In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to pay tribute to my mom, Mary. In the 40 years I have known her, Mom has not only lovingly fed, clothed and advised us, but she has also risen to the challenges of chairing the PTA, defeating cancer and entertaining our dad.
However, it is the way she completed our family that leaves me the most in awe.
After months of hard work I prefer not to think about, my parents were thrilled to be expecting baby No. 3. They had two lovely daughters and assumed another girl was on the way, as did the doctor, who, four years earlier, had been so convinced my little sister was actually twins, he X-rayed my mom only to find one large baby and was not about to be fooled by Mom’s girth this time.
And so it came to pass, when Mom was two days overdue and down to two maternity tops that still fit, that her doctor induced her.
Her contractions started at 1 that sunny afternoon, fast and furious. The nurse placed an internal monitor on the baby’s scalp and wrapped an external monitor around Mom’s enormous belly, both to measure the baby’s heart rate.
Much happened over the next 30 minutes. Dad noticed the two heart monitors were beating at different rates. The nurse noticed that Mom’s abdomen took on a strange shape when it contracted. And Mom became fully dilated.
“Has anyone ever talked to you about the possibility of twins?” the nurse asked, observing Mom’s belly.
“Mostly strangers at the grocery store,” Mom replied through rapid breaths, “but not my doctor, and I need to push!”
As she panted on the delivery table (without an epidural) waiting for her doctor to scrub up, Mom noted the nursing staff in the room had suddenly doubled and a second newborn warmer was brought in.
Confused, she looked up at her doctor and, speaking around her protruding stomach, asked, “Dr. Richards, am I having twins?”
Dr. Richards looked down at Mom and smiled. “Mary, I don’t know yet. But when I find out, you will be the first person I tell. Now, go ahead and push!”
Philip was born at 1:52.
“He looks pretty small,” the nurse said. And, placing her hands on Mom’s belly, told the doctor, “There’s another one right here!”
Dad’s jaw hit the floor. Michael was born six minutes later.
The delivery room erupted with cheers of joy and the wailing of 14 pounds of two healthy newborn boys. Mom and Dad called their friends and family, starting with their mothers.
“Oh, Mary,” my grandmother cried in disbelief before asking a question we still repeat often, “What are we going to do with them?”
“I was hoping you would tell me!” Mom replied.
But, like mothers tend to do, she figured it out along the way. And beautifully.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and to all of us moms who are figuring it out along the way.