The first thing I bought when my husband and I decided it was time to try for a baby was a red infant stroller.
This wasn’t just any stroller; it was a super-fancy model: car-seat compatible, uber-light, a reversible seat, tons of storage — it slices, dices, stirs and fries! When it popped up on a daily-deals website just a few days after we’d given ourselves the go-ahead to get on with the baby-making, I could tell it was a good sign. I was on top of things from the get-go — I had a plan!
When the stroller arrived, we dragged it, still in its box, down into the basement to wait patiently by the bottom of the staircase for a Baby Ogden to put in it. And then we waited. And then we waited some more.
By the time we’d decided it was time to stop just waiting and start talking to doctors, the stroller had had to move. It was no longer welcome at the bottom of the staircase, where I might accidentally see it if I came downstairs to find a new roll of paper towels or to bring up the Christmas decorations. Instead, it got shoved into a back corner, behind the dog kennel and underneath a pile of old sheets.
Eventually we moved house, and the stroller box came along with us. It got crammed into a basement closet along with spare yarn and a pile of clothes we didn’t wear anymore. If the box had gotten a bit dented and scuffed by then, neither of us really noticed.
Meanwhile, there were doctors and tests and several rounds of peeing into cups (which I got much better at with all the practice, which was good because getting worse would have been pretty serious). There was never a diagnosis, or an answer of any sort, but eventually, there was a prescription. I got to jab a needle into my own stomach-flab, hoping that the drugs inside would convince an egg to fall out of my recalcitrant ovaries.
Then it was back to waiting, which is a skill, unlike cup-peeing, that I never really took to. My husband wound up traveling toward the end of that particular two-week wait. When I was home alone, I went down into the basement and sat next to that stupid wishful-thinking red stroller and cried.
When stick-peeing time arrived (like cup-peeing, but even easier, and with even more practice behind me) I didn’t really believe the two little lines that showed up. So I took out another stick that afternoon: still two lines. Same for the one the next morning. When my husband finally got back from his trip, I presented him with a beautiful, albeit unsanitary, plastic bouquet.
Finally getting pregnant certainly didn’t mean an end to doctors’ visits and tests, and when I was almost 20 weeks along, one of those tests brought an unpleasant surprise along with it: an abnormally high level of AFP, a protein made by the developing baby. It could have been nothing, or it could have meant spina bifida or anencephaly, and the nurse scheduled us for the earliest ultrasound slot she could find at the Maternal-Fetal Medicine unit. That still meant more waiting, and it was some of the worst waiting of all.
When I finally got under the ultrasound probe, the news was a relief: the baby was perfectly healthy. And so, as it happened, was the second baby currently in residence. His extra AFP contribution had nudged my numbers over what was normal for a singleton pregnancy, but well within range if you happen to be toting around twins.
Several excited phone calls, a lot more doctors’ visits, and about 17 weeks later, our twins arrived. We had gotten a double infant car-seat clip stroller as a hand-me-down from a family friend of my sister, and at a garage sale I picked up a used but still sturdy Graco Duoglider for when the kids were bigger. It was only a few weeks after we got home from the hospital that I realized that the fancy singleton stroller was still sitting in the basement in its original packaging.
I sold the red stroller on Craigslist to a pregnant woman who lives just a few blocks over. Sometimes I pass her on the street, she pushing her son in his fancy red stroller and me with my twins in my secondhand tandem set-up. I wonder how the red stroller fits into her parental strategy. It seems to be doing a better job for her than it ever could under the weight of my overwrought plans.