Sunday, March 29, 2015

Quiet Morning Lake Quinault: Peace has Settled In

Cozied in under the covers last night in our room overlooking Lake Quinault, trying to read my Northwest Gardening book to figure out what to plant and where in our newly barren yard, my eyes could not stay straight. Rolling into the back of my head over and over. You are going to sleep now, they protested. I didn't have much say. What can you do when your eyes are rolling backwards on their own accord?

It was only 8:30. 

I decided to give up. By 9, I was in another world. Justin beside me reading in the dark. Bailey zonked out on the floor. He has no qualms about sleeping anytime or too much. Unlike us over-productive humans. 

My dreams have switched tone in the last two weeks, thankfully. Night after night, I'd been dragged through vivid nightmares. From break-ins, to homeless people living with us swimming in the river behind our house. Avoiding semi-automatic weapon gunfire. Drinking cider beers and forgetting I was pregnant. Long drawn out, colorful dreams, persistent in their disconcerting nature. I almost dreaded sleep. 

But the last few nights, they've been colorful but more amusing. Like a lady whose maroon curly hair  (only part of her hair was a wig) got caught on my phoropter (the thing that has all the lenses in it in front of your face to check your glasses) and hung off the top when I pulled it away from her eyes.  It was funny, and oddly amusing and so colorful. It makes me happy to remember it.

I wake up on my back with my arms above my head, fingers intertwined like I'm praying, or maybe in my mind I'm out in the grass in a field looking up at the blue sky. I always know I'm relaxed when I wake up like that. It's weird, like babies sleep and I've only done this in the last few years since dating Justin. I wonder what we do at night. 

So some sort of inner calm has settled in. Maybe I'm finally relaxing into the pregnancy. It only took three months to relax. I'd guess this might be normal. 

We're happy to have this retreat from Portland. After months of adjustments to reality, endless efforts on the house, we deserved a getaway.

Charlie can't stop working in the yard. 

The floors will be sanded and finished on Thursday.
16.5 Weeks.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Calm in the Storm of Twins- & Flashback to 10 week Twin Ultrasound with Interpretation

Ultrasound from week 10. This one is interesting because it shows both at once. Twin A (on my left side) will be the presenting twin (born first), because s/he is lower. If Twin A is larger (which s/he has been all along by about 2-3 days), then a vaginal birth will be attempted and possible, no matter what the presentation of Twin B is. Twin B can be manipulated in the womb if breach or transverse.

A lot of the hard work is done. We hired a doula who specializes in twins. She has forty twin births under her belt with only four c-sections. We've found a birthing class nine blocks from our home and a Dads 101 class for Justin. I found prenatal yoga classes near our house. We have a good OB lined up who also had twins (though we are not guaranteed her for delivery). I've have made it through several twin books. Friends have offered a crib, and a double bob stroller. Baby clothes and maternity clothes. And love and support. And excitement.

The kitchen will be done next week. Today they installed the hardwoods.

I've gained about seven pounds now. And there's enough out front that patients have actually asked if I was pregnant. At sixteen weeks with twins, you're not exactly flat anymore.

Monday was my day off. I hopped on my old 1979 Schwinn which I'd recently outfitted with new tires, brakes and cables and pedaled up the hill. The wind and rain questioned my choice of transportation. I could barely get up the tiny hill next to our house. But I moved forward. Intrepid. Dressed head to toe in rain gear. Even rain boots and rain gloves. After a quick stop at the Community Cycling Center where they adjusted my brakes, I coasted down the hill to the Albina Library.

It was quiet day aside from an appointment at 2:00 with my counselor. Who ironically also has twins (which I didn't know until recently). Adopted. With nine days notice. They had just decided they didn't need to have kids, and weren't even in the process of adoption when it basically fell into their laps. Suddenly they had two daughters. The girls are 18 now, and everything turned out fine. It made me thankful that we likely have 6-7 months to prepare.

Afterward, I glided down Ankeney Street toward Sizzle Pie Pizza on Burnside to redeem my free slice from a donation to the Give Guide. With my bike locked up outside, I plopped my green backpack on the table and picked out a tofu olive pizza. It was okay. But as I sat there, I thought how much I was enjoying my freedom. How I should savor these months. Soon this will come to an end. Riding around and doing what I want. Watching people. Enjoying the world.

I've been told that I should stop riding my bike. In case I fall off and damage my babies. I am planning to ride until I feel that my balance is compromised. Plus I only ride on quiet streets and not fast. I guess I figure I could get in a car accident. Fall down the stairs. Fall walking. Or slip in the shower. I could wear full body armor and a stomach protector. But I am just going to live my life instead and hope for the best. I'm pretty sturdy. I'm sure my kids will be too.

We found a few people off Craig's list to come and take away most (about 15-20) of our overgrown plants in the yard. Justin and I have dug up the front yard and planted seedlings inside. We might go a little overboard this year. Then we can decide if we need to scale back and put a patch of grass in the front yard. Justin thinks we need a patch of grass for the little Charlies to sit in while we garden. He might be right.

It's weird to imagine going from "us" two to "us" four. I just have no idea what it will be like. I'm sure everyone who has had kids before me has gone through this thought process. As well, the experience of my body changing into something else as it's creating two little beings. I would've never understood had I not experienced it. How we create other little people from such a small bit of cells. And then it somehow works out. It's pretty amazing.

I'm starting a writing class this week. Probably the last in a while. Carrie and Justin and I and the dogs are headed to the rainforest this weekend for a getaway and hiking.

We're just planning to enjoy ourselves and our little life for now. And hope for the best.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Another Strange Omen (before I knew I was pregnant): A Thank You Letter for Our First Pregnancy Gift

I donated to the Baby Blues Connection through the Give Guide. Every year since 2004, one of our local alternative papers, the Willamette Week, conducts a donation drive. I usually enjoy picking out places to send a little money. This year, I went a little overboard and chose about 20-30 non-profits.

Back in December 2014, a while after I donated, an emailed showed up from Baby Blues Connection that I’d won an art print they were giving away.

Here's the thank you I sent them: 

January 22, 2015


I donated to the Baby Blues Connection through the Give Guide. And then later heard from you guys that I’d won one of the prints you were giving away.

It arrived in the mail - I opened it and thought, hmm, wonder what I should do with this? Maybe I should give it to my sister who is pregnant in Minnesota. But she would probably not hang it up. It’s not her style.

So I just put it back in the envelope and stuck it under the Christmas tree.

About two weeks after, I was pretty late with my period. I finally decided to take a pregnancy test the morning I was flying out of town to see my partner’s family in North Carolina.

It was positive.

We’d been trying for a few months.

I got on the plane and wondered at the news I’d discovered.

I thought I could keep it a secret until our anniversary, but I told my partner the next day. He was so surprised, happy, and couldn’t believe he would be a daddy.

About a week later I remembered the pregnant lady print that I’d won, and thought how strange it was that I won it right before I found out. (And was actually pregnant at the time you sent it.)

We are 7 weeks along, which is not much. But I somehow feel that print was a good omen.

And now I know what to do with it.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks.

And you gave me the first “mom” gift that I’ve ever received.

Keep doing your good things.


Friday, March 13, 2015

The Kolache Pregnancy

The night before our first ultrasound I got the urge to make Kolaches. A czech sweet bun with a prune filling. When we were kids, my grandma Agnes would make them for us at Christmas or for the holidays. The sweet bread mixed with fruit wafting from a hot bun. A touch of butter on the top. I pulled up my recipe and dug out the old Osterizer that my mom had found for us from a Goodwill years ago. I thought I didn't need it. I thought liked doing everything by hand. But I was wrong. The old Osterizer is beloved.

I'd thought kolaches would be a perfect pregnancy food because they had prunes and wheat buns. My mom said prunes daily would be a good thing.

The Osterizer on the counter, and the few ingredients ready, I went to work. Substituting whole wheat flour for white. Oh I didn't have real sugar. But coconut sugar would do. No milk but we had oat milk. So many substitutions I wondered if I had veered too far off track. Would all whole wheat flour rise? Would they taste weird?

Turns out they were perfect. I'd channeled Grandma Agnes' baking genes and made perfect hippie Kolaches. I look now at the picture and think, there were three of us there. Who would have thought?

The kolaches were made on Sunday night. By Wednesday they were almost gone. Maybe Sunday will be baking day for the three of us each week. Time to connect with the Czech roots.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Hat Fairy (Good Omens)

The Day After We Found Out We Were Having Twins

I arrived at work in our North Vancouver clinic. By chance of fate perhaps, I ended up back here in Vancouver (just north of Portland across the border in Washington) in a clinic that I worked in about 10-12 years ago last time I was at Kaiser. Working with Rose Marie, who I worked with from 2002-2003, when I was a new hire at Kaiser. She was and is like my mom at work and a best friend. A rock and true confidant. When I returned I never dreamed we'd get to work together again. But we do. Two days a week.

This morning I arrived at work with my three little ultrasound pictures in my green waterproof backpack. The one I used to travel the world. And now I am back. I knew she would be excited.

"Come in here." I said. We hid in the exam room with the door shut. Whispering.

"Look what I have."

I pulled out my pictures from my lab coat. She didn't recognize at first what she was seeing.

"It's two."

"Oh my god. I just got hot shivers everywhere." She rubbed my belly. (She is the only one who has done this. And it is fine with me.)

I told her how my mom had thought it was twins from the start because I was so nauseous.

We hurried out and I started my first patient. I finished a second and came out in the hallway.

The other optometry assistant, Kyla, who was also born in 1976 and just had her first baby last year, is staring at me with huge eyes. "Do you know anyone who is expecting!?"

I looked at Rose Marie. What is happening? Did she tell?

Her eyes gave nothing away. Rose Marie wouldn't spill a secret to Jesus. It wasn't her.

"I know two." I said. "Why?"

"I have these hats from the hat fairy. She just gave them to me." Kyla said.

I still felt like it was a set up. What the hell?

"Come here" I led her to an exam room.

"It's you." Kyla whispered.


I showed her the ultrasound.

"It's two." She was the first one to recognize it right away. "The hat fairy was one of our patients.  She makes hats to give away anonymously to babies. She gave me one hat to give away. Then I said, 'Can I have two?' I don't even know why I asked that. These are for you."

A pink hat and a neutral rainbow hat.

After a night filled with anxiety where I slept only two hours, I felt like the universe was giving me a sign that it was going to be okay. I breathed out and decided I could handle it and the twins were going to be fine. The only question I had was, "What am I going to do with a pink hat?" But maybe someone else knows more than I do. Or I'll just put a little boy in a pink hat. ;)

Oatie zonked at coffee

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The First Ultrasound. (IT'S TWINS!) 2/9/2015

The big day had arrived. February 9th, 2015. Our first ObGyn appointment.

I could barely sleep even the day before, waking up at 6:45, thinking about the next day. Like I was waiting for Santa to bring me my goodies.

We rolled out of bed at 7:30 in time to get to Kaiser by 8:00. We inched down the side streets in Justin's Suburu toward the clinic I worked at for years my last go around in Portland. It seemed like it was taking forever to get there. I was worried we'd be late. But we were on time, and there was ample space in the parking garage.

The lady checked us in. "We don't know where to go."

"Down the hall, first waiting room on your left."

We were the only ones there. After a while a pregnant lady emerged from the door. I stared and tried to imagine myself in her shoes.

After sitting for about ten minutes, they called my name. I felt a little like we were in the wrong place. What if I wasn't really pregnant? What was going to happen? We followed the nurse back as I nervously chattered about nothing.

The intake nurse covered the basics: The father's name and age, last menstrual period, pertinent history, weight and blood pressure. We spent about forty five minutes talking about nothing. She went over a food diagram, telling me to eat vegetables and whatnot. Documented exercise. She said I was healthy and was right on track. "So many patients ask me, "Where's the french fries on this diagram? Where's the chips?" I don't eat those anyway. I told her I was having problems getting food down. I didn't like broccoli anymore.

Next we were ushered into an exam room down the hall. The medical assistant led us into the cramped room. I could barely see a place to sit down my backpack. Justin found a chair crammed next to the exam table. "Take all your clothes off and sit on the exam room table."

It was the first time anyone was with me in an ObGyn appointment.

I was worried I was going to be embarrassed. But I didn't care.

I piled all my clothes up and gave them to Justin. "I see your butt." He said.

Who wouldn't in that gown that was big enough for three of me?

The feeling of sitting in an exam room naked and exposed with your partner next to you, ignorance exposed, not knowing what is next. We joked and waited wondering how it would go.

Our nurse practitioner came in. Ruddy curly hair going in every direction. A white lab coat, kinda big and glasses. The disarray made me nervous.

She introduced herself. And asked a few questions. There was a quick and discrete breast exam. And then the pelvic. I told Justin what they did beforehand as a warning. It was all very fast.

She dimmed the lights and pulled over a machine.

Being completely stupid, we didn't know what was happening.

"Are you ready for the ultrasound?" She brandished a white wand in her hand.

"I didn't even know they were doing to do that today." I had wanted to ask but didn't.

She inserted the wand and we all watched the screen.

I was half expecting her to tell me I wasn't even pregnant. It would be sort of embarrassing. But I'm sure it's happened before.

A dark hole appeared on the screen with something inside it. She moved it around again and we saw it from another angle. It seemed like we were pregnant.

"Do you see what I see?" The wild haired lady asked us.

"Uhh, a baby?" We were confused. We hoped it was a baby.

There was a pause.

"It's two."

Tears were rolling out of my eyes. I covered my face. This wasn't really happening was it?

All that nausea starting at three weeks. Instantly sore breasts.

My mom saying, "I think it's twins." Thinking she was crazy.

Justin sat in the corner quietly crying too. I felt so dissociated. A different person. An alternate reality. Where was I? This wasn't really happening. It seemed so fake. So unreal.

"One measures 9 weeks 5 days, one 9 weeks 3 days."  One appeared to be dancing.

"Oh shit." We said.

She said, "I know it's shocking. It will take some time to get used to it. You can still have a healthy pregnancy. But they won't let you go past 38 weeks. Most twin pregnancies deliver at 36-38 weeks."

I guess we weren't gonna have to have the oldest kid in school after all.

I started imagining a giant belly and birth complications.

"The only thing is that you've gone from a healthy normal pregnancy to a high risk pregnancy. You'll probably have to meet with some of the MDs and we'll establish a team to take care of you."

"How were the heartbeats?" I asked.

"They were both good. In the 180s I'd guess. I forgot to tell you- I was distracted by there being two. "

Well that was good. Two heartbeats. Two babies. Two placentas. Separated by a wall. Most likely fraternal.

She said goodbye.

The medical assistant returned, "I heard you got the BOGO offer!" We all roared with laughter. Just what we needed.

Our visit was done. We walked out stunned and dazed.

We had a 1.67% chance of a natural twin pregnancy (meaning we were not on fertility), accounting also for our older age which increased the risk.