I looked at the cheerful nurse on the other end of the ultrasound wand inserted in me, then turned to stare at the offending screen. Two little fetuses floated innocently in black and white. I glanced at my girlfriend H. Her eyes were goggled in terror. As I started giggling hysterically the image on the screen vibrated manically.
It’s hard to describe the terror that seizes your throat when you find out you are pregnant with twins. Especially when there’s already a 17 month old toddler pinging off your walls at home.
“Then why did you put two embryos back?” people reasonably ask me when I describe the white lines pulsing in front of my eyes and the sweat running down my back.
But it’s also hard to describe trying to get pregnant for 3 years. I thought I had to pull out all the stops to have any chance of getting there again. I never thought it possible they could BOTH stick around. And then at my initial check-up at the fertility clinic, before what I thought would be months of disgusting IVFness, my doctor casually dropped that we could try taking embryos off ice and putting them in me during a natural cycle if I liked. This week was perfect, she added as an afterthought. Hikaru was out of the country and circumstances kind of slipped the leash.
Not long afterwards I was joking to my friend that I had gotten myself knocked up while H was in Japan when the explanation for my sudden hyper fertility hit me in the face. Japan! My mind rewound to a drunken night in 2011…
“Let’s go to Chiga’s bar”
H and I, childless and carefree, were weaving happily with our friends Kanna and Nachan through the Shinjuku ni-chome, Tokyo’s gay district. Kanna had just come up with a great idea.
Chiga is the lesbian godfather of the Tokyo gay scene. A dashing ageless dandy butch she has been running the best lesbian parties and bars in Japan for more than 20 years, surrounded by her ‘Bond Girls’, a coterie of gorgeous femmes in hardly any clothes.
Kanna led us through back alleys to a dark doorway where a hatch lifted and eyes peered through at us. The door opened to a smoky hole in the wall bar, gorgeous stylish women from around the world propping it up. Chiga herself came out from behind the bar to hug us.
There’s a Shinto tradition in Japan where you write your wishes for the New Year on a piece of wood or paper and hang it in the temple for the gods. It was January and Chiga’s bar was her temple so she had left a calligraphy brush and ink and pile of paper on the bar. All over the walls people had stuck up their hopes and wishes for the year, written in beautiful kanji characters.
H swept up to the bar and knocked out a single character in a flowing hand without a moment’s hesitation. I followed suit with what looked more like someone’s dodgy home tattoo. I scrawled a word in English underneath to prove I wasn’t illiterate and we stuck them side by side on the wall.
The one on the right, mine, is the character for child, H’s on the left says… twins.
As the memories of that night flooded back I realised that by the end of that year my wish had come true. And that by the end of THIS year, so will have H’s. I also remembered how much we longed for children at that time and how we had almost lost hope. For the first time the fear of twins started to fade into excitement…
But still – and this from an atheist – when you’re in Japan, DON’T mess with the Shinto gods.