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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Surprise

jenmichel@me.com

It wasn't two days after the ultrasound that Ryan had the spreadsheet reconfigured, the spreadsheet that calculated just how much it would cost to put five children through college. It was his way of absorbing the news that I was pregnant. With twins. How long did it take us to fully absorb the shock?

The pregnancy was itself a surprise. And what of the news delivered after what was supposed to have been a routine ultrasound? This is Baby A, the tech had announced smiling broadly. What is the word for describing the moment you realize your life has suddenly gotten away from you, like a herd of wild horses, and you would forever be on the run, chasing it?

If you're an actuary like my husband, you meet the news with a calculator. Your face bears grim lines of responsibility. He's still reeling, I think.

He didn't have the advantage that was mine. Hormones. A curious little invention that makes a pregnant woman wildly unpredictable, crying when she should laughing, laughing when you'd expect crying.

I bore the news with a curious and unexpected joy. I was insanely proud of those two blobs on the printed ultrasound picture. I walked through the following days and weeks, chuckling to myself, as if remembering the punch line from some cosmic joke that had been told.

The twins turn four today. My friend, who is herself a twin mom, reassured me long ago that four was the magic number. The day I would sweep difficulty behind me and greet ease at the front door.

Eh-hem. I'm waiting.

 Are they all yours? we're frequently asked.

Someday, I'll admit my habit of picking up neighbor kids on the way to the grocery store, just for kicks. I'll confess what terrific fun it is, manning the cart and quelling the chaos.

How old are you? This question almost inevitably follows the first.

In subway stations, school parking lots, and in public parks, I'm left defending my almost 38 years to complete strangers. For effect, I point to the grey hairs.

In search of the proper measure of my idiocy, the last question is raised, right alongside the eyebrows.

Was this planned?

They want to know if I'd marched into lunacy wide-eyed. Five kids is ecological disaster, financial ruin. Who signs up for this?

If I had the time, I'll tell them of the sheer joy of the surprise and the way life works best when we learn to receive it, not manage it.

I'd tell them of the ways our older children grew beautiful new habits of generosity and patience and responsibility in learning to care for their two little brothers.

I'd tell them of the way I'd been learning to wear out my knees these past four years, how I'd been learning to trust Him more deeply and embrace what He gives as gift.

Today, I celebrate the gift that was ours four years ago today: Andrew Grayson and Colin Grant. Happy Birthday!