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by The Man from Matunga (MFM)

Ultrasound today can show an embryo five weeks after the last menstrual period. We could see two. Two small, black and white and gray living entities with no discernible activity, except for the heartbeats. No limbs, no face, no chest or abdomen; just two blobs stuck to one side of the uterus along with the placenta. Even then we knew that the twins were non-identical. 

The Doctor asked to play God

The incidence of multiple pregnancies in people who go in for assisted reproduction, is high. Twins are very common and often there are triplets and quadruplets. In fact our ultrasonologist heaved a sigh of relief when he saw that it was a twin pregnancy. His words were, "Whew! Thank God, there aren't more." 

Often, when there are more than two pregnancies, the ultrasonologist is called in to play God. The euphemistic term used is embryo reduction, which is a procedure where, for the safety of the mother and the other embryos, the doctor injects a drug called methotrexate into the hearts of the extra embryos and terminates them. Five, four and three are brought down to two; twin pregnancies remain untouched. Technically, with practice, it is not a very demanding procedure, but emotionally its tough, both for the parents and the doctor. 

Embryo Reduction

My cousin sister who went in for assisted reproduction six months before us had triplets and had to undergo a reduction. She now has two boys, both non-identical and she will never know whether the embryo that was reduced, wasn't the girl that she had desperately wanted. During that period, a friend of mine told me about a young, yuppie couple in Bangalore with a routine twin pregnancy. Both are in their late twenties, with upwardly mobile careers. They were not too keen on having a child in the first place, but had given in to parental and peer pressure since they were approaching 30. When they found out about the twin pregnancy, they went to their gynecologist and demanded to have an embryo reduction. She counseled them against this, since the chance of losing the other surviving fetus can be high. They told the doctor that if she did not arrange for the embryo reduction, they would abort the pregnancy and start all over again. 

Twice the fun at half the cost

Ours is not to judge, sucks. I asked my friend whether he would do the embryo reduction or whether he would refuse. Personally he was against it, but professionally he had no reason or excuse to refuse, and he went ahead and did it eventually. The good part about having twins is that you get it over with in one sitting. "Double mazaa hai, aur kam daam" (Twice the fun at half the cost) after the MR coffee ad from some years ago. Yet it throws everything into complete disarray. More about that later. 

"Welcome to hell."

A very helpful friend of mine who has twins had only one thing to say to me, "Welcome to hell." He has a great time with his twin daughters though, now that they are three years old. Once we knew about the twin pregnancy, we started working the statistics for boy-girl possibilities. Boy-boy, boy-girl, girl-boy and girl-girl are the four combinations possible, giving us a 50% chance that the pregnancy will have one boy and one girl. And obviously, unsatisfied as we humans are, now that we knew we had twins, we wanted more; a boy-girl pair, so that the family would be complete. 

Suddenly I have come to know of so many people who have twins. This one's brother, that one's sister, that friend's friend; everyone makes it a point to tell us about friends and relatives who have twins, as if it helps to know that twin pregnancies are not uncommon. Coincidentally, a friend of ours, Sarita, was also pregnant with twins in the same manner as us. She conceived two weeks before WFM and surprise, surprise, was also seeing the same gynecologist. We found out about this just as they did about us through the whispering sessions between the mothers.


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