Friday, April 29, 2011

I Have A Secret

I didn't realize just how nervous I was about the Things until the OB's office called me on Wednesday and delayed my appointment until this morning. One whole extra day to wait was stressful. I hardly slept last night. But everything is fine!

I made Adam come to this appointment because I was so nervous and I'm really glad that I did because we found out. WE FOUND OUT! We know if we're having boys, girls, or one of each. But we're not telling you. At least, we're not telling you until next week when we have the big diagnostic ultrasound which will give us a more official report. Do you really think I could keep my mouth shut about this for any longer than that? I thought it was hard to wait that extra day for this appointment but it might be even harder to go a whole week with a secret like this.

I just had my first pregnancy mani-pedi to celebrate. And no, the pink nail polish is not a clue.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

18 Weeks

While we were in Italy, I was totally paranoid about the Things. We walked so much and I was hungry so often and I didn't get enough sleep - how could they have possibly survived all of that? I feel like I barely did.

And no matter how much I told myself that I was being irrational, the fear would not go away. I could banish it for a time, but it would always come back. I'd remind myself about pregnant women in Africa who must get little to eat, and women in the Middle Ages who probably worked themselves half to death and still had healthy babies. Then I'd feel better - until I had a gas pain or something which obviously meant that things had gone terribly wrong.

I'm exaggerating a bit. It didn't ruin my vacation or anything, but I guess just being out of my controlled environment stoked my uncertainties. I'm already feeling better now that we are home, but I won't feel fully comfortable again until my next doctor's appointment on Thursday.

I am definitely feeling movement in there now, but I can't even enjoy that. I only feel movement on one side, and it seems too high up. It also seems to happen only when I'm straining myself, which doesn't seem right. Again, I hope to feel better after Thursday.

But none of that fear stopped me from drinking cappuccino every day, and a glass of wine (or two!) every night. I mean, I can only allow my irrationality to go so far!

One thing that does give me some comfort is that I am growing! I was right to be nervous about what clothing to bring on the trip; my last pair of non-maternity jeans fit me when I left, but now it's not even close.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Italy - Part 1

We're home, safe and sound. After ten days in a foreign country, that is a wonderful thing!

I'll have to write about our experiences over several posts. The idea of getting it all down in one, digestible essay is too daunting a task when I have hundreds of unread emails and everything else that backs up over ten days (think four doctors appointments in four days) to deal with at the same time. For today, I'll just give you an overview.

The trip was incredible. We experienced the unique energy of Rome - the city of old and new, then spent a relaxing night being pampered and well-fed in an eleventh century castle, passed quickly through Volterra - the medieval fortress-city in the clouds, and ended up in Florence, where the Medicis once spent their disposable income funding great art, and where Western tourists now spend their disposable income appreciating it. And no, I don't find that ironic, but beautifully appropriate.

When planning the trip, part of the reason I decided to go to Rome first was that it was the chronological thing to do. Given a choice, it just makes sense to see ancient Rome and the Vatican before the birthplace of the Renaissance. But I didn't realize how the road trip would be the perfect bridge between the two - a real tour of medieval times. But I also imagined the road trip as a  relaxing break in between the two highlight cities, and that was a mistake. Getting the rental car, navigating the Byzantine streets of towns born in the Dark Ages, and staying in different hotels four nights in a row was a struggle. But still, the road trip was entirely worth the effort.

I'm surprised to say that Rome was my favorite part of the trip. I thought I'd like Florence the most. But Rome is an amazing place. You'll see why I think so when I get into the details later.

There were a couple of things that dampened my enjoyment of the trip. First, it was not easy being pregnant. I feel like I spent the whole trip in desperate need of a bathroom or a restaurant. Mostly, it was the eating that was difficult. If you can live on bread and cheese, it's easy to eat well and cheaply in Italy, but if you need meat, and you need it every few hours, you're in for a challenge. Getting real meat meant that we had to eat at formal, sit-down restaurants for every meal, and that meant that each meal cost about $100 and took about an hour and a half! The food was great, but there was no way to get it fast and cheap.

For the most part, I did stick to my "we must nap" rule, but we didn't seem to be able to get Sam to bed any earlier than 10pm (and sometimes it was midnight), so it didn't do much good.  Sam got progressively more tired as the trip wore on, becoming more and more difficult to manage. She did very well on both the plane trips, as always. We just could not get her enough sleep during the trip. Even when we were on the road and she slept almost the entire time in the car, this was not enough sleep. So she was no fun to be around at all by the time we got to Florence, and she took out most of her anger on Adam, yelling at him constantly. We muddled through, and we had some great moments in Florence, but most of  our time there was not enjoyable. Maybe that is partially why I liked Rome better.

On the other hand, a lot of things went well. We had almost perfect weather. It was sunny and in the 70's for most of the trip, with just a bit of rain here and there which did not affect our plans. All of our reservations were honored and we didn't have any big hassles getting our hotels or other technicalities. Things went as smoothly as can be expected when you're roaming about in a foreign country. We only missed two big things on my agenda: St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the Duomo in Florence. We chose to skip both because there was no way to get around the long lines, and I can't regret those decisions. Waiting in lines was out of the question. But otherwise, we saw everything and did everything we wanted to, including quite a few unexpected gems.

And it was immensely gratifying to see that, despite her exhaustion, Sammy loved the trip. She was very sad to come home, and is already planning what she'll do when she returns. Having her with us made the whole experience richer for us as well. And I think, when you read my detailed reports, you'll enjoy seeing Italy from her perspective as well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

16 Weeks

Tomorrow will mark 16 weeks of pregnancy. Yay!

There's not too much new going on. I've moved from a wardrobe of 60% maternity clothes to 90% maternity clothes. I'm not bringing anything but maternity clothes to Italy. I did manage to find enough to pack on Saturday while still leaving me things to wear for these last few days at home.

I'm starting to think I feel movement from the Things. It usually happens when I first lie down, and it's so quick that I hardly register it before it is gone. It's exciting, but I'm not quite sure it's the real thing yet. If it is, I should be sure in the next week or so.

Somehow, buying that stroller has made me paranoid that everything is going to go wrong. I bought it so early because a good deal came my way (thank you, Craigslist!) and now I suppose I feel like I'm tempting fate. I mean, I'm not thinking that, but my subconscious seems to be putting it in my head repeatedly. I'm paranoid about everything again. I check for blood each time I use the bathroom. Every pain in my abdomen scares the crap out of me. I don't like having to bend over and squish my belly for fear of squishing the babies. Hopefully it's just a phase and I'll feel confident again soon. And hopefully I won't go through another bout of it when we buy the minivan!

Italy is the big thing on my mind. We leave tomorrow. First Rome, then two days exploring Umbria and Tuscany by car, then Florence. I'm not sure what kind of internet access I'll have, or what kind of time, so it might be a while before I write again. I hope to at least jot down a few thoughts each night about what we've seen and done, and if I can't post them as I go, I'll post them when we return. I hope we'll manage to take a lot of photos.

I am so excited! This is definitely the biggest trip of my life. I think I've done just enough planning. There are some things we have to do on certain days, and I have some ideas about all the other sights we want to see, but I've left a lot of it open. There is only one day that we might not get a nap - the day we go to the Vatican. Otherwise, I've planned things either for morning or afternoon, but not both, and not anything that carries through both. Staying disciplined about getting our naps will probably be the hardest thing to do, but it will also be one of the most important. Sam however, has made it clear that the most important thing to her is to eat gelato every single day.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Sex Ed

This hilarious video of Julia Sweeney's "birds and bees" talk with her daughter has been making the rounds lately. If you haven't seen it yet, it's soooo worth ten minutes of your life:

It had me laughing so hard I cried. But it does draw attention to the fact that, despite our generation's sense of sexual liberation, most of us are really still stuck in a state of Christian repression. Talking to kids about one of the great joys of life should be something we revel in, not something we are embarrassed about.

I have to brag a little bit and tell you that I might be the only parent in history who has actually brought up the subject of sex before it was necessary. About a month ago, Adam, Sam and I were talking about the babies in my tummy. It occurred to me that she had never asked how they got there. She is at the developmental level where she was probably on the cusp of wondering about it, but I got excited to tell her and brought it up: "Sam, you know there are babies in my tummy, but how did they get there?" She paused and got a faraway look in her eyes. I was right - it did interest her!

I hadn't thought at all about how I would explain it, but she knows about chicken eggs, so I told her how girls have eggs in their tummies (she has no knowledge of internal organs yet). I told her that they are not like chicken eggs because they are so tiny that you can't even see them.  Then I told her that men have"Adam, how can I explain sperm?" He had no idea. I couldn't think of anything in her world that is analogous, so I just said that men have sperm, which are kind of like eggs too. And I told her that, to make a baby, you had to put the girl's eggs and the man's sperm together. And when that happens, you have the beginnings of a baby. A "maybe baby," as we've been calling early embryos.  She knows all about how the babies grow from there on.

What I didn't think of was what I'd say if she asked how the sperm got in the mommy's tummy.  When I realized that was the next logical question, I have to admit that I panicked a bit. I was so relieved when it didn't occur to her, but not because I was dreading the penis-in-vagina explanation. I was dreading having to find a way to explain IVF!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

15 Weeks

Thing 1 and Thing 2 are now the size of apples. When Sam was in my tummy, Adam and I used to give her a new nickname each week based on what sized fruit she was. She was Grape, Kumquat, Tomato, Pineapple, etc. We don't seem to have that intense focus on the development of our twins. I like to read about their development each week, but I don't spend half my day picturing what they look like and how they are growing. Where did I get all that time five years ago?

What I'm looking forward to now is feeling them move. I've had a few fluttering feelings over the past couple of weeks, but nothing that becomes regular. It could just be gas. But it should happen soon. I didn't feel Sammy until I was about 19 or 20 weeks along, but I expect to feel two babies sooner than that. I wonder if, later on, I'll be able to tell one from the other by their movements. I can't wait!

I just bought the super-stroller. Man, is it gorgeous! And we're definitely buying a new Honda Odyssey. (You MUST watch the video tour - it's hilarious.) The 2011 model allows you to put three car seats in the second row, which is just about the greatest thing I've ever heard of. When I found out the price of these minivans I almost threw up, but after seeing a real live Odyssey at the dealership, the price seems like a bargain. This is the automotive version of the stroller. It's so clever and innovative! There is a "cool box" which is a storage compartment cooled by the a/c (separately controlled) for drinks or snacks; the seats move around in to just about any position you could imagine; you can use the key fob to open the windows and moon roof remotely to cool the car off before you get in it on a hot day. And I can't tell you how excited Sam is to be getting the car with the automatic sliding doors. She points out every minivan on the road and asks, "Does that one have automatic doors? Are we getting one like that?" I'm really happy that I'll have the option to keep her in the second row instead of sticking her in the back-back. That would just add insult to the injury of losing her only-child status.

Speaking of that, I haven't really started preparing Sam much yet (unless you count watching A Baby Story together preparation). We talk about the babies a lot, though. We talk about how she can hug them and pick them up, and how she can help me by getting bottles and diapers. We also talk about how they will cry a lot, and how they won't be much fun until they get bigger, and how I'm going to have to spend a lot of my time taking care of them. Eventually, we'll probably get her a book or two about getting a new sibling. I'm not overly concerned about how she'll handle it. She is definitely "spoiled" in the sense of getting tons of attention from us, but she is also quite independent, and she's old enough where she isn't at that sensitive stage where it's really hard to give up even a piece of mommy. On the other hand, we had some house guests a couple of weeks ago with two boys - almost-four and one year old. Sam did not do well with them at all, and it wasn't like these boys were bullies or anything. It was the first time that I've ever seen her not get along with other children. It might have been a clash of personalities, but it also might have been a bit of insecurity on her part - the baby was sick and crying a lot and I wonder if that affected her. And this was the first time we've actually lived with another family with children so close in age. It's hard to know. So, I'll prepare her for the twins in every way I can think of, and I already have a plan as to how I will carve out special time with her once they arrive.

Last weekend, Adam created storage space in our attic by buying a ladder that actually reaches up there, and putting down some plywood over the joists. That is step 1 of about 30 on my "must do before twins" list.

We leave for Italy in one week. I've made all of the official travel plans and now I'm starting to think about packing. I bought a bunch of airplane toys using the great recommendations from this web site (blue painters tape - brilliant!). We have two international-capable phones waiting to be activated. We have our passports. I have a good credit card that won't charge me international fees. What I'm worried about is my clothing. I'm growing so quickly that it's hard to know what I should bring. I'm probably going to have to plan it all out this weekend to determine whether I need to buy anything.

And on that note, here is the latest photo!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Little Thing

You never realize how many acronyms surround us until you have a child who is learning to read. Sam is constantly being baffled by "words" without vowels. I try to explain it to her, but she is so excited by reading that she doesn't care. And I don't want to dampen that enthusiasm, so I don't correct her very often. Today, she cracked me up by reading "Hubble."  "Mommy, look - it says Hubble! Hubble! Hubble!"  She was pointing at my computer screen so I looked for an ad for something space-related, until I realized that she was reading, "HBL."

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Little Thing

So we're at the National Air and Space Museum, and we're looking up at satellites which are hung way up high on the ceiling of the hangar. Sam asks what they are, and Adam and I struggle to explain:
"They're machines that stay up in the sky and fly around the earth."

We read the placard:
"Tracking and relay data satellites."

That didn't help.
"They orbit the earth. They just keep going around and around."

"And we send signals up to them and they send them back down."

Finally, I think of something that Sam knows about.  I say, "Signals are things like your voice on the phone. You can talk on the phone and your voice goes way up high to the satellite and then it comes back down to another phone so someone else can hear you."

Sam looks up at the satellite and yells, "ECHO!!!"