Friday, July 28, 2006

Strange symptoms I have known

Pregnancy is weird. You never know what it's gonna do next. I feel like I'm entering a new phase of symptoms, some good, some not so good, some just bizarre:

1. I feel like I'm bursting at the seams. This has been a week of rapid twins / Jane growth, I think. My belly feels and looks decidedly bigger, and it feels bigger, if that makes sense. In fact, the past couple of days, I've been a bit uncomfortable at times. It's almost like my insides are straining against my outsides. You know how it feels when you stick your stomach out as far as it can go, pretending to be fat or pregnant or god knows why we do these things, but we've all done it, right? It feels like that, all the time, except I'm not sticking it out. I hope this isn't a bad thing.

2. It's harder to get comfy in bed. Sleeping, I mean. I could physically sleep on my stomach, but have a feeling it's not a good idea. On my side tends to hurt my hips after awhile, even with a pillow between my knees, and on my back is the best (isn't there some point at which I'm not supposed to do that anymore?) but it's just hard to feel totally comfortable. I woke up this morning with my lower back hurting.

3. The heebie jeebies. Now this is a bizarre one. Ever double up on Sudafed doses by accident? Or drink way too much coffee? You feel like little bugs are crawling around inside your limbs and you can't stay still. This was happening to me the other night as I was trying to fall asleep and I had to come downstairs and do a frantic series of reps with my 3-lb dumbells to make it go away. I'm not sure why I thought this would help, but it actually did, a little. I have no idea what causes this kind of thing, or if it's even pregnancy related. Maybe it's the heroin withdrawal.

4. Charlie horses. Left calf. Middle of the night. Motherfucker.

5. Decreased appetite. This is surprising to me, but I don't feel the constant need to fill myself with food as I did during the first trimester, when eating felt like a full-time job. I'm still eating more / more frequently than normal, but am not constantly, simultaneously ravenous and queasy the way I often was in the first few months.'s been 45 minutes since I ate breakfast. Writing this is making me hungry. Never mind.

6. Unintentional hotness. Forgive me if I toot my own horn for a bit here, but I look good. Maybe this is the famous pregnancy glow. Or maybe it's just not having a pasty-white-rainy-New England-spring complexion anymore. In any case, my tits look the best they ever have (I'm a C cup! I'm a C cup!)and I feel like I'm getting more honks from Masshole men in cars on my walks home from the T after work. More turned heads. But that could just be people trying to figure out whether I'm pregnant or just fat. Or some hallucinogenic effect of the extra estrogen in my system.

So, there you have it. Meanwhile, the twins are approximately 4-1/2 inches long and apparently turning into fuzzy little lanugo peaches. Awww.

Thank you, by the way, for all your suggested responses to the rude twin questions. Now, my husband thinks I'm being paranoid, and that the do-twins-run-in-your-family question, in particular, is innocent. (But it's who says it, and how they say it, I argued.) But he came up with the most excellent hypothetical response I've heard yet, which I intend to try out on the first wacko stranger who asks me how I ended up with twins:

"It was Jesus."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Would you like to know my bra size, too?

I'm getting to the point where I brace myself just a little bit every time I tell someone that I'm pregnant with twins. Although about 2/3 of people say something polite or enthusiastic or otherwise innocuous, the other 1/3 either indirectly or directly ask whether or not this is the result of fertility treatments.

Now, obviously, I'm not shy about sharing the fact that we got help getting pregnant -- Exhibit A., this blog. The difference is, I'm volunteering the information. You're not (inappropriately) asking. If a good friend asks, I'll gladly tell them that these are fertility drug twins, though chances are, if they're a truly good friend, they already know. But when acquaintances and people I'm not close with (certain work colleagues, for example) ask, I have to stop myself from saying, Pardon me, but were you raised by wolves? Did these wolves teach you that it is OK to ask a woman you don't know well intimate questions about her reproductive health? And, wow, talking wolves?

I've encountered three basic variations of the question so far:

1. "Do twins run in your family?" Maybe I'm being paranoid, but it always feels like a loaded question to me. They're hoping that if the answer is no, I'll elaborate further. No, I probably won't.

2. "How did that happen?" you want a biology lesson, or do you want me to tell you that I was using fertility drugs? Right, thought so. Hey, why don't you tell me what prescription drugs you've taken?

3. "Was it on purpose?" This is the most absurd and offensive of all, and I've actually gotten it twice. I know there are people in the world who really really really want twins, who hope for them when they're doing fertility drugs and/or transfer multiple embryos when they do IVF in an attempt to get them. But to my knowledge, no naturally fertile woman subjects herself to unnecessary fertility treatments in an attempt to get pregnant with twins, and I can't imagine that any doctor would allow it. I'm not quite sure why this particular question bugs me so much -- maybe just because it's the closest thing to simply asking outright, "Were you on fertility drugs?" but it's asked in such a wicked retahded manner that I resent it even more.

Once I become more visibly pregnant, I'm sure strangers will ask these questions, too. I suppose I could come up with some zingers to retort with, or perhaps be prepared to give them a more mature and measured, "That's a rather personal question." But isn't that in effect the same as just saying yes, fertility drugs?

I don't know. Maybe I just shouldn't tell people that it's twins. Unless, of course, they ask when I'm due and I tell them and they say (inappropriately) "but you're already so HUGE!!" At which point I'll simply be forced to reply, "Well, it's because I took fertility drugs on purpose."

Friday, July 21, 2006

14 weeks: a self-portrait

I never thought I'd do this, but inquiring minds apparently want to know. So here it is, belly shot #1. Me and the dynamic duo at 14 weeks.

Also, let me just say this: heartburn sucks! I woke up in the middle of the night with what I'm pretty sure was a nasty case of it. (Weird -- wouldn't you think it would happen right after eating?) I felt like I was either going to puke or implode. Fortunately, I did neither. Just downed some Tums and propped myself up on 72 pillows and eventually fell back asleep. Ugh.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


So, the other night I went to a meeting of a local mothers of twins club. There were twin moms at all stages – with newborns, toddlers, etc. and one other woman at exactly the same stage of her pregnancy as me. Man oh man. When I first got there, I felt like an exchange student on her first day of school in a foreign country. (I imagine that, outside, my car was feeling the same way: my poor little 10-year-old Honda Civic with its anti-Bush bumper sticker, surrounded by late model SUVs and station wagons and mini-vans.)

I thought: What am I doing here? I want to go home! Back home to my husband, my books, my Season 1 of Lost on Netflix, my cat –- my easy, self-absorbed existence. I am not one of these people! I am not a Mom. I never want to be a Mom. I mean, I want to be a mother to my children. But not…you know. A Mom. Any way I can swing that?

And it wasn't as if there was anything wrong with these women. (Or any of my friends who have children, for that matter.) They were perfectly nice, smart, accomplished, normal people. I think it was just being in this situation, there for the sole purpose of talking about motherhood (of twins, specifically), and hearing stories of C-sections and sleepless nights and how to choose a nanny (yeah, right)….oy. It kinda made me want to go out to a seedy bar, put some Led Zeppelin on the jukebox, slam a few beers, smoke a cigarette, and flirt with the bartender.

It is indeed strange, standing at the edge of this precipice, so full of joy and anticipation and yet so acutely aware that my life is about to change completely, irrevocably. Not that I don't want it to. I am absolutely thrilled to be having children. And yet…and yet. It's been such a nice, sweet young adulthood. Ten-plus years of work, study, socializing, traveling, figuring out what I want to do and who I am and generally enjoying an obscene amount of freedom.

And then there's my husband—he and I have been together a very long time. It's always been just the two of us, and it's been wonderful. Of course, we've always dreamed about having a family. It was always there in our future. But I will certainly miss our us-ness.

On the flip side, I wouldn't want all of it to go on indefinitely. There has been many a time in the past couple of years when it's felt like something was missing. Someone. Wait…isn't this a song from Annie?

Well, enough. There is a season, turn, turn, turn, etc. etc. I'm just glad pregnancy lasts as long as it does. I need this limbo time.

In fact, at the moment, I'm enjoying it quite a bit. I have a little more energy now, my appetite is improved, and all of a sudden, I actually look a little pregnant. With my clothes on, I mean. And those clothes are almost all of the maternity variety now, especially the pants. Today I bought a maternity/nursing bra at Target and HALLELUJAH it feels good. I scored a few more hand-me-downs from friends, and also gave in and bought a few tops to wear to work.

It's harder than you might think to find work-appropriate maternity clothes when you work in a semi-casual office, as I do. The "professional" stuff is too stuffy (and expensive) but the casual stuff is either sloppy or slutty-looking. (Kevin Federline is not the father of my twins, as far as I know, therefore I will not be wearing a hot pink babydoll top and short shorts, thanks very much.)

I'm also starting to get excited about fixing up the nursery (currently wall to wall with junk), and all that nesting jazz. I've been told that twin mamas are well advised to get a jump on this stuff in the second trimester, before they become the approximate size and weight of an orca whale. So, in the next few weeks, A. and I will start sorting and painting. My parents, at the end of the summer, will bring down the crib – the same one my brother and I both slept in. It's exciting. It's nuts. It's the most alive I've felt in a long time.

I will end this lengthy post with a word of friendly advice: when someone tells you that they are pregnant with twins, the proper response is never, ever, ever the one uttered today by an acquaintance I encountered at the drug store: "Oh, no!"

Monday, July 17, 2006

Of cornflakes and youth

Had my second prenatal appointment today (not counting the ERA ultrasound last week).

The first part was a visit with a nutritionist. It was fine, but let me just say this: nobody likes a super-skinny nutritionist. I swear, I could have encircled this woman’s upper arms with my thumb and middle finger. It’s not like she looked sickly or anything. But she sure was slight. A’s theory (he was along with me today) was that nutritionists probably get into their line of work for the same reasons that neurotic fuck-ups become therapists and shy people become comedians and Monica Geller on 'Friends' became a chef.

Anyway, I’m a fairly healthy eater in general, so no big surprises at this appointment, except that according to my blood work from last time, my iron levels are pretty low, so I’m going to have to take a supplement and try to add more iron-rich foods. Did you know that taking your prenatal vitamin with juice helps your body better absorb the iron in it? And that eating meat or beans in a tomato-based sauce is also a good iron-absorption strategy? Neither did I.

I had to give the nutritionist a run-down of a typical “day in the life” eating-wise, from which she was somehow able to calculate how many calories and grams of protein, calcium, fat, etc. I’m getting on a daily basis. I found it to be a slightly disingenuous exercise. First of all, when you’re sitting across from a woman with triceps the size of Bic pens who is also a nutritionist, you want to be on your best behavior. Not that I was dishonest, exactly, but God knows there are days when I eat leftover pizza and Fig Newtons for lunch (yesterday), not a mixed salad with grilled chicken and a piece of whole grain baguette (today). You can guess which one I used as an example of a “typical” lunch.

I also find the whole portion sizes thing questionable. She had little rubber models of food I had to look at and compare to my usual serving sizes. How many servings of this 3 inch disc of rubber cornflakes plopped into a bowl? Umm…I have no idea. It’s the wrong sized bowl, and I don’t eat cornflakes. Grape Nuts take up less room, Frosted Mini-Wheats take up more. And then there are the times I don’t get the milk to cereal ratio right, and add more cereal at the end. So…2? 4? 14?

Bottom line, I’m doing just fine. Just need a little more iron, and a slightly upped caloric intake as I shift into the goal of gaining 1.5 lbs a week. The belly still looks more of the beer variety than the pregnant, but any day now…

As for the visits with the nurse / doc – they were fine, uneventful. Both babies’ heartbeats were in the 150s, nice and healthy and steady. Go wondertwins! I continue to like the doc, and the husband likes him, too. He listens well, gives straight answers, doesn’t condescend. All good. Next visit is in 5 weeks (August 21) at which time we will get a big, bad, thorough ultrasound, and will find out the babies’ genders. Wahoo! I should report, in the meantime, that the age-old dangling-ring-on-a-string test, performed this weekend with friends, predicted a boy and a girl, though its accuracy with twins may be questionable. I gotta say, though, whether you believe the whole thing or not, it's a pretty nifty trick. We put a ring in front of the bellies of men and non-pregnant women, and it did not budge, whereas in front of my abdomen, the things swung like crazy. Chi, man. It's all about the chi.

I’ll end with a little demographic observation: At 32, I don’t consider myself an exceptionally young first-time mother. But it seems to me that more than half of the women I see in the waiting room at the obstetrics office are older than me by at least a few years. (I should note that it’s also interesting to see the huge cross-section of race, ethnicity and class you get in there – having babies is just so damned universal.) Maybe it’s a skewed sample, because it’s an urban area, with more highly educated / career-minded women who wait longer? Or maybe they’re having their second or third children, and are actually younger than I think they are, and they just look, well, tired? Or maybe I am just so incredibly youthful-looking and well-preserved that my age radar is mis-calibrated? Your theories are welcome, especially if they confirm the latter explanation.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Them thar's babies!

I can't even express how amazing today's ultrasound was. Did you know that there were two small HUMAN BEINGS living inside me? I mean, I suspected -- what with the bulging belly and fatigue and all. But holy crap: today, we saw two little people on the screen. With faces and fingers and toes and spines and brains and little beating hearts.

And they were moving like crazy! Especially twin A -- the one closer to my cervix, who'll likely be born first. He was arching his back and kicking and waving his hands house-party style over his head. And, yes, at one point sucking on his thumb. Twin B was a little calmer than her hyperactive sibling, but also did a little turning and waving and hand munching. You see how, already, I've assigned them genders based completely on stereotypes -- the squirmy little boy, the well-behaved little girl. Terribly unprogressive of me.

Both twins were exactly the same size, on target for a due date of Jan. 14, if they were singletons. That's 4 days earlier than my calculated due date when I thought I only had one baby, so, they're already overachieving! (Not that 4 days ahead is such a big deal, but they're MY children, so I'm allowed to be overly proud of their achievements, non?)

Also happy to report that their nuchial folds are normal, so the risk of Down Syndrome looks very low. They also have good nasal bones, which is apparently another (positive) indicator. I had blood drawn for additional tests, and we'll get those results next week, which are more definitive, but I'm not too worried.

I'm smitten.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

L8R, trimester 1

Today/tomorrow (depending on how you want to count things) I complete my 13th week of pregnancy, which I believe means I’m now officially into the second trimester. I think some people put it at the end of the 14th week, but those people are communists.

A brief status report:

Energy level: better than it has been in previous weeks, but I’m not exactly staying up for Letterman.

Bladder: Under constant assault. Especially as I am trying to fall asleep at night, when it mysteriously starts filling up every 5 minutes.

Abdomen: Like that of a boozy sorority girl (the kind who wears midriff shirts and shouldn't), and then some. It seems to grow during the day, starting in the morning as an almost cute pooch, and looking all-out pregnant by nighttime. None of my pants button closed anymore, though they thankfully still fit in the ass and thighs. I’ve told a few friends at work now that I’m pregnant (haven’t made the official announce to my superiors yet) and they say they hadn't noticed that I'd gained any weight. But then, they haven’t seen me naked.

Breasts: the approximate size and density of ripe $1.69 grocery store mangoes. Beginning to feel a bit constrained in my bra. Will refrain from describing other changes for the sake of modesty. And because I know my friend Brian sometimes reads this, and it would make him blush. (Hi Brian!)

Veins: increasingly visible on torso and legs. Chest looks rather like cracked porcelain.

Mood: generally stable. Pictures of babies / actual babies may cause surges of weepiness.

Headaches: yes, unfortunately, every couple of days.

Gastrointestinal system: Frequent hiccups and small ladylike belches. Constant toggling between constipation and its opposite, unsuccessfully regulated by consumption of / abstention from dried apricots. Occasional vague aches and discomfort.

Appetite: excellent in the morning, good mid-day, not great in the evening, but improving. The mere thought of meat doesn’t make me as nauseated* as it did for a while there. (*note my proper use of ‘nauseated’ as opposed to ‘nauseous’)

Psyche: Good. Very good. I’m out of the danger zone, right? (Unless you’re a communist.) Although I’ve had a feeling all along that everything’s going to be OK. Call it naivte or wishful thinking or self-delusion, but even in the first couple of weeks, when I was having heinous, worrisome cramps, I had a feeling everything was OK in there; that these little guys were gonna hang on.

And I do believe that one or both of them is a guy. (Ha! That sounds funny, to refer to a boy baby as a “guy” – visions of dirty tube socks, chin stubble, beer…. ) Again, I have no rational reason to think this, and it may very well be wishful thinking. I have always wanted a boy, for some reason. A boy and a girl would be fabulous, but barring that, I think I’d prefer two boys. I’m not supposed to say this, am I? I’m supposed to say “whatever they are I’ll be thrilled.” And, of course, I will be. If they’re both girls, I won’t believe I ever wanted anything but.

The funny thing about this gender prediction thing, is that my husband believes me. He thinks that if I “sense” what they are, there must be some truth to it. Anyway, hopefully in about a month, we’ll be able to find out. (No, we don’t want to be surprised. Two at once is surprise a’plenty for us, thanks very much.)

They are starting to feel more real to me. That is, the fact that in six months or less, we’ll have two infants, God willing, is starting to feel more real. However, I still don’t quite feel like those infants are connected to the biological phenomenon occurring inside my uterus, if that makes sense. Therefore, I am really looking forward to seeing them (please let it be them, plural!) via ultrasound on Friday, hearing their heartbeats on Monday, and starting to feel them move in a few weeks. I confess, I occasionally prod my abdomen as I lie in bed at night, hoping one of them will kick me in annoyance, but they haven’t yet. Instead they just stand on my bladder until I get up and pee for the 8th time in an hour. Mischievous little monkeys. I can’t wait to meet them.

On the other hand, there are moments when I am terrified; when I think my God, what have I gotten myself into? Like when I read accounts of the first weeks of twin motherhood like this and this. At least, unlike these women, I will have my husband around to help full time, not just at night. But still. I fear the emotional drain, the worry, the sleeplessness. (I am someone who needs a lot of sleep, and not just while pregnant.) I fear, most of all, that it will be hard to bond with both babies at once. I anticipate moments of extreme jealousy of my friends with singletons. Not that that one newborn isn’t hard, too, but, come on. TWO, people!!

And at the same time, I’ve gotten almost completely used to the idea of having two babies. In fact, it’s hard to imagine it any other way. It seems almost lonely. You say “I’m having twins” enough times and, by golly, you start to believe it.

Expect an update on Friday or thereabouts, after the early genetic testing scan, (Ultrasound and bloodwork) which I'm oddly un-nervous about. Is it possible for pregnancy to cause unnatural feelings of calm and optimism? Must be that little-known hormone, Pollyannastrogen.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Them Sunday Blues

Sunday nights find me at my most brooding (and cranky). It's been this way ever since around fifth grade. I get gloomy, pensive, nostalgic, nervous, vaguely guilty for not having made more of my weekend -- which could mean either wishing I'd done less or wishing I'd done more. Even times when I am extremely content with work or school or whatever else awaits me on Monday morning, Sunday night remains a challenge. Oh, for those Sunday nights of yore -- when, at 3, 4, 5 years old, I was allowed to stay up late (until 8:30?) to watch The Muppet Show if I got into my pajamas and brushed my teeth before hand. There was no angst then. Only Crystal Gale and John Denver, singing with hand puppets.

Anyway, what am I brooding about on this particular Sunday night? Primarily the fact that I miss Vermont, or more specifically, my state of mind whilst there.

Not that I wanted to stay longer, exactly. I was ready to come home -- I really was. I missed my husband, my home, my bed. I was worn out from so much writing and tired of so many days, so similar.

But, damn, was it good to be in a place (mentally and physically) of such pure purpose. Nothing to do but write. And write I did: 70 pages of novel in the span of 12 days. That is an unheard of level of productivity for me. Sure, I met some great people, had some good talks about craft and process in writing and visual art alike. But the real gift was the total lack of distraction. The glorious boredom of getting up every day and doing the same damned thing. The most exquisite torture you can imagine.

At home, my mind is infinitely more cluttered. Here, there is yardwork, there is internet, there are bills, there are friends, there are stacks of unread magazines, there are dust bunnies under the bed, there is Zoolander on the Comedy Channel while I eat dinner. There are always, always other things I could be doing. And I lack the willpower not to do them. I strain to focus. I fidget and fuss and waste time.

My residency, by contrast, in retrospect, feels like a meditation.

I really want to finish a draft before the babies are born. That is my goal, but I don't know if I can do it. It's so easy to make excuses, so easy to get off track. Like this: an offer came via email on Friday afternoon for a freelance job from an agency I do occasional projects for. It would be good, easy money (read: 2 cribs, a double stroller and a few months insurance on the second car we're going to have to buy) but it would be above and beyond my normal part-time job. In other words, it would cut into my writing time. I told myself I wasn't going to take on any extra projects between now and January. But...but....writing copy is so much easier (and more profitable) than writing a novel, dammit!

If I were still in Vermont, I think I would say no, absolutely not. I am a fiction writer -- and a pregnant one at that! Get thee behind me, freelance! But I'm home now, where everything's much more muddled.

Back to work tomorrow morning. Everyone's going to ask how my "vacation" was. Pbbbt.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The belly

A few of you have requested belly shots, and I promise that at some point down the line, I shall deliver. (Ha!)

The thing is, right now, my belly just looks, quite frankly, gross. I have gained about 8 pounds all told now, and I basically just look like I've got a pot belly. Not exactly a pregnant one. (Except for the more visible veins.) I have never weighed this much in my life, with the possible exception of when I came back from my semester abroad in Cameroon in '95, having subsisted on manioc, fried plantains, french bread and beer for three and a half months. Not that I'm complaining, mind you -- it's all for the sea monkeys' benefit. And my doctor will be thrilled. AND, I seem to so far not be gaining anywhere besides my midsection. Still have those hardcore toned Madonna arms. (Yeah, right.)

Anyway, given this "blossoming" I'm finding it tough to get into my normal pants, so I broke down today and went to Target and got a couple of pairs of maternity pants: a cute pair of cropped tan ones and some skort-y black gauchos (Culottes? Who knows), both of which are wearable now and will probably last me through 6 months. I could have probably just done a size up in normal clothes, but since I'm just gonna keep on growing, that seems silly.

I got a couple of tops, too, but here's the funny thing: when I wear actual maternity tops, I look pregnant. I guess it's just something about the cut of them, that empire waist thing. All of a sudden it is unmistakeable.

Only a week more of being coy about all this -- baggy clothes at work, etc. I have an ultrasound for early genetic testing next Friday, and assuming all is well, two passengers are still on board, we'll spread the news far and wide after that.

I promise a more astute and enlightening post soon. Right now I'm adjusting to life post-writing-residency, and a house full of Brazilian construction workers. Who probably just think I'm fat, not pregnant.