins!”

Now I had had a few minutes to absorb this idea, but he hadn’t. And the other end of the line went dead. I heard a thud as he must have dropped the phone and it hit the wall.

“Bill? Bill?” I shouted into the phone. “Are you there, Bill?”

No answer. I had to hang up and go home.

By the time he came home from work, he was more used to the idea. Still we looked at each other in surprise. We were going to have TWO babies. How was this possible? And how would we manage? Things were tight. We were prepared to stretch for adding one child, but now two? What were we going to do?

My biggest worry was that I could carry and birth two healthy babies. It seemed like a long shot. I was very concerned.

But Bill looked at me and said in all seriousness…

“I’m going to have two sons!” And he grinned like the Cheshire Cat in the story of Alice.

Meanwhile, my heart sank just a little as I put on a wan smile.

“Of course you are!” I agreed. But I knew in my heart that we would have two girls and while we wouldn’t be disappointed – NEVER disappointed –the pressure was on. And now it was double….


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