Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My babies rule.

Ultrasound / checkup results:

Twin A (presenting, i.e. closer to cervix): 3 pounds (35th percentile - just fine for a twin)

Twin B (upper): 2 pounds, 12 ounces (25th percentile -- ditto)

Both: Still girls, head down (Wahoo!!!), healthy heartbeats, very active, good amniotic fluid, and extremely cute

Cervix: Long-n-tight, no funneling

Mama: good weight gain and blood pressure. Survived icky glucose challenge -- results TBA. Got flu shot. Once again, not so good at the whole ultrasound thing. Two bouts of faintness/dizziness, luckily caught in time. (No vomiting or passing out). Taking a break, changing positions and cold compresses helped. A. was a champion advocate. And the doc doing the scan was very good, compassionate, vigilant, etc.

A.: Awesome. Not afraid to ask questions, check in frequently, or speak on my behalf and ask for more time / help / rest / explanations / etc. when I'm trying to be a tough guy or a nice, well-behaved patient. He's going to be amazing during the birth.

Overall: Fabulous. All is going extremely well. No problems, no signs of early labor, both babies growing well. I'm thrilled that they're both head down. They could still conceivably change positions, but their current positions bode well for a vaginal delivery, which would make me very happy. I'd really like to avoid a casearean birth if possible.

Best Halloween costume seen in waiting room: a man with a hat in the shape of a roast chicken. The best part was how he just sat there next to his pregnant wife, reading the paper, acting perfectly normal and quite serious -- but with a chicken on his head.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Shower #2

If shower #1 was lovely, shower #2 (co-ed, planned and attended by friends only, no family) was downright cool. The gifts were decidedly hipper (see above), the banter much wittier (even without my deaf, senile great aunt in attendance), and the energy more youthful, celebratory, and ribald. I even broke out my fishnet stockings for the occasion. There were three other pregnant women in attendance, as well as some cute little peanuts. Trust me: you haven't lived until you've heard a two and a half year old stand in the middle of your kitchen and sing Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire."

It was funny, though -- a few times during the afternoon I was struck with the sensation that the grownups had gone out and left the kids (A. and I and all of the guests, that is) without a babysitter. Not because we drew on the walls or swung from the chandeliers or anything. In fact, there are no chandeliers in our house. But because there we were, with our friends ranging in age from their early thirties to early forties, celebrating this huge, imminent thing completely on our own. No real grown-ups there to smile knowingly and dole out motherly advice. Of course, there were a few moms there, but young ones with small children, still in the thick of things. Quite a different presence from that of the aunties and grandmas and other matriarchal types at Shower #1.

I'm very glad to have had both kinds of showers -- the lovely and the cool. Seems like it's a good reflection of the kind of help and support one wants and needs going into parenthood: wise, old relatives to make you feel safe and secure and part of a generational continuum; and friends closer to your own age and stage in life who can keep you laughing and feeling like yourself.

Many thanks to the two ladies (both frequent blog readers) who put yesterday's coolness together. You rock.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Livin' Large

Well, I passed the 28 weeks mark a few days ago, which means I'm now in my third trimester. Although, given that I'll probably deliver at or around 36 weeks instead of the usual 40, I suppose the math should be a little different. But anyway.

As you can see, I just keep on getting bigger. (Though people continue to tell me I don't look as big as they would expect me to; they may just be saying it to be polite.) My weight gain has now surpassed 30 pounds, and I'm definitely feeling heavy. My back is frequently quite achey, getting up and down out of chairs or bed takes some doing, and picking things up from the floor is a real pain in the ass. I don't know how women with toddlers manage being pregnant. In my experience, keeping after toddlers requires a lot of picking things up off the floor (sippy cups, goldfish crackers, globs of play-doh, little plastic toys). And it strikes me as rather dangerous to leave them there if your view of the floor is obscured by a large, burgeoning abdomen. Hats off to those moms out there who have managed it.

The end is certainly within view now, and it's exciting. I feel as ready as I think I'm going to. In fact, in general, I've felt much more emotionally and psychologically solid in the past few weeks, even as I feel less comfortable physically.

Some part of me, I think, decided it had had just about enough of fear and doubt and neurotic churning. That part said, step aside, ye lackeys, I'm taking over. It's time to get excited and googly-eyed about these babies, ready to welcome them into the world and love them, ready to dive into the intensity and earth-shattering change of parenthood, in all its splendor and squalor.

Or, to quote the great John Prine, "Your heart gets bored with your mind and it changes you."

Of course, there are still moments of panic and disproportionate moodiness: Me, yesterday, at Babies-R-Us (shudder) with A., struggling to fit infant seats onto the double stroller frame I'd bought off of Craig's list, realizing they wouldn't fit, and that I'd wasted fifty bucks. Sitting in the car on the way home in tears, pouting, whining, "I don't want two babies! Why can't I just have one baby like everyone else?" Wah, wah, wah.

In other news, we've met with a couple of pediatricians now; the first one didn't impress us. She came off more like a PR exec than a doctor -- suspiciously well-coiffed and bearing a glint of something like lunacy in her eyes. Also, strangely, there were almost no toys in the waiting room; just a little table with a jigsaw puzzle on it. Hmm... The second doctor was much better: young, laid-back, friendly, accessible, and quite sharp. Also, they had good toys. We're going to meet with one more doc before we decide, but I'd be very happy with #2. (Who knew you were supposed to interview pediatricians? Not me a year ago, that's for sure.)

Well, the ole novel is a calling. I spent an hour yesterday roughly outlining what needs to happen in the next few (final!) chapters, and have no excuse for stalling.

Ultrasound on Tuesday. We expect the twins to be in costume. Here's hoping they are also both heading in the head-down direction, and growing beautifully.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hear me meow

Ten minutes into the day-long intensive childbirth class we took yesterday, the instructor put this photo up on the screen. "What does this photo say to you?" she asked.

Silence, slightly bewildered looks.

"Come on, what does it say to you? Nothing?"

A few people offered half-hearted replies. (Well-trained dogs? A stupid cat?)

No, no, no. This picture was supposed to make us think of a strong, confident woman. And inspire us as we thought about birth, and our ability to get through it successfully.

Five minutes later, we were sitting on birthing balls getting our backs rubbed by our husbands, having been given absolutely no context on the process or progression of labor, physiological, emotional, or otherwise. That came about an hour later, after we covered what to pack for the hospital, were asked "What does a hospital johnny mean to you?" and two men were goaded into putting on empathy bellies and asked to bend over to tie their shoes for our amusement.

For my money -- $150 to be exact, most of which will fortunately be reimbursed by our health insurance -- a childbirth class is pretty important. They shouldn't let people with the competence of your average high school substitute teacher run them. No matter how long they've been an obstetric nurse, or how grandmotherly and warm they are, or how amusing their Boston accent may be.

I wouldn't say the day was a total loss; the tour of the maternity ward was good, and I liked getting my back rubbed by A. It's also been a long time since I had the fun of trying to suppress hysterical laughter, as I did as a result of the German shepherd / cat / I am woman moment. In fact, I'm considering printing out the picture and bringing it with me to have at the hospital while I labor. Laughter has got to be good for getting through contractions.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Baseless scientific theories

Every once in awhile, I like to come up with my own medical/physiological theories, based on absolutely nothing except my own experience and my 11th grade level of science education. It's fun!

For example, (warning: TMI ahead) in the 15 months that we were trying to conceive, there were two specific times when I had distinct signs that I might be ovulating, in the form of abundant, fertile-quality cervical mucus. Both times, I happened to be in Europe. (Please note: it's not generally a habit of mine to go to Europe twice in 15 months, but it was a year of consciously doing things I wouldn't be able to do after children.) Therefore, I postulated that either 1.) Europe makes me ovulate or 2.) The whole milk, cheese, and chocolate that I tended to consume more of in Europe was making me ovulate. It also occurred to me that it might be some weird side effect of jet lag -- my hormonal clock getting thrown out of whack. In fact, this is probably the most plausible explanation. But that didn't stop me from eating more cheese and chocolate as we continued in vain to try to get pregnant.

So, here's another theory: trapped gas can cause muscle aches. How do I know this? Well, my back has been quite sore for the past week, partly as a result of lifting something I shouldn't have lifted. Last night, A. came home after being away for several days, and gave me a nice long massage. While he was doing it, I couldn't stop burping. It was the strangest thing. I just burped, and burped, and burped. A. thought I was about to explode. Now, normally, in my experience, husband-administered massages feel good while they're happening, but don't really get rid of the pain. But after this particular one, I felt almost 100% better. I attribute it to the burping.

I leave you with one final theory -- well, a hypothesis, really -- perhaps slightly less scientifically plausible than the others: The twins understand English. I swear, whenever A. or I say anything remotely negative or skeptical about life after these babies come--like "how the hell are we going to go anywhere with TWO infants?" or "maybe we should have waited another 10 years to have kids" or "I say we make them get jobs and pay for their own damned diapers" -- they start thrashing. Particularly twin B, who is closer to my mouth, and obviously can hear me more clearly. It gives one pause.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Yesterday, my aunt hosted a lovely baby shower for me, down in my Connecticut hometown. As I write this, I realize that the only time I seem to use the word "Lovely" with sincerity is in reference to things like wedding or baby showers, wedding ceremonies, memorial services, flower arrangements, and quaint hotels. If I were ever to attend a garden party, I'm sure that would be "lovely" too. Lovely can be nice, if one is in the mood. Fortunately, I was.

In attendance at the shower: aunts, great aunts, cousins, cousins-in-law, A's mother and grandmother, my mother, several high school friends, and a few family friends. I think I managed to do a good job of being gracious and grateful and refraining from making un-lovely, off-color comments as I opened gift after gift after gift. It was hard work, though. My mom took lots of pictures of me opening things and reacting pleasantly, but these pictures highlight the fact that in addition to carrying around two babies, I am carrying an extra chin. So there's no way in hell I'm going to post any of them here.

Instead, I give you a shot of the haul, above. It was quite impressive. Lots of cute clothes, blankets, toys, books, etc. Even a couple of gifts for moi – a "new mom" goody bag, a pair of awesome "thank you for carrying our grandchildren" earrings from my mother in law. Not shown here: two infant car seats, two high-tech high chairs passed along by a friend, and two bouncy seats.

Also not shown: the "room box" that my aunt made. It's like a dollhouse, but just one room (a nursery), so more like a diorama. It's got miniature wallpaper, carpet, two cribs, a changing table, and shelves with teeny little toys and baby products, including a box of Pampers, a tube of Desitin, and a bottle of Johnson's baby shampoo. It's quite, well, lovely.

It was one of several extremely girly gifts I/we got. Others included a couple of lace bonnets accompanied by a poem about how they're supposed to become the "something old" at each girl's future wedding (someone said, "and if one of them turns out to be a boy, he can give it to his bride" I said, "and if they turn out to be lesbians, well then…"); and a pair of pink tutus. According to the experienced moms there, many little girls go through a phase where they want to wear a tutu everywhere they go. We'll be prepared. There is actually a pretty decent picture of me with one of the tutus on my head. If I can figure out how to airbrush out my second chin, I'll post it.

I should note, I have nothing against girly gifts for my girls. Really, they're all very sweet and thoughtful things, and for all I know, the girls will adore them. I guess I just have a hard time getting excited about them because that's not the kind of little girl I was. It's not that I was a tomboy; I had dolls and even a dollhouse, I liked wearing dresses, I liked fairy tales, and I took ballet classes (though I never went through a tutu phase as far as I know). But I was much more into stuff like books and word games, coloring and painting, singing and listening to music, playing outside, doing the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, building particle accelerators, coming up with novel wine and cheese pairings, etc. It will be interesting to see to where each of my girls ends up on the girly-girl spectrum. (That's an actual, scientific spectrum, by the way; I read some articles on it in scholarly journals when I was three and a half.)

Another interesting little moment: my aunt reminding me (before everyone got there – thank goodness) that she had the family Christening gown to give me, and then wondering how we'd decide which one of the twins would wear it. It was the first time I'd actually told anyone beyond my immediate family (who could care less) that we're not planning to baptize the girls. It wasn't a huge deal; my relatives, with a couple of exceptions, are not uber religious. But the majority on both my father and mother's side are church goers, and it follows that babies in the family have always just gotten baptized as a matter of course.

The thing is, I don't consider myself a practicing Christian anymore, and A. is technically Jewish (his mother is Jewish, his father Protestant) but isn't religious. We don't belong to any church or congregation, though we hit a Unitarian service now and then, and may join a Unitarian church when the girls are older. And if they decide they want to become Christians or Jews or Zoararastrians, more power to 'em. Initially, though, they're just going to be little heathens.

A few more quick highlights from the day:

1. My great aunt, 90-something, mostly deaf, and entirely senile, asking me who I was after I kissed her hello. Later, apropos of nothing, while I was in the middle of opening a gift, she hollered, "I don't think I've seen you since you were a little girl!" I told her she'd been at my wedding five years earlier, but this fell on deaf ears. Literally. I tried talking to her later, but by then she'd forgotten who I was again. Poor woman. It must be disconcerting to be driven three hours to a house full of strangers and have absolutely no idea why you're there. But I guess as long as the food is good…

2. A's Grandmother, 96 years old: "Honey, when is the baby due?"
Me: "Early January, but more likely late December. And it's two babies, remember?" (she'd just given me two sleepers. And she's known since June that we're having twins.)
Her: Two?! How wonderful! Is it a boy or a girl?

3. One of A's relatives saying in front of the whole group – perhaps a third of whom knew that I'd used fertility drugs – "So, really, no twins run in the family at all?" I smiled and shook my head. She kept going. "It's just unbelievable, isn't it? Nobody in your family, really?" My mother gallantly jumped in at that point and said that my second cousin twice removed, in England, had identical twin daughters. (This is, in fact, true, but completely irrelevant.)

4. After A's grandmother and great aunt left, my deaf great aunt hollering, "who were those old people?"

All in all, it was a lovely time. To those of my dear readers who were there: thank you.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I am my own grandpa

Well, it's official: I am starting to walk funny. I've just noticed it in the past few days. I wouldn't call it a waddle, exactly. It's just a slow, slightly stilted gait. I feel like I'm being pulled forward by my belly, and the rest of my body is a few paces behind. Actually, I think I 'm walking rather like my late grandfather -- a sweet, rotund man with hypertension who played Santa Claus at church functions when I was a kid. I usually walk REALLY fast (friends always tell me to slow the hell down) so it's funny to have it take so long to get places.

And speaking of it taking a long time to get places: I'm starting to get impatient. I really want to meet these babies. It's not that I'm fed up with being pregnant (though a glass of chardonnay and a good night's sleep on my stomach or back would certainly be nice), and Lord knows I could use the time to power forward on this novel draft and do other things that I won't be able to do easily after they're born. But I'm growing a bit tired of being in limbo, not knowing what to expect. The more I feel these little monkeys moving around, the more eager I am to see what they look like and hold them and feed them and kiss their little cheeks. Then, patience has never been one of my virtues.

10-12 more weeks, if all goes well. Time waddles on.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How incredibly cool is this?

My company is doing major renovations to our office, and is going to be crowding everyone into one side of the office and then the other to get it all done --everyone, that is, EXCEPT those people who can easily work from home, including yours truly. SO, for the next 3 weeks (at a minimum) I will be working from home, only going in as needed for meetings/brainstorming sessions. Wahoooooo! The timing couldn't be better. I'm hoping that, as with most major construction projects, it gets delayed and extended so that I end up having to work from home right up through Thanksgiving when I say sayanora.

What else? Today I had an OB visit. The babies' hearts are pumping away -- wah, wah, wah, wah (that's my impression of a doppler). Baby A's heartbeat was 140 and Baby B's was 156 (she's the one who is generally more active, so this wasn't surprising.)

My doctor said my measurements and weight all look fine, though he could stand to have me be gaining weight a little more quickly. (The words every girl loves to hear...) This blows my mind, though, given how huge I feel. Also, I think he's counting from my weight at my first visit, at which point I'd already gained 5 pounds. From pre-pregnancy to now I've gained a total of 28 pounds. Given that I have at least 10 weeks to go (knock on wood), that seems pretty damned good to me. I don't doubt that I will top 40 pounds of gain, which was the goal all along.

My next visit will be on Halloween, at which time I will do the glucose tolerance test (bleah) and have an ultrasound to see how the bambinas are growing. I can't wait for that. Here's hoping there won't be barfing/fainting involved this time.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Ye Olde Pregnant Lady

We went to King Richard's Faire yesterday, an annual renaissance /medieval /whatever nerdfest on the South Shore, in the heart of cranberry country. It was a good, if expensive afternoon, rife with jousting, juggling, overpriced food, cleavage, tights, cloaks, etc. I kept thinking the whole time how much fun it would be to come back in a few years with the monkeys, preferably dressed up as princesses or pirates or something. (There were many cute, costumed kids in attendance, and far more costumed adults, many of them not especially cute.)

Anyway, I wanted A. to take a picture of me with something that would make me look less huge by comparison, so this is what we came up with: some big purple guy thing. Actually, I liked this purple guy, because while everyone else there was attempting horrible, terrible, no good, very bad (and no doubt historically inaccurate) British accents, this purple guy had a Brooklyn thing going on: "You want a pikcha, sweethaht? Soitenly!"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

And then there are days like today

When A. and I wake up and loll in bed for half an hour thinking up baby names (two is a lot harder than one, because they have to sound good together, sort of); and when I look out into the back yard while I eat my breakfast I imagine, a year from now, watching two little baby girls in sweaters taking their first bobbling steps; and I get a package in the mail from my friend Viva containing two of the kick-ass toddler t-shirt pictured above; and the babies are kicking and rolling and squirming all over the place; and I'm about to spend the afternoon writing, and the air outside is crisp and autumnal, and life feels pretty damned good.

Whereas yesterday, I was exhausted and out of it and blue, feeling as if my life, like some goofy cowboy's horse, had at some point walked out from under me, and here I was hanging onto a branch, feet dangling, wondering how long I'd be stuck like this. Only about 16 hours, as it turned out. Then, who knows how I'll feel tomorrow?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

OK, but seriously

Several readers have requested a follow-up to yesterday's post, so here goes: Fortunately, the fainting and my ignominious exit from the train happened at the Mass General T stop, which meant I could go right across the street and up to my OB's office. A T employee was kind enough to escort me to the hospital door.

One of the triage nurses saw me, took my blood pressure, checked the babies' heartbeats, and deemed everything A-OK. Fainting is pretty common in pregnant women, she said. It was probably a combination of low blood sugar -- I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast, but she suggested I start eating more protein in the mornings -- and the stuffiness/squeeziness of the train. So, I took a taxi home and spent the rest of the day napping / eating protein / drinking water / and even doing a little work. Then I ran 4 miles and lifted some weights. Just kidding!

The whole thing was indeed scary and unsettling, but at least there was no damage done.

I'm still not feeling 100% today. But I did have one helluva breakfast: an egg sandwich with cheese, a banana, a blueberry muffin, and orange juice. All this spread out over a two-hour span of time.

A. and I have decided it would probably be best for me to drive to work from now on, and I'm sure the employees of the MBTA would agree. Of course, if I pass out while I'm driving, I'm truly fucked, but I don't think it's likely. I promise to A.) Eat more protein in the mornings B.) Pull over immediately if I feel even the least bit woozy and vow on the souls of my unborn children never to drive myself to work again.

Here's hoping that this works out. Not that I would mind terribly working from home. But I'd rather not resort to it unless I absolutely have to. My plan is still to keep working as usual -- and I only work 3 days a week, mind you -- through Thanksgiving. Then, I'm going to spend the last 2 to 6 weeks of my pregnancy lounging around in my jammies, Christmas shopping online, reading books I won't have time to read later, and finishing my novel draft. Poor me!

Thanks for your concern. And remember to support your local performance artist!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hendrix-themed Performance Art Stuns Red Line Commuters

BOSTON -- A select group of commuters riding on the Red Line today witnessed an unannounced, groundbreaking work of performance art, which culminated in the artist--an unidentified woman in her early thirties, visibly pregnant--lying unconscious in a pool of her own vomit.

The performance began at approximately 7:50 am, when the artist boarded the train at Alewife station. For the first ten minutes of the work, she sat calmly reading a paperback copy of Middlemarch. John Clemson, 42, a biotech executive from Belmont who was sitting across from the artist recalls, "at that point I didn't realize it was art. I don't think any of us did. I just thought it was an ordinary woman on her way to work, reading a really big book."

The tone of the performance shifted when the artist began to appear somewhat uncomfortable, just as the train was leaving Harvard Square station. She began taking deep breaths and sitting up straighter, her eyes closed. According to spectators, as the train left Central Square station, she put her book into her bag and sat leaning forward, her elbows on her knees and her head reclined. Clemson recalls that at that point, he began to wonder whether "something was up."

The train was leaving Kendall Square station when "all of a sudden, she just, like, keeled over onto the seat next to her," according to Katie Donovan, 20, a Boston College student. "And I guess she puked or something, because when she got up there was stuff in her hair and on her clothes and on the seat. I figured she was just drunk. I did practically the same thing on Friday night. But I would never drink if I was pregnant. That's just wrong."

While train was stopped at the Charles/Mass General Hospital station, a passenger alerted MBTA staff to the incident. Another passenger came to the artist's aid, waking her up and asking her if she was all right. The artist seemed confused and disoriented, and after sitting up, began looking in her bag, evidently for tissues, to clean up the vomit on the seat.

An MBTA official then boarded the train and escorted the artist onto the platform. It isn't known whether he was a collaborator in the performance or was simply responding to the situation as if it were, in fact, an actual medical emergency. While the train was still stopped and the artist stood on the platform, looking dazed, several women exited the train and offered her napkins and tissues, which she accepted. Finally, she was escorted away from the halted train by another MBTA official.

"I thought it was brilliant," said Lawrence Cahill, a professor of art at Harvard University, who also witnessed the morning's performance. "When I started applauding, everyone looked at me like I was being insensitive. But I explained that, clearly, this was meant as a surrealist, post-feminist homage-cum-protest piece, most likely referencing the demise of Jimi Hendrix. It all made perfect sense: the pregnancy, Middlemarch, the fainting, the vomit, the bizarre yet telling search for tissues. Even the time and place: rush hour on a Monday morning, on a phallic-shaped mode of public transport. The influence of Koptenschauer is clear, and possibly Graemson. Of course, naturally one can't help wondering if there was a nod to DuChamp in there as well." According to Cahill, two or three other passengers eventually joined him in applauding the work.

"It was a little scary," said Somerville's Marcus Lowe, 26, a Dunkin Donuts cashier, "but I like how it challenged the definition of art. That's something you don't normally get on your Monday morning commute."

The artist herself could not be located for comment.