Tuesday, November 3, 2009

back to the land of the living?

Maybe? Could there be a light at the end of this newborn twins tunnel? The past 15 weeks have been, well, excruciating, but I feel like we are figuring everything out and that some kind of normalcy may be in our future. Maybe.

I am not good with newborns at all. I crave routine and structure and newborns don't really provide for that, especially 2 of them. I also need sleep, lots of it, and newborn twins certainly do not allow for that to happen. Through the past 15 weeks I've gotten, on average, about 3 hours of sleep a night. I have done every single night feeding alone since M left when the girls were 2 weeks old and yes, I would like a trophy. I used to be really good at sleep deprivation but now, not so much. When I was in college I was so good at sleep deprivation that nearly every paper I wrote in my sleep deprived state would get an A.

Now, instead of spitting out great analysis of political theory, I'm just plain stupid. Like the time I made W a sunbutter and peach salsa sandwich, instead of a sunbutter and apricot jelly sandwich. Or the time I somehow managed to pick up a baby in the middle of the night, changed her diaper (while using their pjs as a wipe, instead of using one of the 40 thousand cloth wipes I have), prepared a bottle and then proceeded to feed it to her, before I woke up and realized that 1) there wass a baby in my arms and 2) that baby was naked and then had to try to figure out how said baby got into my arms and why on earth she was naked. Or then there was the time I looked outside and the concrete duck yard ornament thing was walking around the yard. Yo. Time for a nap! If only that were an option...

The girls are slowly starting to sleep better and become more predictable. They only wake up once around 3am for a feeding and life is so much nicer now that I don't have to pump in the middle of the night. It is my goal to be in bed before midnight every night but there is always so much to do. 4 kids can make a huge mess and even more laundry. I feel as though my entire life revolves around laundry, and food. Food food food. Someone always wants food, or I have pump so the babies can have their food, or I have to think about what kind of food I'm going to eat. It's not as simple as it sounds considering that out of the 5 of us, only W can pretty much eat whatever he wants as I'm back on the wonderful elimination diet for the twins' extremely sensitive stomachs.

So yes, things are looking up for the most part. I am still so far behind that I often wonder if it's even worth trying to catch up. One day I will have it all together again, I hope (and pray) but in the mean time I am just trying to maintain the basics and keep everyone fed and clean. Perhaps one day I will be back to my fun, creative self, instead of being the tired old witch that I have become. Maybe.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

long story, the anti climactic finale

After MJ's volcanic spit up episode, we left for the ER. We got there at 10:06, why I remember that, I don't know. The waiting room was packed-- standing room only. It was like walking into a cesspool of mucus and blood. Thankfully they were great about getting us into triage quickly, but then the waiting game began. They were nice enough to let us wait in an unused triage room until we went to the actual ER area so the babies weren't too exposed to all of the TB and swine flu floating around but it was still very scary to have such small babies being in such close proximity to so much nastiness. We finally got to a "room" about an hour and a half after we got there. I took up residence in the only chair in our little room and proceeded to feed a baby, and then the other, and then the first one again, and then the other... and time kept passing and my butt kept getting more and more numb.

There we were, 2 completely sleep deprived parents, trying desperately to keep the babies happy while staying awake and trying not to be totally pissed off that we had been waiting for what seemed like forever and had yet to even have a doctor poke their head through the curtain. Finally, after 5 hours I got angry and went to see what the heck was going on. Apparently someone decided it would be a great idea to drive their car in front of a train so most of the doctors were called to that trauma and the other doctors were seeing the other patients. 4 day old preemie throwing up blood? Not a priority. As we hit hour 6 of waiting, we decided to we had enough and were going to leave. I didn't want to wait any longer only to have an ER doctor to tell us MJ was fine and to follow up with our pediatrician in the morning. We already had a scheduled appointment with our doc at 10 that morning, so it wasn't even worth waiting anymore.

After getting about an hour of sleep, we took the girls to their appointment. The doctor wasn't really concerned about the blood in MJ's spit up (he figured it was probably blood she had swallowed during the delivery) but she had lost almost a pound from her birth weight and the doctor decided she needed to be admitted to the hospital to get her fluids and put her under the lights for her jaundice. Because our doctors don't have privileges at our hometown hospital, we had to decide if we wanted to go be admitted to a hospital where our doctors had privileges and could do a direct admit, which meant being at a hospital over an hour away from our house, or going back to the hospital where they were born, and where we had just left 6 hours earlier. That meant we would have to go BACK to the ER to be admitted. Not wanting to spend anymore time in the ER, we chose to go to the hospital over an hour away, figuring we'd only be there a couple of days, at the most.

Well, those couple of days ended up being 2 full weeks. The first few days we were there, MJ was put under the lights and was given IV nutrients. On the third day we were there, A was weighed and found that she, too, had dropped a pound from her birth weight, so she was also admitted. Both babies were given feeding tubes through their nose and we proceeded to embark on a strict feeding schedule for them. Every 3 hours they were to be fed, every other time through the feeding tube. They were "allowed" to eat from the bottle for 20 minutes for the feeds that weren't given through the tube. After those 20 minutes, whatever was left would be given through the tube. The idea was to make it so they didn't expend more calories than they were taking in, which was the problem with them actually breastfeeding.

So this meant I got to become best friends with the breast pump. There were 7 pumps on the floor, all named after the Seven Dwarfs. I got Doc, although there were many days that I should have had Grumpy or Sleepy. Every 2 hours I was to pump, and pump and pump. Most days I ended up pumping 1 out of every 2 hours. Lather, rinse, repeat. And with all the pumping came all of the pain. Within 2 days I had a raging case of mastitis that were caused by plugged ducts. And then came the milk blisters that were so bad even the Lactation Consultant cringed when she saw them. I ended up having to drive all the way back to see one of my doctors (not the one who delivered the babies) only to have him tell me that it didn’t look “that bad” and that I should just put Desitin on my breasts and they would heal right up. WHAT?! Worst. Advice. Ever.

I seriously started to feel like I was a vending machine and all I was good for was dispensing milk for the babies. Everyone else seemed to be making all of the decisions for M and me about our kids. It was so frustrating being told what I could and couldn't do with my babies and being told what we were going to do for them and when. We didn't get much input or say in anything, and when we did, and didn't do what they wanted us to do, they would stage an intervention to try to change our minds.

It was a really frustrating feeling. I felt almost detached from my babies, even though they never really left my side, except for the few times I had run to the store. The nurses, God bless them, meant well but there were times I just wanted to scream because I felt they had over stepped their boundaries. Like the time one nurse insisted on taking MJ out of the room without my knowledge while I was sleeping and proceeded to feed her 75mL for 2 feeds, when she had barely taken 55mL per feed on a regular basis. So when the nurse's shift ended, I ended up with an extremely over fed and fussy baby who screamed in pain the entire day.

We did have some amazing nurses though. They quickly became our outlet whether they liked it or not. Since all the babies did all day was literally eat and sleep, M and I didn't really have anything to do. And a bored M and a bored Joanna combined is not a pretty thing. Keep in mind that in the 5 years M and I have been married, we have only lived in the same house for 24 non-consecutive months, the most being 8. And in that time, we rarely, if ever, were in the same room for more than a couple of hours. So to be cooped up in a 12x16 foot room for days on end was not really a good thing for us. Or maybe it was. It was like marriage boot camp because we got to figure out how to live with each other again and when we weren’t driving each other crazy, remember that we really do enjoy each other’s company.

To pass the time, M would do his cross word puzzles (big nerd) and I would eat. And eat, and eat and eat and eat. I swear the second the babies were born I started eating and didn’t stop. I guess I was making up for the previous 9 months where I could hardly eat and when I did, hardly keep anything down. I ate so much in the 2 weeks the babies were in the hospital, it was ridiculous. I ate things I didn’t even like, like chocolate cake (3 times a day), cookies (at least a package a day), muffins and pastries… oh the pastries. They became an obsessive addiction. I HAD to have at least one in the morning, and then one in the afternoon. There was hell to pay if M didn’t make it down to the coffee cart in the lobby to get me a pastry before it closed at 2. Apple, berry, cheese, whatever. I had to have that preservative and saturated fat filled goodness or I was really going to die. And that was on top of the 4 solid meals and umpteen snacks I ate during the day too. The nurses got to the point where they would just go and get me a tray with a sandwich, cake, veggies fruit and soup for my midnight snack before I even asked because they knew I was going to be crying for it in the middle of the night. Let me tell you that I never knew hospital food could taste so good.

Our lives really seemed to revolve around food for those 2 weeks. While I was eating my way to a pastry induced stupor and packing on the pounds, so were the babies. Eventually, both girls got to the point where they were able to take most of their feeds through their bottles. Once they were able to take all of their feeds through their bottles and maintain and gain weight, we were able to take them home. A was discharged first, 10 days after she was admitted. MJ was discharged 2 days later, exactly 14 days after being admitted. They had come such a long way from when we had first got there. They didn’t look skeletal or as fragile. They were still tiny, but not as scary as they were before. It was such a great feeling being able to get out of there and take them home, but I’ll fully admit I was scared too.

M left to go back “home” 2 days after the girls came home from the hospital. W and CB had gotten so used to my parents taking care of them and their dad being around and they had a bit of a hard time transitioning back to life with just mommy, and then adjusting to having 2 little babies who took up everyone’s time and attention. They certainly have had their moments but I can honestly say they are such great kids and have handled this transition time a billion times better than I thought they would. I was seriously prepared to get Super Nanny all up in our business and come regulate but save for a few days, there hasn't really been a need.

The past 7 weeks have essentially been out of control but we have been managing. We are finally getting into a routine and I am getting brave enough to take the babies out by myself, and once I even took all 4 kids out without any help. MJ is suffering from some pretty wicked reflux, which makes getting anything done nearly impossible and is part of the reason it has taken me 3 weeks to get this post done. If she’s awake, chances are good she is screaming and wants to be held. If she’s asleep, chances are good she’ll be up within 20 minutes because she’s choked on stomach acid and needs to be soothed back to sleep. A is typically laid back but has her reflux issues too. Their little personalities are starting to emerge now and it is really interesting to see how much the temperaments they had in the womb are like the temperaments they have now.

Life with twins is interesting, to say the least. These two little babies have brought me to my knees in more ways than one and have taught me more about life and love than I ever imagined they could in these short 10 weeks. I am so incredibly grateful to be blessed with such amazing children and I can’t wait to see where this road leads.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

long story, the birth (unmedicated vaginal birth of twins)

**Disclaimer-- this is long, and contains some stuff that could be considered to be gross by some. So if you get queasy when hearing about birth or internal body parts, or you could never look me in the eye again after hearing about the workings of my internal body parts, you might not want to read this.**

After we left my appointment we went straight to the hospital. It took a bazillion years to find a parking space and of course and when we finally did it was like 17 miles away from the entrance. We off loaded all of the hospital bags and made the hike in, all the while dodging the stares of strangers and trying to ignore their comments. I went to check in at the security desk and the guard kept asking me why I was there. I’m in labor, duh! Since we had left the office the adrenaline had kicked in and I wasn’t feeling any discomfort, or contractions for that matter so I guess I had lost “the look”. We waited about 20 minutes in the waiting room and then were finally sent back to the L&D rooms.

The nurse lead me to my room and I changed into that dumb hospital gown and did the requisite peeing in the cup. Now, asking a woman who is nearly 36 weeks pregnant with twins to pee in a cup is like asking her to do a gold medal worthy gymnastics routine. It is practically impossible to pee in a cup when you are that huge. Pretty much all you can do is put that cup where you think it should go and pray for the best. It is all in God’s hands at that point. The only good thing about the process is that if you do miss, you are going to have to pee again in about 8 seconds so you can try again.

Once that was done I went to the bed and got hooked up to the monitors. There was only one monitor to track a heartbeat, so I asked the nurse to get another one and she was like, Why, are you having twins??? Um, yes. Oh! Well that changes things. Um, yes. We found the babies heartbeats and they looked perfect and then the nurse asked me how far I was progressed at the doctor’s office. When I told her she said he must have been wrong because there was no way I was that far along and looking that good/ happy so she was going to double check. Knock yourself out. When she checked me her eyebrows got really high and she said I was about 6 cms and 100% effaced. Even I was surprised by that because I really wasn’t feeling any pain and my contractions were minor, at best.

It was decided that we would hold off on my IV as long as possible because, well, ew! I didn’t want it but knew it was pretty much non negotiable because I needed IV antibiotics. I knew I could refuse them, but I chose not to. I also knew I could refuse general fluids but chose not to because 1, it was 106 degrees outside and I felt a little dehydrated and 2, should something go wrong and I need an epidural, I wanted the fluids in place so I didn’t have to wait. The nurse was so awesome about everything and truthfully was one of my angels that day. Never once did she ask if I wanted pain meds, she didn’t try to push anything on me, she just trusted me to know what I needed, when I needed it and followed my lead.

The doc on call ended up being my favorite doctor, thankfully. He is the most laid back, chill guy I have ever met. Something about him is creepily calming and comforting. He finally came in about an hour after we got there and the nurse kept trying to convince him that I really was 6 cms. He didn’t believe her so he checked me and found that I was 7 cms at that point. I certainly didn’t feel like I was 7cms. The entire time I was talking and laughing and cracking jokes bad jokes... it was awesome.

The IV antibiotics were started and we all decided to sit back and let my body do what it needed to do. Typically when I’m in labor I want to be up and moving around, changing positions at least every 20 minutes to move things along. This time I didn’t feel any desire to get out of bed. I was perfectly comfortable and content lying in bed. With W’s labor I was forced to be in bed because his heart rate would decelerate so much with every contraction and it was the worst pain I have ever felt. This time I hardly felt any pain. I also had a feeling that if I was up and moving, one or both babies would start having heart decels and I didn’t want to give the doctor any reason to call for a c-section. At one point I did change positions in the bed and baby B’s heart rate dropped dramatically so I immediately moved back and she was fine again.

Close to an hour after the IV was started the doctor came in to check me again. From my looks, no one believed I was in active labor, still. But I was 8 cms so I really was in active labor, well, technically transition. In my previous labors things always got really intense starting at 7 cms. I’d get shaky and start throwing up, hot and cold, cranky and need a lot of support. At that point I would always have to do focused breathing through contractions and it would take a lot of work and concentration to stay one step ahead of the pain. I was anticipating that to happen again so I told M to get the barf bag ready and to put on the iPod so I could get into my labor space. It was almost as if I was disconnected from my labor. I didn’t feel like I was really doing anything. There were about 3 contractions I actually had to close my eyes and deep breathe through, but I honestly wasn’t feeling any pain or much discomfort and that was starting to worry me. Leave it to me to freak out about something so wonderful.

The nurse came in again and asked me how I was feeling, I told her a little bit too good. She told me she wished she had a video camera so she could film me because my labor should be shown to childbirth classes. She had never seen someone that far progressed, being that calm and collected. Even the doctor was a bit confused about if I was actually progressing and I kept hearing the 2 of them talking about what they should do. The doc checked me again and found I was nearly 9cms, less than 30 minutes after he had last checked. All of us were a little concerned that transition was really going to hit out of the blue and we were going to have a “running through the halls to the operating room while I’m pushing “ scenario on our hands. I really didn’t want Baby A to be born in the hallway so we decided to break Baby A’s water and head to the OR. I wanted her bag broken because I really didn’t want to be laboring in the OR for a long time and I knew that once that bag was broken she’d be coming soon.

As we headed to the OR I felt a little bit like a celebrity. All of the nurses were standing around, trying to get a good look. I had apparently been the talk of the nurses station and they wanted to see if it was really true that I was 9 cms and hadn’t made even a groan. It was kind of nice to hear all of their comments at that point because the contractions were getting a lot stronger and I was really starting to feel them. I think most of the discomfort was really from being banged into doors and walls along the way though. Those birthing beds are too darn big to be pushed through the halls. We finally got to the OR and after making sure I didn’t have whiplash I opened my eyes and realized this was actually going to happen. Everything I had stressed over was going to take place in a matter of minutes.

The OR was cold, Lord was it cold. It was scary and sterile and made me want to wear my sunglasses because it was so bright. Up until then everything had been really calm and peaceful, but something about the OR makes everyone stressed out and kind of cranky. Suddenly there were about 4 other people in the room, trying to make sure everything was set up. The nurses were arguing over if they should break down the operating table for the birth now or later, there were other people walking around trying to find things, someone was telling me to move to the operating table while another person was telling me not to. Dudes, just figure it out and let’s get on with the show.

I was finally allowed to move to the operating table (oh joy!) and the contractions immediately started to feel worse but nothing like my typical transition contractions. That table was hard and I had to lay flat on my back, besides a small hard wedge that was placed under my right side. They offered me a pillow but they might as well have put a piece of cardboard under my head because it was so thin. I started to feel pushy so I told the nurse and she told someone else to go get the doctor. The doc was nowhere to be found at that point which really made everyone in the room nervous. They finally found him and he checked me and said I needed another 15 minutes and then it would be go time.

Those next few contractions were definitely the most intense I had all day, but I was still strangely coherent and not really in pain. They were probably the worst because at that point Pitocin had been turned on to keep my uterus contracting after Baby A was born. I never thought I would have agreed to Pitocin but I knew that I would probably not get to put my babies to the breast right after they were born to help keep the uterus contracting and from hemorrhaging so the pit was the right choice. I think I said half a cuss word as I was feeling the baby move all the way down and get in position to be born but that was the most vocal I got. I don’t know if it was actually 15 minutes from when the doc had last checked me or if it was sooner but it wasn’t long before I felt that glorious urge to push, and there was no stopping it.

Baby A was born after a few pushes. No one counted, no one cheered, no one told me how to push, it was perfect. When she was born I remember thinking she was so small and had a great cry, but I didn’t get to actually see her face. She was passed to my nurse who started checking her over, who then had to pass her to the NICU nurses because the doctor needed her help, urgently.

My worst fear had come true. Baby B had flipped breech as soon as her sister was born and she did it fast too. And the kind of breech she was made it impossible for her to be born, even if the doctor was willing to do a breech extraction. He asked for an ultrasound machine, which seemed like it took FOREVER to get there, and then the fun began. Everything I had read about twin births said that the worst pain you would ever feel in your life would take place if you had to have a version to turn the second baby without an epidural. And there I was, facing a version without an epidural. When I made the decision not to have an epidural I was very much aware of the possibility of the pain but I figured I would rather endure 5-10 minutes of intense pain than deal with all of the risks and side effects associated with an epidural through an entire labor.

Somewhere between talking to Baby B and begging her to turn and the doctor beginning the version, I went into some kind of freaky trance. I didn’t feel pain, just a lot of pressure. I spent the next 15 minutes fully aware of everything that was going on, but in a weird way. It was almost like it was happening to someone else and I was just watching.

There were about 5 hands on my belly, some holding the space where baby A had been, others moving the butt and others moving the head. The doctor was holding the ultrasound wand thingamajig with one hand and internally moving the baby while trying to keep her cord from prolapsing with the other. That was quite possibly the weirdest feeling I have ever felt. It was one of those things that made me think, “Is he really doing this? Oh, yeah, his hand really is IN my uterus right now. Ok.” And then he kept asking for longer gloves… Seriously, are you going to reach up there and pull my teeth? If I wanted my teeth pulled I would have gone to my dentist! What do you need longer gloves for?! And then all I could really think about at that point was that he was eventually going to ask for the gloves that dairy farmers use when cows are born. If you grow up where I am from, it is pretty much mandatory that you see a cow being born by the time you are in 5th grade. It's like a right of passage. The picture that always sticks in your head after you see a cow being born is of the farmer with a plastic glove all the way to his shoulder, pulling the baby cow out from inside the mama cow. And that is what I was thinking of the last 5 minutes of the version. What a lovely image to have in my head right before the birth of my daughter, no?

Thankfully, he didn’t need gloves that went up to his shoulder, although the last pair did come up to his elbow. They had moved baby B into position to be born in about 15 minutes. But then, her heart rate dropped. Well, more like plunged and wasn’t showing any signs of recovering. She needed to be born right then, but that wasn’t going to be possible. Little Miss Baby B had moved both hands above her head, and well, babies can’t really come out that way. I will never forget the look in the doctor’s eyes when he looked at me and told me he had to do a c-section. He knew how much I didn’t want one and how freaked out I was about it. I knew that he didn’t want to give me one and had tried everything possible to get Baby B to be born vaginally. There just weren’t any other options.

The anesthesiologist had been waiting outside and practically ran in the room when he heard the words “c-section”. The room erupted into chaos. Monitors were being put all over my chest, people were pulling things from cupboards and drawers and opening the surgical tools, other people were yelling instructions and then having to repeat them because no one was listening. It was nuts. And there I was, laying on that cold cold table with a billion thoughts running through my head. Everything was happening so fast and there was so much to say. I was trying to make sure that Baby A was ok, tell M that he had better not name the babies before I came out of the general anesthesia and that I loved him, tell the doctor to do a double suture when he stitched up my incision just incase we wanted to have another baby in the very distant future so I would have a better chance at having a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), curse at the life insurance company for denying me coverage just 3 weeks earlier for “excessive weight gain over the past year” because I didn’t know if something was going to go wrong or how I was going to react to the anesthesia and there was no way M was going to be able to afford daycare for 4 kids if I suddenly kicked the bucket… and trying not to show that I was completely out of my mind freaked out that this was going to happen. It was a very lonely place to be.

While everyone was prepping for the c-section, the doctor had kept his hand inside my uterus to keep the cord from coming down and the ultrasound wand thing on my belly to continue to monitor the baby. I remember laughing because he thought it was so cool that he could see his fingers on the ultrasound as he was holding Baby B in place. I am so thankful he happened to mention that little discovery because it lightened the mood in the room and took some of the focus off of all of the scary stuff.

The anesthesiologist ordered that the Pitocin be turned off and started mixing his magic potions to put me under. And all of the sudden my doctor told everyone to stop and back off. He saw that Baby B had moved her hands and told me he was going to pull her down and I was going to push her out… quickly. Then chaos erupted again. The doctor ordered for the pit to be turned back on, the anesthesiologist was asking what the heck was going on, I was trying to get my mind out of the fearful state and back into the “let’s get down to business” state, and the nurses were trying to put all of the things they needed for a vaginal birth back in place. No more than 30 seconds and 2 pushes later, Baby B was born, just 17 minutes after her sister. No drugs, no c-section, no noise. It was just as perfect as when Baby A was born.

Now, I’m not one to typically be like, "The doctor saved me” when it comes to birth. I normally can’t stand it when people say that, but this time it was true. He really did save me from something that I did not want and made it so my babies were born safe and healthy and that I was safe and healthy too. I will forever be grateful to him for trying so hard to give me what I needed and respecting me and my knowledge and trusting me and my body to do what it needed to do to birth these babies. Never once did he look down on or question my choices, he never made me feel like an idiot or forced me into anything. He didn't have to do what he did. When she turned breech he could have said game over and not have even tried to flip her, but he didn't. Instead he fought for me and I think he learned a lot along the way, too. As he was leaving the Operating Room he came and shook my hand and told me he didn't think he could do what he just did. I told him I wasn't sure if I should be flattered or frightened, but I knew what he meant. The next morning when he came to check on me and we chatted about the birth. I told him that was the easiest labor I had ever had, or seen, and he said, "Really? Because that was, by far, one of the most harrowing deliveries I have ever done." Oh crap! I didn't think it was that bad. And that right there is the beauty of endorphins.

After Baby B was born and I was cleaned up I finally got to see my precious babies. While the nurses were examining the placentas I had asked them to order a test to see if the babies were identical. Even though they had 2 separate sacs and placentas, there was still a 25% chance they could be identical. But once I saw the babies I told the nurses to scratch that because these babies were in no way identical. I couldn’t believe how different they looked! It was sort of surreal to be holding my babies. I had stressed so much about their pregnancy and delivery and there they were. In the course of 4 hours, the focus of the past 8 months had actually taken place and it was over. When you hold one baby in your arms for the first time it’s a pretty intense feeling but to hold 2? It is indescribable. A combination of wow! and holy crap they are both mine! with a bunch of other ooey gooey mushy stuff thrown in.

During the chaos of the delivery, somehow the bed I had labored in had been lost and my labor room was given away. Apparently while I was in the later stages of labor everyone and their sister decided to go into labor too and all of the rooms filled up. So I got to go recover in the surgical recovery room, on a gurney. At that point I almost asked for an epidural because those gurneys aren’t so comfortable. Thankfully I was on a birth high so I didn't really care. We waited in the recovery room for about an hour while I scarfed down some hospital food and the nurse did her charting. She kept saying over and over that she couldn’t believe I had an unmedicated vaginal birth of twins and that I was a very rare case in that hospital.

The babies were weighed and measured and then we noticed Baby A was turning a not so nice shade of gray so both babies were sent to the nursery to be monitored. Then I was finally moved to my postpartum room. The postpartum floor was completely full so I got to spend the next 2 days on the pediatrics floor. That actually worked to our advantage because we got a private room instead of having to share. The babies were brought back to me after about 3 hours and I finally got to hold them and get a really good look at them. Then the Great Name Debate of 2009 began. It took us almost 36 hours and a few tears to name them, but we finally settled on 2 pretty much perfect names.

W and CB got to meet their sisters the morning after they were born. CB had always been my little tiny baby but when I saw her that morning I couldn’t believe how big she really was. W seemed to have turned from a little kid to a little man over night too. They were both so excited to see their new sisters it was really sweet how they wanted to look at their little toes and hold the babies. Seeing my 4 kids all together for the first time was a little overwhelming, to say the least.

We were discharged almost 48 hours after the girls were born, even though they were born a little early at 35 weeks, 6 days. **NOTE** we now know MJ was actually born late in the 34th week and A was born early in the 35th week-- 2 different conception dates and my original due date was off by over a week** They appeared to be doing fine and they seemed to be breastfeeding well so the on call pediatrician felt ok letting us go, as long as we followed up with our regular pediatrician the next day. The first day and night home were a little overwhelming but we managed, somehow. The next day I noticed MJ was having a little difficulty with some fluid in her stomach and she was spitting up more. Then the second night we were home, while I was feeding her, I heard her stomach rumble and then she had the biggest spit up I had ever seen from a baby that small. M took her to the bathroom to change her and came back out to ask me if she had ever had blood in her spit up before because there was brownish blood all over her little pajamas. And in that moment, my happy little world disappeared and I freaked. Less than an hour later, we were back at the hospital where they were born, heading into the ER.

(more to come…)

Friday, August 21, 2009

long story, part 2

The second I found out I was having twins, I began mourning the loss of my birth experience. Dramatic? Probably. But would you expect anything less from me? I am a natural birth girl. Medication, needles, scalpels and augmentation are not for me and quite frankly freak me out. I don’t care if you want drugs during birth or would prefer to have a c-section but all of those things are not my cup of tea. I gave birth to W and CB without so much as a Tylenol because I’d rather have the pain of labor than deal with all of the interventions and their side effects.

When you give birth to twins, the chance of you having intervention is extremely high and the chance of you having a c-section is over 50%. Plus, most hospitals require you to deliver in the operating room, on the operating table. Whoever came up with that idea was clearly a man, because they have obviously never had to think about what it would feel like to go through the hardest part of labor flat on their back on a “bed” that feels more like a slab of concrete.

Coming to terms with the possibility that my birth was most likely going to be filled with things I didn’t want was very difficult. I agonized, cried and had panic attacks over it for weeks. After seeking the advice of other (amazing) doulas and doing some serious soul searching, I finally started to feel peace about the possible ways I would birth these babies. That being said, I was very prepared to fight for what I wanted and needed during the birth and I was not planning on being a complacent patient.

I knew that in order to have a birth that somewhat resembled the ideal I had in my head, I would need to have a doctor who was ok and on board with at least some of my desires. Out of the 4 doctors in the practice, 2 were ok with the fact that I didn’t want an epidural or even want the catheter placed but only 1 of those 2 was ok with delivering a breech baby, should baby B turn breech after baby A was born. 1 of the doctors in the practice told me that he required all of his “twin mommies” to have an epidural and if I didn’t get an epidural, he would just go straight to a c-section and wouldn’t even let me labor. Um, WHAT?! First of all, did you just say “mommies”? And second, how the HECK does that make any sense?? Freaking control freak. Then he went on to tell me that there weren’t any risks to having an epidural… Really? Homeboy had no idea who he was talking to. Don’t even try to pull that crap on me. And the other doctor was the doctor that I talked about in my previous post.

I firmly believe that labor is a mind over matter thing. If you are not 100% mentally ready to labor, you will not go into labor and if you do go into labor, it will not be an effective or efficient labor. Every time my contractions would pick up, I would call the office to see who was on call at the hospital that day and if it was one of the 2 who scared the crud out of me, my contractions would stop.

The night before I went into labor started out like any other night. But then M made us dinner, and decided to add some extra red pepper flakes to it. After dinner my stomach started to get upset and I silently started cursing at him for giving me food poisoning. Then it hit me that this could be my body getting ready for labor so I decided to take a walk around the field across the street. We had barely made it down the driveway before I had a contraction. By the time M and I were halfway around the field, I was getting uncomfortable. I made it home as the contractions picked up, as did my upset stomach. A couple of hours later I was feeling better, but the contractions were still happening every 7-10 minutes. I knew that night the “no epidural = straight to c-section” doc was on call, so I decided to go to sleep and prayed hard the contractions would slow down or stop until at least 7 the next morning.

Through the night I was woken up a few times from contractions, but they weren't horrible. Around 7 I got up and got the kids ready for school, got myself dressed and then we left the house. I told M to grab the bags, just in case. I wasn’t feeling too bad, but I felt a lot of cramping. After we dropped the kids off at school we went to get the oil in the van changed. As we were waiting in line I started feeling more cramping. When we finally got to the counter to check the car in, I told the guy we had to have the car done by 10:45 because I had a doctor’s appointment across town at 11:20. I jokingly added that I didn’t think he wanted me to give birth on the shop’s floor. He said no! and promised to have the car done by 10:30.

As we walked (well, I waddled) into the waiting area, this woman turned to me and said the dreaded, “Oh my! You look like you are going to POP!” Without thinking, I bitterly responded, “I do NOT pop.” That should have been my first clue that something was up. The van was done, as promised, at 10:30 so we had some time to kill before my appointment. We went to a bookstore and looked around, got the kids some books and M got some crossword puzzle books because he's a big fat dork. I was feeling more and more tired and crampy and anxious to get to my appointment. I was hungry so I went to Starbucks to get a snack, but took one bite of it and decided that I really didn’t want to eat anything. Obvious clue I was in labor #2.

When we got to the appointment, all of the girls at the front desk exclaimed that I needed to have those babies that day—I guess I had “the look”. I told them that I would give them 20 bucks to go back and convince the doctors that today was the day. I told them they could say I went all “crazy pregnant lady” on them and jumped over the counter and held them at knife point, I didn’t care, I just needed these babies out. The doctor I was seeing that day was the doctor that I had seen in L&D 2 days earlier. When he walked in the room he said he was completely surprised that I was still pregnant and that after we had left the hospital 2 days earlier, he regretted not augmenting my labor because he was sure we were going to show up at L&D that night and he really didn’t want to deliver the twins at 2:30 in the morning. Yeah, you wish dude.

When he finally checked me, I was 5cm and 100% effaced and at a 0 station. For those of you who don’t speak birth, that means I was pretty much halfway to the point at which the babies would be born. It was go time, for real this time. Even though I wasn't feeling like I was in active labor, or even labor for that matter, I had a sneaking suspicion that if we went home instead of going to the hospital, the babies would probably be born in the car on the way to the hospital later that day.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

long story, part 1

I guess you could say that labor really started about 3 weeks before the girls were born. I had an appointment and asked the doctor to check to see if I had dilated at all because I felt different. The doctor told me he was sure I was fine, but checked anyway and was really surprised to find I was 4 cm dilated and about 80% effaced. He sort of freaked out and sent me over to Labor and Delivery to make sure that I wasn't having regular contractions. At the hospital they found I was having contractions but they slowed down after a shot of meds. Just to be on the safe side, I also got a shot of steroids to help the babies lungs mature, should they decide to fall out of my uterus in the coming days. I was allowed to go home, with orders to drastically reduce my activity and "take it easy".

As awesome as bedrest sounds to some people, let me assure you, it was torture. Not because it was boring, but because it was literally painful to lay down and be still for more than 5 minutes at a time. So I did the "take it easy" route. For 2 and a half weeks, there was no change in my cervix, despite full days and nights of contractions every 3-10 minutes. After contractions non stop for no reason for that long, your muscles start to hurt and you start to get tired, and cranky... very, very cranky. By the time I was 35 weeks, I was at the end of my rope. As much as I wanted my babies to stay in and grow, I NEEDED them out and I started really believing that they were never going to come. The frustration I felt was bordering on ridiculous. I knew in my right mind that they babies would come when they were ready, but my irrational mind was convinced that they were NEVER going to come.

2 days before the babies were born I had a routine appointment and the doctor made the mistake of asking me how I was feeling. After I was done laying into him, he checked my cervix and found that I was still 4 cm but 100% effaced and I was contracting. He apparently hadn't read my chart to see that I had been this way for nearly 3 weeks, and freaked out because he thought I was in active labor. He ordered me to go to Labor and Delivery because he was sure I was going to have the babies that day and I needed a round of antibiotics before the babies were born. His eyes just about bugged out of his head when I asked him if I had time to run to the Apple Store to get my computer fixed before we went to the hospital. So we headed over to L&D, not really understanding why we were going.

When we got there, there was a lot of confusion about why we were there. I knew I wasn't in labor but he didn't and I apparently didn't convey the message to him very well. Was I going to be induced? Did he want me to get the antibiotics before I was in labor? Who knew. So we waited for the on call doc from the practice to come in and see me. And low and behold, the on call doc happened to be the baby doctor of the practice. I had only seen him once before but when I first met him I honestly had a lot of reservations about him attending the birth of my twins. I didn't know how much experience he had in doing twin deliveries and I feared that he would just go the "safe" route and scare me into a c-section so he could be in complete control of the delivery, and therefore minimizing the chance of any "surprises" happening.

The doc decided that I was much too happy to be in active labor, even though I was having contractions every 2-6 minutes, so I was to be monitored for a few hours before we decided what to do. At some point I asked him if he would do a breech delivery of Twin B, should she flip after Twin A was born. And I'm pretty sure his exact words were, "Oh HEEEEEEEEEEEEEELL to the NO!" He then informed me that he wouldn't even try to flip her back and if she went breech, he would go straight to a c-section because he was never taught how to do a breech delivery and that he wasn't comfortable with doing a version during labor. Insert the sound of my contractions coming to a screeching halt. Seriously, in that moment, my contractions went to about every 12 minutes. I very much appreciated his honesty and I was also glad to know that my gut feeling was right about his experience and get confirmation that he was not the right doctor to attend the birth of my girls.

A couple of hours later, we decided that I was not in active labor (duh) but that M and I were going to stay in the area for a few more hours just in case the contractions picked up again. As we were leaving, I told M that I was pretty sure the doc was racing home to do a cram session on twin deliveries, while stopping at the church to light a candle and say a prayer that we weren't going to show up at L&D at 2:30 in the morning.

We went to get some lunch after we left the hospital. Let me tell you, the way to get a table quickly when there’s a wait time is to tell the hostess you are actually in labor when she asks you what your due date is. Works every time. The fact that I ate lunch, which was delicious, and managed to keep it down told me that the babies were not going to be born that day. That in itself was both comforting and incredibly anticlimactic at the same time. The next 24 hours were almost blissful. The contractions were few and far between, I was able to sleep well and I actually had a little bit of energy. I guess my body knew what was going to happen in the next day…

Thursday, August 6, 2009

short story

Our baby girls were born nearly 3 weeks ago after a nearly pain free and relatively fast labor. The labor itself was incredibly uneventful, the delivery, however, was a bit harrowing but everything turned out just fine. Baby A, who will now be called "A" in the blog, weighed 5 pounds 13 ounces and was 19 inches long and Baby B, who will be called "MJ" in the blog, weighed 5 pounds 8 ounces and was 18 inches long.

We stayed in the hospital for exactly 48 hours before we were booted. I'm sure they would have kicked us out sooner but because the girls were born at 35 weeks, 6 days, they wanted to observe them for an extra day. They should have kept us longer because less than 2 days later we ended up in a different hospital, over an hour away from home, because MJ had dropped a pound from her birth weight and wouldn't eat. 2 days after MJ was admitted, A was also admitted for the same reason. We ended up staying in the hospital for 2 weeks, until both of them had gained their weight back and could take their feeds completely by mouth, instead of just through the feeding tube or by bottle and feeding tube. Thank goodness I was able to stay with them the entire time because I think I would have lost my mind otherwise.

Now we are trying to get our bearings and figure out life because nothing is the same as it was 3 weeks ago. I haven't even gotten a chance to download the pictures off the camera from when the girls were born. I will post the long story of their birth and everything else that happened after, in the next couple of days. Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

locked n loaded

I have officially reached the point of being done with this pregnancy. Yes, it's early, but my body doesn't seem to think so because it's just rearing to birth these babies. Baby A is locked and loaded and not giving up her coveted "first one out" spot for anything. She's so low that my belly now rests on my lap whenever I sit down. I guess I'm waddling now because a few days ago W came walking into the room like a penguin, with his hands on his hips and hips sticking out, while saying, "Look! I'm walking like mommy!!" Someone needs to teach that kid some manners.

It's gotten to the point where I scare people when I'm in public, especially men. Police officers, construction workers, random guys in the store, the dads who drop their kids off at my kids preschool all seem to freeze when I walk by. Dudes, I promise the babies are not just going to fall out of my body, I'm ok. You aren't going to have to catch anything or see anything gross, I promise. Women just look at me and shake their heads for the most part. I hope most of them are shaking their heads with empathy in their hearts. Although, there was the mother and daughter combo who came around a corner as I was walking by and I saw the daughter's eyes pop out of her head while she whispered (loudly), "OMG! Mom! Did you see her belly?!" To which her mom responded, "Yep, and that is what happens when you have sex, so don't." Let me tell you how happy I am to be a walking advertisement for birth control.

Honestly though, I've really gotten to the passive aggressive point where the comments don't bother me much and I'm starting to have fun with them. My new favorite is when people ask me when I'm due and I stare at them blankly and then act surprised and say, "What? Me? No, I'm not pregnant." and watch em scramble. Or sometimes I'll give them my real due date of 7 weeks from now and laugh on the inside as they desperately try to come up with something to say that won't anger or offend the huge pregnant woman in front of them. For the most part they will say something like, Oh wow! You look fantastic for carrying twins. So, does that mean I would look horrible if I was carrying one baby?

I wish I felt as fantastic as everyone said I looked, really. Ever seen that show on the National Geographic Channel called "The Whale That Exploded"? (Disclaimer: if you haven't seen it, don't. I mean it, don't. You will regret it. It will scar you for life and quite possibly make you lose your appetite for at least a month. And if you are a sushi lover, you'll probably never want to eat sushi again. You will NEVER get the images out of your head, so really, do yourself a favor and DO NOT watch it.) Yeah, I feel like I'm going to explode, like the whale. My uterus is measuring at 43 cms, which in layman's terms means I'm 83 months pregnant. Ok, not really but it feels like it. I can't bend over, I can't get up from the sitting position, my kids have to pull me up when I lay on the couch, which they think is just the funniest thing ever. When I actually get to sleep at night I can't turn over unless I get all the way out of bed and get in again. I want my body back. I want to hold my kids again and carry them around. I miss cuddling them! The only good thing is that since the babies dropped, I can breathe and don't have heartburn anymore. Bright side, there always is one.

I know it is all going to be over soon and I'm really trying hard to savor these last couple of weeks because I will probably never experience something like this again. In fact, this might just be my last entry about this pregnancy, which I'm sure you are all thrilled about. Yay for no more having to hear about Joanna's uterus!! I won't gross you out with the gory details but let's just say that between the position of baby A and all of the contractions and because I am apparently the worst bed rester ever, I'm pretty sure these babies will be here soon. I promise I will update as soon as I possibly can once they are born. Thanks for all of the prayers and support through the course of this pregnancy. It has really meant the world to me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


My uterus, the contents of it and the potential contents of it are not up for discussion, comprende? Contrary to what you may think, it is not polite or even socially acceptable for you to ask a woman, pregnant or not, if she is going to get her tubes tied. It is not nice to ask, "just how many of those are you are planning on popping out?" when talking to a pregnant woman, especially one who is carrying multiples. I'm not going to "pop out" anything, thankyouverymuch. For the record, I'm planning on having approximately 17,000 children, just to spite you.

It is not a good idea to tell a pregnant woman, as she is walking into Starbucks, that caffeine is not good for the baby. Yeah? Well my fist isn't good for your face either. Why, why, why would you purposely put yourself in harm's way? I'll claim self defense when they arrest me for making it so your nose touches your left ear. You were harassing me. For all you know, I am walking into Starbucks because I have a wicked hankering for an overpriced pastry. Don't judge me! Maybe I was up all night with back pain and leg cramps and bathroom trips and my Grande Iced Toffee Nut Latte is the one freaking thing I had to look forward to all day and now you just ruined it. BITE ME.

And as I'm lumbering my not so graceful body out of my van, do not whistle at me. That isn't nice. I know that's not a, "DANG! You are so hot and I want you to have all of my babies", whistle. That whistle was a, "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANG! Should I call 911 right now because you look like you are going to DIE?", whistle and it was rude. Now beat it.

When I say I'm huge and look like I'm "ready to pop" because I'm having twins, don't ask me why I want to have twins, or choose to have twins when I already have 2 kids under the age of 4. Don't roll your eyes and tell me that it's better me than you or that I'm going to have my hands full. I know this. I know I am completely blessed to be having these babies, and even with all the pain and grossness of this pregnancy, I wouldn't trade it for the world but I didn't choose to have twins. I didn't ask to have twins. It wasn't like I got down on my knees and prayed to God every night, "Lord, please impregnate me with twins because my life isn't stressful and challenging enough. Please give me twins because I am so completely enamored with the first 8 months of life after my babies are born, breastfeeding issues, sleep deprivation, postpartum depression and all, that I think it would be so awesome to do all of that, times 2." No. That is not how it went. I didn't ask to have twins, didn't choose to have twins, I was blessed with them. It was out of my hands and thank goodness it was because while I would have never chosen this, I am so, SO incredibly happy that we are here right now.

At the same time, don't ask me if they are natural. All babies are natural. Have you ever seen an "unnatural" baby? Let me know if you have, because I'd like to see that too. Yes, of course they are "natural". Do you mean, are they spontaneous? Are you asking how they were conceived? Does it really matter? Thank you for not being like the lady in the waiting room who wanted all of the details about how these babies were conceived, time frames, positioning and more, but I'm still not going to get into it with you. I don't even know you.

I understand that people are interested in pregnancy and want to enjoy it with me, but there is a line that is quickly crossed between genuinely caring and downright rude and judgmental. For the most part, people just jump right over that line and dive head first into the rude and judgmental pool. Yes, I am much more sensitive than I normally am, but really, just keep your mouths shut people. The world, at least my world, will be a much happier place. And as long as mama's happy...

Monday, June 8, 2009

geek squad this!

Last night I was dorking around on the computer and the wireless internet went dead. Normally when this happens it is because it is windy out or the microwave has been on for awhile or it gets really hot. But it was 10:30 at night, no wind, no one was cooking and it was nice and the device was nice and cool. I went to check the settings and the computer told me that it couldn't find our preferred network, but it wanted to connect me to a different network named "Bruce's Network".

Now, this normally wouldn't make me think twice because I'm used to living in an area that has multiple networks you can steal bandwidth from. But we live in the middle of nowhere. When I say nowhere, I mean the closest neighbor to us nearly a mile away. There's no way we could be picking up anyone's connection, let alone have a full strength signal from them. No one here had messed with any of the settings... I don't think anyone here even knows how to mess with the settings, and there's certainly no "Bruce" here, so something weird was going on. I immediately unplugged the Airport (Mac speak for the wireless router thingamajig) and made my dad go look outside to see if there was some shady person in a car sitting outside our house, trying to jack our connection or hack into our network to get our info or something. Yes, I'm paranoid. He didn't see anyone and I didn't hear any cars and there weren't any signs of a person having been outside our house either. We decided to call it a night and deal with it in the morning.

This morning I woke up and plugged in the Airport, plugged in my computer and still, I was being told to connect to "Bruce's Network". Nope, not going to happen. I don't know who Bruce is or what he wants or where he came from. I called my brother, who is an unofficial Geek, and explained the situation and was informed of the obvious: "That's weird". Yeah, no duh. Thanks, Captain Obvious. So he and I went through all of the obvious steps to try to remedy the situation, but no matter what we did, Bruce wouldn't go away and our network wouldn't appear. After doing a hard reset of the device, we were finally able to get rid of Bruce and make our network appear. And then my brother said, "Wait, wasn't the guy who lived in that house before named Bruce?"

Yes, yes, his name was Bruce, and he died a year or 2 after my parents bought and gutted the house. As far as we know, he didn't ever have internet here. I can't believe that a dude who lived in a house with original 60's green shag carpet, orange counter tops and burlap curtains until the day he sold it would have internet, and wireless internet at that. I also can't believe that the electrical system that was in this house could even support a computer, but that is besides the point.

So unless someone sat outside our house last night, hacked into our wireless settings and changed it to be "Bruce's Network" and then drove off, all in the span of 3 minutes, Bruce is back to visit us. I don't know if he's mad about his house, or just wanted to come say hi, but he's made his presence known. I've lived with ghosts before, but they have never made their names known so this is new territory.

Last night was a full moon and the owls were going nuts all night and one still is even this afternoon, so I'm not sure if he's still hanging out, or if he left, but you can sure as heck bet that I'm going to be watching the kids very closely to see if they start talking to anyone or about anyone new in the house. And I might be sleeping with the kids, with the lights on, for the next couple of nights because the Airport is in my room and that's just a little too creepy, even for me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Ask most 2 and 3 year olds to go pick out their outfit for the day, and you will probably be frightened by the results. Before I had kids, I fully expected to be the mom who had the 3 year old boy who insisted on going out in a green dinosaur t-shirt and bright yellow shorts with his Superman cape and cowboy boots on. Or to have the daughter who wore nothing but tutus and plastic jewelry and striped shirts with polka dotted pants, and 2 different colored socks. I was ok with that thought. I think it is very important for kids to express their individuality and if they want to wear mismatched clothes and accessories, then awesome. But I will draw the line at expressing oneself through tattoos and hair color before the age of 16. After that, we will talk.

But somehow, I ended up with 2 children who have impeccable taste and can coordinate an outfit better than most 30 year old men (and some women) I know. You ask them to go pick out their outfit for the day and they will stand in front of the shelves, carefully choosing their shirts and shorts, making sure the colors match. Once they choose their outfits, they will go through their 19,000,000 pairs of shoes to find the pair that has the same colors as their clothes. Then they go to their bucket of sunglasses and pick out the pair that coordinates the best. CB will even go so far as to pick out a cloth diaper that best matches her outfit, or will pick a shirt and baby legs just to match her cloth diaper. If I pick their outfit out, often they will go back to the room to get a different pair of shoes that they feel matches better, and they are almost always right.

It can get pretty ridiculous at times, especially when they freak out if their sippy cup lid color doesn't coordinate with the color of their cup. They get pretty excited when their plate color matches their cups too. CB will constantly point out when my clothes are matching or not. Although, me matching is very rare these days because so few things actually fit and I stay in tank tops and elastic waist pj pants while we are at home because those are the only things that are even slightly comfortable. I am working hard to be sure she and W don't turn out to be like the 6 year old punk I encountered in the grocery store nearly 2 years ago who so kindly pointed out that my white flip flops didn't match my blue tank top. I am trying to stress that they are not allowed to give fashion advice unless 1) they are married to the person, 2) they are being paid to tell people what to wear or 3) one of their friends is trying to squeeze their size 10 booty into a size 6 jeans.

Truth be told, I'm pretty sure it is all my fault. Ever since they were born I have made sure their outfits have been coordinated, right down to the pacifiers and blankets. People used to laugh their butts off when they noticed that the binkie matched the outfit and jokingly say something about me doing it on purpose and I would say, "Um, yeah I did it on purpose!!" It's not like it is hard to put a blue binkie in the diaper bag. I don't know why I do it, and I know it drives my husband absolutely crazy. So crazy that I'm pretty sure he will go out of his way to make sure the kids' clothes don't match when he dresses them just to spite me. I know he can coordinate clothing too, he just thinks I'm a big fat freak show for caring. What can I say? It makes me feel good to see things in order. The rest of my life might be a complete mess, but if those sunglasses match that shirt, then life is just a little bit better. They are doomed, aren't they?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

nature week

One of the things that seriously sucks about living way out in the middle of nowhere is that during the summer months, nature inevitably finds its way into your home and there is no escape. Our invasion began this week and it came with a vengeance. It all started on one particularly craptacular day, as I was trying to write some papers and birds kept flying themselves into our big sliding glass door. 4 in less than 30 minutes, and that was just the beginning. Because I couldn't concentrate on writing anymore, I went to take the veggie scraps out to the composter. I noticed there were a bunch of files around and then I saw the dead owl laying on the ground. Nice. Once I came back inside, 2 more birds catapulted themselves into the window. The dumb things seriously need to learn how to fly. Our windows aren't even clean (thanks to W and CB) and they are covered by a porch! It isn't like we put runway lights on the ground leading them to fly into the window.

Later that night as I was brushing my teeth, a mouse ran across my foot. It was like the icing on the cake to my craptastic day. Of course, we didn't have any traps because we used them all last year so I couldn't do anything about it, but cry, and sleep in the kids' room cause there was no way in heck I was going to let a mouse have an opportunity to be my bed buddy.

The next day was slightly less eventful, except for the fact that I managed to get bitten by a million microscopic monsters when I took W out to ride his bike. The bites were so bad and itched so horribly that I spent most of the day putting straight ice on my skin to keep from scratching it off. Oh, and one of the dogs managed to catch a bird and eat it.

The day after that, as I was out with the kids, I heard my mom screaming for help in the kitchen. So I ran my pregnant butt into the house, expecting to have to put out a fire or slam a robber over the head with a shovel or mop up a major dishwasher explosion of soap, but instead was greeted by a gutsy little mouse who wanted to play. Fine. You wanna play, I'll play. Game on. The next half hour was spent trying to trap the mouse in the kitchen so I could catch it and figure out what to do with it. Of course, we still hadn't bothered to buy traps, so I had to improvise. That is what we moms do. We figure things out. So out came boxes and buckets and canning jars to block off the space under the cabinets... it was a mess but I was pretty proud of my ingenuity. So proud that I took a picture:

I managed to trap the thing within my barricade but couldn't bend over far enough to throw a bowl over it because he was so fast, and there was NO way I was getting on my hands and knees because 1) I would never be able to get up again and 2) um, no, not getting that close to it, thank you very much. So he got away. Then that mouse either cloned himself or multiplied because the mice kept coming. And the bugs kept biting, and the birds kept dying.

The final count for the week?
1 dead owl
2 dead birds thanks to the dog
4 dead birds for other reasons
1 dead rabbit (we think) thanks to the cat
9 yes NINE mice that have been caught and disposed of
1 random rooster seen in the road
73,468 bug bites on my body

The bug bite count is no exaggeration. Ok, well it may be a little bit exaggerated, but it sure as heck feels like I have that many bites. I'd share a picture, but the pictures wouldn't be very appropriate and I don't want to scare small children. These bites are ALL OVER, horrendous, give me hives and make me itch like I have rolled in poison ivy and then licked someone who had the chicken pox and then rubbed my belly against someone who had shingles. I itch so bad that I sit and cry most of the day and wake up with my skin bleeding because I've been scratching in my sleep. Aren't I hot?? Don't you wanna come sleep next to me? There is nothing that cures the itch, not even the most off the wall folk remedies. Believe me, I've tried just about everything. And this is on top of all of the other itching I've been dealing with from the pregnancy.

I'm really hoping that our Nature Week is over or that we have at least seen the worst of it. I refuse to let the mice put me into preterm labor because I was over exerting myself while throwing bowls at them... or running as fast as possible the other way. Gotta love the country life. Really.

**Side note for those of you wondering: the doctor doesn't think that I have PUPPPS, but I'm beginning to wonder if he's wrong and these bites are really a PUPPPS rash because I am the only person in the house that has them and they aren't on my face or belly button... the only thing isn't convincing me that this is PUPPPS is the itching and bumps only appear after I have been outside and/ or in the sun but the itching and bumps calm down after a few days. I guess only time will tell.**

Sunday, May 10, 2009

you win some, you lose some.

One of my favorite things in life is cooking. I haven't done much, if any, of it for the past 20 weeks or so because I have hated food more than I hate the word "ladies" or "panties" or even more than I dislike Johnny Depp and the voice that does all of the "Leap Frog" toys, but I'm slowly getting back into it. Tonight I decided to make a gumbo for dinner and then brownies for dessert. I figured that because I was making the gumbo from scratch, it would be acceptable to make the brownies from a box. I pick my battles.

I got everything out for the gumbo, chopped the veggies, made the roux, got it all simmering perfectly, and then I started in on the brownies. Not hard, right? Open the box, pour it in a bowl, add a couple of eggs, some oil, and some water. Then I added some mint extract to spice it up a bit and poured the mixture in the pan. And something was wrong. It just didn't look right. It was clumpy and just kinda plopped out of the bowl. How on earth could I mess up boxed brownies? Oh yeah, it is easy when you don't add the water! I thought I had added the water. I distinctly remember filling the measuring cup and then putting the cup in the dishwasher... but whatever happened between the time I filled the cup and put the cup away is lost forever in some space/ time pregnancy black hole continuum, never to be recovered. I have NO idea where I poured the water. It could have been in the gumbo or I might have poured it right down the drain, watered a plant, gave it to a kid... No clue.

Since I had already poured the batter into the baking dish and filled the batter bowl with water to be washed and I didn't want to dirty and wash yet another bowl, I took the lazy man's route and poured some water directly into the baking dish and then mixed it all up before popping it in the oven. And then I forgot to set a timer.

So there I was, making my gumbo, chopping up the chicken and peeling the shrimp when my mother reminded me about the brownies. Oops! Thankfully, I pulled them out in the nick of time. They were certainly different looking but I wasn't sure if the texture was because of the water issue, or because they were actually cooked a bit too long. Only time would tell.

I set those out to cool, added the chicken and sausage to the gumbo, simmered it away and soon, it was time to add the shrimp and eat up. And let me tell you, my gumbo was good. Like, really good. I've made a good gumbo before, but this was hit the spot, I'll take seconds even though I'm not hungry anymore, I'm glad I am supposed to eat 3500 calories and 150 grams of protein a day because I'm going to eat this entire pot, good.

Honestly though, I've never eaten anyone other gumbo so I don't really know if it is that great on the gumbo spectrum. I highly doubt Bobby Flay will be coming to my house and requesting to do a gumbo Throw Down with me... which is really too bad because every time I am pregnant, I seem to develop a mad innocent crush on him (goodness, that sounds so dirty. That is not what I meant, I promise!)... but I do think my gumbo is good, although it might be offensive to those native to the Land of Gumbo and know what REAL gumbo tastes like.

I don't really have an actual recipe for the gumbo. The mixture came after reading numerous recipes and taking the easiest and most delicious sounding parts from each of them. I'll try to write it out somewhat coherently if anyone is interested in trying it.

- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 smallish tomato, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- little bit of salt
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 cups chicken broth (I only use the low sodium kind)
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch to 1 inch pieces
- 1 lb smoked sausage cut into slices and then halved (I like to use smoked turkey sausage but you can use kielbasa or andouille)
- about 24 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined.
- cooked rice (if you are a health nut, which you shouldn't be if you are eating this, use brown rice. I like to use regular white rice and if you are feeling extra daring, go Paula Deen on me and use some buttered rice)

Before you start cooking, send your kids outside with your husband or put them in front of a show or movie that lasts at least 45 minutes with snacks and drinks in hand, pour yourself a beverage and put your bluetooth in your ear so your hands are free and interruptions are kept to a minimum.

Make sure all of the veggies are chopped and ready to go.

In a dutch oven or other heavy sauce pan, combine the oil and flour over medium heat. Stir constantly until the flour and oil are smooth and the color of chocolate (can take 10-15 minutes). Slowly and carefully add the chopped onion, celery, green pepper and garlic. Stir until the veggies are mixed with the roux. Keep stirring until the veggies get a bit soft and the onions begin to get translucent (about 3-5 minutes).

Add the tomatoes, cayenne pepper, thyme, bay leaves and salt, continue to stir for another 2-3 minutes.

Slowly add the chicken broth, while stirring, making sure the veggie/roux mix combines fully with the broth. Bring to a slow boil and then turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Add the chunks of chicken and sausage and continue to simmer for another 45- 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. The broth should be reducing and getting thicker at this point.

When you feel like it is done to your liking, and the rice is ready, add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp is pink. Take the pan off the heat and let it set for a couple of minutes. Stir before serving over rice.

I don't like a lot of salt or heat in my dishes so modify the recipe to fit your sodium limits and heartburn/ reflux threshold. If you want more spice, you can season the chicken before throwing it in the pot. The longer you simmer this, the more flavor it is going to have, but don't go more than 3 total hours because that is just nuts and you will be very hungry by then.

Let me know if any of this doesn't make sense. It is late and I'm high on sudafed and limeaid. If it sucks, or you get a horrific case of food poisoning, don't blame me. It's not my fault you just can't cook. I'm kidding, of course!! I hope this is as good as I think it is.

As for the brownies, well, they aren't my best work. But they are edible and will not go to waste because I'm pretty sure it is illegal in like 5 states to let brownies go to waste, even if they are a bit spongy and dense at the same time. Next time, I won't multi task while cooking. Clearly, my pregnant brain can only handle one task at a time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

side by side

My lovely friends who have seen my belly pictures have spent the past day trying to convince me that I am not the heifer that I think I am. They have almost convinced me. Almost. Looking at my pictures from this pregnancy, no, I'm not HUGE compared to other moms who carry twins. But compared to my previous pregnancies, dang. Moooooo. Woof.

I never measured larger than 33 weeks with W. He had severe growth restriction in the womb because the little stinker tied a true knot in his cord at 32 weeks and was born the size of a 33 week baby, at 38 weeks. So for me to be measuring 10-12 weeks ahead at 25 weeks makes me bigger than I ever was with my first pregnancy. Thankfully, CB was born at a very healthy 7 pounds, but I carried her so low at the end that I never measured larger than 36 weeks. Plus, she was born 11 days early, so I didn't get much of a chance to measure larger.

Tonight I was a bit bored (yes, I actually had a few seconds to be bored!) so I decided to dig through my old pictures and do some comparisons. It is pretty interesting to see how the same uterus (she said uterus, again!!) can grow so differently with each pregnancy.

So yes, my friends are right. I'm not a complete cow, just very large for what I am used to. Honestly, I have to say that I am (extremely full of myself and) pretty darn proud of my Buddha belly. I kinda like it. It certainly makes for a convenient spot to set my plates when I am eating and that is a definite plus.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

still here...

These past 2 weeks have been pretty rough. I will admit that I pushed myself a little too hard over the past month and now it has come back to bite me in the butt. Lesson learned! I won't do it again.

I spent the better part of the last week in bed because all I wanted to do was throw up (again). My drug peddling doctor requested that I go on some kind of anti nausea medication so I could eat more and I obliged, knowing full well that it wouldn't do anything for me but that I would give it my best effort. After spending Saturday practically in tears from being so nauseous, I broke down and took a magical Zofran on Sunday. And all it did was make me drowsy and give me a headache. So incredibly anti climatic. The way he was talking about the drug made me expect the waters to part and rainbows and sunshine to appear. Instead, I was then nauseous and stoned and that is not a fun, nor attractive, combination. We had gone to church that morning because I thought I would be feeling better which ended up being a very bad decision. Never in my life did I ever think I would have to contemplate just how sacrilegious it would be if 1) I didn't take communion for fear of losing it all over the person in front of me and 2) if I did take communion and then ended up throwing it up all over the person in front of me.

It's no secret that this pregnancy has been extraordinarily difficult, much much more than either of the other 2. From the throwing up and fatigue to the extreme itching and the shots... Oh, the shots. You would think that at 24 weeks this mess would be under control but I fear we are getting back to the level of suckiness that was the first trimester. Although, now I have the added aches and pains of what someone normally experiences in the third trimester too, as my uterus (She said uterus!!) is measuring like it would for someone who was 10-12 weeks farther along than I am, depending on how the babies are positioned. Pretty sure the ground has started to shake under me when I walk...

Last week I went to Motherhood to pick up a couple of shirts. No surprise that mine are getting a bit too short. When I shop, I don't want to be bothered. If I need something, I'll ask, but these chicks at Motherhood literally have a script that they rotate every day to get people to buy more crap, and they accost you the second you walk in the door. The first time I went in, the chick asked me if I had my bag packed. I looked at her like what the heck kind of bag are you talking about? Are you making a joke? I know my purse is huge, it is called a "weekend tote" afterall... When I inquired as to what bag she was talking about, she said, "your hospital bag!" Mama, no. I have 17 more weeks until I hit 40 weeks, I haven't even started thinking about my hospital bag. Blink, blink. Yeah, that'll shut you up. The next time I went in the sales chick asked me if I needed any stretch mark cream. Really? Do they not realize just how insulting that is? I know I am huge. I don't need it reinforced by some 19 year old who has never been pregnant, let alone could possibly understand just what your body goes through when you are pregnant. Besides that, I am so far past stretch mark cream it isn't even funny! I could spread straight Crisco on my belly 3 times a day until these babies are born and it wouldn't make a difference.

I know I am blessed to be pregnant with these baby girls. Despite everything, I thank God everyday that they are healthy and growing and that we haven't had any serious issues. The reality of being 24 weeks pregnant with twins is starting to hit though. Up until this point my thoughts have been focused on trying to get over the shock of being pregnant twins and getting through the pregnancy. Now, my focus is starting to shift and I'm realizing that we are going to have 2 new, very tiny babies sometime in the next 6- 13 weeks. Um, yeah. I got lotsa crap to do (like pack my hospital bag) and not so much time to do it. All I can say is thank goodness for online shopping. And when you see on the news that consumer confidence rose again in May and that retail sales were up, you can thank me personally. I do what I can.

Monday, April 13, 2009

culture shock

We have been back in the States for a week now. Actually, a week exactly as I am writing this. It has been a whirlwind of a week and I haven't had much of a chance to communicate with the outside world so I will try to catch up now.

The trip over was amazingly smooth. I didn't even feel stressed as we were leaving for the airport. The kids did remarkably well on the flight although poor M got a workout as he rocked CB in the back of the plane for a couple of hours to keep her asleep. W was a champ, as usual, and only took a couple of days to adjust to the time change.

I, however, am having a harder time adjusting to the time difference. It's not the jetlag that is killing me, but the fact that I now wake up after my friends in the States, instead of before them. I am so used to waking up to "yesterday's" emails and messages and not "today's". Not to mention that I don't have to wait until 6pm to call businesses on the West Coast. I have to admit that I've been slacking off because I keep thinking, "I can do it tonight", but by the time tonight rolls around, everything is closed and everyone is sleeping.

We have been quite productive this week though. Highlights include: 2 trips to IKEA (and no fighting), getting my iPhone and trying to figure the darn thing out, a 2 hour drive to get our insurance set up, multiple trips to Target, Whole Foods, the mall, getting about 7 inches cut off my hair and having it colored for the first time in 3 years, a trip to the Aquarium for the kids and a fantastic dinner at the best fish market on earth, taking M back to the airport and saying goodbye to him until he comes back in a couple of months, going to a birthday party and doing more shopping, doing Easter Sunday and then finally unpacking our 8 suitcases today. It is no wonder that I am beat and itch like crazy.

I am not used to this lifestyle. I am not used to all of the shopping and socializing and being busy. In Germany, we live in a quiet little bubble and go out 3 times a week. I can go 2-3 days without talking to anyone but the kids and my husband. Not here. It is NON STOP here. There is always something to do, something to look at, money to spend. I have to say that I am dealing with some serious culture shock! Stupid things, like billboards, are incredibly distracting and frustrating to me now. You don't see billboards in Germany, and if you do, they are small, not 5,000 feet wide and lit with enough lights to light the block. Traffic, and stop lights. Seriously! How many stop lights do there have to be within 4 blocks? And what is up with the people here? Have people just gotten more rude and self centered or am I just really cranky? It is just all too much, too much stuff, too much trash, too many people talking to themselves on their bluetooths...

It is going to take a lot of adjusting to get used to life here again. I've only been gone for 6 months, but it feels different coming back this time. Maybe it is because I know that our time in Germany is up, and we won't be going back. I will really miss living in Germany but I am happy to be back in America, despite my wicked case of culture shock. We just need a chance to get settled and into a routine... and by the time we do that, the twins will be here and EVERYTHING will change, again. Good times!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

ooh baby baby

It is official. I am really officially, noticeably and uncomfortably pregnant. I'm hormonal, itchy like I was attacked by a swarm of Mississippi mosquitoes in the middle of August, irritable like you wouldn't believe and pretty sure that I am driving those who are forced to be around me to drink.

I have all of these good intentions, like I'm going to start eating healthier and exercise a little... maybe actually start doing the prenatal yoga program I did so faithfully from the day I saw 2 pink lines when I was pregnant with W and CB. Unfortunately, good intentions are about as far as I'm going to get. There has to be some kind of nutritional value in onion rings and Dr. Pepper, right? And I'm sure I get plenty of exercise when I walk to and from the car and up and down the stairs (at least it sure feels like I have run a mile and a half after I walk up 15 stairs)... and really, these days, just putting on my shoes requires some serious yoga like action, so I'm good there.

A few nights ago it occurred to me that I am essentially gestating a 2 headed octopus. This came as I had 4 feet in my ribs, a head in my bladder, one in my pelvis and 2 elbows in my kidney, while the other baby was literally punching me in the butt. I know they are fighting for space, but if they could possibly do it without trying to decimate what is left of my internal organs, I'd be a little bit grateful.

These kids are getting big, very big, and it shows. My belly enters the room before I do now and it has gotten to the point where I have to constantly check for crumbs and spillage down the front of my shirts. Before all of the mess would just fall into my lap. Now, with my protruding belly button and mountain of a belly, food has to go through a fun little obstacle course before it can fall in my lap which causes all kinds of awesome stains. Let's just say that Oxyclean spray n wash stuff is really quite amazing.

As of a couple of days ago, both babies were measuring a week ahead and their heads were measuring 2 weeks ahead, hence the uterus that is measuring over 28 weeks. Lord have mercy. I'm gonna need it.

As they have started moving more, I have really gotten to "know" their personalities. We've always known that baby A was the more quiet one, as I've been feeling baby B move for almost 7 weeks now. Baby A has always just taken it slow and has NEVER shown us a face, only a back, or a hand or the top of the head. We've only seen one profile shot of baby A and that was at 12 weeks and most likely a fluke. Baby B, however, is much less shy. This baby is always dominating the ultrasound screen and will gladly give us a show, or the finger, as seen in this lovely shot from the ultrasound we had earlier this week.

Baby B also has a sweet side, thank goodness. We were actually able to get some 3-d pictures for the first time and played a fun little game of peek a boo. I still think that 3-d ultrasound pictures are incredibly freaky looking, almost as freaky looking as regular ultrasound pictures, but this one is pretty cute:

We were incredibly blessed at our last appointment, which sadly was our last appointment here in Germany. My doctor, who is awesome, spent a good 30 minutes checking the babies and letting us get a good look at them, or what we could of baby A, which was mostly a spine. For weeks we have been trying to determine their genders, but haven't been able to get any good shots of the gender region to be able to tell conclusively what they are. This time I begged him to look extra hard. I can only take 1300 pounds of stuff with me to CA and I have about 500 pounds of boy clothes here in Germany. So, I don't want to take boy clothes and then end up not needing them...

And it looks like we won't be needing the boy clothes, which makes my packing a whole lot easier. I can't even believe it. I don't think I will believe it until they are here. I honestly won't be surprised if at least one of them pops out and is a boy. I don't know why, because I don't have any reason to think this way. In all of our ultrasounds, we've never really seen anything that resembles any boy parts, but I still can't believe that there are 2 girls in there. Thankfully, all of CB's baby clothes are still in CA, but 2 girls are going to require a lot more clothes than we have, so I'm going to need to do some serious shopping.

However, I'm not going to go too crazy until I know, for sure, with 100% proof, that we are in fact going to be picking out 2 girl names, paying for 3 weddings, dealing with 3 teenage girls and their hormones, paying for Jujutsu lessons for W to be able to kick some serious wannabe punk rocker/ emo/ jock boyfriend butt, thanking God every day that M is a Ranger and knows fun tactical maneuvers and how to shoot a big gun, and being surrounded by pink and princesses for the next umpteen years.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

breaking news

Well, it seems that we are finally getting what we wanted, just not how we wanted it or when we wanted it or as smoothly as we wanted it, but we rarely ever get what we want in life anyway, right?

We have known our time in Germany was coming to a close for awhile, but we just didn't know when it would be. Originally, we were supposed to stay here until November. Then we were told July, then we were told March and then July again. After we found out we were having twins, we knew we needed to have a concrete moving date because you can't exactly just fly across the world when you are 36 weeks pregnant with twins like you can when you are pregnant with 1 baby. During the height of my all day sickness in late January, we were told that we needed to move back to the States in March, giving me about 3 weeks to get the house ready to be packed and because we have to move again 5 months after we move to the States, we would be moving again about 2 days after my due date. That wasn't going to work. So we moved heaven and earth to try to get a different move date.

After tons of paperwork and way too much drama, we finally did get a different date date, and even the date we wanted. So here is the plan: The kids and I are moving back to the States in about 3 weeks. We will go back to CA and stay with my parents until after the twins are born and after M is done with this next assignment next year.

Before everyone starts speculating and talking, let me explain a few things, just to squash the inevitable rumors:

1) Our marriage is not in trouble. We are just fine, I promise. There's no need to send us inspirational emails or books on marriage. Yes, we are making a choice to be separated, but we aren't separated.

2) We are doing this purely because of logistics. M can't leave Germany until June and by then, I'll either be way too pregnant to move, in any sense of the word, or worst case, I could be holding my 2 precious babies instead of gestating them. I can't fly past the end of April, given my history of preterm labor and (EARMUFFS, boys!) early dilation, so I need to go now. I don't want to spend 2 months alone at M's next assignment with 2 kids, waiting for him to get there, so that is why we are going to CA.

3) CA is our best option for numerous reasons. The kids have a fantastic doctor there, there is a team of specialists who know and understand our history of GI problems should one or both of these babies have the same problems, W loves the preschool there and I'm sure CB will too, and can we say LIVE IN HELP?! Um, yeah. There you go.

4) This decision did not come lightly or on a whim. We have talked about this and agonized over it since the day we found out we were having twins. I am completely at peace with it, as is M. I mean, there are a few things that bother me, like I'll be missing out on Cracker Barrel and Braums, but I will be in the land of In-n-Out and REAL Mexican food (I'm just gonna say it, TexMex is NOT Mexican food, sorry!) We are going to be ok. M can fly in to see us on his long weekends and we will be able to call each other whenever we want to. Now that is a strange idea given the fact that we just went through 15 months of once every 3 week phone calls and once a week emails.

There is so much to do in the next few weeks though. The movers aren't coming until after the kids and I are gone, so I have to have the house organized by what I want in what boxes. I don't want to open up our boxes when we pull them from storage in 10 months and find the bathroom mats in with the kitchen dishes or the extra office supplies packed with the garden hose. And because all of our house hold goods are going into storage for 10 months, I need to have all of the curtains, cushions and mats washed and perfectly folded before they get boxed up. Not to mention that the customs dude is so anal that there can't be a speck of dirt on any shoe, flower pot or outdoor toy that you pack, so all of those have to be cleaned and the holes in the wall have to be filled... and the walls have to be painted... and I need to sort out what we are going to take to CA and what is going to be packed... and go through all of the baby stuff...

As much as I'm going to miss living in Germany, I'm excited to come home. I'm ready to have options where to grocery shop and be able to get my hair and nails done on a regular basis. Ok, that is SO not going to happen with twins coming. What am I thinking? Now comes the really big decision: Do I want an iPhone or a Blackberry???