Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sneak Peek

How to tell them apart: Elsa (bottom) has a pointier chin and slantier eyes. We think she looks like a little elf. Clio (top) has a wider face and more turned-up nose, like her dad. We think she looks like a little tomato.

They share the same exciting array of interests: eating, sleeping, sucking on things, pooping, peeing (usually while they're being changed), making little squeaking and grunting noises, being the center of attention, and downhill skiing.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

They're Here.

Thursday December 28, 2006

Elsa Margaret Moock
9:28 am
5 lbs, 2 oz

Clio Rose Moock
9:37 am
5 lbs, 5 oz

Mom pushed 'em both out the old fashioned way. Everyone is healthy, happy, tired and thrilled.

Many more details & photos to come when we catch our breaths (so, a year or two, maybe?) I gotta go pump....

Love you all and thanks for your good wishes,

Jane & A.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Midnight, and the girls are ready to party. My water just broke, and we're on our way to the hosptital.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Progress report

And I'm pleased to report that there is, in fact, a little bit of progress. I'm 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated, so my cervix is starting to gear up for labor. But it's still anybody's guess as to when it will actually start.

As for the babies, they're a strapping 6-1/2 and 6 pounds. Yes, that's right, I'm carrying over 12 pounds of baby + 2 amniotic sacs and placentas. And yet, I can still walk upright and carry on semi-coherent conversations.

The only new quirk is that Baby B apparently has a bit more amniotic fluid than average, which means there's a higher chance that she could flip to breech after Baby A is born -- she's got lots of room to move around. But the doctor says (and we agree) we might as well try to go for a vaginal delivery if that's what we want. We just have to be prepared for the possibility of having to go to C-section for Baby B.

Gee, I could be lucky enough to have both a vaginal bith and a C-section. Who says you can't have it all? Of course, they may also be able to deliver Baby B breech without a problem. All this needing to be flexible and open to all possibilities is, I think, good training for parenting twins.

As for the induction thing, we still have our date with destiny scheduled for January 3 (a week from tomorrow) if needed, but I still haven't decided for sure if I want to go through with it, or try to wait it out a little longer. I guess I'll just see how I feel, if we get that far. It's not that I'm so scared of Pitocin; it just seems like part of the whole miraculous mystery blah blah blah of giving birth is letting it happen on its own, whenever it's "meant" to happen. I didn't get to experience becoming pregnant without medical intervention. Is it too much to want to get un-pregnant without it?

On the other hand, the waiting is definitely starting to get tiresome, and both A. and I are starting to get a wee bit stir crazy. I try to remind myself to enjoy the quiet, and also remind myself that the longer the babies stay in, the better. If they make it to 37 weeks (tomorrow) or beyond, they'll supposedly be better sleepers and have an easier time with breastfeeding and be capable of changing their own diapers and filing our income taxes for us and stuff. So that's a plus.

But still. Come on, girls. Let's get this show on the road...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

All is calm -- for the moment, anyway

I don't have much to post about -- really, I'm posting because I fear that if I don't, you'll all assume I'm on the brink of giving birth or already have. Because, obviously, in the midst of the holidays, you're all waiting on pins and needles, checking this blog obsessively, utterly consumed with thoughts of when I'm going to deliver. Because it's all about me. Me, me, me.

Me who is still most decidedly, uncomfortably pregnant.

What can I tell you....over the past few days, the sharp, stretching pains in my upper abdomen have gotten much worse. Yesterday afternoon, the pain actually woke me up from a nap and caused me to yelp. It's the strangest thing -- not like any sort of discomfort I ever expected to experience in pregnancy. It actually feels like a cut or a sore, but there's no evidence of anything on the surface of my skin; not even a stretch mark. What really sucks is that there's basically nothing I can do to relieve the pain. Icing it seems to help a little, but I can only do that for a few minutes at a time, lest the gals get chilled.

I'm having more contractions now, too, mostly in the evenings -- not Braxton Hicks, but the real thing, cramping up my lower abdomen and back. They (obviously) haven't yet gotten into a pattern of intensifying and coming closer together. Still, I take their presence as a good sign that things are progressing. I really would like to go into labor on my own, sans medical intervention.

In other news, yesterday I treated myself to a pedicure, then promptly ruined it by putting my shoes back on too soon. But that's OK. There's really not much improving the appearance of my disgusting, swollen feet at this point. The main reason I went was to be able to sit in the massaging chair and read People Magazine for a half an hour. And I'm sorry to report that it's official: Vince and Jen are no more.

It will be a quiet Christmas here in the Calamity household -- just me and A. and the cat, my overtaxed uterus and its residents, a pre-prepped Christmas dinner from Whole Foods, and It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol (starring A's namesake) on VHS.

Unless, of course, the babes decide to make a dramatic Yuletide entrance, squeezing their way down the chimney of life and bursting out into the gaily decked halls of human existence. It would be lousy for them down the road, I suppose, to have their birthday(s) fall on Christmas eve or day. But for me, it would be the rockingest Christmas present ever.

And, as I noted earlier, it's all about me.

And you. Thank you for reading, and for all your support and encouragement and enthusiasm. It's been great to have you along on this long, strange trip. (And it ain't over yet.) Here's wishing you a healthy, happy, peaceful Christmas (and/or Hannukah, belatedly.)

(Contracting as I type this, by the way -- bring it on!!)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Prayer request, News, and a Diversion

I know, I'm becoming a posting whore. I guess you could say I have a little free time on my hands.

1. Those of you who aren't already, please send your good wishes and healthy baby vibes to my friend the motel manager, who got some atypical amnio results and is waiting in limbo-land to find out what -- if anything -- they mean. I can't imagine how stressful and worrying this must be.

2. I saw my OB yesterday. Not much to report, except that both heartbeats are healthy, and the nurse I've gotten the past few times to do the preliminary checks is an idiot. Three weeks in a row now, she's asked me what I plan to do regarding birth control after the babies are born. Each time I've given the same response. (I plan to look haggard, unwashed and exhausted all the time. That oughta do it.)

This time, she also asked me if I was interested in taking any childbirth or childcare classes. WTF? I guess this is on her "questions to ask" list for the 36-week visit for singleton mothers. I wanted to say: "I'm 36 weeks pregnant with twins, you idiot. I could go into labor yesterday. I took my damned courses." But I didn't.

My doctor didn't have much besides sympathy to offer for the abdominal pain and tenderness I'm feeling, which seems to get worse by the day. All par for the course. He did, however, have me schedule a date for induction at 38 weeks. January 3, specifically. (At the front desk, they said "9:30 OK?" Umm...gee..could we make it 10:00? I have a hair appointment that morning....)

It's nice to have an end in sight, but I am sincerely hoping that I'll go into labor on my own before that. I'm not too keen on the idea of a pitocin-assisted birth. On the other hand, I'm not too keen on the idea of going on like this for more than two more weeks.

In the meantime, I am going to start trying some mild, natural induction techniques: massaging certain pressure points, trying to get out and walk every day (hobble would be more accurate), spicy food (this is just a wives' tale, but what the hell), and some other things too delicate to mention here. I may also make an appointment to see my acupuncturist at the end of next week and see what she can do.

3. As I was lying in bed last night, tired but unable to fall asleep, I amused myself by thinking up some clues for the babies' (proposed) names. If you're bored at work, or need to procrastinate, feel free to take a guess or two. I won't reply yea or nay to your conjectures, but if you guess both correctly, after the twins are born I'll send honey baked ham. Or perhaps something more appealing, like a box of chocolates.

Here are the clues (these are for the first names only, FYI):

--One of the names is that of a figure from mythology

--One of the names is one letter away from being the name of the heroine of a classic Hollywood film

--One of the names starts with a vowel

--One of the names starts with either B, C, or D

--Neither of the names are in the top 500 for 2005, according to the Baby Name Wizard.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Modern Medicine 2, Herbal Remedies 0

My prenatal yoga teacher has regularly extolled the heartburn-healing powers of papaya enzyme. So, a couple of months back, I went to my local natural foods store and bought me a bottle of papaya enzyme tablets, but they didn't do much if anything for my heartburn. Still, it was nice to think I was trying this nice, natural remedy. (Cue acoustic guitar and flute music.)

Tums proved much more effective. (Cue upbeat, 1950s style TV commercial music) For awhile now, I've kept a big bottle on my bedside, and popped a few each time I wake in the middle of the night feeling like I've just gargled hydrochloric acid. Alas, their curative effects are sadly temporary.

But you know what really works? Fucking Zantac. Yeah, baby. (Cue something by Zeppelin) I asked my doctor last week if there was anything besides Tums I could take, and he said Zantac was A-OK. I've taken it before bed the past two nights, and have had NO heartburn. I have, on the other hand, had insomnia from 5:30 am to 7:00 am, but I don't think this is related. And I'll take it over the heartburn.

Meanwhile, one of this babies is trying to tunnel out through my upper abdomen with her foot, or perhaps some small hand tool -- a putty knife comes to mind -- and it REALLY HURTS. I don't think there is anything to take for this, except maybe a big ole dose of Pitocin.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Waiting Game

It is a strange thing to be simultaneously wishing I'd go into labor already and hoping for a week or so more to savor my quiet, self-absorbed, childless existence.

Each day the twins hold off on making their debut represents a couple more pages of my novel draft, a few more hours of sleep, a chapter or two more of the books I'm reading (The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri). At the same time, it also means another day of annoying aches and pains, heartburn and fatigue, and, well, not getting to hold my fabulous baby girls in my arms.

There are several things that have been going on which suggest that labor is imminent: more dull lower back pain and menstrual-like cramps in the evenings and mornings, loose and frequent bowel movements (TMI? Oh well), increasing downward pressure in my pelvis/groin, and the fact that I seem to have stopped gaining weight. (Total net gain: 42 pounds.)

And there was the fact that this morning after breakfast--until A. ordered me to stop--I started cleaning the outside of the kitchen cabinets and dusting the baseboards in the living room because suddenly the house seemed irredeemably filthy to me. But I have these little microbursts of cleaning energy fairly regularly, so I'm not sure I'd call this the telltale nesting urge.

At the same time, there's plenty to suggest that labor is still a ways off. The babies are still quite active, I've had no down below, and my pseudo-contractions are still fairly infrequent. Part of me thinks (fears?) that this pregnancy is just going to go on ad infinitum. My body and its passengers have behaved so well this whole time, with no complications or problems or discomforts beyond the expected, that it wouldn't really surprise me if I made it to 38 weeks -- the point at which my doctor would be willing to induce me if I wanted.

So, I wait. I write. I blog. I wear the comfiest clothes I can fit into, and don't leave the house much. I do a little yoga. I admire the consummate tackiness of the Christmas lights and plastic figurines decking the porch and garden of grumpy old Tony across the street. I stare wistfully at our bookshelves and wine rack and grieve the lifestyle I'm about to lose, then go into the nursery and stare wistfully at the cribs and the little clothes in the closet and can't wait for all that I'm about to gain.

And I nap. Oh, how I nap. Pardon me while I go do some of that right now...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Conspiracy Theory

Yesterday we went to the police station to have them check whether or not A. had installed the infant car seats correctly in our new family car, the Subaru Forester. He had, much to his fatherly pride. Unfortunately, there is barely enough room for him to fit into either the driver or passenger seats up front without bumping up against the infant seats behind him.

We'll be able to make do, but when the kiddos outgrow their infant seats and we have to get the larger, convertible car seats that go in backward until the babies are over a year old, there's no way both they and A. will fit into the car. (Unless the babies fit in the infant seats for a full year and can go straight to front-facing, which seems unlikely based on what I've heard from other mothers.)

"You're going to have to get a mini-van," the officer informed us.

Now, I don't have huge aesthetic hang-ups with getting a minivan or a small SUV (our Forester is a utility wagon, not an SUV, remember?) If we need it, we need it. With twins, it's not like we can go around kidding ourselves and other people into thinking we're all hip and young and unfettered.

But the whole thing did get me to thinking: a Subaru Forester is not exactly a teeny car. And at 6'1", A. is tall, but not freakishly so. Surely in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, where a hearty proportion of the population, male and female, is pushing 6 feet, people have twins. Or have both an infant and a toddler, necessitating two carseats at once. Or even just have one rear-facing car seat, and a tall adult in the passenger seat who needs a litle legroom up front. But you don't see the roads of these countries clogged with minivans and SUVs, do you, now?

My theory: the U.S. government is in cahoots with big oil and auto manufacturers on this one. The Fed's "safety" standards require that all rear-facing carseats are ju-u-st big enough so that anyone over, say, 5'10, has to seriously consider upsizing to a larger, more expensive, less fuel-efficient vehicle.

What do you think? Who's with me? I say we take to the streets.

An amusing aside: the officer who told us we needed a mini-van also told us he felt sorry for us that we were having twins. Not because it meant we needed to buy a new car. Just in general. Ah, so nice to receive condolences for one's children.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dear God, what is that thing?

I had to use the watercolor effect on this picture to give it some semblance of aesthetic appeal. I mean, good lord. It just keeps on growing. Almost 35 weeks. The babies are almost certainly 5 pounds now. That means I'm carrying the equivalent of one really big honkin' singleton baby, plus two placentas and a double dose of amniotic fluid. Anyone feel like trading bodies for a day or two?

The pressure/ache in my pelvis is getting worse, particularly on the left side, which is where both little heads are. It's quite painful to walk, especially by the end of the day. Certain yoga poses still feel good, though. And A. got me an exercise ball, which I am sitting on as I type this, because it's more comfortable than an ordinary chair. My abdomen aches as the babies angle for space. I get weird twinges and cramps. My nose looks strangely red. (?) But I soldier on.

I am really loving not being at work. Some people have asked me "what will you do all day?" and "won't you get bored?" These are silly questions to ask a woman who is trying to finish a draft of a novel knowing that any day she could give birth to twins.

My pattern so far is thus: get up around 8:30 and eat breakfast while leafing through back issues in the stack of New Yorkers that is forever accumulating on our kitchen table. Check email, then write until around 12:30 or 1:00 or however long it takes to meet 1000 word minimum, taking occasional breaks to snack, refill my water glass, hobble to the bathroom, etc. Then, after lunch, I can spend the afternoon doing whatever the hell I want. Yesterday, I cleaned out my office, uploaded some CDs onto my iPod, and read some childbirth/care articles whilst lounging in bed. Today, I have a doctor's appointment and some thank-you notes to write.

I suppose it's possible that I could get bored with this sort of existence, but somehow I'm thinking I can handle it for a couple of weeks.

I hope you are all doing well, and enjoying the festiveness of the holiday season. I am, mostly in the form of gazing at our Christmas tree and declining invitations to holiday parties in favor of having friends come over, bearing food. One holiday nit: I was bummed to learn last night that a Charlie Brown Christmas already aired, way back on November 28. What's up with that??

Thank you all, by the way, for your labor advice. I should probably be more scared about the whole thing, but I'm oddly excited.

And, FYI, at the moment, T-Bone is my favorite reader, for kindly guessing 12/19 as my delivery date. Anyone for 12/16? 12/17? Please? Yeah, yeah, I know; the longer they stay in, the better. I just don't want them to miss Christmas. Yeah, that's the ticket....

Friday, December 08, 2006

Please advise

As D-day approaches, I'm thinking more and more about the realities of labor and delivery, and formulating something resembling a birth plan to give to my doctor and/or bring with me to the hospital when it's time. I'd very much like to have as natural a delivery as possible, and avoid pain drugs if I can. Not that I would feel like I'd failed if I do end up using them. I have no idea what it's going to be like, or how I'll cope, so it seems a little nutty to take a hard line on the issue, especially with twins.

Here's the thing, though. In a twin delivery, there added risks to consider -- a higher likelihood that one or both of the babies will go into distress, the possibility that the second baby will flip to breech during the course of delivery of the first, a higher chance that a last minute C-section will be needed. And then there are the risks of any delivery -- that forceps or suctioning will need to be used, etc.

The doctors are supportive of the natural birth thing, but would greatly prefer me to have an epidural, in case of unexpected complications, so I don't have to be put under general anasthesia at the last minute if time is of the essence. I don't want to be put under general anasthesia either. Seems like an awfully big moment in life to be unconscious for, and it's not so great for the babies, either.

A compromise would be to have the epidural catheter placed, but not run meds through it until (unless) it becomes necessary. That way, if they need to juice me up quickly they can, without putting me under. Again, I'd rather have nothing at all. And having had a horrible experience with a spinal tap, I'm not terribly keen on having a spinal placed, but most likely it would go OK.

Of course, nothing is hard and fast, and there will be plenty of opportunities along the way to assess how things are going. I'm just imagining I won't be at my most clear-headed in the the throes of labor, so I'd like to have some general plan in mind. Any words of advice or wisdom from those of you who have given birth (or not)??

In other news: yesterday I got a pre-natal massage (a most excellent shower gift) and they had the table with the belly cut-out, so I got to lie on my stomach, which was bliss. We also got our first Christmas tree ever yesterday, and it looks very cute in our living room. Expect pictures of babies beneath it. Meanwhile, I feel like someone is slowly, gradually prying my hips apart with some kind of medieval torture device, and I walk around like an arthritic, 12-year-old golden retriever when I walk at all.

Fa la la la la.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What ails me

--A host of new and strange aches, pains, pangs, cramps and twinges centered in my pelvis and lower abdomen. Sometimes they feel muscle/ligament related, other times quite uterine/cervical, and other times, well, it's just a baby doing a handstand on my bladder. I do not walk anymore; I lumber.

--The right side of my back and abdomen. Still. Ouch.

--Fatigue. A good night's sleep has become a thing of the past. I am up approximately every 2 hours to pee or change positions or down a handful of Tums for heartburn. And lately, once I'm up, I have trouble falling back asleep. Mother nature, preparing me for the sleepless nights ahead, is a cruel, cruel mistress.

--My maternity pants. None of them quite stay up over my belly anymore. This is a problem since at the same time, most of my tops now barely cover my belly either. And the bared midriff with linea negra look is so out.

--Bruce Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." It bugs the shit out of me.

In spite of these nuisances, I'm in a very good mood overall. And getting more excited each day. The majority of twins are born between 34-37 weeks, which means it could literally happen any time now. Any guesses? My completely random and unfounded prediction is December 27.

I should also note my extreme delight at the fact that tomorrow is my last day of work.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


I'm enjoying a sunny Sunday morning alone in the kitchen with coffee and the cat, listening to Handel's Messiah, and feeling quite blissed out. Finally, a few moments to write the doula post I kept meaning to write. (I'm sure you were all holding your breath…)

For those who aren't familiar with what a post-partum doula is or does, it's a woman who helps you in the first weeks or months after giving birth with everything from breastfeeding support/advice to baby care to laundry and cooking. Her main role is to "mother the mother" -- help mom (and dad, as the case may be) make the transition into parenthood without losing their sanity, and get a good meal and a nap now and then.

She'll come four hours a day, three to five days a week, for the first two to three months, probably. A.'s parents are generously paying for this for us. (At $29 an hour, we could never swing it.) My MIL actually wanted us to get a live-in nurse for the whole first month, but we opted spread their generosity over a longer period of time. 24-hour help seemed like overkill to us since we'll both be home, and my mom will be around for the first few days. And I'd like at least a little privacy.

So. Two weeks ago we met our post-partum doula-to-be, Arlene, who specializes in twins. In spite of her name, I think I was expecting a yoga-teacher-ish sort of woman, maybe in her thirties or forties. Someone who had backpacked through Southeast Asia and frequently baked bread from scratch and used all cruelty-free, non-petroleum based personal care products and wore cool, crafty jewelry.

But in walked a gray-haired woman well into her sixties, in pants that couldn't be described as anything but slacks, and a top that was most decidedly a blouse. She was carrying a woven Guatemalan bag, kept talking about having children as a "spiritual experience," and revealed later that she was active in a Unitarian church, so she certainly has an earthy streak. I mean, she's from Cambridge, after all. But if you saw her on the street, you would probably think "nurse," not "doula." (In fact, she was a nurse for many years.) I'll admit, I was a little disappointed.

This woman was intense, assertive, and fairly opinionated. At first, I wasn't quite sure what to make of her. But the more we talked, the more I liked her -- her practicality and no-nonsense attitude. During her one hour visit it was settled that the couch in our living room will be my primary nursing site, our sideboard will serve as a second changing table, we should start locking the cat out of our room at night to get her used to it, and she (Arlene, not the cat) will bring over a blender so she can make me smoothies. At one point, when she saw that was looking a little uncomfortable in the chair I was in, she suggested we switch places. I, of course, politely demurred, but she insisted. Next thing I know, I'm lying on the couch and she's arranging pillows around me. And I'm much more comfortable as a result.

She was not rigid, though; for example, when she suggested I use the chair in my office for breastfeeding upstairs, I thought about it and said that I'd rather not make my work space -- my sanctuary -- a baby space if I can help it. She was very understanding and supportive of that. In fact, she was quite warm and encouraging and generally maternal (or grandmaternal, I guess), but in a no-bullshit sort of way, which I appreciated. Mary Poppins meets Juliet's "Nurse."

By the time she left, I was actually thoroughly glad she wasn't a young, yoga teacher type. Because, I realized, if it were a young, yoga teacher type, closer to my age, I think I would feel more of a need to be friendly and sociable; to make her like me. I would be less likely to ask for help. But with Arlene, I feel like I really don't have to make any effort at all. She will take care of business. She will take care of all of us. Away with the maidens--bring me a crone!

A. liked her too, though he found her a bit intense, and didn't appreciate some of the more personal question she asked. (We got into a conversation about religion which was a bit odd, but I think she basically was just curious to know if he was Jewish, because she is.) I told him I agreed she was sort of a strange bird, but I thought it would be a good fit. BUT, I said, I would be happy to interview some other candidates if he wanted to find them and set up the appointments. Yeah, well, that sealed the deal. Arlene it shall be.

In other news, yesterday I went to Goodwill and bought a pair of size 7-1/2 shoes (a size up from what I normally wear) because my feet are so damned swollen that even my fab Dansko clogs are tight by the end of the day. I swear, my calves, ankles, and feet look like they belong to someone else. Someone very fat. I try to avoid looking at them, and urge you to do the same.