Monday, April 30, 2007

World's Fastest Appointment

Today was the world’s fastest appointment. Dr. Nothing Bothers Her walked in and said we were going to be quick because she was hungry and needed to eat stat. She did an u/s: Baby A is head down, hanging out on my cervix. Baby B is once again floating along the top, in a transverse position. No cervix check and the nurse didn’t even check my blood pressure. However, the nurse did weigh me and while I still don’t know how much I weigh, she told me I lost three pounds. I knew my stomach was shrinking.

I tried to initiate talk about end strategies but my doctor says it is still a little soon. Which it is, I know, but recent discomfort makes it a hot topic for me. She said if they stay in this position she would suggest a C section. But if Baby B moves, then a vaginal delivery would be possible. To be honest, I don’t really have a strong preference. Both ways have major pros and cons. I lean toward a vaginal delivery but whatever way is safest and best is fine with me. But the planner in me secretly LOVES the idea of a scheduled date. The realist in me knows that this really isn’t up to me. And the pessimist in me still can’t believe that I am having these conversations at all.

Next appointment is in two days: A growth check and fluid check and my first non-stress test. And then the appointment cycle begins anew next week….

Pictured above are not one but TWO pictures of me smiling! Contrary to legend, I do in fact smile from time to time in pictures! The thing is, I find it particularly hard to smile for the camera when I am alone. I’m a little self-conscious about my smile (it’s amazing how one can hold onto some critical comments for, oh, decades) and I am not a huge fan of posed pictures. But put me with another person that I love (or like a lot) and I can smile easily. So here is a full frontal shot of me, crooked linea negra and all, also at 33 weeks, with a smile on my face (Nicole elicited said smile with some comment or maybe a threat or an eye roll!). And then there is a picture of me with Leif, riding the camel at the Bronx Zoo.

Like Clockwork

All the books I read insist that I will start recognizing the babies’ sleeping and waking patterns in utero. I have found this to be a stretch: They seem to move when they want, in no discernable pattern. They have busy days and quiet days (scary). There are mornings when I drink orange juice and lay on my side and nothing. And then there are days when I drink nothing and sit up and they are punching like crazy. It’s all quite random….but I must say that one pattern is revealing itself: Like clockwork around 10:00 pm the babies wake up and reorganize themselves for a half hour or so. They are kicking and punching and rolling with such force that I can just watch my stomach move. By this time Nicole is already asleep so I am the only one to witness this phenomenon.

The other pattern that is revealing itself are nighttime bathroom breaks. Last night I got up seven times, which is about average for me. It involves much maneuvering to get to the side of the bed, swing my feet over and drop to the ground (our mattress is high off the floor). And then I have this interesting hand-and-foot thing going on. I’m going to go ahead and diagnoses bloating in both. Since I have removed my rings and resorted to flip-flop wearing, I don’t exactly know for sure, but I really think I am seeing little sausages when I look at my fingers. My hands and feet feel sore like they were punched. It hurts to make a fist and walking or standing for periods of time is not so fun. The only bright side of this is this means I don’t have to iron anymore! For this last month I will be dropping off the ironing at the dry cleaners!

Bad nights’ sleeps means more daytime napping. I usually nap in the morning, after I wake up, for about an hour or so. Something about sleeping on the couch agrees with me. Also, I will nap on the couch with Nicole when she is watching one of her “shows”, which arguably happens only once a week, tops, but still. This weekend, it was some train wreck called “Crocodile” or “Alligator.” The problem with these shows is that they are not good to nap to, because there are always chainsaws and screaming and hammering and unusual creature noises and dying creature noises in the background. I’ll be on the precipice of sleep when the sound of an alligator/crocodile ripping off the head of some damsel in distress snaps me back to the land of the wakeful.

On Saturday night, Nicole planned a small surprise graduation dinner with friends at a restaurant. There was a woman at a table near us who told me as we were leaving that she had twins. She delivered at 42 weeks (!). I wanted to hit her with so many questions: How long was her cervix? Was she induced? Was she uncomfortable? Isn’t it dangerous to deliver that late, because from what I read the uterus gets so distended that it can’t contract properly back to its natural shape and hemorrhaging sometimes ensues. Her babies were just under 7 pounds each, that much I did ascertain. But my babies, at 32 weeks, are already almost 5 pounds each. Which means if I were to estimate it, they would be 7 pounds each by 36 weeks and 8 pounds each by 38 weeks, if they continue with their growth rate. By 42 weeks, they would be 10 pounds or so. No way I can go to 42 weeks. No way.

I want big healthy babies and I will deal with this discomfort as long as I have to, but still, it really is getting very uncomfortable.

This week commences Doctor’s Appointments-palooza. I have two this week: The first one is today. My next ultrasound is Wednesday. I think today is just weight and blood pressure and quick look at the babies. I’ll rattle of a short list of complaints and my doctor will tell me she isn’t worried. Wednesday is my first non-stress test, I think, and another growth check, during which we will see how chubby the babies are now.

Pictured above is me at 33 weeks. So far, no stretch marks. What does that say about my skin? That is was made to stretch to unfathomable lengths? I still have time to get some and my skin still has a lot of stretching to do so I won’t count any chickens before they hatch. But no stretch marks would be a happy little bonus. I do, however, have that "mask of pregnancy" on my face (left side), which I noticed for the first time this weekend, but Nicole said has been there a while.

Friday, April 27, 2007

When a Toffee Almond Bar Isn’t Just a Toffee Almond Bar

I’m done. That was the fastest two and half years (ah…not really). I just had my last class and handed in my giant behemoth of a culminating project. Provided I pass that project, I am all clear to graduate. So no more readings or work or papers or presentations or group projects. No more spending my weeks in a cave of work, obsessing over the details, feeling guilty for not doing more. Most of all, I am happy to not have to sit for four hours in classes anymore. Pregnant or not, that is just too long.

I can’t post negative parenting tips from Nicole anymore. When I came home tonight she congratulated me on my last class (stubbing her toe on the step in her mad dash to hug me) and told me she got me a toffee almond bar, which was chilling in the fridge. I didn’t want to admit that I already got one and ate it in class (I need the sugar rush to stay alert). She kept pushing this bar on me, and when I finally admitted that I already had one and wasn’t really hungry, she asked me to bring it to her, which is weird, because she never really eats them. It was curious that she became impatient as I changed into PJs and took out my contacts and puttered around, but I didn’t think much of it. I can be clueless sometimes. But she asked again to bring her the bar and I finally obliged. The bag seemed heavier than normal but I didn’t think much about it. And then I opened the bag and there was hidden inside was a gift of a beautiful pair of sparkly earrings. I already feel so lucky and grateful for everything that I have (non-material, that is) and these sort of things are just the icing on the cake. Or the toffee in the bars, if you will. Really, I am happy with a sincere card (I have saved sincere cards for the past 25 years or so). But this is very nice too! I took a picture so I could someday show it to our daughters and say “See? These are the sort of things your mom does.”

And now tomorrow, blissfully free of grad school and papers and presentations, oh my, the real nesting can begin.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Parenting Tips by Nicole

I always say that I am going to carry around a notebook to write down some of the things Nicole says, but I never do. She comes up with some gems when she is distracted and tired; times when she feels the need to respond but doesn’t quite think about what she is saying. Her mouth is on automatic pilot.

Here’s a snippet from a conversation last night:

Me: Mina called. She wants to know if splinters will come out on their own.
Nicole: Sometimes. I don’t know. Why?
Me: Leif and Skye have a ton of them in their hands and feet and they scream every time Mina tries to tweeze them out. She doesn’t know what to do.
Nicole: She should just give them a stick to bite on or something and take them out.

Before you call child services, she wasn’t really serious. But still, I need to start recording these things, just for fun.

Speaking of calls, every 20 days or so, my cell phone voice mail reminds me that I have “One message about to expire.” I got that reminder again today. It is the same message I have saved since the fall from my IVF nurse. I have no idea why I didn’t manage to answer that call—as many of you know, the world stops when you are waiting for those blood work update phone calls from your RE office and your phone is glued to your hand. How I managed to miss that call, I don’t know. But it was pure torture dialing up voicemail and punching in my numbers and waiting to hear “Hi Jennifer this is Michelle calling…” all the while trying to determine from her opening tone if it is good news or bad news. Anyway, I have been reluctant to delete that message since it brought such good news (a rising beta, a properly behaving progesterone level) so I save it month after month. But every 20 days that message brings me right back to that fear.

I looked today at birth announcements. I still can’t believe that this is all happening. I feel like I am living someone else’s life. Of course, I can’t find any I like and think I might just make them myself, but I think that might be too much to handle in the first weeks after the babies come home. Look at me, all positive.

Tomorrow is my last day of grad school. It’s been four and half years and I am SO ready for the break.

Pictured above is Nicole with cake. She tells me all the time to not bake cakes or cookies or other such things because having dessert every day is a tad excessive. Yet whenever I make something she is in SUCH a good mood (food excitement) that it is hard to obey such orders.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Everyone's Getting Bigger

Yesterday’s sonogram went just fine, thank goodness. The babies are laying in a reverse transverse position: Meaning Baby A is laying with her head to my left and her feet to the right and Baby B is dong the opposite above, right under my ribs. How these babies have room to move I don’t know. But they are just having a party in there, switching it up each week.

They are big: Baby A is 4 pounds 12 ounces and Baby B is 4 pounds 11 ounces. And I am only 32 weeks. I asked the doctor if they were getting too big too fast and he said there is no such thing as that with twins. Well, maybe not for him, but for me there sure is. At this rate, the babies will be almost 7 pounds each at 36 weeks and almost 8 pounds each at 38 weeks. I’m grateful to have big, hopefully healthy babies, but I worry about how this physically happens. It just seems impossible that my uterus will be able to carry that much. My cervix, for those who monitor these things, has shortened a bit, from 4.0 to 3.6. Anything above 3.0 at this stage is great, according to the doctor. And their heart rates were both around 148, which is normal (the acceptable range is 120 to 160)

I feel like I went from walking to waddling in one short week and I am convinced that my fingers look like little water-retaining sausages. And my speed has slowed down even more. On the way to the u/s yesterday, Nicole met me at home and we walked up together (well, she was constantly a few steps ahead of me) and she said, and I quote: “It’s painful to walk this slow.” Ha! But it’s true, I walk slow now and meander, gradually moving from one side of the sidewalk to the other. And I need to take little breaks to catch my breath. I’ve never felt so out-of-shape and yet so full-of-life (literally). Yet another pregnancy oxymoron.

And now we go into appointment-palooza. Starting next week I will have weekly sonograms and weekly non-stress tests and weekly visits with Dr. Nothing Bothers Her. I’m glad I selected a doctor within walking distance of my apartment!

Pictured above is Baby A. I asked our lovely u/s technician (no Attila!) if we could get pictures, and she was happy to try. She even did the fancy 3D/4D thing! But, she said, there is “just too much baby in there” to get a good shot. She tried a few times and then went back to 2D and this is all we got. No pictures of Baby B because she is facing my spine, which makes me nervous that she is spinning around in there. So this picture shows Baby A’s face to the right and her hand is on her head. I know, it is not the best view, but it was the best she could get. I’m pretty sure I see some chubby cheeks but that could be wishful thinking.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Borrowed Time

This is what makes pregnancy challenging for me: As a control freak (for lack of a better word) I am forced to surrender any sort of timetable or agenda and let the cards fall where they may.

I should have learned this during the TTC journey, but alas, I didn’t. I had it all planned out: We would begin the process while I was still in graduate school and by graduation, I would be pregnant. I was certain conception would happen the first or second time. I was counting off months on calendars and weighing the merits of one month versus another for giving birth. I had this image of me, in a cap and gown, walking across that platform to accept my degree, with a little baby thriving inside of me. Oh, how that all makes me laugh now.

But the universe, in its infinite wisdom (or strange sense of humor) decided I would indeed graduate with not one but two babies inside of me. And not during my first Masters, but my second. In between, just to keep us humble I guess, we endured countless cycles and appointments and disappointments and m/c’s and an ectopic, reminder after reminder that I wasn’t the one calling the shots here.

Flash forward a couple of years, and I win the pregnancy lottery. And still, I have no control. I have no idea how much time I have left before these babies arrive or before I might be put on bed rest or before I just can’t move around at all (I’m getting close). It’s like I live on borrowed time. I repeat this like a broken record, but my friend Jen had a picture-perfect pregnancy till one of the babies kicked a hole in his sac at 31 weeks, and suddenly she was in the hospital till her babies were born just before the 35th week. And then there are countless blogs from twin mothers, like the story of a woman who goes in for a routine exam and discovered that her amniotic fluid is too low, which warrants hospital bed rest (see here). Or the woman who watched her cervix go from nice and long to way too short in a very short span of time (here). And the woman who discovered that she was having contractions but didn’t even feel it (here). Things happen, quickly, abruptly and out-of-the-blue.

I have an appointment today and I am nervous. I have been feeling different lately. Not really in a terrible or bad way, but different nonetheless. There is the whole disappearing energy thing, the joint pain and the problem with my hands. There is that constant urge to empty my bladder. I feel a heaviness around my cervix. Are the babies getting into position or dropping? Is my cervix getting shorter at all? These Braxton Hicks I keep getting, do I need to monitor them more? Should I be concerned? Is it normal to have them whenever I sit in an upright position?

The anxiety never quite disappears. I’m ashamed to admit that I still look at scary stories online about all of the terrible things that can happen. Even now, at eight months, with the big belly and the kicking babies and the almost-finished babies’ room, I know there are no guarantees. I still hold my breath when the doctor looks for the babies’ heartbeats. I still get nervous for the post-sonogram talk with the doctor. I won’t settle down until these babies are out of me safely and nestled in their cribs. And then the new worries begin.

Nicole rearranged her scheduled (or arranged it) and she is coming today too, which makes me feel better. I hope everything is ok.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Crossing The Line

Something happened between last Sunday and now. I went from pregnant-and-hanging-in-there to wow, some changes need to be made. This weekend was particularly difficult. I am realizing that I just can’t keep up with my normal schedule. I move at a much slower rate; I wake at least five times a night to pee and I finally realize that the pain in my hands that hasn’t gone away might be carpal tunnel (it feels like both of my hands are bruised). Sitting upright or driving immediately starts BH (but laying down all the time just isn’t practical). And, most poignantly for me, I’ve lost valuable space in my stomach: I want to eat more but I just can’t. I think the babies are pushing up on it and creating the illusion of fullness. The bright side: Perhaps this will slow my rapid weight gain (as long as it doesn’t slow the babies’ weight gain).

While I am nesting like a maniac (organizing the room; washing clothes; rearranging closets and shelves, making lists), the babies seem to be doing the same inside of me. They are moving around in new and unusual ways. We can feel body parts, but I still find it hard to discern an arm from an elbow; a head from a butt. These babies are either moving into a head-down position to ready themselves for their impending arrival or they are settling themselves in with no intentions of leaving (I think it’s the latter…). I have an ultrasound tomorrow and I can’t wait to see what is going on in there and find out how much these babies weigh (I could be off, but it seems like 14 pounds each). Last week, my doctor seemed convinced that they would stay in for at least 38 weeks (or more) and weigh 7 to 8 pounds each. Right now, that seems like quite a tall order.

My hormones have taken an abrupt turn as well. Yesterday I saw bird gathering grass and twigs for its nest, with the impossibly perfect song The Byrds song Turn, Turn, Turn randomly playing in the background as a sort of soundtrack (“A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap; a time to kill, a time to heal; a time to laugh, a time to weep….”) For absolutely no reason at all, I started to cry and couldn’t stop. There are obvious metaphors, and some direct connections to current events, but still, why the copious tears? It’s like I am no longer in control, physically or emotionally.

Yesterday, while sorting through some baby clothes, we decided on a take-home outfit for the babies, even though we aren’t sure when they will make their arrival or how much they will weigh. So we are driving around Long Island yesterday, dividing time between my mother’s house and Nicole’s sister’s house, with two cute little onesies folded in my bag in the backseat. It reminded me of the very beginning of this pregnancy, when my confident RE promised us when I was 5 weeks pregnant a take-home baby, an expression that struck me as so blunt and sterile. I didn’t believe him, given our track record and the seemingly impossible odds. Thus began the roller-coaster (Heartbeats? Sacs? Growing properly?). And here we are, eight months later, choosing take-home outfits for these take-home babies. I’m not exaggerating when I say I really didn’t think it was going to happen for us. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Pictured above are two pictures of Leif (I couldn’t decide which one was cuter), who asks me all the time when the babies are coming out. I said in the summer, which confused him this weekend, since it was in the 70s here in NYC. We went from winter to summer this weekend, and will return to spring some time later this week. Which begs the question: How do you explain global warming to a four-year-old?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fringe Benefits

We hit a mini-milestone this morning. Sometime in the wee hours of dawn, I felt Baby B punching me with her little hand. In my sleepy haze, I noticed that she was punching me in a regular pattern for an extended period of time. Eventually it occurred to me this wasn’t punches, it was hiccups! I have been so excited for this to happen…along with the u/s picture of one of the babies sucking her thumb, which hasn’t happened yet. One down, one more to go. I quickly woke Nicole up and put her hand on the spot so she could feel it too. It was—to use my favorite word—surreal. There is a little baby inside of me who has the hiccups. It reminded me how lucky I was to be in this place now. The hiccups lasted a couple of minutes, then she moved around a bit and settled back in for some more sleep. And so did Nicole. Then, bizarrely, I hiccupped twice. Not a bad way to start the morning.

Later I visited my friend Jen, who has toddler b/g twins. Now when I am with her I feel like I am getting a sneak preview of life with twins. They play so well together and entertain each other. It’s cute the way they talk to each other and even apologize when they do something wrong! They are each other’s playmates. It makes me so much more excited for my own babies to come out. My visit turned out to be more like a scenery change, since I spent most of my time laying on her couch, even napping for an hour! I only moved to an upright position when it was time to eat lunch (pasta with vodka sauce...yum!). Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

I think I am at the point when the babies are infringing on my stomach space. I get really full really quickly these days, but, ever the trooper, I eat through the pain. I think I need to stop that, because it just leads to stomach distress later on. I just had dinner with my friend Annie. I had an appetizer and a side order of vegetables and barely put a dent in either. I want to eat more, I really do. I just feel so full, literally and figuratively.

Pictured above is Nicole and me, at 31 weeks. I keep thinking I can’t possibly get any bigger and yet nature finds a way…..

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Before and After

Eight inches of rain in New York City in one day, the most we have had in 120 years I think. Wind gusts up to 50 miles and hour. And where we were, on the 57th floor of an apartment building, there was sleet, hail and sideways rain (there is a separate weather system that high up). That was the scene for this baby celebration.

As I said to several people, thank goodness it is illegal for Nicole and I to get married because I don’t think I could handle the pressure of planning and being a part of a wedding. The party was fun, but exhausting, and I didn’t even do the bulk of the work. I spent too much time on my feet and didn’t drink nearly enough water and felt like I didn’t get a chance to spend any significant time with anyone. But it was all worth it. It really made me feel like this was happening. I know my giant stomach should clue me in or the kicks inside me but it was this right of passage of sorts that drove the point home. Pictured above are five of the Fab Six (one is missing in both pictures!). We have all been friends for more than two decades. The top picture is us on Sunday, the bottom picture was us at a wedding shower about five years ago. My, how times have changed. I think about how different all of our lives are now, all that we have been through. It’s amazing.

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and since Nicole took the day off she came with me. She was able to see the babies on the not-so-good machine. They have changed positions again. This time, they are both laying in a sort of diagonal fashion, with their bodies kinda curled around each other, like shrimp. I like to think Baby B is spooning Baby A. It explains the new and unusual thumps that I am feeling. It also proves these babies are nothing like me: I would pick one position and stay in it the entire pregnancy if I was them. Why the need to move around so much?

In keeping with her personality, Dr. It Doesn’t Make Me Crazy had not a single concern. This entire pregnancy she hasn’t worried about anything: Not the decreased thyroid function or the cysts on the brains or my low blood pressure or anything. I asked her if I should be looking for a pediatrician and she said I have lots of time (whereas everyone I speak with says I should be well on the road to deciding by now!). Her confidence is a nice change of pace from my the-sky-is-falling attitude and I have to say it has gone a long way to making me feel comfortable and more confident.

I told her that I was a little concerned that the babies seemed so big. After all, every book I have read says twin growth slows in the third trimester. But my babies are getting huge, huge like maybe I do have GD and they missed it (I checked with the nurse to confirm I was GD negative). She shrugged it off and instead predicted that not only would I go full term (!) with these babies, they would be 7 or 8 pounds. EACH. Now obviously this is fantastic news. But it also worries me a bit because the aches and pains associated with carrying two extra lives are becoming quite…painful. I can’t imagine getting any bigger. I really can’t. But I want these babies to come out as healthy as possible. I not going to sit here and hope they come out early because I am uncomfortable. I can deal with the discomfort. But let the record reflect, this is hard and it will be for maybe another 7 weeks.

Thank goodness only two more weeks of grad school. Sitting in class for four-hour stretches has lost its charm. And one week till my next super-sonogram growth check.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

So tomorrow is our Alternative Baby Party, our version of a Baby Shower, complete with no ribbon hats, no gift openings and no games. It is supposed to be a celebration of these babies with a relatively small gathering of friends and family. Family flew in from Florida and friends are driving in from as far as Syracuse. People are taking planes, trains and automobiles to be here.

And the storm of the century is heading this way.

Can I just say that there hasn’t been a Nor’easter in these parts in, oh, a year or so. And we haven’t had a big one in years. Years. All winter I was waiting for that blustery, blizzard-y winter’s storm, so I have an excuse to hole up at home in pajamas all day and eating pancakes. But all we got was like a half-inch of dirty NYC snow. And now, the storm of the century! What are the chances?

It’s fine. It’s just torrential rain and near-hurricane force winds and some flooding. I feel awful that people are going to have to trudge through this for a three-hour party.

I just got my hair cut and it is a little shorter than I am used to. Not too short, but still, short.

Pictured above: Nicole and my mother and one of Jon and Tim’s dogs on the roof deck, which no one will be able to enjoy tomorrow. And on bottom is one of the views…that we won’t see tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Past Due

I must be bigger than I think I am. Today, while waiting for my u/s appointment, a very pregnant woman next to me asked if I was past due too. Ha! I laughed and told her I had another two months. Once she got over the shock, we talked and shared our experiences, and somewhere in the middle of the conversation I though “Wow…I am sitting here talking about sleeping pillows with a pregnant woman and I am pregnant too.” It never ceases to amaze me.

Not only am I big, apparently I make big babies, too. Naturally, I had Attila the Technician but—surprise, surprise—she was actually kind of nice to me today. First, she measured my cervix, which is still nice and long, holding steady at 3.9mm. Then we moved on to the babies: I asked nicely if I could get pictures and she said “we’ll see.” Well, we’ll see turned into a big no. Baby A is head down again (go Baby A!) but she couldn’t get a good picture of her. Baby B is laying across the top, once again in a T-formation. She is facing the inward, so the transducer only picks up images of her butt and the back of her head. So no pictures for Nicole, who had a meeting in Connecticut and couldn’t attend today’s viewing.

Here’s the amazing part: Baby A is 3 pounds 11 ounces and Baby B is 3 pounds 10 ounces, which is exactly what a singleton at 30 weeks 2 days would weigh! Grow babies grow! At this point they grow about a half-pound a week (I wish I could say the same…). So these could be some big babies! I keep reading and hearing that twin growth slows down in the third trimester, but these babies apparently didn’t get the memo.

I am still sick, but I think I am on the mend. The congestion is clearing, the lethargy is lifting and I am able to stand up for more than a minute without feeling like I need a nap. And I have managed to cut down my nap schedule, too. I hope this is the end of whatever this illness was. Where is the so-called super immune system that some pregnant women get?

Pictured above is my niece playing in one of the new cribs. I still can’t believe that there could be babies in here some time in the next couple of months.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I'm Not Naming Names

I sit squarely in the camp that happiness is a choice. You choose to be happy or you choose to not be happy. It’s really simple. That said, I don’t always make the right choice. Like with my pregnancy: I could have chosen to embrace it from Day 1. I could have pretended that everything will work out just fine, and not let past miscarriages and failures and horror stories stop me from enjoying every second of it. Instead, I worried, fretted more than Harrison Ford ever did in any of his movies, and wrapped myself in a blanket of anxiety. I lived in denial that this fairy tale could possibly have a happy ending and every step of the way, saw the road ending and not continuing. And now, at 30 weeks, with a belly I can’t deny and thumps I can’t ignore and a whole room dedicated to The Babies and their relatively imminent arrival, I regret not trying harder to enjoy this amazing, beautiful, fleeting time.

But I digress….

It is hard enough for me to monitor my own happiness, so why must I feel an obligation or responsibility to monitor someone else’s happiness? Shouldn’t everyone be accountable for their own happiness and be allowed to make their own choices, good or bad? If someone wants to drive their life into a wall, well, then that is their choice. If someone wants to live a lonely and miserable life and alienate themselves, burn every bridge, close every door, lead a life of reaction and never action, then that is their choice. I can’t coax or plead or beg or interfere or do anything to stop that. I can’t plant happiness in someone else’s garden. And yet I try and try and try and try…and wonder why nothing grows. And like a nasty virus (or weed, if I were to continue the metaphor) this misery spreads and suddenly I feel like I can’t be completely happy unless they (I’m not naming names) are completely happy, too, which will never happen. How ridiculous is that? A self-fulfilling prophecy? An unfunded mandate? A viscous cycle? I let myself get pulled into this undertow—I practically throw myself into it—and then wonder why yet again I am struggling to keep afloat.

The thing is, I like my life. I ended a long-term, not-suited-for-me relationship and created this amazing, great relationship with a woman who I never, ever get tired of and who makes daily deposits into my happiness column. Even through the Dark Days of infertility, when I threw myself into the abyss and chose to be miserable and couldn’t see my way out, she never let go or turned away. I have some crappy, selfish relatives but, more important, I have some loving, caring, thoughtful, ever-present relatives, including some inherited through Nicole. Even one good one makes up for ten bad ones. And I’ve had some rough spots in friendships, but in the end I am left with a core group of people who fill up every nook and cranny in my life.

And yet there are times when I dwell in the misery, and lament the relatives who walked out on me and focus on the friends who did me wrong. It is so easy to get stuck in that mindset and I understand completely how some people get stuck there.

It’s not that I’m so evolved or enlightened or Zen. I don’t have the answers or anything like that. Please. I’m perpetually seeing a therapist or reading some book that promises to complete me and talking endless circles with friends who listen to me howl the same refrains.

But I need to get out of this particular person's misery fugue. It’s their life, not mine. Maybe this person is happy in misery, in some sort of ironic way. Maybe they will change. Maybe they will learn that life is better when you try just a little more each day to embrace the light instead of the dark. In the meantime, I need to remind myself to worry about myself; it is the lesson that keeps getting thrown my way, and will continue to plague me until I learn it. How can I begrudge someone who spends a lifetime being miserable if I let myself stew in that misery too?

And despite all of this—these forays into co-dependent misery and my checkered fertility past and the ended relationships and the lingering pain of abandonment and my imperfect perfect life—I ask myself, would I change lives with anyone in the world? And the answer is always unequivocally no, not anymore.

Pictured above are two of my friends (who are girlfriends) running into the ocean. Well, one is running and the other is sort of walking deliberately, like she has an agenda. I love this picture because it is so metaphorical. Pick your own metaphor. And to me, it symbolizes happiness. It was a really good weekend.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fevers; Embarrassing Milestones; Cervix Checks*


Apparently a 104 fever doesn’t slow a toddler down. My niece came over today, and while her fever is gone, you would think that she would still be lethargic and cuddly and calm, recovering from the fever that broke mere hours ago. No such luck. I Tivo’d about 10 episodes of Dora and she has blown through most of them already (once you weed out commercials and such, it really boils down to 15 minutes of a screaming camel-toed exploradora and her crazy monkey pet and their assorted freak friends like that spaced-out cow and the grumpy old troll who lives under the bridge). Meanwhile, Skye asks approximately 15 times a minute “Ots ah?” or, translated, “what’s that?” She runs around the apartment at top speed, now that her socks are off (socks serve as a veritbal speed bump for kids; must remember this). And she finds the most mundane things fascinating: To wit: She spent five minutes playing fuzz she found on the couch. Fuzz. Five minutes.

Can I also register a complaint about how spoiled kids are these days when it comes to TV? I’m going to sound old here, but kids these days live in this world of on-demand television. Plus they get to experience the wonders of Tivo, so they can watch whatever they want whenever they want. Skye just freaked out when the commercials came on because—gasp!—we were watching live TV. Skye doesn’t do commercials and never has in her little life. She is used to non-stop entertainment. For me, growing up, cable was just coming into people’s homes (with not so much in the way of kid’s shows anyway) and VCRs were just making their debut. And we had to get up to change the channel! How cantankerous do I sound?

I could just turn off the TV but 1.) I am exhausted after another fitful’s night sleep and don’t have the energy to entertain someone with an attention span of five seocnds and 2.) it is snowing ever so slightly here in NYC so a trip to the playground or anywhere really is out of the question and 3.) maybe what I am deeming allergies is actually a cold, because I just feel so blah.

Here is a glimpse into my adult life. This snippet of conversation is from last night, as we sprawled out on the couch, watching the American Idol results show (yes, I like this show; Nicole can take it or leave it):

Me: Do you realize that we might have these babies before we find out who the next American idol is?
Nicole: Can we please not use things like that as a milestone? It’s embarrassing.

This, coming from the woman who has a Tivo list with such gems as Frankenfish, a sci-fi thriller about a group of genetically engineered snakeheads that are attacking and eating humans. I just had to make that point. People in glass houses and all...

I have my doctor’s appointment this afternoon for a cervix check and questions-and-answers (On tap this week: Is that tightnening I am feeling Braxton Hicks?). I was talking to my friend Annie last night and telling her about today, she offered to come into the city and help me with Skye so I could have a stress-free appointment. Now that is a true friend. Truth is, I was dreading it, fearing that Skye would freak out as I lay on a table being wanded. But having Annie there makes everything much, much easier. Everyone needs an Annie.

Pictured above is me at 29 weeks, in oh-so-not-flattering striped pajamas again because I keep forgetting to take a picture in the daytime when I am clothed. If you look closely, you can see my popped belly button and my perpendicular hair. As I have been saying for, what, three months now, I need to get a haircut.

** Update: The appointment was fine. Baby A decided she didn’t want to be head down after all and returned to her breech position, which means Nicole has been talking to her feet these past two weeks. Baby B is curled in some sort of transverse/breech/s-shape or something. It’s like baby Jenga or origami. How they fit in there, I have no idea. And please explain to me how a three-pound baby moves 180 degrees and I don’t feel anything beyond little thumps?

I asked about the Braxton Hicks but my doctor said as long as I don’t feel any pain, she is (all together, now) “Not going to worry about that.” Seriously, nothing seems to alarm my doctor. Nothing.

My cervix continues to be a superstar and is measuring 3.4mm. The measurement last week with the fancy u/s was 3.9mm. My doctor said her machine is probably about .5 mm off so it is still holding strong in the mid- to high-three range. I’m proud of my cervix.

Finally, I accidentally opened my eyes too soon at the weigh in. Wow, That’s all I have to say. Well, that and I will gladly add as much weight to my frame as needed to make two chunky, healthy, happy babies.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Something is in the Air

Spring is kinda springing here in NYC, and even though there are only a few trees within sight distance of my apartment, they are apparently generating enough pollen or tree dust to make me miserable. I am not usually an allergy sufferer, so this is new and unusual and not-so-much-fun. I don’t quite know how to alleviate the symptoms. I am congested and have a dry cough and a sore throat from breathing through my mouth. Nighttime is the worst: As soon as I lay down I can’t breathe. When I wake in the middle of the night, I feel like my throat is closing up. And I jar myself awake because I apparently stop breathing for a few seconds, so I wake up gasping. Lovely. I took a Benadryl one night and it knocked me out, but not enough to keep me from getting up every hour or so to pee. And then woke up the next morning feeling like I had a hangover. How do people deal with this year after year?

My niece was supposed to come today to spend the night with us, but she has a 104 fever so she is staying home with my brother. I was looking forward to her being here, with her two-year-old enthusiasm for everything and her Dora addiction, but a part of me is a little relieved. I feel like crap and really need to catch up on the sleep I didn’t quite get last night. Or the night before. Or the night before that. I keep thinking, this is the last day I will feel awful. And it never is.

The babies are kicking me enough to keep me from over-worrying. Of course, I still worry about a random catastrophic act happening, but I am trying really hard to banish such thoughts (and websites) from my head. What if they wrap the umbilical cords around their little necks? What if one kicks a hole in her amniotic sack, which happened to my friend Jen, who then spent weeks in the hospital on bed rest before delivering her twins about five weeks early? I have a cervix check tomorrow and another growth sonogram on Tuesday. Hopefully, Nicole can come, which pretty much guarantees that Attila the Homophobic Technician will be the one doing the honors. My doctor’s appointments are almost weekly now, and soon I will need to add non-stress tests to the mix. Thank goodness my doctor (and hospital) are an easy ten-minute walk away. And that this is all covered by insurance for a change!

It’s strange how fertility issues still run deep. I am constantly reminded of my fertility-challenged past, especially when I see snippets of it other people. A close friend just had an ectopic pregnancy and had emergency surgery to have her tube removed. She was feeling crampy and all this pain and called her doctor’s office, who promised to squeeze her in for an appointment in four days. Typical. Thank God she pressed the issue and got in sooner because who knows what could have happened: She had a 7 cm blood clot protruding through her tube. It’s sad because she struggled for a long time to get pregnant, had m/c’s and chemicals and now this. It’s awful. I wish there was a window into the womb so that we could see why these things happen.

It’s a rainy day. Every year it shocks me, the whole April flowers brings May flowers thing. But it is true. There's rain today and on and off for the rest of the week. I wish I could go to the movies and eat popcorn. Alas, I need to use this Skye-free day to finish a paper and start another. I had to buy a five-inch binder for my final project. It cost $30 (!!) and holds about a million pages. And now I have to fill it. Only three more weeks of grad school…

Pictured above is my fevered niece, back in non-fever days.