Thursday, March 29, 2007

Home Sweet Lonely Home

I’m back after two days with my niece and nephew. It’s late, I’m tired, and I still have to do the closet-check, shower-check, room-check, etc., since Nicole is still away and who knows where interlopers might be hiding. I had a really nice time, but I was reminded how two children can be chaos at times. It’s exhausting. In the best of circumstances it is tiring to follow them around, but carrying around these babies and being out of fighting form, I feel like such a aunt failure. I spent much of my time supervising from a reclined position on the couch, asking the kids if they wanted to watch Dora or Little Einsteins. Though I did make sure to take them in the backyard and to the playground both days.

My nephew adorably asks about the babies all the time and says hello to them. He also asked me if I have a blanket in my tummy to keep them warm. We have already established that they have no bed and no toys in there. My niece showed her interest by whacking me in the stomach (in a friendly way, of course) with all her toddler might. She has such personality. And brute strength.

The babies had a party in the middle of the night, which made sleep difficult, not that I mind. It is, for me, the best reason for insomnia. I think Baby B might have actually made the turn and has moved out of the breech position and into the head-down position, like her sister. The possibility of not having a C section makes me very happy.

Look at me, talking all positive and imagining births and baby dresses and chaos. I’m thinking so positively that I am actually feeling nervous about giving birth and raising two girls.

Tonight I drove myself home, drop off the car at the garage and amble back to the apartment at a pace significantly slower than usual, thanks to my child-induced lethargy. As I come home tonight, the doorman tells me immediately that he has bad news. No hello or anything. About 60 horrible thoughts race through my mind (each more morbid than the last) until he says the elevator is not working. Not so bad, I think, considering what I was imagining, but then I realized I’d have to haul myself (and my bag of things-I-couldn’t-live-without-for-two-days-which-turns-out-to-be-too-much) up six flights of stairs, which is not an easy task for me these days.

It’s good to be home. Lonely, yes, but good nonetheless. Nicole is home tomorrow night, then we are off to the resceduled car appointment all day on Saturday (sarcastic: joy) and then Sunday is our anniversary (real joy). And then another sonogram

Pictured above is Skye, indulging in a Breakfast of Champions (a donut!); just one of the privileges of being my niece. Below is an adorable dress that my SIL’s sister made for Skye. I think I need to commission her to make lots of those dresses our babies! Isn’t it cute? I am hoping it is too small for Skye and can pass right down to me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Waiting to Exhale

The babies are fine, thank goodness. All that stress and worry for nothing this time. My friend Molly recently emailed me that pregnancy is like 40 weeks of holding your breath until you give birth. It is so true. I’m sure a new type of worry takes its place after the babies are born, but for now, I am looking forward to exhaling.

The babies are measuring 2 pounds 13 ounces and 2 pounds 15 ounces. That seems extra chunky, though the doctor says it’s just fine (and there’s always room for error). One’s heart rate is 142 and the other’s heart rate was 150. In exciting news, Baby A is now head down! Go Baby A. Baby B is still breech, but it looks like she is thinking about putting her head down too, like her sister. Also, both babies are kicking each other. Most amazingly, my cervix is measuring 3.9. The doctor was impressed with this and asked if I was on bed rest. I admitted that I was just lazy and like to nap. Well, that and I don’t work, like 90 percent of the other women who are pregnant. So that means there is a lot of time when I am off my feet. If not working is helping to make healthy babies, then I am very happy to not be working.

I have a new nausea trigger: Laying on my back. Earlier today, in need of distractions before my appointment, I got my eyebrows waxed, which required me to lay prone on a hard table while a woman poured hot wax on me and ripped it off. Now that is painful enough, but literally after a couple of minutes I started to feel like I was going to throw up. I got that ping: I don’t know how to describe it, but it is that moment when you have crossed the border between “I don’t feel right” and “Get me bucket.” I suddenly sat up, much to the now-tweezing woman’s chagrin, and started stuttering I’m sorry’s and I feel sick. I had broken out in a cold sweat. It was awful. I was weighing my options as to the best place to aim, but after sitting up for a minute I suddenly felt better. I chalked it up to a random thing (the smells of the salon and all that) and went on with my day.

So on with the day and distractions. I went to Central Park for a nature fix and then to Whole Foods for lunch. Then I went to my appointment. Turns out the laying-down nausea wasn’t random: Laying on the table for the u/s (complete with pushing down on my abdomen) made me want to throw up too. The technician was more than accommodating and allowed me to take breaks, even positioning the craftmatic adjustable table up so I didn’t have to use my non-existent stomach muscles to raise myself to a non-flat position. She explained that it is because the babies and my uterus are putting a lot of pressure on al my internal organs. Whatever the reason, I won’t be laying on my back any time soon.

Nicole is off to Boston tomorrow and I am gong to stay at my brother’s. Their nanny is away for a few weeks so I am watching my niece and nephew two days a week as the pinch-hitting nanny for the next three weeks. I figured since Nicole was gone I might as well stay there, since I get ridiculously lonely when she leaves and why come home to an empty apartment? I go through major separation anxiety, and, as I have said before, I don’t really need much space in our togetherness. When she is gone I just pad around the apartment till it’s bedtime, and then I have to check all the closets and the shower for interlopers; get the Mag-light/battering weapon and put it under the pillow; turn one of the hall lights on; double lock the door; leave my cell phone under my pillow and slip into bed for a restless night sleep.

Thanks, everyone, for your tremendously reassuring comments on the kicking concerns. Turns out you were all right. Once again, experience trumps Google.

Pictured above is what I wish I was making to eat for dinner: Tomato-corn-avocado salad. It just says spring to me. Intstead we are having tomato-basil-mozzarella on spaghetti, which also says spring. And is less labor-intensive.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Kicking Concerns

So did/does this happen to anyone? I’ve noticed that the babies seem to be kicking less the past day and half or so. We were running around a lot yesterday, but at the end of the day I noticed I hadn’t really felt much movement from them (I did feel some, though). And then this morning, Nicole did her “Wake up babies” stomach-talk-and-jiggle for a while and no reaction. We canceled our car appointment, thinking we would have to go to the doctor and lo and behold, Baby A started kicking a little. But in a different spot and not as hard as she sometimes does. Baby B then contributed a few movements. Are the babies just in new positions? Did they move to new corners? Is this normal? Does this happen? Can they have active days or weeks, and then just have a day or two or less action? Is the fact that there are twins in there make a difference?

The internet, of course, scares the hell out of me. So I need to keep my distance from it.

I have had caffeine, sugar, juice and water and did the whole left-side thing. I am pulling out all the stops. I am feeling movement today, but just not as intently/regularly as I did before. I called my doctor’s office, but the office seems to be closed today and I don’t think this warrants emergency service or attention, because I am, after al, feeling something. And I do have a sonogram tomorrow (but not until 3:30….ugh).

And then the whole kick count thing: My doctor has never discussed it with me, and the internet says everything from 10 kicks an hour to 10 kicks in 2 hours to even 10 kicks in a half hour. I know WTF just went through this little movement scare, and everything turned out to be ok. It is just nerve-wracking. So if anyone has some words of wisdom or stories of experience, please do share.

Pictured above is sourdough lobster and Crabby the Globe-trotting card, just because.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tasting Happiness

I’m 28 weeks. The babies are 7 months. I cannot believe it. Day 197. 84 days left (well, most likely at least two weeks less than that). Survival goes up to 90 percent at this point. Of course, we are hoping for many more weeks, but there is a modicum of assurance in that percentage. Time is going by at a glacial rate, and yet when I see how far I have come it seems like time is flying. And yet another oxymoron.

But it is another week under our belts, which is easing me slowly into thinking maybe just maybe everything will be okay. Wow. It took 28 weeks to start feeling a little safer in this pregnancy. But I’m not counting any chickens until they hatch.

To celebrate this viability milestone, I bought a mini Carvel cake, the best ice cream cake in the world. Not that I need an excuse to buy one. It is, as Carvel says, what happiness tastes like. Who doesn’t want to taste happiness? Not not me, that is for sure. I feel a little guilty as I eat something that has a label that looks like this: VANILLA flavored ICE CREAM WITH artificial CHOCOLATE CRUNCHIES. I love how they shrink the font on the bad words and play up the good words. Whatever. All that artificial whatever makes it dee-licious.

On Tuesday I have another high-tech ultrasound in the late afternoon (what was I thinking, so late? How ever will I distract myself all day?) I’m excited to see what is going on with the babies. The u/s machine in my doctor’s office is so small and it is always angled away from me, since it is most important for my doctor to see what she needs to see. I can barely make heads or tails of the fuzzy images that I can catch a glimpse of. These growth and measurement exams are much more thorough and the screen mounted on the wall guarantees me a good view. And as long as I don’t get Attila the Technician, then I will have a nice guided tour of the babies and their latest developments. Nicole can’t go because she is off on Monday and then in Boston from Wednesday on. I don’t really like going alone, because these are the sort of moments that need to be shared, and not with strangers or Attila the Technician.

Tomorrow, one Nicole’s day off, we have to get up at the crack of dawn and drive out to Long Island o get the seatbelt and car alarm on the car fixed.

Pictured above is the world’s best ice cream cake. Also pictured above is me at 28 weeks. I am in my pajamas and they are striped, and I would like to pretend that that is making me look bigger. But I have a feeling that isn’t the case. Perspective: My chest is HUGE in real life and it is dwarfed by my stomach here. I almost look flat-chested. I’m in denial, but my body has definitely gained some girth around the back side. And maybe in the thigh area too. Ugh. All for a good cause, yes, but still. Through years of TTC and m/c and all those meds I have not been one with my body. Maybe the ice cream cake has something to do with it, too.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Waiting and Wanting

It seems impossible that I can get bigger than I am now, but I know that I will. How can skin stretch that much? And, more importantly, how can skin stretch back that much? I dare say it can’t. I envision a tummy tuck in my future.

This tightening I feel are most likely BH contractions. Comments and google research provide enough proof for me. I’ll bring it up with my doctor at the next appointment, but I’d like to operate under the assumption that everything is normal and right. Right?! My other fun/frightening topic for the next appointment is my out-of-breath-ness. There are times when I can’ even finish a sentence without running out of breath. And forget walking up stairs. Sometimes the trip from the bedroom to the bathroom is too much for me. I also have this weird asthma-like thing going on: It kind of gets hard to breath and my heart starts racing a bit. I have never had asthma before, but maybe it is pregnancy-induced? Or perhaps it is just panic attacks. That would seem more likely.

So much for not letting things bother me. I had another one of those things—for lack of a better word—with my mother on the phone. It is the same pattern with me: A conversation with her incites anger, which morphs into hurt and melts into pity. I still just want her to be happy. And I don’t know if she ever will. It rips me up inside.

But then I wonder what else I can do? I asked her to come to my embryo transfer and she had a roofer coming and couldn’t change it. She gives me “space” after all my D&Cs and m/c’s. She never calls me. Four years in this apartment and I can count on one hand how many times she took the train in (an hour away) to see me. (and never on her own volition). Things like that. It hurts. What can I say: I’m sensitive and easily hurt. I keep trying, keep asking, keep hoping and it leads to nowhere. And yet I feel like an infinite disappointment to her.


Again with the tightening in the uterus. I wonder if I should keep track? Maybe it is this position? Nicole's mom said that she always got BH when she went to bed or lay on the couch. That seems to be the pattern with me too.

My favorite thing to do is to wake up and before the babies wake up, have Nicole wake them up by talking to them. It works every time. Today she leaned in and started talking about the day and Baby B started to kick. Baby A followed suit. The three of them had a conversation like that. It is the most adorable, endearing, amazing thing in the world. It reminds me how lucky I am. It’s funny how we spend all of our lives waiting and wanting that sometimes we forget that we already have everything that we need.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hitting An All-Time Low With Avocadoes

For weeks now I have been craving avocado. I go to the stores, fondle the avocadoes and they are never ripe enough to eat that night. Yes, I know I could buy one and let it ripen and have it in a couple of days, but I don’t really have enough patience for that. Plus, looking at said avocado every day and not eating it would torture me.

So today I go to my friendly neighborhood organic grocer and of course, there is no ripe avocado. But out of the corner of my eye I see three avocadoes sitting in someone’s cart. Three supple, soft-looking, perfect avocadoes. The cart’s owner was wrapped up in choosing a lettuce, so while he wasn’t looking I gently poked his avocadoes, just to see if they were ripe. And they were perfectly ripe! I ALMOST switched my semi-hard one for one of his soft ones. Luckily, I came to my senses, but it was a low moment in my day. What has come over me?

I think I may be having Braxton Hicks. I am not certain though. I look it up on the internet and I get 1,000 different varieties: The whole uterus gets tight; just a section of the uterus gets tight; they hurt; they are painless; they feel like gas; they feel like nothing. For me, one corner of my uterus—where Baby B is hanging out—gets really taut. Like you could bounce a quarter off of it. The other day when my sister-in-law was over she felt it and said “Oh, that’s just the baby’s head.” But now, as I type this, it is soft there. Is she moving around? Changing positions a lot or pushing her head tight against me? I can feel the punches, but how is it possible that I can’t feel a two-pound-plus being inside of me moving into a new position? Am I just that out-of-tune with my body?

I am also getting a lot of comments now about how I look like I am about to pop. Ha! I usually say I have some more time, and when pressed to say when, I admit June and they are flabbergasted. I guess that means I look big. At least I can pull out the twin card. I swear I went from “Do I look pregnant?” to “Oh my goodness I’m huge” in about two weeks.

Viability increases to 90 percent on Sunday. This day can’t come soon enough. But I’ll be much more settled when I hit 36 weeks. My prediction is I will finally relax (a little) and enjoy this pregnancy without fear of something awful happening then, since viability is so much higher. That said, I still panic every day about all that can go wrong. Like how one in five babies has is born with an umbilical cord wrapped around their necks. That’s my latest panic.

That corner is hard now. See? Is this Braxton Hicks or what? At my last doctor’s appointment my cervix was still nice and long and I have no other signs. I know BH are completely normal, but still. I just wanted to get into the 30s before my body started practicing labor. BH combined with Baby A tap-dancing on my cervix (yes, I still fear she will kick it open) equals one worried me. But what else is new?

We have a land line again. Thank goodness. The phone tech man was like Buddha. He was so calm and peaceful and even parted with words of wisdom: Don’t take things personally and you can’t make everyone happy. Context would make these quotes more relevant but it is such a long story. Just trust me when I say it was enlightening. And we have a phone!!!

Pictured above is today’s leap of faith: The cribs were delivered and assembled. These cribs are a thing of beauty. I am in love with them. (And you can see the pink walls, green carpet and dresser too.) Having them here makes it all seem so much closer and real. And it scares me so much. Who am I to assume that this will have a happy ending? There are no guarantees, but I am trying to have faith. That, and not taking things personally.

Monday, March 19, 2007

In the Shape of......a T

27w1d and all is well. Thank goodness. It was a long appointment, and my nervous energy increases every minute that I have to wait. I got there at 2:00 but didn’t see the doctor until almost 3:30. Then she came in and squirted the goopy blue gel on my stomach, but her phone rang and she had to take that call. Fifteen minutes later, I got what I came for: A glimpse of our two good-looking babies, with beating hearts, and their active little limbs. The babies are laying in a T-formation: One is breech, and the other is laying across on top of her. So Baby B has been active, moving herself out of the breech position that she was previously in and tucking her little body way up there. My cervix is around 4, which my doctor assures me is good for this stage of the game. I hope so. I am happy to be rounding the corner on the magical 28 weeks, but will feel even more reassurance once I get into the low 30s. And then the mid 30s. Then the upper 30s. There are no guarantees, I know, but it is amazing how time keeps marching on, no matter how much or little I worry.

The babies are getting bigger and are about as long as a magazine, so they can’t flop around as much as a singleton could because there just isn’t any room. I am not sure how it is with other twin pregnancies, but with me there has been a clear delineation between the two babies from the minute I felt movement. Baby A stays firmly to the left, in breech position, kicking my cervix all day. Baby B stays to the right in breech or tucks herself across the top in the fancy T formation. My doctor keeps assuring me that they could both flip down head first, but I don’t really see how that will happen. They seem so happy where they are. I feel their kicks and punches all over the place, but in general I can feel the difference between a hearty kick and a lighter punch.

It makes me wonder what my grandmother thought in the 1940s, when she was pregnant with twins but didn’t know it. Didn’t she feel kicks and punches all over the place? Did she just think it was one active baby? She didn’t know she had twins until she was delivering. It is amazing how far we have come since then.

I have a growth scan next Tuesday, so I will get a longer look of the babies, complete with pictures.

Pictured above is my nephew Leif a few hours after he was born. The cutest baby in the world, in my opinion. I still can’t believe I will get two of those. And that this little package is now four and half years old!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Kinda Somewhat Sometimes

I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, which, of course, makes me very nervous. But not as nervous as I could be. I am happy that the fear isn’t quite as bad as it was in the past: Then I would worry each and every day until I laid back on that table, ripping that tissue paper to shreds and had a sonogram, which, lucky for me, was usually every two weeks. Now I can (kinda) push (somewhat) all the negative thoughts (sometimes) from my head until the day (or two days) before.

Feeling the babies move is tremendously reassuring, which, I think, in part is why I am calmer. It is almost as reassuring as a sonogram. In general, Baby A is much more active than Baby B. I think that is because Baby B has an anterior placenta, so that is absorbing most of her energy, but maybe it is a personality thing. But still, Baby A still seems like she is the kick-and-punch leader. She usually wakes up and starts moving around and then Baby B follows suit. Every once in a while, I will feel Baby B first, but that is much more rare. It’s probably too soon to call, but maybe Baby B is the calm one and Baby A is the more active one. Hopefully, we will know in a few months.

We had a relaxing weekend that involved no grad school work or contractor. Our niece Isabelle came into the city and spent the night. She’s 10. She brought with her an extra credit recipe for school that we made on Sunday morning. It was for some Danish treat called Poor Knight’s dessert, or something like that. Basically, it is bread, sugar, butter and raspberries. What could be better than that? We drove her back home to Nicole’s sister Liz’s house, where I showed Liz my belly progress. She commented that I had the linea negra. I had no idea. Nicole knew, though, and never told me. She said it happened about a week ago and assumed I knew. Not quite. I just don’t see many things on myself these days and rely on others (Nicole) to sort of keep me abreast with what is going on. Shaving is ridiculous. I just sort of guess where to shave and then start shaving. If there is something going on below my belly, I just don’t know.

A woman commented to me today that looked like was about to pop. Ha! I said I am barely 28 weeks. I have (hopefully) at least 9 more weeks. 37 weeks seems like a reasonable time to deliver. 38 is even better. 39 and 40 just seems like torture. I can’t believe I am even this far and thinking about all this.

I am also happy to report that the Snooogle—that ridiculously named pillow—is the best invention in the world. For the first time in a very long time, I actually slept without back pain. I was comfortable and content. It was the best purchase we made so far. Even Nicole noticed a difference: She said I didn’t toss and turn as much, which must be very nice for her. I can’t wait for someone else to get pregnant so I can pass on this amazing gift of a good night sleep.

By the way, right after I wrote that whole thing about Baby A and Baby B, Baby B started going crazy kicking and punching. And Baby A is not doing a thing. It’s like Baby B could read my mind and wanted to show me that I was wrong. Just goes to show that when I assume, I make an ass out of, well, me.

One more sleep until my afternoon appointment....

Pictured above is Isabelle, hard at work, and me, with wet hair, hard at work on sitting oh-so-gracefully (which is what I do best) and reviewing the recipe. If you look to the left over my shoulder you will see delicious cake, which I made on Friday and I am happy to report is still around. But not for long.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Evil C Word

Wow…lots of good comments on the name issue! It’s interesting to see the full spectrum of names and reasons why people pick those names. And stimulating to read the political angle too. If I were to be honest, I would have to say that I am guilty of being the evil C word: Complacent. I am pissed off at the lack of equality out there on so many levels (not just the gay/lesbian arena) and yet I don’t really ever do anything about it. Except vote and rant to people who feel the same way. And we all know that isn’t changing any laws.

But just because I have a female partner doesn’t mean I want to sacrifice my rights. And as I said before, these rights take on a whole new meaning as we embark on this child-rearing adventure together. I guess that is what parenthood is al about: Fine, I’ll suffer, but don’t you dare make my children suffer. But I don’t want any of us to suffer, frankly. I’m pretty old-fashioned when you get down to it. I want to be married. I want us to have the same last name (I’ll change my last name to Nicole’s so we four will have the same name). And I want the same rights as everyone else. When you think about it for a second, it is ridiculous that I should have less rights than other Americans just because of my female partner/wife/girlfriend, etc. And that makes America different from scary countries that deny its citizens basic human rights because…..?

And yes, after I am allowed to marry Nicole, I will divorce her, take her money (thanks, marriage laws, for giving me half of all assests and alimony because that is what true love is all about!) and marry a dog or some other domestic animal. Because that is the next logical step, right? If Nicole and I are given the right to marry, the next thing you know people are going to want to marry their parakeets.

My political anger has been so heightened lately. It really bothers me that Nicole is going to have to adopt her own children. It is annoying on so many levels: Morally, logistically and financially. Because there are two, this is an even bigger expense. We were told once that it is about 10K; with two it is about 15K. And because the salary cut off is low, there is no tax rebate for us.

And I was reminded by my politically-savvy friend Christy of this lovely nugget: If a married woman cheats on her husband and gets pregnant and even admits that the baby is not her husband’s, the husband is still the legal father because that child was born during their marriage. And then there is always this: When we were considering me carrying Nicole’s egg, we discovered that even though it is Nicole’s egg in my body, Nicole would STILL have to adopt the child that is biologically hers (but carried by me). It all is all so absurd and not fair and don’t even get me started on equality. I can’t think of any good reason why committed couples who would be married if they legally could can’t have the same rights as my friends who just sign a marriage license. I worry about things like what happens if I died during childbirth. Do the babies go into foster care? Would Nicole have to worry about coroners AND finding where her children are living? Would my mother swoop in as next of kin or something? Do we need to write up some sort of legal document until they are adopted that states that they belong to Nicole? What if something awful happened to me during the adoption process? Would that null and void the adoption? We really need to contact an attorney, and I have all these intentions, but it becomes so overwhelming that I just become that word again….complacent. Because we all know if I wait long enough, an attorney will intuit through vibes in the air that I need his/her services and show up at my doorstep.

In baby news, we can now see the babies moving from the outside a lot. All of the sudden, my stomach will just bulge because one of them is kicking or punching me from the inside. It started around last week but has become so much more obvious now. They are only about two pounds each….I can only imagine what it will feel like when they (hopefully) get bigger and stronger!

I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday and I can’t believe I haven’t been doing the countdown. I have been so busy with class work and contractors that I didn’t have time to worry. And that makes me worry that because I did relax a little, now something bad will be revealed. I look at my own ticker and am stunned that there are 93 days left (most likely minus at least two weeks). And I think—depending on which source you believe—I will enter the last trimester at 27w, which is Sunday (other say 28 weeks and some say 26 and a half weeks. Go figure). Despite my own awful fears and predictions, this pregnancy is moving along.

I want time to speed up and slow down. There I go again with my oxymoronic desires….

So much for spring. It is snowing out now and in the 30s. I think I’ll make a cake and try not to eat it all before Nicole gets home.

Pictured above is me in front of the White House that thinks I deserve less. Despite that, you can tell how respectful I am being from my posture. I never sit that straight (no pun intended). I really have the posture of a vulture. No wonder my back hurts so much.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What’s In A Name?

It was about 70 degrees today in NYC and I celebrated by going to a book store. I started out with the intentions of a nice, brisk Central Park walk, my first escape from grad work and renovation hell in days. And somewhere on the way up there, I decided to pit stop, and never got my energy back. So I sat in the Dean & Deluca café reading books that I had no intention of buying instead. I also had a celebrity sighting: Sitting right next to me was M.olly Sh.annon. I wasn’t certain at first, but then she made a phone call and used her name and that sealed it. It was one of those New York moments.

On the name front: In the past month I have spent approximately 16 hours on the phone with the cable company and phone company and all sorts of other utilities and companies. And each time they always ask for the information on the account. When they pull it up, they ask “And am I speaking with Nicole?” And I always respond, “No. You are speaking to…..the other person who lives here.” The other person who lives here? Is that the best I can do? Is that destined to be my title for life?

This is one of those things I think about from time to time, but now, with children on the way, it has renewed importance. All this name stuff. The babies’ names. Their last name (Nicole’s). What we call each other. I’m old-fashioned: I wish we could be married, but until this is a federal thing, I don’t see what benefits it would actually incur for us to run off to Massachusetts or New Jersey or wherever for paperwork that the federal government won't recognize anyway. Nicole still has to adopt her own children; special accommodations need to made for assets in the event of any untimely demise (still lose lots of $$ in probate anyway); and that is just the tip of the unfair iceberg. But I digress.

So what are we supposed to call each other? Even after all these years together we still flip flop around. Here are the nominees:

Partner: Are we running a company together? Partner has such an official feel to it. And it is not terribly intimate. However, once when a doctor started talking to me about sex and semen and how I needed to avoid both, I told her I had a female partner, so skip the sperm talk. But partner still sounds so clinical.

Spouse: Rhymes with mouse and house. Seems charmingly archaic, though, like something used in the early 1900s. But try using that word in public and people look at you as if you are speaking Latin. Interestingly, this is the term Nicole has used to describe me in business situations (I think like when she is one the phone with HR talking about insurance or something). Otherwise, I think she just refers to me as “Jennifer.” I don’t think she has outed herself to one person at work: Not the 30 or so people who work for her and not her own managers or colleagues. Not one. That's a lot of people who are expected to intuit. She just starts saying things like “This weekend Jennifer and I…” and expects them to make the connection. (I wish I could be a fly on the wall while people put the pieces together.) I must say that I agree with this approach: After all, people don’t “announce” their heterosexuality. But still…too much room for ambiguity for me.

Girlfriend: The ever-popular ambiguous, ubiquitous girlfriend. Especially difficult to use when talking with anyone over a certain age (some generations uses “girlfriend” to describe female friends all the time). You run the risk here of someone thinking you are referring to a friend that is female. Sometimes context can help (“My girlfriend and I were in bed sound asleep by 9:00”) but sometimes context can’t help (“My girlfriend and I went out for dinner”). Either way, girlfriend still has a transient, temporary, I’m-still-looking kinda feel to it. At least to me it does.

Domestic Partner: Too legal-sounding. I don’t like adopting a title created by a government that doesn’t want to grant equal rights to same-sex couples but wants to appease them with mini-rights. And I don’t really want to use such a sanitized term that was created so as not to offend those who are sickened by people like me and my wicked, wicked ways. Also, it makes me want to rename all of the major nouns in our life. Domestic residence. Domestic squabble. Domestic bed. It begs the question: Are we allowed International Partners? Do people really say “And this is my domestic partner…” ?

Wife: Obviously the most accurate term to describe us. Actually, to be more specific the stereotypical “wife” really describes me well and the stereotypical “husband” describes Nicole, if you want to speak strictly in terms of roles. But, as my ever-wise friend Annie says, the beauty of same-sex relationships is that no one has to play a role. Yet Nicole and I do. In a way. Go figure. But “wife” still gets caught in my throat. I can’t imagine Nicole at work referring to me as her wife. In certain circles, it is appropriate, but in general, I feel like the world isn’t ready for that. Should that matter?

Pictured above is nothing because blogger wouldn’t let me upload. : (

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Full Circle

We went up to Northampton for the weekend. Nicole’s friend Tim is in a touring improv/comedy company and they were performing in Springfield for five nights. We went up for the Saturday night show. It was hysterical! It was the most I had laughed in a long, long time. The babies were kicking the entire time, so they have either developed an early interest in sublime sketch/improv comedy or they are sensitive to all the clapping and laughing around them. Oh, it might have also have been the licorice I ate before the show began. During the intermission Nicole and I watched my stomach and could actually see the kicks and punches. It was surreal.

The show was mostly skits a la SNL, but the group also did several improv sketches, where they took suggestions from the audience and turned said suggestions into skits off the top of their heads. It is mind numbing how some people can do that. In one skit, Tim pulled out of nowhere: “I’m going to crawl inside your mouth and kill you from the inside.” I couldn’t (and still) can’t stop laughing. It fit into the skit perfectly, and it is so funny to boot.

On Sunday morning, Nicole and I performed my experiment of waking the babies up. I laid in the giant hotel bed and didn’t move and the babies were still sleeping. So Nicole started talking to them and after a minute or so they both started kicking. I think this is proof finally that their little ears are working. They can hear us. That is surreal, too. I makes me want to talk to them all the time, but I am aware how crazy that would make me look. Now Nicole needs to start having daily conversations with them so they recognize her voice too when they join us on the outside.

We picked up Tim at 9, I mean 8, I mean 10 (daylight savings has me all screwed up) and went for breakfast in Northampton (eggs AND French toast) and Tim took us to this great book store about 10 miles north called The Book Mill. It was an old mill outfitted as a book store/restaurant/café, complete with dusty corners and Victorian couches and lots of nooks and crannies. All overlooking a waterfall. It was great. I wish we discovered this about four years ago. It must be beautiful in the fall. Then we went back to Northampton for some burnt sugar and butter ice cream; dropped Tim off at his hotel and began the drive home.

What was nice was that I didn’t really worry or fret at all over the weekend. We were too busy and having too much fun for me to let any bad thoughts seep in. Tim is hysterical pretty much all the time, so having him around was like having your own personal comic.

But now that we are back home, let the games begin. Actually, I am still not really fretting about Awful Things That Could Happen because I am concentrating on finishing a ton of work for my Masters. It occurred to me that I am just so done with grad school. I finished my first Masters in two years and went straight into the second without a break. So it’s been four and a half years of grad school. Granted, I am not working this semester and that makes a huge difference, but right now, I just feel like I have so many other things to concern myself with, like these babies, and getting ready for them. I want to take care of myself and Nicole and the babies….not my class readings. I am slightly resentful that I still have grad school looming over me, with some big projects to finish and papers to complete. In theory, I was going to start a doctoral program right after this program was over, but I have come to my senses. I need a break, for at least a year, and then I can assess where I am. More school and babies will be a difficult load to balance. But I am happy to sacrifice the former for the latter, for a few years or even forever.

Interesting tidbit: At breakfast, I made a pit stop to the bathroom and there was a woman ahead of me waiting to use it. So I sat down next to her and waited my turn. The bathroom frees up and I wait for the woman to go in. Instead, she says with a smile, “Go ahead, Hun. Been there, done that,” while waving her hand around my stomach. Pregnancy membership has its privileges, and I still can’t believe I am a member. But this is the interesting part, for lack of a better word: This wasn’t the first time I heard “been there done that.” After one of my miscarriages, a coworker, who didn’t get the memo apparently, asked how the baby was. I said I had a m/c and she flippantly said “Been there, done that,” without so much as an “I’m sorry,” or “I feel your pain” or anything. I remember feeling stunned: How could someone who knows this sort of horror be so trite and borderline cold? And this morning, I got to here this expression again but in much better circumstances. Kinda makes me believe all that talk about the things in life coming full circle.

Pictured above is my giant sleeping pillow on location at our hotel. The pillow comes with me wherever I go (that is, when I sleep someplace other than home). And yet I am still not sleeping that comfortably. It might be time for a new, extra-strength pillow. Also pictured are Nicole and Tim at The Book Mill; and Nicole and the babies and me, looking like a Weeble Wooble. I swear I don’t look this rotund in real life.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Attitude Adjustment

I’m making my morning toast and looking out the window and there, six floors below, is a message on a moving truck, of all things. Life is Beautiful, on the top of a truck. Who can see that message, other than people looking out their windows while waiting for their toast to pop up? It’s not exactly at eye level. And who decided to put that on the top of a truck, and why? It’s like it was a secret message, a little reminder, just for me. And if it wasn’t, don’t burst my bubble, because I like to visit in Fantasy Land every once in a while.

Earlier, when I woke up, I layed in bed for a few minutes. The babies were still sleeping. I started talking to them, a little light banter about the day ahead, and, lo and behold, they started kicking. Is it too much to hope that they can hear me and are responding? A conversation of sorts, through words and kicks and punches. Don’t burst my bubble if that isn’t the case. Again, Fantasy Land.

Nicole’s flight from Dallas is delayed, so I won’t see her before class tonight. And the contractor, who was supposed to begin yesterday, has yet to show up and it is almost noon on Friday. And I have four hours of classes to sit through tonight. So in the moment, life doesn’t exactly feel very beautiful. But maybe we are supposed to look at the bigger picture, the grander scale. Or the smaller scale, as in these two little babies inside me. They do indeed make life very beautiful. And they aren’t even born yet.

In honor of Photo Friday, pictured above is my favorite mug. My SIL got it for me in Japan, the land of All Things Cool. I love that there is no handle, so you can feel the warmth of the coffee on the palms of your hands. This cup has lived with me for a decade. It survived living on a boat with me for years. It survived being packed up and moving to land. Now it sits in my cabinet, waiting for the day that I can drink coffee again.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Techno Babble

Today Nicole left for a business trip to Dallas. She left at 4:00 in the morning. When she leaned over to kiss me goodbye, we talked for a minute, and then the babies woke up! I would like to think they recognize her voice (she was doing most of the talking) and are responding to it, because it is too early for them to wake up and be moving. They usually stay quiet until I get up and haul myself to the bathroom (patterns!). And it is interesting: It seems like one wakes up, starts kicking, wakes up her sister and then she starts moving. I love feeling all that. It’s like a circus in my uterus. But it's strange: There are times when they are kicking away and I grab Nicole's hand and put it on my stomach and they stop. Like they got caught doing something they shouldn't. Her hand goes up and kicking resumes. I think they know that she is the disciplinarian.

The Home Invasion continues. The Contractor was supposed to be here at 10 a.m. Ha! It is almost 2:00 and no sign of him. Here we go again. But the Cable Guy is here, trying to fix our messed-up cable. We have been TV-less now for six days. I’d like to say that it doesn’t make a difference in my world, but the reality is, it does. I MISS tv, and the nightly comfort it brings me. Nicole said that we should have just stapled money to the wall instead of spending it on a TV! That cracked me up. It reminds me of that boating adage: Instead of buying a boat, just stand in a shower and rip up 100 dollar bills. Sadly, it is so true.

Nicole gave the contractor until next Wednesday to finish up. I think that is VERY generous since there are only a few things left for him to do. Another contractor could do all this in one day. I’m serious. I really can’t be here when he is working because it is just too uncomfortable for me. I could hang out in the bedroom and nap and read, but that kinda creeps me out, with him in the other room. Call me old-fashioned. So it is off to hit the streets again. It’s hard because I am still so tired. I don’t sleep well at night at all. Still the flipping back and forth all night long, till the covers are tangled and my back is aching. No wonder I need naps during the day.

Cable Guy just left to get something from his truck. He is flummoxed. He can’t figure out the problem. Great. We would switch providers in a second but they are the only company that services our building. So we are phone-less and cable-less and I wonder how long till we are internet-less. Life was easier without all this technology.

We are going up to Northampton for the weekend. The last time we were there was New Years, when I was 16 weeks pregnant. I was so zippy then! Now I will be 26 weeks. That totally throws me. I still can’t believe I am pregnant. Last time I was there I wore my first pair of maternity jeans (on January 1st). I am still wearing them (well, I have changed clothes since then…). Though it may be time to invest in a bigger pair.

Nicole still gets real estate listings from an agent up there. We postponed buying anything until I got pregnant, because who knew how long that journey would be. Now it is sorta back on the radar. Maybe next year, when life settles into a pattern. We are going to need to have a place outside the city to escape to on the weekends with these two girls. I want them to have grass and tress and mountains. I love living in the city, and can’t imagine not living here, but every once in a while, the siren call of suburbia calls to me.

All this forward thinking still scares me though: I remember being pregnant and touring houses with the agent last year. That was the ectopic. We were thinking “And this would be the baby’s room..”. I was optimistic; not ridiculously so, but just enough to even look at places. And now here we are again, farther along, bigger than before, and this time there’s a deep cut of fear. The babies' room is almost done. Cribs are bought and rug is ordered and the contractor is finsihing the door. I have no choice but to think ahead. And yet I feel like I am going to be punished with tragedy if I think optimistically.

I’m attached to these babies, and can’t wait to see their little faces. Not before at least another two months, though.

Countdown 100 days. I am still in shock.

Pictured above is Northampton in the Fall, just because.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Day 177

I had a doctor’s appointment this morning to take the Glucose Challenge or whatever it is called. Nicole had the day off, so she came with me to sit through the boring-ness of waiting an hour to draw blood. I also saw the doctor and she showed Nicole the babies. Of course, the screen is so tiny and angled away from me so I couldn’t see a thing. But Nicole was able to see them, for the first time in a long while, which I am glad about. They were squirming around and kicking and punching, high off of the disgusting glucose crap I had to drink. Nicole said she could see the four chambers of their hearts. All I could do was lay there are the docor and Nicole oh’d and ah’d at the screen. The doctor said they were both in breech position, but there was still plenty of time for them to move around. And yet they have been in breech position since they grew limbs. A c-section is seeming more and more likely.

Overwhelmed is still the word of the week. Perhaps month. There is so much to do and so little time to do it. It doesn’t help that we keep having random issues thrown at us: The cable has been out since Saturday; our land line phone stopped working, and there have been other ridiculous little non-important things that have me tettering on the edge. In addition, I am in my last semester of grad school so I have a ton of pre-graduation work to do. And paperwork. Then there are lots of baby-related things that need to be attended to. There are also so many projects that I need to complete…things that are almost done but not quite. And, to top it all off, I am awaiting the imminent Return of the Lazy Contractor, who needs to finish fixing the electrical problem he started and insert the door and add some molding. Again, maybe 6 hours of work that will take him about 4 days to complete.

I know; go ahead and pull out the mini-violins. I do realize how whiney I am being.

And yet that doesn’t stop this train wreck of emotional roller coasters. (I think that is one of the worst mixed metaphors I have ever written!) Maybe it’s the hormones, but the overwhelming-ness of everything makes me cry. Unpredictably and uncontrollably. I had a near breakdown in Home Depot, and only calmed down by sitting on boxes in front of the closet organization section and staring at the myriad possibilities while Nicole procured our special order door from the Special Services desk. I cried again Sunday night. Anything pushes me over the edge. I’m hoping this is a temporary visit to the land of emotional turmoil.

I blame exhaustion, too. My blood pressure is still low…something over 56. Was it 72? Or 82? Regardless, I am tired all of the time and winded even sitting on the couch. I don’t sleep well at nights at all. I toss and turn and spend a good portion of it awake, staring at the ceiling, wondering how I will get everything done that needs to get done in the month of March. No one can fret like me.

Nicole and I spent all day out running errands. I feel like we are making a dent in all that needs to get done (one hand gives....), but there is still so much more to do (...and the other takes away...). We bought an end table, with two empty drawers that I get to figure out what to put in. Nothing like an empty drawer to get me all excited. I may leave it empty for a while in my typical pleasure-delaying style. Why enjoy something now when I can delay enjoying it and instead live in the anticipation of enjoying it?

Nicole took off Friday and today, which means I am once again accustomed to her constant companionship. But now she has to go back to work and I am alone again. Plus, she drops on me that she has to go to Dallas on Thursday for the night. As unhealthy as it may seem, I just don’t feel the need for many spaces in our togetherness. Everything is better when she is around.

In other news:

Nephew Moment: Leif slept over on Saturday night. Sunday, he wakes up at around 6:30, climbs into bed with us (he sleeps on a blow-up mattress on the floor next to me) and snuggles in the crock of my arm while I lay on my back. He reaches over to pat my stomach and says “Good morning, babies.” How freaking cute is that?! Did I mention that he was wearing pajamas with sheep and cows and dogs on them? So cute.

Niece Moment: 10-year-old Isabelle corrected me when I accidentally slipped a curse word out in front of her and Leif. I apologized and said that I shouldn’t say word like that in front of her, and she replied that she didn’t care; it was Leif that was too little to hear such things. Kids grow up to too fast these days. Meanwhile, she is being groomed for a summer position for next year as our mother’s helper! We’d have her work all year long, but there are child labor laws and school and such that make this difficult. She is great with kids, and I think she will be great with her two newest and littlest cousins.

Freaky moment: We stopped at the food store to pick up some dinner ingredients and the total was $6.66. What are the chances? I don’t really believe in that sorta stuff, but the sign of the devil showing up on a grocery bill is a sign that we should go out to eat, in my opinion. I scrapped our plans for a cold-winter’s-night chili and we went out for fondue instead.

New What Ails Me: Now I am experiencing the mind-numbing pain of middle-of-the-night Charlie Horses. My body is breaking down, even more than before.

The Countdown: 177 days down, 103 days to go. I bet I can pack on another 40 pounds in the next few months. Three more sleeps till Nicole leaves; four more till she returns; and two weeks till my next doctor’s appointment.

Pictured above is Leif and geese in front of the backdrop of downtown NYC. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the towers not being there. Or the fact that Leif has never seen the towers.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Six Months Down.....

Wow. It is really starting to sink in, after six months, finally. I keep waiting for those shoes to drop and I have been lucky so far. We have had some awful scares and some interminable waits and some not-so-healthy skepticism (ok, that’s not so much “we” as “me”) but while I’ve been worrying and fretting and all that, life is just moving along. And these babies are one pound eleven ounces each. (If only they were, say, 30 pounds each, so I can explain away weight gain!) Despite all odds, my body is growing two healthy (knock on wood) babies.

Today I went to the post office to buy stamps and I thought “I am going to the post office to buy stamps to mail invitations to our baby shower.” I don’t normally narrate my day like that, but it just really made me feel like I was living someone else’s life. I go to baby showers, not have them. And yet here we are.

We are planning a very informal celebration. It’s open to men, women and children. It isn’t shower-like per se. There will be no ribbon hats because I don’t look good in hats (see above picture) and no present opening because I hate opening presents in front of people—even Nicole. Christmas morning is a nightmare for me. I sit there picking at the corners of my presents. On my birthday it might take me five minutes to open a gift that Nicole puts in my lap. Seriously. When she gave me a commitment band, it took me about a half hour to open the little box. Seriously. I’ve always been this way. I can’t say it is shyness: I have danced on too many bars and shared too many intimate details of my life with complete strangers to pull out that card. I know, I’m strange. I wish I could be more like my nephew, who can not only open his own presents, but everyone else’s.

So I am really looking forward to this non-shower, because it gives us the chance to celebrate this amazing babies event with the people we care about. I’ll probably be a mess and cry the whole time.

Above is the front of the invitation, a picture taken one week before the egg retrieval that resulted in these two babies. It’s funny how casual the imaginary dialogue is on the card! Ha! But I couldn’t exactly put “If nothing catastrophic happens, please join us to celebrate…”