By Briton Underwood of Original Bunker Punks
“How do you do it?”
The question everyone asks.
People are in such wonder of twins. I mean, how could you possibly raise two at once?
“It’s all we have ever known. We don’t know how to raise one. We have always had both of them.”
A simple enough response, one that does the trick; instantly the cloud of mystery on an inquisitive face vanishes. You can see the clarity replace curiosity. It’s all they have ever known. Of course! This is usually followed by an “Oh, bless you!” or other phrase insinuating saintly parenting. Sister Serendip might draw some similarities to that experience.
This is the story of “how I do it,” revisited on Killian’s and Nicolas’ second birthday.
When you mix Jose Cuervo, an empty beach, and unprotected sex, you are pretty much taunting the powers that be into gifting you with offspring. Add the fact that the beach is ironically named Pleasure Beach, and you should really know better than to expect anything less than a child nine months late. Now, I’m not a learned doctor, but combining those three things seems more effective than fertility treatments (with same added chance of multiples!).
We had been out at our friends Matt and Noah’s playing cards. As the night wound down, Diana and I decided to end the night at our favorite beach. Accompanied by bellies full of tequila, we headed for a midnight swim. One thing led to another, and we were twenty yards out on a floating platform. With clothes left on the beach, we did what any drunk twenty-somethings do when naked and in that head-over-sneakers phase of dating. There we were, two drunk kids having sex in the middle of nowhere, creating what I feel is probably the start to ninety percent of slasher films. We left the floating dock to return to sandy clothes, expecting Jason Voorhees to rise from the depths to get us drunk and horny kids.
Flash forward six weeks, three fights, and one box of pregnancy tests later: we found out we were expecting.
A week after, we found out it was going to be “double trouble.”
I remember when the ultrasound technician said, ”Oh, there’s two in there.”
“No, we only asked you to find one,” was my response. Shock and disbelief washed over me which, might I add, stayed with me the entire pregnancy. I don’t think it has ever quite left, to be honest.
There they were on the screen — baby “A” and baby “B,” Killian and Nicolas.
For people not familiar with two aliens growing in a body, multiples don’t enjoy staying full term. Our boys couldn’t wait to come into this world.
On March 30th, 2013 the wife wasn’t feeling well. She wasn’t feeling bad. She was feeling awful. It turns out she had developed a form of preeclampsia known as HELLP syndrome. Google it; shit is scary. HELLPS wreaks havoc on your body. Red blood cells rupture, your platelet count plummets and your liver enzymes begin going haywire. It usually occurs during the later stages of pregnancy and is life-threatening. When Diana went into the hospital that morning, they told us she was fortunate for catching it early and coming in. A few more hours could have been her life, they said.
Did I mention, in addition to the HELLPS, this was apparently the one day of the year our OBGYN was out of town? I was living the movie Knocked Up.
So there I was, in a room with my drugged-up, out-of-it wife while some dude I’ve never met used a medical tool set I assume he bought from a Dexter memorabilia site.
At 10:05 a.m. I heard Killian for the first time. At 10:07 a.m. I heard Nicolas. As I tried not to faint while cutting umbilical cords (No one told me it would squirt blood at me! The whole cutting of the umbilical cords could be a blog-novel itself), something was going on with Diana.
My wife had become unresponsive. As monitors began to beep alarmingly, I looked around confused but completely knew what was going on. Now, everyone was covered head-to-toe in scrubs and protective wear in those delivery rooms. Their eyes were uncovered, though, and I could see the worry in them.
Still reeling from the umbilical cord debacle of a minute prior, I was already feeling rather woozy. Everything was tunnel vision. The anesthesiologist and a nurse immediately tried to usher me out to see my newborns in an adjacent room. I loved my kids from the moment we found out about them, but I wasn’t going to leave my wife’s side. I couldn’t just leave as my wife laid there unresponsive.
Sitting there watching your spouse slip away is a surreal experience. It was only a matter of minutes, but I spent an eternity in that moment, just staring at her expressionless face, not knowing what might happen.
What was I going to do? How would I survive?
Diana has always been the calm to my storm. As my insides raged, her anchor continuously had kept me from going adrift. To lose her, the possibility of it, was terrifying. In my head I played out that reality. Future birthday and anniversary celebrations flashed through my mind. Having to explain to my children why their mother wasn’t around. Having to describe the beauty and strength I fell in love with. As I flashed through a life without, something inside Diana sparked.
She began to stabilize and come back to me. When her eyes fluttered open, a collective sigh of relief was exhaled by doctors, nurses, and me. The weight of the room lightened. Diana’s vitals crept toward to normal, and the doctors no longer held worry in their eyes. I turned my attention to the other room.
Killian and Nicolas came out healthy, tiny, and crying. Holding them, so tiny in my hands, after all we had been through in a matter of five hours, was amazing. I loved them with a part of my heart I never knew existed. They were beauty incarnate. Perfect and pure.
A few days in ICU for the wife, a week and a half in NICU for the boys, and finally my family was home! Everyone was exhausted, but we were whole.
Diana was on bed rest for a month. I was all too happy to take care of the boys, though. Doctor’s appointments, diapers, and midnight feedings — everything I happily took part in. As Diana’s strength returned, we took to parenting and were great at it. We wore that new parent glow as well as some would wear designer jeans. Sleep-deprived, spit-up stained, and happy.
My boys are blessed with two loving parents, but for that brief space in time, I was a widowed father of twins. Mentally, I have lived that life and it was very real to me. It seems eons ago that I faced the possibility of parenting alone in the world when my wife nearly died giving birth to our twins. I never knew a brief moment could play out like eternity in your mind. A moment that came crashing back around the time of our third son’s birth.
“How do you do it?”
The question is so loaded, not that the person asking it would ever realize it.
“It’s all we have ever known.”
This piece was originally published on Original Bunker Punks
About Briton Underwood
Briton Underwood, better known as Punk Rock Papa, is a parent above all else. When he gets sick of being at their beck and call he likes to escape to his Facebook page or blog site. He writes about any and everything he wants, but mainly about his twin boys or his newest addition- another boy. He also would like the world to know he has a beautiful wife, because the couch isn’t that comfy.