Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stages of Shock

I'd like you to think that the reason I haven't blogged for over a week is because I've been so busy with the Thanksgiving holiday and assorted other celebratory events. Unfortunately, that's just not true. I haven't written because I've been too consumed with trying to come to terms with the fact that I am carrying twins. At 24 and a half weeks pregnant, I was utterly unprepared for the news and I'm afraid I haven't been handling it well.

I'm not sure if there are "official" stages of emotional shock like there are with grief, but I think my husband and I have run the gamut of emotions at this point. Here is what the last week has held for us:

I guess deep down I knew that there was a possibility I could have twins but it just never seemed likely. This pregnancy seemed to mirror my experience with Vivi with the exception that I felt more tired. I was assured that this was common because I was chasing after a 2 and a half year old. Even showing earlier than usual didn't seem to warrant any concern and my size wasn't at all abnormal for a single baby until a few weeks ago. How could so much time pass without even a clue?

After my most recent midwife appointment, I was petrified that I had somehow done something wrong to be so big and that maybe I had endangered our baby. It was a relief to learn that, in fact, I am completely normal size for carrying twins and both babies look great.

We feel like we have been duped. My husband, Vivi, and I spent five months bonding with a baby that didn't really exist. Sure the movements were there and so was a heartbeat, but who did those things belong to? Turtle A or Turtle B?

And what about our plans to have a homebirth? Why do I have to go to the hospital now? Isn't anything in my control? I don't want to be delivering a baby in an operating room "just in case" nor do I want to build a relationship with a new practitioner this far into my pregnancy. Plus, since twins tend to come around 38 weeks, we hardly have any time to prepare! I hate that everything has to change and I don't feel like I have a say in any of it. We didn't ask for this.

If it takes a village to raise one child, how the heck are we going to raise three that are three and under? We don't have family close by and while we have wonderful friends, they all have their own familial responsibilities. We don't know if we can do it. When will we sleep? How on earth am I ever going to leave the house without my husband? How can I manage all this without freaking out and not seriously screw-up my kids?

This is what we've been given so we've got to deal with it. Maybe it's okay not to know how it's going to work logistically or how we are going to pay for everything. The reality is that I have two in there and we've got to get it together. I am not willing to tempt fate by wishing I was given only one. Besides, it doesn't matter now anyway.

Twins. Wow. That's pretty cool. I guess we don't have to revisit the question of another baby in three years. I can't wait to see what I've got in there.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Bounty

I've tried very hard not to be worried. You see, since we discovered my pregnancy, my husband and I have been amazed at my quick expansion. Everyone assured me, "It's your second pregnancy. You show quicker, that's all." None of my prenatal visits yielded anything out of the norm and my midwife has been confident in my health and my ability to have Turtle at home. Then Thursday came and everything changed.

When my midwife walked in Thursday morning, she commented on how much bigger I seemed from the month before. I agreed and questioned whether or not I could be having twins. She said that I likely would have been measuring ahead all along but that hasn't really been the case. Nor could she find two heartbeats. Her thought was that we needed to investigate whether or not I was developing gestational diabetes and/or had too much fluid in my belly which could lead to pre-term labor. I burst into tears because all the worry finally came to the surface. Was there something wrong with Turtle? Is she or he growing too big for me to have the home birth I wanted? Did I screw this up somehow by eating too many cookies? Whatever the reason, I needed an ultrasound and agreed to get one.

Before I continue, I should explain my hesitance about ultrasounds. I never had one with Vivi because it was never medically indicated. My bloodwork was always normal, my measurements were on par with my gestation, and my midwife could feel her position in utero. As someone who tries to steer clear of medical interventions, it didn't feel right to have it done especially since there has been some research expressing concern about the safety of obstetric ultrasounds. Furthermore, there is also a part of me that just feels like I am tempting fate by trying to find out something before nature intends. I'm not just talking sex here. You see, it would do me no good to know that my baby has a cleft palate or something else that is untreatable in utero. All I would do is worry and that hasn't really ever served me well.

With all that being said, and after many a pep talk from mommy friends, I realized that I was at a point in my pregnancy where this test was medically indicated and I'd actually feel better if I did it. I called for an appointment and they got me in yesterday. That's when we discovered that we are expecting TWINS!!! OH. MY. GOD.

I was lying on the table with my husband and Vivi standing next to me. The technician put the wand on my belly and Turtle appeared. She was giving us a good look at him/her when my husband said, "So it looks like there's just one, right?" That's when the technician slid the wand across my belly and said, "Nope. You've got twins." We reacted in the only way one does in moments of complete shock- we hysterically laughed and cried simultaneously.

So in the last 36 hours, we've gone from feeling extremely worried that there was something seriously wrong with our baby to relief that it's just twins to holy crap, we are having twins in 3 and a half months! We are feeling both immense joy and tremendous trepidation. (So many names! Can we get by without a minivan? How am I going to nurse TWO babies? Whoa... how am I going to do anything with a toddler and two babies?)

Vivi, however, has already adjusted brilliantly to the change- my belly now contains Turtle #1 and Turtle #2.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Santa Claus

Santa Claus has become a frequent topic of discussion around the house these days. I have happy memories of the visits Santa made to my childhood home on Christmas (especially the year he brought us a puppy) and I am very excited to impart the wonder to my own child. My wish is that Vivi will find the experience of Santa as magical as I did.

Like Halloween, it is taking a lot of explaining on my part to help Vivi understand how this holiday and the whole Santa thing works. (For several weeks before Halloween, she would repeatedly and somewhat incredulously ask, "Mama, I knock on doors and say 'Trick or Treat' and people give me candy?) We've had a number of questions about Santa too. Here are a few highlights:

"Will Santa ring the doorbell?"
"Does Santa have a tushie crack?"
"Does Santa like clementines? Is he gonna eat mine?"
"Does Santa have a penis so he can stand up to pee?"
"Mama, if I a good girl, will Santa bring me lots of candy?"

I admit that I have used Santa as a way to promote courtesy and minimize whining around our house. I think it is working. When I asked Vivi if she knows what Santa does, she replied, "Santa brings presents to little kids who share and listen to their mamas." I think that is reason enough to perpetuate jolly ol' Saint Nick.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

To Buy or Not to Buy, That is The Question

I can't say that I am much of a shopper. Hmmm, actually, that is a bit of a misrepresentation. I am probably an excellent shopper-- always researching items, comparing costs, and efficiently purchasing the things that my family needs. I enjoy the victorious feeling I have when I find something for less money than I expect which, I guess, means I am likely an atypical American consumer.

As I have written about before, my husband and I live a pretty simple life. We tend to splurge on luxury items like organic pears, fairly-traded sugar, and greener sources of electricity. (Let's get real here: the flood of cheap corn and soy into our food markets is making quality fruits and vegetables seem more and more like a luxury. Plus, the rising cost of everything else and a struggling economy don't leave most people inclined to pay a bit more for their electricity either.) When we can, we try to spend our money on things that represent our values.

Our frugality is interwoven into our parenting too. We've tried very hard to provide Vivi with lots of love, memorable experiences, and fun instead of things. She gets a lot of joy out of reading books and making forts out of couch cushions and doesn't seem to notice or care that her toy box is filled with homemade bean bags, Tupperware, and mama's purses.

So, with all that being said, I recently made a shopping decision that has left me very conflicted. A few weeks ago, I totally deviated from my usual mommy self and purchased a hula hoop on a whim. We were in the store to buy a carbon monoxide detector (of all things) when Vivi caught sight of a box of sparkly, plastic, hula goodness. She didn't ask for the toy but the joy on her face as she manipulated the hoop over her head evoked such maternal pleasure that I immediately plunked down $4.99 + tax.

You are probably thinking, "What's the big deal? It's five bucks!" That's true. Vivi has easily gotten $5 worth of entertainment out of it. What has me conflicted, however, is that I don't want to start a precedent for purchasing cheap plastic crapola on a whim because my child wants it. I just don't want to spoil her. Where does a parent draw the line?

With Christmas approaching, I'm left wondering how much to give her. I have several ideas for things she would love (ironically, none of them are plastic but I would need to buy most of them since I'm unlikely to have the time to make them) and I'm feeling uncertain about how to proceed. She has lots of aunts and uncles so a part of me doesn't want to contribute to the excessive nature of the holidays. Then again, because I so rarely give her gifts, I want to have the experience of seeing the joy on her face when she opens up the gift(s) from mommy and daddy. I guess the larger question of the situation is how do I deal with my competing desires to both shower my child with presents and not create a sense of entitlement?

As I've been pondering this, Vivi recently had this conversation with her two-year old friend Sabine:

Vivi: Sabine, do you know Santa Claus?

Sabine: No.

Vivi: He brings excellent gifts.

Blissfully unaware of the presents at her first Christmas.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Merely a Vessel

It appears that our preparation for Turtle's arrival into our family couldn't be going more smoothly. We are reading all the children's books our library has to offer on new babies, birth, and being a big sister. Vivi seems utterly delighted with my expanding girth and we frequently talk about her birth and what she can expect when Turtle comes out. The idea that we are going to have a "leetle, leetle baby" coming to live with us and she is going to be a big sister and mama's helper often has her bubbling with excitement. I frequently find her with her shirt pulled up "nursing" her teddy bears or trying to change their diapers just "for practice." She has conversations with my belly and will stop in the midst of play just to come over, lift my shirt, and kiss Turtle.

One would think that I would be overjoyed by Vivi's enthusiasm and, to be honest, part of me is. I am sure this is so much easier than having a child who is completely ambivalent or worse, downright hostile. BUT I am starting to feel that I am not her mommy so much as merely a vessel carrying her new sibling.

For example, every morning Vivi climbs into bed with me. We used to talk and snuggle but now the first thing she does is ask, "Mama, is Turtle awake?" Then she proceeds to bury under the comforter, lift my nightgown, and give my belly a kiss and a hug while asking, "Turtle, did you have a good sleep?" At bedtime, when my husband asks her to kiss me goodnight, she refuses saying only that she wants to snuggle with Turtle. Talk about being upstaged by a fetus!

Of course, I am happily looking forward to Turtle's arrival in March. Not only will we get to meet the newest member of our family but we will also see how Vivi adjusts to a baby outside of my body. After all, my belly will finally return to being just a belly.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pumpkin Pancakes

Now that we are coming out of our viral fog, I decided to redeem my grumpy self and make pumpkin pancakes for my family this morning. Here is the recipe:


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (use another cup of white if you don't have WW)
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 T. pumpkin pie spice

1 and 3/4 cup milk
3 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup oil

1. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In a second bowl, combine wet ingredients. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until slightly lumpy.

2. Heat a lightly greased griddle over medium heat. For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle. Cook until tops are bubbly and edges are dry. If you have a particularly strong case of parental guilt, you can throw some chocolate chips in when the top begins to bubble. Then flip.

Makes about 16 pancakes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bad Colds and Pregnancy

Back in September, my husband and Vivi came down with a horrific cold. Both had runny noses, coughs, fevers, and were far too exhausted to do much of anything. They were a pathetic pair and I was their sympathetic caregiver who managed to come out of the whole thing without so much as a sniffle. This was not because I took extra precautions to wash my hands or refrained from eating Vivi's leftovers. (As if!) I reasoned that I didn't get sick because I am a pregnant lady with a superstar immune system.

Yeah, well, the jig is up and my superstar immune system ain't so super anymore. Since November came, Vivi and I have been sharing a cold back and forth. She feels fine for a day but then I'm wiped out. I feel better and she turns into a cranky monster who wipes her boogers anywhere she can reach. We're both too gross for words.

Amazingly, in all of this, Vivi seems to have associated being "pregnant" with being "sick." Last night, she asked, "Mama, are you pregnant?" When I replied that I was she offered me a tissue. This morning when she scampered across the hall and into bed with me, she asked again, "Mama, are you pregnant today?" I explained that I will be pregnant until Turtle decides to come out. She looked at me with a quizzical expression then proceeded to snuggle up to my belly as if it didn't matter.

Sick or pregnant or both? Who cares. I'll take the cuddles either way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama's House

I admit it. I've been like a giddy teenager the last couple of days with the election looming. The knowledge that it is nearly over has put butterflies in my stomach and contributed to hours of browsing on political blogs and following news reports. Last night, I even turned on the TV (with Vivi right there in the living room) just to hear the latest poll numbers. It's exhausting being sooo excited and I am bound to collapse in tears tonight just by the sheer relief that the whole damn thing is finally over.

It appears that my enthusiasm has spread to Vivi. Last night, while watching the news, Vivi pointed to Obama and said, "Who's dat guy?" I told her that he is Obama and Mama and Daddy are going to vote for him tomorrow. She asked if I loved Obama and I replied, "Yes. I think I do."

This morning, as I was explaining to Vivi that she was going to go with me to vote. She said, "Are we going to Obama's house?" When I told her that we vote at the fire station, she asked if Obama would be there. That question required a quick toddler-friendly civics lesson.

Before we headed out the door, she used the potty and I gave her a couple of gummy bears. I noticed that she was holding on to the bears so I asked why she wasn't eating them. She said, "Mama. I gonna share these with Obama."

After all, what's a victory party without gummy bears?!

Monday, November 3, 2008

More Questions

There's something about seeing the world through my two year old's eyes that has made everything a little more interesting these days. While still in a somewhat demanding phase, Vivi also seems to have all sorts of questions about life and I welcome the opportunity to try and help her figure out the world around her. As I've blogged before, some of her questions I simply can't answer (what is love?) but for the most part, I can come up with something that is reasonably satisfying to her.

Here are some recent examples:

"Mama, does a birdie cry if it bonks its head in the woods?"
"Does Turtle like Chuka Salad?" (Asked recently when we ordered out for sushi.)
"When the sun goes to bed, does it have to brush its teeth first?"
"Mama, when I have big poops, you gonna say 'WHOA!'?"

The answer to all of these questions is yes.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Bad, The Ugly, and The Sweetest of All

The Bad
Thursday evening, in the midst of all of our pre-Halloween chaos, I remembered that I had signed-up to volunteer at our local library's book sale. Of course, when I put my name down weeks ago it didn't occur to me that Vivi's superhero costume wouldn't be done. I just thought a couple of hours of quiet time at the library would be a welcome retreat. When the day actually rolled around, I was a little scattered and really worn out but I did my duty and headed over to the library at six.

When I arrived, I had the following conversation with one of those ubiquitous old ladies who always seem to hover around the bake sale tables at these types of things:

Old Lady: So, when are you due?
Me: In March?
Old Lady: Whoa! Are you having twins?
Me: No. It's my second. I guess you show much earlier the second time.
Old Lady: Yeah, I guess I was HUGE with my second one too.

Nice. My official costume for Halloween is no longer doting mother of adorable superhero. I am a blimp.

The Ugly
Halloween morning, I packed Vivi up and headed off to the grand opening of Rhode Island's very first Trader Joe's. I was feeling celebratory and looking forward to our little toddler Halloween party later that afternoon. When we arrived it was MADNESS... PURE MADNESS!

I eventually found a parking spot and headed to the store to look for a cart. They were all taken so a few people started forming a line to grab one as the TJ's folks were retrieving them from exiting customers. When I reached the front of the line, some woman ran ahead and grabbed the next cart. When I politely explained that she probably didn't realize it but I was next, she looked at me holding Vivi on my hip and pronounced, "Too bad!" and headed into the store with my cart.

I decided that she was a word that I had the good sense not to say in front of my daughter. Then I promptly let it go. (One point for Mama for not swearing. Five extra points for not ramming her cart and kicking her in the shins like I really wanted to do.)

The Sweetest of All
Halloween was all that we could have hoped for and more. I finished Vivi's costume and she liked wearing it. All of her little friends came over and we had a party which was a ton of fun. After the party, she climbed the porch stairs of our neighbors and gleefully said "Trick or Treat" and "Happy Halloween!" while collecting some goodies. When we returned home with a few treats in her pumpkin, she burst through the door and yelled, "Daddy! Come and look. I got LOTS of candy!" It was an absolute delight to see how happy she was with the whole experience.

Now, I will happily accept payment for my seamstress duties in the form of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.