Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Grandparents are going like hotcakes

This is something I wrote a couple of weeks ago when I was getting more sleep and had fewer babies wanting me to hold them all the time. Thanks for all the lovely notes of congratulations. We are all well, if in various stages of crabby exhaustion. I figure that will lift in 2-3 years. 

I was cutting up Ada's pancakes while we talked about the day ahead and what we would do with Ada's grandparents.

Me: Be careful, they might still be hot.

Ada: Grandma and Bunka?

Me: No, the pancakes.

Ada: They aren't.

Me: Grandma and Bunka could be hot. They would be if they ran here.

Chris: Or if they had the heat on in their car.

Ada, clearly amused by our insanity: They don't have a car!

Me: They don't? How will they get here?

Ada: We make them in a pan!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nonlinear Update

Somewhat belatedly, but happily, I announce that Mira Rae and Ian Calder were born on Friday, May 22.

The short version: Mira showed up shortly after 10am, weighing in at 6.25 pounds. Her brother came out about 40 minutes later, bigger (6.5 pounds) and a bit floppier.  Both babies nursed quickly and were soon enough snuggling with us and cracking jokes. (Ok, maybe nix that last part, but we figure that just as soon as they get the hang of speaking we’ll be hearing some really funny stuff.)

I am working on the long version, but since the above is what people really want to know (heck, even Jiro is texting me to say he’s disappointed that I haven’t posted about this yet) I thought I’d contain my tendency to ramble and share that the babies are here!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This Was Chris' Idea

On Sunday, May 17 I was not in labor (or, as far as I could tell, anywhere near going into labor). Chris asked: do you have a post ready to go when you go into labor?

I didn't, but thought maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to tee up a post. So, if you are reading this, I am having contractions. Real contractions, not the increasingly annoying and sometimes intense but not very productive Braxton-Hicks contractions I have had since somewhere in the second trimester.

The labor and delivery that brought Ada into the world was a fast and thankfully drama-free event. Fast enough that once I went into real labor there was no stopping until 4 hours later Ada appeared. Since last time I got a half day of occasional contractions as "warning" before I went into active labor, now seems like the time to hit "publish post". Of course I could have a very different labor this time, and posting this now could be misleading if the contractions do not lead to a labor that follows the pattern from last time. If so, I suppose that will be another post.

I am pretty excited for labor to start, and by "excited" I mean: looking forward to getting my ankles back, being able to sleep on my back and not waking up every time I have to roll over in bed. Yes, I know that once the twins are out I will be waking up all the time for another reason, but I am hoping that there will be at least that first night post-delivery that we'll all sleep for stretches longer than an hour.

Stay tuned. I will let you know what happens.

All of the above I wrote on Sunday. Today (Thursday) I had another non-stress test in which both twins responded to my contractions with a heart-rate dip each. Everyone (the techs, the doc) say: your twins look great, but... which led the doctor to suggest I go to the hospital for extended monitoring. And then she talked to the perinatologist, who suggested that I go in for a trial of labor instead. 

So I am still going in, but you can ignore the "real contractions" part. Well, until the pitocin kicks in.

Now I am on hold.  

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

 Honk if you love panic

His shape is squarish, like a gourmet marshmallow.

Dana Goodyear
Drink Up

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Broke My Flash, But Look, Here's A Hospital Bed

Or, 36 weeks, still not in labor 

Um, yeah, not sure how I have done it but my camera's flash isn't working. It is just the camera's built in flash, and it acts like it will flash but then doesn't. It is possible that I have just inadvertently messed with the settings, but a more likely scenario is that I gunked up the works by carrying my camera around in my purse with all the other crap I keep in there (pens, wallet, peanut dust..) Time to bust out (and charge up) the back up camera if we want any non-fuzzy photos of the twins first moments.

All of this is to say: these photos come without the benefit of a flash, and are thus a little blurry. I'd worry more about it but right now we are waiting to have a baby and trying to buy a car.

So, onward to the pictures:

Week 36 - take 1
four hats, no waiting

Karen is visiting, so we roped her into the photo-taking. Chris is wearing a hat my parents brought us from Turkey. Ada has on Chris' usual winter hat. My hat is a weird old ribbon and fur hat that looks suspiciously like a brioche. Karen is wearing a straw hat that I will probably use next week if the twins don't show up first.

The belly feels a bit beside the point in this picture, though it continues to be impressive enough to stop traffic and scare children. As I get larger it is harder to motivate to take the ton of pictures really required to get a few good ones. So this will have to do.

About the hat: a stamp inside says it is a Duchess hat made in Italy. Inside the band is a tag reading Created by Mr Theodore, Chicago. No hat close ups today. We took the pictures during the day, but now that it is evening and the light has faded, I won't even attempt to capture the hat alone without a flash. This is probably a good thing, because the hat is a bit stained.

To make up for the pregnancy pictures, I offer the following other picture:

05/18/09 Non-Stress Test Bed
monitor and bed: non-stressful, huh?

This is the bed where I had my first real notable contraction (as in "wow that hurts" painful contraction) while undergoing a non-stress test (NST).  This contraction served as a quick reminder that I do not want to be lying down during labor. It was all I could do to not jump off the bed during the contraction, and it was only six minutes and at its peak maybe a 4 on a 1-10 scale.

Apparently the boy's heart rate dipped during the contraction, though it appears to have bounced back quickly. The dip was worrisome enough to the doc overseeing the NST nurse that she sent me to the hospital for some more monitoring. It wasn't worrying enough for the NST folks to balk when I told them I was going to stop at home first. (Home is between the doctor's office and the hospital, and neither Chris nor I had eaten since breakfast.)

The hospital test was uneventful, and I managed to nap through part of it while Chris sat next to me and worked. I have another routine NST on Thursday, for which I need to bring a lighter book. (I know, who decides to pick up a 1,000 page book days before they go into labor?)

The best part is that if I really had gone into labor or the hospital staff had decided they needed to admit me after the second NST, I would have looked like the most committed employee ever. Usually my office has a weekly meeting on Mondays at 11, but due to some legislative hoo-ha, my bosses were not available until about 12:30. I had asked to be conferenced into the meeting, and took the call as Chris drove me to the hospital. I was fairly sure that the test would be fine, but as we approached the labor and delivery unit I told my colleagues that I needed to get off the call because I'd gotten to the hospital. If I'd had the babies on Monday, I would have been an office legend, working up until moments before the birth. I don't need that kind of fame, but the idea did amuse me for a while.

So there you go, a little post on the weekly belly and a little story about what else my belly did this week.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nothing to Complain About

Having moved through the fears that surfaced during my early second trimester (that I would give birth to very premature babies, that my family would spend a lot of time in the NICU, that the birth itself would be more of an ordeal than a joyful arrival), I am now in what everyone agrees are the final days of my pregnancy.  Until recently, I got away with a fair amount of normal activity. Once I realized that by napping every day I could still maintain a semi-regular work and life schedule, I kept thing up to a good extent. I took Ada on errands to Trader Joe's, we played in the park, I took my turns dealing with her bath-and-bed routine. Granted there were evenings that found me lying on the couch drinking water and wishing away my aches and pains. But for the most part, I looked and felt like a normal pregnant woman. 

A couple of weeks ago I left normal. The petty annoyances of a twin pregnancy that can blossom into "problems" are creeping up on me, though thankfully without making that transition from hampering to maybe-you-should-go-on-bedrest. One nap is barely enough. I can't bend over at all without wincing in pain. Walking more than a couple of blocks is stressful - I move at a snail's pace, walking makes me have to pee and causes those pesky contractions to pop up. Ditto for standing for more than short spells. (Watering the seedlings for five minutes on Sunday afternoon led to a half-hour of couch time, followed by sitting up without contributing anything to the household other than witty repartee.) I haven't done bath time for over a week, and even the usually mama-focused Ada has figured out that Chris and my sister Karen are way more reliable as playmates and helpers.

4.30.09 self (love hurts)

In addition, I am now not sleeping for more than an hour at a time. All night I run through the following pattern: sleep, wake, pee, shift pillow positions, huff and puff, lie down, repeat. Oh, and competing for stupidest complaint ever: my ankles and feet are swollen. I lost my ankles about a week back, and a few days ago I noticed my feet were getting puffy. I know that a lot of pregnant women get swollen much earlier in their pregnancies, even with one baby.

To read the newsletters that come with each monthly doctor visit, I should be surprised not to have become a swollen mess much sooner. A good friend recently recounted that she practically burned her pregnancy support hose after she gave birth, while Ellen mentioned that she was pleasantly surprised by how long my body held out during this pregnancy.

I think I am just vain, but the swelling (along with slightly elevated blood pressure) was kind of the last straw in terms of reminding me that I have to stop acting normal, that now is the time to take it very easy. So I have caved. I spent much of Saturday with my feet higher than my heart, and I have moved into a new stage of pregnancy-induced laziness. Or more accurately, pregnancy-induced stillness.

Two people are making this possible: Chris and Karen. Chris has been consistently great during my pregnancy, taking on more than his usual share of childcare, cooking, etc. Even better, we have a relationship in which he has always done a lot in these areas. The change is from pulling his weight to pulling most of mine too. Plus he has been good about telling me to go sit down, lie down, stop fussing about trying to be productive.

Karen came into town last week and immediately became Ada's new love object. She has played "nap" and "camping" uncountable times already, drawn with sidewalk chalk, pretended to be a mama polar bear, read books, made lego cars and taken over bathtime without complaint. Before she got here, she was a little worried that the twins would show up before she did. Once her plane hit the tarmac she started to worry that they wouldn't show up until after she left. While the latter could happen, her visit will still be worthwhile. She has taken the pressure off me to be a fully attentive, active parent of the type that I can not fathom being right now.

I know this won't go on for too much longer, which makes it easier to put up with my current slow lane lifestyle. No doubt, soon Chris and I will both have a lot of work to do, and soon after that Karen will go home. We will miss her. Everyone should have a sister who will come stay and help when you need her.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

To: Anonymous

The problem with playing someone whose default setting is tabula rasa is pretty obvious, and the primary qualification that Dushku brings to the part is that she graduated from the Royal Academy of Cleavage.

Nancy Franklin
Wheedon's World

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"You've got to play it up, lady"

My sister is concerned that this picture fails to showcase my belly's true girth. We had some discussion about the best way to take the pictures as she lounged on the couch art directing.

Week 35 - take 2
belly: week 35

Photo-realism aside, I'm big. Can't turn over in bed big. Karen keeps bumping into my belly big. Too big to think of another example big. At today's ultrasound, both twins measured at 36 weeks. Though the tech did note that as the the twins get bigger the measurements are less precise, even carrying around two fetuses that are just measuring "on time" is a lot to lug around all day. Not that I am doing a lot of lugging these days. The 3 block walk to the coffee shop was pretty much today's athletic highlight. I keep reminding myself that this is temporary and will change soon.

Week 35 - take 4
Can't see the hat, but how's this for impressive belly? Shiny and veiny, no?

Karen helped me organize the 15 tons of baby clothes that friends have given us. It may just be where we are on the hand-me-down train these days, but we now have about 4 times more pairs of infant socks for these two than we had for Ada. That is, twice as many per kid. The newborn clothes are now in three overstuffed drawers, while everything else is in labeled boxes by size. The room is now accessible again, which makes me incredibly happy. (Thanks, Karen!)

brown j crew hat
Soft brown hat of no special provenance

This hat is new, or was when I bought it. It is a soft brown J. Crew hat that I got ages ago. I used to wear it when I had really short hair, but have not put it on for years.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Can't Go On, I Must Go On*

When I started taking pictures for my Look Out Below project four months ago I was not sure how it would go. I kind of envisioned the worst - lots of pictures of my feet - but that has only happened a couple of times.

I have taken more pictures of Ada than I thought I would. That has been a pleasure, being able to think about portraits in a new way.

01/20/09 Beloved Balloon

04/24/09 Legs and Eyes

Signs and text continue to enchant me, and it has been nice to find them accessible from different angles:
01/03/09 Top Stop01/16/09 WPA Fragment01/22/09 Zone01/19/09 Ada wants in

Other things I have noticed coming up a lot:
And a few things that don't fall into a category but that I am glad to have captured:
04/19/09 Calm Amidst the Play03/22/09 Remains of Brunch04/29/09 Backyard Bird02/08/09 Park
Clockwise, from upper left: Monkey Boy at the park; remains of brunch at Stephanie's house; Ada at the park; dead bird with cherry blossoms

*apropos of nothing, but hoping that at least Susie and Mike are amused.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Questions for a mother

When I talked to my sister earlier this week, she asked what I was doing for our mom for mothers day. I said that I was going to put it off a week, because our parents would be in town the weekend after Mother's Day, so what was the point of sending a gift  when I could just hand my mother one a mere week later.  "You know, like I am doing with your  birthday" I added. (We happened to be talking on Karen's birthday, she is coming here next week, and I am lazy like that.)

I still don't have a Mother's Day gift for my mom, but I do think I will use the excuse of Mother's Day to ask her some questions. Lisa Belkin posted these questions on the Motherlode blog. Belkin saw them in a recent issue of Real Simple (the original article, by Judith Newman, is available on CNN's website)

  1. What’s the one thing you would have done differently as a mom?
  2. Why did you choose to be with my father?
  3. In what ways do you think I’m like you?
  4. Which one of us kids did you like the best?
  5. Is there anything you have always wanted to tell me but never have?
  6. Do you think it’s easier or harder to be a mother now than when you were raising our family?
  7. Is there anything you regret not having asked your parents?
  8. What’s the best thing I can do for you right now?
  9. Is there anything that you wish had been different between us — or that you would still like to change?
  10. When did you realize you were no longer a child?

To be fair I will be willing to share my answers with her too. And with you, too. Some of the answers are about my relationship with her, others about my relationship with Ada. I imagine the answers will be different next year, and the year after that. Here is what I have now:
  1. I am sort of going to punt on this one - I think there is a lot I will wish I'd done differently by the time the kids are grown. At this point, the main thing I can think of is that I wish that I could more fully get over my own boredom and impatience with much toddler play and just do what Ada wants me to do, even when that is pretending to make pancakes for the 30th time this week. 
  2. I chose to be with Chris for a lot of reasons. I fell in love with him in college, and I remember thinking that he was, in a dating sense, above my class. He was beautiful and calm and sweet. (He still is.) I stayed with him because he is thoughtful, funny, a good cook, smart, athletic, tall and a bunch of equally important and unimportant things. Maybe we can wait until father's day to get into this more. (He's already blushing a bit.)
  3. How am I like my mother, or like Ada? It is easier for me to think about the ways Ada and I are alike: we are both very emotional, hearts-on-our-sleeves types; easily frustrated; easily amused;  love carbohydrates, beets and picking up flotsam. I hope I am analytic like my mother. My mother has often said that she and I are the "nice" ones in the family, meaning the ones most prone to do things to make others happy rather than act on our own desires. I am not sure that is more true of me than it is of Karen, we just express ourselves differently.  
  4. Right now this is easy - Ada is way more entertaining that the twins are. I think this question will get a lot harder in the coming years. This is the one question I am not sure my mom will answer, and I don't know what she'll say if she does. She and my father have been good about not playing favorites. To a great extent I think their expectations for my sister have been higher, so that might feel like they held back more with her, but I never felt like they loved one of us more.
  5. I wonder whether I will tell Ada how angry I am at her for refusing to potty train. (hmm, writing that in the blog might make that moot...)  Similarly, I would want to wait a long long time before telling the twins that while I was pregnant I was ambivalent about whether I should have tried again after Ada, whether it would have been better to just have one child. that seems like the kind of thing that it is okay for an adult child to know, but not something I'd want a kid to hear.
  6. I think there are a lot of things that are easier for me than they were for my mother. I had Ada at 34, my mom had me at 30. My age seems normal among my friends, but my mom was kind of an anomaly for waiting "so long" to have kids. Plus, my mother (the workaholic) no doubt had fewer resources to establish a work-life balance. My sister and I tended to see my mom as working all the time, even though she worked part time when we were little. 
  7. Nothing I regret not asking them yet. They are pretty open when I have a question and (fingers crossed) they'll be around for a while.
  8. Another split question. If I am telling my mom how she can help, it will be about helping with the twins and Ada. If Ada is telling me what she needs, I would guess that she'd ask for more of my undivided attention. And more dessert.
  9. For Ada, I wish I was better at giving her my undivided attention and hiding my boredom with some toddler play. For my mother, I think we have a pretty good relationship. Maybe I wish I was less concerned about what she and my father think of me and my life. 
  10. I probably thought I was not a child long before I really grew up. It's that first child syndrome - interact a lot with adults and you think you are one. 
M + B 
In part because I know a couple of women who have recently lost their mothers, and also because my cousins just lost their father, I have been thinking a lot recently about my parents and my relationship with them as a child and an adult. I have a good an honest relationship with my parents, but often we don't talk about big things because we are so busy discussing the details of toddler conversations or what to have for dinner when they visit or a million other important details of daily life. These ten questions may not be the only ones I want to ask, but they are a start.

How would you answer these questions? Tell me in comments or post on your own blog. (If you do the latter, let me know so I can check in to see the answers!) What other questions should I ask my mother? What would you like to ask your own mother?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Play An Accordian

As someone else said, they are just like anybody else, but more so.

David Maysles

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Quaker Maid My Day

Week 34 Pictures present: more forgotten hats from the archives:

This week's hat (made exclusively by Quaker Maid) is a red and white cap with some fun detailing. As a small hat meant to perch on the top of the head, it is a little hard to show off while simultaneously capturing the wonder that is my belly.

Take 34 - take 4
Getting my belly lined up within the frame is getting harder

Oh, and speaking of the wonder that is my belly, behold:

Week 34 - take 3
Thanks again Rachel, for the pants-by-mail!

Hat, front detailfront and back details show
I love the detailing on this hat, though I can't quite figure out what kind of Quaker would have made it. Certainly not this guy.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Yes, But...

Glipses at my ongoing efforts to gain some better perspective on things

Scene 1: Forgotten Hospital Tour

Me: CRAP! Crap crap crap! We forgot to go to the hospital tour last night.
Me, rationally: It's okay, we can reschedule. Look, we're rescheduled.
Me: Yes, but for two weeks from now. What if I have gone into labor by then?
MR: What's the worst that happens? We haven't seen the maternity wing ahead of time? So what? You have a general idea what it is going to look like from the other hospital.
Me: Yes, but what if we go in the wrong door?
MR: I am pretty sure the hospital staff deals with that fairly well. They'll help us get where we need to go.
Me: Yes, but I need to see the operating room ahead of time. What if we get there and it freaks me out?
MR: How likely is that, really? Remember last time, when you were fully dilated and trying not to push as we drove to the hospital? Do you remember making jokes on the drive?
Me: Yes, but this is different!
MR: Different how?
Me: I might need a cesarean!
MR: Let's not assume you will. Let's prepare for it but also let things go how they will.
Me: Yes, but...but I hate it when I forget things. Things I have written on my calendar and everything.
MR: I know you do. I'll help you remember to check your calendar more, ok?

(Now that I am in the "safe zone" of 34 weeks, I figure I could go into labor any time. If labor doesn't start before Tuesday night, I will waddle through the tour this week. Of course, if it starts while I am on the tour I am sure I will be complaining that I forgot to bring my hospital bag along.)

Friday, May 01, 2009

What Happens When I Listen To Sarah

The other day Sarah wrote about being tired of saying "no" to her children all the time, and working on saying "yes" more. It was with that on my mind that Ada and I took a trip to a local stationary and random stuff store so that I could buy some thank you cards. Within 30 seconds of entering, Ada declared it a "boring store" but gamely played along while I picked out some cards and took them to the counter.

Turns out the counter is right by a rack of containers filled with all manner of plastic crap small, inexpensive toys of the type Ada adores. As she swooned over this and that bit of plastic, I told her that she could pick out one to take home. Ever the clever negotiator, Ada responded with "how about these two?" pointing to a pig and a ninja. "Sure." Everyone went home happy - I had my cards and Ada had 70 cents worth of joy.

New Treasures
04/22/09 Ninja Jumps the Pig