Thursday, November 30, 2006

Beastly babies

Ugh. I dreamt last night that I had the babies, and they were really big -- like the size of one-year-olds -- and rather hideous looking and could already talk. And they were totally obnoxious, snotty, demanding brats, and I hated them, but was trying really hard to love them. At one point in the dream, they morphed into rats, and one chewed the other one's ear off. Meanwhile, I had no recollection of the birth whatsoever, but my mother and husband assured me that everything went well. I did it all without medication. I was glad to hear it, then said that I should probably try to wrap up a few projects for work since my maternity leave hadn't actually started yet, and they agreed that that would be a good idea. The giant jerk babies were left to their own devices (whenever I dream about babies, they can somehow be left alone for long stretches of time without feeding or changing) and when I came back later in the day to check on them, they'd climbed out of their cribs and were wrestling on the floor of the nursery. God, I HATED those babies!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

And all the children are...average.

Just got back from an ultrasound / OB appointment, and am happy to report that both twins are still firmly head down (waaay down) and growing nicely. In the race to stretch their mother's uterus as much as fetally possible, Twin A, aka "The Bladder Banger" is in the lead, weighing in at approximately four and a half pounds, putting her squarely in the 50th percentile (for singletons!). But Twin B, aka "Kicky the Abdomenizer" is no slouch either, weighing in at approximately four pounds, landing her respectably in the 30th percentile. I like to think she's purposely refraining from outpacing her sister because she knows her mama wants a vaginal birth, and this is generally easier when the presenting (first) twin is bigger. So thanks, Kicky. Now could you please remove your feet from the top right portion of my abdomen where they seem to be lodged, causing me intense, constant discomfort?

Everything else is good. I didn't even get faint during the ultrasound, thanks to an innovative propped-on-my-elbows pose I decided to assume. And the fact that now they're skipping the tech and going straight to the doc, so I don't have to suffer through two whole twin-length ultrasound exams.

My OB confirmed that the menstrual-ish cramps I've been starting to have periodically in the evenings are, indeed, practice contractions, and will continue and probably increase in frequency, but as long as they're not coming hard and fast and more than four times an hour, all is well. At this point, actually, they probably wouldn't try to stop labor if it happened. But hopefully the monkeys will hang in for another three or four weeks. (And hopefully not much longer!!)

Only one grouchy complaint about today's visit -- in addition to the fact that they were running an HOUR behind (they're usually right on schedule, so it wasn't too aggravating just this once). A. and I always joke about how when the nurses come out and call people in, they garble the pronunciations or speak very very softly, and we have no idea how anyone knows they're being called. "Sqwggtttppbb?" they'll mumble, and someone will rise confidently to their feet and go in. Huh?

Well, usually "Jane" comes across pretty loud and clear. But today, a nurse came out twice looking for a "Yah-nay." If I hadn't been aware that this is the phonetic pronunciation of my name in Spanish, I would have sat there forever. But the second time, I thought I'd better check and see if it was me she was looking for, since there were no other takers. Now, I'm not one of these "learn English, dammit!" people by any means. But honestly, if part of your job is coming out into a waiting room and calling people's names, at the very least you should be aware of basic English pronunciation. Grumble grumble.

Oh yeah, and speaking of linguistic grouchiness, this morning I actually broke down and sent that email out at work about "flush out" vs. "flesh out." I did my best to make it funny, and it seemed to go over well. A few people actually thanked me, and told me it had been driving them nuts, too.

And then I felt a little guilty later because in the afternoon they had a little suprise baby gifts-n-cake thing for me. It was very nice, if a little awkward. Whenever we have these office celebration breaks -- usually for people leaving -- everyone just sort of stands around, smiles, then eats some cake. It seems like there should be a speech or something. But no one really takes charge.

One thing I'll say, though: when you're an advertising creative (yes, that's what we copywriters and art directors call ourselves: creative as noun. Obnoxious but true), and your work friends are creatives, you get good custom-made cards. This one featured a silly, hammy photo of me making a faux-vampy face at the camera (I was goofing around when we got our photos taken for the company web site), printed twice, with the line "Look out world" on the front, and inside "There's going to be two more of them." (I benevolently forgave the improper use of "there's" because it really does flow better than "there are.")

What was even better, though, was the rejected version, judged too racy to be presented in front of the whole company, but which my art director buddy showed me: the same silly mock-sexy photo of me with the headline (in recognizable type): Got MILF?

Don't know what MILF means? I didn't either until a few months ago. Look it up.

I know I said I was going to write about our fab post-partum doula, and I shall, I shall, but I can't stay sitting down any longer. Next post....

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Big enough for ya?

No, I am not concealing a globe, beachball, or prizewinning pumpkin beneath my shirt; that is my belly, now at 32+ weeks reaching mammoth proportions. It's taut as an over-inflated basketball, as my father recently observed, and sometimes I feel like the babies are straining for more room. Is it possible that I'm going to get even bigger? Yes. Sadly, yes. But get this: I AM STILL WEARING MY PRE-PREGNANCY UNDERWEAR!! Granted, not the more slight and sexy pairs -- what would be the point anyway? -- but still. My ass has not become pregnant. Not very, anyway.

Despite the joy and pride that this brings me, I am officially very uncomfortable. My back hurts almost constantly, as do the muscles over the top of my belly, particularly on the right. I feel generally stiff and unwieldy. I have to eat less and less per sitting and the heartburn is more frequent. The worst culprit, it seems, are liquids -- water, juice, etc., which fill and distend my ever-shrinking stomach. And, of course, I'm constantly thirsty which makes this oh so convenient.

But in spite of all this, I remain in good spirits, and am getting more and more excited. I'm just trying to be a trooper, get plenty of sleep, and get A. to give me lots of back rubs, which he does very willingly. (The other day, after a particularly achey, tired day, as we were settling into bed, he said "You're doing great," and it made me so happy. It's the little things...and the backrubs.) I'm really glad I've only got 2 more weeks of work; I'm ready to be lounging around in my PJs, not trying to look presentable and sit in a desk chair and uphold my reputation as a skilled professional.

Our Thanksgiving was a good one. Lots to be grateful for this year -- an uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy; the promise of two new family members; a Democratic House and Senate; health, prosperity, a peaceful existence, etc. My brother, parents, and in-laws were all here. They, and A., did the lion's share of the cooking, cleaning up, etc., while I served primarily as armchair orchestrator. ("Someone should check the broccoli. Time to start boiling the potatoes. Who's on dinner rolls? Broccoli? Status, please?) There was a palpable sense of excitement and preparation around the bambinas, and as we all said goodbye it was remarkable to note that the next time we see our parents, they will most likely be grandparents.


I don't have time now, but will soon post about our post-partum doula-to-be, whom we met earlier this week. Stay tuned...

(Quick fashion shout out: pants and stylish faux-suede over-shirt featured in photo are courtesy of Bihari. They will soon be passed along to the Motel Manager.)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Five things

I've been tagged by the Motel Manager to tell you five things you don't know about me, and now I'm wishing I hadn't revealed in an earlier post my favorite little surprise to spring on people – the fact that I did some professional acting/modeling, including a couple of national commercials, as a kid. Not that my career was particularly illustrious, but it makes a good party anecdote. Anyway, here are 5 other things you probably don't know about me.

1. I have an excellent ear for foreign languages and can parrot phrases from almost any language virtually accent-free. (I admittedly haven't tried it much with Asian languages). This gets me into trouble sometimes, because I'll be traveling or talking to a foreigner and say something like "hello, how are you," or "how much does this cost?" or "where is the bathroom," quite skillfully, and the person I'm addressing, assuming I am fluent or close to it, will launch into a fast, complicated reply. I then have no choice but to look at them blankly, say, "excuse me?" (perfectly), and feel like I've disappointed them in a profound way.

2. Dirty Dancing is one of my favorite movies. Not in an ironic way, and not in a purely nostalgic way either. Although I am well aware of its cheesiness, and the fact that it is pure soft-porn fantasy fodder for women, I actually really like it. And if Johnny Castle pointed at me to come dirty dance with him after I'd carried a watermelon up to the staff party, I'd be there in two seconds flat. You got a problem with that?

3. I have eaten the flesh of the following animals (in addition to the basics – chicken, cow, fish, etc.): African porcupine, monkey, jungle cat, alpaca, antelope, wild boar, buffalo, alligator, and grub.

4. I hate olives, and wish that I didn't. I like the idea of olives. They seem to go right along with things like cheese and bread and wine and even olive oil, all of which I love on both an aesthetic level and for their taste, texture, etc. But not so with olives. I really can't stand them. And it makes me sad.

5. I am related quite closely to Dick Thornburgh, former governor of Pennsylvania and U.S. Attorney General under George Bush the 1st. (He is my late grandfather's first cousin). I am related more distantly to Benjamin Franklin (I am a descendant of his niece, Polly). I am also a direct descendant of Sir Thomas More (whose daughter, scandalously, married the protestant William Roper).

And you, my dear readers? What 5 things don't I know about you? Feel free to post a reply in your comments. And if you've got a blog, consider yourself tagged.

A belly shot soon – I promise!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The End is Near

I saw my OB yesterday, and he confirmed my suspicion that the abdominal tenderness is most likely due to BFS (Baby Foot Syndrome), in combination with the overall stretching and straining of my uterine walls, stomach muscles, and skin. There's just a whole lot going on in there, he said, and the tenderness is nothing to worry about unless it gets noticeably worse and/or is accompanied by any bleeding or other scary symptoms. So, I am reassured.

I'm also suddenly aware that I'm very much on the home stretch, and that before I know it, these babies are gonna be on the outside. At yesterday's appointment, I was handed a stack of brochures about hospital birth procedures and anasthesia, consent forms, and birth certificate worksheets. I was asked how I planned to feed them (I almost said, "Well, I make a decent living...." until I realized she meant boob or formula) and if we had bought car seats yet. (Yes, and in fact A. and his dad installed them this weekend, just to make sure they fit, weren't defective, etc.)

The weirdest thing, though, was hearing the doc say, "We just want to keep those babies in there for at least another three and a half weeks." Three and a half weeks!! Crazy to think that they could be born that soon, and probably be more or less OK, with a little extra baking in the NICU. But I think they're going to hang in longer than that.

Then, last night, I did a prenatal yoga video, and -- I know this is ridiculous -- but I felt slightly sad about the prospect of not being pregnant anymore. On a psychological level, mind you, not a physical one. All the anticipation and hope and preparation and excitement are so uniquely intense. And then there's the apprehension at the prospect of suddenly having these two new human beings in our life. They may make my back hurt, but they're basically pretty easy to take care of at this point, and I enjoy feeling them wriggling and boogeying in there, so much a part of me. I'm not quite ready to flush them out yet.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Try a little tenderness

In addition to the aching on the right side of my back that seems to develop and worsen as the day goes on, I now am experiencing some pain/discomfort in my upper abdomen. There is a specific spot on the upper part of my belly, just right of center, that's very tender to the touch. (And often, when I press there, I feel some small baby part of some sort underneath....I think.) In addition, the general area of my upper right abdomen, right at the top of my big ole watermelon belly, feels like a pulled muscle or a stitch in my side.

My first thought was that the tender spot came from the vivacious Twin B's constant squirming, stretching, and kicking, and that the pulled-muscle sensation was just growing pains. But I made the mistake of Googling "tender abdomen pregnancy" and "abdominal tenderness pregnancy" and the like, and have now diagnosed myself with either a placental abruption or appendicitis. Damn the internet! Fortunately, I'm seeing my OB tomorrow, and hopefully he will be able to shed some light on this latest little discomfort and cure me of my paranoia.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm this close to sending a surly email out to everyone in my office informing them that the expression is "flesh out," NOT "flush out," unless they're talking about colonic irrigation.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Things I'm looking forward to

Specifically, those that have to do with not being pregnant. At 30 weeks and 34 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, it's starting to get a little old. I will look forward to....

1. Being able to sleep on my back or stomach or however I damn well please. (In what little time I actually get to sleep...)

2. Wearing non-maternity clothes

3. Wine

4. Not waddling

5. Not constantly aching

6. Not constantly having to pee

7. Did I mention the wine?

8. Not having cankles and swollen feet

9. Being able to wear my wedding and engagement rings again

10. Finally meeting (holding, feeding, dressing, soothing, changing, bathing, gazing moonily at) my little girls

On the other hand, I will miss...

1. Having an excuse to get out of events and social occasions I'd rather skip

2. Not feeling guilty about eating dessert, or eating in general

3. Not feeling guilty about driving to work

4. The simplicity of wearing the same clothes over and over again

5. Getting as good a night's sleep as I actually am getting, relatively speaking.

6. Getting massages from my husband that I'm not obligated to reciprocate

7. Having time to write

8. Having time to read

9. Feeling the monkeys kicking and moving inside me

10. The money I've saved by not drinking wine

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Breaths and Compressions

Yesterday we took our third and final baby-related class: infant safety and CPR. This was infinitely better than our childbirth class. Of course, now I feel compelled to insist that anyone who is ever alone with our children be CPR certified. The instructional video we watched included a harrowing scene of two grandparents babysitting their infant granddaugther. ("Don't worry; everything will be fine. You kids have a good time.") When grandma goes in to check on the baby in her crib, she's stopped breathing. She proceeds to perform CPR until the paramedics arrive. We don't find out what happens, but to my eye, that baby looked pretty dead. Then again, it was a doll. My point, though, is that neither my parents or A's know how to perform infant CPR. I think when they're here for Thanksgiving, I'm going to give them a little crash course. I'll demonstrate on the turkey.

No other big news. I'm feeling increasingly tired, unwieldy, and achey. A good night's sleep is a thing of the past; I wake up every few hours either needing to pee, needing to change positions (which takes some doing), or needing to pop a couple of Tums. The heartburn is killer, and what or when I eat seems to make no difference. It really is a cruel irony that in the last weeks of pregnancy it's impossible to sleep through the night.

The fatigue and achiness, coupled with the feeling that there are a million things I need to do, make it difficult to get in good, solid stretches of writing. And being on the homestretch of a novel draft is a surprisingly daunting place to be. I've been piling up characters and plotlines and now, somehow, I'm supposed to make it all come together and Mean Something. Knowing, of course, that most of what I wrote in the beginning will end up changing in the rewrite anyway. It's a little like running across a bridge that's crumbling behind you.

And sometimes I'm convinced that I've forgotten how to write entirely. The other day, I copied out a few paragraphs from a novel pulled at random from my shelves, just to convince myself that what I'm writing bears at least some passing resemblance to what is generally accepted as fiction writing.

I'm trying not to worry too much about how I'm going to get this novel done after the monkeys show up, and simply accept that it may take several years. At 32, I'm too old to be a wunderkind, or even a "promising young voice in contemporary fiction," anyway. The (Iowa Writers') Workshop sort of fucks you up into thinking you have to hit it big as soon as possible. Things like family, children, the need for income, etc. don't really figure in. I've tried hard to remind myself that there are many paths and paces to publication. (Julia Glass, for example, didn't publish the fabulous Three Junes until she was in her mid-forties.) But it's not always easy to hang on to that perspective. Especially when you see your classmates' stories showing up in The New Yorker or spot their books on the shelves of your local B&N. They're giving readings, I'm giving urine specimens to my obstetrician. It's my choice, and I don't regret it. I just hope I don't lose the time and motivation to write entirely.