We All Scream For Breastmilk Ice Cream

This blog is in need of some levity.

So, let's talk about breastmilk ice cream!

It seems my friends at PETA (and I do mean friends in the literal and not the John McCain sense, since I'm a PETA girl going waaay back to high school) would like Ben and Jerry's to make their ice cream using breastmilk instead of cow's milk.

No, I'm not kidding.

First, let me leap to PETA's defense for a second. They are an awesome organization who seeks to defend the defenseless in complete legal ways. They aren't burning down vivisection labs or springing minks free from cages, but instead use celebrity exposure and in a lot of cases sensationalism to bring cruelty to animals to light.

That said, they occasionally come up with some wack-a-do ideas. Enter, breastmilk ice cream.

According to this article, PETA wants breastmilk used as a substitute for cow's milk in Ben and Jerry's ice cream because it's healthier for consumers and would end the exploitation of dairy cows. I don't believe they seriously want the company to start making breastmilk ice cream, but instead want to raise awareness for the often miserable life dairy cows experience and to inform consumers that it's really no more strange to drink human milk than it is to drink cow's milk, even though the "ick factor" for most people (myself included) is significantly larger.

It's no surprise that Ben and Jerry's rejected the idea.

I'm not a vegan. I'm not even a vegetarian anymore, although I was for four years until my gastroenterologist told me my horrid diet (I was bad vegetarian who ate very few actual vegetables and more than the recommended daily allowance of cheese pizza) was negatively affecting my health. So I quit vegetarianism about 10 years ago and instead I eat only chicken and turkey. I haven't had beef or pork in over 14 years. I do however give mad props to those who don't eat meat. Vegetarian and vegan diets are healthier. Not eating meat is better for the environment. And it's cruelty-free.

But the idea did make me laugh (how would Ben and Jerry's actually obtain the breastmilk? Would they have their own pumping sweatshop where women would gather with their breast pumps for long 12-hour days attached to suction cups?) and it made me think about the life of a dairy cow. It's not a very happy life, despite the cows-grazing-in-the-pasture images you see on tv.

So, let's have a little fun. Name your breastmilk-themed Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor. Will it be "Nuts About Nipples"? Or maybe "Strawberry Jugs Forever?"

This is what a lot of time spent laying on my voluminous arse has done to me, so humor me and play along.

32 Week Update: Making Progress

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the supportive comments on my last post. I've been feeling really shitty lately (a combination of a cold that won't go away, Baby B's arse stuck in my side and causing me to be uncomfortable and/or in pain almost all day long, being completely exhausted virtually 24/7, hopefully as a result of my cold, which means I'll regain at least some semblance of energy soon, and of course, the bedrest news), and your kind words helped me to avoid wallowing too long in a pool of my own snot and tears.

I've been a sad, self-pitying sack lately.

Moving on.

I've decided to start posting updates and a photo every two weeks now. Baby A's amniotic fluid issue combined with how I've been feeling lately has made me begin to suspect that I won't make it until my scheduled C-section at 39 weeks. I know this date was very ambitious to begin with because twins seldom stay put that long, but I always imagined I'd make it until at least the beginning of November (I have to vote, after all!) Now? Not so sure.

So, I'm setting shorter goals for myself. As obviously all mothers do, I really, really want my babies to avoid NICU time. Of course, even full-term babies can end up there, but with multiples born early, the chances are much greater due to lung-development issues. The thought of coming home without them is killing me. I'll consider it an accomplishment to get to 34 weeks, and I hope Baby A's amniotic fluid issue lets me last that long. And then, each week after that I'll celebrate as a mini-milestone.

I had a bio-physical profile on Friday, which is basically an ultrasound where instead of taking measurements, the babies' breathing and movement is evaluated. The tech gave both babies an 8 out of a possible 8-the best score. So that was encouraging. Also, she thought there was a bit more amniotic fluid around Baby A than she remembered seeing the last time. Of course, a doctor must evaluate the test, but I was happy with that news.

In prep news, the babies' room has been painted, and yesterday the hubs and my mom's husband set up the cribs. Our guest room is a guest room no longer. My awesome friend Marie also found us another exersaucer at a huge consignment event, so that's one less thing I have to worry about (and yes, sad as it is, I was actually concerned about not finding an exersaucer in time for the twins to use it...when they're about 6 months old).

I still have massive organizing to do, we need to strip and paint one of my grandma's dressers, which she's giving us to use as a dresser/changing table for the twins room, we need to clean out the guest room closet, and myriad other things.

But we're getting there.

Excuse the shitty picture. It was late. I'm still sick. And there is no such thing as a flattering picture of me taken lately.

Modified Bedrest

Things were going a bit too smoothly with this pregnancy.

I found out at my first appointment with Not My Regular OB on Tuesday that the ultrasound I had last Friday showed low amniotic fluid for Baby A (the girl). This could mean something. It could mean nothing.

My doctor said that it's difficult to measure amniotic fluid on twins given the space issue, so there's no way to tell for certain exactly how much fluid exists around her. The placenta could be located in an unusual place and therefore not transferring enough nutrients to Baby A, which in turn reduces her output (the urine and other substances that make up amniotic fluid in later pregnancy). But amniotic fluid is important because it cushions the baby and helps her move and stay active. If she's not active, her development and growth could be affected.

Initially, my doctor said that the weekly non-stress tests (NST) and bio-physical profiles (ultrasounds) I'm getting are the best way to monitor Baby A's health. I had my first NST on Tuesday morning (before my appointment with my doctor) and the test results were normal. And according to last Friday's ultrasound, there isn't a huge difference in the babies' sizes: Baby A is about 3 pounds 2 oz and Baby B is about 3 pounds, 10 oz, so Baby A is still growing well.

But she called me yesterday afternoon and said she consulted with my regular OB about the fluid issue, and my regular doctor wants me on modified bedrest. Apparently, studies have shown that bedrest can increase amniotic fluid, which can be regenerated. So, I'm supposed to keep off my feet whenever possible, avoid lifting Isabella (ha), and take it easy. If I was employed by anyone other than myself, they would pull me out on disability at this point. I can still move around, drive, leave the house, etc. For now, anyway. If the situation worsens, I might be put on complete bedrest. If it gets dire, they might have to do my c-section early.

Normally, this kind of news would freak me the hell out. But, while I did do some hardcore Googling on the issue when I got home, I'm not worried about it yet. Not My Regular OB didn't seem worried, and I have so many appointments every week and I'm being monitored so closely that it seems unlikely things can go from "problematic" to "dire" overnight.

So for right now, I'm going to believe that Baby A is going to be just fine. I've been getting a lot of help with Isabella from my relatives over the last week or so because of my cold and complete exhaustion, so I just have to take advantage of their help whenever I can get it. When the hubs is home, I beach myself on the big chair in our living room while he scurries around bringing me drinks, changing diapers, and mopping up cat puke.

But, please cross your fingers or say a prayer that Friday's ultrasound shows increased amniotic fluid around Baby A. I'll keep you posted.

Baby High Heels: Fabulous or F-ed Up?

There are several trends in baby- and toddler-wear of which I'm not really a fan. Longtime readers may remember this post in which I railed on about inappropriate messages appearing on the derriere of my then one-month-old daughter. Not.A.Fan.

I'm also not very fond of message tees either, although since this post, Isabella has received a few as gifts, mainly of the "Big Sister" variety, so I've softened my stand a bit as long as the message isn't too annoying, precious, or offensive.
But I think these shoes trump the other trends. They're high heels. For babies, ages 0-6 months.
They're marketed as "completely soft, fully functional high heel crib shoes" (although I'm not sure what the "fully functional" part means, since I don't know any 0-6 month-olds who can walk). They're also not dress-up shoes either, as it says, "This is not a toy," right on the outside of each package. And besides, not many 6-month-olds I know are into dress-up. Their mothers, on the other hand, might be.
So what we have here are actual (soft) high-heeled stilettos...for infants.
I'm sure that the creators of these shoes thought the shoes were funny. And maybe they're even meant to be a joke. But something about high heels for babies just strikes me as very wrong. Seeing the photos of the shoes on the company's website (leopard print, zebra print, and hot pink are among the styles and colors) brings to mind images of JonBenet, beauty pageants, and the sexualization of little girls.
What's next: baby's first thong?
High heels are shoes for grown women. While I've never worn or owned a pair myself (although at 5'2" I certainly could use the height), if you can rock them without falling on your face, as I most certainly would do, more power to you. On adult women, they're hot and sexy and fabulous. On babies? I think they're creepy.

So, would you buy a pair of these baby high heels for your little diva or to give as a gift to a friend's baby?

Isabella at 25 Months

Isabella turns 25 months old today. I still can't quite wrap my mind around the fact that I have a two-year-old.

The world's tiniest dictator has been spicing up her vocabulary with a lot of adjectives lately: "This is delicious," "That was wonderful," "Change my stinky diaper," etc.

She's also started saying "beautiful" a lot, as in "I need my beautiful, beautiful binky" (which, trust me, is far from beautiful) and "Where's my beautiful Charlie?" (her lovey).

Isabella has turned into quite the little performer as of late, repeatedly asking both the hubs and I, as well as guests in our house, "Like to watch me brush my teeth/play with my toolset/solve for x in a linear equation?" She likes an audience, this one.

And then there's her "eureka moments" (as I call them) when she stops whatever she's doing and says excitedly, "I know!!!" followed by whatever idea has struck her at that moment.

She's also developed some pretty strong personal space issues. If she's in a mood and we're trying to comfort her, she'll tell us, "Don't touch my arm!" or "Don't do that!" And look out if I happen to pick out the wrong shirt or pair of pants to dress her in. "I don't like that!" followed by full-blown temper tantrums... over clothing. Sigh.

Headstrong, thy name is Isabella.

She's become very possessive of me lately, and I'm not sure if it's because she senses that big changes are coming, or if it's a "two thing." She will often tell even her favorite aunt and my grandma, and even the hubs, "Mommy's supposed to do that!" in reference to just about everything: changing her diapers, getting her a snack, helping her climb the stairs, etc. And if one of my relatives happens to kiss me in front of her, she'll say, "That's MY mommy!"

It's very frustrating and hard to witness, especially if she's complaining about a physical activity that given my condition I really can't (or shouldn't) do. I really feel as if on some level, she knows, and that makes me really, really sad.

This month's major development is that I tried potty training her...for approximately half a day...after which I quit in despair and complete and total exhaustion. Isabella has long been clued in to her, shall we say, bodily functions. She's been telling me about certain diaper contents since she was 15 months old. We've had a potty in the house for about six months, and she has loved to sit on it clothed. I didn't expect potty training to be a breeze, but I didn't expect what happened when we tried it either.

Her pediatrician said to basically take off her diaper and either let her run around naked on the bottom or put underwear on her. Ask her repeatedly if she needs to use the potty, and take her to it and ask her to sit on it often. If something comes out, praise, stickers, tickets to the ballet, etc. If nothing comes out, keep trying. Accidents happen, etc.

So, one morning when I was feeling particularly daring, I whipped out the "big girl" Elmo and Abby underpants, put them on her, and we started our day. It seems she's not all that uncomfortable with doing her business wherever and whenever and then acting as if nothing happened. The first time, she just squatted and peed on the carpet while playing with a toy. She barely noticed.

The second time, she peed while playing on the porch, and again, couldn't care less about it running down her leg. Her last and final accident was more labor-intensive to clean up, if you catch my meaning.

After each and every one of these accidents, I immediately brought her to the potty and asked her if she wanted to sit on it. It was as if I was asking her to sit on a seat covered with nails. She absolutely refused to sit on the potty for the purpose of actually using it, and threw explosive tantrums every time I even suggested it. After three of these episodes in just under four hours, I had had enough, and I quit. Just before her nap I put her in a diaper and we haven't gone back since.

Of course, all I do at least 100 times a day is talk to her about going to the potty. We read Once Upon a Potty and A Potty for Me constantly, and she loves the books. We even borrowed the Once Upon a Potty DVD from the library, and she just adores watching Prudence use the potty. She talks about the potty all the time too. But since that fateful day, she doesn't want to sit on it anymore, clothed or not.

After talking with some "been there, done that" friends, I've concluded she's just not ready. I don't want to create a negative atmosphere around the potty, so for right now, I'm not pushing it. But selfishly, I really, really wanted her potty trained before the twins arrive. It seems that's not going to happen. Three kids in diapers. I know. You're jealous.

Current Likes: chewable vitamins, Clifford, beeping car horns

Current Dislikes: Sharing me with the rest of the free world

In Which I Whine

Warning: If a self-indulgent, whiny post from a 7.5-months-pregnant-with-twins woman is not what you're in the mood to read today, it might be best to click away now. No hard feelings.

I have a cold and a sore throat. Isabella also has a cold. When not pregnant, I lean heavily toward the self-medicate-with-large-dosages-of-over-the-counter-cold-medications treatment method as opposed to more natural or herbal methods. Of course, those aren't allowed while you're knocked up. So I'm dealing with my illness by heaving my enormous, unshowered, and distinctly odorous self around my house complaining loudly and cursing. Clearly, I have life's miseries in perspective.

In the last week, my in-utero son has decided to shove his gigantic noggin into my right rib cage and side, causing almost constant pain, and making sitting or lying down comfortably all but impossible. At my ultrasound yesterday, I discovered that he's no longer breech, but is almost transverse (or sideways). I am not sleeping well at all (or sitting well for that matter).

I also found out yesterday that until the babies are born, I will have three doctor appointments a week. Non-stress tests at the beginning of the week, visits with Not My Regular OB in the middle of the week, and ultrasounds at the end of the week. As my doctor told me yesterday, the reason for this is to keep a close eye on the babies and to make the likelihood of "something bad happening" in between visits all but non-existent. Yesterday was also my last visit with my doctor before she goes out on leave for a month to have her surgery. I'm really scared about having the twins early and someone not familiar with my case doing my c-section.

Whine over.

Tomorrow will be better, right?

Things I Just Don't Understand

While I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, there are certain things I just don't understand. These things include why I literally could NOT stop itching my entire body the other night, how anyone can possibly think that Sarah "I Can See Russia From My House!" Palin is in any way qualified to be the VP of the United States, and the allure of holiday lawn inflatables, which got this little blog mentioned on an About.com web page where the writer made reference to the "savagery" with which I "attacked" them.

I recently discovered yet another thing I just don't get. Perhaps someone can help.

My Sunday paper comes with the USA Weekend Magazine, which of course is one of the first sections I turn to (after the Editorial page) because who doesn't like juicy celebrity gossip? Without fail, at least twice a month I find an advertisement page for these.

Now, let me first say that I understand that people collect things. I personally know adults who collect coins, tree ornaments, bears, etc. When I was a kid, I even collected Madame Alexander dolls (a name that I realize sounds mildly pornographic). I don't think there's anything strange about being a collector of most things. But these itty-bitty dolls that are marketed to adults as "life-like and "So Truly Real," I do not understand. (The website clearly states: "These dolls are not toys; they are fine collectibles to be enjoyed by adult collectors.")

These dolls appeared in this Sunday's edition. The description in the ad reads in part that at six inches long, they're "tiny enough to carry along with you to give you a delightful boost on the toughest day." I'm sorry, but the idea of a grown woman (or man!) carrying around one of these dolls in his/her pocket or handbag and peering at them throughout the day as a natural mood-booster freaks me the hell out. That's what caffeine and hard drugs are for, people!

Other eerily "life-like" mini baby dolls come with additional outfits (including ones named "Going to Grandma's" and "Going to the Park") and accessories (including strollers, bouncy seats, diaper bags, and grooming sets)...presumably so the adults who buy them can play with them? And one of the dolls apparently even "breathes."

Also, what is the fascination with making the dolls so "real-looking"? Do you really want a doll that looks more like a newborn than your own living, breathing baby does?

Someone please explain the allure of these "baby dolls for adults" to me.

(Not the) Same As It Ever Was

Have you ever paused at a point in your life and wondered, Talking Heads-style*, "how did I get here?"

I'm having a lot of these moments lately.

The other day, my doorbell rang. It was a UPS driver delivering the gigantic "clear-the-sidewalk-and-make-way-I'm-coming-through" double stroller (with optional stand-on or ride-on toddler seat!) my mother-in-law bought for us. Disassembled and in the box, the thing was over six feet long and heavier than my two-year-old. The spectacle I am going to create pushing that thing around the neighborhood or through a store with my brood of "three under three" strapped in is almost laughable. If 10 years ago you had asked me for a visual of my life at 32, This.Would.Not.Have.Been.It.

Recently, I pulled into my driveway after having ran some errands sans kiddo and diaper bag. Having been granted the luxury of not having to negotiate walking to my side door while corralling a toddler and juggling packages, I had a moment to pause and look at my toy-strewn lawn, complete with ride-on toys, push lawn mower, kiddie rakes and shovels, beach balls, and the big plastic play gym I swore I'd never own. I've always known I wanted kids so it's not as if I expected to have a Martha Stewart lawn all the time, but for whatever reason, I never imagined my backyard would resemble that of a daycare facility. Apparently in my parenthood fantasy world, children neatly and willingly picked up after themselves immediately after they were done playing with their toys.

And then, of course, there's the inside of my house. At 1,500 square feet and with Isabella's toys seemingly occupying 1,400 of those, there are very few signs of my former design style. Instead, it appears as if Melissa and Doug and Fisher-Price have done an extreme home makeover.

That said, there are innumerable things about my life that are pleasantly (instead of shockingly) surprising.

Whereas I used to define a good day as one that began with a Caramel Macchiato, and was punctuated by a good office gossip session, lunch on the company expense account, an hour-long run after work, and a night of reality tv, a spontaneous hug or kiss from my toddler can now make my day, (or at least the first half of my morning).

I never thought I'd actually enjoy kiddie lit. The hubs, who used to be an elementary school teacher, has always loved it and would try and engage me in conversation about my favorite children's books. I would invariably try and change the subject. Now, though, I have definite favorites amongst Isabella's many books.

And I never thought I'd be one to get such a thrill experiencing the world through a child's eyes. Silly and sickeningly sweet as it may sound, there's just something magical about watching Isabella laugh hysterically after sticking both her hands in a puddle or gazing at her wide-eyed excitement over visiting a park or museum for the first time. And the fall, my most favorite season of them all, is packed with opportunities to relive my childhood through her.

How did I get here indeed.

*The Talking Heads are getting their fair share of play in the blogosphere lately. Check out Damselfly's funny tribute here.

30 Week Update: One Big, Swollen Mass of Flesh

In the last month, my belly has grown considerably. And I am feeling it.

I think some of the problem is that I am carrying around two babies on a very small frame. I'm only 5'2, and sometimes when I stand up, it feels as if the weight in my belly is literally pulling me to the ground.

Luckily, Isabella has gotten much better at climbing stairs on her own. She's all but stopped insisting that I carry her all the time, which has done wonders for my legs and back. She's developed a far-more-adorable habit of puffing out her belly and telling me "there's babies in there."

My recent OB visits have all gone well. Blood pressure is good. Weight gain is 27 pounds. No contractions. But I am swollen everywhere: my feet, my legs, and now, my hands. My wedding rings are tight. They won't come off. I may need them cut off my finger if the swelling gets worse.

I'm feeling slightly nervous about my OB's upcoming surgery. She leaves on 9/22 to have her operation, and won't be back until the second week in October, at which point I will be 34 weeks. Everyone keeps telling me they have a feeling the babies will be born in October, which I really hope doesn't happen, as much as I would love to have my body back. My OB did my first c-section, and I want her and no one else to do my second, given that my insides are slightly different than the average woman's, given my previous abdominal surgeries and lack of a large intestine.

On Friday night, we went to a Mothers of Twins sale, held each year by moms of twins whose kids have outgrown their gear. I had high hopes for this sale, which were dashed the second we pulled into the parking lot and saw a line of at least 100 people outside the building waiting to get in. They let only a few people in at a time because apparently last time they violated fire code. Fantastic. We waited in line for 45 minutes and watched as people carried out lots of gear (high chairs, car seats, swings, etc.) to their cars. By the time we made it inside, the exersaucers (we had wanted to pick up a second one) that were for sale were gone. It was also pretty sweltering inside the building, so we spent about 15 minutes picking out a few 0-3 month boy outfits, one 12m sweater, and a cute sweater for Isabella, and called it a night.

On Saturday, my fabulous almost-80-year-old great aunt who has more energy on her worst day than my non-pregnant self on her best day and the hubs painted what used to be our spare bedroom and what's turning into the twins' nursery. This required rearranging of furniture, the placement of another dresser in our room, and other furniture moved to the attic. To make room in the attic, the hubs brought down our two bassinets. They're temporarily stored in our bedroom. It's freaking me out.

And on Tuesday, we're picking up the cribs from my friend (a mom to 3-year-old boy/girl twins). I think once those are set up in the painted nursery and I've picked up the bedding (hopefully this week), it will begin to hit home for me that Oh My God, we're having two babies in nine weeks or less.
Nine weeks.

I'm a Screener

But I wasn't always one.

Before I became a screening convert, I would get completely ticked off by friends and family members whom I just knew were screening my calls. I imagined them hunched over their phones laughing at me as I left messages on their machines, obviously delighting in the fact that in the game of phone tag, they always held the upper hand. I wanted to talk to them, but they obviously had better things to do than to talk to me. The ball was always in their court, so-to-speak, and so I waited for them to deign it necessary to call me back.

Several years ago, though, I started to see the benefits of screening. There are days here when my phone is literally ringing off-the-hook. Ya'll know I have a large and very involved extended family. Love them though I do, they tend to be all up in my business constantly. For example, if I happen to mention to my grandma that Isabella has a cold, she will then dial her 78-year-old fingers off contacting every single other member of my family with this vitally important news. Each of them then phone me inquiring as to the consistency of her nasal outpourings, her demeanor, and her appetite and offering various and sundry methods to ease the pain and agony my drippy-but-otherwise-fine child must somehow find the strength to endure.

It gets annoying. And repetitive. And time-consuming. And as I soon realized, completely avoidable.

The thing is, I hate talking on the phone. While my 16-year-old high school self enjoyed talking for hours on the phone with friends with whom I had just parted company not 15 minutes earlier, my old and curmudgeonly 32-year-old self wants nothing to do with gabbing the day away. I will email you and IM you until my fingers fall off. I'm on my laptop all day long anyway. But I do not want to spend 30 minutes with you on the phone.

I'm tired, see? And phone calls wear me out. I am also practically inert these days. Sitting comfortably on the couch or the chair in my living room often takes a good 10 minutes of pillow-arranging and position-shifting. When I find a position that doesn't cause cause me to writhe around in pain like a fish out of water, I.Will.Not.Move. Not even if I can't find the remote. Not even if I'm parched and dying of thirst. And certainly not to find the ringing phone, which could be just about anywhere.

I'm also very busy. While it would be nice to have the time (if I was so inclined, which I'm not) to talk to you for great chunks of my day, that's not my reality. Isabella often chooses the moment the phone rings to start acting like a loon and while you might not find it annoying for me to carry on two simultaneous conversations ("Isabella! Stop choking the cat!" "So, what were you saying about your mother-in-law's gallstones?"), I hate doing this. HATE.

And finally, as an at-home mother to a toddler, I talk All.Day.Long. From the second my little chatterbox arises in the morning until her all-too-short afternoon nap, we are having conversations. When she goes down for her nap or to bed for the night, I relish the silence. I am exhausted from non-stop talking. I need a break.

So, I screen my calls. Not all the time, but a fair amount. I'm not ashamed to admit it, and since our recent addition of caller-ID thanks to a great promo deal from our cable company, screening is even easier.

Do you screen? Or do you hate "being screened" as much as I used to?

Hormonally Charged

Nary a day goes by as of late when I'm not dissolving into a big weepy mess.

Granted, I'm the emotional type anyway, but usually my tears are reserved for Pedigree dog food commercials and news like this.

But over the last few weeks, its been tears over the times that are a'changin over here. There's no denying that as the belly grows bigger, the clock counting down our time as a family of three is ticking away.

And I'm seeing reminders of this everywhere.

Last week, the hubs was dancing with Isabella in his arms to "her song," the tune he picked out while she was still in-utero and sang to my belly every night before bed: "Islands in the Stream" (don't ask). This is the song that used to knock her out after hours of crying when she was an infant, and the song she now asks to dance to at least a few times a week. One look at the two of them dancing and the look of elation on her face as he spun her around made me dissolve into an unsightly puddle of tears and snot.

The other night, it was Isabella's selection of The Giving Tree for her bedtime story that did me in. I had to leave the room. Don't even get me started on Love You Forever.

And then there was a Raymour and freaking Flannigan furniture commercial that featured scenes of a mother and her five-year-oldish daughter doing various activities set to some sappy tune that turned on the waterworks.

Seriously, WTF is wrong with me?

It's not as if we ever considered having Isabella be our only child. We wanted two (and we're getting a bonus one thrown in for free). It's not as if we didn't make the conscious choice when to try for this second pregnancy. There is nothing about this that we didn't plan.

So then why is it that it feels like I'm mourning what I'm losing and the changes that are coming instead of being excited about the two new arrivals? Truth be told, I am scared shitless of what's going to happen to the (relatively) neat and ordered little universe of three that we've been living in for the past two years. Would I be feeling this way if I was 10 weeks or fewer away from having a singleton as opposed to twins? I'm not sure. Maybe. Probably.

Suddenly, one-child families make a whole lot of sense to me.

So This is What it Feels Like to Be Sally Field

There's something about being pregnant that makes me feel highly unattractive. (Humor me, as I briefly trot out this old gem again.) With Isabella, I felt like a baby beluga whale. I thought I was huge then, an idea I now see for the ridiculous and gross overstatement that it was. With the twins, I feel like a big, slow lumbering bear. With my swollen feet and ankles and the constant dull ache in the my legs, I've had the pregnancy waddle for what feels like forever. Throw in the hormone-driven crop of zits on my chest and upper back, my ballooning boobs and arse, and the fact that very few of the clothes from my first pregnancy fit me anymore and you have the perfect candidate for The Swan.

So, it's been nice to have my ego stroked over the last few weeks by three of you.
First, Meredith, mom to super-cute "Little Elvis" and author of Pregnantly Plump , awarded me with the very fancy-sounding Art y Pico Award, given to bloggers to recognize their creativity, design, interesting material, and contributions to the blogging community.

Here's a bit of what Meredith had to say about me: "Kristi is such a gifted writer. Her posts are very real, she doesn't hide her feelings."

Thanks so much. I often wonder if this is a good thing: putting it all (or a lot, anyway) out here on the Internet for anyone to read. But writing is such a huge part of who I am that I can't imagine censoring myself (too much) for fear of what others might think. I think I would stop blogging entirely if I couldn't express myself honestly on my blog.

I would like to pass on this award to three fellow bloggers.

Ness of Drovers Run most definitely deserves this award for her amazing photography talent. Not only does she take some amazing pictures, but she's pretty awesome at editing and enhancing them too. Check out what she did to this photo of Isabella, and then check out this one of her super-cute son.

Stacey at 4everMom is one of the most centered and down-to-earth people I've "met" since blogging. She has an uncanny ability to see the significance in life's smallest moments with her kids, and this is something I admire and need to emulate, since I always seem to exist on over-drive.

Tracey at Just Another Mommy Blog is the high-energy mom to three adorable kids. If she's not busy painting every room in her house, organizing her cabinets, or taking great vacations paid for by the resorts who want her to review them on her blog, she's doing fabulous projects with her kids and, like Stacey, recognizing the little things about her children and living life in the moment.

Then, Damselfly, mom of Isabella's future husband, Fly, and author of Growing a Life , awarded me with the Kick-Ass Blogger Award. So did Stacey, mom to four fabulous kids, from 4everMom. Whoo-Hoo!

Damselfly said in part that I am a: "funny mom whose posts makes you think."

Stacey said in part that she always loves what I'm writing about: "whether it's life at home or some thought provoking post about a social issue."

Aw, thanks! There are some days when I feel like being at home with a toddler all day is akin to witnessing the slow death of every one of my brain cells. So, it's important to me to stay on top of current events, learn new things, form opinions on emerging issues, and voice those opinions to my small slice of the blogosphere. And you read them, and at least two of you think what I have to say is thought-provoking. I'm humbled. Really.

I'd like to give this award to these two bloggers:

Melissa is mom to three great kids, a gifted writer, and is single-handedly running an online parenting magazine. Have you seen her fourth baby, Root and Sprout, yet? If not, you really should check it out. I have no idea how she keeps her life in order. She is hard-core, that one.

And speaking of hard-core, I'd also like to give this award to Sasha at My Wombinations. Sasha is another fantastic writer and is balancing a flourishing career with motherhood duties for two adorable kids. I'm in awe of her multi-tasking abilities and jealous of her publishing success. She is kick-ass indeed.

Feel free to pass these awards around on your own blog.

Hysterical Hypocrisy

So much for my "I rarely post about politics on this blog" claim. Too much has happened in the past few weeks to remain silent about what's going on in this country.

Thank you, Jon Stewart, for exposing the hypocrisy of the talking heads on the far right as only you can.

A Little Patience

When we were in middle and high school, my sister was a big GNR fan. She had the posters, the tshirts, and even the torn-to-shreds Axl Rose-esque jeans. Although I was not as into their music as she was, I did have a special place in my puritanical Catholic school girl heart for "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "November Rain." (Does anyone know how Axl's stunning bride bit it in the "November Rain" video? That question has haunted me for the past 17 years.)

Turns out, I stood to gain a bit of wisdom from the lyrical genius of Axl and company.

Because lately? My patience with Isabella (already in short supply to begin with) is dwindling to just about nothing, and it doesn't help that my attitude coincides directly with some very undesirable Terrible Two-like behavior on her part.

I will say that it's not "Battle of the Hugely Pregnant, Stressed Out, Crabby Mother versus the Small, Whiny, Temper Tantrum-Throwing Toddler" every day of the week. Yesterday = good day. The previous three days? Not.Good.At.All.

Monday morning began with a Toenails-Being-Plucked-Out-One-By-One-Sized tantrum because the gallon of milk I took out of the fridge was "not right." The astute little demon child recognized that the label on the gallon of milk had indeed changed (since she turned two, she's been drinking 1% as opposed to whole milk). The label is now green instead of red, and she did not like this one bit. Mind you, she has been drinking 1% for almost two weeks now without ever noticing the taste difference, but one glimpse of that green label and she launched herself into a full-throttle fit, screaming "That's not right!" over, and over, and over. She finished her show by hurling her very full, very aluminum Sigg water bottle full of the "not right" milk across the room.

This behavior usually repeats itself at least 47 times a day lately. From refusing to want to get dressed in the morning, to hiding when I need to change her diaper and screaming when I pull her out, to stopping in her tracks and telling me, "I want to hold you" when I'm desperately trying to get her to climb up the stairs to our one and only bathroom because nature is calling (and loudly), and then crying hysterically when I tell her I can't haul her, myself, and her two in-utero siblings up 14 stairs.

When she has an outburst, I usually end up yelling too. And issuing multiple time-outs. I have reached my breaking point more than once in the last few weeks. It is not pretty parenting. I am not proud of my lack of patience or my unwillingness to spend time cajoling, bargaining, or begging her to do what I need her to do. She is so strong-willed, so obstinate, and so stubborn. The problem is, so am I.

I am so exhausted lately that it's getting depressing. I am usually a very high-energy, on-the-go person. I don't "relax." I don't take naps. I work when she sleeps and we stay very active during her waking hours. Until lately. I am tired and cranky and mourning the loss of my stamina. And I am taking it out on her.

Her behavior is typical and while highly f-ing annoying at times, it's expected for a two-year-old. My responses to her behavior aren't acceptable at all.

I want to spend these last two months before the twins arrive enjoying my little girl, whose life as she knows it is coming to an end. But she is so needy and so demanding, and I am so wiped out and impatient with her that things aren't turning out quite like I planned.

"All we need is just a little patience."

Sing it, Axl.

Take Me to Your (Male) Leader

Last week, the Pew Research Center released a report entitled, "Men or Women: Who's the Better Leader?" The results were surprising.

The report asked respondents to measure eight leaderships traits, including intelligence, honesty, compassion, and creativity. Both the men and women surveyed consistently ranked women higher than men for many of these traits.

70% of those surveyed also said that both genders were equally capable of being political leaders.

However, here's where things take a turn south.

Only 6% of those surveyed said women make better leaders. 21% said men were the better leaders. Keep in mind that men and women held these views almost equally and only a few more men than women thought men made the better leaders.


Why are women doubting their own gender's ability to lead better than men?

Yes, women have made tremendous gains in both politics and business. This country almost witnessed the nomination of its first female presidential candidate. Women head several major companies, including Xerox and Kraft Foods. And yet sexism is endemic in our culture. Women are not given equal pay for equal work. The Fair Pay Act, which would guarantee it by law, is held up in Congress. They earn .77 cents for every dollar earned by men doing the exact same job, even though more women are enrolled in college than men, and receive better grades than men. And the Lilly Ledbetter case demonstrates how difficult it is for women who dare to challenge pay discrimination in the workplace.

Sadly, according the the Pew report, it's mainly the women of my mother's generation who see the need for more social change to ensure women are given equal rights. Apparently, women my age are more complacent, or don't see how sexism impacts their lives. Unfortunately, the results of this survey show the impact of these beliefs.

Until women are guaranteed equal pay for equal work, until this country stops dissecting the wardrobe choices, hairstyles, and family decisions of women vying for top political positions, and until women in high-ranking leadership roles are more than an anomaly, our sisters, aunts, daughters, and granddaughters will continue to believe that men make better leaders than they do.

As a woman and a feminist, these survey results were quite the wake-up call.

T3: We're Making Progress

Without warning, the third trimester of my pregnancy has arrived. How is it possible that I'm 28 weeks already? Wasn't I just yesterday knocked back on my arse over the twin ultrasound? Apparently not.

According to my last ultrasound, the girl is vertex and the boy is breech, which doesn't mean much since I'm having a c-section anyway. They are very close in weight, with each tipping the scales at a little over 2.5 lbs. Fluid levels are good. Growth is good. Everything with the babies is good. The middle-aged, grandmotherly ultrasound tech who has been scanning me every month said to me last week, "Well, you're finally getting a little tummy."


"Little Tummy?"

Bless your dear visually impaired heart, ma'am. And do you accept tips?

I am doing "remarkably well" (or so says my OB). My blood pressure is good. I'm not having contractions. Of course, most days I feel like a 90-year-old woman, what with the aching joints and feet (which are still swollen, by the way), and a toddler who hasn't quite taken a liking to walking further than a few steps on her own. I have no idea what's gotten into her, but Isabella is constantly either running into me demanding that I hold her, or stopping dead in her tracks and refusing to move until I pick her up. She just had her two-year-old checkup and the kiddo weighs almost 27 pounds. Hauling around that ton of bricks plus two more in my belly Is.Not.Fun. Does anyone have a solution for encouraging a toddler to walk by her own damn self? I've tried the "Let's walk up the stairs pretending we're cats/elephants/howler monkeys, etc." and it works some of the time, but not nearly enough for my liking.

And I've got exciting news on the preparation front. We no longer have plans to empty out the kitchen junk and utensil drawers, line them with blankets, and place the twins in there when we come home from the hospital. The hubs and I have removed our collective heads from our arses and we're in the process of actually obtaining baby gear and assembling some sort of a nursery for the twins. This weekend, I bought paint! We're doing the room in a boring-as-all-hell Classic Taupe color with Cottage White trim-not my usual color preferences, but we're trying for a neutral color because in a year or two, we're likely going to have to move. The hubs and my great aunt are painting sometime in September.

Last week, one of my fantastic friends from high school, herself a mom of boy/girl twins, gave us the motherlode of kiddie crap. We are currently in possession of another infant car seat (which we hope can fit in the Trailblazer alongside two others), a highchair, and we're going back sometime this week to pick up her twins' two cribs. She also offered us a baby swing, but I passed on that for now as I'm not sure we'll have room for two swings in our living room. She also gave me a gigantic tub of 2T clothes and a booster seat for Isabella. I am so incredibly grateful for her generosity.

Of course, there are quite a few little things we still need to buy. We have not a single boy outfit. We need bedding for the cribs. And I still have to figure out how I'm going to manage breastfeeding twins and still maintain my sanity. But we're making progress.

And that makes this anal-retentive, highly organized, list-making, usually-prepared-months-in-advance-for-something-this-huge girl very happy indeed.


The September issue of Root and Sprout, the online parenting magazine is now live. I have two articles in this month's issue: one on purchasing environmentally friendly school supplies, and another on teaching kids respect for the earth's smallest creatures. Remember, Melissa Garrett, who created and runs Root and Sprout, would love to have you (yes, YOU) write an article. Check out the writer's guidelines for more information.

Quick Snapshot:

  • 34-year-old writer and
    mother to a daughter
    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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