Saturday, August 26, 2006

Noli me tangere

OK, so I lied. I'm posting one more time before we leave, because I just have to vent about last night and whine about my fears for the upcoming week.

A. (who is a musician/performer as many of you know) had a big solo show at a certain club last night, and many people we know -- some well, some through family or only in the context of his career -- were in attendance. I always find it a little stressful to go to gigs like this one, having to play the social butterfly, "first lady" role, making pleasant chit chat with people I don't know well while trying to make time to talk to actual friends, all in the context of being The Wife. It's not the most fun in the world for someone who can play the extrovert in short, determined bursts, but who is really by nature more of an introvert. But I get through it.

Last night, though, was so exhausting I was on the verge of tears by the time I went home. Completely emotionally fried. Pregnancy hormones and the slight slowing/dulling effect they have on my brain are, no doubt, in part to blame. I had been feeling a little "fragile" all day. But I think anyone would have found it trying. (God bless the one friend who smiled sympathetically and said, "getting sick of all the attention yet?") At the end of the night, I literally had my arms wrapped around my belly and all I wanted in the world was to get home and be alone with my girls. And the cat, who I forced to cuddle with me.

Anyone who has traveled in a remote part of a developing country or other place where they they stand out like a sore thumb and, as such, are the subject of constant gawking and scrutiny and objectification (an experience I highly recommend everyone have once in their lifetime, incidentally) will have a good idea of how I felt. Suddenly all anyone could see or talk about was the fact that I was pregnant. The shape of my body, my state of mind, my eating and sleeping and peeing habits were all fair game for public consumption. My belly was touched, without my permission, six or seven times. (Most of those times by men, I might add.) I was asked approximately ten thousand times when I'm due, do twins run in my family, how do I feel, etc.

All perfectly innocent, well-meaning, lovely questions, asked by genuinely kind people who were obviously just happy and excited for me. I don't blame anyone at all. But the sheer volume of it, the sameness and intensity of it, the invasiveness of it, the social energy and forced grins it required of me over and over again, and the fact that everybody and their fucking brother wanted to talk to me at once, made me want to curl up in a fetal position under a table somewhere.

Allow me to interject here -- because some of my dear readers were in attendance last night -- that it wasn't YOU who were getting on my nerves. It was the onslaught of so many people at once, particularly ones I don't know well or see often, and some total strangers, that made me feel like a small, sad, plump fish in a fishbowl.

And yes, I am whining. And no, this is not a big deal. And yes, in some ways the attention is fun. But oy -- I am about to go spend a week in NH with a whole slew of kind, well-meaning people that I only see once a year, who are going to barrage me with the same damned questions over and over and over again, and at the moment it feels like the very antithesis of a relaxing vacation.

I should just make myself a t-shirt:

I'm due 1/4/07 at the latest.
It's twin girls, fraternal.
They don't run in my family.
I feel great.
Now leave me alone.

Bon voyage, mes amis. And if you see a pregnant woman you know, do her a favor and ask her what she thinks about the situation in the Middle East. Or what book she's reading. Or better yet, just blab about yourself. She'll love you for it.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Everybody was kung fu fighting

Well, I'm about to head up to the shores of Winnepesaukee for a week, and most likely won't be posting again until after Labor Day (the holiday; not mine). But I leave you with some action shots of the twins, caught mid punch/kick. Aren't they adorable? Brilliant? Courageous? Witty? Badass? My mother thinks she sees a penis on Twin A (bottom picture), but I'm pretty sure it's just a leg bone or joint or a banana in her pocket or something.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Girls scare me a little.

First, let me say this: I'm thrilled to be having two girls. It's going to be wonderful in countless ways, not the least of which is the fact that they can borrow each other's clothes, thus saving us precious college fund money. Seriously, though. I love girls. I am one. I think we're smarter and more mature and generally better adjusted than our male counterparts. Sure, we're really mean to each other when we're adolescents, but that passes. We generally don't go around starting wars and committing genocide and raping and murdering and pillaging. All major pluses.

I've been thinking a lot over the past few days about why I was hoping for boys. It has actually been A.'s reaction to the fact that we're having two girls that has helped me understand it better. He said, "I feel like this takes a lot of pressure off of me." He doesn't have to teach them "how to be men," or how to fight back (or not fight back), or have the dreaded sex talk with them. Not that he suddenly thinks it's going to be all piggy back rides and getting his hair braided (thank you for that image, SER). But, he definitely feels like he's got a little more leeway somehow. Interestingly, both my father and his father independently said that while a boy and a girl would have been nice, two girls would be their second choice. Little girls love their daddies, and daddies love to be loved by their little girls.

I guess I felt the same thing about having boys: there wouldn't be quite so much pressure on me to be a role model or confidante. I could just be their adored mama, who they think is the most beautiful and perfect woman in the world. In short, I wanted to create a little man or two to worship and depend on me. It's all so damned Oedipal, isn't it?

With girls, it feels more complicated. What if they hate me? What if I disappoint them, mess them up, emotionally scar them, give them eating disorders? It seems like there is so much more potential for conflict and complexity. I fear this, and yet, my relationship with my own mother is now infinitely smoother, simpler, and less antagonistic than my relationship with my father -- more and more so as the years pass. Still, I was definitely a daddy's girl when I was growing up, and my mom and I aren't exactly what you'd call BFF.

I will love these girls to death. I already do. I can't wait to see who they are, and who they become. I just hope I can be the kind of mother they deserve.

Their movements are starting to feel more and more like actual kicks now, incidentally, which is fun. Last night, hand on belly, I even felt them from the outside. It's like having Lucy Liu and Uma Thurman in there. Excellent.

Monday, August 21, 2006

So much for intuition!

My reputation (such as it was) as a spiritually attuned earth goddess of intuition has been shattered: we appear to be having two girls. (Either that, or two boys very good at hiding their genitalia between their legs.)

Two girls!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that I am a wee bit disappointed; I would have liked at least one boy. But that disappointment is fading by the minute, being quickly replaced by the joy of feeling a much more personal connection to these little bambinAs. Now I get the fun of imagining what they’ll look like as babies / girls / women and speculating on whether they’ll be tomboys or girly girls or some combination of both, like their mother. Already, they feel that much more like actual miniature people.

Some pragmatic pluses of two girls: no circumcision debate, they can share a bedroom in perpetuity, and we have many more friends with girls who can give us hand-me-downs. One big pragmatic con: when they get to toilet training age, I’m going to have to take both of them into public restrooms at once, rather than dividing them between me and A. Oh well.

As for A., he is very happy. He said, “Suddenly, this feels much more manageable.” He also said he’s already feeling protective of them. He doesn’t like the idea of lecherous guys thinking, “Ooh, yeah! Twins!” We’ll have to be sure not to name them Bambi and Bunny.

Anyway, most important of all – as I am supposed to say, and truly do feel -- both babies are doing great. They look healthy and normal and right on track for their development. They actually swapped positions since last time, so twin A is now twin B and vice versa. Competitive little things!

It was their Mama who almost flunked the ultrasound. Take heed all ye pregnant women: the don’t-lie-on-your-back-for-too-long thing is for real. After the technician had been probing around for about ten minutes and girl #1 was announced, I started feeling weird, then faint, then my lips went cold, my hearing went wonky, and ultimately I had to make a run for the bathroom across the hall where I threw up, almost missing the toilet entirely, and making a nice mess for some poor orderly. Oops!

After that, I lay on my side, and was OK – I thought. Then a doctor came in to do another, more detailed ultrasound exam. He was one smug prick of a doctor, I might add; we asked him if he could confirm the genders (I still couldn’t believe it) and he replied in his best this-is-how-I-talk-to-naughty-wittle-puppy-dogs-and-patients tone, “Well, I’m focusing on looking at the hearts and lungs and brains, but if I happen to see something I can certainly let you know.” The implication being: I have more important things to do than help you plan what color to paint your nursery, you putzes. He didn’t even angle the screen so we could see. And he said more than once that my lying on my side made doing the ultrasound a bit more challenging. So sorry to inconvenience you, asshole. I’ll just lie back and have a fucking stroke if it would make your job easier.

I wish I could say that I vomited all over him, but unfortunately I didn’t. I did, however, start to feel faint again and said I needed to sit up and take a break. Dr. Prick left the room. After a little while, I got up to walk around, hoping that might help get the blood flowing, at which point I promptly collapsed onto the floor. Luckily A. was there to catch me, and I sat there on the nice cool linoleum for a few minutes until I felt better.

The rest of the ultrasound continued without incident, and was blessedly brief. Goodbye, Doctor Prick. I hope we never see you again, and God help us if you’re the one on call when I deliver. Actually, God help you, because my husband will kick your ass.

So, that’s the news from twinville. We got some great pictures, by the way, and if I can get my act together, I’ll try scanning them and posting them here so you can tell me how adorable my daughters are. Daughters! I’ll be damned.

PS -- congratulations to my dear readers on getting the 'Airplane' reference. I love you!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

And Leon's getting larrrrger!

Anyone who gets the reference in the title wins my undying affection. (A $50 value; void in Arizona)

So, here I am at 18 weeks and 2 days, having fun with the visual effects on my photo editing software. And salvaging a blurry photo, because I was too lazy to bother taking and uploading another one.

All of a sudden, I'm starting to feel big. And I know, this is nothing yet. But today for the first time, I felt truly impeded whilst doing my yoga practice. Normally I'm a pro at seated twists and positions that require me to reach around my back and grab my foot and that sort of thing -- I've always had a very flexible back and shoulders -- but today there was just too much of me in the way.

The sea monkeys (which doesn't feel like quite an accurate moniker anymore; they are no longer abstract little magical creatures to me, but actual babies) have been quite active lately, tingling and bubbling and wiggling around inside me like -- OK, like sea monkeys. It just makes me smile everytime I feel it. And I do feel it, generally, in two distinct places: upper left or lower right. My little yin yang twins.

We took them to their first rock and roll concert the other night, incidentally: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, at Great Woods (aka the Tweeter Center. Dumb) courtesy of last-minute free tickets from a dear friend. It was an excellent show, thanks especially to the presence of Young. They pulled no punches, politically: it was an outright anti-war, anti-Bush spectacle. I'm glad to have exposed my progeny to this at an early age. And to give them the opportunity to keep on rockin' in the free world. Or in the uterus. Whatever. They also got their first taste, I fear, of the wacky weed -- it was wafting around in the air, as you might expect, hard to avoid. Oh well. I hope they had a nice little trip. Mama tries to stay chill about this kind of thing.

The Subaru Forester, by the way, has arrived, and I have to say, it's a pretty sweet ride. However, I had a moment yesterday where I had to laugh at myself: me, pregnant, loading groceries into the back of a late-model Subaru Forester. (With my parents' Sunday River ski resort parking sticker still on it! Eeek!!) I think it's time to slap on the "Anarchy" ribbon magnet that my dear friend Viva Las Vegas gave me, lest my husband and I be mistaken for, you know, normal people.

Two more days until our next ultrasound, where we will hopefully find out the genders. Any bets? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Love your mother

(Two posts in one day – I know; hold me back.)

In 1989 – the year that the endangered earth was Time Magazine’s “Planet of the Year” -- a friend and I co-founded an environmental club at our high school called Earth Action which, I’m proud to say, still exists to this day.

We set up a paper recycling program, did fundraisers to save the rainforest, picked up trash, wrote to congressional representatives and engaged in all manner of other idealistic, tree-hugging efforts. (The highlight for me was attending the Youth Environmental Forum in Washington DC, and getting to meet Khrystyne Haje from the cast of ABC's “Head of the Class.”)

For three and a half years, I worked my ass off to save the earth. And now…what has become of me?

Tomorrow, we will become a two-car family. But really, not just a two car family; a one car, one small SUV family. The horror! My parents, are giving us their old – well, not so old, actually -- Subaru Forester to use indefinitely, as their contribution to the twin cause, God bless ‘em.

The Forester is described sometimes as a small SUV, sometimes as a “Utility Wagon” whatever that means. I prefer the latter of course. Because I am one of these pansy-ass, knee-jerk liberals who thinks that SUVs are worse than (similarly gas-guzzling) wagons or minivans just because of the sheer obnoxiousness of their presence.

For the past five years, we’ve gotten by with only one very small, very crappy car. During A’s frequent trips out of town, I’ve done just fine between public transportation, bumming rides, ZipCar, the legs that God gave me, and the occasional cab.

But the thought of one tiny car, two infants, and two parents with very different schedules, is a bit daunting. I would hate to be marooned at home when A. is out of town. And if we wanted to go visit the grandparents, for example, there’s no way we could fit two babies and all their gear plus the two of us and all our crap into a Honda Civic. And when I am seven or eight months pregnant, I’m guessing I won’t be wanting to walk 15 minutes to and from the T each day, or take the T at all, for that matter…

(Meanwhile, somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, a pregnant woman is walking five miles in flip-flops with a baby strapped to her back and another in her arms to get them vaccinated at the clinic which is only open once every three months, assuming civil war hasn’t broken out.)

So, sigh, yes, we are about to become a two-car family. Our nice, sustainable, one-car-in-the-city existence snuffed out by our greedy desire to procreate. I’m sorry, endangered earth. As compensation, I will endeavor to reduce, reuse, and recycle more, buy organic produce whenever it isn’t prohibitively expensive, and use only cloth diapers.

Wait – back up a minute. Cloth diapers? With TWINS? What am I, some kind of masochist?

Yeah, so, that’s the other way I’m going to contribute to the demise of our planet: disposable diapers. At least for the first few months. I always wanted to use cloth; I really did. But the thought of doing it with two newborns seems like craziness. I’ve read that newborns go through 10-12 cloth diapers a day in the first few months. Multiply that by two, please. Even if we got a diaper service to cover the laundry aspect, it seems like all we’d be doing (in addition to feedings, burpings, etc.) is changing diapers.

I really would like to try to switch to cloth after the first few months if we can, but it’s just so hard to know how difficult or easy it will be. Bihari, I know you did the cloth thing -- did you do it right from the get-go? Do you think you could have handled it with two infants? Oy. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

(Meanwhile, the pregnant African woman walking to the clinic has passed out due to malnutrition and malaria and is about to be run over by a drunken American eco-tourist in a Subaru Forester.)

The Black Heart of the Boppy

You know you've got pregnancy on the brain when you're in the Davis Square T station looking down at the poetry carved into the bricks, and read "Poppy" as "Boppy."

And then, when you're sitting on the T, you glance over at the newspaper your neighbor is reading and see a story about a fashion designer named "Vena Cava" and think: Hey look -- a story about the artery I'm not supposed to compress by sleeping on my back. I should read that. (The artery is the Vena Cavae, actually. But pretty darn close.)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jiffy Pop

I think I'm starting to feel these sea monkeys move. Yesterday at the end of my yoga class, while I was lying blissfully in shavasana, my belly felt like a pan of Jiffy Pop in progress.

Some of it was definitely my own pulse/heartbeat. But there were other little random pops and bubbles here and there. Yoga babies! It happened again last night at the movies (Little Miss Sunshine -- I highly recommend): pip pop blip, on the lower right side. And again last night as I was lying in bed, up toward the left. Blip! Plip! Like a tiny little finger lightly, lightly prodding. Or a bubble rising up and popping against my abdominal wall.

And, believe it or not, I'm actually getting a few little snap-crackle-n-pops right now as I write. It's subtle, but it's there. Can any ladies out there who've been pregnant before confirm or deny that this is what the first quickening feels like? Even if this isn't it, I'm pretending it is, and it's totally blissing me out.

Add to this the fact that it's 75 degrees and sunny and breezy, and we've finally cleared most of the construction mess from our house, and we're are about to paint the nursery, and I made my novel word quota of 1000 words yesterday and it's looking like I'll do it again today, AND I'm actually going to have ample time to write tomorrow and Sunday, too, and -- well, you could say I'm in a good mood.

OK -- back to the book.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Pregnant Lady at 16 weeks

The belly has grown quite impressively in the last two weeks, no? At least, it feels that way to me. This time, you'll see I opted for the artsy black and white version. It makes it easier to discern my fish-white belly from the wall behind me. And makes the whole enterprise seem somehow more momentous and less blatantly solipsistic.

Several people have told me that I'm starting look like a "pregnant lady" -- in those words. I always get a kick out of the word "lady." It makes me think of the women at my church when I was growing up, with their clip-on earrings and pocketbooks and high heels. I enjoy using the phrase "pregnant lady" to apply to myself, too. As in, "Move away from the pizza, pregnant lady coming through." Or (to my husband) "Have you ever seen such a hot, sexy pregnant lady as I in your life?"

Despite an incredibly frustrating and stressful past week at work, and the fact that I've had way too little time to write (I'm never going to finish this damned novel), this pregnant lady is feeling pretty good, physically and psychologically. Oh, sure, there are the little twin growth spurts, where I am suddenly overcome with exhaustion. And this fucking heat doesn't help matters any, although I don't think I'm any more uncomfortable than I would be if I weren't pregnant. (I hate, hate, HATE heat and humidity.) And the nighttime leg cramps continue, which isn't much fun.

On the upside, I'm getting more used to sleeping on my side: last week I broke down and shelled out $50 for a Snoogle. And I'm so glad I did. It's a body pillow with C-curves up top and bottom that you can find all kinds of ways to grip, clamp, straddle and mangle in your sleep. It does present a bit of a barrier between me and the husband for cuddling purposes, but who wants to cuddle when it's 95 degrees out and your air conditioner is a lemon? Not this pregnant lady.

Speaking of the husband, he woke up yesterday morning and had a revelation: our math has been wrong. All along, we've been saying that we have a 1 in 3 chance of having boy-girl twins, since there are three possible options: gg, bb, bg. But that's not quite right. In fact, there are FOUR options: gg, bb, bg AND gb. (Remember those old Mendelian graphs from high school biology?) He confirmed this with a little online research, and it's true. We have a 50% chance of having a boy and a girl. Of course, there was only about a 20% chance (or less, given that I only had 2 mature follicles at the time of our IUI) that we'd end up with twins, and we nailed that one. So, I wouldn't be entirely shocked if, in fact, we're having a hermaphrodite and a baby lemur.

One last thing: movement. Any day now, I should start to be able to feel it, which is very exciting. Sometimes, lying in bed at night, I feel a little flutter or blip or bubble down there, and I wonder if maybe it's the bambinos. But it could also just be air or gas or stuff gushing around. Some friends of ours gave us a wonderful gift -- a baby listener. You put on headphones and put this microphone to your belly and listen. But it's a bit early to use it, so all I've been able to hear so far are the roarings of my own body: heartbeat, digestion, god knows what else. Something like the sound of a dog yawning. Another sound rather like a toilet flushing. Is this the miraculous music of gestating life? Why not.