August Fifth, Two Thousand Fifteen
We've been living with it for almost two weeks now. It's gotten easier to tell people, to say the words, but we still haven't really made peace with it. How could we? Everything will change. I almost don’t know what to say about it. I mean, on paper it looks like life stays somewhat normal. Live in Winnipeg, work at your job, go home to your family.
We're now going to be in charge of so many lives. So many little lights of consciousness. So many tiny, frail, precious human bodies. And a huge part of who they will be is something that I can't understand, or even empathize with...
But right now, in the heat of it, that's not really where my head's at. Not really.
It's the selfish, immediate concerns that are messing me up. How this affects us right now. How it affects me.
No more social life. No more free time. No more date nights. No more 'laissez-faire' attitude towards money.
And no more music. No more tours, weekend showcase trips, band practices, recording sessions... I have to be a father first now. I’m going pro. The professional father with the toughest gig I know – and that’s ASSUMING everyone’s healthy. It’s incredible. It’s lunacy. It’s one in ten thousand. It’s exciting, terrifying, bittersweet.
A riddle: Triplets are born in July, yet their birthday is in October. How? The name of the city is July. Ha ha. These triplets will have their birthday (hopefully) in October, but really were born July 22, 2015. Until then, we had no idea what was cooking in Gill’s tum-tum. Schrodinger’s Triplets. They didn’t exist until we saw them. A recap of the day we found out: So we head to the Grace Hospital around 10AM for our first ultrasound. It got pushed back a little bit, so it’s more like 22 weeks into the pregnancy. So far everything has been aces – we saw our midwife several times, nothing alarming. She had trouble finding the heartbeat a couple times, or at least it kept moving around. "The baby’s a good swimmer!" she said.
We were excited to find out the gender, but other than that were surprisingly nonchalant about the whole thing. Second pregnancy, after all. Old hat.
We walk right in, ultrasound lab is to the right. We both sit down and Gill is immediately invited in. I’m pleased that things are moving quickly. I should be back to work in no time.
Maybe 5 minutes later the tech comes out, walks right up to me. “Your wife would like to talk to you.” She looks like she’s trying to play it cool. That's not good.
I steel myself. Gut already twisting up, prepared for the worst. I enter the room. My wife is lying on the table, eyes wet with tears.
The baby is dead. Obviously. Or maybe deformed. What else could it be? “What’s going on.” My voice is flat. She looks up at me, terrified.
“…There’s three babies inside of me.” My first thought is of three fetuses fused together. Something completely unnatural. No chance that they’ll survive. There was something about that sentence that still sticks with me. Had she said ‘It’s triplets!’, it would have been a less visceral reaction. I guess when you say, mournfully, that there’s something INSIDE of you, it conjures up something... grotesque. Immediately start asking tech. “Are they alright?” “Are they healthy?” “Are you sure there’s only three?” Bizarre scenarios of some biological black swan pop in my head – dozens of eggs released and fertilized at the same time, like a frog or a fish. A medical miracle.
The tech gets to work. We watch her count them, measure the heads, measure the bones, count the bones. She looks for membranes between the babies. Can’t find them. She looks at the placenta, can’t tell if it’s one or three in close proximity. She tells us there is definitely one girl, and the other two look like they’re probably girls as well. Nervous jokes start to come from the both of us. The utter disbelief. I’m pacing, pacing all over. We're both alternating between laughing and moaning. "We were already out of bedrooms..." she muses darkly.
"Fraternal or identical?" I ask. Ultrasound lady can't tell me, she doesn't know. “We have a YARIS!” Gill realizes suddenly. What are the odds, what are the odds, I think.
“What are the odds?” I ask. The tech, again, doesn’t know. She’s never done an ultrasound on triplets before.
I ask if I can take a picture of the screen. Not allowed normally, she says. But okay.
I'm still looking at the screen as my mind turns to music, as it always does. And I realize how it's over. How this extraordinary event is going to force me to live a bit more ordinarily. But also starting to hazily realize that WE can never be ordinary now. Now, because of a random biological fluke, we - my son and wife and these zany nuggets - are special. And we’re going to go through something inconceivably difficult and trying and rewarding together. We drive home in a haze. Talking the whole way. Beyond shock. We drive to where Gill's mom works. She’s not there.
Because, hilariously, she's back at the Grace Hospital, exactly where we just were but in a different wing. Gill’s grandmother had a nose-bleed that morning that wouldn’t stop. Low platelet count. We drive back to the Grace. We meet my mother-in-law in emergency. Her news and our news clonk together like coconuts. Nothing registers on either end. We go to see grandma. Gill's uncle and aunt are already there, so we tell them. Aunt’s jaw literally drops. Gill, her mother and I decide to go to Boston Pizza for some reason. I’m vaguely, fitfully trying to start making peace with my new life on the way to the car.
“You might have to cancel your tour!” says Gill. We were going to do a couple weeks worth of shows in the States later in the fall. I wanted to get one more trip in before the new baby came.
"Might" have to cancel... Oh, bless her. Either she hasn’t yet processed what this all actually means, or she’s just trying to be gentle on me. But there’s been nothing gentle about this news. It is simply this. Everything has completely changed. And right now my response is this: bring it on.