Saturday, September 30, 2006

Let the nesting begin

A. finished painting the nursery this week -- he did a fabulous, beautiful job -- and on Thursday we put up the above wall border. Adorable, ain't it? There's also a camel on it, which you can't see on the swatch, but which is ecologically incorrect anyway. Camels don't live in the same habitat as monkeys, elephants, and giraffes. I hope this kind of thing won't keep our daughters out of the Ivy League. On second thought -- yeah, like we could afford to send one child, let alone two, to an Ivy League school. Yes, girls: two-humped camels live in the African savannah. 2 + 3 is 7. And it's pronounced "Nuke-yuh-ler." Now fill out those beauty school applications.

Anyway, all the gear that has lived on our porch for the past month now lives in the nursery. Next up, we need to assemble the cribs, move in the old bureaus my parents are bringing down for us, hang some curtains (I may make them, if I'm feeling inspired), and add some other decor. When it's all done, probably not for at least a month, I'll take some pictures and post 'em here.

I also scored some stuff today from the big tag sale put on by the Mother of Twins club. Oy. What a zoo. First, you have to make it past the shrieking, nubile young teenage field hockey players running a car wash out front (it was held at a high school). Then, you wait in line (it opens a half hour early for members, and I was told that all the good stuff goes quick) and make chit chat with other twin mothers or mothers to be. Then the doors open and you cram into a space which was most decidedly NOT the gym, as I had imagined, but something much squeezier and labrynthine, and try to maneuver your way around unwieldy double strollers and unwieldy pregnant women, oblivious toddlers, beleaguered fathers, and aggressive grandmothers to get to the gear section, where the "good stuff" is.

As I wasn't in the market for cribs, high chairs or a stroller (a friend just gave us their gorgeous Peg Perego double stroller -- ciao bella!) I just checked out the bouncy seats and bathtubs, scored one of each in mint condition, then moved on to the clothes. There were mounds of these. I got a bunch of 0-6 month stuff -- onesies, sleepers, denim overalls (too cute for words), etc., much of it Baby Gap and Carters. Quality shit, man.

Getting the clothes raised an interesting question in my mind: at what point will it be important for each of the girls to have "their own" clothing, rather than communal, interchangeable stuff? At this point, I'm definitely not thinking of clothes for Twin A and clothes for Twin B. I'm just thinking: clothes. Whichever baby and onesie I happen to grab first, well, that's what you're wearing, kid. Any thoughts, theories, etc.? I'm guessing there's probably an age (maybe around 2 or 3?) where twins start to get possessive about what's "theirs," and maybe this will be the time to start "hers" and "hers" wardrobes. I just hope they start sharing again by the time they're teenagers.

And at this point, incidentally, if one of these babies turns out to be a boy, he's just going to have to be a transvestite. I may start playing some Judy Garland for the babies in utero, just so I have my bases covered.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Three questions and a hypothesis

1. Shouldn't my boobs be getting bigger? I think they're smaller now than they were during the first trimester, and less dense. Or maybe my big ole belly is simply making them look small by comparison. In any case, they definitely don't seem to be growing. This concerns me a little bit. I hope they'll burgeon properly toward the end...

2. WHAT compels people to write thank you notes in the voice of their baby / child? As in "thank you for the beautiful blanket. My mommy wraps me up in it whenever we go out on walks." Ugh! Bleah! Gross! I'm sorry, call me a spoilsport, but I find this practice extremely un-cute and wholly annoying. I vow never to do it, ever.

3. Why, in books about natural childbirth, are the women in the photos and illustrations all completely naked? I mean, is it really necessary to be completely nude to labor and give birth naturally? I suppose if you're hot and sweaty and working hard, it might be more comfortable and practical to be unencumbered by clothing. But I get the feeling that these women are doing it to feel primal or natural or something. Most of the time their husbands are half-naked, too. I don't know; maybe it's because they all live in California. Anyway, there's just a little too much old Yankee WASP in me to long for this sort of communion with....whatever. I'll take a hospital gown, please. And one of those cute little surgical hats for my husband.

4. I think one of the girls had the hiccups last night. I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, when I felt a series of powerful little monkey convulsions in there, about 10 seconds apart. It lasted for a minute or two, and made me laugh out loud.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

In the 24th week

This week marks the arrival, in no uncertain terms, of the linea negra. Though in my case it's more like a linea light tan-a. If the pic weren't in black and white with the contrast pumped up, you'd have to strain even more to see it, but it's there. For some reason I find this very cool. An aside: whenever I think "linea negra" I think of the theme song from "Villa Allegre," which was a bi-lingual (Spanish) show that was on PBS when I was a kid. ("Linea Negra" fits into the melody/rhythm well, right where the words "Villa Allegre!" went.) I wasn't a fan of the show, though, and it always bummed me out when it came on after Sesame Street instead of Electric Company or, my favorite, 3-2-1 Contact. Just a bit of Gen X nostalgia for ya there.

Meanwhile, our front porch is getting quite crowded with second-hand baby gear. Last week, we bought a pair of beautiful Pali cribs & mattresses off of Craig's List. Also in residence on the porch: a double snap-n-go stroller frame (also courtesy of Craig's List), bags of hand-me-down girl baby clothes and crib bedding, a double breast pump brought all the way from Iowa City by a friend (hello, friend!), a "My Breast Friend" nusing pillow, which may or may not work for tandem twin nursing, and a beautiful rocking chair from my parents' house, which I have always loved. My parents have a picture of me in it at 2 years old, in a yellow bunny sleeper, with my thumb in my mouth and my finger in my belly button -- a strange security habit I had as a toddler.

SO, just waiting for A. to finish painting the nursery, and in it all goes. That's going to be fun; I love decorating. And it will be nice to have something so tactile and tangible to do.

What else? Well, my emotions continue to range from abject fear, sorrow, and regret to uncomfortable numbness to unadulterated excitement and elation -- the latter particularly when I feel the babies kicking and squirming, which they do with increasing force and frequency.

I wish I could say that I walk around on cloud nine all the time, but that just isn't the case. People seem to want pregnant women to be constantly, unambivalently blissed out. They come at you with big, knowing smiles on their faces, shower you with congratulations, and say "you must be so excited!" I can just imagine the looks of horror if, in reply, I said (quite truthfully) "Well, yes, I am very excited, but I'm also afraid that this is going to turn me into someone I don't know or even necessarily like, ruin my marriage, torpedo my husband's career, and prevent me from ever writing a word of fiction again. But I'm also just dying to meet my daughters, whom I love with the primal intensity of a mother Grizzly bear."

Am I a head case, or what?

But let me say this, ladies (and the rare, occasional man): it is a source of great comfort to be able to vent and ramble on this blog, and to read your wise, kind, funny, and supportive comments both here and via email. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It's the beginning of the end

Of the honeymoon, that is. Sigh.

I've been blessed with a fairly easy pregnancy so far; hardly any morning sickness, no hemmorhoids, no bad acne outbreaks and, so far, no stretch marks. But, in the past week or so I've been starting to really feel the extra weight. I'm walking slower, getting winded more easily, feeling more tired and achey. And this morning, yet again, I almost fainted after walking to the T station. WTF?

The triumverate of pregnancy powers that be -- myself, my husband, and my doctor -- has concluded that it would probably be best if I bid farewell to my daily 17-minute walks to and from the T. I'm not happy about this; I really enjoy the walk, for the exercise and the pleasure of it. The overachiever in me says, "Oh, come on, it's not so bad, just slow down a little!" But even walking slowly, as I did on my way home tonight, wears me out. Not to mention the fact that in the evening when I walk my hands swell, and it hurts unless I hold them up in front of me like a surgeon. Which just looks deranged.

My doctor, who I saw today, said that this "doesn't bode well," for my being able to continue working indefinitely, and asked if in the next few weeks I might be able to start working from home some of the time. I probably could, but would hate to ask before it's absolutely, urgently necessary. I only work 3 days a week as it is. My goal was to keep working as usual through Thanksgiving, then use the vacation/unpaid time built into my contract (long story) to take me through delivery while still collecting a paycheck. We shall see.

I hate feeling impeded / limited. It's just not my style. And it's only going to get worse in the next 3 months. At least it's only temporary, and for a good cause.

On the upside, these babies are little kickin' fools! The nurse who did the doppler today was very impressed (and slightly frustrated, I think) by how active they were. Last night I took a look at my belly while they were breakdancing, and could see little pokes and pops from the outside. I love it! It makes me want to just bundle them up in my arms and kiss their little monkey faces. (After wiping off all the amniotic fluid and vernix and other gunk, of course.)

Belly shot to come soon....

Monday, September 18, 2006

Yoga for three

Last night I finally went to a pre-natal yoga class at the yoga studio where I regularly (if not religiously) take classes. I'm not crazy about the time -- Sunday evening -- which is generally when I like to sit down with the mister over a big, starchy dinner and have whiny, existential conversations about the meaninglessness of our lives.

But the main reason I hadn't gone was that I've been being macho. I don't need no wimpy pre-natal yoga! I can still do the real thing! And I can -- certain postures aside. But this class rocked. It was relaxing but still somewhat rigorous, the teacher provided lots of modification options, and it was nice to be in a class with all pregnant women. Moreover, I liked having a bounded time and place to focus on my body and breathing and think about being pregnant in a more meditative and -- dare I say -- spiritual sort of way.

As the only twin mama in the class, I also got a sort of sly, secret satisfaction in thinking "babieS" whenever the instructor said baby, singular, as in "put your hand on your baby" or "try to picture your baby," etc. I felt like we were this cool, exclusive little club: me and my girls, hanging out on a Sunday night together, getting our prahna on. The thought of only having one baby inside seemed so lonely.

In other news, I finally feel like a real blogger, as I have been tagged by the Motel Manager to do one of these word association thingys. I'm supposed to quickly riff on the four words provided by the MM. Here goes:

Deodorant. I immediately think of an armpit--perhaps my own--striated with white, creamy, flaky lines of the stuff. Then I think of my mother getting dressed when I was a kid, and how after she put on deodorant (the roll-on kind) she'd flap her elbows up and down, chicken-like, to get it to dry (I assume). Then I think of the first deodorant that I ever got, in sixth grade, which was a tiny white and pink container (tube? receptacle?) of -- I kid you not -- Teen Spirit. Smelled like a mosquito, my libido, etc.

Throwback. When I think of this word, it is immediately followed in my mind by either the phrase "to the McCarthy era" or "to the Nixon years." I have no idea why. I wish, instead, it made me think of fish that are too small and have to be thrown back, but I'd be lying if I said it did.

Period. After all these years, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret still springs immediately to mind. But maybe only because I was just thinking about the Nixon years, which is when I think the book was published. All I know is that by the time I read it they didn't sell belts for sanitary pads anymore, and I wish I'd known that the first time I read the book, because they sounded like some kind of medieval torture device, and undermined the whole premise of the plot for me: why the hell would anyone want to get their period??

Blossom. This also makes me think of Are You There God? It's Me Margaret. Is something wrong with me? On second thought, I am reminded of the hit television sitcom of the early nineties, and more specifically of the actress Jenna Von Oy, who played Blossom's best friend, Six. Jenna and I and our mothers used to ride the train into New York together, back when I was doing modeling/TV commercials as a kid. She was sort of like a kid sister to me. Once we were in a commercial together for Duncan Hines "Crispy Chewy" Chocolate Chip Cookies. (Jingle sung to the tune of "Love and Marriage" by yours truly and a chorus of other belting brats.) Jenna Von Oy is her real name, but the umlaut she started putting over the "Oy" is totally fake. Still, I respect her work.

I think I'm supposed to tag other people now and make them do this, but I basically read the same blogs the Motel Manager does, so I'm at a loss. But I suppose I could tag Bihari at Iowadrift and Scruffylooking at her eponymous blog. And anyone else who wants to reply in the comments, be my guest. Here are your words:

1. Doughnut (or "Donut" if you prefer)
2. Kick-stand
3. Monkey
4. Attic

Friday, September 15, 2006

Feet, hands, teeth

My Dansko clogs have arrived, and already I have developed a deep and abiding love for them. Marvelous shoes! I also got myself a pair of cheapo slip-on flats at Old Navy yesterday, so I'm covered in the pregnancy footwear department, assuming I don't have any dress-up events to attend in the next few months (don't think I do....) and it doesn't snow bloody murder before I stop going to work.

Meanwhile, today my hands have been swelling, making me fear that my wedding and engagement ring were going to get stuck, if not now, then soon. So, off they came, and the ring is now on a chain around my neck, because I'm a sentimental gal like that. It also makes for easy old-world gender-prediction tests on the fly. The ring does two different things when I hold it low (Baby A) or high (Baby B), which suggests three possible conclusions: 1.) One of our girls is not, in fact, a girl 2.) One of our girls is gay? 3.) The ring test may not, in fact, be 100% scientifically accurate.

If we found out at this point that one of them was a boy, that would be really, really weird. I'm totally used to thinking of them as girls now.

A final observation before I end this rather lame post: while the pregnancy questions can get tiring, it is a nice sense of connection with other women. I had my teeth cleaned today, and the hygienist, probably in her early fifties, Medford born and raised with a fabulous Boston accent, was asking me all about my pregnancy, and telling me all about hers. She told me that she at one point craved yellow cake with white frosting, baked one for herself and ate it all in two days.

Normally, I'd really have nothing much to talk about with this woman besides the weather -- not that the dentist's office is the best place for conversation anyway, but nevertheless -- but because I was going through this universal womankind experience, we had a point of connection. As I left, she said "Make sure you come on a Friday for your next visit in six months so I'll get to see you again and hear all about your girls." I wish there was a female equivalent of "avuncular" because that's what she was, and it was sweet. Auntular?

Off to visit the 'rents for the weekend -- they haven't seen me looking this pregnant yet, so it should be trippy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mama needs new shoes

My feet appear to be growing / swelling. Yesterday morning, I was all excited to put on my favorite black ankle boots, heralding the arrival of cooler weather, and found them a bit snug. Still, I was foolhardy enough to keep them on and attempt my usual 15 minute walk to the T station. After five minutes, my feet were killing me. Aching, throbbing, as if I'd been sightseeing for nineteen hours straight.

Once I sat down on the T, I thought myself recovered, but after a few stops I started feeling like I couldn't get enough air into my lungs, and then I started feeling decidedly faint. I got off at the next stop -- which, happily, was the Mass General stop, both open-air and across from my obstetrician -- inched my way out of the train and onto the platform and, since there were no benches, sat my pregnant ass right down on the ground until I felt better, then got on the next train. But not before three T employees had gathered around to make sure I was all right, urging me not to get back on a train until I was really REALLY sure I was OK. At first I thought they were just being nice, then it occurred to me that rush hour on September 11 is probably not the best time to have people fainting on trains, causing delays and inciting general panic.

When I got to work -- after a brief call to the obstetrician's office for reassurance from the triage nurses -- I promptly went online and did something I've been wanting to do for awhile but told myself was unnecessary/too expensive: ordered myself a pair of Dansko professional clogs. Roomy, orthopedic, and chic in a food service worker kind of way. I am eagerly anticipating their arrival. I'm not entirely sure that my tight shoes were the direct cause of the near-faint, and they certainly weren't the only contributing factor, but any mildly reasonable excuse to drop $100 on leather footwear is good enough for me.

In other news, we went to Babies-R-Us on Sunday to do some registering. What can I say? It's a wonder any of us survived our infancy without an ergonomically correct bouncy seat with six different vibration settings. Or a $300 posture-pedic crib mattress. Or -- and really, any parent who doesn't buy one of these should be reported to DSS -- a baby wipe warmer.

Actually, a serious gear question for the experienced moms out there: they are now making infant seats (rear facing, that detach from the base) that are a little longer and hold kids up to 30 lbs. They are a good 5 or so pounds heavier than the older, smaller kind, but one mother in the store emphatically urged us to get the larger size. Apparently her child is 6 months old and his feet are already kicking the back seat, so she's having to upgrade to the larger size. Is her child just a mutant pituitary case? Or should we get the larger ones to be safe, in spite of the added heft? A. is on the tall side....

Friday, September 08, 2006

21 weeks and growing

First off, thanks to all of you for your kind and sympathetic responses to my past few, somewhat gloomy posts. It's good to know that others can relate, and I'm glad to report that I'm now feeling much better, saner, and more optimistic. Not to mention more focused and productive. In fact, I wrote 1200 words of novel before noon today. Kick ass!

And yes, I know -- I'm getting fucking huge. With still a good 16 or 17 weeks to go, hopefully. I think the past two weeks have been a major growth spurt. (I'm wondering if this was partly responsible for my depressive dip?) However, I am very pleased to report that my pre-pregnancy underwear STILL FITS!! Pretty much.

And I'm still feeling more or less comfortable, physically speaking. Looking a little less graceful when I get up off the couch or attempt to bend down and pick things up, but still moving at a good clip. And sleeping better, if you don't count having to get up and pee. Last weekend, I spent the best $15 of my life on a piece of egg-crate foam to put on my side of the bed, under the fitted sheet. It has done wonders for my hips and back.

The monkeys, meanwhile, are getting very active -- especially right after I eat, when they dance to the gurgling melodies of my digestive system. I love it. I think both have their feet on the right side of my belly, as that's where most of the action tends to be. Or maybe they're into headbanging.

In other uterine news, I suspect I may be starting to feel some Braxton Hicks contractions. A few times recently, at the beginning of a brisk walk, I'll feel a slight, strange sort of tightening, low in my abdomen. Not painful, exactly, just....tight. It lasts for a minute or so, then goes away.

But enough about me. A round of jubilant, congratulatory applause for the motel manager, who looks like she may finally have a long-term guest....

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hormone-induced Amnesia?

Anyone who has been trying and failing to conceive should skip this (very long) post. Or accept my apologies in advance. Because it’s going to sound horribly ungrateful and ridiculous. If I’d read this six months ago on someone else’s blog, I would have rolled my eyes strenuously and had to physically restrain myself from making a snippy “get over it” sort of comment.

I should also warn that this (interminable) post falls into the Too Much Information category, so feel free to skip if the minutiae of my reproductive system don't, in fact, interest you. (I can’t imagine!)

A year ago today, we’d been trying for nearly 8 months to get pregnant, going at it like rabbits on Viagra, and I was starting to get discouraged by our lack of success. I’d had only 3 periods since going off the pill, one of which was induced with a 10-day progesterone supplement from my doctor after 9 weeks with no flow.

I shouldn’t have been surprised; my periods had been irregular all my life. I got the first one when I was just shy of 14, then didn’t get another one for an entire year. After that, I had them anywhere from every 4 to every 10 or so weeks. Almost as soon as I got to college, I went on the pill, tired of constantly fearing pregnancy. (Not that I was getting that much play, but still.) I was on it for almost twelve years straight. I thought that when I came off, maybe my cycles would suddenly, miraculously be normal, but no such luck.

I visited the fertility docs last December, and while my blood work, fallopian tubes and A’s numbers were all fine (his numbers were staggering, in fact), an ultrasound showed that my ovaries each had a “string of pearls” of small cysts, indicative of infrequent or nonexistent ovulation. A possible, mild-end case of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) without, luckily, the hirsutism, diabetes or obesity that often come with it, but with the high cholesterol, irregular periods, and tendency toward depression that also do.

Meanwhile, I’d wasted countless pregnancy tests and ovulation predictor tests, all of which always came up negative. I’d taken chasteberry extract and cut back on caffeine and alcohol (well, I tried, anyway). I’d charted three (irregular) cycles but never saw a thermal shift or any consistent pattern to other fertility signs. I was starting to feel like I was defective. It was never going to happen.

So when the doctor said he thought fertility drugs could help me, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I was dying to be pregnant, wanted to have not just one but two kids eventually, and wasn’t getting any younger, so why wait? In fact, the only thing I initially balked at was having intra-uterine insemination because it seemed so cow-like and clinical. I wanted to see if we could pull it off the more “romantic” way. But I got over that fairly quickly. Babymaking sex, as I’m sure some of you know, gets to be the antithesis of romantic (hot, erotic, interesting, etc.) after a while.

Anyway, after a failed Clomid cycle and a failed cycle with injectables/IUI, I started to prepare myself for a long haul. Friends and acquaintances were getting pregnant left and right, like it was the most natural thing in the world (and isn’t it?) and I felt like I would forever be on the outside. I would have given anything to be in their shoes. A. and I were soon to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, and had been together as a couple for years before that. I was so ready for us to become a family. Abso-bloomin-lutely 100% ready. At the same time, I was feeling incredibly pessimistic and generally bummed out.

Then, whaddya know: after the next cycle of injectibles/IUI, exactly one year and three months after we started trying, I was knocked up – and how. I got my positive blood test results the day of our 5th anniversary, and was thrilled beyond belief. Finding out it was twins was certainly a lot to swallow, but I told myself, hey, better two than none. Anyway, that’s the risk you run when you take fertility drugs. And if I hadn’t taken them I probably wouldn’t have gotten pregnant. At least not for a good long time.

So, here I am, 5 months pregnant, and I love these little babies. My girls. I am dying to meet them. Today, they have been kicking up a storm, both of them, and each time I feel it I get giddy with joy and excitement. I want to tell the whole world. When I push on my belly, they push back. I’m interacting with them! Last night, A. got to feel a couple of good solid kicks for the first time, which thrilled me even more than it did him, I think. See? I said, I’ve got our children in me!

And yet…and yet. Recently, increasingly, there is also this part of me (the same part that has always told me things like I don’t exercise enough, I make stupid clothes-buying decisions, I am not disciplined enough about my writing, I drink too much, spend too much time online, etc.) that’s saying, in a scolding, smug little voice, why didn’t you keep trying longer on your own? You didn’t have to end up with twins. It might have happened eventually, and you’d most likely only be pregnant with one right now, instead of an overwhelming, career-ruining, life-shattering two at once. You’d been on the pill for 12 years, after all. Maybe you would have started ovulating. Sure, it might have taken another year or two, but, jeez, you’re only 32. 15 months of trying really isn’t that long. Think of all the people who try for 2, 3, 10 years and eventually succeed without medical intervention. Why so impatient, Missy? Why mess with fate?

And twins aside, do you really want to be a parent yet anyway? You haven’t published a book yet, and your husband’s career is still developing. And it’s not like you’re rolling in dough. What was the hurry? You could have both used a few more years without kids. It’s really a shame that you couldn’t hang onto just a little more perspective, young lady.

I ask you, my wise readers, what is all this self-loathing static in my brain? What is this strange amnesia, causing me to forget how badly I wanted a baby and how hopeless I felt about my prospects for having one? Is it, maybe, a by-product of my recent, shitty mood? Or perhaps simply panic setting in as I feel more and more pregnant and these babies feel more real to me? Or am I just a hopeless control freak, wanting a degree of authority over my life that simply isn’t realistic or healthy?

I know, I know. I should just shut up and be happy. I am, I swear. Just yesterday, I made myself cry thinking about how completely shattered I would be if I miscarried, or if one or both of the babies didn't survive. I love them, truly and completely. But I'm also prone to analyzing my every action and fretting over every possible wrong choice in some vain attempt to lead The Perfect Life. Such contradictory emotions! Such complexity! (It's enough to make a neo-con hurl himself, screaming, off a cliff!)

I may regret posting this. It’s awfully honest. Which is an awfully scary thing to be. Please be gentle....