Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words or So

I can just hear you years from now. Mommy, didn’t I ever smile? Why do I always look mad in all my pictures?

The short answer is yes, you did smile, just not on camera.

In general, Ella, you are very smiley. You smile huge, wide smiles all the time. You are a bit more reserved in front of the camera, but more likely to let us capture those sideways grins. Anna, you are much more shy and particular with smiles. Especially first thing in the morning, you smile too. But it usually takes more work to get a big grin out of you. And you tend to flash little smiles quickly.

And both of you like to stare very solemnly into the camera. The little black box comes out and you start looking very seriously at it, no matter what antics Daddy and I are trying behind the camera. So, it is a wonderful feat when we get a picture with both of you smiling.… a crazy stroke of luck. This problem might be overcome if we bought a camera where the time between depressing the button and the picture being taken is less than 3 seconds. Although that sounds like a very short period of time, when you are trying to get two infants to sit still, it is interminable.

Below, our first mistake was trying to take these pictures just before bed. You weren’t in the best of moods already. Our second mistake was putting you in a hot outfit when you were already pretty warm. Third was trying to make you sit up on your own, which you can’t quite do yet. We should have propped you on something, but we were trying to get the pics before you totally exploded. Our fourth mistake is deciding half way through to move the blanket in the background, thus making photoshopping a smiling head from another picture almost impossible.

Anna: “What am I doing here alone? Where’s Ella?”

Ella: “I’m coming, hold your horses!”
Anna: “Oh my, Mommy has that black thing again. “

Ella: “Take that!”
Anna: “Mommy, she’s hitting me again.”
Bailey: “Wait, when did they get tails? I need to sniff their butts!”

Anna: “Man, Daddy sure can act funny sometimes.”
Ella: “Yeah, what on Earth is he doing?”

Ella: “I don’t really get what I’m supposed to do here.”
Anna: “I think they want us to do something….Ella, um, do you know what we’re supposed to be doing?”

Ella: “Wait, I’m falling. Oh, thanks Daddy.”
Anna: “Aww man, you weren’t coming to get me out of here.”

Ella: “Ok, I am so over this, let’s blow raspberries..”
Anna: “Yeah, are we done yet?”

Ella: “I am not going to smile anymore, so you should just pack it up.”
Anna: “I’m starting to get irritated, Mommy!”

Ella: “You know, actually, that Daddy guy is kind of funny.”
Anna: “I don’t know, I’ve had enough fun for one night.”

Anna: “No seriously, I’m done with this.” 
Anna: “Really…done with this people!
Ella: “I’m ok, but you’re shaking the camera, Mommy.”

Anna: “Wait, now I’m falling over. Oh good, we’re done right?”
Ella: “Whatever.”

Anna: “Noooo, don’t just sit me back up.”
Ella: “You know, that Daddy is cracking me up.”

Anna: “I am telling you people, I don’t want to do this anymore.” Ella: “Come on Anna, check out Daddy.”

Ella: “Hey, Anna, this isn’t so bad.” Anna: “Now she’s falling on me! Do you see this?”

Ella: “Yeah, she’s right. We’re done.”

Anna: “I SAID WAAAAAAA” Ella: “Me too….WAAAAA”

Ella: “Wait a minute, you’ve had your chance, now it’s my turn to cry. You be quiet.”

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

from Anna (L) and Ella (R)

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Day You Were Born Part 2

I forgot to mention in Part 1 that Uncle Craig had shown up in the triage room shortly after Grandpa and JeJe. He said he just couldn’t get any work done and was so excited he had to come wait, even though he might not get to see you for a while. Then when they told us the c-section time was so close, he was really glad he had come. So, even before you were here, he was pretty crazy about you! He called Auntie Sharon and she arrived shortly before the allotted time. The little triage room we were in was too small for everyone, so everyone but Grammy moved out into the waiting room.

All of the sudden it was time to go to the operating room . Daddy and I were walked down the hallway and as we passed a door, there was a younger guy with scrubs and a mask on. They said there was a change of plan and he would be our anesthesiologist. The nurse assured me this was a good thing. He looked really young and for a minute I was slightly alarmed and then I thought about how Uncle Mikey looks young but is a really good pilot and decided this guy could be the same.

We walked past a bench where they told Daddy he had to wait. I walked into the OR where people were laying out instruments and prepping the room. I began to get nervous remembering they said I might have a general if my scoliosis was too bad to do a spinal. They had me step up on a stool onto the table. The anesthesiologist had me lean forward and looked at my back and said he could do a spinal. Then I got really nervous. He numbed my skin and I started to sweat. I was really wishing Daddy could be there to hold my hand. I remember the spinal hurting a good bit, but only for a minute or so. I tried to hold really still while he put it in and before I knew it, it was in and I was laid back and I started going numb.

They had me scoot onto the bed/table before I went completely numb. The dr put a nasal cannula in my nose. It made me very uncomfortable. I don’t breathe very well through my nose and this was like trying to drink from a fire hose. The air was very strong and fast and I couldn’t breathe. I finally asked if I could have something else because it was bothering me and he gave me a mask instead. That worked much better and I was able to calm down and open my mouth and breathe when I needed to. Everyone was bustling around and I really wanted Daddy to come back.

They finally hung a drape in front of me and Daddy was brought in. He came over and held my hand and told me many times how much he loved me. I could tell he was really nervous. It’s funny that him being nervous made me more calm. The anesthesiologist was very nice. He would tell us generally what was going on and reassure me that I was doing well. He had very nice blue eyes above his mask and a soothing voice. Daddy was waiting over my left shoulder and the anesthesiologist was over my right and there was a big blue sheet at my chin. I could hear Dr. Phillips talking to another dr. He had told me that a woman, Dr. Capet would be helping him out in the OR since there were twins and he needed an extra set of hands. I heard him telling her that we had twins coming and then they chatted about the weekend and various benign topics.

Pretty soon, I could hear and feel them getting down to business. I could feel what was happening, but it didn’t hurt. Just movement and pressure and I was aware of what was going on. I heard them say Twin A, that's you Anna, and pretty soon they told me to look up and see my baby. This very pale baby covered with white hovered over my head for a second. You were dripping fluid everywhere and I got some in my eyes and mouth. I got just the very quickest glimpse before I had to blink and spit and when I looked back you were gone.

Ella moments after birth. This is the closest to what I saw when I looked up, although there was a lot more vernix. You look pretty darn angry about the whole situation. :-)

Daddy had stood up to see you and he was very excited. I was waiting to hear you cry and as soon as you did, it was the most beautiful sound in the world and it made me cry. Daddy watched as they fished around for “Baby B”. Ella, later I found out that after your sister was born, the doctor reached in and grabbed one foot. But he couldn’t grab the other foot, you kept pulling it away from him. Eventually he had to flip you around and fish you out head first because you weren’t cooperating. It’s like after your sister left, you all of the sudden had lots of room and decided you weren’t ready to leave yet! That's why Anna was born at 12:42 and Ella at 12:44, because Ella tried to escape! They flashed you over the curtain quickly too and then I could hear you really screaming as they worked to clean you up.
As soon as you were both out, the anesthesiologist said Daddy could either stay with me or go over to see you. I didn’t hesitate, I told him “Go!”. I wanted him to make sure you were ok and stay with you guys.

This is the first picture Daddy took when he got over to you guys. I think this is Anna getting cleaned up. It's easier to tell who is whom when you get your arm bracelets.

About that time, I started to feel really bad. I was moaning and feeling like I was going to pass out. I got all clammy and felt short of breath. At some point they had removed the oxygen mask and I was sure I was passing out any second now. I told the anesthesiologist and he assured me it felt like I couldn’t breathe, but that my values were just fine. He even showed me on the monitor that my pulse ox was 92. But, the anesthesia had deadened my diaphragm and my body was just sure it was suffocating. I felt ENORMOUS pressure on my chest. Like they were squeezing my heart from the bottom up and it would explode. I was moaning and just couldn’t stop. It was so uncomfortable. I remember listening to what was going on with you guys while trying not to feel like I was dying. I heard them say how much you weighed. I didn't hear your lengths until later. I heard a nurse ask your names and I heard daddy say Anna Evelyn and Ella Ruth. I was so glad.

After you were born, there was lots more pressure and pulling and jostling that I could feel and pretty soon, without Daddy or babies to distract me, I started feeling sick. I ended up throwing up several times and feeling pretty crummy. I remember they brought you to see me Ella. But I was so sick that I could see the anesthesiologist wave the nurse back while he held my emesis bag. It seemed like there was lots of commotion and at times I could hear you cry, but I was feeling so short of breath and such ridiculous pressure all I could do was groan.

In the mean time, they were taking your temperature, putting on your arm and leg bracelets, taking your footprints and cleaning you up. Then they swaddled you guys up.
This is Ella very mad about having been removed from her nice warm home. You can see why we gave you the nickname "Little Bird" in the hospital. You made little "eep" sounds that reminded me of a bird, and when you cried and your stretched your head up on your little neck, it reminded me of a baby bird.

Here's Anna getting her footprint taken, and not much happier than Ella was!

 Eventually, I started to feel a little better and they brought both of you over to see me. You were all bundled up with hats on your heads and you looked so precious and snuggly. I noticed that Anna was much paler than Ella and they told me that you had swallowed some amniotic fluid on your way out, but that you were just fine. We took a quick picture and Daddy and I remarked on how cute you both were and then the three of you guys headed down to the nursery and I was alone again.

Mommy meeting Ella for the first time.

Daddy took our first group photo. Notice Anna on the left is much paler than Ella.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On the Day You Were Born (Part 1)

People say I need to write out my birth story before I forget it. I may have already forgotten parts since you were born 3 weeks ago and I haven't gotten a lot of sleep since then. But, here goes.

We have to start a little before the day you were born. At the beginning of my pregnancy, before I even knew you were twins, we knew my due date was May 21, 2012. Then when we found out you were twins, the doctor said you would probably be about 3 weeks early, so we went with May 1 as the due date. After a month or two of that, all of the sudden, he said you would probably be about 4 weeks early. We were surprised, but started thinking and telling people your due date would be April 21. I mean, wouldn't you think looking at these that you were squished enough to warrant early release? Kate is on the right and that is Pippa on the left with her own leg folded in front of her. There is some debate if that is actually your leg or your sister's, but that is what the ultrasound tech told us.

Daddy kept wondering if you would hold out until May to be born. He even asked the doctor,  who gave him a funny look and then explained that this conversation probably wasn't even necessary because you would probably be early, but that we would cross that bridge when we came to it. So, I got very used to the idea that you would be here on or before April 21. And if you weren't, it wouldn't be long before they would just do a c-section and get you out.

Luckily, you guys seemed perfectly contented floating in your amniotic fluid and growing and feeding on the inside. I showed no signs of early labor, no cervix dilation, no discharge or any reason to think that you would be making an early appearance. So, when we went to the 35 week appointment on Thursday the 19th of April, I expected to discuss scheduling a c-section rather quickly. Daddy and I were both shocked when the doctor said that the hospital didn't let them schedule a c-section until 38 weeks, so we scheduled it for MAY 8.  THREE WEEKS AWAY!!!! Daddy and I later discussed that actually, the doctor had never said that he would take you early, just that he thought you would come early. Still, it seemed to me, the incredibly pregnant with twins lady, that I had been running a marathon and a couple of hundred feet from the finish line, they moved the finish forward another mile. It wasn't that I couldn't do it, it was just that I had mentally prepared myself of April 21, not May 8th. So, I went home that afternoon somewhat stunned and even slightly demoralized. But, I quickly decided that there were hundreds of twin parents who would give their left arm to have been able to carry their twins to 36-38 weeks and I should be thankful that you were healthy and doing well. If I had to do this another three weeks, I just needed to pause and get used to the idea and then soldier on.

Friday after work, I went with cousin Ginny to the AMOM consignment sale. I bought you a package of hats and a bottle drying rack and some pink UT outfits that I thought Daddy would like. Cousin Ginny bought a yellow elephant rattle I thought was cute. While we were waiting to check out, I saw a pink one, so we bought matching toys. I did a lot of walking and everyone was amazed I was there as big and pregnant as I was. When I got home, Daddy and I went through the box of preemie clothes we borrowed from AMOM. We marveled at how small most of them were. Saturday, with no signs of labor, I bought a ticket to the UT baseball game Daddy was attending. People seemed amazed I wanted to go, but it seemed to me that getting dropped at the door and picked up there all rock star style made it no big deal. Plus, it was better to be in Austin with Daddy than stuck in Manor by myself if I did go into labor. A lady at the game saw me and said "I hope for your sake you have that baby soon." When I told her that today was my due date and I was carrying twins, she just shook her head.

The next day, Daddy got up really early and started painting the outside of the house. I decided to go to Georgetown and visit with Grammy and Pop. There I helped Grammy with her computer and I had lunch at a little Mexican restaurant. Grammy made me stand in front of the wall to take what ended up to be the last picture of me before going into labor.

 Late that afternoon I drove home. Daddy was tired from working outdoors and he suggested we lay down to take a nap around 5pm. Well, I laid down with him and he went to sleep immediately, snoring up a storm, but I couldn't fall asleep. I was just uncomfortable, so I got up and did a load of laundry and puttered around the house. I soon began to realize that my belly was getting very taut and uncomfortable and I wondered if I was having contractions. I immediately went in to the bedroom to tell Daddy. But, he was so tired from painting and working, he was in a coma. I shook him and said I was pretty sure I was having contractions. I expected him to start and get all freaked out. Instead, he rolled over and said "brain fog." I was surprised and tried again to wake him with no avail. So, I called Aunt Jody and Uncle Mikey on Skype. I was having pretty rhythmic discomfort and tightness. I wasn't sure if these were Braxton-Hicks or the real thing, but I told them and we all wondered if this could be the start of labor.

I downloaded a contraction timing app for my phone and timed them for about 20 minutes. I was just too keyed up to sit and time them for too long. I called Grammy. She didn't think this was actually labor. I was talking to her on the phone and she didn't think I would be able to talk through them if it was truly labor.I tried to wake Daddy again and decided it was so good that he could sleep. If it wasn't labor, then I wasn't wasting his time on a false alarm. If it was, he was going to need this rest because he wouldn't be getting any more for a while. So, I cleaned a little around the house and then settled on the couch to try to rest. I fell asleep for no more than 30 minutes and woke up uncomfortable and feeling a little heavy, the way I do when my blood pressure is high. So, I got up around 2:30 and took my blood pressure. It was 158/100. I began to worry that I was developing pre-eclampsia and was going to have an early c-section after all. I alternated between puttering around the house, finishing laundry, checking the hospital bags, laying down and resting. Around 5 am I got up to have a snack and heard Daddy get up to go the bathroom. When he came out into the kitchen, I was leaning back on the counter and I said "I think I am having contractions." His eyes got as big as saucers. Now this was the reaction I had been expecting. He came over and felt my belly and how rigid and hard it was. I told him about my blood pressure and he began telling me I should call the doctor. It was about 30 minutes before he convinced me to actually call the after hours number.

Minutes later, a very tired sounding doctor, called me back. She listened as I told her I thought I was having contractions and my blood pressure was up. She told me to go into the hospital to be monitored. When I told Daddy this, he sprung out of bed and started showering. He kept saying how glad he was this happened while he was at home and not while he was at work. And he felt just horrible that he had slept through me needing him. I told him I was glad he had gotten some sleep if this was the real thing. I called Grammy and she answered the phone immediately. I told her I was going in to be monitored and she said she would meet us there.

I got kind of nervous and worried I was going to forget something. I checked and re-checked the bags, packing the last minute items. I gatehered a bag of snack foods for Daddy and took a quick shower. The whole time, I worried that I was crying wolf and we would get sent home. I worried they would say, "oh, you silly girl, can't you recognize Braxton-Hicks?" I didn't want to get my hopes up about this being it if it really was going to be weeks more. It wasn't until about 6:20 that we got loaded into the car and took off for the hospital. I called Uncle Craig on the way there, hoping not to be waking him. He answered and said he was laying in bed after his alarm went off dreading getting up. I told him it might be a false alarm, but he sounded excited and said to let him know if it turned out to be more. I called work and told them that no matter what, I wasn't going to be logging in from home today and promising to keep them updated. I ate a granola bar and crackers in the car on the way. Daddy told me this was a bad idea and he was going to tattle on me if they asked. I made him promise not to offer up this information unless they asked and he agreed.  I was just starving and I knew false alarm or no, they weren't going to let me eat there. I couldn't imagine starving all day and THEN getting sent home.

We got to the hospital right around 7am. The shift had just changed and they were all ready for us. They took us to a triage room and a very nice nurse who seemed very bright and cheery for a Monday morning greeted us. She had a UT nursing student with her who was learning about OB. I got into the spiffy hospital gown and gave a urine sample and they hooked me up to a monitor and blood pressure cuff. Laying down, my bp was SLIGHTLY lower, but not much. And they were definitely seeing contractions. Once I realized that I was right and I wasn't imagining my symptoms, I felt so much better and relaxed.

Grammy got there about 30 minutes after we did and came to the triage room. As I lay in the bed, they started watching the monitor with the nurses and they would ask if the contracitons hurt or if I felt them. I was surprised that I didn't feel most of them. And the ones I did feel were the ones that went much higher on the monitor.  That made me feel like I wasn't being a big weanie.

The nurse spent a good long time trying to get your heart monitors set. She had a hard time finding you. Of course, you weren't where "normal" babies would be, so she had to search around a while to get the monitor on your hearts. Then, once she got Pippa's heart rate monitored, she had a hard time finding Kate's without picking up Pippa's again. She would get it all set and try to belt the monitor on and you would move and we would have to start over. She said at one point "I am really glad you are having a c-section. I can't imagine what a nightmare it would be to try to keep these babies monitored during a vaginal birth." Well, you weren't exactly cooperating, so what was new? The place she seemed to get Kate's the best was right up under that sore right rib. She worried that putting the monitor there was hurting me. It was uncomfortable, but it was bearable and I wanted to see your hearts and be reassured you were both ok.

Grandpa and JeJe arrived pretty quickly afterward and we all sat in the room and watched the monitor waiting to get enough data to let Dr. Phillips make the call. Grandpa and Daddy really geeked out on watching the monitor and seeing your heart rates track almost exactly the same most of the time. One would go up and the other would stay within about 5 beats per minute the same. They wanted to know what all the values were and they scrutinized the telemetry print out for what the biggest variance was. Several times one of you fell off the monitor and the nurse would come in and have to find you again. Dr. Phillips came in and said that my bp was pretty high and the contractions did look like labor and "those are two compelling reasons to have babies today."

The nurse came in to put in my IV. That was not fun. She had to try twice, but got it the second time. They started a bag of saline to hydrate me before the surgery. They told me that because I had eaten that morning, they needed to wait a while to do my anesthesia. I thought this meant afternoon time, but the nurse came back in and said noon.Whoo, everything was happening fast, but I was pretty calm. I had done the best I could for you and now it was time to let the doctors and nurses do their thing. It occurred to me later that we probably would have waited until lunch time anyway, as that was when Dr. Phillips had some free time and no patients to see downstairs. They came in and took the monitors off and I just laid in the bed and rested. I sent out the text message to all the people who wanted to know when we went into labor. I called Auntie Katie and Auntie Michelle and my boss at work and let them know that you were making your debut today. Daddy and I talked about April 23rd being the day! I laid in the bed under Grandy's patchwork quilt and posted a pic of me waiting for surgery on facebook. They also came in and took my fingerprints to put on your birth certificate. And I don't know how 4 hours disappeared so quickly, but it went by in a flash. They brought Daddy a paper jumpsuit, mask and hat and took him to get ready. Grammy stayed in the room with me. The anesthesiologist came in and asked a bunch of questions and talked me through EXACTLY what was going to happen. It was nice to know what would happen.  She seemed concerned that I was nervous and scared, but I told her that Pops is an anesthesiologist and I knew what was involved and was prepared for it. She had me sign some paperwork and they came in minutes later to start prepping me. And then, they came in and said, "Let's have some babies"! Daddy and I took a last labor picture and then we walked to the surgery area. Today was indeed the day!
I am about to take a shot of the most bitter medication you will ever taste in your life. It's something Pops gives all his patients and it is supposed to keep you from throwing up during surgery......well, it didn't work for me.

Minutes before you were delivered! Doesn't Daddy look funny?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Twin Effect

There are three main reactions you get when you tell someone you are having twins. Some people get REALLY excited. They gush and say congratulations over and over and ask if there are twins in your family and talk about what a blessing twins are. Then there are the folks that seem horrified. They gasp in shock and stare at you as if wondering why you aren’t freaking out more. They say things like “What are you going to do?”, ”Better you than me” or even ”Good luck with that.”

Then there are the folks that seem much more interested in how you came to be than in the fact you are coming. Fertility drugs have certainly increased the number of twins that are around. But, most IVF twins are fraternal twins. Fraternal twins occur in nature when the woman ovulates more than one egg at a time and both eggs are fertilized at the same time. Fraternal twins are just as likely to look alike as any two siblings are, they are just carried at the same time. IVF involves implanting already fertilized eggs into the uterus. Because it is expensive and doesn’t have a horribly high rate of success, frequently more than one fertilized egg will be implanted at once. Many times only one egg makes it into a viable pregnancy, but other times, two or more eggs survive and twins, or even higher order multiples occur. Identical twins occur when one egg is fertilized, and then at some point after fertilization, the zygote splits into two embryos. Identical twins occur in about 2-3% of pregnancies and account for about 30% of all twins. Although identical twins can happen with IVF, it is about the same rate as occurs in non-fertility assisted pregnancies. Identical twins don’t run in families. No one knows what causes the egg to split, it is just the luck of the draw. But, the average person doesn’t know this and so I patiently explain that while there are two sets of fraternal twins in my dad’s cousins, there aren’t any identical twins that we know of in my family. But, identicals don’t run in families and this was just a fluke. However, this usually doesn’t answer the question these people are trying to ask. Usually what they want to know is if I was taking fertility drugs or if we did IVF. So, they then ask something they perceive as a tactful way of getting at this information, but that kind of make me cringe.

“So, were you trying to get pregnant.” I feel like asking “Well, what do you mean by trying? Like did we MEAN to have sex? Are you really asking me about my sex life?” But, I know that they aren’t trying to be rude, they are just curious. A twin pregnancy is still rare enough that people are somewhat fascinated. I will usually say that we did not use fertility drugs. Most people seem surprised by this and I guess given how many fertility multiples there are, people are much more likely to know someone who had twins via IVF or Clomid than not. I try not to get offended, but after the 1000th time you answer that question, you start to get kind of irritated. I hear from other Mothers of Multiples that I will get even more tired of people asking if you are identical when you are here. I can see how that would be.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Ok girls, up until now, I have been writing about stuff in a linear sequence, but I have to break in today. Today I am 31 weeks and 4 days pregnant. And I look and feel every single day of it. Please don’t misunderstand me. I feel blessed that you are both growing, and are healthy. I thank my lucky stars that I haven’t had a lot of problems carrying you and I hope sincerely that I can carry you all the way to “twin full-term”, but I just have to say, that I am getting really tired of being pregnant. Not the carrying you part of pregnancy, just the condition in and of itself.

There are women who say that they never have felt better than when they are pregnant. That they are born to do this. They glow and say how wonderful they have felt through their pregnancy and they frankly, make me want to vomit a little bit. Or slap them.  Or just call shenanigans.  I think it must be some type of lie they perpetuate to make sure we suckers will join them in Mommy-hood.

My good friend Michelle describes pregnancy this way: “For 30 years, your body has been all about you. Keeping you alive and doing what is best for you. Then when you get pregnant it is like your body turns on you. All of the sudden, things that have worked one way forever, all of the sudden are different. You are no longer priority number one. If the baby needs hormones, it is really irrelevant that those hormones are poisoning you. The baby gets the hormones and you feel sick.” That Michelle is one smart cookie. And what can you expect? She is a rocket scientist after all.

Now, I heard her say these things, but until you live them, you just can’t understand how TRUE they are. Feeling bloated, crampy, nauseous and bone tried during the first (and for me second trimester) was not fun. But, it was disconcerting too. All my life, when I felt nauseous, the remedy was usually to throw up. If it was something that I ate that made me sick, getting rid of it usually at least helped if not alleviated the issue. But in pregnancy, this is no longer true. I felt nauseous, I vomited, I continued to feel awful, I vomited some more. I still felt nauseous. But even more appalling, quickly afterward, I frequently got hungry. It was like my body was saying “Nope, that didn’t satisfy my whim today, try again.” And each day, it was a different thing it didn’t like. Today Saltines are ok, tomorrow saltines make you sick, but applesauce works. Next week neither of those work. Things you have always loved like peanut butter now couldn’t turn you off more if it was spread of horse manure. Everything just changes.

Feeling hungry while being nauseous is a horrible feeling. You know you need to eat. I mean, after all, there are two little growing beings in there that need food. But, you have NO idea what might go down and stay down, or if that is even possible. You contemplate what might be easy on your stomach. You contemplate what might be the least objectionable food currently at your disposal to throw up. You try to gauge whether you can ignore the hunger and just not eat anything else and go to sleep. I call this “the Scarlett O’Hara I will think about it tomorrow” plan. You learn that this tactic frequently leads to waking up dry heaving…and usually before you have even gotten to tomorrow yet. You learn to choke down crackers while feeling like any minute you could be seeing them again. And this is very bizarre because never in your life before have you tried to eat while feeling this sick and the whole time your brain is screaming “What are you doing?!?” All the old strategies for feeling sick no longer apply and you have no idea what to expect. Sometimes you think you just feel a little bit nauseous and then all of the sudden, it is on you and you have to run to find a bathroom (at these times, the little blue emesis bags were god-sends). Other times, you would think vomiting was imminent and you would wait all night and never throw up, just be convinced you were going to. And then one day, boom. You are just ravenously hungry. No nausea. No explanation. Just today, it’s over.

And then, there was a time there when I was big, but not too big. When I was tired, but not exhausted. A time when I couldn’t run a marathon (well, ok, maybe I could never run a marathon, but you get my drift), but I could still grocery shop, or clean house or help with household painting and floor installation without feeling like I might die. That time seems to have been quite brief. It wasn’t long before I felt like I got huge. Now, other people still say I don’t look big enough to have twins in there. I don’t know what to tell them. Right now you are both approximately 3.5lbs. There is 7 lbs of baby and a bunch of amniotic fluid in there. The doctor measured me at 37 cm. That is what the average singleton pregnancy would measure at about full-term. I have no idea where it seems to be hiding, but it is there. And I feel every ounce of it when I walk around, try to roll over in bed, or lift my arms above my head. I can climb one flight of stairs. At the top I will be quite out of breath and feel slightly dizzy and faint. I wasn’t in the best of shape before you, but I could climb one flight of stairs and hardly breathe any differently at the top. Give me 3 or 4 flights and I might breathe a little faster, but I would think nothing of it. I am pretty much good for nothing right now. Even sitting or lying in one spot for too long hurts.

And I am not complaining here, but Pippa, your stubborn refusal to get down out of my lungs seems to have caused one of my floater ribs to either stretch and separate, or actually cracked it. And it HURTS. If I sit up straight and hold still, it’s fine. It hurts to lay down, but not horribly. But holy cow, twisting or maneuvering to get up out of bed (something I do at least 4-5 times a night now) really stings. And coughing and sneezing pretty much suck donkey balls (as Daddy would say). Now you girls have switched places. In a strange move, you both are diagonally transverse (not up and down, but not really all sideways either) with now Kate’s head lodged up under that rib. And Pippa seems to think it is a blast to either kick or punch me in the cervix. I got news for you kid, banging on the door is not the way you are going to get out. You are going to have to get down there and head butt it. You have to wait a couple of weeks to do that, but you could get down there and get all ready and in position anytime now and that would be just fine with Mom. After all, if I can breathe more easily, you will too. Just sayin’.

It occurs to me that pregnancy is designed so that toward the end, you are so uncomfortable, the idea of labor doesn't seem so bad if you are done with pregnancy in the end.  Of course, for me, the idea of two babies to take care of is still pretty scary, but it's seeming more appealing every day.

Ok, so I know you need 4 more weeks of cooking, at least, before you are ready to make your debut. And in truth, if I had to do this for several more months, I would do it. But, boy am I glad it’s getting toward the end. Aside from being so curious to meet you I could just burst (this might be less if you were more willing to pose for the ultrasound, Pippa, I am talking directly to you my girl), I am anxious to give you every chance at health and a good start in life. So, stay in there and cook a while longer, but do me a favor and cook while floating head down the way you are supposed to. Daddy says that he thinks the way you guys are laying would be the most comfortable way to be, like in a lazy boy. You must agree. Whatever, just stay in there for a while, ok?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

All is Revealed

We were both relieved the 12 week ultrasound date had finally arrived. Glenn had spent his sleepless nights researching the 12 week nuchal translucency test and knew precisely what was going to happen. I had researched it, but not nearly as in-depth as he had. The ultrasound appointment was first. I wasn’t feeling great, but I was very ready to see you guys and make sure all was well. I knew I had probably lost weight rather than gained and I worried about your development. Plus, I had read about vanishing twin syndrome and I wasn’t sure what was worse, one baby that had it’s twin disappear, or two babies stuck in the same sack. We went into the ultrasound room and I lay down on the table. The tech pulled out the wand and squirted jelly on my tummy (which was nice and warm) and got the machine all ready. She put the wand on my belly and then she pulled the wand away and said something like “are we looking for more than one baby?” Glenn said “There’s two?” I swatted at Glenn and said “Yes, it is twins.”, so relieved that there were still two babies. She looked back at our chart and got very flustered. I imagine she has probably accidentally told a couple or two that they were having twins and obviously, she didn’t want to be the one to break that news. But, she was also upset as the appointment had not been made for twins, so we hadn’t scheduled enough time to scan both babies adequately. She went into a set-up screen and changed the number of fetus option from 1 to 2 and we were off!

They refer to the baby closest to the cervix (or presenting baby), as Baby A. We looked at Baby A first, checking the fluid on the back of the neck (the nuchal translucency) and it was well within the range so as not to indicate Down’s syndrome. We heard your little heart beating, saw you batting your arms and kicking your legs. Saw the fingers on one hand. The little zipper-like spine was easy to spot and at one point, you flipped all the way over. I thought the technician had flipped the picture somehow, but she said “No, that baby just turned over.” Glenn and I held hands, and he kept asking if I could feel you moving. I couldn’t. It amazed me how much you were moving and I felt nothing. In the background behind you, we caught glimpses of Baby B. Then, we switched over to Baby B and did all the measurements and checks again. Again, good heart rate, and the nuchal translucency was good. We were relieved to find out you were both healthy, but we really wanted to know about the membrane. Had she seen it? We couldn’t see it at all, but Glenn asked just as we were wrapping up and the tech said that yes, she had seen a hair like membrane between you. We walked out of that room on cloud 9.

Now you look much more like a real baby.  Although I can't remember which one this was.  What a bad mommy I am.

Glenn was very animated and excited as we moved to the doctor’s office and awaited a visit from the doctor. I was very happy, but I was also feeling very crummy. When the doctor walked in to me sitting over the trash can, he said, “Well, this won’t do.” Thankfully he prescribed me two drugs to help manage the nausea. He confirmed that everything had looked good at the ultrasound and that we were in fact having mono-chorionic/di-amniotic twins! Praise the Lord!

Glenn and I headed to Chick-Fil-A again after the appointment, but I couldn’t eat much of it. I was anxious to go fill my prescription and try these anti-nausea drugs. And we were both anxious to tell people. We had been keeping this secret (although I think most of my co-workers had figured out that me looking like death and puking in the bathroom meant I was pregnant) and it was so fun to be able to tell people.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Waiting with Bated Breath

For your grandmother, it seems that being sworn to secrecy was the hardest part. She had been waiting so long to be a grandma that she just was fit to burst. She insisted that on our way back from Bertram we stop in Georgetown and tell my grandparents. She HAD to have someone to talk to about this. I couldn’t leave her all week with my Dad back in Lubbock and no one to talk to about it. So, although we were both exhausted, we headed to Grandma & Grandpa’s house to share the news. My Mom met us there. I guess she couldn’t wait to see the looks on their faces. We came in and G&G were settled in their den for the evening, Grandpa in his chair, Grandma on the couch. I told them we had some news and told them we were expecting in May. They seemed very happy, but not really overly excited. I mean, they already had quite a few great-grandchildren by this point. But, when I said it was twins, they got pretty excited. We briefly mentioned the mo-mo possibility, but breezed right over it. We asked them to pray for the babies to be healthy and every time I saw them after that, they told us they prayed for the twins each night before bed. I am sure they asked for more details from my mom later that week, but I imagine she glossed over it just as my dad had done with her. It really was too awful to think about for long.

And there were lots of other folk that prayed for you too. My Mom told a missionary couple they have known for years that we needed prayers and they prayed for you. You were unspoken prayer requests at church until the news came out. Little did you know it, but we prayed that darn little membrane into being.

Glenn and I really were on pins and needles waiting for that 12 week ultrasound that would reveal our fate. Glenn would say “It just can’t be mo/mo. The odds are so slim for a mo/mo pregnancy.” We were very hopeful, but the stories we had read online gave both of us nightmares. Glenn didn’t sleep at all at night It might have kept me up at night too, except that I was so darn tired I would fall into bed right after work and never get out. He stopped eating and I didn’t realize it until we had dinner with my parents several weeks later and my Mom pointed out how gaunt he looked. He lost about 15 lbs worrying about you guys in there.

For my part, each day I got sicker and sicker. Smells overwhelmed me and made me sick to my stomach. If I didn’t eat soon enough, I got sick. If I ate, I got sick. I would get up at night and eat toast or applesauce trying to stave off the nausea. During the day, there wasn’t a smell that escaped my notice. I would walk down the hallway thinking: Hmmm, strawberry yogurt, oh boy, someone needs some deodorant, wow, that lotion is really strong. I have always had what my co-workers refer to as a dog nose. I can smell someone peeling an orange 4 cubes away when not pregnant. Add pregnancy senses and I was almost kind of scary. I would suck on peppermint, which did seem to help both mask smells and soothe my stomach. But, the further we went, the more miserable I got.

At one point, in the middle of the night, I got up feeling sick and went into the spare bath. Glenn had taken off his tennis shoes in there and left them by the tub, for some unknown reason. I began feeling sick, but I needed to use the restroom. I realized I was going to be sick before finishing and tried valiantly to turn to throw up in the tub and managed to spew into his shoes. I told him that for the next couple of months, anything in the bathroom was fair game. Move it or lose it.

I had several close calls at work, but always made it to the bathroom in time. But, driving to work, I had to pull over one day, so I finally bit the bullet and ordered a box of air sickness bags to carry with me. Those suckers are worth their weight in gold when you really need them.

However, it really troubled me that I was having issues with swallowing my prenatal vitamins. I had been taking them for months without a hitch, but I had noticed they smelled pretty foul. I was able to overlook this before the pregnancy, but as just about every food started to bug me, the prenatals became a daily battle. I would save them until a meal, dreading taking them. It didn’t matter what smelly drink I tried to take them with, I could still smell them and just could barely gag them down. I worried that I really needed the vitamins so you guys could grow strong, but I just couldn’t get them down. And then one morning, I had the brilliant idea to use tropical fruit punch to wash them down. Using grape juice had been successful the day before. We were out of grape juice, but I thought fruit punch might mask it enough to get them down. I tried swallowing one and ended up throwing up while on my way to the toilet. I dry heaved until I was exhausted and I lay down on the bathroom floor trying desperately to convince my stomach that it was indeed empty and didn’t need to purge any longer. Glenn came in to find me on the floor with bright red vomit all around me and almost had a heart attack. He helped me to bed and cleaned the whole mess up like a champ. In fact, he was very helpful through this phase. I often was embarrassed and didn’t want him to see me that way, but he always brought me cool wash rags, and helped me to bed. He re-purposed a trash can and stationed it by my side of the bed. He took great care of me and commiserated with how miserable I felt.

Friday, March 2, 2012

More Fun Reveals

The next day there was a UT football game on TV, so we headed out to Craig’s to watch the game. He had Matt and Casey (Glenn and Craig’s friends who had four year old fraternal boy/girl twins) were at the game. Ben and Connie, their twins who inspired Glenn to hope for twins before we even met were also there. I tried valiantly to watch the game, but was so exhausted I fell asleep. I didn’t think this was ALL that telling, since Casey took the twins up to watch a movie when they got bored and fell asleep herself. And I knew she wasn’t pregnant, but apparently it set off some warning bells. Later in the day, Casey asked Glenn if he was getting a baby for his birthday. He elegantly side-stepped this issue by saying no. After all, he was getting TWO babies!

After the game, when it was just Glenn, Craig and me, Glenn pulled out a gift for Craig. He had discussed different methods of telling his brother and eventually decided to utilize those onesies I had gotten him. He was giving Craig two of his shirts that were slightly too small. Rolled up inside each shirt was a onesie. The plan was that Craig would open the first, we would say “Surprise, we are pregnant!” and get all the excitement out, then he would open the second, find another onesie and we could say “Surprise! It’s twins!” Glenn had asked me why I deviated from the plan to give my parents time to digest the one fact before springing the other. I told him that I just panicked when my Mom cried. He admitted that her reaction surprised him too, but that my immediate revelation hadn’t helped the situation, but it was already done. So, we resolved to do it right with Craig.

He opened the first shirt and exclaimed how much he liked it as the onesie rolled onto the floor. He looked down at it, and promptly ignored it and took to admiring the shirt. Neither Glenn nor I knew how to respond to this. This was not how this was supposed to play out. We just kind of sat there in shock as Craig proceeded to pull out the other shirt and admire it. He scooped up the onesies and put them in his lap and set about totally ignoring them. Glenn finally said something to him about well, did you see what else was in there. Craig finally acknowledged the white rolls and with some prompting opened the first one. He didn’t seem horribly shocked or surprised. And of course, he asked immediately if there were two since there were two onesies. We were batting zero for 2 on letting the idea sink in. Oh well! Craig said later that when he first saw the rolled up onesie, he thought Glenn had given him tighty whities and didn’t want to open them. What a goof. He seemed genuinely pleased about the idea of twin nieces or nephews. We talked for a while about it all and showed him the ultrasound pics. He told us he was happy for us and seemed to take it all in stride.

On Sunday, we drove out to Bertram to visit Gaylon and Jean. We hung around the house and talked for quite a while. I kept expecting Glenn to say something about it and I was on pins and needles the whole time, but Glenn chit-chatted about this and that with not a care in the world it seemed. As it neared dinner time, I nudged Glenn and told him that if he didn’t say something soon, we wouldn’t have any time to talk about it before having to leave to eat. Finally he brought the gift bag with the onesies in and gave them to his father.

After much thought about what went wrong with the reveal to Craig, Glenn decided that a bag with JUST the rolled up onesies was the best plan. He rolled them and unrolled them and rolled them even tighter several times during the drive there. Gaylon reached in the bag and pulled out the first. The little UT longhorn was clearly visible, but it wasn’t clear what it was. As Gaylon unrolled them, he said, “Are they socks?” and both Glenn and I said no. He got the onesie opened up and plainly had no idea what it was, but it was clear from the squeal from Jean that knew PRECISELY what it was. There were maybe a minute or two of excited talk before Gaylon reached in the bag and said “Another one?” and the twins were out of the bag….literally. At least they got SOME time to absorb. Jean was overjoyed at the thought of children in the family and Gaylon seemed quite pleased at the thought himself. As we discussed it more though, there were times that Gaylon would get a blank expression on his face. You could almost see the Excel spreadsheet in his head tallying up the expenses of two babies at once. He would say something like “Wow! Twins!” and then snap back to the present. We explained the mo-mo possibility to them as well, but it was easier to reassure them that although it wasn’t good, it also wasn’t for sure and to pray for a good outcome. Not being medically trained, or having heard of it, they were smart enough not to Google it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Making Them Grandparents

I thought and thought about how to tell my parents. I knew my mother would be ecstatic. She has wanted grandchildren for years. I heard her lament to someone at my wedding shower that she didn’t understand how all her sisters, who were YOUNGER than her ALL had grandchildren and she had none. I also knew that it was possible that this would elicit a very emotional response from them, especially my dad, who is a very tender-hearted guy. I had seen a silver fortune cookie in a catalog somewhere. It was to give as a gift with money, or a cute “fortune” in it. I got online and found one and bought it. I then typed up a fortune which read: “You will soon be grandparents.” Then below it, “Lucky Numbers: 05-21-2012.” I thought that was a cute way of telling them without blurting it out. Glenn and I discussed that we would let the pregnancy news sink in before we sprung twins on them. We would try not to overwhelm them all at once with the news. So, all week I stewed and couldn’t WAIT to tell them. I talked to my Mom several times on the phone and had to bite my tongue to keep from blurting out the news.

That Friday, I prepared the fortune cookie and put it in a gift bag. I drove to the restaurant with my heart banging and my stomach fluttery. We all arrived at just about the same time and we had decided to present the gift outside in the parking lot so that whatever emotional response there was, we could have a little privacy. It wasn’t ideal, but it was how it was going to be. I hugged them both hello and handed my Mom the gift bag. She looked surprised, but opened it up. She gave the fortune cookie a strange look, but the tail end of the fortune was sticking out, so she pulled it out. It was at this point that my heart sunk. I had miscalculated a bit. My Mom needs reading glasses nowadays. In my zeal to make it look like a fortune cookie, I had tried to duplicate actual fortune cookies, right down to the font size.

She held the paper out at arm’s length and squinted to read it in the gloom. For a minute, I didn't think she was going to be able to read it. Then she made a very funny face, as if she just wasn’t sure what it said. She looked up at me with a question in her eyes and I nodded yes. And with that she burst into tears. Now, this is not what I expected. I had expected excitement and happiness, not weeping. She handed the fortune to my dad, who seemed perplexed at just what was going on. I felt so bad for making her cry so soundly that I blurted out “It’s twins.” I guess I thought that might make her happy. I have no idea. At that moment, an amazing transformation happened. My mother INSTANTLY stopped crying. It was like the faucet got turned off immediately. She looked at me questioningly and said “Are you joking.” Her gaze shifted between me and Glenn and when I said “No, it’s twins!”, she instantly burst into even louder and more boisterous tears. I frankly, stood in awe. My mother is usually very reserved. If anyone is going to cry, it would be my dad, not my mom. She might cry later, but not usually that minute. I turned to my Dad who had an angelic smile on his face and a couple of tears in his eyes and hugged me and said he was very happy. All the while, my Mom is balling inconsolably. Poor Glenn had no idea what to do. He hugged my Dad too and I think my Mom recovered enough to hug us and tell us how happy she was. Eventually, when everyone was composed, we walked into Logan’s and as the waitress walked us to our seat, I realized my Mom had disappeared. When I asked my Dad where Mom was, he said she was in the bathroom crying, but she would be fine. Just sit down and look at the menu.

Mom returned to the table looking very flustered, but telling us how happy she was and asking all kinds of questions. She looked at the *fortune cookie under the light and with glasses and asked about the lucky numbers. I told her it was the due date and she seemed amazed. We showed them the ultrasound pictures. They really looked like blobs back then, but it was fun to look at them because otherwise, it was so easy to think that twins was a mistake and there couldn’t possibly be two in there.

We tried to lessen the mo-mo blow when telling my parents. And I had a hunch that my Dad, being an anesthesiologist, would know JUST what it meant, but was wise enough to keep that to himself. My Dad is a pretty smart guy in most cases and I think he does a lot of trying to manage overly-excited patients and reassure them, so he knows how to soften a hit. Later I learned that my Mom went right home and googled it. In fact, she said she asked Dad on the way home in the car and he was vague and somewhat non-committal. She said after she looked it up she woke him up and was like, “you said this wasn’t that bad. I Googled it, it’s really bad.”

It was a risk we knew we were taking in telling them, but we needed their prayers and support. And if, God forbid, that next ultrasound had shown no dividing membrane, it wouldn’t have been nice to spring that on them and let them be all excited only to dash their hopes later on. But, I figure that your grandmother prayed you guys into existence. I mean, you are probably twins because God got tired of listening to the same thing over and over again and wanted to make double sure that prayer got answered. I am joking. In all honesty, if there is a problem you are having, you couldn’t have a better ally praying for you than your grandmother.

Back out in the parking lot after dinner, Mom got teary-eyed again and told me to take care of myself and how happy she was again. Then she leveled a look at Glenn, one of the stern, serious ones and said “You take care of her.” Glenn told me later that if anything happened to the three of us, my mother would probably kill him. I said “No. You have attained golden son-in-law status by providing grandchildren.” Glenn replied, “No, she was dead serious. If anything happens to you three, I am in BIG trouble.” There might be a grain of truth to that.

*Girls, you should ask your grandmother (as of the writing of this, she hasn’t decided what she wants you to call her) to show you the fortune cookie. It lived on the mantle for months afterward and I think it might have migrated into the keepsake curio by their bedroom door. She showed it to every family member and friend that came around. I would bet dollars to donuts she will have it still and know right where it is.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mo-Mo? Oh, That's BAD

On the drive back to work, I had a TERRIBLE realization. I have a very good friend, let’s call her Z, who likes things JUST the way she likes them. She has for years talked about wanting twin boys. Z had mentioned to her OB that she wanted twins and her OB had sat her down and basically read her the riot act on how twins were NOT going to happen for her and she just needed to get over that idea now and get used to the fact that she might have ONE baby. Z was somewhat hurt by this, but I think it was a good wake up call for her. And it probably didn’t hurt that right around this time, a good friend of hers had twin boys. I remember Z calling me to her cube and showing me a registry with 2 carseats, 2 cribs, 2 of just about everything and saying incredulously, “Do you KNOW how expensive twins are? I mean, two of all of this stuff. My gosh!” I think watching her friend go through a twin pregnancy and visiting her during the first couple of weeks after birth, it made Z a little more willing to give up the twin plan. However, I was very worried that she would be hurt to find out that I was having twins. I mean, I remember when I was single and friends would tell me they were pregnant, I was always happy for them. But it also felt like the universe nudging me. You don’t have much more time, better get on it. And without being married, or even having a boyfriend most of these times, it just felt like everyone was getting what they wanted but me. Like everyone was passing me by. And it was NOT for lack of trying or wanting it on my part. It was just that Glenn hadn’t shown up yet. So, the thought of telling Z worried me a lot.

That day at my desk, I Googled monoamniotic twins. Know this: if you have some health issue that you are wondering about, Google is a very bad idea. You could have a hang nail and come away thinking that you were dying of gangrene. Google is not conducive to calm and anti-inflammatory health results. I found that mo-mo (the short hand for monochorionic-monoamniotic) twins is a very high risk pregnancy. In general, the outlook is about 50% for mo-mo twins. Basically, being in a sac without any barrier between them, twins can float all over the place. They WILL have their cords get entangled to some degree.

The trouble comes if there is any impingement or compression on the cords. If they just tangle up, cool. But, as they grow, the tangles can turn to knots. And eventually, those knots can get tight enough to cut off the blood flowing through that cord to one or both of the babies. And there is NOTHNG anyone can do about it. There is no way to reach in and untangle them. There are very scary procedures like draining most of the fluid out of the sac to try to reduce their movement. But, in general, there is nothing that can be done until they reach about 26-28 weeks, when they can viably be delivered. At best, you make it with healthy babies until the viability date, and then enter the hospital for round the clock monitoring for signs that one or both babies is in distress and then have a crash c-section. There were all these women that had logged their stories. Most of them were successes accompanied with pictures of healthy little kids (and sometimes absolutely frightening pics of a tangled knotted mass of umbilical cords from the delivery) and stories of 4 months in the hospital on bedrest and then 2 months of NICU for the babies. And those were the success stories. There was one heart-breaking story of a woman whose twins had cord compression at something like 23 weeks. She was told there was nothing they could do, so they watched the vitals disappear from the screen and then she was induced into labor and required to give birth to her two dead children. She was spent and feeling horrible when they were “born” and wasn’t able to see them. By the time she recovered enough to want to see them, they had already been sent away. These stories terrified me and I prayed fervently that there was a membrane between them. In all my free time, I would envision them with a small little line between them, and the two little beans growing together, but separate.

So, that night, when Glenn and I talked about it, he was quite adamant that he didn’t want to tell the general public until we knew for sure, one way or the other, whether they were monoamniotic. We agreed to tell close family members, as we needed some prayer warriors praying for that thin line between our two babies. We talked about when to break the news and since we both felt that in person was the only way to go, we had to wait that whole week to tell my parents. My dad was working out of town and wouldn’t arrive until Friday night. Then we would tell his Dad and Jean the next day. Luckily, this was all happening the week of Glenn’s birthday, so we were able to arrange meals with both sets of parents without arousing too much suspicion.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'm Sorry....How Many Did You Say There Are?

Over the next weeks, I mentioned the impending baby, the pregnancy and talked about things quite a bit. Glenn listened and always replied in a very non-committal way. After several days, it did begin to hurt my feelings, but I tried to understand from his point of view. Women get all ooey-gooey about babies and men start thinking of all their responsibilities. Our finiancial situation, while not bad, always worried him. He wanted more in savings, less debt. He wanted to be out of our neighborhood and move to a better part of town. He stayed up with insomnia quite a bit normally, and I noted that he seemed to have even more than usual lately. He was very stressed out at work and I knew that this news probably only added to that. He seemed disappointed we had to wait so long to go to the doctor too, but he didn’t say much.

But I didn’t realize how bothered he really was until the morning of that first doctor’s appointment. As we were getting ready I told him I was going to be so relieved that we would get reassurance that everything was fine. That weekend I had experienced a touch of morning sickness, but nothing severe at all. In a perverse way, it felt good to have more outward signs of a healthy pregnancy. I told him I was excited to go to this appointment and he stunned me when he said “I am terrified.” I asked him what he was terrified of and he started talking about what if there were problems, what if the baby wasn’t right? I answered him calmly that everything would be fine. I reminded him that we had talked about what would happen at this appointment. I had done more research and was reasonably sure that we would have a dating ultrasound as well as a pap smear. I had also read (thank goodness) that the ultrasound was NOT done with the familiar belly jelly and sensor rubbed on your belly, but with a wand affectionately referred to online as a “dildo-cam.” That produced a more accurate picture and it was what was used this early in a pregnancy. I was very thankful I had read this and a week earlier had prepared Glenn for what was to come. He had made a very ugly face and said nothing more. I mentioned the pap-smear and was telling him what that would entail when he interrupted with “Can I just leave the room and come in when they squirt that jelly on your stomach and start looking at the baby?” I looked at him incredulous. “No honey, remember, we talked about this.” I reminded him about the vaginal transducer and explained again what it would be like. It wasn’t until the words dildo-cam came out of my mouth that he seemed to understand. He began loudly complaining and I said “Remember, I told you about this last week.” He turned away from me and said “No, I must have blocked that out.” Now, I don’t doubt that he can conveniently forget things he heard and reacted to at one point. He has proven this over and over. It is just exasperating sometimes when I feel like I am talking to an Alzheimer’s patient, repeating the same thing over and over, getting a reasonable response to my statement that makes me think he heard and understood me. And then, later having the same conversation over again. I just looked at him.

Then he teasingly said words that would come to haunt us both. “So, when they’re doing this ultrasound, what if they see twins.” Now I knew he was just pushing my buttons, and I responded quietly and calmly, words that I will never live down. “Honey, stop worrying. There is only going to be one baby, and it will be right where it is supposed to be and have all the parts it is supposed to have and it will be fine.” To which he replied, “But what would you do if they said it was twins?” I sighed and responded flippantly “Fall off the table.”

At the doctor, everything went fine. I peed in the cup, they took my weight and vitals. The ultrasound machine was in the room and while we were waiting on the doctor, I took the time to point out the offending transducer to Glenn. He grimaced and looked away quickly. The doctor came in and asked all the questions. When was my last period? Yes, that would put me at May 21 as the due date. He did the pap-smear and the breast exam and Glenn sat dutifully in the chair and didn’t run for the waiting room. And then, when satisfied that all seemed fine, he said “Let’s take a look.” And pulled the ultrasound machine closer. He told Glenn to get up and stand on my left side by my head. Luckily the transducer part happened under a sheet and then immediately there was a staticky picture to distract us. Immediately the doctor said “Well, that’s interesting.” I held my breath. Was that good or bad? “Do you see what I see?” he said in a sing-song type of voice. I squinted at the machine, but honestly, it was one big mess and I couldn’t see a thing. I wanted to say, “I don’t see squat but static, what do you see?”

“I see two little flutters.” he continued, in the sing-song voice. It took me a second to figure out what he meant. Flutters? “Are you joking?” I asked. But right then, I could see the mouse pointer aimed at a little rhythmic beating on the screen. The doctor said “No, see, two little hearts.” and moved the mouse pointer to a second little rhythmic pulsating.

I immediately looked up at Glenn. His mouth was agape. I am not sure if he cottoned onto the doctor’s meaning later than me, or if it just took him a second longer to respond. Glenn very eloquently said “What?” and the doctor obligingly said “It’s twins!” I stared at Glenn. My first thought was “HOW did he KNOW?” His words from that morning echoed in my head. What on earth was happening? And I promptly burst into tears. Part of it was the immense relief of seeing a live baby on the screen. I had worried about ectopic pregnancies and false positives and miscarriages for the last three weeks, despite my brave face to Glenn. But another part of me was entirely overwhelmed. The thought of twins hadn’t even occurred to me and it was almost too much to take in. Glenn said something about “Don’t fall off the table.” And the doctor asked if I was ok. I nodded and tried to pay attention to what we were seeing on the screen.

You can see on the right that there is a baby with little arms and legs sprouting. The other, you can only really see the top of the head (or butt).
I could see that one blob did look like the pictures and illustrations I had seen of a fetus at this age. But the other, just looked like a round blob with no arms or legs. I worried and finally asked. We were told that the second wasn’t facing the same way. We were either seeing the top of its head, or its butt. He clicked away and measured the hearts and eventually said that the dating looked right on and everything was good. During all of this, Glenn wonderingly said to me, “Well, at least we didn’t use all the onsies in that three-pack.” Yes, thank God for small favors.

Then, the doctor put the wand away, sat me up and proceeded to tell us that this changed things. First, twins would be expected a little earlier. He said 3 weeks early, which put us at roughly May 1. Then he said that he thought they were monochorionic twins. I confess, that meant nothing to me, but he wrote the word a slip of paper with the words “one placenta” and then said that he wasn’t sure, but thought that they might be sharing one bag of water. He wrote monoamniotic with the words “one bag of water” on the paper. He went on to say that having one bag of water meant that their cords could get tangled and that would be very bad, but he reiterated that they were very small and there might actually be a dividing membrane between them. “You know, those membranes are like saran wrap thin at this age. We will be able to see a lot better in a couple of weeks when we do the 12 week ultrasound. So for now, just assume there is one and don’t worry too much.” He was very nonchalant and reassuring about everything and we left with a bag of prenatal vitamin samples and a piece of paper with two words I don’t think I had ever seen before.

Glenn and I were shell-shocked and walked quietly out to our cars. We drove the block to Chick-Fil-A for breakfast and I remember us sitting and staring at each other for a long time. We looked at the ultrasound pictures, only one of which showed two babies together. One of us would look at the other and say “twins” and then we would just both laugh. We talked some about what this would mean, but I don’t remember much of the conversation at all. I did ask Glenn what made him mention twins that morning and had he actually known. He insists to this day that he was just joking and trying to get a rise out of me and had no premonition. But, I have to tell you, it freaked me out a little that he had called it only minutes before the ultrasound.

I remember that the chicken sandwich didn’t taste too good to me at the time and I let Glenn finish it. We got up walked out to our cars and hugged. Then we both drove to work, where I don’t think either of us did one lick of work the whole day.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Holy Cow! I'm Pregnant

I headed off to work, where I think I got absolutely nothing done all day. I re-ran through our conversation, through the last week, when I had been expecting a period that wasn’t coming. And then, a couple of things started to hit me. The 10th anniversary of 911 had been the weekend before. We watched a bunch of stories about the survivors, the victims on the planes, the rescue workers, the building of the memorial. We watched the plane collide with the building over and over, the towers burning, one by one the towers falling. We watched the surveillance footage of the plane hitting the pentagon, the footage of the huge burn spot outside Shanksville, PA. We watched hours of footage where thousands of people died. Where children talked about losing their fathers and it was all heart-wrenching. I was moved to the point of tears, but never cried. UNTIL: A freaking Budweiser commercial of all things. They showed a commercial where the Budweiser Clydesdale team is harnessed up. The team is trotting across green grass. Then you see the New York skyline behind them and they stop. There is the gaping hole where the towers once stood. The horses all lean their heads down and bow. And I balled. I cried and cried. Glenn looked at me like I was crazy. But darn it, it just made me so sad. And frequently in my life, animals have been able to move me in a way that humans just can’t. But looking back, I think I can honestly say, that was the first in many silly, hormonal reactions to things. It should have been my first sign.

Well, that and waking up in the middle of the night to eat. I have never done this. Perhaps half a dozen times in my whole life have I woken in the night to get up and eat. I remember doing it as a child occasionally, when I was going through a growth spurt. But as an adult, almost never. All of the sudden, I would wake up and my stomach would hurt I was so hungry. After I realized I was pregnant, I would follow my stomach’s lead more readily. And in that first trimester, I rarely missed a night of midnight snacking, to the utter delight of my two dogs.

All that day, I kept thinking it must be a mistake. Could it be true? I remember sitting quietly in my own world at lunch while my friends talked and talked. I tried to keep up with the conversation, but my mind wandered. I kept my mouth shut. I had a wonderful secret that made me excited, and scared and feeling so many emotions at once. Was this going to work out? What would people say when we did tell them? What would my life be like with a brand new, tiny baby? I knew when Glenn came to grips with it, he would make a wonderful father. I was really excited to see that. But it was overwhelming thinking of all the things that were going to have to change in my life.

I called my doctor’s office, excited to have my news either confirmed or disproven. I was rather taken aback when the nurse told me that they didn’t do a first appointment until 7 weeks. That was 2.5 weeks away. How on earth was I going to stand the suspense? I made the appointment and wondered what would happen at that appointment. Would we get a dating ultrasound? Or just a pregnancy test? I looked online to see that the answer varied widely from one OB to another. But, it sounded like the symptoms I was experiencing were about what one would expect and what others in my boat were experiencing, so I tried not to worry. I did use an online calculator to figure my due date: May, 21, 2012. WHOA!

That night, I went to the grocery store and purchased two digital pregnancy tests along with my normal groceries. I wandered through the baby section and wondered at all the tiny things. Could there really be one growing inside me right now? Surely not! Then as I headed out of the baby section, I saw an end-cap with a three-pack of white onsies with a UT Longhorn on them.
Infant Bevo Onesie
On impulse, I bought them. That night, I laid them on Glenn’s pillow before he got home. When he came home, I greeted him and kissed him and he was very quiet. He walked into the bedroom, picked up the onesies pack, carried it into the closet and hung it up next to his shirts and proceeded to change clothes. Then he laid down on the bed and was very quiet. I tried to talk to him, but he seemed very distant, so I tried not to be hurt and went about my business. I know that he deals with things differently than I do. I want to talk through something and he mulls on it for hours, sometimes days. Frequently he has thought something through much more thoroughly than I have, so this seemed like his way of dealing with life-altering news and I tried not to get too bothered by it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Telling

Well, this blog has been dormant for too long. At first I stayed away because there wasn’t much to say that COULD be said. There was a huge elephant in the room I wasn’t allowed to mention. But now, pretty much everyone who reads this blog (and I don’t think there are really any that do that I don’t know in person) already have been introduced to said elephant. I am pregnant. Full stop. With twins. I have to tell you how much I loved seeing people’s faces when I first broke the news. The shock, excitement and occasionally unadulterated horror were quite enjoyable. Then, I went through quite a bout of morning sickness.  Like 20 weeks worth of it! And we are working frantically to replace all the carpeting in our house with vinyl laminate.  So, I have been busy.

I have been trying to keep a journal for the twins. But honestly, I am much more likely to type out a couple of paragraphs than I am to actually hand write them. I know, what is this world coming to? If it's TMI for you, skip it.  But, someday maybe the twins can look back on it and see how it happened as I remember it now and not the little I remember after raising twins through the newborn stage, infancy, toddler-hood, childhood, teenage years, etc. Cuz I am pretty sure after all of that, my brain might not remember these details so well.

So, here is how it all started:

Glenn and I talked about having children before we got married. We both wanted to when the time was right. We got married and it seemed like time FLEW. We talked about it and it seemed like we weren’t ready financially, or emotionally and although we knew we would never truly be ready, we put it off. We did stop using bc, but we weren’t trying at all. No charting or tracking or planning. So fast-forward to mid-September 2011. I had cramps and tender breasts for several days and was awaiting my period. No thought in my head at all that we might be pregnant. I went about my business for a week and then, one Monday morning, it occurred to me that by my calculations LAST week should have been the week, not this week. I took a pregnancy test, thinking nothing of it. I’d had a couple of false starts before and usually I got a negative test and a period within 24 hours of each other. I was not concerned. I got up, peed on the stick and saw the line turn pink before I could put the stick down. I thought nothing of this. That control line shows up on every test. I walked out of the bathroom, leaving the stick to marinate and fed the dogs, folded some laundry and acted entirely too casual. I walked through the bathroom to the master closet with laundry to put away and I stopped in my tracks. Were there TWO lines on that stick?!? Surely not. I calmly walked in and hung up the clothes, not believing my eyes. I walked into the bathroom and picked up the stick and collapsed onto the toilet. Good thing I close the lid every time.

My head was reeling. I stared at two little lines on the stick. Like a pause sign. And had I looked closer earlier, I would have realized the line that IMMEDIATELY appeared was not the control line, but the pregnancy line. And it was very dark. There was no mistaking the answer. Could this possibly be right? I grabbed the calendar and began trying to figure out the timing of the last month. Well, I guess it could be right. My husband lay snoring in the bed just feet away, oblivious to the drama taking place. It’s funny. There had been times when I had a negative test and would be initially relieved and then kind of melancholy. Sometimes I was wistfully sad to throw away the negative test. I mean, I am no spring chicken and I had wondered before if we would have trouble getting pregnant. My doctor had told me as much several years before. I had always assumed it would require dedicated effort. This was surprising.

Ok, so how was I going to tell Glenn? I thought about it for a good 20 minutes. If I woke him up to tell him, it might not be the best way to tell him, but at least he would have the day to process it. If I waited until he got home, he would freak out and not sleep at all that night. But, was telling him while he was all groggy a good thing to do? I didn’t know what to do, but I decided to wake him. First of all, he needed to get up. Second, I didn’t want to keep this secret from him for any amount of time. Third, he needed to process it during the day. That way if he was up all night, it wasn’t because I sprung the news on him right before bed. So, I started the coffee pot and then I went in and I woke him up. He was blurry-eyed and fuzzy brained and he smiled at me kind of groggily. I chit-chatted for a couple of moments trying to let him wake up, (funny, recently he told someone that I woke him up and told him “I’m pregnant" first thing. I guess that’s probably all he remembers because that is when he actually woke up, but I did give him a couple of minutes to clear the brain fog before I sprung it on him) but he is one of those people that takes about an hour to really get going. I was about to fall off the bed with nervousness, so I just slogged right in. I told him about my symptoms and what led me to take the test. Then I told him it was positive. And I swear, this is VERBATIM his response:

Glenn: “Really?” [questioningly]

Me: “Yes, really.”

Glenn: “Really” [sounding dubious]

Me: “Yes, it’s a positive test.” Thinking that he didn’t understand, I got up and got the test and handed it to him.

Glenn: staring at test with mouth slightly agape “Really?” [incredulously]

Me: Just stare at him wondering if he has been robbed of all speech but the word really.

Glenn: “Really” [with a sigh at the beginning.  More of a statement of fact than a question.]

Glenn: “Really” [contemplatively]

Me: tears welling in my eyes. I am not sure if he is mad or upset or excited or surprised or shocked or just still asleep. “I know it wasn’t nice to tell you when you just woke up but I didn’t want to wait until tonight and I wanted you to know as soon as possible….”

Then he held out his arms and we hugged for a couple of minutes. He was very quiet and didn’t say a whole lot. I told him I was surprised and he asked why. After all, we weren’t using birth control, what did I think was going to happen. And I answered the honest truth. Nothing. I thought nothing would happen. I was sure we would have trouble and I wasn’t expecting this at all. He looked at me like I was crazy and very shortly after that headed off to get ready for work.

I took a shower and thought about what precisely I had expected from him. I mean, I guess I hadn’t expected him to jump out of bed and dance the jig in joy. And I had woken him out of a sound sleep to tell him in nine months he would be a daddy. I guess that was probably the best I could have hoped for. He didn’t lecture me that we weren’t ready to start a family yet. And if he had, boy I would have had something to say about it taking two. But, really, he is a quiet, low-drama guy. This was his way of dealing with big news. I got dressed and took him a mug of coffee before leaving for work. We talked a couple of minutes, both of us somewhat reserved. Then we both headed off to work.