At the beginning of september a plain looking brown envelope fell through the letterbox. It didnt appear overly promising, it was a little tatty around the edges as though it had been tumbled around in an industrial sized washing machine for a week or so, but its contents were much more exciting; our first midwife appointment has been issued. Maybe it wasn't the most exciting thing ever but it was for us!
Thursday 16 september dawned, rather damp and chilly, and we were rained on several times as we headed across town to the local hospital. Walking into the maternity unit was quite unnerving, there were several ladies waiting with very obvious bumps and I felt a bit of a fraud, only being 9 weeks gone and not visibly pregnant at that point. We were very quickly called in by the midwife, who was very lovely and asked us how we were to which we replied 'excited, nervous, terrified........!!'. The booking in appointment itself was very straight forward, basic questions (name, rank, serial number that sort of thing) and the medical history of the prospective parents. Nothing too strenuous so far. Then she enquired whether we had had any thoughts on where we wanted our baby to be delivered (cue images of FedEx standing at the door with a baby under one arm and one of those annoying little boxes which manages to completely mangle your signature beyond recognition in hand). We had discussed the place of delivery several times, and decided as close to home as poosible was the best idea for us. So in reverse order, 4th on our list was Burton, 3rd Good Hope, 2nd Lichfield and 1st was in the comfort of our living room. Fortunately our midwife agreed, and our home birth was booked. I had some blood taken for tests (P didnt look) and then our 12 week dating scan was booked for the 12 October, and we were done. We left feeling excited, and were certain we would meet family/friend/neighbour on our way home as we were carrying a huge plastic folder with 'Your Pregnancy Notes' emblazened all over it and no bag to hide it in (we were determined to keep the pregnancy quiet for as long as we could). Thankfully, we made it home without seeing anyone we knew.
About 10 days before our scan I started to feel 'something' getting in the way whenever I bent over to feed the cats or load the dvd player, which I put down to being bloated (I had read in my pregnancy book that bloating was very likely in the first 3 months of pregnancy) and thought little more about it. A few days later my mum phoned me, all excited, and exclaimed 'I had a dream that you rang and said you were having twins! It was so vivid that when I woke up I was convinced you had phoned!'. P and I laughed it off, although it planted a seed of doubt in our minds...
We arrived at the maternity unit for our 12 scan feeling excited but nervous, and on my part quite desperate for the loo (I was told to drink a pint of water before leaving the house in order to make the locating of the uterus easier fo the sonographer). In the back of our minds we were concerned they wouldn't find anything, or discover that we had conceived but it hadn't survived, and of course somewhere in there the word 'twins' was lurking.. The midwife called us through, and I was told to lie on the bed. I jokingly said 'please just tell me theres one in there..', and she turned and looked at her colleague. 'Well, the previous 2 ladies we've scanned this morning are both having multiples, one's having twins and the other has triplets!'. Oh dear. Its not looking good then! On went the gel (rather cold I must say) and on went the scanner. A grainy black and white image appeared on the monitor, and she quickly turned it off, muttering 'oh dear I will just reset it and then we'll try again..'. Take 2.. The screen came on, I glanced at P, and commented 'oh crikey', (what I wanted to say was a little stronger than that) which said it all. On the screen were 2 little white blobs in a sea of grey, with 2 very clear hearts frantically beating away. By this point P was lost in a cloud of utter terror and shellshock, whilst the only words I could muster were 'oh my goodness' over and over again. Through the bombshell though was extreme happiness, yes there were 2 of them, yes our lives were well and truly altered beyond all recognition, not to mention how on earth are we going to fit 2 babies into the flat, but they were there, growing, wriggling around, healthy. And that was suddenly all that mattered. They were healthy babies, albeit double what we were expecting.
Somehow we managed to stagger, dumbfounded, out of the hospital and make it to P's mum's house, where we collapsed on the sofa, P with a large mug of strong tea in hand. Silently we handed over the scan pics, which the midwife had annotated with 'twin 1', 'twin 2' and 'both', and slowly it became clear as to why we were so white. Suffice to say, most of the Lancaster-Hamilton clans were equally as shocked. By the time we were home however, most of cyberspace knew thanks to the wonders of social networking sites, and the messages came flooding in. Then, oh so very slowly, it started to sink in a little more.. 'You're having twins...'