The Completion Question

The Hook boys (there are five of us) seemed to have determined that two kids is the right number to carry on our family name.

My oldest brother Jim was the first to have kids. In fact, after my nephews Kyle and Kevin were both well into this world, he was the first to confront what I will call the Completion Question before any of the rest of us had even that first twinkle in our eyes.

The Completion Question is that time when a woman decides whether or not they are “complete” with whatever number of children they have at that time. I name this after my sister-in-law Kim who infamously told Jim that she “didn’t feel complete” with the two she had. She needed that one more. Jim, we understand, felt plenty complete.

It was with that in mind that, in the subsequent years after their third child (my niece Megan) was born that Jim, calling from whatever city his job took him to, would hear all those kids screaming in the background. He would, from the quiet of his hotel room, ask his patient wife the same question time and again:

“Do you feel complete now?”

We had all heard these stories before we even had our first.

Brother Ted and I alternated with our children. His son Alex came first, followed by my daughter Maggie, his daughter Libby, then my son Henry. All of this happened between 2002 and 2006. My youngest brother Morgan added two boys between 2006 and 2009.

Then we all held pat. The question, I suppose was out there for all of us, though. The Completion Question.

Our house mirrored that of Jim’s years before. I felt complete, Amy not so much. She wanted that one more, just as Kim had nearly a decade before. I put up some arguments, to be sure, but they were, perhaps, all too much based in logic.

One girl, one boy, one C-section, one not. Henry was just about out of pull-ups and we’d be able to put the Diaper Dekor away for good. We only have three bedrooms and we, the adults, were using one. The kids could each have one of the other and we’d be all set. We also both had cars that really couldn’t fit three across the back seat. Not comfortably they couldn’t anyway.

That led directly into the money aspect of it, too. Beyond at least one new car, one more baby obviously increases our childcare expenses by 50% and that’s no small number. We both were working full-time which meant full time daycare for Henry and new baby. Living the way we do we decided not to send our kids to the public schools. Our Catholic school is cheaper than daycare but it’s still a lot more than zero.

Again, I get it. I know that these are all reasons based in logic. I also know that there are emotions involved in motherhood that not only have absolutely nothing to do with logic but are beyond my comprehension.

Amy was not complete. It was not mine to ask why. There probably isn’t an answer to that question anyway.

So I put up my token opposition, delayed things for just long enough to come that tantalizingly close to a diaper-free life, and then I gave in. We would go ahead and have that third kid and the Completion Question would, hopefully, be answered for good.

The name of this blog obviously lets everyone know that it WAS answered and then some. But exactly how we went ahead and doubled-down on number three is, as it turns out, more exotic than even I thought.

Fertility was never an issue for us. Every time we “pulled the goalie” so to speak, pregnancy was never far behind. So too was the case the third time around. We were a family “with child” in very short order. Unfortunately, though, this third pregnancy was ultimately not to be. There was a miscarriage about three months in and, in the wake thereafter, Amy’s innards went a bit haywire. The cycle became anything but predictable.

I will, now, introduce you to a term you’ve likely never heard before: superfetation. Don’t go looking it up and ruining it for yourself. I’ll let you know what it means shortly.

Think back to eighth grade biology. One of the very first and basic lessons they teach you about pregnancy is that once you’re pregnant, you can’t get pregnant. Makes sense right? It is, in fact, the very basis of the birth control pill.

The pill is designed to, in the simplest terms, chemically convince a woman’s body that it is already pregnant. In that way, it doesn’t release an egg and, accordingly, doesn’t get pregnant “again.”

Tuck that fact away for a moment.

So, anywho, Amy got pregnant again, post miscarriage. Off to see her doctor she went and they took their little electronic peek inside and saw the makings of a nice healthy baby.

We were being more cautious about things at this point given what had happened before. Apparently though, we were not quite cautious enough.

Some many weeks later, Amy went to the doctor again and, lo and behold, there was something new in there.

Here’s the definition of superfetation courtesy of About.com: “the formation of a fetus while another fetus is already present in the uterus. It occurs when eggs from two separate menstrual cycles are released, as opposed to normal dizygotic twins where multiple ova are expelled in a single cycle. Although common in animals, it is rare in humans, but can result in a twin or multiple pregnancy where the fetuses display a marked difference in gestational development.”

Did you get that?

In layman’s terms, you’re pregnant and then get more pregnant. Put another way, baby number four took up residence down there before baby number three had moved out.

I am such a man, just so virile, that I knocked up a pregnant woman. At least that’s how I choose to look at it.

Throughout the entire pregnancy, these two babies were markedly different sizes. They grew at the same healthy rate but Oliver was, simply put, older. He was, in fact, five weeks older, according to the doctors.  When born, he was two-and-a-half pounds heavier than Theo. In the hospital, Ollie was consider full-term and little Theo treated like a preemie. He weighed less than a bag of sugar and wasn’t much bigger.

Superfetation. Never heard the word before, did you?

No you didn’t. My uncle Meredith has been an OB/GYN delivering babies for nearly half a century and he said he didn’t think it was possible until he saw the photographic evidence.

It is apparently even newsworthy. Some woman in Arkansas, Julia Grovenburg, had a news crew show up at her door to do a story on her case of superfetation and those two kids were half as a far apart as ours. Perhaps there’s a bit more going on around here than in Fort Smith, Arkansas but at least someone should have written a blurb about it or something. I guess now I have.

So there you have it. In our case, the Completion Question is absolutely, definitively, and in every way imaginable, forever answered. We are complete.

Having twins has certainly been an experience different than our first two kids were. Perhaps I should have thought of that when I was asking what Amy was missing. She had her girl, she had her boy, but she never had two babies at once. We got it now.

Our extremely unlikely path has, in fact, answered the Completion Question for my brothers as well. Ted and Morgan, it would appear, are holding at two for fear that one more becomes more more. I, for one, think they’re being kind of wimpy. I say go for it. What’s the chance this happens twice?

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14 thoughts on “The Completion Question

  1. what a wonderful writer you are !! ~ I was laughing out loud reading this and although I have twins the “regular” way LOL, i can just imagin the looks on your faces =)

  2. My jaw was on the ground through this entire post. I had NO idea that could happen! Maybe you’ll answer this in a post I haven’t read yet but how many weeks was she when she gave birth?

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  5. Found you through BPB… and I love your blog!

    I can’t believe this double-pregnant thing happened to your wife and you! Wow. Just, wow.

    And almost as interesting – you have an *uncle* named Meredith?

    😉

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  7. This is really a pretty amazing story…I am a little curious if that’s going on inside of me right now! I had a miscarraige and then became pregnant again soon after. First ultrasound saw one baby, second looks like two babies, but maybe one is not viable because its so small and could not find a heartbeat yet. I go in again tomorrow, hoping for some clarifying news! Mine would only be 3 weeks apart…I think… who knows, what an odd situation, but great story for later. You have a beautiful family, love the whole family photo.

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