our babies have a birthday!

Just a quick update on Etta and Claire: they’re not even born yet, but they have a birthday!

I saw my OB this morning for my now weekly monitoring, and the babies and I look great. She had spoken to the Maternal Fetal Medicine team about our last ultrasound, and they decided that to be on the safe side, we should plan to have the babies at 36 weeks.

So…..April 2 is BABY DAY! It’s completely surreal to think we’ll just go to the hospital, have a c-section, and have babies in our arms by lunchtime.

I feel it is an auspicious date because April 2, 2006 is the day Jon asked me to marry him. Now that happy day gets exponentially happier!

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cursed sleep

At the beginning of my pregnancy, blessedly free from the all-day pukes called “morning sickness” that so many women suffer, my one persistent symptom (aside from having to pee constantly from the moment we got that little plus sign) has been INSANE TIREDNESS. Like, mono tired. Ran a marathon tired. Completely senseless tired. I spent a lot of time napping with Tinycat (who, it must be said, is a champion napper):

Now that I’m in the home stretch, it’s become frustrating because I’m still tired, and I’m increasingly incapacitated by my ballooning body, but I can’t. freakin’. sleep.

I know! Right this second, you’re thinking something along the lines of: oh poor naive dear, if she thinks this is bad, just wait til she has actual newborn twin humans on her hands demanding to be fed and changed and held all the time.

I KNOW!

And yet, it would be nice if I could sleep now. People say helpful things like, “Sleep while you can!” And boy do I wish I could. Between reflux (which is a nice way of saying “constantly throwing up in one’s mouth”), restless legs, difficulty rolling over which results in weird hip pains from being paralyzed in one spot, hot flashes, and having to pee every single hour on the hour of the night…. and I’m not sleeping much.

I’m thinking I might start “sleeping” on the futon in the nursery, not because Jon is somehow keeping me up, but because lying sleepless next to someone happily, deep-breathingly, sleeping away makes me irrationally, jealously angry. He’s off in dreamland, and I’m sitting there thinking NO FAIR NO FAIR NO FAIR.

In the meantime, not sleeping at night means lots of napping during the day, which perpetuates the vicious cycle. Perhaps I’m becoming nocturnal.

the BIGtime

I’ve realized, while pregnant, that people really have no frame of reference for what pregnant bodies are supposed to look like. Every woman carries her pregnancy differently, every woman gains weight in different amounts and in different places, and as a result, even those who have been pregnant or have experienced a pregnancy up close have no idea what we’re “supposed” to look like at various stages along the way. Perhaps because there’s no “supposed” and we’re all special pregnant snowflakes. Anyway, I say all this because to everyone I meet I am either ginormous or way too tiny to be carrying twins.

Here’s the real facts: I’m 7 months pregnant, I have gained about 30 pounds (which my doctor is very pleased with), and I’m officially measuring about as big as I would be at full term with a singleton. And I still have two months to go.

Though lots of folks still tell me how tiny I am and are amazed that I really “have two in there,” I’m starting to feel the effects of carrying around all this weight all the time. Basically, as I have tearfully told Jon more than a couple of times lately, I hurt somewhere all the time. If it’s not my ribs from the weight of two baby heads, it’s now muscular pain in my back so bad I can barely walk from my living room, where I spend a lot of time snuggled with a heating pad, to my kitchen. I get short of breath easily, and any sort of movement is enough to trigger Braxton Hicks contractions, which, while not exactly painful, are definitely uncomfortable. Oh, and the only thing I’m allowed to take for all this pain is a couple of Tylenol. Fun times.

I’m glad I’m not experiencing pre-term labor. I’m happy to let the babies cook as long as they need to. But I can’t lie and say I’m enjoying this part. It’s harder than I thought it would be and I’m kind of over it.

Which is why I was particularly happy that my marvelously talented friend Christen Byrd took some gorgeous maternity photos for us. I got them back this weekend, and they made me feel pretty at a time when I pretty much feel awful. You can see more of the photos on her site, and if you’re local, I HIGHLY recommend you let her “shoot” you sometime– wedding, maternity, engagement, family, newborn, whatever. She will make you feel great, she will make you smile real smiles, and you will not be disappointed.

BELLY! Photo by the wonderful Christen Byrd.

A quick update on Etta and Claire

Just got home after another ultrasound with our maternal fetal medicine team. We got to look at the babies, which is always super fun–just looking at them reminds me that all this near-constant discomfort and pain are worth it. I also know now why my right ribs hurt all the time: both babies have their big ole noggins on that side.

Baby Etta was called an “Amazon baby” by the doctor because she’s measuring a couple weeks ahead of where we should be at 28weeks gestation at 3 lbs. 6 oz., and Claire is just slightly petite at 2 lbs. 9 oz. The discordance is nothing the doctors are concerned about.

The best news was that neither the tech nor the doctors saw a defect on Claire’s spine. Basically, based on her head anatomy, the presence of a “lemon sign” and the fact that her cerebellum has been pulled down trapping some fluid in her ventricles, mean that there must be a spinal defect somewhere. But, the fact that they can’t find this defect means it must be very small and is therefore unlikely to have a very large negative impact on her. It seems more and more like the neurologists will have to find it after the birth rather than seeing it in utero.

We are so thankful and hopeful. Both girls look great and are growing well and we can’t wait to meet them!

thankful that no news is good news

It’s possible I’ve gotten a little spoiled in that I’ve yet to go to an OB appointment alone. Jon’s got a flexible schedule, and he’s been willing and able to go with me every time. Until today, when some very important disaster training coincided with my appointment, and he couldn’t make it. Because I’m spoiled, my stepmom came with me instead. It was an uneventful appointment, and for that I am very thankful. Just a quick check in, a chat with my doctor, and off on my way, with a pat on the back because I’m still gaining the weight I need to for the babies. No bad news in the ultrasound room. No difficulty finding two little heartbeats on the Doppler. No real problems to report except that I’m still insanely insanely tired, and the constant heartburn is a little annoying, but overall I’m pretty happy for 6 months pregnant, which still feels insane to say.

I am so thankful for this uneventful appointment. I’m thankful to have a great team of doctors and nurses and genetic counselors and care coordinators. I’m thankful that, even though Claire will have to be transferred to another hospital right after birth for surgery and care, it’s the hospital where my husband works, right by our house, and one of the best in the country. I’m thankful to have family nearby to take care of all of us.

In short, I guess I’m just feeling really thankful. Possibly because I’m reading One Thousand Gifts, which is a book all about the practice of gratitude as the central practice of the Christian faith, which is a really great read so far, even though I don’t agree with all of it. The author seems to suggest that God causes all things that happen to us, be they joyful or painful, and I just can’t get on board with the idea that God causes things that are bad. That isn’t to say that I don’t believe that God works all things for the good, or that we can’t be drawn nearer to God in all things, or that we can’t learn and grow from every experience that happens to us. But I just can’t agree, though it has been suggested to me by well-meaning people, that God caused, for example, my Claire’s spina bifida. I am sure it will be an opportunity for learning and growth and drawing nearer to God, but I don’t believe God gives anything but good gifts to his children. I can’t believe God would cause disease or suffering and pain and still maintain faith in God. Spina bifida just happens sometimes. Even if you take your vitamins. Even if you say your prayers. Because that’s the way this world works. And God’s heart is broken along with mamas’ and daddies’ when they find out something’s wrong with their baby. And God rejoices when the defect isn’t as bad as it could be. That’s what I believe.

And so, I’m thankful for uneventful appointments, and for hope for the future, and for days when we don’t get any bad news. And I’m thankful for arms that hold me when the bad news comes too.

six month pregnancy update

Jon and I last week.

I’m now 24 weeks pregnant. That means 6 months. Before I was pregnant, I thought 6 months was a whole lot pregnant. Now that I am actually 6 months pregnant with twins, I’ve discovered that while it is indeed a whole lot pregnant, I still have a long ways to go. Apparently I don’t look as big as folks think I should, because when they ask me how far along I am and I tell them “6 months, with twins,” they always remark how tiny I am. Well, the babies are just now breaking a pound in the weight department, and I have to get to 6 pounds each, so I have a feeling the growing is going to start speeding up in a hurry.

After our last ultrasound ended in scary news and tears, I was a little nervous about this morning’s appointment, but I have to say it went so much better. It’s always fun to get to peek at our girls, and we had a great ultrasound tech and a MUCH warmer Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist this time around. The great news is the girls are growing very well, with Etta (baby A) weighing in a little ahead of schedule at 2 lbs. and Claire (baby B) just slightly behind schedule at 1.2 lbs. There was a little fluid in Claire’s skull, but it looked pretty good, and there appears to be no sac on her spine, so again, the best possible scenario for spina bifida.We met with a genetic counselor and a nurse for the Arkansas Fetal Diagnosis and Management Program which will help coordinate all the various care Claire will need both before and after birth. We feel great to have such a good team of healthcare providers and are very hopeful for the best for Claire.

Both girls were still as wiggly as ever, and the tech managed to get one really awesome shot where it looks like Claire is giving Etta a kiss on the cheek. I realize it’s entirely possible that I’m only looking at this pic with a mama’s eyes, but I’m sharing it anyway. It’s sort of like a magic eye– don’t look too hard, and you’ll see two little faces, I hope. Can you see it?

Overall, I feel pretty good. I’m really exhausted practically all of the time, have been experiencing more and more rib and back pain, and am completely annoyed by all the heartburn. Still, I’m thankful I don’t feel too bad, and also thankful that I have plenty of time to rest when I need to. The craziest development is that we can now SEE the babies moving around in there from the outside. It’s a completely trippy experience.

cry/babies

I spent yesterday feeling sort of hungover.

From crying.

In order to explain the crying, I have to first say that I spent at least an hour snuggling my friend Kat‘s adorable, sleeping newborn on Saturday. It was divine. She nestled and nuzzled and made tiny bird noises and drooled all over my chest. I was in heaven.

And then, when we were going to bed and I was telling Jon about it, I suddenly started sobbing about how I’m never going to get to do that sort of thing with my babies because there will always be another one with needs and wants and OH MY GOD HOW DO I EVEN HOLD TWO BABIES AND HOW WILL THEY FIT IN OUR HOUSE AND WHY CAN’T WE JUST BE NORMAL PEOPLE WHO HAVE ONE BABY AT A TIME WE DIDN’T ASK FOR TWINS THIS IS TERRIBLE.

I cried so hard I literally couldn’t breathe, and then I cried harder because I can’t take any sinus medication. Jon stroked my hair and held me and handed me tissues and eventually I fell asleep, only to have another crying jag the next day when we started doing the great bedroom switcheroo to make what was the guest room into our bedroom and what was our bedroom into the babies room. I think the crying trigger that time was that we don’t have enough closets which became me not having enough arms for two babies which became me feeling insane which became me fearing that having two babies is really going to send me around the bend.

I think the twinshock has worn off, and twin reality is setting in. We’re undertaking a major life change. And while most of the time, when your life suddenly and completely changes, you don’t really see it coming until it’s in the rear view mirror, this change is looming up ahead like a mountain we have to climb, behind which is another mountain, and another. Add to this utter unknown the fact that I’m hopped up on literally double the hormones of the average pregnant woman, and you’ve got a perfect storm for lots of tears.

It’s not that I don’t think the babies are a blessing. I DO. It’s not that we’re not thrilled. WE ARE. But I think we’d also have to be in some sort of deep denial to not also be a little bit terrified, and we’d have to be blind not to realize that our entire lives are changing, and it’s OK to mourn that change a little bit. We’re processing some major stuff.

Will this be hard? Of course. Will there be a lot more crying in our future? Of course. Will we survive? Yes. Will there be a whole lot of joy and cuteness too? Yep.

So while I may feel a tiny bit guilty for being actually angry and sad about this whole twins thing (along with excited, happy, blessed), I’m trying not to beat myself up over these feelings, but instead, just to feel them. It’s a process. As I learned from my beloved Mr. Rogers:

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”