The 4 Stages of Accepting That You're a Minivan Family
April 13, 2016
It was Valentine’s Day. I knew I was about 10 weeks pregnant and had an appointment with the OBGYN because I was bleeding. I was worried, looking for reassurance. I had been distracted all day thinking the same things over and over, frustrated that I wouldn’t know anything until later.
It was my least favorite doctor at the practice who saw me, the one who was most business like and least sympathetic to my long and anxious ramblings. He turned on the ultrasound machine.
“It’s two,” he said.
“Two what?” I asked, though I could clearly see two circles on the screen.
“Two babies. Twins. We haven’t had twins at the practice for months and now we had one yesterday and you today. Twin pregnancies are a pain,” he continued. (See aforementioned description of doctor. Luckily I was too stunned at that moment to develop any opinions on his bedside manner.)
It had never occurred to me that we would have twins. Never. Then came the most important question. I gestured towards my husband, “Could you please tell us whose fault this is?” I knew in my heart that it was my husband’s fault. He’s so good at things, always parallel parks perfectly the first time.
“It’s the mom,” said Dr. Doom and Gloom.
“We’ll have to buy a minivan,” announced my husband, who had been very quiet.
And then we just looked at each other and laughed. It was as unreal news as we could expect, an unfeasibly large cloud of cotton candy floating just out of our grasp. We came into the appointment expecting bad news and were leaving with this. The minivan was all we had to hold on to.
We had to tell someone. We drove to my brother and sister in laws’ house, folded the ultrasound pictures over and showed them one baby. They had suspected something but not what they saw when the whole strip of pictures unfurled in front of them. My brother-in-law did a double take like a cartoon dog. Two!
Still, whatever Angelina Jolie can do, I can do right? Apart from briefing the UN Security Council and looking anything like Lara Croft in hot pants.
We skipped over any sort of research, budgeting and crowdsourcing opinions and decided to drive down the street where all the car dealerships are and just stop at the first one. My previous car buying experience had been limited to buying a Ford station wagon from a fellow student at grad school for $900 and being amazed that it had a CD player and blue plastic interior décor. The clutch soon fell out and shortly afterwards I was almost strangled when the automatic seatbelt malfunctioned. But I really loved that car.
The first dealership didn’t sell minivans. So we moved on to the next. They had minivans and they had a gong you could bang when you completed a purchase, free coffee and a seventeen year old salesman who played it so cool, I thought that he must be honest. We bought a brand new Dodge Grand Caravan. Bottom of the minivan line.
It’s a bit rubbish. We have been back to the shop with the same problem multiple times and every few months something else goes wrong. We are getting our money’s worth out of the extended warranty that my husband insisted on buying.
When the twins were still in the NICU we had to take the car in to the shop and had asked for a rental car as we were back and forth to the hospital all the time. We arrived to drop ours off and there was no rental car.
I was on a physical and emotional knife edge having given birth via c section only a week or so before, two babies in the hospital still and no patience remaining. It was the 100 degree dog days of August.
“I need a car. It’s very very important,” I said to the man behind the desk as he tapped at his keyboard and frowned,
He looked up at me and smiled, “I’ll say you do. You’ll need to get to the hospital at any moment won’t you? You must be so excited, a new baby any day now! When are you due?”
Silence reigned until I announced, with tears streaming down my face, “I gave birth 8 days ago.”
Not ten minutes later we left the dealership in a top of the line rental minivan. You know, the one with the doors that open by themselves.
My older daughter has named the van, Todd. The twins sometimes look around and say, “I think this is a bus.” I have spilled coffee in the cup holders and lost hairbands down the cracks in the floor where the seats fold in. We drove 13 hours to Virginia, the kids watching Frozen three times in a row on a iPad strung up on washing line between the two front seats. (Bottom of the line does not include a DVD player to descend from the ceiling when it’s 5pm and you are still in Pennsylvania, about to lose your mind.)
We can fit friends in, the odd cousin, my parents when they come to visit. We even loaned it out to friends whose vehicles don’t have the needed capacity for a multi-generational family trip to the botanical gardens. Riding in our van was pretty much the only reason that my friend’s three year old accepted staying with us while his mom was in the hospital giving birth to his baby brother.
My husband wants a Vespa. I would like a Mini Cooper.