Category: Pregnancy

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!

“Haaaa….Heeeee”

Keith and I had gotten mostly negative reviews of childbirth classes from friends who had taken them. Adjectives ranged from “comical” to “scary” to “pointless.” Besides, since we are expecting twins, we knew our childbirth experience would likely be quite different from what we’d learn in class.

But all of our pals’ warnings only served to increase our curiosity. So, we signed up for a class given at our hospital. It would include four two-and-a-half-hour weekday evening sessions.

We showed up on the first evening like good students, toting the pillows we’d been instructed to bring. We were one of eight couples in the class. Only two of the couples were expecting girls, and Keith and I were the only ones expecting twins.

We started by discussing the stages of labor. We split into four groups, and each group had to go to the whiteboard to write down symptoms moms-to-be experience in each labor stage. Since all of the symptoms were listed in the books we’d been given, this did not prove to be much of a challenge. One member from each group then had to present the list to the class. Our group must have sensed Keith’s leadership skills, because they designated him as the presenter. Watching my husband stand in front of a room of people and say things like, “She’ll experience increased vaginal discharge,” and “She may lose her mucous plug” was worth the $70 class fee in itself.

We then got to watch a video straight out of the 1970s, featuring women with poor grooming habits pushing out their babies completely unmedicated. As strange earthy music played, the women groaned, screamed, and let out basically every other animal sound known to man. “She is powerful,” said the narrator in a soft voice as one woman writhed in pain. “She trusts her body to do what it’s meant for.”

The instructor told the men in the class to pay special attention to what the dads in the video were doing to support the moms. Their techniques included tentatively patting the moms’ backs, touching their foreheads and noses and mustaches to the women’s faces, and saying things like, “Be strong, honey!” Let it be known that if Keith does any of those things, he’ll likely wind up with a left hook to the face. (That being said, Keith knows better than to do any of those things, anyway).

The video culminated in up-close views of the babies coming out. Our favorite mom was the one who screamed, “DOES IT LOOK LIKE A BABY?!?!?!”

The main lesson I learned from the video? GET AN EPIDURAL, stat. While I truly applaud any woman who manages to give birth unmedicated, no thank you. Not for me. I also learned to not let anyone videotape me in labor and to do my best to visit the waxer before the big day.

Keith’s big takeaway? To not look when the doctors are delivering my placentas. (Yes, I have two of them … lucky me).

We showed up for class number two still scarred from the first class. We were delighted to learn that the first half of class would be devoted to a tour of the birthing center. That was actually really fun! We got to see the birthing rooms, the nursery, and the recovery rooms.

But from there, it went downhill. We were all instructed to lie on the floor with our heads on our pillows—the ladies on our sides and the men on their backs—as the teacher talked us through some relaxation exercises. That was when Nate, who was on the side touching the floor, decided to begin kicking me furiously. I had to lift my hip up as pain soared through my back. I’m pretty sure Keith fell asleep.

Then, the guys had to get behind the ladies and reach over to feel our chests as the instructor told us how we are supposed to breathe during contractions. Now, maybe this is helpful for some moms-to-be, but I know that when the day comes and I am in labor, the last thing I am going to think is, “Wait, how did the teacher say I am supposed to breathe?” As Keith and I did our best to stifle our laughter, the rest of the expecting couples seemed to be really into the exercise. One of the dads even joined in the breathing: “Haaaaa…..heeeee. Haaaaa….heeeee.” That really put Keith and me over the edge.

Needless to say, after that session, we decided our days of childbirth class were over. We skipped the third class, and will sit out the fourth one as well. Do we regret going to the first two? No way. They will provide us with many good laughs for years to come. And, despite all of the silliness, we did actually learn a few things about the signs of labor and what to expect during childbirth. We just think the rest is stuff we can easily read in a book.

Just for kicks, here’s a photo of me at 27 weeks pregnant:

Who else has taken a childbirth class? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments section!

Babymoon!

As much as I swore I would not become one of “those” pregnant women, I have to fess up—I am in full-on nesting mode. I’ve already washed and put away about 10 loads of baby clothes, blankets, bibs, etc. I’ve gone to Babies ‘R Us on numerous whims because I just had to buy those nursery valances or pacifiers right that minute. I’ve spent days researching pediatricians.

So naturally, during Keith’s leave last week, he could not wait to get me out of the house and into a new environment for some much-needed relaxation time. I believe these little pre-baby trips are commonly referred to as “babymoons.” Seeing as I am banned from flying for the rest of the pregnancy, we decided to drive to the ski resort towns of Breckenridge and Vail. Nevermind the fact that the forecast called for cold and snow in the mountains and 70s and sunny here in Colorado Springs.

We spent the first night in Breckenridge at a wonderful bed and breakfast called the Allaire Timbers Inn. Since April is the low season, we had the entire place to ourselves! The owner, Sue, upgraded our room for free. We walked around town and had a yummy dinner. The next morning, we ate a delicious breakfast while enjoying a gorgeous mountain view.

Me in the Allaire Timbers Inn

Then, we moved on to Vail for the next two nights.We arrived at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort around noon, where we got another free room upgrade after the guy at check-in got an eyeful of my belly. The view from our balcony was postcard-perfect.

Keith on our balcony

Unfortunately, it was snowing quite hard outside. So Keith, bless his heart, signed me up for a prenatal massage at the resort’s spa that afternoon. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, given my rather large frame and the fact that I cannot lay on my belly.

That’s when I found out about the pregnancy massage pillow available at some spas. It’s a large, thick pillow with a cut-out for pregnant bellies that lies on top of the table.

A pregnancy massage pillow

All I can say is, it was divine. I thoroughly enjoyed lying on my stomach for the first time in months. And—though I am unsure whether it was due to the intense back pain I’ve been prone to getting since month six, or to the advanced skills of the masseuse—it was by far the best massage I’ve ever had. Afterward, I felt invigorated, content, and pain-free.

The rest of the trip was unlike any other we’ve had. My Type-A self typically wants to do, do, do when I am in a new place. But even though the next day was gorgeous, what could I really do? Skiing, snow tubing, and ice skating are not exactly the best activities when you’re expecting. With all the snow on the ground, the hiking trails were closed. You can’t soak in a hot tub when you’re pregnant.

So, we just chilled—something I hadn’t allowed myself to do for a long time. We walked around the village, window shopped, ate at delicious restaurants, checked out the Ski Museum. We ordered room service and watched American Idol. We sat on our balcony and watched the skiers coming down the mountain. And, we talked—not about babies or to-do lists or deployments. We talked about movies and books, we reminisced, we discussed places we wanted to visit in the future.

And, I have to say—our babymoon was one of our best trips ever! There’s a lot to be said for spending money just to relax—especially when your lives are about to get a whole lot busier. I’d always thought babymoons were overrated, but not anymore. Now I think they are a splurge that’s totally worth it—as are prenatal massages! I’d highly recommend both!

Did anyone else take a babymoon and/or have a prenatal massage? If so, tell me about it!

Add Some Music to Your Day

According to What to Expect When You’re Expecting, our twins can now hear and respond to noises and music. Experts say it’s good to play music for babies in utero because it helps them to develop their musical sensibilities. So if you want your baby to appreciate Beethoven and Bach when he grows up, play it for him while he’s in your belly.

Well, Keith and I have a different idea of the music we want our twins to love. So yesterday, we bought huge headphones, waited until the boys seemed calm, then placed the headphones up to my belly and hit “play” on Keith’s iPod. Naturally, this is the album we played for the boys:

Cue feel-good, beachy, genius California music! By the second song, Matt and Nate were making their daddy proud. We started feeling light kicks on both sides of my tummy, and before we knew it, there were full-on acrobatics taking place. It’s as if they were saying, “Yeah, Dad, play us more of that!” Keith didn’t even need to put his hand on my belly because we could see the babies flipping around in there. It was amazing!

As the album—one of our all-time favorites—played, Keith and I realized just how kid-friendly Brian Wilson and Beach Boys songs are. And we decided, who needs kids’ music when there are so many catchy, upbeat grown-up albums that little ones can also enjoy? Tonight, we are going to play the boys Brian’s latest masterpiece, Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin. We’re hoping the boys will love it enough that we won’t need to play gag-inducing Barney tunes—or whatever it is the kids listen to these days—on car rides. Instead, we can pop in some Brian when we need them to calm down, and we can all sing along and enjoy it. I also plan to play a lot of Brian Wilson—Keith’s favorite artist—for the twins while he is deployed so that they can feel closer to their daddy.

Parents: Did you play music for your babies while pregnant? And, did they seem to enjoy that same music after they were born?

Musically-inclined friends: Can you recommend any other kid-friendly adult albums we can play for the boys?