Thursday, February 24, 2011


Okay, now you can all congratulate me.  I'm pregnant.  And we're having twins!

Oh, I guess it's not really earth shattering news for you anymore, huh?  But it is for me.  This is the day I've been working towards for almost two years now. I'm past the miscarriage zone, or far enough for my comfort, anyway.  Both babies are perfect, with perfect little heartbeats, growing at the perfect rate, and living in a perfect environment.  I will no longer qualify that statement with "for now" or by saying, "things can still go wrong."  No, I'm past that.  We are going to have two more children. It's going to happen!  Ack!  I can hardly believe it!

So, two more.  Hmmm.  I'm still ambivalent about the whole twins thing.  I mean, I was supposed to be an expert this time around.  I was supposed to be one of those other moms - you know, the ones with more than one child who watch their toddler falling on her face and don't even twitch unless they see blood.  The ones who walk through the supermarket with kids hanging off all sides of the cart and a baby in a sling nursing while they chat on the phone and point to items on the shelves that the oldest child dutifully picks up and puts in the cart.  The ones that don't feel the need to talk about every little logistical problem with bottles and car seats and toilets because, well, Been There Done That And It's Really Not All That Exciting, Folks.  The ones with the experience.  The ones who know what the hell they are doing.  The Others.

But that is not going to be me, ever.  I'm going to be just as clueless this time around, because just about everything is different with twins.  I mean, I guess some of my experience will help.  One big thing that I'll know this time around is that whatever it is that seems impossibly difficult or painful or stressful will pass.  I will not be stuck in the house forever.  I will regain all of my old values, eventually.  The babies will someday learn to use the toilet.  I'll also know that I am capable.  I know I can do this, even with two little ones plus Sammy.  But other than that, I'm like a new parent.  Breastfeeding is a whole new mysterious realm, when I imagine having to feed two.  Where will they sleep?  How will I manage to carry two little babies and a double stroller out my front door?  Can we afford this?  How do you soothe two crying babies at once?  Will we be able to travel?  When do I get to shower?

That's all the negative stuff.  The obvious positive is:  two new human beings that I get to watch grow up!  I really do want that.  It's hard to imagine that I could have two more relationships like the one that I have now with Sam.  But if it's true, and you really can love more without losing anything, my life will be unimaginably rich.

And hell, I kind of like the idea of being clueless again.  That's part of what makes it all so exciting!  I get to delve into a whole new world - again.  My life will be filled with huge new challenges, and I'll meet them - again.  I'll be surprised and delighted (and pained and stressed) at all the things I never anticipated - again.  And that's what I wanted from the start - to do it all again.

I feel very lucky that I'm going to get to experience two very different age-gaps amongst my children.  Sam will be five when the twins are born.  And the twins will be the same age.  So I'll have children who have that big gap in their ages that seems to smooth over a lot of difficulties with siblings.  I'll also have a helper in Sam when the babies are little, and I'll get to see her mentor them and teach them.  At least, that's how I imagine it.  And I'll also have two children who are so close in age that they have that potential bond that we all imagine twins can have.  Of course, they might not get along at all, but there is that potential for closeness. The age-gap between Sam and the babies is wide enough that I feared I would miss out on a lot of the interaction between the children that people say is so amazing when you have a second.  Sam still won't have that experience of a sibling close to her own age, but the twins will have it with each other, and I think Sam will be old enough that even she will enjoy watching that.  It's really makes for quite a nice little family, I think.


Oh, man.  A family of five.  Not so little.  Is this really happening?

Italy Plans

Well, I promised to keep writing updates about my planning for our Italy trip in April and I haven't done that.  Mostly, I haven't reported because I didn't do much planning for a long time.

Everything is turning out to be more expensive than I had estimated.  That's ok. This is an expensive trip and the extra 10% or so isn't going to get me down.  I can't say that this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip because I do think we'll be able to travel like this again someday, but it will be a long way off.  So if I spread out the cost over, say, 10 or 15 years, it's actually quite a bargain!  But the extra cost threw me for a loop when choosing the hotels and I got stumped.  I had a price-point in mind but I just wasn't finding what I wanted.  Eventually, I figured out that I just needed to spend a bit more, and that solved that problem.

But by the time I got over that, the hotels started filling up.  This was in December, for a trip in April!  I was shocked.  So I also had to modify my expectations on that front too.  I could no longer just pick the one hotel that I wanted and assume I would get it.

Another problem I had was that my method of choosing a hotel required me to sit at my computer and compare my options all in one go.  It's one of those tasks that required me to have a big block of time to work with.  Not easy when you have fractured time.  Every time I did a little piece of research and had to stop and do something else, the effort was lost.  I needed to retain the options in my head and  compare them while they were fresh.  Finding that block of time was a big challenge, especially when most of my Sam-free time was being used for the baby-making project.  But finally, I found a day with some time and I booked the hotels for Rome and Florence.  Whew!  Both of them are in great locations, but they're just above what I'd call "budget" hotels.  I don't think the hotels will be very important in the big cities.  I looked primarily at location, comfortable beds, on-site management, and private bathrooms.  All we need is a stress-free place to hole up for a nap or for the night.

Oh, and booking the flight was a nightmare.  I had checked flights early on and there seemed to be plenty of options, but when I went back a month later (in early December!) all the flights were very inconvenient.  Some of them had 12 hour layovers.  I used search engines but they all gave me the same bad news.  Then I started searching individual airlines' web sites to see if I could get lucky.  Finally, I did get lucky with KLM.  I found the perfect flight.  I tried to book it and my goddamn credit card blocked the transaction because their algorithm said that it might be fraudulent.  So I tried another card.  That one had a block on it too because Adam bought my Christmas present on it that morning and THAT was flagged as potentially fraudulent!  Finally, I got a card that I knew should work, but the KLM web site would not take it.  Somewhere in there, the KLM web site returned a message saying that the flight I had chosen was no longer available.  I actually cried at that point.  But I tried again, while also calling on the phone.  It turned out that there were more seats on the flight, but that it still wouldn't take my credit card.  When I got someone on the phone, they could not find that the flight even existed.  At this point, I had been working on this for about two hours and I had to go pick up Sam from school in just a few minutes.  But while I was talking to a rep on the phone, I clicked "book this flight" again on the web site and for some reason, it went through!  I still have no idea what was going on there, but the whole thing was so stressful.  I think I was on the hormones at that point too, which probably made it seem worse than it really was.

Then, I still had the road trip to plan for.  I needed two more hotels and all I knew was a general driving route we would take between the two cities.  I have a friend from Perugia who helped me figure this part out.  We're going to stay one night in a real castle just outside Gubbio, and one night in Volterra.  I picked places that seemed restful and had access to some of the areas we want to explore by car.  I am so excited about this part of the trip.  I just hope the weather is not too bad.  April can be very rainy.

I reserved a rental car but I'm not totally confident I did it the smart way.  I need to review my guidebooks and make sure I made good choices.  Damn, that little VW Golf is expensive, too!  With the exception of the hotel near Gubbio, the car is the only thing that I didn't have to pay in advance for, so at least I can try to change that if necessary.

And now, I need to book the museums that require advance reservations.  I hope I haven't missed the time window for that, but I suppose if we miss something, it won't be the end of the world.  Our list of  things to see and do is huge and we'll probably not get to it all anyway.

Overall, the planning has not been as fun as I had hoped.  It's been a lot of really difficult, stressful work.  But I am determined not to make that mistake with the actual trip itself.  We are not going to try to do too much.  We are not going to stress out about whether a meal costs a few extra Euros.  We are NOT going to overpack.  And, after making this mistake way too many times, this time we will be sure to make time for naps.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

9 Weeks

Today I am 9 weeks pregnant!

Things seem to be settling down now.  I've had absolutely no bleeding since my last ultrasound, when I was told that I would most likely have more bleeding.  I was finally ready to accept the spotting as normal, and then I didn't have to deal with it any more.  Well, no matter.  It looks like I'll get my chance to be calm, cool, and collected when we stop the hormones in just a few days.  My nurse at the infertility clinic told me to expect some spotting when we do.

My nausea disappeared as well.  I'm not sure what happened last Tuesday.  I was so sick that day, but then it got better on Wednesday, and even better on Thursday, and by Friday, I started feeling truly hungry again.  I'm fully prepared to go through additional bouts of morning sickness, but if they are isolated like that, it's really not so bad.  I was worried that I would continue to feel like that every day.

I'm still not ravenously hungry, though, like I've been in all my previous pregnancies.  I'm eating pretty much normally.

I definitely have a belly.  I wish I had taken a photo right when I knew I was pregnant to use as a benchmark, but after taking and posting photos early on in my first, doomed pregnancy in 2009, I was a little gun-shy.  And I've just been too lazy in the past couple of weeks to do it.  Maybe I'll start at 10 weeks.

The fatigue is the only thing that has been really consistent.  I'm skipping my nap today, partially so I can get this blog post written, but also because I am just so behind on all the things I need and want to do.  I wake up at 7:15, usually take an hour and a half nap, and then get into bed to watch TV or read at about 8:30 each night before falling asleep at around 11.  That only leaves about twelve hours of awake, working time.  It's a real problem.

I have my first official prenatal appointment tomorrow.  We'll have another ultrasound and decide on screening tests.  I'll also find out a lot more about what to expect with a twin pregnancy.  I've tried not to get ahead of myself surfing the web about it, but I do know that I should probably expect bed rest at some point, and I'm worried that I won't be able to travel for OCON in early July, when I'll only be 6 months along.  Other than that, I don't really know what to expect.  Having twins makes all of this new territory for me, which is actually kind of exciting.

Most importantly, tomorrow is the day I've been waiting for, ever since we decided to go with the donor egg option.  Tomorrow is the day that I'll have the scariest ultrasound - the one that will tell me if my babies made it past the danger period when four of them died before.  Tomorrow is the day that it will become real for me.  I hope.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Orange Chair

When I was pregnant with Sam, I decided that a good glider was a high priority baby item.  I hated the look of most gliders, though.  In Michigan, it was hard to find any furniture at all that wasn't "country" style, and gliders were the worst.  We couldn't afford the chair that I really wanted, but Adam's parents kindly got it for us as a gift.  It was the only chair that was big and cushy, but which wasn't too deep for my short legs.  It also looks somewhat like a normal chair, and not just a baby diner.  I was disappointed when I saw the reddish-orange color - it's so hard to pick fabric from those tiny swatches - but other than that, it's been the perfect chair.

I spent countless hours in the "orange chair," nursing Sam.  We kept it in our bedroom for the middle-of-the-night feedings.  It got milk stains all over it, but it cleaned up just fine.  We had to put it in storage when we were moving around, but it came through to Virginia unscathed.  Then we put it in Sam's room, even though I wasn't nursing her any more.  We read to her in that chair every night before she went to bed, until she moved into her big-girl room and her big-girl bed.  Then, there wasn't room for the orange chair.  We left it in the "nursery" - Sam's old room.

Now, when Sam can't sleep at night, she gets up and goes into the nursery and sits in the orange chair.  She just rocks until she feels better.  Sometimes she puts her stuffed animals to sleep on the orange chair, covering them up with a blanket.  When she wakes up grumpy and needs some cuddling, she asks for me to sit with her in the orange chair.  After every bath, Adam or I give her a "drying hug" in the orange chair, and tell her Little Bear stories there.

I don't know if two babies plus me will fit in the orange chair.  But I do know that we'll continue to find some use for it.  I look forward to many more happy memories with my precious, orange chair.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Secret Garden

For Christmas, I bought Sammy The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  This is, by far, the longest book Sam has ever attempted, even though I got an abridged version.  The book I bought included an audiobook version on CD, and I figured that would be a great way to start Sam off reading longer stories.

Since I finally cracked it open about a week ago, we've listened to the entire book at least four times.  Every single trip in the car means another installment of The Secret Garden.  Sam can't get enough, and that's fine with me, because I love it too!  We've also read parts of the book out loud to her, but she is less interested that way.  I'm sure that will change, though.  I have a feeling that The Secret Garden is going to be one of those special things that both Sam and I remember as an integral part of her childhood, just like Little Bear has been (and still is!).

I'm not even sure why I bought this particular book.  I had some vague recollection that it was a classic, but after hearing the story, I don't remember it from my own childhood.  Maybe I did read it, but it didn't stick with me into adulthood.  But I'm so glad that I did pick it up.  It's a wonderful story, and it's just the right level for Sam right now - a bit of a stretch, but comprehensible to her.

Today I was catching up on the VanDamme Academy video blogs (have you been watching? you should be) and came across this one, in which Ms. VanDamme actually uses The Secret Garden (as well as Burnett's other classic, A Little Princess) as an example of a children's book with "good, rich, thematic material."  So maybe I picked up the book on a half-remembered recommendation from Ms. VanDamme or someone else in the little Objectivist educators' world.

Whatever - I have a new world of books for Sam now. says that A Little Princess is for reading level ages 9-12.  I suspect that there are many wonderful books for that age that Sam could appreciate.  Audiobooks are a good thing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Skills

Sam has been doing a lot of new things lately. I'm sure I'm forgetting many, but here are some things that come to mind:

  • She can write her name legibly!  SAMMEE is her chosen spelling.  She had everything but the "s" down a while ago, but just yesterday, she got it.  She is excited about it, but I think I'm even more thrilled.  Her writing skills are coming late (for a Montessori kid) and it's been holding her back from work she could otherwise be doing, since her reading and spelling skills are so much more advanced.  This is one of the few "academic" things we actually work on at home, so it's gratifying to see her reach this milestone.

  • She can open the car door if she has a curb to get her up high enough. (She's just not tall enough to have the leverage she needs, no matter how hard she pulls.)

  • She can cut her own fingernails - on her left hand, at least.

  • She can wash her own hair and get shampoo on most parts of it. (She's been washing her own hair forever, but she's only recently accepted the fact that she has hair directly above her ears.)

  • She can use a screwdriver to screw in one of those itty bitty screws that are used on battery compartments on children's toys.  Really, if I hold the compartment closed, she can get it on tight, which is quite a skill.

  • She can use a small power drill, if I help her to hold up its weight.

  • She can put on her socks by herself - this was one of those things she just refused to even try for a long time.

  • She can put on her own gloves and get one finger in each hole. Thank god for that one because it must be one of the worst mommy-jobs ever. In fact, I suppose she learned how because I told her I couldn't do it and she'd just have to wear her gloves like mittens.

  • She can make a snowball.

  • She can brush her upper, back teeth well enough that I hardly ever help her anymore.

  • And, for her, the most thrilling new skill is that she can now pick up the cat.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    The Next Bump in the Road

    Yesterday I encountered my latest pregnancy challenge: the dreaded morning sickness.  I woke up nauseated and it got worse as the day went on.  The nausea itself wasn't that bad, but I had no appetite, which caused a massive blood-sugar crash that lasted the whole day.  It was like having the flu: I was shaking, dizzy, freezing cold, weak, and my muscles ached.  But no matter how bad it was, I couldn't get myself to eat more than a few bites of food.  Food was revolting.  I didn't actually vomit, but it was pretty close.

    It's so strange.  I had a couple of moments of mild nausea in the past two weeks, but nothing serious.  In all of my six previous pregnancies, I've never suffered more than those mild, rare moments of sickness.  Yesterday, though, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  What changed?

    I did try some ginger tea which helps a lot with the nausea, but it doesn't help me want to eat, which is the real problem (I've actually lost a pound in the past month).  Also, this tea has a couple of other herbs in it which are on the "forbidden during pregnancy" list.  I'm drinking a cup right now, but I can't drink it all day long.  There are other products with ginger, but my nurse-friend says you really need higher amounts of ginger than you're going to get in most crackers and things.  So I'll probably check out Trader Joe's where they seem to have super-strong ginger products, or even make my own tea from fresh ginger.  But I'm not sure how I'm going to find the energy to get to the market at all, let alone cook anything.  And that's another problem.  I think there might be a few palatable foods out there, but I can't imagine going to the market feeling like I did yesterday.  I'm sure I'd pass out.

    Today, I have managed to eat a bit more.  I also slept until 11am and then took a quick nap after lunch, which I think helped a lot.  Maybe the tea also helped, or maybe I'm just having a better day.  But I'm not cold, which was the worst part about yesterday.  I'd have these episodes where the coldness would start out from my core and just spread throughout my body, ending up in my toes, fingers, and nose. And when it got there it wouldn't leave.  I kept running my hands under hot water (I was too weak to take a shower) and when I was home, I got under a blanket with a heating pad on my feet.  When I went to bed last night, it took a full hour with the heating pad for me to stop feeling cold.

    Today is supposed to be my last day of estrogen and progesterone (8 weeks pregnant today - woohoo!), and stopping the hormones might help.  However, since I've been so uptight about miscarriage, my RE suggested that I keep going with them, not because it would lower any risk, but because if I did lose the pregnancy, at least I wouldn't blame it on stopping the hormones, and therefore, on myself.  Then my OB said I should keep taking them until eleven weeks.  I think his information is just a bit out of date.  But still, I was going to keep going with the hormones until I ran out, which will probably be in a week or two.  Now, I don't know.  Maybe I should stop them sooner.  I guess I'll give it a few more days and see how it goes.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    I'm a Hopeless Nutcase

    Everything is okay!  I called my OB (I'll call him Dr. K.) and got in this morning for an emergency ultrasound, and Thing 1 and Thing 2 are fine.  I could hardly believe it.  I was already planning to cancel all my appointments for the week in preparation for the dreaded D&C.  I was sure they were gone.

    I really freaked out because, along with the blood, I lost my belly.  Seriously, it just flattened out and the skin became looser.  The hard little bump was gone and there was just my usual fat belly.  It didn't make any sense because it's not like I bled that much, but that flat belly is what made me more nervous than anything.  Then, last night, the hard little bump came back.   But then it was gone again this morning.  Then it was there right before my shower, but then it was gone after my shower.  When I told Dr. K. about this I said that I must have just been imagining it, but he said that it was possible that it could fluctuate like that and it was probably just a coincidence.  He said that trying to make any predictions or assumptions based on any pregnancy "symptoms" was futile.

    He also found what may be the cause of my bleeding - he could see some hemorraghing or clotting or something in my uterus - far away from the two sacs.  There was a name for it but I put it out of my mind explicitly, because he said, "Now don't go Googling it.  It will scare you for no reason." Apparently, some people do think there is a correlation with higher miscarriage rates when this thing occurs, but it's not certain, and I guess Dr. K. doesn't buy it or thinks whatever possible elevated risk there is is so small that it is not worth considering.  So I put the name out of my mind.  Both Adam and I trust this doctor a lot.

    Because of this thing, I will probably have more bleeding, which is both depressing and good to know.  I asked Dr. K. if this thing was the main reason for spotting in early pregnancy and he said, "It's one reason.  The biggest reason is 'Unknown.'"  So I'm kind of lucky that he saw anything because knowing a cause that is probably not a problem for the pregnancy is just about the best reassurance I could get.

    I asked him how much bleeding would be cause for real concern.  He said, "Really, if it's like a heavy period, then it might be a problem."  But he also said that I should make a decision to come back for an ultrasound based on my comfort-level and my own psychology.  I'm not sure what the insurance billing code for "emergency ultrasound due to crazy woman" is, but apparently, he has it and he's willing to use it.

    This whole pregnancy has been insane.  I feel insane.  Adam cancelled his business trip yesterday because I was too depressed and anxious to function.  I needed him here.  I didn't get out of bed all weekend.  I couldn't handle the thought of going to an ultrasound without him, and I really felt that I had to get an ultrasound early this week.

    So I'm back to being fully optimistic.  I don't mean I'm sure nothing will go wrong, but just that I have no reason to be concerned.  I know I'm a total nutcase, swinging back and forth every few days, but I there is nothing I can do about it.  Between my past experiences, all the unknowns, the newness of TWINS, the horrible bleeding, not to mention my pregnancy hormones which make rationality a long lost friend, I think I'm just going to have to hang on until this roller coaster comes to a full and complete stop.

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Badness Update

    I'm only going to do a quick update here and then I'm not going to blog anymore about it because I didn't intend to make this a play-by-play.  There was no more blood last night, but there was this morning.  Old blood.  Less concern with that, I think, but not as good as nothing at all.

    Adam is going on a trip this afternoon and will be gone for three days.  This is killing me, but there's no reason for him to cancel at this point.  I'm going to have to do the injections instead of the suppositories now, which is stressing me out.  And if something bad happens when he is gone, it will be awful.  Also, I just want to crawl into a hole and sleep for the next ten days and wake up to the results of the next ultrasound.  I don't know how I can wait that long.  I don't want to brush my teeth or shower.  The idea that I'll have to feed and care for Sam by myself for the next three days is overwhelming.  Even the thought of feeding the fish seems like an impossible burden.  But I know I will do it.  It's just a nightmare.

    Assume that no news is good news.  I can't deal with the extra burden of blogging, either.

    Saturday, February 12, 2011


    I just saw more blood. Much more than before, but still, not too much. But very different. And this time I could feel that something was wrong. The next few hours will tell. If it stops, I might be okay. If not, I'm losing one or both of the Things.

    Badness. That's what we say when our pets are "unhappy." They have no self-awareness or understanding of what is bothering them. They just experience "badness."

    I have no idea what is going on and there is nothing I can do. Badness.

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    A Little Thing

    Before her nap today, Sam said, "Mommy, I want to read The Cat in the Hat today because it has Thing 1 and Thing 2 in it."

    Pregnancy Update

    So I am now 7 weeks, 2 days along.  Except for the spotting, which continues here and there, everything is totally normal.  Things 1 and 2 are the right size and their heartbeats are both around 140 bpm.  I had a bit of a scare at the ultrasound yesterday.  The technician focused in on both of the sacs and I could see the embryos, but I didn't see the flutter in either one.  Usually, I can spot it right away if it is there.  It was probably one second later that the doctor said, "We see two heartbeats," but it felt much longer.  Thing 2's sac measured normal this time, so the slight concern of a problem there is gone.

    None of this means we're out of the woods, but based on my history and the facts we have so far, the most likely problems from here on out would be genetic.  And I'm not worried about that.  In fact, I won't need to have anything but the standard screening tests done.  No amnio, no CVS, nothing. Because of the young eggs, I am considered "low-risk" for those problems.  So the "most likely" problem is actually a very unlikely problem.  I am definitely optimistic!

    My due date is technically September 28, but twins usually come 2-3 weeks early.  If I can make it past Sam's birthday on September 2, the Things will be well-cooked and ready to come out.  Actually, they would probably do fine even earlier than that, but I have that date set in my head as a goal.  There is a little bit of extra concern about prematurity because Sam was born over 2 weeks early.  That is not considered premature, but it is certainly not normal.  It could have been normal for me and for her, but it also could have been a problem that was never identified, and which could happen again.  I'll be discussing this with my ob soon.

    The spotting has continued, but it is very minor.  When it began, my chances of having a healthy baby went down from about 90% to  about 50%.  (No, I was not freaking out for no reason.  Spotting may be somewhat "normal" in healthy pregnancies, but it is much more "normal" when a miscarriage is imminent.)  But my understanding is that once you see a heartbeat, the presence of spotting becomes almost irrelevant to the chances of success.  I also think (but this is Internet information) that spotting is a bit more common with twins.  So, I've learned to live with the spotting.

    We have to continue the estrogen and progesterone until I reach 8 weeks.  That's less than a week away!  I will be so happy to be done with these shots.  They are not as painful now that we're using a different oil medium and doing two shots a day, but it's a hassle, and there is always some soreness.  I'm also a bit concerned that I'm having my first allergic reaction to latex, because of the band-aids I've been using constantly at the injection sites.  I'm allergic to a few fruits, and there is a correlation between those allergies and latex allergy, so I was told to always claim a latex allergy with doctors, because even though I had never had a reaction, I might develop the allergy suddenly.  I've done so, but I didn't think about what having band-aids on my butt 24/7 would do.  I woke up last night itching like crazy.

    Actually, Adam is going on a business trip on Sunday, so my choice was either do the shots myself in my thigh or to switch to the suppositories.  I tried the thigh shot once and decided it wasn't worth it.  It's a lot more painful that way.  So I got a free sample of the suppositories just to hold me over until I reach 8 weeks on Wednesday.

    As for pregnancy symptoms, mainly I have fatigue.  I take a long nap almost every day.  Sam pointed to my chest the other day and asked, "Are they getting bigger?" but I don't see it.  I'm more clumsy than usual.  Also, I've been feeling cold quite often.  I need to ask my ob about anemia.  Everyone wants to know if I have morning sickness and the answer is not really, but I have been slightly nauseated a few times.  Some foods are repellent to me, but only at certain times of the day, and as long as I don't think about eating them, I'm fine.  What makes me nauseated is water.  Drinking a lot of water during pregnancy is important, but the damn stuff makes me want to puke.

    I haven't experienced my favorite pregnancy symptom yet: extreme hunger.  Actually, it would be nice if I don't get that this time around because it's a hassle to have to eat so much.  But I do love the feeling that my body is telling me to feed the parasite, and the eating itself is the first way a mother gets to take care of her offspring.  I have had cravings, though.  Last night I ate buttered egg noodles and ice cream for dinner.  That is not something I would ever do normally, not just because of the health issues, but because those are not foods that would ever satisfy me.  But they did last night.  I also bought some weird stuff at the grocery store the other day: potato chips AND tortilla chips, pepperoni (which I eat with Laughing Cow cheese - I make little sandwiches with the pepperoni as bread and the cheese as the innards), lots of soup, and, yes, I bought half-sour pickles.  I didn't look for them.  They found me, I swear.

    I am definitely getting a belly already.  I only have four pairs of pants that fit now, and because I didn't time the laundry right, I had to wear sweats the other day.  A couple more weeks and I'll have to start raiding my old stash of maternity clothes.  I've always gotten a belly early, but this is really something!

    Another great thing is that my "mystery pain" is almost non-existent.  This may be because I stopped exercising, but I really do think that the pregnancy is going to keep that at bay.  I'm hoping that my psoriasis goes into remission as well so I don't have to use the topical steroids, but no luck with that so far.

    My next step is my first appointment with my regular ob-gyn at 9 weeks.  I delayed that appointment a bit because he's going to do another ultrasound, and I wanted it to happen well after the point at which I've suffered all the miscarriages before.  I'm sure I'll learn a lot more about pregnancy with twins at that point.  I'm trying hard not to get ahead of myself so I've done almost no web surfing on the subject yet.

    All of this is what is going on at 7 weeks.  Granted, I didn't get pregnant in the usual way, but still, it's a lot.  I want those of you who have never gone through this to recognize that, when you hear people announce their pregnancies at 12 or 16 weeks, a lot of stuff has been happening that you never hear much about.  I still have over a month to go before the 12 week mark!  I'm letting you know, because this part of pregnancy is the part that nobody talks about.  It's the mysterious part.  It's the scary part.  And we all usually go through it very alone.  So next time you get the announcement: "I'm 3 months pregnant!" you'll have some idea of what that really means.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Graduation Day

    I just graduated from the infertility clinic!

    We still have two little heartbeats, growing and doing just fine.

    Next stop - the regular ob-gyn.

    But first, I need a nap.

    An Apology Story

    The idea that parents should never apologize to their children is so completely idiotic that I can hardly drum up the effort to write anything about why it is so important to do so.  But usually, those of us who do apologize to our children tend to do it after yelling at them or grabbing them or something along those lines.  Today, I have a good example of something more subtle that required an apology from me.

    Sam and I were getting ready to go to school.  She likes to brush her own hair, but she is not very good at it yet, and I haven't done a good job at defining for her (or myself) whose responsibility it really is.  So most days, I try to talk her into letting me brush the parts that are tangled, and if she really resists, I don't push it.  That's lazy parenting right there, but it's been okay because I'm not too uptight about her hair looking messy and she's not so resistant that she never lets me brush it.  But still, it causes unnecessary friction, and it caused this morning's situation.

    So we were in the bathroom getting ready and she told me emphatically that her hair was not very tangled, and that she wanted to brush it all herself, with no help from me.  I checked and she was right - it was not very tangled - so I told her that she could do it herself today.  She did her usual great job on the front, but the back was still a mess.  Then she asked if she could put some gel in her hair.  We don't do that every morning, but I always let her if she wants to.  I told her that, sure, she could put gel in her hair, but only if she let me brush the back first.

    She got very angry.  She gave me a dirty look and locked herself in the bathroom.  (She does this because she needs to be alone to calm down - amazing maturity, I have to say.)  After a few minutes, she came out, but she was still mad, and she went downstairs.  When I came down, she yelled at me that she wanted to be alone.  I could tell that she was very upset, and I also respected the fact that she wasn't throwing a fit, but just expressing her anger and working on letting it pass.  While I waited for her to calm down, I thought about what I had said, and I realized that I had tried to manipulate her.  It was unfair of me to tell her she could do something herself, but then try to get her to let me help with a bribe/threat.  And I've done this many times with things other than her hair.  It's something that might be appropriate for a toddler, but it's not appropriate for someone mature enough to know that she needs to be alone to calm down.

    So I left her alone for a few more minutes and she eventually came to me and started talking about other things.  But I sat down at her level and asked if I could talk to her.  I told her that I was sorry for what I said about her hair.  I told her that it was unfair of me to tell her she could brush it herself, but then not let her use the gel unless I got to brush it.  I told her that I should have stuck to my word and that I was wrong.  I didn't tell her that I had tried to manipulate her because I thought that she wouldn't understand that word, but I wish that I had because that is how she will learn the meaning of those big words.

    And even though I apologize to her regularly, she looked a bit surprised, and definitely grateful.  Her face relaxed, and she said, "Yeah," and gave me a hug.

    It was a nice thing.  I'm going to have to address the hair-responsibility issue with her.  Maybe we'll talk about it this afternoon and see if we can work out a system that makes us both happy.  But, once again, I also have to update my view of my daughter.  She is older and wiser than I treat her.  I'm afraid this will always be the case.  Keeping up is the hardest thing of all.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Peikoff on Parenting as Career

    Hooray for Dr. Leonard Peikoff's strong statement supporting parenting as a legitimate career - aka central purpose - in his podcast of Jan 31, 2011!  I have always been dissatisfied with Ayn Rand's lukewarm (and, as far as I know, only) statement on the subject, given in her Playboy interview of March 1964:
    PLAYBOY: In your opinion, is a woman immoral who chooses to devote herself to home and family instead of a career?

    RAND: Not immoral—I would say she is impractical, because a home cannot be a full-time occupation, except when her children are young. However, if she wants a family and wants to make that her career, at least for a while, it would be proper—if she approaches it as a career, that is, if she studies the subject, if she defines the rules and principles by which she wants to bring up her children, if she approaches her task in an intellectual manner. It is a very responsible task and a very important one, but only when treated as a science, not as a mere emotional indulgence.

    This answer has always bothered me, even before I had a child.  What happened to the union of the moral and the practical?  And why is legitimate career parenting treated as the exception here?  Those of us who do take our parenting roles seriously should not be tainted by the fact that most parents do not treat their role scientifically (if they think about it at all).  Just because most people make a mess out of parenting does not diminish it as a legitimate, productive, creative, moral central purpose for those of us who take it seriously.

    I would have liked to hear her answer, "No - absolutely not immoral!"  I would have liked to hear her say that, of course, it is moral, and it can be one of the most fulfilling careers in existence.  And then if she wished to speak about the lazy, unthinking parents - fine.  In fact, I would have loved a long rant from Ayn Rand on that subject.

    I know that Ayn Rand did think parenting is important work.  She says so in the statement above, and she makes it clear in the scene with the mother in Atlas Shrugged.  Personally, I have never had any qualms about the morality (or the practicality) of my choice to be a professional parent.  I know firsthand how fulfilling it is and even if Ayn Rand did think otherwise, I wouldn't give a damn.

    But there is a lot of misunderstanding amongst young Objectivists about the virtue of productivity, and it comes out in the parenting field all the time.  (Rational Jenn addresses many of the common objections in this post.)  We Objectivist professional parents have always been somewhat on the defensive on this issue, and Rand's statement does more harm than help, I think.  So I cheered when I heard Dr. Peikoff make the following statements in response to the question of whether raising children could be a legitimate central purpose:
    "I think it is the responsibility of the parent to look after young children personally.  I think it gives room for tremendous creativity. It's very important in their development."

    "However strong I am about career, I do not believe that you have a baby and dump it in day care."

    "If you intend to be a weekend parent, I don't think you should have children."

    "If you have children, they have to be the focus; they are your responsibility, and it is not a job that can be passed off to someone else - not without harm to the children. That's my understanding; I'm not a pediatrician."

    Unfortunately, most of Peikoff's statement came from the perspective of the children's needs, which I don't think justifies whether parenting is a valid central purpose.  But I loved that his answer was an unqualified "Yes!"

    I do disagree slightly with Peikoff about it necessarily harming children to put them in day care while both parents work.  I think that can be a legitimate choice as well.  But I do agree with the sentiment that, if you choose to have children, they must be the focus.  So a mother might go back to a career that she enjoys outside the home, but it could no longer be her central purpose, at least not while the children are young.  Her outside career would be on hold, and working in it would be a placeholder.  Some careers would be ruined by taking a ten year break, and I think it would be a sacrifice to give up such a career forever if it is your passion, just for the ten years of child-rearing.  I also don't think that those people should never have children.  I think it is possible to have both (not two central purposes at once, but the central purpose of raising children, with a full-time job on the side), but one had better be ready for some seriously hard work, and to give up many other optional values, if that is one's choice.

    I think that during those ten years (or whatever the appropriate amount of time is), the working mother (or the father) would have to have the attitude that the children come first.  This would exclude any type of career that requires both parents to work very long hours, or to be so spiritually drained at the end of the day that they have nothing left for the children.  I completely agree with Dr. Peikoff that, if you intend to be a weekend parent, you should not have children.  His argument is that they need more of their parents (or at least, one parent) than that.  My argument is that it could be nothing but a sacrifice.  Without at least one parent having the direct influence on the children, every day, the children are not really even "yours."  They won't absorb your family culture. They won't see you as a role model and (hopefully) emulate your virtues.  They won't be "of you," except in the crudest, genetic way.  (And I know exactly how much that is worth.) You will not have a true family, but just a marriage with young strangers involved. The children won't know you, and you won't know them.  What's the point in that?  What value would you be hoping to gain from that situation?

    The good news is that I do think that when you have two parents in a good marriage, one can indeed work long hours and only be there on the weekends.  His (or her) influence on the children will be there, indirectly, through the other partner.  But if both parents are essentially absent, the connection is severed.  And that is a recipe for disaster, for all involved.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011


    Sam's latest thing is to tell everyone she meets that she is four years old and that she'll be five on her next birthday.  Then she proceeds to tell them all the things that she will be able to do when she gets bigger (which I'm afraid she thinks will happen when she is five):

    • I can have two vitamins

    • I can drive a car

    • I can stay home by myself

    • I can go outside by myself

    • I can open the car door

    • I can have coffee

    • I can have a whole soda

    It's nice to see her aspiring to these things.  She is really working hard on the concept of time, and the fact that she looks to the future is somewhat new.  She is also looking forward to summer, when she'll be able to go back to the local water park and spend more time at the playground.

    It's fun to watch her try to work out different lengths of time.  When I told her this morning that I signed her up for swim lessons, and that we would start in one month, she said, "after nap?"  I said, "No, a month is 30 days."  She said, "after we go visit daddy at work?" That is what we are doing right after nap today, so the fact that she has those in order is good.  But then I told her that a month was about as long as it took from the day she started opening doors on her Advent calendar until Christmas.  I saw her wheels turning with that idea.  Analogies like that, that key into her values, are the best.

    I haven't figured out anything to use for the concept of nine months, though.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Adventures in New York

    Despite the spotting scare, cold weather, pregnancy fatigue, and a cranky Sam, we had a pretty good trip to New York.  We did a lot more than I had expected.

    We arrived mid-afternoon on Friday, and it was not raining or snowing, so we checked into our tiny hotel room, examined the room for bed bugs, unpacked, and then hit the town.  We decided to go to FAO Schwarz, which we skipped last time because of the holiday crowds.  We took the subway and ended up right at the horse-drawn carriages outside Central Park.  We had missed that last time, too, for the same reason, so we took the opportunity.  Of course, Sam loved it.  Central Park looks strange all covered in snow.  In fact, all of New York looked strange to me.  Walking was a big hassle because of the puddles and slush everywhere.  But the carriage ride was a really nice way to begin the trip.  Afterwards, we got a hot dog from a street vendor, always one of my favorite things to do.

    FAO Schwarz was okay, but not as grand as I had remembered it from when I visited as a child.  Sam loved the Big Piano, but I don't remember much else that wowed her.  We told her she could buy one thing and I was hoping she'd pick out something new and interesting, but she wasn't drawn to anything in particular so we ended up getting her a Fancy Nancy book.  Somehow, we've raised a four-year-old who is completely oblivious to the idea of shopping and buying toys.  She had a real hard time making a list of things she wanted for Christmas, too.  Maybe we don't let her watch enough commercials.

    We had dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant, which was so-so, and then called it a day.  We had to do my progesterone injections twice a day in that tiny hotel room, which was a challenge, but not really all that big of a deal.  I'm just glad we took the train and didn't have to carry all those needles on an airplane.  I suppose we would have had to put them in a checked bag, and that would have been very scary.  A lost bag could have meant a lost pregnancy.

    The next morning, I discovered that our hotel was committing borderline fraud by claiming that the room had a shower.  I suppose it's common in Manhattan, but there was just no water pressure at all on the twelfth floor.  Lesson learned: from now on, request a room on a lower floor.

    We had a date with Mary Poppins at 2pm, so we decided to hit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the morning, have lunch there, and then head back to Broadway.  We took the subway, but ended up having to walk a long way to get to the Met.  Adam and I took turns carrying Sam for parts of the walk.  I discovered the spotting when we arrived.  Maybe it was all the walking, but I don't really think so.  Regardless, the rest of the day is kind of vague to me, since all I could think about was the next trip to the bathroom.  I liked the Met, but we didn't stay long.  The building itself was pleasant, and we enjoyed another view of snow-covered Central Park through the floor to ceiling windows.

    I also completely accidentally came across a sculpture called The Sun Vow, which is featured in Luc Travers' book, Touching the Art.  After reading his book, this sculpture has a very personal meaning to me, and it was a thrill and a joy to stumble upon it and get to see the real thing instead of just photos.  Unfortunately, most of the paintings we wanted to see were packed away in rows of glass display cases, while the gallery was being renovated.  I can't wait to go back again in the future to see more.

    We decided to take a cab to get back to Broadway, since I was trying to take it easy.  For Sam, we used the Ride Safer Travel Vest I mentioned before.  We strapped it on her, then buckled her into the cab.  It's not the easiest thing to do, especially over a winter coat, but it really didn't take that long, and it's simple enough so that we felt very comfortable that we had hooked it up right and Sam was safe.  We ended up using the vest about four times on the trip, and even Adam, who was skeptical about it being worth the cost of $120, was convinced that it was a great investment.  (We even used the vest again this past weekend at home, to allow Sam to ride in the rental car her grandparents were driving on their visit.  It was much easier than putting one of her car seats in their car.)

    Samantha loved Mary Poppins, and I think Adam did too.  I thought they did a really good job with it, but I'm just not much of a Mary Poppins fan, so it didn't thrill me.  Also, I was tense about not being able to go to the bathroom for an hour and a half at a time.  But still, if you have kids, I would definitely recommend the show.  The singing and dancing were wonderful, and it was visually beautiful without being over-the-top flashy like I suspect some other shows are.  My favorite part was when the statues in the park came to life and danced.

    After that, there was just time for dinner, which we had an an Irish pub near our hotel.  It was quite good, but that ended up being the best restaurant of the trip, unfortunately.

    All we had planned for the next day, Sunday, was lunch with Harry Binswanger and Jean Moroney, so we decided to rest in the morning and do the Statue of Liberty in the afternoon.  The weather was nice (sunny with a high of 34), so this was our chance, and we all really wanted to see it.

    Lunch with the Binswangers was a highlight of the trip for me.  We just had a really nice conversation, and they gave me some ideas for a project I'm working on.  Sam got to meet their two cats, and anything that involves cats is a hit with Sam.

    Afterwards, we took a cab to Battery Park and braved the cold on the ferry to Liberty Island.  Before we got on, though, we had to upgrade our winter gear, so Sam got a pair of gloves in the official color of New York, black, and I got a tacky touristy knit hat with "I heart NY" on it.  Adam acted embarrassed, but I loved wearing it.  What's wrong with being a tourist?

    The boat ride wasn't bad because we were in a completely enclosed area and there was even heat.  We watched Lady Liberty grow larger and larger in the windows.  Sam said, "Wow, she is humongous!"  Adam said, "She sure is. And so is the idea that she represents."  I told Sam the four-year-old version of the meaning of the statue.  I told her that, a long time ago, no matter where you lived in the world, you were bossed around.  No matter where you went, there was somebody telling you what to do.  You were not free.  But then people came to our country and made it a place where nobody was allowed to boss anyone else around.  We are all free to do what we want here.  And the news spread all over the world, and lots of people started to come here, because nobody likes to be bossed around.  And another country thought we were so great that they gave us this statue to celebrate the fact that we have freedom.  And that's what "liberty" means - freedom.  So she is called the Statue of Liberty.

    We walked all the way around Liberty Island and bought a cheap replica of the statue in the gift shop, and then we were ready to head back.  It was really cold.  I got a few good pictures of the Manhattan skyline, but downtown still makes me sad.  We did see the beginnings of Freedom Tower.  I think it's about halfway done.  I hope that it will raise the skyline once again.

    Before we got a cab, we picked up a couple of hot dogs and fed the buns to the pigeons.  Of course, the pigeons were another hit with Sam.  Adam, having lived in New York, just sees them as flying rats, but I don't mind them.  At least, I didn't, until they started swooping down over my head from behind, trying to grab the hot dog right out of my hands!  They actually bumped into my head as they made their passes.  It was annoying, but also kind of cool.

    We had a disaster of a dinner that night.  I need to get on Yelp and trash that place.

    The next day was Adam's workshop, so he hung out with us in the morning but then was gone for most of the day.  Sam and I went to Toys-R-Us in Times Square.  I think it's even better than FAO Schwarz.  It has a real Ferris Wheel inside the store!  Sam loved that.  She was too scared to get a hug from Geoffrey the Giraffe, but I could see that she was less terrified of the enormous animal that she used to be of things like that.  We spent about an hour browsing, and Sam's favorite toy was Thomas the Train.  That's the second time she's been drawn to Thomas, but I think it's just too late to go down that expensive road with her.  What a deprived child.

    Despite the cold weather, we had ice cream in the store before heading out.  We walked the fourteen blocks back to the hotel, stopping for more hot dogs for lunch on the way.  Sam griped about the walking on this trip a lot more than last time.  I think she's gotten lazy.  But she did it.  It helped to count down the blocks left to go:  ten, nine, eight...  Sam is very much into numbers right now.

    When we got back, Sam had her first nap of the trip.  She was really getting cranky by this point, and we had no plans for the rest of the day, so things started degenerating from there on out.  She and I had dinner at the Irish pub again, but otherwise we were stuck in the hotel room since we had no energy for much else.  The room was so small that TV was really the only option.  My iPad was useless for movies because of the insanely stupid iTunes movie rental system, where you have to download the movie on to your regular computer, then transfer it to your iPad (which all takes quite a long time), and then you get a rented movie for 30 days, but only 24 hours after your hit "play" for the first time.  So I only had time to put one movie on the thing, and it was only available for the train ride there.  I'm really not much of a fan of the iPad.  My Droid is better in every way, except, of course, it's only got the tiny phone screen.

    So anyway, the next day, we woke up too late and were too tired to do anything, and our train was departing at 2pm, so we were stuck in the hotel room again.  By this time, Sam was done, and she was being a complete bitch to both of us, constantly.  It was really quite unbearable.  She couldn't take a sip of water without spilling the whole bottle, she wouldn't eat much, and she wouldn't cooperate.  I ended up really yelling at her, twice.  I later apologized, but even now, I only half-regret it.  It shocked her into tears, which stopped the yelling for a while, and even made her complacent enough to walk alongside me, holding my hand.  I'm not sure if we could have gotten to the train station any other way.

    We also resorted to punishment during this trip.  Sam had actually been bitchy to us for most of the trip, just not as bad as that last day.  There was no escaping her, since we were all stuck together in the tiny hotel room.  At home, if she can't stop herself from screaming at us, she gets sent to her room, or we lock ourselves in our own room.  She can scream all she wants as long as it's not hurting anyone else.  But here, there was no way to get away from her, and she was literally hurting our ears with the volume of her screams, besides just making us insane with irritation.  So we started taking away TV time.  We couldn't take it away for the trip or we would be stuck with even less to entertain her, so we took away time when we returned home.  She ended up losing five days of TV.  I don't think that punishment had any effect on her behavior at all, but again, even after the fact, I can't think of a single thing we could have done to improve the situation.  More naps would have helped, but here's what we would have missed: the carriage ride, FAO Schwartz, Mary Poppins, and the Statue of Liberty.  I suppose if we could get our asses out of bed earlier, we could do things in the morning, have time for a short nap, and then do things in the afternoon, but we don't seem to be capable of that.  It's easier in the summer, when days are longer.  But a nap from 1-3pm rules out almost any afternoon activity during the winter.

    But in the end, it was all worth it.  It was a good trip, and we did a lot of the things that we missed last time.  The first morning at the hotel, Sam's first words upon awakening were "I love New York."  And when we got home, one of the first things she said was, "I want to go back."  Me too, Sam.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Thing 1 and Thing 2

    It's twins!  We saw two heartbeats!  We're not out of the woods yet, but I'm back to newsletters and calendar entries.  And I'm adding on planning for Sam to continue in Montessori through third grade instead of homeschooling right after primary.  And we've already started hitting up the grandparents for help this fall. And I'm thinking we need a minivan.

    I'm assuming everything will be just fine, until and unless something goes wrong.  I don't even feel too worried about getting past the eight week mark.  That was a problem with my eggs which doesn't exist anymore.  I'm just a normal pregnant lady now.  Well, except for the part about twins.

    Smelling salts, please!

    Both of the embryos measured just right, and their heartbeats were strong and just the right speed.  But one of the sacs measured a bit small.  This could be a problem or it could be that it was too early to get an accurate measurement.  We were really lucky to see the heartbeats at all.  I'm not worried.

    Adam dubbed them Thing 1 and Thing 2.  He kind of stole the idea from Jenn, but I'm keeping it because it is irresistible, given the name of my blog and the fact that we already have Sam-I-Am.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Hanging in There

    I'm sorry for leaving you all hanging on Sunday.  We were in New York and there has been no time to write again until now.  I'll write about our trip later. I did manage to have some fun.

    I haven't had any more spotting since Saturday.  All that means is that I'm not having a miscarriage right now.  It doesn't give me any more encouragement than that, though.  I still think something is probably wrong.  I am fully prepared to lose this pregnancy.  No more newsletters or calendar entries for me.

    I've spent the past four days going to the bathroom every half hour, and being scared to death every single time.  But not checking is worse.  After I check, I feel good for about ten minutes and then it starts to nag at me - what if I'm bleeding again right now?  It's gotten less intense as time has gone by, but there has not been one trip to the bathroom when I didn't feel like I was going to see the beginning of the end.

    I wonder if I would feel this stressed out if I hadn't just gone through four miscarriages.  Actually, I think I was even more stressed out when this happened last year.  The thought of having two miscarriages in a row was so horrifying that I could hardly contemplate the possibility.  During the two weeks or so when I had no bleeding, I never felt comfortable, and I did the bathroom check the entire time.  Then the spotting started again, and then it became real bleeding.  I was in such denial.  I scoured the chat boards for stories of women who had bled heavily but still had babies.  I expected the bleeding to stop at any moment.  But, really, I knew that pregnancy was a goner from the beginning.  I don't really feel that way this time - I'm not sure it's a goner - I'm just not expecting success any more.  And I suppose I've gotten used to miscarriages.  The idea of two in a row was unthinkable.  Five in a row blows my crow - five is just another number that means "multiple."  I've learned how to deal with it, I guess.

    The ultrasound is tomorrow - six weeks and one day along.  I'm glad it is soon, but there's one problem with that.  We were supposed to schedule it for closer to seven weeks, but Adam's and the doctor's schedule didn't allow it.  So we might not see a heartbeat tomorrow, but that might not mean anything.  It's questionable whether I'm far enough along to see a heartbeat at six weeks.  So if we get good news - great!  But if we get bad news, it will probably be indeterminate, so hell will continue.