As anyone who’s been surprised by a tiny thirty-week baby or gotten induced for a second time knows, due dates don’t mean much. Still. Tomorrow would have been mine. 11/11/11—which I only found out because I used one of those online due date calculators, not because my poker-faced doctor ever encouraged me to look so far ahead. (And he was right, but still, fuck that.)
Except that it wouldn’t have been my due date, because I was carrying twins, who never hang out in utero for the full forty weeks. Sometimes it boggles my mind that I was pregnant, and with twins. Even just typing it feels like a lie, or at the very least some kind of dubious legend passed down from a long time ago. But my body knows. My body always knew. And when I fell apart so spectacularly, I think it was partly the result of my mind pushing one idea—You can’t possibly be this sad about babies who were never babies, so there must be something else terribly wrong with you—and my body pushing another: You were sheltering two little people and then they just left and now you’re all alone.
Now both my mind and body are wondering about the parallel universe in which I’d be the sleep-deprived, grouchy, terrified, self-doubting blissfully happy mother of two one-month-old-ish boys.* AK would have been sleep-deprived, grouchy, messy, socially starved and blissfully happy.
I’ve been helplessly, absurdly, gut-wrenchingly envious of pregnant women over the past six months (well, really, the whole year, from when we first started trying). I’ve been more envious of pregnant women than women with babies, which is weird because I never saw pregnancy as more than a means to an end. But that’s my mind talking. My eyeballs saw baby bumps and transmitted wishful telegrams to my heart and uterus.
I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know how the mind and body work, or how they’re connected. I’ve learned that the body does in fact carry knowledge, but I’ve also learned that that particular truth is a slippery slope into thinking that your mind caused a baby to die or a tumor to grow or whatever, and I’ve racked up some serious therapy bills trying to learn that the universe’s math is not nearly so neat and tidy (or so mean).
Still. I wonder, as my parallel universe self proceeds from pregnancy to motherhood, if I’ll stop reserving my most intense envy for pregnant women and start directing it at parents of infants. And then toddlers. And then…but hopefully, by the time we would have had a toddler, we’ll actually have an infant. (If not sooner. If not tomorrow. The fun of adoption is that it could, in theory, happen any minute. This is also the craziness of it.) And by that point, I’ll be so in love with our actual baby that I’ll be glad to live in this universe and not that other one.
There’s also a world in which I never got pregnant at all, and one in which I’m still with B, and maybe one in which I lived out my ninth grade dream of marrying the guy who played Sodapop in our high school production of The Outsiders. But the Squeakies were in this universe for a minute, which is why I’m glad to be here now, in one of the worlds in which I got to love them.
*Did I ever tell you they were boys? We know this only because they did an autopsy, or whatever you call an examination of a body that was never a body. They were “genetically normal males” with a pesky neural tube defect. I am glad and not glad to know all of this, like so many of the things I know.