Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Twin pregnancy: Week 26

I've worked really hard on being upbeat about this pregnancy, but the time has come to just say it:

Being pregnant with twins sucks.

It's a good thing I got this silly, goofy belly pic out of the way at week 24, because from here on out, you probably won't see such happiness from me for a while.

Granted, I was being sarcastically happy here. I keep getting flak from friends and family about having such cranky, mug shot-looking belly pics, like so:

I'm not trying to look grumpy, and I don't even feel grumpy in these shots; I just really dislike my profile and don't relish having pictures taken of it.

Now, however, I'm feeling the grumpy.

Actually, what I'm really feeling is pain. Before, I'd get the occasional twinges and stretching sensations — uncomfortable and unpleasant, but bearable. Now it seems that about every four or five weeks the babies (and, subsequently, my belly) go through a growth spurt. The first round of this at about 17 weeks wasn't great, but it wasn't so bad either. Week 21 was pretty painful, with Braxton Hicks contractions starting in earnest, but still bearable. Now, at week 26, I'm dying. I'm ready to just curl up on the couch and stay there until this whole experience is over.

It's not just the pain itself that has me wanting to throw in the towel; much of the agony is due to the sheer repetition of it. Just when I start to feel a bit better, in a few short hours it starts all over again. I am now on day 5 of this growth spurt with no end in sight — and my doctor tells me this is likely to be the norm from here on out. Which makes sense, considering the babies are about 2 pounds each but only have 12 more weeks to grow about 4 additional pounds apiece.

What's worse, there's not much to relieve the pain. That's because it's not a muscle pain or even a contraction that you can ease with a warm bath, Tylenol or massage. These babies are growing, fast, and while that's a wonderful thing, my poor belly just can't handle it. Every bit of tissue is being stretched, every muscle is being pulled apart, every organ is being smashed. And on top of it — literally — two hard, writhing, thrashing lumps of baby are bursting out every which way, apparently trying to make a break for it directly through my skin.

Oh, and have I mentioned the throat-boiling acid reflux and the return of the morning sickness? And the exhaustion that never left? And the shortness of breath that occasionally sends me into a panic attack because I can't get enough air? And the restless leg syndrome that keeps me awake all night — that and having to pee every two hours and the fact that we cannot agree on names for these baby girls for the life of us?

Yeah. Being pregnant with twins sucks.

This is why it always boggles my mind when people tell me they're jealous, that they've always wanted twins. I can kind of get this in theory; if you have terrible pregnancies and you really love babies, then sure, having two at once sounds like a dream come true. But this is no dream, my friends. This nightmare is my reality, and guess what? I have three months to go, and it's only going to get harder — to say nothing of the next 18 years ahead of us in which we must parent not one, but two children at the exact same stage (along with their older brother). So forgive me if I stare at you, incredulous, and ask, "Really? You really want twins??"

All right, that's enough out of me. I can't be all doom and gloom with no silver lining. When I look at the bigger picture, I actually have it pretty great. Yes, this feels pretty icky right now, but in the grand scheme of things I'm having an incredibly healthy pregnancy. Both babies are growing right on schedule and are as healthy as can be. And other than the pain and discomfort, there is nothing actually wrong with me — such a great blessing when you consider all the horrible things that could and often do go wrong in a twin pregnancy. In fact, I've actually had some really great things happen. For instance:

  • I have zero stretch marks or varicose veins!
  • My babies are perfectly formed and growing strong!
  • My husband has taken over all the housework!
  • My son has started kissing my belly and "giving loves to the babies"!
  • I finally found some really cute and comfy maternity jeans!

And this is just some easy-to-find surface stuff. I probably could have devoted this entire post and then some to all the wonderful things in my life right now, just as easily as I did all this negative stuff. But sometimes, a girl just has to vent. And when that girl has twice the pregnancy hormones coursing through her veins, it becomes an imperative.

To keep myself focused on the positive, a few weeks ago I came up with my twin pregnancy mantra. I should probably plaster this all over my house to remind myself that yeah, this does suck, but I'm actually doing something pretty amazing, so it's worth it:

"Some people run marathons or climb Everest.
I grow two babies at once."

Thank you for indulging me in this rare but necessary pity party. I just want the reality to be known that this is no picnic. It is exhausting, physically demanding work — night and day, day and night, taxing my body from head to toe. Not that I want some pat on the back (though a massage of some sort would be awesome right about now); I just want the truth to be known, that growing babies — whether one, two, three or more — is incredibly, astoundingly difficult.

So the next time a pregnant woman in your life starts crying over "nothing" and will not be content until she has consumed an entire carton of ice cream, give her a hug and then go get her a refill. The lady has earned it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nursery odds and ends

Now that we know we're for sure having twin girls, I've been dying to get the nursery set up. The trouble is, the room looks like this:

It's currently the office/junk room. (And yes, that is a painting of Jimi Hendrix. Long story.) It's killing me that it's such a disaster, but I have been relegated to the couch and/or bed most days lately, so it's really slow going getting it cleaned out. My husband's been a champ getting a lot of it done, but most of the stuff in there is mine so I still have a lot to do.

Nevertheless, my wheels are turning. After kicking around a few twin nursery ideas, we have officially decided to go with an "Alice in Wonderland" theme. I'm so excited to actually have a girlie space in my house, as most of it is pretty dark and masculine (what can I say, I like visual drama), but this also allows my bold and colorful side to come out. 

When I first started putting together a mood board, I designed more of a nod to the stories by Lewis Carroll and the bygone era from which they came:

If you'll recall, I already have the $15 thrift store chair and the vintage dresser (plus the boring crib, but it pays to be frugal so I'm keeping it) so I'm well on my way.

But then one day while cruising through Target I was stopped dead in my tracks by these crazy curtains:

I was smitten. True, they are pretty bold, and not in keeping with the soft, delicate feel of the mood board. But what is "Alice in Wonderland" if not wildly vivid, even a touch psychedelic? It made me take a closer look at the Disney movie and the concept art by Mary Blair:

Truly inspiring. So the vision has been adjusted, and a new mood board is in progress trying to mesh the two ideas:

Not as complete or cohesive, but I'm still working on it. In the meantime, I keep finding totally awesome stuff for the nursery, like this $5 huka-looking lamp from the thrift store that my husband has painted bright purple:

And this teapot nightlight that makes me want to die of cuteness:

I also have a little medicine bottle and heart-shaped keepsake box for an "Eat Me" "Drink Me" homage, and wait until you see the piece de resistance: the mad tea party-inspired mobile I'm going to make. It's gonna be awesome.

In the meantime, I'm stuck picking away at the room one itty bitty piece at a time (*insert sad, pouty face*). It's maddening to be so restricted, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Twin pregnancy: Week 21

One of the best things about the frequent doctor's appointments required for a twin pregnancy is the number of ultrasounds we get to have. Our latest set was last week, the big anatomy scan, otherwise known as the 20-week ultrasound where you're most likely to find out the gender of your baby.

For us, the prediction made by the tech at 14 weeks was confirmed: We are expecting two girls!

And by the looks of things, we are also expecting two kickboxers. It's no wonder Baby B likes to hide out on my right side — she was getting a foot-to-face beatdown from Baby A, whose feet were right in her face.

It was funny to watch and a little sad that in response, Baby B kept putting her arms and hands in front of her face to fend off the kicks.

But not to worry; Baby B could give as good as she got.

I guess it's to be expected when they're in such close quarters. Even though they are in separate amniotic sacs, the membrane is about as thin as cellophane (though thankfully much stronger). It's no wonder I feel these two kicking and moving all day long. They are not only jockeying for position and fighting for space, they're constantly throwing elbows and knees and then trying to get the heck out of the way. Must be rough being a twin in utero. I mean, can you even tell what's going on or who is who or what is what in these two pics?

While the ultrasounds are always fun, they've taken on a more serious tone of late. In the past I have always taken this milestone for granted. When I was pregnant with Evan (and even before), the 20-week ultrasound was just the chance to finally get a glimpse at your baby-to-be, find out the gender, and take home a cute little black and white photo of Junior. But now having three vastly different pregnancy experiences, I realize this is actually serious business. 

It's called an "anatomy scan" because that's what the doctor is doing: scanning the baby's anatomy from head to toe to be sure all the organs are in working order. I have known too many parents whose scans did not go well, and in the week before my own scan there were three other mothers on my Twins and Multiples message board who found out they lost one or both of their babies at such an appointment. After having lost a pregnancy myself and realizing that a twin pregnancy contains many perils, I now approach these appointments with equal parts excitement and trepidation. It's another reminder of how precious life is, and that the things we take for granted are not always given to everyone.

With that all going through my mind, it was with great relief and joy to hear that both babies are healthy and growing perfectly. There are no deformities or imperfections, and their growth is right where it should be. How blessed we are indeed to have such a healthy pregnancy.

And it's a good thing I was able to have that perspective, too, because this week has been particularly rough. I've started having Braxton Hicks contractions, which is normal at this stage of a twin pregnancy. But I was having them for more than 48 hours straight, followed by an intense shooting pain. I could still feel both babies moving, so I knew they were OK, but the doctor was concerned that too many contractions (mild as they were) could be preparing my body for labor already, so I had to check into the hospital to be sure everything was all right.

The only thing worse than going into the Labor & Delivery ward for pre-term labor is leaving without any answers. The nurses were able to determine that there has been no actual labor progression, thank the heavens above, but they don't know why I was having so many contractions or what that horrible pain is. It could be that the contractions were causing the pain, or the pain causing the contractions. It could be that the babies are just growing so fast that my body can't keep up. Whatever is going on, it hurts like the dickens and I am terrified that the next 16 or so weeks will be more of the same, or worse.

Subsequently, I've been on the couch or in bed for two days straight, and although it has helped with the pain, it's killing me to be incapacitated. I don't like feeling helpless, and even worse I don't like actually BEING helpless. Luckily I have one amazing husband who has been taking care of Evan and me and doing all of the housework (a girl can definitely get used to THAT!) and we have wonderful family who jump to help when asked.

So thank goodness for silver linings, or else I would probably be losing my mind right now. I'm choosing to focus on the thought that I am just so awesome at growing babies my body can't handle the two supergirls and their bodies of steel. I am hoping that it's just a growth spurt and in a few more days I'll be back on my feet, at least enough to feel like I'm participating in life.

In the meantime, if you need me I'll be catching up on my Netflix queue. Any suggestions?