Saturday, December 29, 2012

18-week appointment

It went well. Truly as good as it could go. They measured fluid and my cervix and looked at the babies bladders (I guess this would give them clues to possible TTTS). Fluid looks good - Baby B's fluid is slightly lower but only by 1cm compared to Baby A's. They don't start being concerned until there is a 3cm difference between the two. My cervix is awesome - probably the best thing I have going for me. In fact, my doomsday self was wondering if a bed rest order would come with this appointment. Instead, she told me I have no restrictions at all on activity or lifting...that it is even okay to lift my 33lb daughter occasionally. Bladders look good. This wasn't a growth scan, but she did say that although Baby B is still smaller, the difference between the two did not appear to be much different than the previous appointment. Next appointment is scheduled for January 7th and that will be a full-blown growth scan.

We spent the day recovering for a very busy holiday. Pajama day for everybody. Unfortunately by 6PM I was feeling pretty bad. Cramping, tight...I was concerned. It lasted for about 5 hours. If I hadn't had the appointment in the morning with my awesome cervix, I probably would have taken a stroll down the street to the hospital. But here I am awake the next morning, feeling normal. And about to eat some pizza as I skipped dinner last night after not feeling well. The only bad news from today's appointment - no weight gain from the previous appointment. I thought for sure there was...she asked me to weigh myself in the bathroom. I did and came running to her in excitement - I'm up to 138lbs! She showed no excitement - this is what was on my chart from the appointment two weeks ago. She hasn't given me any specific goals or anything...has just said to make sure I eat three meals a day with two snacks. Well, I blew those orders last night, but today is a new day.

More resting this weekend...hope you get to have some too.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas!

It's 5AM Christmas morning and I'm wide awake, waiting for Little Miss to wake up. This will most likely be the one morning in her short history that she sleeps beyond 8AM.:-)
Follow-up - I didn't post this right away, she did sleep until 8:30AM!

I'm really, REALLY enjoying the holidays this year. Three is such a perfect age. I always hear parents say that they wish their kids would stay three and four forever. I never understood it. I do now. The wonder, the excitement, the unbridled enthusiasm for pretty much really is magical.

After we got Emmeline to bed, DH and I sat in front of the Christmas tree, nibbled on Santa's cookies and talked about next Christmas. The twins will be around 8 months. Really, Emmeline has a couple more Christmas holidays of it being all about her. Then we looked at the pile of presents and tried to visualize it...times three. We both agreed that all other issues aside, our house simply does not have the room to accommodate that. That is an advantage of deciding to stay in a smaller home - it keeps the consumerism at bay and forces constant purging and organization...if not, you would have to stay tuned to see us on a future episode of "Hoarders".

In other news, I've started some hardcore nesting. I've been getting some boys clothes, from friends and the resale shop. I've gone through my baby stuff pile and took inventory. I now have a beautiful new armoire because I have kept my clothes in what will be the babies' room. It feels good to get some things in order...I have a feeling that this post-holiday time before they're here will go very quickly.

Emmeline continues to talk about the "babies in her tummy". She will tell me that she has to eat a lot to help them grow. They make her so tired. After she kisses the babies in my tummy in the morning, she asks me to kiss her babies. I wonder when she expects them to arrive...

In terms of how I feel - okay. Just okay. I've been so tired lately, but it is really hard to determine if it is just holiday tired or pregnancy tired. Probably a bit of both. I am also waiting for some cravings to kick in...of anything! I just want to feel excited about food again. It still feels like I'm force-feeding myself.

18-week appointment this morning. I'm anxious because the 16-week one was really just a baseline. We'll have a clearer picture of what is going on this week. Fingers crossed that Baby B (the smaller one) has grown appropriately. I now feel them both move (yes, I can tell them apart), but Baby A is definitely more active. It's funny - I remember all the concerns I had with ultrasounds with Emmeline...and now I have those same concerns times two.

Times two.

Can you tell a bit of denial still lingers?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The babies in my belly...

Semester...and done. I made it. I have to go in one last time today to meet with the Dean to set up my non-teaching assignment for next semester, but that's it. I can't say it was my best semester, but I can't say it was my worst. I'm just proud to have made it with minimal impact to my students. The highlight of it all was being able to walk with faculty at was fun, plain and simple. My colleague and I ended up being seated right on the edge where all the graduates would walk right past us. We spent most of the 2 hours analyzing their shoes. You could tell that for many of them, it was their way of trying to be individuals in a sea of black gowns. ;-) Speaking of which, Emmeline got a big kick out of me wearing my gown and when I came home, she sat at the piano and sang a song about graduation...the lyrics went something like this "graduation, graduation, graduation". :-).

So, 17 weeks yesterday. Due to request, I took a belly pic. I do admit, although my belly is bigger, I do look skinnier than I did in the previous weeks. I think they are feeding off my fat reserves. In spite my best efforts, I guess I'm still not keeping up with these guys. Still only up 6 lbs. My ob isn't concerned yet - we'll see what she has to say at our next appointment on Dec. 28th.

Oh, and as soon as Emmeline found out I was taking a picture of my belly, she wanted a picture of the "babies in her belly" too. It's hilarious - last night, I asked her if she wanted to put together a puzzle with me. She threw her hand over her forehead and laid back on the pillow and said "I can't. I need to rest. The babies are making me SOOO tired.". Hmmm...I wonder where she's heard that before.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pork Belly

That's code for "We're having identical boys!". Yes, it was a fun night at our favorite Ann Arbor restaurant - Mani. We brought the sealed envelope. This sealed envelope has remained in my purse, unopened, since Monday. I'm completely impressed with myself.

We handed the envelope to the waitress and wrote on it "Calamari = Girls; Pork Belly = Boys" and explained the deal. She was a good sport and I think she was excited to participate. We watched her walk over to her computer system, and then suddenly, she was surrounded by a bunch of other wait staff. At this point, we turned away because we were nervous that one of them would slip. The interesting thing is that we were sitting at the "chef's table". This is a bar-like area that is essentially attached to the front of the kitchen, giving one a close-up and personal view if it all....and, in front of us, was the printer that printed out orders as they were typed in. We realized that we also had to divert our eyes from that machine. So we just looked at each other and talked about our preference. The conversation started with "No preference...really." But by the time the appetizer arrived, we settled on the idea that boys may be the hope - for a couple of reasons. One, it would be nice to experience raising each sex. Two, we both agreed that although Emmeline would do okay either way, boys might be easier on her; especially since they are identical. Identical twins are known for having such an emotionally-tight, telepathic-like bond, that I think it will just be easier on Emmeline without the additional female component. So within about 4 minutes, our preference went from "No preference" to "Boys".

Then the pork belly arrived. Oh, that meant boys. Girls were designated calamari. For the record, we also ordered calamari after the surprise pork belly arrived. :-) It arrived with a blue, lit candle on the side. We promptly reopened the envelope which contained the very telling ultrasound pics and staged a picture with the pics, the candle and the pork belly. See below.

Boys. Boys. BoyS. BOYS. It is sinking in. A whole new world. Twins would have been a whole new world...then identical identical twin boys.

How did Emmeline react? Well, she's been claiming that she wants boys all week. But I predicted her three-year-old behavior accurately...I told my DH that I bet when we told her the news she would say something like "Oh, I want girls.". She asked us immediately when we walked in the door "Are the babies boys or girls?". Initially, she said "Yay!" when we told her the news. Then, sure enough, that changed to "I want girls.: :-) Sorry honey, I know it's a hard concept to wrap your head around, but none of us have control over the gender.

So, we never really bought Emmeline real "girly" toys, so we are fine on that end...but clothes - well, different story. While I have a ton of friends with little ladies, it is much slimmer on the boy front. My BFF has three of them, but she explained that when boys clothes get through the third boy, they're about done. I get that. So a little girl clothes purging and little boy clothes shopping over the holiday break.

Speaking of which, my last faculty meeting is today. Then I give a final exam on Tuesday and I'm done. Finished up Emmeline's and most of the rest of my shopping yesterday. Just some Christmas cards to address and a few more cookies to bake. Wow, done possibly a week ahead of time? Probably the last time I will have that experience in the next 18 years or so.

I leave you with the pork belly/ultrasound pic:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

16 week appointment

How did I forget that the 16-week ultrasound was a longer one where they scan every organ, finger and toe. Times two. The ultrasound itself was about an hour and fifteen minutes long followed by a meeting with the doc.

The good: all organs are functioning and there is ten of everything on each baby. Stats? Baby A is measuring 17w5d and Baby B is measuring 16w4d. Confusing because Baby B seems to be measuring on schedule which would mean that Baby A is actually a week ahead. But the ob is suspicious of the dates and thinks that there may be a possibility that Baby A is on schedule and Baby B is small. I don't know what to think- I gave them the right date of my last period and we did have a dating ultrasound at 6weeks that confirmed that date. We'll just have to wait till the next ultrasound to get a clearer picture.

The concerns? Two old ones; one new one.

1) Twin to Twin Transfusion
2) Preeclampsia
3) Velamentous Cord Insertion (Baby B)

There are no signs of the first two yet, although my ob seems to be most concerned about the preeclampsia. Apparently because mine was classified as "severe" at the end and also was early onset, my chances of it happening again actually increase with a second pregnancy...and then add the twin thing on top of that added risk. As for the twin-to-twin, no signs yet. And what is a velamentous cord insertion, you may ask? The cord has inserted just outside the placenta. It is still getting use of the placenta, but as the baby continues to have increased needs, it may not be effective enough for that baby to keep up a good growth rate. The thing is that while twin-to-twin transfusion has a couple of options for solutions and even preeclampsia has some options such as bedrest, it sounds like the most likely solution for issues with a velmentous cord is delivery. None of this was new information or surprising to me...I knew the twin-to-twin stuff, I have direct experience with preeclampsia and although I didn't know that one of the babies had a velamentous cord, I knew what that may mean. The one thing that the doctor said that had me catch my breath a little is that she mentioned viability and that if any one of the above situations was occurring, the options would be evaluated as to keep the babies in and take them at 25/26 weeks. 25/26 weeks. That's like 9 weeks away. Up until now, I only had numbers in the 30's floating around in my head.

All the above being's still all "chances" at this point in the game. In the moment, the babies look good. "It's a good start", she even said. So we'll take that for now and deal with each appointment as they come.

However, I will say that since that appointment, I feel like it's time to come out of our shell of denial and get things in order. We have some big furniture/room changes to make to accommodate two little ones in our house.

My DH heads home tomorrow after 6 days in Asia. So ready. So, so ready. I feel like I'm going to crash when he walks in the door. He has been putting E to bed every night that he is home and I realize, now that he has been gone for a stretch, what a relief that has been. I find that my body crashes about 7:30PM...but when you have a 3-year-old to put to bed, and that bedtime process takes much longer than it should...well, you have to push through.

In other news, it is the last week of classes. Yay! I made it through the entire semester with only calling in sick once and never puking in class. This, sadly, feels like an amazing accomplishment.

Next post: Thursday evening with the news of the gender. Emmeline says "boys" and given how amazingly intuitive she is, I wouldn't doubt it. Time to do some major clothes purging if that's true...because these tubes...yeah, they're getting tied during the c-section. All done.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Then there were two...

Not just babies in my tummy, but chickens.

We had four backyard chickens. One got killed by a raccoon over the summer and another bit the dust today after being attacked by a small, yet powerful hawk. I went out to give them some fresh water and found two of them throwing a fit. Then, when I didn't readily see the third, I had that sinking feeling. I discovered the carnage in the corner of their area. I'll be curious to see if Emmeline asks about her. She has never asked about the gray hen that died this summer.

Some people have asked if we are going to get a couple more. In the city of Ann Arbor, we can have four hens. I joke with the people who ask, saying that, yes, we plan on getting two baby chicks in early May (baby chick time) and raising them in our basement because we'll have time for that come

In other random news - my parents have stayed with me most of the weekend and that has been very helpful. Although, I learned something valuable about myself. I'm only really at the first step of embracing help. While I readily requested them to come out (big step), I didn't do much feet up time while they've been here. They are so good with Emmeline which gives me such a peace of mind that I find myself taking full advantage of my "alone" time opportunity. Today, that involved working on Christmas cookies...which, by the way, Emmeline loved doing. Yes, bed rest will be a challenge for me if it comes to it. I definitely like to be on the go. As my mom said to me today, "No wonder you haven't gained hardly any weight. You never sit down!". She's right. I am aware. I'm trying. Old habits die hard even with two babies inside.

16 weeks and tomorrow is the first appointment with the new high-risk ob. I'll post tomorrow night with all the details, which, of course, won't include the sex of the kiddos quite yet. See previous post ;-) Maybe on Thursday.

Friday, December 7, 2012

First parent-teacher conference...

You know, another one of those events that I daydreamed about before Little Miss came into our lives. Reading all the Facebook posts from proud parents this time of year, hoping that I could write my own proud status update someday.

It was great - of course it was. I won't list the many details, but the summary is that I am just so pleased to send her to this particular preschool. It is play-based, not to say that they don't work on things, but it is clear that their philosophy is play, socialize and gain same basic life skills now...there is plenty of time for hardcore studying later. I buy it. I know that many preschools are now much more academic. In fact, the teacher we met with said that she has had parents pull their kids from the program after conferences because they discovered "there wasn't enough worksheets". But I have had the benefit of seeing the trends of freshman over the last 11 years...clearly more worksheets at younger ages is not making kids "smarter" over time...quite the opposite.

Blah, blah, blah...something just feels good about knowing you made the right choice for child when they are yet not capable of making a particular decision.

In other random news...looking forward to the day ahead. Emmeline's in preschool, Alex is out flying and I have the day. I'm going to catch up on a little work, run some holiday errands and maybe, just maybe, relax a bit.

My parents are coming out on Sunday and my mom is going to my ultrasound with me on Monday. She never went to one with Emmeline, so I think she's pretty excited. We will probably have the opportunity to find out their sex, but it is an awkward situation. My DH won't be there. So, I think I'll have her write it down on a piece of paper and put it in an envelope. Then, when Alex gets home at the end of the week, we'll go out to dinner, give the envelope to the waiter and tell him/her to bring us one thing as an appetizer if they are girls, another if they are boys. I'm totally stealing this idea from another blogger (I forget who)...I thought it was so fun when I read about it.

I'm already thinking about our favorite restaurant - Mani in Ann Arbor. I'm thinking calamari if their girls, pork belly if their boys. ;-).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's all academic...

I just bought my first book about twins less than a week ago - yet another difference between this pregnancy and the last. Those of you who have been through infertility know how academic the process becomes. You know more about those early days of pregnancy than anyone really should. You know exactly what the beta numbers should be 5dp9dt. You know what 5dp9dt means (5 days passed a 9 day transfer). You know acceptable ranges of estrogen. You know what ultrasounds should look like at 5 weeks, 8 weeks, 10 weeks probably 12 weeks. In the midst of the academics, in the midst of trying to gain control when you have been so out of control in the process of trying to have a child, the miracle of the experience can be lost in numbers.

And then she was born. Maybe my brain had reached its intellectual capacity, maybe the mothering instinct was more powerful. Regardless, I ,for the most part, threw the books, other people's advice, etc. out the window. What should and shouldn't be done in parenting usually became just inaudible chatter to in the Charlie Brown skits. I very quickly learned that it just wasn't necessary. If I shut down that noise, most of what I needed to be a good mother was inside of me. I'm not saying I'm perfect and I'm not saying I'm great at it, but I am saying that I have no regrets in her first three years...mistakes and regrets with mostly looking inside for my innate mothering instincts that came alive the minute I saw her face.

I learned a lot about the uselessness of academics while raising her these past few years. The biggest reward of tossing the books and the chatter? I was able to fully live in the moment with her so much more easily. We've spent three years together, yet I feel like we've been connected over multiple lifetimes. I know I'll relate someday, but when people say "it goes so fast", I have yet to relate. I actually feel like the last three years have gone in slow a very good, special sort of way.

So when we found out about this pregnancy, both of my experienced philosophies came to the surface...academics vs. instincts. Guess which one initially won? Guess which one is more comfortable to embrace? Yes, the academics. I will not reveal how much time I spent on Google after the initial news of the twins. Yes, a twin-pregnancy scholar in a day or two. And then when we discovered they were monochorionic? Well, lather, rinse and repeat. The difference, though, with this compared with the pregnancy with Emmeline is a level of self-awareness. Oh...academics, research to gain control while feeling extremely out of control. Yes, I was lost in it for those first 12 weeks...nada, zip, nothing about the "miracle of the experience".

But the one baby step was that I didn't buy a book about twin pregnancy until 14 weeks. I figured that at least when I shut the computer down, I wouldn't go direct to some additional "casual" reading.

And so, now at week 15, I'm trying to back off - to make a conscious decision to lay off the research, to connect to this amazing experience on an instinct level. Frankly, I know enough to feel comfortable, to be an advocate for myself. On Monday I'm transferring to a highly-respected high risk ob - I'll be in good hands. Time the let go of some control, to connect with these TWO little buggers growing inside of me.

Because it's not all academic.

And to put a polished touched on this profound post...I have a yeast infection. Yay! ;-).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Last "us" trip for awhile...

So on Friday and Saturday, DH and I had a little overnight getaway. Some of our good friends, people I babysat for when I was 12, invited us for an expenses-paid night at Ceasar's Windsor. We relaxed, ate at a casino buffet (I actually really dislike buffets, but given that casino ones are often a little better and I am feeding two extra...well, it just seemed like the right thing to do), saw the Moscow Ballet perform the Nutcracker, ate a delicious breakfast and played a few slots. It was fun. I had two pieces of prime rib - everyone else at the table had one and yet I felt no shame. I was only proud of myself that I could do it...I have been feeling crappy lately with very little appetite. Actually, I laid in bed this morning for about an hour with a cold wash cloth on my head, trying not to loose my breakfast. Felt ok after that, but body obviously did not get the memo that the second trimester is suppose to be blissful! Ok, maybe not blissful, but at least full of energy and appetite.

Did I feel the little buggers yet? I think so. The ob doesn't think it is out of the question, given that they're twins. But I'm not officially calling it. I'll let you know when I make the official "they're kicking!" call.

Today I decided that I need to do something to bring back the "this is exciting - I'm having a baby (babies)!" feeling that I experienced throughout my pregnancy with Emmeline. Although, I've been told by friends that twins or not, it is very difficult to feel the same about the second as one did with the first. I believe that, but I just want to experience some joy about doesn't have to be often or intense, just present in some way. I wonder if something as simple as browsing a baby store would do the trick? I have spent a lot of time looking through old Emmeline photos and videos, which has been helpful. I also wonder how the feelings will change when we find out the sex. I can honestly say that I don't have a preference. The old cliche' rings long as they're healthy.

I leave you with a pic of me at 14.5 weeks in front of a tree at Ceasar's Windsor. You ever have a picture taken that destroys the acceptable image you that have of yourself? This is one of those for me. I knew in my head that I was getting pretty big, but come on! Seriously??? Where are the babies going to go? The positive thing is that this picture inspired my to start using my Burt's Mama Bee Belly Balm sooner rather than later.