Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To VBAC or not to VBAC?

I wish I was one of those women who felt the act of giving birth was wonderful, beautiful, spiritual. Yes, there is certainly something of a miracle about it, I understand. But I was dreading the experience for the entire 8 1/2 months I knew I was pregnant. The horror stories you hear... and the excrutiating pain! I am not a big fan of pain, even when it's only moderate. Although I was excited to meet the small person growing inside of me, I constantly wished there could be a more pleasant way to make that meeting occur. I'm picturing myself laying down on a table and being draped with a magic black cape... now you see a women with a baby tucked away on the INSIDE of her stomach... abra cadabra... now you see a women holding her baby in her arms on the OUTSIDE of her stomach! Thank you! Try the veal and don't forget to tip your waiter. I'll be here all week.

Perhaps a self-fulfilling prophesy, my labor and delivery (more the delivery part, actually) with Bean was a nightmare. When I go back and read the birth story, while all the relevant details are included, I think it's really missing the trauma that I still carry with me from the long and trying process. The 24+ hours of labor and three hours of pushing were insufficient to deliver my 9 lb 14 oz blessing, and a C-section was performed at 10:30 pm. By then, DH and I had been up for something like 40 straight hours. When we met our son, we were beyond exhausted. Even the adrenaline that comes with your child's first few hours of life couldn't entirely overshadow the fact that we were recovering from more than a full day of labor followed by major surgery.

Knowing what I know now, I have many regrets. I took the childbirth class at our birthing center, but I really thought everything would just happen naturally. Now I wish I had paid more attention instead of singing "La la la la la! I can't hear you!" in my head, and done more research on my own. My nurse was way too young and inexperienced to be much help, and my OB, whom I loved during our prenatal care, was next to useless until it was time for the C-section. I think hiring a doula would have been a wise decision.

The hardest part is wondering: Could I have delivered him myself, if I had been smarter about it? Less mediciation when I started pushing, more effective positions, etc.? He was a large baby, true, but many women deliver larger. Heck, my friend just gave birth to a 10 lb 4 oz bundle of joy without so much as an aspirin! But pelvis size also comes into play, and I've never had what you might call "child bearing hips." The woman who altered my wedding dress wrapped the measuring tape around me and said, "Hmmm, you really don't have a waist, do you?" (Now I do, but sadly, it goes outward instead of inward.)

Anyway, one of the first things that came into my mind when I got pregnant again was: Oh God, how am I going to deliver this baby? I could schedule a repeat C-section... or did I want to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarian)? Niether one really appeals to me.

To be completely honest, when I found out it was twins, I felt a sense of relief that I could certainly count on a repeat C-section. It's hard enough to find a doctor and a hospital willing to let you try a VBAC these days, because it is risky and they don't want the liability. (In fact, the birthing center where I delivered Bean does not allow VBACs, although the new hospital we chose does. Lucky me.) I figured it would be next to impossible to find a doctor who would let me try a VBAC with TWINS -- as I have to guess it's slightly more risky than trying with a singleton.

Imagine my complete shock and horror when my new OB asked, "So would you like to try a VBAC this time?" After I found my voice again, I let her know that I had considered it at first, but was more hesitant with twins. She was very laid back about it, and suggested that I play it by ear. "If you go into labor and want to give it a shot, no problem! You don't have to decide until the last minute."

Personally, I can't imagine waiting until the last minute to decide whether I'm going to try a VBAC. As I said, there are many things I want to learn before going into that situation again... I won't be flying blind this time. And she did point out that the decision still may be made for me, if Twin A is breech we will have to do another C-section.

I haven't done much (read: any) research on VBACs at this point. I obviously have a lot of time to make the decision. And I'm still wading through When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads that Carrie recommended. Obviously gotta finish the pregnancy book first, one step at a time. And I'm really crawling through the pages, because I don't want to get to the nutrition section. I'm guessing that the butter sandwich, loaded baked potato Pringles, and assorted Jelly Beans that I ate for lunch won't really fit into the guidelines. But damn, it was yummy.

The main three reasons I would like to consider a VBAC:

1. It is healthier for the babies travel through the birth canal. Although why they can't just give the babies a good squeeze when they get pulled out of my abdomen, I don't know. Doctors can create an artificial heart, but they can't simulate what it's like to crawl through a very narrow tunnel? I highly doubt it.

2. Recovery time is (supposedly) shorter with a vag birth. I will have two hungry munchkins to feed and one very sore belly if I get a C-section. Yeouch.

3. I will have the opportunity to sort of "rewrite" my own perceived failure of birthing the Bean. These two babies will be smaller (God help me if they both weigh nearly 10 lbs) and perhaps easier to fit through. I don't feel the need to be a hero, but it would be a nice personal accomplishment if I can pull it off.

The reasons I would like a repeat C-section:

1. No risk of going through the ENTIRE labor/pushing process, only to end up on the operating table once again. Recovery from a C-section might not be a walk in the park, but it's better than going through almost the entire vag delivery process first. I don't think it's good for me or the babies to have that experience repeated.

2. There are dangers of my uterus rupturing from the previous C-section. Still need to research the stats on this. I've heard it's not as common as some doctors make it out to sound. But still... concerned about this possibility.

3. They can tie your tubes and give you a tummy tuck while they have you open. So I probably wouldn't do either of those things, but it's nice to have the option. I wonder if they'd do a boob job too?

4. We would know the delivery date and could plan accordingly. We can have family fly in to help with Bean and then with the care of the newborns. This actually isn't as strong of an argument in the case of twins, because the chance of me making it to the actual date of the 38-week planned C-section would be somewhere around 40%. If I go into labor early and need to hop quickly to the hospital for my C-section, we will still have the problem of needing help with Bean and the newborns, just as we would if I try a VBAC.

I think those are my main concerns at this point. Like I said, much research still to be done. But I'm definitely curious in hearing from any of you who have done a VBAC. I've actually found from women who have BTDT (been there, done that) that the VBAC recovery is actually not any better than a C-section for many of them. I'm open to any advice or thoughts on the situation.

Or maybe someone knows a really good magician?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Well, I think it's time to call it official.

The Beaner is a weaner.

We are breastfeeding no more.

For quite a few months, we had been nursing twice a day -- before nap and before bed. Sometimes at night if he woke up sick or scared.

He nursed through the first weeks of the pregnancy on this loose schedule without a problem. Then either taste or supply must have changed, and he was less interested. We'd miss a session here or there.

I was sort of ambivalent about tandem nursing (i.e. continuing to nurse him after the baby was born). When I found out there wouldn't be so much a BABY being born as BABIES -- well, let's just say I was less ambivalent and more determined that he would be completely weaned before the spring. I thought it wise to keep a balance in the boob-to-baby ratio.

Fortunately, Bean was hearing my silent wish. (Yet he ignores my verbal wishes... maybe I should consider telepathically telling him not to yank the cords out of the wall sockets? I smell a lucrative book deal in my future!) Anyway, I really didn't want to have to actively wean him. We had both worked so hard in the first months to get this nursing relationship off the ground. I've mentioned before how I felt like a failure at conception and a failure at delivery; this was the one thing my body and I could do right. After what Bean and I had been through together, I was loathe to deny him that part of our connection if he wanted it.

Breastfeeding was, in a way, part of my rehabilitation following infertility.

Although the pregnancy certainly sped up the weaning process, I like to think it was still natural for both of us. He was not at all upset when our nursing sessions gave way to snuggle sessions. And I wasn't either.

Every few days he would still ask to nurse (by taking his binky out of his mouth and handing it to me when we snuggled), and I obliged. But for the past couple of weeks, nothing. The girls and I are not offended. I'm thrilled that I have no recollection of when our last session was. If I had known at the time, I'm sure I would have sobbed uncontrollably. Because I tend to do that these days. Heck, I have tears rolling down my face when the Laurie Berkner Band sings "My Family" on the Noggin preschool channel. (Don't judge until you've heard it.) (There are many ways to make up a family, and they are all beautiful.) (Sniff.)

So that, my friends, seems to be that. The girls will be resting until the spring when we welcome our two new nurslings into the world. I plan to do much research, chat virtually with other breastfeeding twin moms, and reconnect with my local LLL group before that point.

But in the meantime, I'm fondly remembering 18 (mostly) happy months of nursing my darling Bean. Thank you for the memories, sweet boy. I love you to pieces.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Present and accounted for

Just a quick update following our OB appointment this morning.

Letting out a sigh of relief (while still entirely overwhelmed) that we saw two perfect little babies. Strong heartbeats, and inch-long bodies jumping around with all the enthusiasm of early life.

The other day, I looked in the mirror and recoiled in horror to see how ENORMOUS my stomach is already, for being so early in the pregnancy. I shared with DH my fear that I am pregnant with a freakish Twilight vampire baby (make that two) that gestates to maturity in only three months. Unfortunately, he did nothing to calm my worries by heartily agreeing that could be a possibility, given my girth. I felt a little bit better today when the twinklets were measuring a full week ahead, making me 10 weeks along instead of 9 weeks.

Revised due date: April 16, 2010

DH thinks that Twin A looks like Bean and Twin B looks like me. I'm going to take that as a compliment.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Variations on a theme

It's been a crazy, disjointed week, and as such, here is a crazy, disjointed list of what we've been up to lately. With one common thread of two unassuming embryos, of course...

* Our co-op preschool started today. With all the work in preparing fundraising stuff for the year, it's a relief that everything is now in full swing. The one-year-old class we are in this year is quite different than the infant class of last year, for obvious reasons. It's going to be a lot of fun, but it's a bit overwhelming to start. As I expected, Bean remained glued to me the entire time. He loves the toys, but wants mama to be within reaching distance. He looks at people (like the wonderful teachers who try to talk to him) with a straight expression that says, "I really want nothing to do with you whatsoever." I'm sure he'll warm up a bit over time, and it's certainly good for him. I was reminded how much I absolutely love this preschool and the other moms in our class. Truly awesome, caring women. And it hurts a bit, because I worry that we won't be able to continue going there next year. The cost of three of them in preschool, plus babysitting considerations (Bean and the twins wouldn't have class on the same day, but I would need to be there with each of them)... *sigh* I just hope we can work something out, because I don't know what I'd do without it.

* Thank the lord that when we were house hunting last summer, we decided to go with a larger house farther from the city instead of trying to be cool with something closer. It's not so much the square footage we lack for a family of five, but the number of bedrooms. Which is currently at three. We really do need a guest room for all of our out-of-town family, so we have decided to convert our loft into two bedrooms. That should give us flexibility in the future in terms of how we use the space. We are currently reviewing our options to get this done, one of which includes Jen's talented husband. Another friend also recommended one of her family friends, who is a general contractor. He was telling me over the phone about his twin daughters, who are 16 months old, and how incredibly difficult it is to have two at the same time. This from a guy with FIVE OTHER CHILDREN. "Oh, it's a whole different ballgame with twins," he laughed. Crap.

* We are needing to start from scratch in choosing an OB/GYN and birthing center. The doc who delivered Bean only does the /GYN now, and although we were happy with the previous birthing center, we would prefer to go to a hospital with a more equipped NICU should we need it for the twins. Which of course we WON'T, but just in case we do. Even though we won't. After careful consideration of the factors and taking a (second) tour of our most convenient option, we decided to go with the hospital that is my least favorite, but will be best for our children, both currently unborn and currently scribbling with pen all over the papers I need to file. It does have wi-fi, which our last birthing center didn't, and I am grateful for that. Put a kid on each boob and hand me my laptop, I told DH. But the worst part is that I really despised everyone else on BOTH of the tours we took. They all just rubbed me the wrong way. The strange couple that appeared to have hiked across the mountains to get there. The expectant mother who looked like she might have been a contestant on "Paris Hilton's My New BFF." I guess I'm grateful I'll be stuck in my room and it will be DH who has to see them when he gets my snacks.

* One thing I'm not doing right now is watching much TV. If the early season premieres are any indication, I'm going to be glad I have Netflix this fall. I guess I shouldn't have expected to like Vampire Diaries, but I was totally bummed. Generic teen drama, ick. The biggest disappointment was Glee. It looked so promising! But after one-and-a-half episodes, I deleted it from my DVR in disgust. I hate EVERY. SINGLE. CHARACTER. I mean, I'm all about the flawed-but-humorous personalities, like Arrested Development. In this case, though, it's more like flawed-and-depressing. This doesn't bode well for Community, which stars my love someone I think is okay named Joel McHale. Please, 30 Rock, only you can save me from television despair! (Okay, this isn't a variation on the OH-CRAP-THE-TWINS-ARE-COMING theme. Cut me some slack, I'm pregnant with twins.)

* It is time to get a new car, as the lease on my beloved Milan is up in less than one month (sniff sniff). With the news that we may be needing a vehicle that can fit three carseats, we are scrambling to come up with a reasonable option. I have a big wish list and a tiny budget. Further complicating the matter, I only buy American cars, and I'm specifically hoping to go Ford on this one. (I know, I'm so passe!) I would love to get a Ford Flex, because I think they are funky and unique -- I'm pretty sure I'd be the only one in the greater Seattle area who would own one. These people love their imports! Sadly, the probability of me getting a Flex is the same probability of me winning the lottery in the next three weeks. I am open to any opinions on hot and decently priced 6-seaters, if you have any.

And no need to suggest this, I've already gone there.

And here.

And here.

And here.

* I no longer lay awake at night worrying about how I will handle twins and a two-year-old. I would like to say that means I'm feeling better about it, but I am suspicious that I've just gotten more efficient in my worrying that I can confine it to daytime hours. But that's a good thing too, I suppose? On Monday morning, DH left for a business trip, and I found this on the fridge when I got up:

He added a thought bubble above the ultrasound pic of the twins, and they are thinking, "We love you mama!" Something about the idea of the little twinklets snuggling in there and loving their mama... well, it really made me feel better about their future arrival. Or maybe it was just knowing that DH loves me and he's excited for our babies that made me feel better. Either way, I'll take it.

I also got a comment last night at the preschool board meeting that was encouraging. Bean's teacher from last year came over to congratulate me. It's a co-op, so both Bean and I attended her class together throughout the entire year. Of course, she said something about twins being a handful, then she said, "But you know what? If anyone can handle it, you can. You are not a reactive parent." (Meaning that I generally remain calm and don't get emotionally "sucked into" infant/toddler challenges.) I really needed to hear that.

So I guess that's the question, then. Can anyone handle it?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's been a busy summer for the moms in my town

Holy Baby Bumps, Batman!

I guess the slumping economy and record temps have done nothing to dampen the romantic mood in the Seattle suburbs. Of the 17 moms at our preschool class orientation, four are pregnant (and at least two are trying). I know of at least five preggos in my chapter of MOMS Club (out of 39 women). April seems to be the popular due date month. Book your hospital room early, ladies. Last one to schedule her C-section is a rotten egg!

Of course my particular news -- TWINS -- is met with special exclamations.

I can't even count how many times I've been asked, "Do twins run in your family?"

And my canned response, delivered with a smile: "No. We need help to get pregnant. Twins run in our fertility clinic, apparently."

I like to circumvent any tension with a joke. Because I think infertility is FUNNY!

Ha ha ha!


Anyway, in the time I haven't been spending discussing the ridiculous fertility of women living within a 5 mile radius of my house, I've been recovering from our back-to-back Visitor Extravaganza and attempting (mostly unsuccessfully) to run the Fundraising program at our preschool while my co-vice-chair cuddles with her one-day-old newborn son.

And of course, attempting (more successfully, thank goodness) not to barf at any given moment.

Although my to-do list is growing, it seems as if my life has been on hold since that moment I looked at the ultrasound screen and muttered, "It's twins. Oh shit." There is a lot of processing that needs to happen when your life gets flipped upside down like that. A mix of emotions, to be sure -- fear and excitement the most basic and obvious. I imagine this waffling will continue until I bring the babies home, and perhaps for a while after.

I'm sure I'll be posting more about the subject when I'm actually able to form coherent thoughts in my mind. The good news is that although I still lay awake at night and worry, I'm doing about .5% better each day. So from being 100% freaked last Tuesday, I am now only 95.5% freaked out.

In the meantime, I just wanted to thank everyone for their support, the kind comments and emails, and the concern about me and the babies. The spotting comes and goes but overall is extremely light. It's just an annoyance now. My next ultrasound is next Thursday, and I'm doing my best to stay positive. Feeling like complete crap helps a lot with that. I'm surviving, and I hope to shake off the shock and rejoin the world shortly.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I am a mess (but I have fun pictures!)

I'm having One of Those Weeks. It's been a bit of a struggle.

First, of course, I constantly have double the pregnancy hormones coursing through my veins that make me emotional, sick, and bloated. I passed a bunch of teachers on strike the other day as I drove to the dentist (no cavities, woot woot) and when they waved at me, I seriously started bawling. Your guess is as good as mine.

Then I had spotting on Monday... worried. Ultrasound on Tuesday allayed those fears, but revealed TWO heartbeats. *gulp* It hit me like a ton of bricks, as Jen can attest, I was a deer in headlights during our lunch immediately following the scan. Which didn't stop her from laughing her ass off for about 5 minutes when I told her the news of twins. Yeah, it's funny when it's not you, right? But she's wonderful anyway, and honestly I needed that.

Then on Thursday the spotting returned. Not so bad... then kinda bad... now not so bad. My doc offered to see me for a quick ultrasound today to reassure me, but I'm just going to hang in there for now. Can't go running to the clinic every other day, or the kiddos may come out with the ability to receive alien transmissions from Mars. And really that's a hassle I don't want to deal with.

So my biggest worries at this point are: 1) I will be taking home TWO NEWBORNS in the spring and 2) I will not be taking home any newborns in the spring.

And there's a whole bunch of other smaller issues weighing on me right now, but I'm sure you don't want to hear about the stress related to my new job as preschool fundraising chairperson. Copying forms, distributing Entertainment Books... yes, it's slightly pathetic. And there's other stuff too -- but yeah, I'll just stop now. It's FRIDAY for goodness sakes, and a LONG HOLIDAY WEEKEND at that! Woo hoo!

So to distract you from the fact that I am a mess, and thus a horrible blogger as of late, plus I'm way behind on my Google Reader -- I am going to show you some pictures of what my family has been up to while I was being a lazy cow resting appropriately.

It didn't take much time after their plane landed for my parents to tackle our to-do list that has been untouched since their previous visit. My Dad actually built us a fireplace surround. Isn't that awesome?! It would have cost $650+ to buy one, but he only charged us $400. I guess we got a discount for providing a helper. (I'm kidding about the $400, of course. My Dad rocks.)

It also didn't take them long to offer Bean a bunch of food he doesn't need, like Oreos. Although I will say he looks adorable munching on chips and salsa.

Laughing with "gwuh-pa" (Grandpa).

Grandpa takes the kids for a walk... I'll wait here!

DH and my Dad climbed Rattlesnake Ridge in the Cascades. Because they are badasses like that.

Bean loved going to the park with Grandma and Grandpa.

I couldn't resist this shirt from Swami Baby Boutique for my little Seattle tree-hugger. (The shop has amazing customer service, I highly recommend them!)

In addition to spoiling Bean, my parents also taught him the value of hard work.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So Bean and Grandpa and DH went to Pike's Place Market to take in the scene.

It was a fun visit, but an exhausting one.