Picture the scene. Varinder myself and a doctor are in an ultrasound scanning room. Varinder is lying near horizontally with a load of clear gel smeared all over her lower belly. She is gripping my hand tightly. We have spent the last five minutes watching the screen as fuzzy black and white shapes and patterns wash cross it in unison with the movement of the doctor’s scanner.
“Well everything looks good from here” he smiles at us reassuringly.
I give V’s hand a quick squeeze and take a step back from her so she can wipe the gel off herself.
“One thing before you go…” his tone is that of someone who is about to break some important news to us. My stomach tightens instantaneously.
“Have a look at this.” He points to something at the screen. V and I look at each other before turning back to the screen. I squint my eyes in the hope of seeing whatever it is the doctor is pointing at.
“Look at what?” I smile expectantly
The doctor points at two separate areas of the screen before looking back at us with a smirk on his face.
“I’m sorry but I what am I supposed to be looking at?”
“Look! One… two…” He announces.
“One two what?” I feel increasingly irritated by his guessing game
“Mr and Mrs Salari. I am delighted to tell you that you are expecting twins!”
My first reaction is to swing around and look at V. She is laughing and crying at the same time. Then I feel my eyes sting. I raise my hands to cover my mouth as I gasp, and to my surprise, shed a few tears.
“Congratulations!” The doctor says grinning broadly.
This event took place nearly 6 weeks ago. We knew V was pregnant and this was meant to have been a routine check up to make sure everything was where it should have been and that a heart beat could be seen.
On our way back from the hospital I cancelled a morning meeting and whisked V off to a hotel overlooking the Thames in Richmond. We were both floating somewhere between a place called complete shock and another place called two chimps at once.
“After these two I want another one. I want three babies.” Varinder was adamant.
“Can we have these two chimps first and then decide on the next one?”
“I just want you to know that’s all.” She grinned.
We told my mum, sister, parents in law and a few close friends. We wanted the first trimester to pass before we told anyone else. But this wasn’t to be.
a) I have a very big mouth and can’t keep anything to myself.
b) V’s tummy grew massively in a few short weeks.
c) We stopped going out when Varinder began suffering from ‘morning’ sickness’ — 24 hours a day.
For a few weeks Varinder lay on the sofa not unlike the Queen of Sheba while I waited on her hand and foot. I cooked, made snacks, stirred her tea and even walked her to bed and tucked her in (my bed time is much later).
Over time I began to wonder if V was taking advantage of me. She wouldn’t attend meetings – twice I had to meet her clients alone – and she refused to do anything but lie on the sofa feeling sick.
“But you don’t understand how awful I feel” she whimpered to me one evening. “I’m not being lazy I swear…”
When Easter came I decided to drive us up for a long weekend in Leeds with my mum and sister. All Easter she complained of feeling tired and out of breath to the point where I started to ignored her. One afternoon before meeting friends for lunch she was so breathless that I put it to her she was being a hypochondriac and that she could not possibly be out of breath yet because of the size of the twins.
When we returned from Leeds I persuaded her to see our GP hoping that having a doctor tell her she is fighting fit might make her more energetic.
We walked into his office and the first question he asked V was how long she had been breathless. I watched as he hurriedly listened to her chest, took her blood pressure and finally started dialling a number.
“Who are you calling?” I asked.
“Mr Salari, your wife has pneumonia.”
I was completely stunned. Why now? With twins… why was this happening to her and what an unsympathetic jerk I had been.
My poor V spent 4 days and nights in hospital attached to intravenous antibiotics and a nebuliser before being allowed home under my care. Very importantly, the twins were checked daily and were as naughty and bouncy as ever – totally unaffected by their mother’s condition.
Varinder is now on the road to recovery and we are nearly halfway through what is proving to be an eventful pregnancy. Her stomach looks enormous and she has stolen my pillows to place under her belly for support. For my part as father in waiting, every morning I place my mouth to the side of her stomach and yell:
Varinder giggles uncontrollably and pulls my head up to kiss me good morning.
So this is the story so far and I pray for no more surprises. In another four months I hope to share with you their pictures so you can decide whether they resemble me or our window cleaner the most.
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