Another Amazing Twist in My 2022
My wife and I welcomed our boy-girl twins this weekend, sooner than expected. And this is likely the most medical post I'll ever write.
Our little cancellation babies finally arrived.
There I was Friday night at a get-together after the second day of the Federalist Society national lawyers convention when I got a call from my wife, Kristin, saying that “I may be in labor, but I’m not sure.” I wasn’t sure what to do with that information—I only play a lawyer on TV, not a doctor—but the prudent course was to come home. So I called an Uber and was home at 10:30 p.m.
As it turned out, I was lucky the after-party was in McLean, Virginia, less than 15 minutes from my home in Falls Church. Because by the time I got there, it was pretty clear that it was game time. As I walked into our bedroom, my wife was on the phone with her doctor, who instructed her to check into the hospital because, even though her water hadn’t broken, the contractions were getting stronger and more frequent. (This last point was important, because our previous kids came after 21 and 17 hours of labor, respectively, after my wife’s water broke—the first time quite spectacularly after she got up from the couch where we’d been watching Netflix.)
By the time I changed out of my suit and got an overnight bag together, time was of the essence. Although it was more than two weeks before their due date, which in turn was two weeks before the 40-week mark that sets the due date for singletons, Ollie and Lina (names explained below) were rarin’ to go.
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After a traffic-frustrated (for me) and excruciating (for her) drive, we arrived at the Fairfax Inova Medical Complex around 11:15. Our first two boys had been born at the very-close Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, but Kristin’s OB practice had moved to the slightly farther-away Inova, which was better for our case anyway because it has a better NICU.
After some minor bureaucratic hassles and a literally painful delay in getting Kristin an epidural—“you can give me a mask but not an epidural?” she at one point cried in agony—it was game time. At 1:15am on November 12, out came Oliver “Ollie” Elijah Shapiro, weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces, and measuring 19.5 inches. Four minutes later came his sister, Galina “Lina” Diane Shapiro, weighing 5 pounds, 5 ounces, and measuring 19 inches.
Lina is named after her maternal grandmothers: I finally got to honor my mom (Galina is a common Russian name), whom I lost as a college junior. For all our kids, we’ve taken one name from each side of the family, but with a third boy, we had to dig a little deeper. Ollie is named after my mother-in-law’s maternal grandfather and, well, me. Their births have already been announced in Washington’s paper of record, Politico Playbook (referring to myself as a Georgetown “professor emeritus,” like I did in asking a question at the Fed Soc convention). As Kristin wrote on Facebook, the Shapiro twins wisely came early so as to avoid future conflicts between birthday parties and Thanksgiving.
Most importantly, they’re both healthy, thank God, and we avoided a C-section even though Lina was breach. Not many people have seen a baby come out feet-first and even fewer have seen a twin do that, but I’m now one of those few. Not all doctors will even attempt it—there are real risks, including that you’ll end up needing a C-section anyway, on top of the cervical/vaginal trauma—though it helped that (a) this wasn’t my wife’s first pregnancy and (b) Baby B was smaller than Baby A.
I’m so proud of Kristin. Not just for delivering two healthy kids, but for advocating for herself on both the epidural and natural-birth issues. Don’t get me wrong: I would kill to help my wife and kids if needed, but I was less-equipped to do so here because I hadn’t done the research to know all the decision-making flowcharts and terminology.
Our family is now complete. (I even updated my About page.) I had joked that when I learned we were having twins—by text message from Kristin’s first sonogram appointment while I was across the country at a conference—that my first thought after replying “OMG” was to research vasectomies. Well, I didn’t schedule anything then, but I did get a referral at my annual physical last month, so I’ll finally get on that—and an equally exciting colonoscopy since I turned 45!—now that I’m on paternity leave.
I’m not even sure what paternity leave means when you work from home for a think tank. I guess I’ll excuse myself from writing regular op-eds and try to check email only periodically rather than either being at my laptop or having my phone surgically attached to my hand. Heck, given the circumstances—did I mention I’m bringing home newborn twins?—I may not have the energy or mental clarity to do anything productive. And I guess it helps that my leave coincides with the holidays, when things slow down anyway.
But there is one larger project I’ll hope to chip away at. I can’t quite reveal it yet, but you’ll recognize it when you hear the announcement, here and elsewhere. In a way, it’s a “cancellation baby” alongside my new son and daughter.
One thing I won’t give up during this adjustment period is this newsletter. Shapiro’s Gavel may arrive on a more sporadic schedule, but I have plans for posts on such eclectic topics as what to do if you’re canceled, the story of my longing for and achievement of U.S. citizenship, and the state of judicial nomination battles in the Biden administration.
I’ll also be using Substack’s new chat feature, so this may be a good time to subscribe. Of course, the best immediate reason for getting a paid subscription is that my next paywalled post will be baby pictures.