Thursday, January 27, 2011

Because nothing puts you in the mood for cheesecake like talking about your uterus

As I'm sure you can imagine, I enjoy getting out of the house without my children.  The other day when I sustained a Random and Bizarre Finger Injury that required me to go to the urgent care clinic (yes, that is the second Random and Bizarre Finger Injury I've sustained since the twins were born, in case anyone is keeping track), I eagerly grabbed my book and a water bottle for an enjoyable two hours spent not responding to the constant needs of three men-in-training.  All the better when getting out of the house doesn't involve sharp and excruciating pain, such as our recent Seattle Bloggers' Night Out. It was a smashing success, and I really enjoyed chatting with Katie and Jenn and Kendra while wolfing down a fancy dinner and dessert. There was also an Anonymous Blogger who attended, but I will not share her name, as obviously she is embarrassed to admit being seen in public with me (or so I deduce is her reason for staying behind the curtain).  Naturally, I don't hold this against her.  Anyway, all four of them are inspiring, fabulous women and I am lucky to have met them.

We had such a great time that I begged them we agreed to do it again in the spring.  Stay tuned for more details!

To segue into a topic that's been on my mind, I wanted to share a question that Anonymous Blogger asked me over cheesecake that has stuck in my mind.  (Much like said cheesecake has stuck in my thighs.)  While the rest of us are parenting after infertility, Anonymous Blogger is now embarking on her first IVF cycle.  After listening to me complain about how much harder it is to have twinfants than a singleton (do I ever talk about anything else, good lord!), she turned to me and said, "So how much should I push [my husband and doctor] to transfer one embryo instead of two?"  (Two being the standard number of embryos transferred during an IVF cycle, which contributes to the high incidence of twins resulting from the process.)

I was sort of tongue-tied by that question, and I did my best to answer, although I'm sure it wasn't helpful at all.  For me, this question of TO TWINS or NOT TO TWINS (as much as it's a choice) ties into the two extreme categories of responses I get when someone finds out that I am a mother of multiples.

Response one:  "Oh my God.  I would have killed myself if I found out I was having twins."  (Yes, someone actually said this to me.)

Response two:  "Oh, lucky you!  I always wanted twins!  I think it would be SO. MUCH. FUN."

Like many unexpected turns that life takes, you can't categorize having twins as entirely good or entirely bad -- but people's reactions always seem to fall squarely on one side or the other.  I'm not sure I'm giving the balanced view on my blog, as I do seem to continually mention the high stress of having three under three.  And truly, it has been difficult.  Difficult to get pregnant, difficult to stay pregnant, and difficult to parent two newborns.  Another multiple mama blogger (I believe it was Jamie) said it best: two infants need two mothers.  Plain and simple.

Now that we have hit 9 months, the twins seem to have settled into a decent sleeping pattern, and life has gotten easier.  (Two naps each at approximately the same time, and 1-2 night wakings.)  It's only RELATIVELY easier, of course.  I'm still ready for a shot of hard liquor by 8 am 4 pm.  But in all seriousness, my feelings on having twins has completely changed since I saw two blobs on the ultrasound monitor and muttered a swear word.

Having twins is a.m.a.z.i.n.g.  It's a shite-load of work, no doubt.  It means a lot of sacrifices all around.  But the reward is that I have two human beings to love more than life itself.  They make me laugh constantly -- they are each such a gift.  And now that they are noticing each other and interacting more?  I can practically feel my heart squeeze with joy as they "play" together.  It blows my mind to watch them develop so differently, despite their similar beginnings.  They shared a womb, now they share an infancy... I'm not sure if they'll be friends as they grow up, but I hope so.  I hope they play together and support each other.  I imagine Gax standing up for Nix on the playground, and later Nix comforting Gax when a girl breaks his heart.  God willing, they will travel through life knowing that they have a twin in the world who will always be there if needed.

The main reason that I would recommend a single embryo transfer during IVF is because the pregnancy is more dangerous for mama and babies.  Too dangerous to consider?  No, certainly not in a healthy woman.  Most mamas and most babies are just fine.  But without a doubt, it's harder on your body and it's harder on your kids.  Your risk of dangers like gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, preterm labor, and stretch marks (GOOD GOD THE STRETCH MARKS!) increases.  If you thought you had to take care of yourself when pregnant with one baby, it's even more vital with two.  I ate salad and whole grain bread for lunch, people.  SALAD AND WHOLE GRAIN BREAD!  With not so much as a giant brownie to wash it down.  I mentioned the sacrifices, right?

So I'm not really sure where I was going with all this.  Another side effect of having twins is double mommy brain caused by double sleep deprivation.  Not having done IVF before, I can't really advise on a single embryo transfer versus a double.  Transferring two is the norm because IVF is such a gruelling, expensive endeavor.  Doctors and hopeful couples want to maximize the chance of success while minimizing the occurrence of multiples, and two embryos is generally a good number for that.  If you can achieve a singleton pregnancy, that's the ideal.  But if you do end up knocked up with twins, please take care of yourself.  When you make it to the parenting stage, it will be difficult, but the rewards are so indescribably beautiful that you wouldn't have it any other way.

I know I wouldn't.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In and out

We've reached a milestone that seems worth noting somehow but I'm not exactly sure why: the twins have now been living outside the womb longer than they bunked in it.

It feels like a decade ago that we brought them home from the hospital.  And definitely ancient history when I called DH at work, a home pregnancy test gripped in my shaking hand, and told him, "I need you to come home as soon as possible.  I think there is a faint line.  There's a possibility we might be pregnant."  (Surrounded by coworkers and unable to react, DH paused and asked, "This is how you chose to tell me?"  I guess he wanted to come home to congratulations balloons or perhaps Bean wearing one of those "I'm Going to be a Big Brother" onesies. Men and their high expectations!)

Anyway, it's just like they say -- the days feel long, but the years pass quickly.  (They do say that, right?  I know I didn't come up with it.)  I can't believe the next milestone we'll be noting for the twins is their FIRST BIRTHDAY.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  We still have three months to survive first.

So just a quick update, as we are about to watch "White Collar" and I want to pay full attention because the main character is... slightly good looking.

Characters welcome, indeed.

Anyway, here's the quick and dirty:

Nix is 29 inches tall (75th percentile) and weighs 19 lbs 13 oz (40th percentile).  He's a good sleeper and a good eater, especially fruits and anything made by his dad.  He is anxious to crawl like Gax, so he tries to "spring" out of a sitting position -- but he abhors being on his stomach and cries when he immediately realizes this is necessary for that particular method of travel.  His current obsession is lights, he points at them constantly and looks up at them with complete fascination.  Nix still lives up to the moniker bestowed by my dad very early in Nix's young life: our little bag of sugar.  The kid is such a sweetie, it's almost unbearable sometimes.

Gax is 28 1/4 inches tall (50th percentile) and weighs 19 lbs 9 oz (30th percentile).  Gax is the busiest person I have ever met in my entire life.  He prefers veggies and eats a ton, as I would imagine is necessary when you burn 1000 calories every half hour.  He's up, he's down, he's here, he's there.  Gax has been sleeping a bit better -- naps are longer and occur at roughly the same time every day.  He still wakes up twice a night to eat, and then he likes to get a jump start on the day at 6 am.  One of my favorite things about Gax?  He is head over heels in love with his mama.  And the feeling is mutual.

I need to write more about what Bean is up to these days, but I'll do that later.  Poor kiddo has to share everything with his brothers, I'll give him his own post.  After I finally share my Chaos-Level Theory of Family Building, as promised!

And don't forget, it's not too late to join me and Katie and Jen for a fun night out, this Saturday!  You can RSVP via our web site.  Even if you find us dull and inane, there will be cheesecake.  Mmmmm.

And last but not least... pictures.  It took me forever to upload all of these (is it just me, or did Blogger take away the ability to select multiple files at once?) and I don't have time to add captions.  So you'll just have to imagine my witty remarks as you browse.


Sunday, January 9, 2011


I don't make New Year's Resolutions.  Maybe it's my "naturally defiant" streak (as DH calls it), but if I feel too much pressure to do something, I am less likely to do it.  One of my friends said she has never heard me swear more than when I gave it up for Lent years ago.  And besides, if I really need to feel inadequate about something, I have plenty of other benchmarks I could use to measure my shortcomings.  Hello, pre-twin-pregnancy clothes hanging unworn in my closet!  Yes, I do miss having a waist, thanks for asking.

But as this new year begins, I feel something missing in my life that I'd like to reclaim, even though I know it's going to be a long road.  Let's not call it a resolution... let's call it a theme.  Like "Under the Sea" or "'80s Flashback."

I want -- no, desperately need -- more  b a l a n c e.

No, not the balance that would keep me from bumping into walls so often.  I don't really know why it tends to happen, and as long as DH doesn't see me do it and try unsuccessfully to stifle a chuckle, it doesn't really bother me too much.  I'm not a Rockette, the bruises hide easily enough.

But what I seek is the kind of balance that involves reducing some portion of my focus that is spent on my children (currently 99.9%) and move it back to anything else whatsoever (currently .1%).  The year 2010 was entirely devoted to the kids, and mostly the twins at that.  Starting on January 4, I spent three months on complete bedrest, living almost every second on my back to keep them healthy.  I thank God constantly that that was all it took to arrive at two enormous and healthy boys, but still... it wasn't exactly like reclining on a lounge chair by the pool.  And then the next nine months I struggled to care for twinfants plus a toddler.  Again, I feel so entirely blessed and love each of them to my absolute core.  But that doesn't negate the exhaustion that comes from month after month of frequent night wakings and meeting the ceaseless demands of three small people, even with my super-stellar support system.

I just feel spent.  There is little, if anything, left in my personal reserve.  I don't mean to sound like a martyr, but last year I sacrificed a lot of myself to care of other people, and I rarely get to take care of myself.

You know, like a martyr.

I subscribe to the theory that when you are a mother, you need to take care of yourself first, your marriage second, and your kids third.  Just like when you are on an airplane and there's a loss of cabin pressure, you need to put your own oxygen mask first before assisting those around you.  Not to compare motherhood to an aircraft spiraling dangerously out of the sky... but the kidlets did wake me up literally SIX times on Friday night, so yeah, sometimes it does seem that way.  Anyway, I just mean that if you are an emotional wreck, and your marriage is in turmoil, the kids are going to suffer.  It's okay -- actually, it's necessary and good -- to make sure you are taking the time and energy to keep yourself sane and your relationship with your partner solid. Your kids will benefit not only while they are growing up, but hopefully into adulthood as they start their own families.

But it's easy to pay lip service to the idea of having balance.  With two infants and a two year old at home, I'm finding it nearly impossible to actually do it.  It is really, really hard for me to leave home during the day right now, because I am trying to maintain the sanctity of nap time for all three of the kids.  Dragging both twins out when they are tired in order to participate in an activity for Bean is a recipe for a gigantic family meltdown of epic proportions.  When Bean was the twins' age, we would bop all over town in between his snoozes, and I loved connecting with other moms wherever we went.  I was energized and honestly the happiest I've been in my life.  But now, I find myself retreating into my computer to find any sort of link to the outside world, which isn't really the best thing and doesn't add much to my depleted reserves.

I would love to do something for myself, like hot yoga or read a book or spend a Saturday shopping with my mom.  But DH works long hours, and because I'm still nursing the twins frequently, it's difficult to leave them for any significant period of time.  Sadly, my plan for balance in 2011 does include weaning them after their first birthday in April.  I will miss the bonding, but I am really burned out and looking forward to letting some real cows do the hard work from then on.  I'm also hoping that weaning will help them sleep better at night.  I believe that is one of my biggest obstacles to having balance: I am desperate for more sleep.  The extended sleep deprivation has me very worn out.  Even if I had the time and babysitters to go shopping with my mom, my body would rather just blob around on the couch.  Bean didn't sleep through the night until he was 14 months old, but the twins are waking more often than he did at this age.  It's killer.

Anyway, I suppose this turned into a big poor-me rant.  But that's not what I intended.  I just hoped to honestly share how much this past year has kicked my butt.  I wouldn't give up my family for anything, but it has not been easy to get where we are.  I am hoping that the hardest is behind us, and maybe I can rejoin the world again soon.

I'd love to hear your thoughts... did you ever find your life sliding so hard in one direction that you had to put on the brakes and realign?  How did you do it?