Archive of ‘Pregnancy’ category

5 Things to Do Before Baby Arrives

In just a few days, I’ll be 35 weeks pregnant with my baby girl. That means there are less than five weeks to go until my scheduled C-section. In true Type A fashion, I’ve spent a ton of time making frenzied preparations for her arrival. The twins, after all, were born at 36 weeks, so I’m well aware of the potential of delivering early! Read any parenting blog, website, or magazine and you’ll find lists of things you should do before your baby arrives—things like taking an infant CPR class, updating your will, choosing your baby’s pediatrician, decorating the nursery, packing your hospital bag, etc. These are all excellent and important tips, and I certainly recommend doing them. But I also have some tips of my own for things you can do before you welcome your little one. You may not see these hints on many other lists—and the world certainly wouldn’t end if you don’t do them—but I promise you they’ll make your life easier in those chaotic, sleep-deprived months after baby comes home.

1. Choose your birth announcements—and pre-address the envelopes. One of my favorite sites from which to order high-quality birth announcements, invitations, and cards is Tiny Prints. And the site offers a really convenient service: You can pre-order your announcements and have the envelopes shipped to you ahead of time to stamp and address before the baby arrives. Once he or she is born, all you’ll have to do is fill in the blanks and add photos, stuff the cards into the envelopes, and mail them off! I chose my daughter’s birth announcements from Tiny Prints back in May. I’m glad I did, because it wasn’t a quick process—I had hundreds of options to choose from. But I finally found the perfect announcement, and the envelopes are already stamped, addressed, and ready to be stuffed!

2. Schedule and plan a newborn photography session. Newborn photos are not everyone’s “thing.” But if they are your thing and you don’t get them done, you’ll always regret it. I never got fancy newborn studio pictures taken of the boys because Keith was set to deploy right after their birth, so scheduling a session was the last thing on my mind. But then when I’d see gorgeous professional photos of my friends’ newborns, it would bug me that I didn’t have any of my own kids.  So this time, I’m ready. Luckily, we already have a photographer we work with here in Los Angeles who happens to take gorgeous newborn photos that fit our style. Her name is Sigal Ineno of Sigal Ineno Photography, and we highly recommend her! But if you don’t know a photographer, start looking for one well before your due date. Good newborn photographers can get booked up months in advance, so you’ll want to make sure they have you on their schedule. To find a photographer, Google newborn photographers in your area and check out their online galleries to see if you like their work. Check review sites like Yelp or local message boards. Ask friends and neighbors if they have any recommendations. Once you find a photographer with availability, he or she will make note of your due date and block off some time for your session around that date. Photographers generally like to take newborn pictures four days to two weeks after birth. Sigal told me to contact her ASAP when I’m heading to the hospital so that she can lock in a time one week after the baby is born. Once your session is booked, look at newborn photos online to get ideas of poses you’d like to capture, any special items you’d want in the pictures, outfits and/or accessories you want your baby to wear, etc. Have all of those things ready for the shoot once the big day comes!

3. Create baby registries—and add the basics to them. Even if this is not your first pregnancy and you weren’t planning to start a registry, you should create one at multiple stores. That’s because nearly every retailer that carries baby items—including Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, Pottery Barn Kids, and Target—will give you a percentage (usually 10 to 15 percent) off any items remaining on your registry for one day towards the end of or after your pregnancy. That includes essentials like diapers, wipes, toiletries, formula, etc. So start a registry at each store and add the items you’ll need to them. When the time comes to go shopping, you can compare prices and stock up on the things you’ll need at a discount!

4. Schedule other necessary appointments. When your whole world revolves around your pregnancy, it’s easy to neglect the rest of your health. But it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself during pregnancy. So before you give birth, go for your annual skin cancer screening with your dermatologist. Get a dental checkup and a teeth cleaning. Schedule any other regular medical visits you usually make. The days and weeks leading up to pregnancy are also a great time to do the things you’ll have little time for with a new baby. Go for that fabulous haircut. Get a manicure and pedicure. Get your eyebrows waxed or threaded. You get the picture!

5. Get your older children very involved from the beginning. Even though they were only 2 1/2 when I got pregnant, Keith and I started talking  with Matt and Nate about the baby very early on. We made sure they knew how exciting it would be to have a new baby. We bought them shirts on Etsy that said “I’m going to be a big brother,” and snapped a photo of them wearing the shirts to announce the pregnancy on social media. We bought some great books about becoming a big brother that we’ve read to them often. (Two of our favorites are Joanna Cole’s “I’m A Big Brother” and Mercer Mayer’s “The New Baby”.) We’ve had the boys talk to their sister in my belly, discussed with them how my belly is growing (according to Nate, it’s “so much fat”), allowed them to feel her kicks, etc. We’ve let them talk freely about their baby sister to anyone who will listen. As a result, the boys’ initial indifference about having a new baby has switched to pure excitement. They do not stop talking about “their” baby, and lately they’ve been acting out new-baby scenarios with their action figures. The other day, Batman was crying like a baby as his “Mommy,” Green Lantern, rocked him to sleep. It takes so much stress away to know the boys are excited and ready for their sister to arrive!

Family Pregnancy Studio Session - July 2014 (Photo by Daniel Marino, http://danmarinophoto.com)

My brother, Dan Marino of Marino Photography (danmarinophotography.com), took this photo as part of a maternity shoot in July. The boys could not stop lovin’ on my belly!

 

I’d love to hear from other moms: What are your best tips for things to do before baby arrives? Share them here!

Coming Up: New Baby, New Crib!

Summer is often a busy time for military families because it’s PCS (permanent change of station) season, AKA moving season. But this year has been especially crazed for us, as we happen to have, ahem, a few things going on. Where to even begin? Here we go:

1) The twins turned 3 on June 19, and their birthday party was two days later. We decided to have the party at our own home this year. That meant weeks of preparation and lots of cleanup, but it turned out to be so much fun. The boys chose a superhero theme, so we had all the kids (about a dozen) decorate their own capes. We also gave each child a felt mask. And, Superman himself flew in to entertain the kids! He was incredible, and Matt and Nate could not have been more thrilled. They still tell everyone all about how the real Superman came to their party. If you live in the Los Angeles area and want to hire a character for your next party, we highly recommend Wishing Well Entertainment. You and your kiddos will not be disappointed!

IMG_9072

2) We flew to New York a week later to visit family. It was the boys’ ninth round-trip flight, but their first since last November, and I have to say—flying with 3-year-olds was way easier than flying with 2-year-olds! We didn’t need a huge bag stuffed with toys with which to entertain them on the flight. All they needed were iPads, a few books, and some crayons, and they were good to go. They even walked through security on their own! The trip lasted nearly two weeks, and we had a great time catching up with family and friends.

3) Two days after we arrived in New York, Keith and I drove down to Virginia (the boys stayed at Grandma and Grandpa’s house) to look for the new home we will move into in late October. Since our 5-year anniversary was coming up on July 18, we decided to treat it like a mini anniversary trip/babymoon and stayed at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City. It was fabulous! We managed to look at about a dozen homes in the three days we were there, which was pretty tiring with me being nearly seven months pregnant in the heat and humidity. But, it did lead to the next big thing that happened:

4) We bought a house!!! It’s in an awesome, family-friendly community in Northern Virginia, and it is the perfect home for our growing family. There is a huge, grassy backyard with a big deck and a basketball hoop, a large basement, five bedrooms, and lots of space. The best part is that it’s move-in ready, which is crucial since we’ll be moving in with a 7-week-old baby. Keith’s commute to the Pentagon will be pretty easy, too. As sad as we’ll be to leave California, we’re really excited to move into our new home!

New house

Our new home!

5) Back in New York, my best friend from high school, Christine, threw me a surprise mini baby shower (also called a “sprinkle”). About a dozen of my closest ladies attended, and it was so wonderful. I received a ton of adorable baby clothes for the little princess, and I just can’t wait to dress her up!

Thing have not slowed down since we arrived back in California on July 8. My days and evenings have been consumed with preparations for the baby and the move. I spent two days straight researching and contacting preschools in our new neighborhood to see if I could find a good one that happened to have two openings this close to the new school year. It really was like searching for a needle in a haystack. However, I did find one that I think will be a great fit for the boys. They will start in November and they’ll be going Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 am to 1 pm. It’s exciting and nerve-racking, but I know they will love it!

I’ve also spent a lot of time researching doctors in the new area, since the baby and I will both need follow-up care as soon we arrive. The kids and I are on Tricare Standard, which means we can select our own physicians. However, depending on where you live, it can be hard to find good doctors who accept Tricare. I’ve had to rely solely on Internet research and reviews from patients, but I finally found a pediatrician for the kids and a doctor for me who I believe will be good fits.

Things are not likely to slow down for us until well after the move. Today marks 33 weeks of pregnancy for me. I have a C-section scheduled for September 5, which means the baby will be here in only six weeks (or less)! Eeeeeek!

IMG_7001

Me at 32 weeks pregnant with baby girl!

The boys have started a weekly two-hour drop-off class at Gymboree called School Skills, which we’re hoping will help ease their transition to “real” preschool. They love the class so far! They’ll also continue to take weekly gymnastics classes at My Gym. Nate is now fully potty trained—even at night—but Matt is still struggling with the process. We’re trying not to push him too hard, but with preschool starting in a little more than three months, we’re feeling the pressure.

And then there’s the big move, which will begin October 15 if the baby gets the all-clear. Yes, we are driving cross-country with two 3-year-olds and a 6-week-old baby in a Toyota 4Runner with no third row. Yes, we are a tad bit crazy. But we are used to these “adventures” of Army life. After all, this will be the boys’ fourth home in their fourth city and they’re only 3 years old! So please think of us over these next few months, and I’ll continue to keep you all updated on the blog!

Prenatal Beverages for Moms-to-Be!

I have been asked countless times whether this pregnancy has been easier than the last since there is only one baby this time. And that would certainly make sense, wouldn’t it? But at nearly 32 weeks pregnant, I can say with authority that it has not been easier. Maybe the old wives’ tale is true—maybe baby girls really do wreak havoc on your body!

To be fair, it hasn’t been a bad pregnancy at all. I have been able to remain pretty active throughout, and I am still sleeping decently. My morning sickness was limited to short bursts of nausea that usually went away when I ate something.

With the twins, however, I experienced no nausea whatsoever. I am also way more tired this time around. (I even spent the entire day in bed on three separate occasions after taking on too much and overdoing it.) And, my tummy has been a lot more—ahem—sensitive throughout this pregnancy. It seems like any little thing will upset my stomach. And one of those things has been my prenatal vitamin.

Prenatal vitamins are awesome for so many reasons. They supersize your immune system, make your hair and nails thick and healthy, and ensure your baby gets all of his or her essential nutrients. But they can also have some pretty unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, gas, stomach cramps, etc.

When I was pregnant with Matt and Nate, prenatal vitamins never bothered me. But throughout this pregnancy, they’ve often left me with several of those unpleasant symptoms. I’m OK when I take them at night and soon after eating. But with 3-year-old twins to chase, a part-time job, and a cross-country move to prepare for, sometimes I forget. Plus, the huge pills can be hard to swallow.

Many pregnant women experience much worse side effects from their prenatal vitamins. This has sparked the creation of several new beverages for expecting moms that ensure they get all of the essential vitamins and minerals their babies need. And through my job, I’ve gotten to try three of them.

Bump Water, which I reviewed for Baby Gizmo, is a new line of all-natural drinks that are packed with many of the same vitamins found in prenatals. Each 16-ounce bottle includes 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamins A, D, E, and more. Bump Water also contains the full recommended daily allowance of folic acid. Research shows that folic acid is an essential part of healthy fetal development, both before and during pregnancy, by helping to prevent major birth defects of the brain, spine, and spinal cord. 

Bump Water

Bump Water comes in five flavors—cranberry ginger, strawberry lemonade, pomegranate mixed berry, lemonade, and lemon lime. There are flat flavors and sparkling ones.

I tried two flavors—the 10-calorie sparkling cranberry ginger and the 100-calorie sparkling lemonade. They tasted like flavored water. I enjoyed both, but the lemonade was especially tasty. I had no stomach problems with the Bump Water. In fact, the fizz may have actually helped settle my tummy a bit. But since I am not generally a fan of sparkling beverages, I think I would have enjoyed the flat flavors much more.

Next, I tried Premama, which comes in powder form. Premama is a drinkable prenatal vitamin created by leading OB/GYNs. You can mix the powder with water or juice, or into your food. Premama is packed with 11+ vitamins and minerals, including folic acid and DHA, which supports fetal brain and eye development.

Premama

Premama comes in three varieties—the unflavored Premama Essentials, the citrus-flavored Premama Plus with DHA, and the orange-flavored Premama Complete with extra DHA. I mixed them all into 8-oz. glasses of water. However, Premama Essentials is meant to be mixed with food or juice—and I can see why. Though the powder is not flavored, I kept imagining I could taste it in my water, and it bugged me. While the other two tasted better, they didn’t give the water as much of a flavor as I would have liked. They therefore took longer for me to drink, allowing the powder to settle on the bottom of the glass a bit. But Premama didn’t upset my stomach at all, and it was so much better than swallowing a pill!

Finally, I got to sample three bottles of Bundle Organics. Bundle Organics is the first line of organic prenatal juices specifically for pregnant and breastfeeding moms. Made with organic fruits and veggies, the juices are fully pasteurized and not raw-pressed. They also include key nutrients recommended for pregnant moms and their developing babies, including vitamin D, calcium, Omega-3, and folic acid. They come in three flavors—Dark Berry/Veggie, Kale/Apple/Lemon/Ginger, and Orange/Carrot/Berry/Ginger.

bundle-organics

Bundle Organics juices are not as vitamin-packed as Bump Water or Premama. However, they are not meant to be a replacement for prenatal vitamins—just a yummy and convenient way to get added nutrients and stay hydrated. And, they are really delicious! I drank mine cold, straight from the fridge, and had no problem downing them because they tasted so great. I felt really refreshed afterward, and I was happy to get the big dose of fruits and vegetables.

Overall, I think any of these products would be wonderful for pregnant women who are having a rough time with prenatal vitamins, or simply those who want to get added vitamins and nutrients. But before using any of them as a replacement for your prenatal vitamin, be sure to talk to your OB/GYN!

 

 

First Pregnancy vs. Second Pregnancy

Today I am exactly 27 weeks pregnant, which according to many experts (including the American Pregnancy Association) marks the beginning of my third trimester. WHAAAAT? When did THAT happen? This pregnancy has seriously flown by. That’s probably because it’s my second one, and I’m so focused on caring for the twins, I barely have time to think about being pregnant. We’ve also been running around like crazy trying to soak up every bit of Southern California before our upcoming move to the Washington, DC area in October. Add to that list working, trying to get this blog active again, and prepping for the move, and it’s no wonder this final stretch of pregnancy has snuck up on me.

IMG_4454

27 weeks pregnant!

 

 

So, that brings me here—more than six months into the pregnancy and writing only my second blog post about it. Seriously—in the past six months, I’ve only had time to write about this pregnancy twice. In contrast, I wrote 18 posts about my pregnancy with Matt and Nate. But then I also had time to nap when I was pregnant with them, so…

But that’s only one of the differences between this, my second pregnancy, and my first pregnancy with the twins. Here are some of the others:

1st pregnancy: I took my prenatal vitamins religiously, at around the same time each day.
2nd pregnancy: When’s the last time I took the vitamin? I think it was yesterday morning. Or maybe it was the day before. Shoot, I’d better go take one now. 

1st pregnancy: We painstakingly pored through baby-name books and websites, making comprehensive lists of boy and girl names we liked. By week 14, we had two first names and two middle names picked out for each gender.
2nd pregnancy: Questions of, “Have you chosen a name yet?” are usually met with blank stares and the panicked realization that, oh yeah, we actually have to name this child.

1st pregnancy: We knew exactly when all of our doctor appointments were.
2nd pregnancy: We’ll be sitting at dinner when it suddenly hits me that we haven’t seen the doctor in a while. “We just went, like, last week!” Keith will respond between bites of food. Then I’ll check my smartphone calendar and realize that we actually went four weeks ago and our next appointment is tomorrow at 9 a.m. Crap! Hope the nanny is free to watch the boys.

1st pregnancy: I followed every diet rule in the book—no soft cheeses, no lunch meat, etc.—and then panicked if I accidentally consumed a forbidden food.
2nd pregnancy: I’ve been known to shove entire slices of salami into my mouth in a ravenous fury, and I honestly don’t even remember the full list of food no-no’s. We had dinner at an Indian restaurant with a friend a couple of months ago who is pregnant for the first time (with twins), and she made sure to ask the waitress if the cheese in the saag paneer was pasteurized. It hadn’t even occurred to me to ask that question.

1st pregnancy: I bought a pregnancy journal and carefully filled it out each week throughout the pregnancy.
2nd pregnancy: I ordered a pregnancy journal in a melodramatic panic a couple of weeks ago because I don’t want my daughter to find Matt and Nate’s journal years from now and ask why she doesn’t have one. Now I’m going through it and struggling to figure out exactly how I felt each week, what I was doing, etc. Half the stuff I write in it probably won’t even be accurate. Oops.

1st pregnancy: Keith took photos of my growing belly on the same day each week—and I probably overshared them on social media.
2nd pregnancy: I’ve had several friends ask me, “Where are all the belly shots?” Ummm, I have some, but they were taken on the most random days, and I don’t even think I’ve sent any to my mother. Sorry, Mom.

1st pregnancy: Babies R Us was our second home. We were there about four times a week, including Friday nights.
2nd pregnancy: I think I’ve been in Babies R Us twice since learning I was pregnant, and that was to buy Pull-Ups for Matt.

1st pregnancy: We researched the heck out of baby gear, looking at user reviews and safety ratings.
2nd pregnancy: The boys’ old Exersaucer, swing, and bouncy seats are somewhere in the black hole that is our garage. We should probably dig them out at some point. Soon.

I could go on and on, but the more I list, the more guilty I feel about the lack of attention I’ve been paying to this baby. I mean, she won’t even have a nursery for her first two months of life! (Since we’re moving when she is only six weeks old, she will just sleep in our room until we get to the new house.)

But for everything that’s different about this pregnancy, there’s a lot that is the same. We love this baby girl just as much as we loved Matt and Nate when they were in my belly. Though we aren’t as consumed with preparation for her arrival, we—and our entire extended family—are just as excited to welcome her into her lives. Keith has made it to every single doctor appointment, just as he did the first time around, and he still makes time every night to talk to my belly.

Also, there are some things I’ve been more involved in than I was with the boys’ pregnancy. I managed to spend three entire afternoons (that I was supposed to be working) researching baby-girl nursery decor. And trust me, when we buy our new home, I am pulling out all the stops. This girl is gonna be living in style! (Crystal chandelier, anyone?) I’ve also been excitedly stocking up on things I never thought I’d get excited about, like flowery headbands and tutus.

Besides that, this baby girl has something Matt and Nate did not—the love and excitement of two older siblings who can’t wait to meet her! Last night, as I was lying on the couch with my burgeoning belly exposed, the boys climbed up on either side of me and said, “Hi, Baby! I love you!” Then they started rubbing and kissing my belly. It was truly priceless.

I am still feeling great and have lots of energy. There is a ton to do in these waning weeks of pregnancy, but I’ll try my best to do better at keeping you all updated. Oh, and Matt and Nate turn 3 next week. Time to get back to planning their big superhero birthday bash!

IMG_4378

These little superheroes turn 3 next week!

 

BIG NEWS!!!

I seem to always have excuses for my long absences. This time, though, I have a legitimate reason for being M.I.A.—I’m PREGNANT!!!! I’m 19 weeks along, to be exact.

But that’s not the only news. On Monday, we found out we’re expecting a baby girl! We are absolutely thrilled beyond words to be embarking on this new adventure. We’re also sort of terrified. The idea of caring for three little ones age 3 and under is a bit daunting. We’ll also be moving to the Washington, D.C. area in mid October, when the baby is only about 6 weeks old. That means we’ll be adjusting to a new home in a new city while caring for a newborn. It’s an awful lot to handle, but that’s military life for you! And hey, we’ve never been the type to do things the easy way, anyway.

IMG_4136

The proud big brothers show off an early photo of their baby sister!

Everyone says that after caring for two babies at once, one will seem like a breeze. And I see their point. But caring for a girl will be a whole new world for us. I feel like we’re experts at all things boy-related, but girl stuff—like styling hair—is foreign to us. Plus, instead of just pulling out the bins of boy clothes and dusting them off, we have to buy a whole new girl wardrobe. (Dress shopping—yay!) But we will figure it all out, and we’ll have a blast doing it.

The boys are super excited to become big brothers. Nate loves to tell total strangers about the baby in his mommy’s belly, which he describes as “so much fat.” Matt likes to pretend the baby is in his belly. But they both say they’re excited to help take care of, play with, and tickle their baby sister. (Let’s see how excited they are when she’s a little older and tries to play with their toys!)

While we are obviously super excited about this pregnancy, it’s been quite different from the first one. When I was pregnant with the twins, I was completely obsessed with the pregnancy. I read all the pregnancy books, spent hours designing the nursery, pored over baby name books, took childbirth classes, etc. But this time around, I’m lucky I remember I’m pregnant half the time. When I am not working, I am just so fully focused on the boys that I don’t have much time to think about the pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong, I take my prenatal vitamins, go to all my appointments, and take care of myself. But while we had huge lists of possible boy names at this point in my twin pregnancy, we haven’t thought of a single name yet for Baby Girl. While I have weekly belly shots from my twin pregnancy, I only have four so far with this baby—and they’re not even on the exact dates. But I guess that is typical of second pregnancies!

The boys have also been extra challenging these days. We are going through so much transition with them because there’s so much we want to get out of the way before the new baby and the move. Here are some things we’ve been up to:

  • We are still struggling with potty training. Nate is fully trained (except at night), but Matt pretty much refuses to use the potty. Everyone assumed that once Matt saw Nate using the potty and wearing underwear, he’d want to. But for a while it was actually the opposite—Nate would see that Matt wasn’t using the potty, so he didn’t want to, and he’d have lots of accidents. Needless to say, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months doing laundry and cleaning poop and pee off the floor.
  • We finally transitioned the twins from cribs to big-boy beds last weekend after Nate started catapulting himself out of the crib. (Until then, both had been perfectly content in their cribs.) It hasn’t gone well. Instead of napping, the boys now jump on their beds, jump off their beds onto each other, slam their sliding-glass closet door shut repeatedly, and throw their books all over the place. It’s mayhem, and instead of spending their naptime doing chores or getting work done, I spend it going in and out of their room to scold them. They were also repeatedly leaving their room at bedtime until we bought a lock for their door and threatened to put it on. They now stay in their room at night for the most part, except for one visit Nate made to our room at 3 am.
  • I decided it was time to enroll the boys in more structured classes in preparation for preschool. They were taking Gymboree Play & Learn and Music Together classes, which were great, but the boys would spend the whole time running around and doing their own thing. Now we take an art class at Gymboree and a gymnastics class at My Gym. Both require them to follow directions, listen to their teachers, sit still for certain stretches, take turns, etc. It was a struggle in the beginning, but they are now doing great, and they’ve been a lot more focused. Plus, we just love both classes and have a lot of fun!
  • The boys are transitioning from the “Terrible Twos”—which actually weren’t so terrible at all—into the “Tumultuous Threes.” I’d been hearing from many friends that three is actually worse than two, and boy, were they right. Nate, especially, seems to be testing us lately—knowingly breaking rules, protesting everything, throwing epic tantrums, and basically being as difficult as possible. Matt has been losing his temper easily when he doesn’t get his way. I’m hoping this phase passes quickly!

So, that’s what we’ve been up to here in the Walters house! I have been busier than ever and constantly on my toes, but still having a blast and enjoying California. I am going to scale back on my Baby Gizmo writing to have more time to prepare for the baby and the move and to focus on some of my other projects. I will also be spending more time on this blog, which will soon have a new look and some other cool updates. I hope to make it a valuable resource not only for military families and families with multiples, but for all families with young kids. Stay tuned, and thank you all for sticking around!

What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman!

Once you reach that point in pregnancy at which you look like you swallowed a watermelon, you become an instant celebrity. You begin to elicit stares wherever you go. Those stares intensify when you’re attempting to do something that should otherwise come easily, such as squashing yourself into a restaurant booth or trying to climb into your SUV without falling out. (Although, I can imagine what a funny sight that must be!)

All of the attention made me really uncomfortable at first. “What, they’ve never seen a pregnant lady before?!?” I’d snarl to my husband. But now, I barely even notice the stares. I guess I’ve become somewhat immune to them.

What I am less immune to, however, are the way-too-personal questions asked by nosy strangers, and the predictions of all the doom and gloom to come as soon as I pop my babies out. In the spirit of trying to minimize these ambushes for future pregnant ladies, I compiled a list of things you should never say to a pregnant woman—especially one you’ve never met. (Disclaimer: The list is mostly all in good fun! Keith and I actually laugh off most of the comments.) Check it out on rd.com, the online version of Reader’s Digest:

http://www.rd.com/family/10-things-never-to-say-to-a-pregnant-woman/

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest (ha), here’s an update on the twins: As of my June 8 appointment, they’re doing great! Nate is 5 lb., 3 oz. Matt is 3 lb., 14 oz. Matt is head down, but Nate is breech and on top of Matt. (I can’t imagine how it could be comfortable for poor Matt to have a giant baby pressing down on him, but the doctor insists that babies love being smushed together in the womb. Whatever floats their boat.)

So, we’re giving it another two weeks. I return to the perinatologist on June 22, and if the boys aren’t growing well at that point, they’ll take them out! If they are growing well, we’ll try to go one more week. So that means the twins will be here in roughly a couple of weeks! I cannot believe how quickly this pregnancy has gone, and I am excited to be able to walk and bend over and get up off the couch like a normal human being. Oh, and then I can gawk at all the other pregnant ladies and ask them inappropriate questions. ;-)

Working Hard – and Having a Blast!

Well, I am now three days shy of 34 weeks pregnant! Seeing as how my OB said, “I’d be very happy if you make it to 36 weeks,” time is quickly winding down! I, on the other hand, am not.

I never realized how much of a workaholic I am until I began to freelance full-time. Now, assignments are like crack to me. I can’t bear to turn down a project—and the money that comes with it. I suppose it’s good to work as much as I can until the twins arrive, after which I’ll definitely take a couple of months “off.” On the other hand, it’s been quite difficult to work so much, AND prepare for twins, AND prepare for a deployment, AND get ready for a mini move back to New York while Keith is away. People can have nervous breakdowns doing just one of those things at a given time. Doing all four at once will turn you into the frenzied mom-to-be that I’ve become.

Not that I am looking for sympathy. Plenty of women have done it before me and come out the other side with smiles on their faces. I am so proud of them—and of myself! At my May 31 appointment, my doctor told me, “There’s no doubt in my mind that your great attitude is the reason you and your babies are doing so well.” Granted, she hasn’t seen me frantically sterilizing baby bottles at 11 PM while crying about looming deadlines and reminding my poor husband that he’s got to sign us up for recycling pick-up before he deploys. But she is right—despite all of the stress, I do feel deliriously happy and excited about what’s to come. After all, I have two baby boys on the way and the best husband ever. What more could a girl ask for?

Well, I suppose I could ask for more dates with said husband before I don’t see him for about 10 months—dates that don’t involve trips to Babies ‘R Us or filling out paperwork to add the babies to our wills. I suppose I could ask for more time to soak up the sun at the community pool and to lunch with pals before my days are consumed with feeding and burping and diaper changing.

But you know what? I’m not too concerned about what I’ve been missing. I’m just focused on what these challenges have unexpectedly added to my life. Last night, for instance, we were going to plop down on the couch and watch the Rockies/Dodgers game. Instead, we had a blast spending way too much time at the store picking out a musical stuffed panda for Keith to take with him to Afghanistan. That way, he can play it for the boys on Skype all the time, and they will begin to associate the toy—and pandas—with Daddy. (I apologize to any of Keith’s comrades who have to listen to this thing.)

And on Sunday, we left the park on a gorgeous, sunny, 85-degree day to go buy a towel rack (yes, a towel rack) to match the boys’ bathroom. But then, while at the store, Keith found a Nerf basketball game for the boys that will thrill him for years to come.

And finally, let’s not forget all of the comedy that being eight months pregnant with twins brings about. I have gained 25 pounds during the pregnancy. Yes, that’s very little weight—but every single one of these pounds is in my stomach. My belly enters a room about five minutes before I do. When I waddle down the sidewalk, I’m like a zoo exhibit—drivers break their necks to get a closer look. I’m pretty sure I’m going to cause an accident soon.

33 weeks pregnant — This thing is HUGE!

And then there was Sunday evening, following the towel rack-buying excursion. Keith pulled the truck into the left side of the garage, like always. Our Acura was parked in its usual spot on the right side. I opened the passenger-side door to get out of the car, like I always have. Except this time, I got wedged between the open truck door and the Acura. I tried to move away so I could close the door, but quickly realized I was not going anywhere. I was officially stuck—too huge to fit between the cars. Keith burst out laughing, which prompted me to start laughing, and pretty soon we were in tears. I had to get back into the truck to free myself. Now, every time Keith pulls the cars in, he goes as close to the walls of the garage as he can, so his whale of a wife will be able to get out. If you can’t laugh about these things, what can you laugh at?

We're still smiling!

And finally, another sign that everything’s going to be OK: Yesterday evening while having dinner on our deck, we noticed two identical robins (or were they sparrows?) sitting in our tree, watching us. They stayed there throughout the whole meal.

We imagined they were there to remind us of what all of our hard work and preparation is for—Matthew and Nathaniel, our two precious twin boys. They beat fancy dinners, cocktails, and swimming pools any day!

The Nursery!

For months, I was sort of bitter about having to move my nice, cozy office down to the basement to make room for the twins’ nursery. I was quite happy working in that bright room, with the sun streaming in every afternoon and Cheyenne Mountain outside the window.

Then we made the switch. And now I can’t imagine that room being anything other than Matt and Nate’s nursery. I am absolutely in love with it! I find myself going in there several times a day for no reason other than to simply look at it.

We had a lot of help bringing the boys’ room to life. Two weekends ago, Keith’s brother Ken was in town. He, Keith, and their friends Willie and Ben spent Saturday afternoon moving and arranging all of the office furniture downstairs, putting together the cribs, and setting up the baby furniture. They were a well-oiled machine, and we truly thank them for all of their help!

The following weekend, our friend Amanda came over to help us decorate the nursery. She has a great eye for decor, so she helped us make the room look amazing! Bless her heart—she even put the sheets on the cribs and tied all of the bumpers on, then helped Keith hang pictures and the boys’ names on the walls. All this, while I sat my big butt in the glider and threw out orders.

Here are some photos of the finished product!

Keith has a new favorite chair!

Thank you, Amanda, for all of your help!

Now we’ll just add a few things here and there as we find them, like a big animal-themed picture on the wall between their cribs. But we already think the boys will love their new room. Thank you to everyone who bought us furniture, bedding, and decor for the nursery!

And, finally, to give you all an idea of how big my belly has gotten, here is a photo of me from two weeks ago at 30 weeks pregnant:

And here I am a few days ago, at 32 weeks!

I feel like I’m about to tip over!

The Home Stretch

Ever since our scare a few weeks ago, both of my doctors have been monitoring the twins closely. I now go for a weekly fetal non stress test (NST), which measures the babies’ movements and heart rates for about 20 minutes using three monitors strapped to my belly. The pressure on my abdomen seems to bug Matt and Nate, because they start moving like crazy as soon the monitors are strapped on, thus knocking them all over the place and making the test unnecessarily difficult. But it sure is fun to watch!

I also go for a weekly biophysical profile (BPP), which involves a lengthy ultrasound that measures the babies’ breathing, movement, muscle tone, and heart rate, as well as my amniotic fluid. My latest BPP was on Monday, May 23. I was 32 weeks and 1 day into the pregnancy.

Matt, our little guy, now weighs 3 pounds, 8 ounces! It seems he is more eager to enter the world than his brother. His head is so far down in my pelvis that the ultrasound technician could not get an accurate measurement. She had to call in the perinatologist, who proceeded to manhandle my belly and slowly guide the baby up higher so she could do her thing. (Pregnant women, don’t try this at home—you can rupture your amniotic sac if you don’t do it properly!) We also could not get a good picture of Matt’s face, since he is facing backward.

Nate, our big boy, is tipping the scales at 4 pounds, 3 ounces! He has settled in behind and above his brother, and not quite head down—which means he will definitely be born second. It also means I will almost certainly get a C-section, since Matt won’t be able to make enough room for him to make his entrance. But, we were able to get a 3D scan of his face. The only problem was, he decided to play Peek-A-Boo and hide behind his little hand. I guess he doesn’t want to reveal himself until he makes his grand entrance.

Peek-A-Boo!

The doctor said that both boys have been growing well and their biophysicals look good. He is not as concerned about Matt’s smaller stomach because it has grown substantially over the past few weeks.

However, Matt’s breathing rate is slightly fast. While the doctor is not too concerned yet, he does want to check it again in two weeks. The appointment will be on June 8. If the breathing rate is still high enough to cause alarm, I will be hospitalized and given steroid injections to stimulate growth of the boys’ lungs … and then the twins will be delivered! If the breathing is slower, they will likely wait another two weeks before delivering the babies.

So, in two weeks’ time, Keith and I may be a mommy and daddy! While that would mean he’ll deploy a bit sooner than we’d hoped, it is overshadowed by the sheer joy and excitement we feel about welcoming our little boys into the world. We are beyond excited to meet them and to become a family … so excited, in fact, that in the two days since the BPP we got the car seats inspected (and learned that Keith installed them like a champ), threw the last few necessities into our hospital bags, and put the final touches on the nursery. Stay tuned for photos!

Baby Drama

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, which began with our first melodramatic pregnancy moments.

In mid April, my OB decided she wanted me to start having bi-weekly fetal fibronectin tests. The test is given to women who are at high risk for preterm labor. (Being pregnant with multiples automatically places me in that category.) It looks for a protein secreted by the cervix as it prepares for labor. If the test comes back negative, you are likely not going into labor in the next two weeks. If it comes back positive, that’s when things get tricky.

My first fetal fibronectin test came back negative. I had my second test on April 27.

Friday, April 29 began as a great day for me. My mom was flying in that night for a long weekend, and Keith and I were planning to go to a Rockies game while we waited for her to arrive. First, Keith had to go in to work for an important pre-deployment meeting with his brigade commander and a few others.

At 9:05 that morning—only five minutes into Keith’s meeting—my OB’s medical assistant called. “I have some news!” she announced. “Your fetal fibronectin test came back positive!” As my heart began to race, she informed me that I needed to get to my perinatologist’s office “as soon as possible” so he could start me on steroid injections. The steroids would help the twins’ lungs to develop in case they had to come early.

I flew into a complete panic. First, I called my mom, hysterical crying. “I can’t give birth this weekend!” I shrieked. “I’m only 28 1/2 weeks along!” Then, I began to think about all of the things I hadn’t yet done. I had not yet packed a single item into the hospital bag, or even purchased the cribs!

I called Keith right away, and he raced out of his meeting. We high-tailed it to the perinatologist’s office in a frenzy. We did not calm down until he walked into the room and we saw his face. “Relax,” he said. “This is likely nothing to worry about.”

He and an ultrasound technician ran a few tests to look for other markers of preterm labor. There were none present. “You’re fine,” he said. “Go home and relax.”

It turns out that a positive fetal fibronectin test result does not mean much. As the perinatologist explained, it could mean the expectant mom has a 30% chance of going into labor in the next two weeks, or a whopping 85% chance. Only the negative result is absolute. (It sure would have been nice for the medical assistant to share that tidbit with us.) Keith and I went home, collected ourselves, and went to the baseball game—business as usual.

The following Monday—May 2—I went back to the perinatologist’s office for my regular growth ultrasound. For the first time, Keith couldn’t get out of work to come with me. Luckily, my mom was still in town! The boys did not perform much for Grandma, but the doctor said they were looking great. Matthew weighed 2 lb. 8 oz., while Nathaniel was a whopping  2 lbs. 14 oz. (The little tubber!) Nate was also now in a breech position.

The doctor was, however, concerned about one thing: Matthew’s stomach was measuring small for his gestational age. To monitor it, he wanted me to return for another growth ultrasound in two weeks. If it still hadn’t caught up, he’d likely start me on the steroids in case the boys needed to come out early so that Matthew could get more nutrition.

Of course, this sent me into another bout of worry and obsession. Despite Mom’s and Keith’s reassurances, I couldn’t resist going home and doing Internet research to read about all of the horrible things a small stomach could indicate. (Lesson to all: Do NOT use the Internet to research symptoms, unless you want to believe you are dying when you really only have a stomach flu).

But my appointment with my regular OB the following week once again eased my fears. She said that many twins have small stomachs, and that they usually beef right up after birth and are fine. She also said that Matt’s body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, which is directing the nutrients he is getting to all of his vital organs—his heart, lungs, etc.

So, Keith and I have been feeling quite a bit better about things over the past week and a half. But the scares did spur us to action. My hospital bag is now packed, and the nursery is almost finished. I can’t wait to post photos of it! I am now 31 weeks along, and we are ready for anything. Stay tuned for more updates!

1 2 3