A couple of weeks ago, as Lisa and I wended our way through Whole Foods and Super Fresh, I spent as much time looking at other women as I did at my wife. There was Lisa, 31 weeks pregnant with twins, and I kept looking at every woman we passed. Why?
Well, please understand: My wife has gained a lot of weight. And if she is the least bit tired, which holds now pretty much all the time, she teeters when she walks. And these other women, on this particular grocery trip, started grinning at her, from 10 or 20 yards away, clearly hoping to catch her eye. But Lisa was so focused on finding frozen fruit bars and ripe bananas she failed to notice them.
A few women simply stepped in front of her and started talking. “Hi!” they said. “You look like you could give birth any time now!”
Lisa seemed content to merely smile in response. But Husband, because I am incapable of containing myself, barked “Twins! Twins!”
Eyes widened. Oohs and aahs sounded. My wife has become a human fireworks show.
For those who have never been close to a woman bearing twins, some background: By the time a woman carrying twins reaches 29 weeks, she has reached the proportions of a woman carrying a single baby to full-term. So, at the end point, all political correctness aside, when most women feel big as a house, Lisa, with multiple tenants, started pushing on to become an apartment complex. A woman carrying one baby might gain a little over 33 pounds through her pregnancy. At 29 weeks, Lisa had gained 35. According to a study conducted at Michigan State, a “healthy” pregnancy for Lisa could mean gaining an additional 20 pounds.
I wish it wasn’t so hard on her: One of the babies insists on pushing up into her rib cage. Sleep is often elusive. Comfort is now impossible. She grunts and shifts her position on the couch or in bed incessantly, looking for a pose that minimizes the hurt. Our doula showed me a move where I stand behind Lisa, reach around her waist and lift her belly. So far, Lisa never fails to sigh and recline back a little into my arms. That little bit of relief, not having to “carry” the twins anymore, for even a minute or three, makes a difference.
Now, lots of women carry twins. So, I don’t want to fall into that trap of acting like my wife is the first person ever to travel this path. But it is the first time for us, and the incredible thing to me is that Lisa is still the woman I’ve always known. I’ll put it this way: If Lisa were converted into a weather forecast, she would read 80 percent chance of cheerful with strong gusts of joy.
Her sunny disposition was already remarkable to me, even before her pregnancy, because Lisa works as a pediatric physical therapist. She specializes in kids who suffer from cerebral palsy. So her days are filled with kids and parents doing the best they can in a difficult situation. She takes children who have never stood and helps them get on their feet for 10 seconds at a time. She takes kids who only have the strength to lay prone and builds their core muscles until they can sit up by themselves. Even these victories can sound disheartening. But Lisa appreciates each child’s progress in increments.
“Not many people could do what you do,” I tell her.
She doesn’t see herself as special in any way. So her pregnancy, though difficult, has made me happy for one particular reason beyond the pending birth of our first children.
The attention she attracts now—the complete strangers with startled smiles at the mere sight of her—is rock star stuff. All these people, stopping for a moment in their own busy lives, wanting to be near her, to hear the due date—their hands creeping up at their sides, like they feel compelled to reach out and touch her yet can’t. … They look at Lisa with a sense of wonder. And yes, I look at them. But they never seem to notice me. I am invisible. And I enjoy every second of that. Because suddenly, all around me now, it seems the whole world is seeing Lisa the way I do.