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.


  1. Although it may actually be nothing to complain about really, when you consider it on a scale of 1 to 10 etc etc, it is still miserable isn't it. I lost my ankles months ago but I'd had problems with oedema in the past, fortunately I've good very good blood pressure so it's only unsightly rather than a worry.

    My husband has been brilliant, cooking and shouldering most of the house work. It would have been nice, though to have a sister who could help too.

  2. I am so glad to hear you have such support! It is a full-time job to grow two babies at the very end!

  3. I was quite vain about my swollen feet and ankles too. I was swollen for 2 months. I was never so happy to see my bony feet again.

  4. Yea, I'm sort of running out of normal existence as well, and my situation is less not-normal than yours (sorry to hear about the blood pressure).

    RIP, ankles, yours and mine both.

  5. FINALLY! Now you sound like a normal pregnant lady. I wondered when that would happen. Complain away.......
    The heat must be awful for you.
    Watch those ankles especially in the heat. Oh ya, take off those rings before it's too late. Mine were never the same after being cut off.
    Take care Nora!

  6. The race to the finish line. Just think of how much better your body will feel when they are finally here! :)

  7. amazing, amazing, amazing!!!

  8. Get in to a swimming pool if you can. Something about the pressure of all those gallons of water re-distributes the fluid that collects in your legs and feet. Hang in there!

  9. I think you've done a lot through this pregnancy. More than I do, and I'm not pregnant. I know I would feel the pressure to be productive, too, that's an awful guilty feeling when you want to but can't. Hope you can give yourself a break. Your sister sounds like a dream.
    I often think of the Woody Allen line from Annie Hall, about how there are two kinds of people, the miserable and the horrible. The horrible are the people you don't know how they get through life, they're blind, they have no legs. An the miserable...that's everyone else. So be glad you're one of the miserable.
    For some reason, I quite enjoy reciting that line to myself. Not in a look-on-the-bright-side way, just in a dark-comedy-comforts-me way. I don't know that helps you, but I felt compelled to share.

  10. Hang in there! I'm psyched you made it this far! I must admit, I'm happy to have my body back although I'll be happier once I've lost all the weight.

  11. Pregnancy is a challenge and you are growing twins! You have every right to complain. It's great that the end is right around the corner and after you have two new babies I bet it will be harder to get a break so take it now! You have a whole lifetime to be productive.

  12. During the last month of all three of my (singleton) pregnancies, I was completely useless. Felt guilty about it most of the time, but not guilty enough to be useful.

    I'm on the edge of my seat, awaiting more news. Will you update here or on twitter?

  13. The last bit is horrid but taking it easy really does make all the difference in the world! Good luck. And ps, so far these two babies have been easier to bring home and care for than our one colicky baby was ;) (*knock on wood*)

  14. do not feel guilty -- you are growing TWO babies. even with one, I got away with a lot, and feel I deserved it. overall, women are not given enough credit these days for all they do for their families: work, household care, mothering, being a wife, etc. I find it exhausting with my two little ones, and can't imagine what it would be like to have TWO newborns right now. so take a break, rest and enjoy it.

    by the way, you look great.

  15. So glad you're hanging in there. Shouldn't be too much longer - you might even make it full-term! I love your sister for being such a big help. Does SHE have a twin she could spare?