Monday, April 27, 2009

A Really Big Girl

It seems that my first-born child went and turned into a big girl before I even realized what was happening. Vivi turned three yesterday and we took three days to celebrate it. (Hmmmm... three seems to be a magic number for us.)

Vivi on her first birthday

Saturday my mom and sister came down from Vermont and we had a little party complete with a brand new play kitchen which Vivi has asked for since January. Sunday, the birthday began with breakfast out at our local bakery. It then took us an hour or so to get organized enough to take her to a place where she got a two-minute celebratory pony ride. Daddy then dropped me and the Turtles at home so he and Vivi could go to Ikea (ostensibly to buy new office furniture but it seemed they spent the most time in the ball pit.) Her day finished with some skinny-dipping in the kiddie pool (her, not us) and then a backyard picnic.

Second Birthday

Her friends joined us today for a lunch time party. We turned our backyard into what I call "cheapo playland." I set up a tent, some huge boxes (courtesy of our new dishwasher and the play kitchen), a bunch of yoga balls and kick balls, the kiddie pool, and a small trampoline. Much nakedness and chaos ensued but we all know that is a sign of a really good party!

Here are some highlights from this year:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Alternate Realities

I am beginning to think that being the mother of multiple children launches you into an alternate reality. A reality well-known to parents of twins and other multiples and probably familiar to mothers of small children-- even if none of the children were born on the same day. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a freaky place indeed.

In our reality, you can't leave your house without some woman coming up to you and saying, "Twins?! Oh dear, God bless you." Usually this happens several times during one outing. You will also find youself bombarded by stupid questions from random strangers. These questions include "Are your twins maternal or paternal?" and "How many months apart are they?" I guess in our reality twins barely a month old and almost exactly the same size can cause immense confusion to the uninitiated.

A mother's vision of herself becomes distorted in this reality. In the one-child state, a woman can discover what she does well and work on what she doesn't. In the multiple child-state, the mother is trying to keep everyone alive on very little sleep with a body ravaged from growing baby after baby. Periods of wakefulness often dissolve into dreamy visions of your belly flab falling off the way your child's umbilical stump did. You float in and out of days while your wild things are crying, pooping, climbing up the refrigerator to find snacks, and sucking you dry (literally and figuratively). All the while you know that some force will send you to bed without your dinner.

In this reality, a mother can not rely on household conveniences. A dishwasher gives out without so much as a grunt while the garbage disposal threatens a mutiny should you even attempt to wash one grain of rice down the drain. You fear using your washing machine should the same fate befall it so laundry piles up around you like relatives who come to visit but never leave. See, I told you this reality was a scary place.

There are some good things about this place though. Big sisters find ways to bring even the most reluctant Turtle out of her shell. The other day, I overheard Vivi saying, "Eliya, do you know how much your big sister loves you?" And to Jude, "Do you know that your big sister goes pee and poop on the potty?" Yes, even in this reality, poop is still the number one topic of conversation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mommy Brain

I have a serious case of mommy brain. Any person who has ever had a baby knows exactly what I am talking about. For those of you who haven't, mommy brain is the inability to remember anything, to accomplish anything, and to function in a normal way because your IQ and reasoning skills are significantly diminished by a lack of sleep. This is the reason I won't be posting the Turtles' birth story today. I'm not sure I can remember it.

My mommy brain kicked in almost immediately following the Turtles' arrival. I enjoyed a nice reprieve in the last year or so with Vivi sleeping well. I was even getting used to the idea of being somewhat together and then I accidentally ordered 12 bottles of laundry detergent from Amazon. That sealed the deal. I'm officially back on the half-assed parent train.

I'm doing things now that I never imagined doing a year ago. Since the babies were born, Vivi has enjoyed such delicacies as trail mix, baby carrots with salad dressing, and popcorn for breakfast. She also answers the phone for us even though I find it pretty annoying when I call someone and a kid who doesn't know what's going on picks up the line. I've given up some of my greener practices by utilizing disposable diapers and the dryer on a daily basis. And, to top it off, I would willingly lend any or all of my children to a stranger in exchange for the opportunity to pee without interruption.

Mommy brain is responsible for my most embarrassing parent moment to date. Last week, I ventured out of the house with the Turtles but sans Vivi in order to pick up a wedding gift for a friend. On the way to the store, Jude started crying. I thought that I would just nurse her in the back seat of the car once I got to our destination and that's what I did. When she finished, I put her in the wrap on my chest and tried to open the door. It wouldn't budge and I realized I was trapped inside by the child safety locks. (Normally Vivi sits in the seat I was in.) With the two other carseats in place and Eliya asleep in one of them, I could not climb into the front nor could I manipulate their positions in our cramped backseat to get myself out. I was stuck. I thought about hitting the panic button on my keys but it seemed that would just piss someone off and not lead to my eventual release. Instead, I decided to wave frantically at a woman who parked in front of my car a few minutes later. At first, she just waved back at me like I was some dolt who waved at everyone. When I started motioning for her to come to my car, she hesitated but must have decided that I didn't look like a serial killer who happened to be hiding out in a Subaru. She eventually let me out and we both laughed at the absurdity of the situation although I can't help but think she still regards me as a moron.

Jude's face says it all.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How We Got Back Home

When we found out we were expecting a baby last summer, my husband and I decided that we would pursue a homebirth. It seemed to make sense for us. I had a very straightforward birth with Vivi and was committed to doing it again without any interventions. Plus, with a $10,000 deductible for our health insurance, it would save us a whole heaping pile of cash. (And who doesn't love a bargain?)

The discovery of twins at the end of November threw us for a loop. Our homebirth midwife begged off and we found ourselves negotiating a medical system with the label "high risk" stamped on my forehead. The fact that I had already birthed a nearly 9 pound baby smoothly didn't seem to matter. Nor did it make a difference that both of my grandmothers had twins vaginally at full-term. I was simply a uterus with two babies with the potential for a host of problems.

Although I wanted to give birth in the comfort of my home, I had no one to attend it so I returned to the hospital-based midwife I had for Vivi's birth. I knew she would support my wish to have a natural, vaginal delivery and I was more than pleased with the care she had shown me in the past. When we met with her again, six months into this pregnancy, we learned that I would need to follow hospital protocols for high-risk pregnancies. This meant that I would be stuck in a bed with continuous monitoring, have an IV, and would be moved to the operating room when it came time to push. Our midwife's hands were tied.

I felt incredibly depressed in the days that followed. I knew that movement and access to water (either a hot shower or a birthing pool, both of which were not allowed) were critical for me to cope with the pain and I couldn't face the fact that I would have to be on my back in bed. I felt like I was being fast-tracked to a c-section by these one-size-fits-all policies and I just couldn't face the possibility of major surgery. My husband, a physician, agreed and we began calling every birthing center in New England to see if they would take us. (They would not.) Then we found S.

S. is a professional midwife who travels across the border into RI to (illegally) deliver babies. Until recently, homebirth was officially illegal in Rhode Island and the state still does not recognize professional ("lay") midwives-- only licensed certified nurse-midwives. Upon meeting S. we learned that she was just as competent and even more experienced than our previous nurse-midwives. Her intelligence and wisdom thoroughly impressed us as did her requirements for a twin homebirth.

For S. to deliver our Turtles, I had to commit to a high-protein diet and have no abnormalities in my blood work, urine, blood pressure, or ultrasounds. Additionally, I had to carry the babies to at least 36 weeks and the presenting baby had to be in vertex position. Our preference was for both babies to be vertex which turned out to be the case.

When week 36 came and went, I felt a huge relief. When S. declared that I was the healthiest pregnant woman with twins she had ever seen, I felt like I had pulled one over on her. Sure, I felt good but all the twin horror stories that I'd read and heard about still made me doubt my own ability. Could I really have the birth I wanted?

Well, I did but the birth story will have to wait for a future post. Right now, I'm trying to nurse while typing one-handed. Extreme multi-tasking is my new reality...