Early Caroling

Thanksgiving Top Ten

The lovely Kris posted this meme on her blog earlier in the week, and because sleep deprivation has sapped all my Thanksgiving post originality, I shall steal her idea.

Here are the Top Ten Things I Love About Thanksgiving in no particular order:

1. Family Drama-Rama

We're not the type to scream and yell and throw fists full of mashed potatoes and grandma's cranberry relish at each other, but once all 20 or so of us have gathered around the table, it's only a matter of time before one of my very right-leaning relatives makes a political or social comment that incenses the very few of us on the left and then any tryptophan hangover evaporates. These "discussions" are the highlight of my day, as I'm always in the mood for a good argument. Just ask my husband.

2. Pumpkin Pie

Longtime readers might remember that I don't eat many vegetables. I'm a hugely picky eater, and while Thanksgiving is obviously all about the food, I eat only turkey, mashed potatoes, bread (at an Italian Thanksgiving, there's always bread), and of course, dessert. I make the pumpkin pies every year from a kick-ass Epicurious recipe. If you try it, let me know how the pies turn out.

3. No Commercialism

Despite the fact that my numerous tv viewing sessions have been bombarded with Black Friday ads for weeks now, the main reason I love Thanksgiving is that it's a holiday that doesn't come with a gift-buying obligation. The holiday celebrates food, gratitude, and family togetherness. In my world, it doesn't get any better than that.

4. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

I've been watching this every year since I was a kid. Love it! The hubs was anti-parade for many years, but recently became consumed by parade love. Was it the lip-synching teen stars? The ultra-cheesy, D-List-Star-Laden floats? We'll never know. Although, I suspect it might have something to do with an excuse for sitting on the couch in his pajamas for 3 hours eating...

5. Cinnamon Rolls!

Another tradition held over from my childhood. Watching the parade without cinnamon rolls is like eating a peanut butter sandwich without the jelly. Like macaroni without the sauce. Like cookies without the milk. You get the idea.

6. The Colors of the Season

Thanksgiving is a fall holiday, and I love the fall. It's my favorite time of year. Winter doesn't technically begin until December 21, and yet we've had snow on the ground here for weeks. It's still fall, dammit, and fall means orange and red leaves and ample excuses to buy Isabella more brown dresses.

7. Cookie-Baking Season Begins

Thanksgiving weekend marks the beginning of my great aunt's cookie factory. She transforms her small kitchen into a veritable bakery. She makes well over 3,000 cookies in dozens of varieties each year, and mails them to relatives all over the country. Of course, most of them stay within 10 miles of my house and make an appearance at each and every family holiday gathering. This is a good thing. A very, very good thing.

8. A Reason to Reflect on Life's Blessings

My life has been a chaotic mess since the twins came home. Most days, I'm lucky if I get a shower, remember to pay bills, and don't take off for the nearest border crossing after three solid hours of hearing two babies cry in unison. Today, though, I will remember all that I have to be grateful for: the children I once thought I would never have, the extended family who have been my saving grace these last six weeks, all of you who so faithfully read my ramblings on this blog, and Paul Rudd. I am really, really grateful for Paul Rudd.

9. Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

I seem to remember eating pumpkin pie ice cream, complete with pie crust pieces, at my grandma's house last Thanksgiving. Hopefully, we'll have it again this year, or else a gallon will soon make a brief appearance at my house in the next few days.

10. Thanksgiving II

Every Sunday we have dinner at my great aunt's house. She feeds 11 or 12 of us on Sunday, and purposefully cooks enough to then send us all home with leftovers for one-to-two meals during the week. Thanksgiving at my grandma's house is no different. Friday night, you'll find my family re-gathering at grandma's to eat Thanksgiving leftovers. This, in addition to the leftovers we all will have taken home with us tonight.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful blog friends in the States!


3 on 3

This is week six of my mom's stay, and frankly it's been fantastic. Mamacita makes dinner every single evening, does all our laundry, burps babies in the middle of the night, brings me coffee in bed during the early morning nursing sessions, and does our grocery shopping. She keeps Isabella entertained for hours on end so I can spend hours on end nursing the twins. She's helping me clean and organize my disaster of a house so that when she leaves I won't drop to the floor, wrap my arms around her leg, and pull her back into the house because how in the hell am I supposed to care for a toddler, two infants, my house, my career, and myself by myself All.Day.Long?

The twins need the most care in the evenings, when fortunately there are three adults in the house. Most often, the hubs does Isabella's bedtime routine and endures the sometimes hours-long process of getting her to sleep. My mom and I each care for a twin, both of whom have decided that the hours of 6pm-12am don't suit them very well. We're both dealing with clean, fed, burped, and yet inconsolable babies during these hours. It is extremely unfun. I can't imagine what we're going to do when we're down one person next week.

I have a feeling I'm going to be crying. A lot.

While having my mom here has been a blessing, it hasn't all been a bowl of cherries. Like most adults, I haven't lived with my mom for any significant length of time since I was an 18 year old HS student. When I graduated from college, I moved to London, and then six months later, I did move home for five months until I found my full-time job and could make a speedy exit. It hasn't been difficult living with my mom as a full-fledged quasi-grownup with kids, but we've had our moments.

For example, Mamacita will often get Isabella up and dressed in the morning, and when she does, she always dresses Isabella in clothes my grandma (her mother) has purchased for her. And my grandma and I have vastly different taste in children's clothes. My daughter would be wearing a purple sweatsuit with the words "Born to be Spoiled" on it every single day of the week if I hadn't told my mom last week that while it was very sweet of grandma to purchase this outfit for Isabella, I hated it with a fiery passion. When I asked her why she never dressed Isabella in the clothes I've bought her (which comprise 98% of her wardrobe), my mother (who is a high school art teacher, mind you) said, "I don't know what shirts to put together with which bottoms."

Ahem. Moving on.

We've also been having fridge wars. A few weeks ago, I noticed the milk in my cereal was warm, as was my lunchtime yogurt. I checked my fridge thermometer and noticed someone had cranked down the temperature (the hubs likes things very cold as well and denied touching it). When confronted with the act, my mother said, "Yes, I turned it down, the lettuce was getting frostbite!" (it wasn't).

Isabella has developed an annoying habit of begging for food all day long. Lest you think I'm denying my child nutrition during a growth spurt, Isabella has three meals a day, plus two snacks. And yet, when I returned home from my week's stay in the hospital where Isabella was cared for by my mom, I found the little darling with some form of food in her mighty grip virtually 24/7. I quickly put an end to round-the-clock snacking, but routine is everything with a toddler. Isabella is now running to her grammy asking for snacks all the time. Grammy tells her, "Mommy said no."

Mommy = The Devil.

And, of course, I've had numerous comments concerning the use of formula. Did you know that the twins would sleep through the night if I would only give them a bottle of formula before they went to sleep at night? Despite proven medical evidence to the contrary and the numerous documented benefits of breastfeeding, Mamacita shares my grandma's belief in the Power of Formula. Of all the difficulties I've had with my mom during her stay, these comments piss me off the most. Breastfeeding twins is no cake walk. It is hard. It is time-consuming. It is exhausting. I don't want a medal for doing it. I just want support. Luckily, when I told her I was feeling unsupported by her comments, she reduced her remarks from 50 a day down to 25.

Despite all of these relatively minor issues, it's truly been great having my mom here. When you bring home a newborn, all your care, concern, and worry is directed away from yourself and your own recovery toward your new baby, and rightfully so. But with my mom here, she's been taking care of me in addition to helping with the twins and Isabella.

For her help following the births of my children, I will always be grateful.

Isabella at 27 Months

Isabella turned 27 months old yesterday.

She is adjusting remarkably well to the twins' arrival. She can't wait to see them in the morning, and often reminds me just before bedtime that she would like me to bring one or the other to visit her in her crib the next morning. She's very helpful with them as well, replacing binkies, fetching blankets, etc., and wants to be involved in their daily care by helping to burp them and give them baths. Her favorite baby-related line? "She's (or he's) sooooo cute!"
Isabella continues to love books, and has begun "reading" her favorite stories back to us with a scary degree of accuracy. She'll turn the pages and narrate very close to the exact words on the page. She especially enjoys "reading" The Giving Tree, a book she can only read with her father, since this particular book produces the same reaction in her mother that Love You Forever does.

Over the last month, she's started telling us that the most random things scare her. My grandma bought her an Elmo chair. She said, "It scares me." Ditto with loud car noises (although oddly enough, she's not afraid of the loud, eardrum-shattering noises she herself generates on a minute-by-minute basis), the sight of post-Halloween pumpkins sitting in a pile of leaves at the curb, and squirrels. The sight of my sleep-deprived mug every morning doesn't make her bat an eye, however.

She still can't jump. Ordinarily, this wouldn't bother me, but it was on the two-year-old checklist the nurse ran through during her appointment back in August. Apparently, by age two, kids should be able to jump. She can't. She completes all the motions of jumping except for the actual jump. Someone reassure me that she's not going to have a hard time getting into college because of this.

While Isabella is a perfect little peach around the twins, I've noticed her acting out in other ways. Bedtime has devolved into a nightmare. A screaming, crying, "I want to hold you! Don't leave me! Come back here! Five more minutes!" nightmare. It is heartbreaking to leave her screaming her bloody lungs out in her crib, but earlier this week, it took two hours to get her to settle down. Two.Hours. Is this a two thing? A misplaced reaction to feeling marginalized by the twins? I'm not sure.

She also seems to be auditioning for a role in the Twilight sequel, because the little princess has started biting when she doesn't get her way. She's bit my mom twice since she's been here. This charming little habit lands her in an immediate timeout, and afterward she'll usually come running to me apologizing and saying, "Mommy is my friend."

No, darling. I am not your friend. I am your mama, and if you bite me again, I will duct-tape your arse to the timeout chair while I hit the Jack Daniels for an hour without batting an eye.
On the potty-training front, we have...zero progress! She also absolutely freaks out when it's time to change her diaper. She will not let me do it without a fight. This leads me to think she might be ready to go on the potty, except for the fact that she has shown absolutely no interest in it. She's used it a few times. We've tried a few techniques on her. But each and every time we infuse our voices with false enthusiasm and excitement and say, "Would you like to use the potty?" she whines, "Nooooooooo!"
Can I just tell you how much I am not enjoying three kids in diapers?
But it's not the biting or the aversion to the potty or the bedtime behavior that has me most concerned this month. It's the fact that once or twice a week she is not napping. She remains awake the entire time (after she's finally stopped screaming) and then sings, plays, and yells for me to come get her. I need her to nap like I need air to breathe. I count on her naptime as my quiet work time (hoping and praying that the twins will cooperate, and sometimes they do, but most often they don't). I simply cannot fathom the thought that she's giving up her nap. Even if she does, I vow to keep her up in her crib for a two-hour block of quiet time for as long as I can.

Current Likes: Fillet Mignon, salmon, the feeling of human flesh beneath her teeth

Current Dislikes: Napping, bedtime, depositing bodily fluids in the damn potty

Did I ever mention that another one of grandma's rules is that little girls should never, ever wear brown? And did I ever mention that because of her frequent vocalization of this rule, I am now prone to buying more brown-and-pink clothes for Isabella (incidentally, my favorite color combination for her) than I normally would, just to incense grandma?

Here she is making Playdoh gnocchi, as every good little Italian housewife should, sporting a ponytail that only required a five-animal-cracker bribe to achieve.

The Pregnant Man

I can't turn on the tv lately (and with the 24/7 nursing I'm doing, the tv and I are becoming intimately acquainted) without seeing Thomas Beatie, the so-called "pregnant man." A female-to-male transgender, Thomas gave birth earlier this year to a daughter. He recently announced that he's pregnant for the second time.

Initially, I thought the photos of this man with the gigantic pregnant belly bursting forth from a hairy chest were disconcerting and just plain weird. In a lot of ways, I still do. The image goes against everything our brains are wired to expect of what a pregnant individual looks like. I get the curiosity and the fascination many of us have with Thomas Beatie.

What I cannot understand is the vitriolic hate directed at this man and his wife from individuals hell-bent (ha) on casting judgment and condemnation at the couple's harmless pursuit of happiness. They have received death threats, terrifying middle-of-the-night phone calls, and they've been the target of on-air bigotry from Faux News.

Why does it matter so much to some people that Thomas Beatie's family looks differently than theirs?

Thomas Beatie's wife suffers from infertility. She couldn't bear the couple's children. I would guess that should it be physiologically possible, a great number of husbands would agree to carry their babies if their wives could not. The desire to have children is innate in many, although not all, of us. Speaking as someone who has experienced infertility and who has gone to great (and painful) lengths to have her children, I find it maddening that anyone would judge this couple's means of becoming parents, no matter how unorthodox the method.

The Beatie's daughter has two parents who love her. Their unborn child will no doubt experience the same kind of love. Does it really matter that it was the children's father who gave birth to them because their mother could not? Perhaps initially, as Thomas and his wife explain the circumstances of their births to their children. But after that initial conversation? I'm guessing no. Unconditional love is what matters to children, and from everything I've seen and heard from this couple, they seem like they are providing exactly that.

The treatment of the Beaties and the passage of Prop 8 in California demonstrate that despite the election of this country's first African-American president, we still have a long way to go in our tolerance and acceptance of people whose lives don't fit a preconceived notion of what "normal" looks like to some. California's gay couples and the Beaties are seeking two fundamental and ubiquitous pursuits: marriage and children, which in many ways are the cornerstones upon which this society is built. They want love and they want happiness. Nothing more and nothing less.

Who are we to deny another fellow human being either?

Wordless Wednesday: Three for the Road

There is something slightly terrifying about giving your 27-month-old complete and unfettered access to her one-month-old siblings.

But, other than a few random pokes and a stolen hat, we all arrived safely at our destination.

This time.

Parenting Nightmares

Yesterday we made our first trip as a family of five. We drove to my great aunt's house for Sunday dinner, something we've missed for over a month. Once we were finally on our way following the enormous production of packing for and dressing three little people, I turned around and looked at my car's back seat and it finally sunk in.

I really do have three kids, and the huge responsibility of keeping them safe as well.

We had a really nice time at dinner. 13 of us crammed into my great aunt's small kitchen enjoying macaroni as we do each Sunday. Plenty of people ready and willing to help with the babies and play with Isabella who runs around my aunt's house as if it's her own private playhouse.

My great aunt was holding Luci on the couch after dinner when she started to sneeze and turn red. Some gross milk-spitup hybrid came out of her nose (which has happened many times before with both Luci and Nicholas) but this time Luci was arching her back and gagging and was having a hard time catching her breath. This part was definitely not normal. My great aunt immediately handed her to me. My grandma, aunts, and cousin were also in the room at the time, and were obviously really worried about what was going on. I remained calm so they would remain calm (my family members like to whip eachother into a frenzy), but I was scared. I didn't know what was happening, and I hated the feeling of not being able to help my daughter.

It was terrifying watching her fight through this attack, and while she eventually settled down after a few minutes (I think her attack was caused by a milk backup somewhere in her system), the horrible feeling of powerlessness didn't go away. It was awful.

Later that night when we arrived home from my aunt's house, the hubs took Isabella upstairs to her room. He put her in her crib, and then went upstairs to the attic whose access door is in Isabella's room, to retrieve the swing for the twins. I was downstairs unpacking the bags of leftovers my aunt sent home with us when I heard a deafening thud followed by Isabella's screams. I raced up the stairs and found Isabella in my husband's arms. Her mouth was full of blood. He told me she slipped and fell in her room.

It wasn't until we had her calmed down and munching on a piece of cheese, which she requested to "make me feel better," that he told me what had really happened.

Isabella had fallen out of her crib.

Apparently, the hubs thought me too hysterical in my response to the news of a run-of-the-mill fall to initially tell me the truth about an incident whose injuries could have been much, much worse.

The hubs saw it all happen as he was coming down the stairs from the attic. Despite the fact that the mattress is at its lowest setting and that when she's standing, the crib bar reaches to armpit level, Isabella managed to flip herself head over heels over the bar. Her feet hit the ground first, thank GOD, followed by her back, and then her head. She has a bump at the back of her head, and a few tiny cuts on her tongue where she bit it (which accounts for the blood in her mouth), but that's it.

I cannot even put into words how terrified I was when I heard what had happened.

My baby.

We wanted to keep her awake for awhile to ensure she didn't have a concussion, so we brought her downstairs and let her watch an episode of Clifford, her current favorite. We gave her more cheese. A popsicle. Water in a big-girl glass with ice cubes. And while she sat and watched and laughed at the tv, the hubs and I looked at eachother and realized how lucky we were that she was there, sitting between us.

It could have been so much worse.

This morning, the crib bumpers came out (even though we doubt she used them to boost herself up) and the toddler bed conversion kit for her crib was ordered. I'll transition her to a bed as soon as it arrives.

These two events, which happened just hours apart, made me realize that despite all best intentions, it's impossible to protect your children all of the time. Luci or Isabella might get picked on in school. Nicholas might one day break his arm. One of my kids (God forbid) might develop a serious illness. These things might happen.

But as a mother, how am I supposed to reconcile the fact that there are going to be certain circumstances occurring in my children's lives where I won't be able to stop the pain or prevent something terrible from happening?

As someone who feels most comfortable controlling all aspects of her life and those of her children, how can I accept that my babies, who are the most important things to me in the world, will get hurt in this life, and probably often, and that there's not a damn thing I can do about it?

Luci and Nicholas at One Month

Luci and Nicholas are one month old today, and they're looking less like the itty bitty preemies we brought home and more like full-term newborns.

As of Wednesday's pediatrician appointment, they have both surpassed their birth weights. Luci now weighs in at 5.3 pounds, and Nicholas is 5.13 pounds. They're still small, obviously, but it doesn't feel like I'm carrying around a pile of chicken bones when they're in my arms anymore. Isabella's newborn sleepers are still way to large for them, though.
We have heard from so many people that "Nicholas really looks like a boy and Luci really looks like a girl" and we had this exact same impression the first time we saw them together. Nicholas looks like Isabella did when she was an infant. They have the same olive complexion and big eyes, and he has the same monkey pelt of hair on his back that she did when she was born. He loves to eat and probably takes in twice as much as Luci does. He is perpetually hungry, and much more vocal than his twin. He's quite the screamer when getting his diaper changed or he's ready for his next meal. Isabella and Nicholas both have the same intense, vocal personality, which they get from their mother.
Luci looks like neither of us and no one in either of our families. She is little miss mellow and rarely fusses or cries. She is laidback and generally calm and quiet. This only furthers my speculation that the two of us are not biologically related.
They'll sometimes sleep for four hours between feedings now, although unfortunately, very rarely at night, when they're up every three (or fewer) hours. This, of course, sucks, as each time it takes an hour to feed, diaper, burp, and get the two of them back to sleep. I figure I'm averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night.
They spend most of the day sleeping in the pack-n-play in my living room, and are able to sleep amidst the tornado of activity and cacophony of sound Isabella generates on a daily basis. Oddly enough, even when one wakes up and is screaming mere inches away from the other, the sleeping twin will stay fast asleep.
Between the twins and Isabella (who is nowhere even close to being potty-trained despite my half-assed efforts) we are burning through about 25-30 diapers a day.
Imagine, if you will, what my house smells like at the end of the day.


To those of you who have so kindly sent the twins gifts: I have been horribly lax with my thank-you notes. But, know that I am eternally grateful for your kindness and thoughtfulness, and your proper thank-you is coming in the mail soon.

Cattle Call

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my children. It wasn't a decision I even gave much thought to as I was preparing for motherhood the first time around. Of course, the choice to nurse or formula-feed is a completely individual one, and I would never judge a mother who either chose not to or could not nurse her babies. Contrary to what some may believe, formula is not crystal meth. After my first few months of life, it's what my mom chose for me, and I happen to think I turned out pretty fantastic.

That said, nursing twins is a whole different beast altogether. Given my completely rational denial that I was indeed carrying twins and not a singleton, I didn't do much twin nursing research, which as it turns out was a gigantic mistake because I'm sure some kind BTDT twin mother out there would have warned me about how incredibly hard it is.

Nicholas and Luci are not on a reliable schedule, which means I am basically nursing one baby or the other for somewhere close to 23.5 hours a day. My big living room chair has a permanent imprint of my arse in it. I am eating meals while nursing, reading to Isabella while nursing, and giving myself a pedicure while nursing. The only benefit I can see right now is the copious amounts of tv I'm watching. I actually watched an entire movie (Serendipity-I love you John Cusack) start to finish the other day while feeding the twins.
I want to nurse them both at once, but I've attempted this only a few times and without much success. Doing so would require another set of hands, and about 500 times more patience than I currently have. But apparently, many twin mother do this, and so I set out to find ways to do it.

There is no shortage of encouraging reading on the web about breastfeeding twins. Apparently, it's entirely possible and even enjoyable! It's rewarding for both mother and children! And it doesn't have to take you all day!
Here are some twin nursing positions. I'm curious as to whether the words "enjoyable" and "rewarding" come to mind after viewing these images.

I call this one Recipe for Scoliosis. Seriously, who could stand to hunch themselves over their babies like that for 20 minutes or more eight times a day?
Here's a photo the hubs took of me after three days of trying to nurse the twins in that position:

Unless you have one regular boob and one freakishly small mini-boob, I can't see how this position would work. And also? Ow.

Would you want to be the baby at the bottom in this position? This might work when the babies are little, but who wants their 9-month-old twin's 20-pound cranium crushing their rib cage 10 times a day?

Um, yeah. Doesn't it look like the twin in the dark onesie performed a wrestling move on the other baby and has him pinned in a death grip? I see years of therapy in the bottom twin's future.

Again with the hunching. The babies look pretty damn comfortable. Where are mommy's pillows, dammit?

You'll notice that the illustrator chose not to give the mother in the images a face. Know why? Because it would be contorted in pain and also possibly frothing at the mouth. Breastfeeding twins ain't for sissies.

The Birth Story

The twins arrived at 34 weeks and 3 days gestation. Obviously, that wasn't the plan, and for a control-freak like me, having them arrive via an emergency c-section with just a few hours advance warning was enough to send me into a panic ("They're too small! Their lungs aren't developed! Their nursery still looks like this"):

Here's the story of why they showed up six weeks early.

The Sunday before they were born started out normally. We went to church. We went to BRU to pick up some miscellaneous baby crap we needed, and later that afternoon we went to see the hubs' new niece who was born just a few days before. While at my brother and sister-in-law's house, I started to feel nauseous and was experiencing terrible lower back pain. I knew something wasn't quite right, because while I did have nausea throughout the pregnancy and back pain is a way of life for women carrying around a mound of children in their bellies, this felt differently.
So we left to go home, and I was in agony. As soon as we arrived at our house, I took a bath and some Tylenol, laid down in my bed for awhile, and eventually felt better. We put Isabella to bed, and around 8pm or so, we sat down to eat dinner and watch The Amazing Race. The pain and the nausea then returned, and this time was accompanied by belly pain. Clearly, something was going on.
After writhing around on the couch for an hour or so and trying to deny the fact that I needed medical attention, I told the hubs I needed to go to the hospital. By this time it was after 10pm. My best friend who lives just around the corner from us and who was our "go-to" babysitter should we need to make exactly this kind of trip to the hospital during off-hours was out-of-town at a wedding, so the hubs ran next door to ask our neighbor to stay with Isabella until my grandma could arrive. I was in so much pain and so out of it that we left for the hospital with nothing. I didn't have a bag packed. I didn't even have a bra on. I was wearing a stained XL Sports Illustrated sweatshirt and equally beat-up maternity yoga pants.

The hubs sped to the hospital as I writhed in pain and told him to drive through red lights during the 10-minute drive. I knew I wasn't in labor because I wasn't having any contractions, but I was just desperate for drugs (street or otherwise) to help me feel better.

We made the mistake of heading to the emergency room instead of Labor and Delivery Triage. Instead of some hot orderly pushing the screaming hugely pregnant lady through the halls of the hospital and into the arms of an equally hot doctor who could take away her pain with a wink of his eye, we were told we'd have to make our way to Triage ourselves, and it was no short distance away. The hubs pushed me in a wheelchair while I chose a few expletives to mutter over and over as he hit every bump in every hallway.

Once we finally got to Triage, a doctor examined me, immediately hooked me up to a monitor to check on the babies (they were fine), started an IV, and shot me up with some pain killers. I promptly vomited up the dinner I had eaten hours before in between sieges. The doctor then added some anti-nausea medication to my cocktail, and that seemed to do the trick. She did an internal exam to make sure I wasn't dilated (I wasn't). She thought a kidney stone was the cause of the pain, and therefore began pumping me full of IV fluids to "flush it out." Um, ow?

I slept and the hubs counted ceiling tiles in our tiny Triage room until the doctor ordered a renal ultrasound to check on my kidneys. Given my back pain, she thought the problem was either a kidney stone or hydronephrosis of the kidney, which basically means that fluid collects in the kidneys because the expanding uterus is pressing on it (or something like that), and it's very common in pregnant women, and especially women pregnant with multiples. So, around 3am, I received the ultrasound, and the tech said I did indeed have the condition. However, the condition explained my back pain, but not the nausea or the belly pain.

Shortly after the ultrasound, the Triage doctor decided to admit me. It was now the wee hours of the morning on Monday. Doped up on massive amounts of drugs and anti-nausea medication, I slept awhile and awoke sometime on Monday. It was around this time when I got my first glimpse of the lower half of my body. I had been receiving IV fluids this entire time to flush out the kidney stone I supposedly had and I was massively bloated from my waist to my toes. I didn't even recognize my body. My legs looked like tree trunks and my feet looked about three times the size they were here.

I stayed in the hospital until Tuesday afternoon. The doctor then sent me home with a handful of prescriptions for an arsenal of heavy drugs (Vicodin, Percocet, etc.) because the cure for hydronephrosis of the kidney was delivery, and they didn't want to take the twins because I was under 36 weeks. Apparently, I was to just pop pills to numb the pain for another two weeks. I had some very real concerns about giving birth to narcotic-addicted infants, but I was told none of the medications I was prescribed would harm them. Interesting.

I went home Tuesday feeling fine, but that didn't last long. By the early evening I was in bad shape again, and this time I was vomiting and couldn't stop. We went back to Triage late Tuesday night where I had another renal ultrasound (kidney problem still there), more IV fluids (because they still thought I had a kidney stone), and once I was admitted again, they finally did a battery of bloodwork. Early Wednesday morning, an OB from my practice told me she was running more bloodwork to check for a rare condition called acute fatty liver of pregnancy. She told me she didn't think I had this, since in all her years as an OB she had only seen one other case, but she wanted to rule it out. A few hours later, she came back and told me that yes, I did have it, and that because it was serious, I had to have a c-section that day.

Needless to say, I freaked. I feared for my babies' lung development. I knew that NICU time was now an inevitability, and this really made me upset. The hubs made the relevant phone calls (my mom had come in on Monday after one of my aunts called her about what was going on), and my family members started to trickle in. We were first told the c-section would happen at 11am. Then it was 1pm. Finally, a nurse wheeled me down close to 3pm. They had had a bit of a problem assembling the relevant medical teams needed for a premature twin delivery.

What followed was standard c-section fare, with the addition of an assload more people. I had a blue tarp draped inches from my face so I couldn't see the room around me, but the hubs estimated that there were more than 20 people in the OR.

My regular OB, the one whom I really had wanted to do my c-section, had returned to work following her own surgical leave, the previous Monday, however, she was only doing one c-section a day to ease back into her position. She didn't do mine, but another doctor from her practice did. Luciana emerged first. I saw her tiny squealing and kicking little body for only an instant above the tarp and then they took her away to be worked on by her team. Due to my complications, I didn't get hold her until the Friday after she was born. Nicholas arrived a minute later. The nurses wrapped him and brought him over to us and gave him to the hubs to hold. I'm not sure why they didn't do the same for Luci before they took her away. Perhaps her breathing was worse than her brother's.

Later that night, I saw my babies in the NICU for the first time. I'm not sure what I expected, but I didn't expect this.

I broke down in tears (which I later learned is a big no-no in the NICU), but I couldn't help it. I felt as if I had failed them. They weren't supposed to have arrived so early, and I felt like it was my fault that they were now suffering.

Fortunately, the next day they were off the breathing machines, and were on their way to recovering. Unfortunately, I was not. I spent the next four days in utter hell. The kidney issue, the liver issue, and trapped air in my abdomen from the c-section caused me near constant pain and nausea. I was popping narcotics and throwing up because I was taking them on an empty stomach (I had absolutely no appetite and the mere thought of food made me sick). I was totally out of it, and have no recollection of certain visitors or whole chunks of days as a result. My dad visited the twins last weekend and asked me how I liked the books he had brought me in the hospital. Um, what books? The hubs and my dad then filled me in about the gifts he had given me while he and my stepmom were visiting me in the hospital one night. I was so drugged and sleepy, I didn't remember a thing about it.

The hubs spent time in the NIUC with the twins while I puked into the trash, the toilet, and water pitchers in my hospital room. I pumped as much as I was able, but the twins were receiving mainly formula for their first few days of life.

By the following Monday, I was much better and my OB discharged me. The twins came home three days later.

And although their arrival was completely unexpected and out of my control (never a good thing for a Type A like myself), I still feel so completely blessed that they are home and healthy. We saw so many babies in the NICU who had been there for months. I can't even imagine what their parents go through on a daily basis.

One last interesting bit: The twins were born at 3:09pm and 3:10pm on Wednesday, October 15th, my aunt's birthday. Isabella was born on my uncle's birthday. My grandma (she of all the rules) and I have twice given birth on the same day.


I really, really wanted to post yesterday, especially considering the post would have been hopeful and positive and all the things I am not lately. Given what happened on Tuesday night, I was actually in a rare good mood yesterday. But alas, a defiant toddler and two very needy infants ate away my day (and my good mood) and it didn't happen. So, this normally verbose blogger will just say, YAY. Maybe the world will begin to like and respect us again.


A lot can happen in two years. A person can emerge from relative obscurity and have a very decent shot (please, please) at becoming the United States' first African-American president. You can go from living fairly comfortably and buying according to wants instead of needs (at least some of the time) to cringing when your retirement account statement arrives and wondering if you'll have enough to pay the bills each month.

And in two years' time you can completely and totally forget the utter monotony of feeding, burping , and changing that is the newborn stage, and the absolute suckiness of sleep deprivation that accompanies caring for an infant. Or two of them.
I couldn't be happier that the twins are home, but I now realize there was something slightly fantastic about not being with them in the overnight hours. Luci and Nicholas are great babies during the day. They eat, they sleep, they poop and pee. They might fuss a little bit, but for the most part, they are your typical newborns. The nighttime hours are a different story because it seems they're not so much interested in the sleeping. They'll wake up to eat, and then not want to go back to sleep. I'll get up with whichever one awakens first, either my mom or I will change his/her diaper, and then I'll feed "that one."
Once I'm done, I'll burp, swaddle, and deposit the twin in the bassinet, wake up the other one and start the whole routine again because they need to be on the same schedule. Either one or the other (sometimes both) are often fussy in the middle of the night, which means someone is up and rocking the fussy baby (usually my mom during the week and the hubs on the weekends when he doesn't have to get up for work). On a good night when both go back to sleep immediately after eating, the entire process takes about an hour. When they don't, it's an all-night affair. They're up at least twice during the night to eat, so I've been averaging about five hours of sleep per night, which is about five less than I need to keep up with three kids under the age of 2.5.
In other scintillating news, everyone and everything is annoying the shit out of me. I love my mom to pieces. She's a huge help here. She makes dinner. She entertains Isabella while I'm nursing. She does laundry and holds crying babies and grocery shops. But I'm a very independent person who likes being alone, and while I know I need her help, I want my house back. With three adults, three kids, and three cats currently living here, the walls of my small house are closing in on me on a daily basis. Throw in miscellaneous relative visitors and there is ALWAYS someone here. Someone is always either talking, crying, or meowing. There is no silence and solitude ever, and there are times (a lot of them, actually) when I wish everyone would just clear out and leave me alone. Of course, I'm unreasonable and quite possibly hormonal. I know my life right now is nothing but crazy and expecting it to be otherwise borders on the ridiculous. But I think that's also precisely why I'm wishing for just a tiny slice of The Way Things Used To Be pie. Anyone want to bake me one?
Which brings me to my next complaint. Two newborns and one two-year-old = No time for me. Someone always needs feeding, changing, holding, or entertaining. This blog post was written in about 15 stages, because the second I sit down to email or blog or catch up on all of your blogs, a baby or toddler is crying, crawling up my leg, or hungry. This will end soon, right? Like next week when they're a month old? Because I can totally do this for one more week. Beyond that, I'm not so sure.
Okay. I'm done bitching. How about some twin cuteness?

One Proud Puppy

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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