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The twins’ birth story (part 1)

17 Sep

Editor’s note: Christopher kept a handwritten journal while we were in the hospital. I asked him to jot down a few notes for this very purpose, but he took it to another level. #journalists That journal, which he has continued sporadically since we came home, is how we both remember this experience so vividly—and will be able to look back on it in such detail.

Some of this might be too much information, so if you are bothered by talk of bodily functions and things of that nature, maybe just skip this post…

Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013

Our friends Chris and Sarah were coming over for lunch. Sarah arrived right on time; in fact, she was ringing our doorbell around noon, and we were pulling in the driveway after grocery shopping that morning. Chris, however, was late; he didn’t walk through the back gate until close to 1:15 p.m.

We brought the dogs (Dexter and Sarah’s pooch, Ranger) inside and planned to simultaneously get lunch on the grill and show everyone around the house.

I was having a Braxton Hicks contraction and went to the bathroom. I had to pee, and I thought I had to poop, but I couldn’t. I lifted my bum off the toilet seat and felt a gush of water. My water broke.

Meanwhile, Christopher was in the kitchen with Chris and Sarah. He said he would throw the hot dogs on the grill, while I showed Chris and Sarah around the house. I prayed he wouldn’t step outside. I needed to tell him what happened. I needed to not have to walk all over the place leaking amniotic fluid.

Christopher must have realized that I had been in the bathroom a bit longer than normal, because he nixed his plans to grill and instead showed Chris and Sarah around the house. I gathered myself in the bathroom, cleaned up as much as possible and pulled on my skirt. I stepped out and down the hall, into the master bedroom, where Christopher and our company were standing. I said something like, “So, my water just broke…” Christopher replied, simply, “Are you serious?”

Chris and Sarah politely and quickly excused themselves. I ventured into the master bathroom to again tend to myself and prepare myself to leave the house. Christopher must have started to tidy up and prepare to leave, too. The house was painfully quiet. I was strangely calm. I think Christopher was, too.

Christopher and I finished packing our hospital bags; we threw in more clothes, knowing we would be there a few more days, our toiletries, our electronics. We were very methodical and deliberate about it. I said something like, “Don’t worry, we’ve got time.” Christopher, on the other hand, was skeptical. It would turn out that he was right.

I wanted to eat so badly. I hadn’t eaten anything since our eggs, bacon and potatoes for breakfast, and Sarah had left behind two brown butter sugar cookies from a new bakery, but I knew I couldn’t because it could interfere with surgery. Christopher, too, wanted to eat. He grabbed a couple of leftover brats out of the fridge, and he threw a couple of Diet Cokes in our bag, along with his procured-earlier-that-morning fantasy football magazine.

As we hopped into the SUV, Christopher sent out a mysterious Facebook message, while I concentrated on remaining calm. We contemplated calling our parents, but we opted to wait until we knew what exactly what was going on. We also wondered which doctor was on call. We prayed that was Dr. LeMay.

We unloaded ourselves and our bags—a rolling suitcase, a canvas tote bag and a pillow—and walked into the main entrance of the hospital, past the reception desk and straight to the elevators. Just as the elevator took off for the Birthing Center on the third floor, I experienced the first of what I can only assume was a real, honest-to-God contraction; it felt like menstrual cramps, rather than just the tightness of the Braxton Hicks contractions. As the door opened, Christopher looked on in sympathy and anticipation.

The moment we walked into the Birthing Center about 2 p.m., Mary directed us to room 343. They knew we were coming; Christopher had called ahead while I was in the bathroom at home.

(Mary, who was with us for delivery and then again one more day, and who has 11 kids of her own, quickly became one of our favorite nurses.)

Mary hooked me up to the monitors and, after a few minutes, declared that nothing much more than a bit of “agitation” was going on. I assured her my water broke. Mary then checked my cervix and revealed I was 3 cm dilated and 100 percent effaced. Whoa! When did that happen?

Another nurse joined the crew and inserted my catheter. I grimaced as she got in and inflated the tiny balloon. Mary put in my IV and started me on lactated ringers, or fluid to keep me hydrated. She also gave me a dose of Bicitra to neutralize my stomach acid in anticipation of surgery.

It wasn’t long before my contractions intensified. I was near tears at some points. They came out of absolute nowhere. And it seemed like they weren’t going to stop.

Mary assured us they were getting the team together.

As it neared 3 p.m., Christopher, who sat in a chair alongside my hospital bed, watched the monitors. My contractions were halfway up the grid. He reassured me that Dr. LeMay, who thankfully was the doctor on call that day (Hallelujah!), was getting an all-star team together. Just as he said that, the good doctor walked in the room.

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About 2:55 p.m., just before “go” time, Christopher scrubbed up. Then, about 3 p.m., Mike, the anesthesiologist, arrived to explain the spinal block. Finally, about 3:10 p.m., the nurses wheeled me out of my room.

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The nursery

8 Aug

*Note: One. Week. From. Today. We’re having babies. Holy moley.

The girls’ room quickly has become our favorite room in the house. In fact, except for curtains and glider cushions (coming with my mom in a couple of weeks) and, of course, two baby girls, it’s the only room that is completely finished.

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We selected this Up and Away bedding from Cocalo on a whim. We never really picked a theme until we saw this set at Babies R Us. We liked the idea of bright colors, with not too much of that ‘baby girl pink’, and animals. I also liked the idea of fun, geometric patterns. This set captured all of those desires, and it really became the foundation for everything in the nursery.

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We (mostly Christopher and my dad) refinished my old dresser (which has been to all of my apartments and homes over the last 10-plus years) and my old changing table (which dates back to the mid-1980s) to match the dark cherry cribs.

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The guys stripped and stained the dresser, but after mixed results, opted to spray paint it. It turned out great. Christopher and I found the pink knobs at Target to complete the look.

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The guys stripped and stained this piece, and it turned out perfect. I picked up the storage bins to hold all of our diapering things (disposables on the top shelf, cloth on the bottom) at Walmart.

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I made the mobile to hang over the changing table, and despite my carpal tunnel, it turned out pretty well. I am in love with the felt elephants and birds (not so much the giraffes, which look like Homer Simpson, so just ignore those). I’m not crazy about the final assembly or how it hangs, but it definitely works.

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We received this piece as a gift and centered it over the cribs.

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Christopher made these adorable silhouette giraffe prints using three kinds of scrapbook paper. There’s one for each girl, and they’re inverses – one is a green giraffe with pink spots and this one is pink with green spots.

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I doctored up this free printable by covering the heart under the word ‘girls’ with a bird that matched our theme. There’s one for each girl, naturally.

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Finally, to eat up a little more wall space on the wall opposite the cribs, I made this family ‘portrait’ by cutting elephants in adult and child sizes out of scrapbook paper, then added a cut-out of our beloved Dexter, the black lab.

The only thing not pictured is, as mentioned above, the curtain-less window and the cushion-less glider. Christopher and my dad spray painted the glider (a hand-me-down from Chris’ parents) and my mom recovered cushions. My mom also made curtains. Those will go in when she comes down in about a week.

So, that’s the room where our little ones will spend a lot of time. It’s full of color and cuteness and loads of love; everyone, mommy and daddy especially, contributed to it – either by literally sweating over a project or picking out something that goes with the room, and that makes it extra special.

We can’t wait to bring them home.

36 weeks

4 Aug

Written Friday, Aug. 2, 2013

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How Big are the Babies?

My sources say the babies are as big as honeydew melons or heads of Romaine lettuce this week, measuring more than 18 1/2 inches, head to heel, and weighing almost 6 pounds.

Our girls aren’t quite there yet (see below), but they should continue to pack on the weight over the next couple of weeks.

We’ve used both the melons (35 weeks) and the lettuce (33 weeks), so…you get an extra photo from our maternity shoot.

How I’m Changing

I’m still pregnant!

I still don’t really seem to be getting bigger, but I definitely have the stretch marks and sore back that might suggest otherwise.

I’m not really having any signs of labor, either, just the typical Braxton Hicks contractions.

Things are definitely getting tough: Getting up from the couch, getting out of the car or rolling over in bed all are athletic events. Even sitting in my desk chair or on the couch for too long is uncomfortable because my posture suffers with the huge belly.

Oh! I’m not working anymore, as of today. It’s bittersweet, but I’m ready for the rest…and to wear nothing but my pajamas all day.

How I’m Feeling/What I’m Thinking

First things first, we scheduled our C-section for Thursday, Aug. 15…aka TWO WEEKS FROM YESTERDAY (and less than that from the day of this post going live)!

I’m still bummed about having to go the surgery route, but I feel so much more at peace about a scheduled C-section. I think it’s because I can prepare for it (see below) and I know that, if we make it to Aug. 15, I will have my regular doctor, rather than whoever is on call.

Next, we learned Baby A weighs 4 lbs. 1 oz. and Baby B weighs 4 lbs. 13 oz. Their growth has fallen off the “typical” curve; A is in the 10th percentile and B is in the 13th, but our doctor couldn’t be less worried. He didn’t exactly give us reasons for his lack of concern, but our OB nurse, who does our non-stress tests twice a week, and who we really have grown attached to, did: She basically said some babies grow fast, others grow slow…but it’s not all about how big they are. Size is important, but it’s important relative to so many other things — breathing, brain development, etc.

So, all in all, we’re worried – we don’t want them to have to go to the NICU in Rockford and be separated from them — but it’s less of a worry than it was when we learned their weights from the ultrasound tech.

Finally, our testing nurse verbally walked us through a C-section so we know exactly what to expect, and both Christopher and I feel better about it. We likely can have as good an experience (skin-to-skin contact, immediate breastfeeding, etc.) as we would have asked for in the nonsurgical setting.

 

  • Weight gained (to date): 33  lbs.
  • Workouts: Three – all walks around the neighborhood with Christopher and Dexter.
  • Food aversions: Still none!
  • Food cravings: Chocolate chip cookies and Baker’s Square pie – French silk, to be exact.
  • Baby items purchased: These romper sets that we spied a month ago at Babies R Us but hadn’t been able to find in 9 month size until I found them on the clearance rack at Farm & Fleet.
  • Baby items received: A box of clothes from the daughter of a friend of my mom’s and a bag of clothes and a few other things from Christopher’s mom. We have absolutely no shortage of clothes for the first 3 months, that’s for sure!
  • Maternity clothes that still fit: Very few…
  • Days until the girls’ scheduled arrival: 13 (as of Friday).
  • Next prenatal appointment: Monday, 36 1/2 weeks, a routine checkup, including labs, and a non-stress test.

Our last photos as a twosome

1 Aug

Christopher and I snapped some maternity photos to document our lives as a twosome as it transitions to that of a foursome, to document our love for each other and for the girls about to rock our world and to show off the bump without the help of fruits and vegetables…

These are some of my favorites:

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35 weeks

29 Jul

Written Friday, July 26 2013

35 - Honeydew babies

How Big are the Babies?

My sources say the babies are as big as coconuts or honeydew melons this week, measuring more than 18 inches, head to heel, and weighing more than 5 pounds.

How I’m Changing

I’ve made it to week 35 – the length of the average twin pregnancy – and I’m here to tell about it!

I have this hunch these girls and I are in this for the long(er) haul…at least a couple more weeks.

I don’t seem to be getting bigger, so the girls don’t have a lot of room to move around in there – but they continue to wiggle around.

But I do continue to have my other “symptoms” – carpal tunnel, fatigue, aches and pains, which now are coming in the low back and low abdomen, occasionally.

How I’m Feeling/What I’m Thinking

I entered “testing” this past week; I have to go to the hospital for non-stress tests twice a week every week until delivery.

We went Monday and Thursday. The nurse first did an ultrasound to monitor movement and practice breathing, as well as to check the girls’ positions, the amount of amniotic fluid and the condition of the placentas. She then strapped a couple of monitors to my belly to measure heart rates and contractions. The girls and I got an A+ both days.

I have a new concern, though, as of this week: I seem headed for a C-section.

Baby A is breech – she was on Monday and Thursday and still feels that way today – while Baby B is more transverse. Neither one is in a position to facilitate a vaginal delivery.

I’m so bummed. Obviously, the girls will arrive happy and healthy, vaginal birth or C-section. But still, I’m really bummed.

I don’t know what to expect – I’ve never had major surgery in my life! I don’t know how I’ll react to the drugs. I’m petrified of the sterile operating room environment. I hate that I’ll have a scar and a longer recovery.

I know there is still a small, small chance Baby A could flip…but I also know, if she doesn’t, then there isn’t much I can do.

Amy reminded me that I am still birthing those babies, even if it is via a C-section, and she even noted that my path might be a bit harder and scarier…which was some comfort. But I still feel gypped.

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  • Weight gained (to date): 32  lbs.
  • Workouts: Three – all walks around the neighborhood with Christopher and Dexter.
  • Food aversions: Still none!
  • Food cravings: Pizza.
  • Maternity items purchased: None.
  • Baby items purchased: Books from Goodwill.
  • Baby items received: A couple of gifts from friends.
  • Pieces of artwork made for the nursery: Six. I can’t wait to take pictures of the final product and show off this special space. I love it so much.
  • Friends who visited us: Andrew, who we haven’t seen since our wedding, and Valerie and her husband, Andy, who are expecting their first baby in December.
  • Friends who we visited: Angel and Christina, who welcomed their first baby a few weeks ago.
  • Next prenatal appointment: Monday, 35 1/2 weeks, when we actually have three appointments – an ultrasound, a routine checkup and a non-stress test.

On being a stay-at-home mom

24 Jul

When I started documenting my pregnancy on the blog, I had every intention of doing other posts besides the weekly updates – choosing names, packing the hospital bag, putting together the nursery… But after doing the updates got to be so routine (albeit interrupted by moving), the other posts seemed too big to tackle or uninteresting.

Except this one…

I was reminded of my intention to write a post about staying at home vs. working full time when Carin over at The Baby Doctor’s Wife tackled the same topic last week.

So, here’s my take…

I wasn’t one of those girls who had her wedding planned long before she got married. I wasn’t one of those girls who had her perfect little family all figured out – number of children, names of said children, etc. – long before she got pregnant. I just didn’t think about that stuff too much.

But I am one of those girls who has known for a long time that she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Christopher, apparently, has envisioned for a long time, too, that the mother of his children would stay home with them.

Neither of us took strides to ensure that situation would work, though. We chose the journalist lifestyle. We don’t make a lot of money. We work wonky hours – early mornings, late nights, split shifts. We don’t have a ‘typical’ day.

We moved around a lot in the last three or four years. We didn’t really put down roots until after we found out we were expecting twins. We saved money and lived on a budget – to the best of our abilities – all that time. But we didn’t really examine our finances – and decide to buy a house/pay a mortgage rather than rent and ditch cable and other ‘luxuries’ – until we found out we were expecting twins.

Despite our desire to have me stay at home with our children, we sort of anticipated I would continue to work. It’s hard to give up a full-time reporting job – especially only 10 months into the gig – a career that is fulfilling and rewarding, albeit demanding. There’s always day care, anyway.

The news we got in January, though – that we were expecting not one, but two bundles of joy this summer – gave us pause. Day care for two infants would eat up my entire paycheck every two weeks. Day care centers might not even have space for two infants at once. Sure, Christopher could watch them during the day, until he went to work, then I could take over in the evening, when I got home. But who would cover them during the times our schedules overlapped? It just seemed too complicated a situation for even a reliable nanny.

So, we decided, very matter-of-factly, that Christopher would be the breadwinner, and I would be the caretaker (and that, in time, I would go back to freelancing to supplement our income).

Why do I want to be a stay-at-home mom? And why was that my intention long before even getting pregnant?

My upbringing – that’s why. My dad was a draftsman (for the same company for more than 25 years now), while my mom was a stay-at-home mom – at least until my younger brother, Kyle, and I were in school. We had a small house with a big backyard and a pool. Oma and Opa lived three houses down the block. We lived paycheck to paycheck (I assume), but we were happy because we had everything we needed and then some.

I don’t know that I truly appreciated my mom being at home with us at the time, but I sure did later on.

Don’t get me wrong, I know staying at home isn’t an option for everyone: Some women want to go back to work, while others have to go back to work just to make ends meet. And for those women, there are some great day cares and some caring and compassionate day care providers.

But I know that, for us, this is the best situation.

Will I miss my job? Absolutely!

But am I excited for my new job as mom? You bet.

34 weeks

22 Jul

Written Friday, July 19, 2013

34 - Cantaloupe babies

How Big are the Babies?

My sources say the babies are as big as cantaloupes or butternut squash this week, measuring almost 18 inches, head to heel, and weighing about 4 3/4 pounds.

How I’m Changing

Blah blah blah tired. Blah blah blah uncomfortable. Blah blah blah hungry.

This week, the girls have made tap-dancing on my cervix their pastime. It feels so weird and sends a bolt of lightning through my body.

Also this week, the Braxton Hicks contractions have slowed but seem stronger and to last a bit longer.

How I’m Feeling/What I’m Thinking

First, our doctor appointment Wednesday was quick but went well. The doctor still thinks I look great and he, like he always does, tells me I’m doing a good job. I’m measuring at 39 weeks, the girls’ heart rates are around 150 bpm, and I’m now in “testing.”

Every week from now on, I have to go to the hospital for non-stress tests. They’ll strap a couple of monitors to my belly, one each to measure the girls’ heart rates and movements and one to measure contractions. It’ll give the doctors an idea of how, if at all, things are progressing.

Next, I’ve given my two weeks’ notice at work, which means my last day of work, if nothing happens between now and then, is Friday, Aug. 2. I have two sick days to use, so I’m going to take the next two Mondays (when I have doctor appointments anyway) so I don’t lose the time.

And last, just because it has to be said, I still hate hearing how small I am for carrying twins this far into my pregnancy. Ugh. Seriously, people? Get a new line. Also, there’s a big difference between, “You’re so small. You look great!” and, “You’re so small.” accompanied by a funny look at my belly. And to the cashier at Jo Ann Fabrics? Just because I appear small does not mean my babies are going to come out “dinky.” Yep, that’s right; she said that.

34 - Cantaloupe profile

  • Weight gained (to date): 31 lbs.
  • Workouts: One purposeful long walk last Saturday.
  • Food aversions: Still none.
  • Food cravings: Watermelon (still…) plus Twizzlers, brownies and pancakes. Think my body wants carbs? Sheesh.
  • Maternity items purchased: None, unless you count the few things necessary to pack the hospital bag.
  • Baby items purchased: None.
  • Baby items received: A few things, including some wall art from Ruth, my mom’s good friend. Oh, and our stroller!
  • Baby items assembled: Two. We installed the car seats (just need to have the bases checked by the fire department) and assembled the stroller.
  • Episodes of “The West Wing” watched while crafting: More than a dozen… #besttvshowever
  • Next prenatal appointment: Monday (today), 34 1/2 weeks.