Speech by Joel Haslam at Multiple Births Canada’s Conference 2003

Recently, I was thinking about my very first “multiples moment”. Do you remember yours? Well, I don’t know about you but mine wasn’t exactly “Hallmark” greeting card material.

My wife, Pam was expecting (what we believed to be) our second child. Thanks to the miracle of fertility drugs, we had already been blessed with a beautiful baby girl–her name is Sydney by the way–who was about 2 1/2 when Pam got pregnant a second time. We were overjoyed. You see, we were one of those couples who were, supposedly, unable to successfully conceive. Suddenly, the wonders of science and, of course, the Grace of God had given us a child. Now, another gift was on the way. But right from the get go, our second prenatal experience was different. At just 7 weeks or so, I noticed that my wife was really hungry…really really hungry…all the time. I couldn’t make sandwiches fast enough. I was slinging food like a short-order cook. Of course, I never said anything because being pregnant, she was also really emotional…really, really emotional…all the time. So believe me I was really careful – really really careful…all the time.

With a raised eyebrow, I patiently awaited our first ultrasound at the doctor’s office which was just days away. Do you remember your first ultrasounds? We went in feeling quite confident about the experience because this was, afterall, baby number 2!! Old hat. We didn’t want to know the sex – we were just praying that the baby to be was healthy and presumably happy…. But almost instantly the doctor doing the ultrasound goes, “Hmmm”… And I go, “What?” And she says, “I don’t know if you saw those as quickly as I did? Hmmmm” “What?”, I say… “Two heart beats”, she says. Suddenly the room was silent. You could hear a pin drop. With tears in her eyes, my wife gives me “the look”. I’ll never forget it. I return her gaze…welling up equally…take her hand and say the only thing there was to say,”OH MY GOD!! OUR BABY HAS TWO HEARTS!!!”

It was my first multiples moment and I missed it.

Now, my wife and the doctor lock eyes and roll them simultaneously. “Joel,” Pam says to me, “twins, we’re having twins.” Now it’s my turn to lock eyes with the doctor. With a congratulatory smile, she nods. I immediately feel really blessed–really stupid–but really blessed-even chosen. Whatever did we do to deserve this? It was a question we would ponder on the long car ride home. Later, it was a question I would utter out loud–in a much less celebratory tone–just weeks after the twins were born.

Wow, those early days were exhausting…the bottles, the diapers, the numbing fatique. We burned out two coffee pots, which seemed to be dripping Tim Horton’s best at our place 24 hours a day. And then, there’s all the STUFF–the double playpens (and in some of your cases triple and quadruple), strollers, cribs, and highchairs. At times, it felt like we weren’t going to make it. Really. Those folks on those realityTV shows got nothin’ on us. We’re the original survivors. So what if you can eat bugs or swim with sharks. Just try a weekend on twin or triplet island when little Johnny and Susie are teething. We’ll see what you’re made of. And, of course, there are the memories. I won’t bore you with my mine. But this weekend you’ll keep company with yours as you meet others who understand and can relate to your multiple moments. You’ll remind each other that the extra work loads that come with multiples result later in lives filled with two, three, and four times the joy. And if you’re like me, you’ll wonder just where the time’s gone. My son Tait is 7 and a half, his sister Madison is just 5 minutes younger…Their older sister, Sydney is 10.

I may have missed my first multiple moment in the doctor’s office all those years ago but I’ve savoured everyone since. And you know what? Back then, I wasn’t far off saying my baby had two hearts. They bring so much love to my life that most days I just can’t believe their hearts are regular size. I’m just glad there will always be a special place in them for me. I’m lucky. So are you. Have a wonderful Conference.

By Joel Haslam

Joel Haslam, Host/Producer Regional Contact, CJOH TV (CTV Ottawa), speech given at Multiple Births Canada’s Conference, May 2003.

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