October 30, 2006

NaNoWriMo

Next month I'm participating in NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel (that's the size of a thin paperback) during November: you can't start until November 1st, and you have to stop after November 30th. Expectations are very, very low: quantity is valued much more highly than quality, and loopholes and serious plot problems are assumed. It's low pressure, it sounded like fun, and I'm hoping it will distract me from my pregnancy queasiness.

This means I might not be blogging much during the month of November, unless I fink out or unless I'm looking for things to do other than work on my low-quality novel.

If you'd like to do NaNoWriMo, too, we can use the comments section of this post as a place to meet up! Meet back here to moan about how bad your book is!

Go to www.NaNoWriMo.org to sign up, or to see more about what it's like.

October 28, 2006

Smelly

My husband smells like hair oil. Stale salsa. Meat. Even the smell of his toothpastey breath is nauseating, and if it's not toothpastey? Oh my dear Til-death-do-us-part, I can't sleep unless you turn the other direction. The kids smell like dried sweaty hair, like sheets that need to be changed, like too-strong fabric softener. What on earth possessed me to buy such an intense fabric softener? When I wasn't pregnant, it smelled so nice, a faint lingering smell of freshness long after the clothes were washed. Now that I'm pregnant, those air molecules are too big to fit in my nose. I can't breath that in, it's so strong and chemical.

It's the same with my shampoo, and the leave-in stuff I usually put in my hair afterwards, and our hand soap: it's so strong, it slaps me across the face. I've switched to my usual pregnancy shampoo: Suave clarifying, a cheapie that for some reason doesn't bother me with its smell, and which also helps with the hormonal oily hair problem.

In the few days after learning I was pregnant, I was super-charged with adrenaline. Remembering earlier pregnancies, I took advantage of that energy. I concentrated especially on the bathroom, particularly the toilet, over which I knew I would be leaning in no time. (The only thing worse than barfing is barfing and then breathing in the smell of old pee drips.) A week later, the smell of the bleachy cleaner I'd used, which should have been long dissipated, started bothering me. Now the shower curtain and the edges fastening the pieces of shower wall have come down with one of their cases of Sudden Mold, and I can't deal with it: the only way to banish it is bleachy cleaner, and I can't stand the smell; but leaving it there makes me feel like throwing up every time I see it.

I understand that this crazy affliction is helping to keep the baby safe. I'm avoiding strong cleaning supply chemicals, and there is no way I'd eat meat that's even slightly off, I can guarantee you that. The problem is, it's taking things too far: sometimes there's no way I'll eat any meat at all, because of that "meat warming to cooking temperature" smell. Sometimes I can't drink milk, because of that strong...milk flavor. The stench of cooked eggs lingers for days. Vegetables? Oh god, the smell of the steam while they're cooking, it is going to send me running for that nice clean toilet.

October 27, 2006

Hiding Out and Regretting My Subtitle/Nature

This morning I feel like hiding from the children. I ducked into the computer room to get away from all the noise and all the questions. There are days where it's just too much stimulation, you know? It's like a barrage of teeny pellets. The babies are saying "Dah DAH!!?," and Robert is saying, "Mommy, can I bring my Rubik's cube to school? Why does WILLIAM get to cut up paper?," and William is saying, "Mommy, I ate all my breakfast! Can I have a dessert?"

(And here they are already, joining me. Robert is flopped in a chair, playing Tetris on a Gameboy and keeping up a running monologue about Tetris. William is wondering, repeatedly, when it will be time for lunch. It's 7:55 a.m.)

I'm regretting subtitling this blog "Blogging With Twins." I'd thought I would be writing mostly about twins and twin care, a sort of reference blog. But it turns out I have to almost force myself to write on that topic; it seems boring to me. Also, there are so many twin-themed blogs already, perhaps we don't need more. I'm thinking of changing the subtitle to reflect the largeness of our family---but as large families go, we're small. We're only large for a small family, if you follow me.

My plan was to have a blog that was good-natured and funny, like Sundry's. Instead, I find I mostly feel like whining and complaining and taking strong stands on minor, unimportant issues, and bitching about how queasy I feel. I have always wanted to be one of those even-keel, non-complaining, go with the flow people, but it doesn't look like that's going to work out. Instead, I'm going to be one of those people always getting into a huge cheese fit over nothing.

Isn't that discouraging, when you realize you aren't going to be a way you were hoping you'd be? I've had that disillusionment set in several times with parenting. When my first baby was still an infant, I bought a set of alphabet cookie cutters. We've never even taken them out of the package, and it's been almost 8 years. It turns out I don't like "helpers" when I'm cooking.

At least I didn't have any delusions about my patience levels (= low), or about how much I like playing children's games (= not at all).

October 26, 2006

Breastfeeding Twins, Part 2

It occurs to me that I have left some information out of the prior post about breastfeeding twins.

For one thing, you may be wondering how you manage "sides" with twins. With a single baby, you're supposed to nurse the baby on both sides each feeding, alternating which side you start with. Twins are different. Each baby nurses on just one side per feeding. Some women assign each twin a side of its own, and always nurse the babies that way; other women switch the babies at each feeding; other women switch the babies every 12 or every 24 hours. The nurse at the hospital advised me to switch every 12 hours because it would be easier, but I found it easier to remember to switch at each feeding. I was keeping a log anyway, of what times they nursed and when their diapers were changed (more on this in a minute), and so I just added a notation about whether the baby nursed on the left or the right, and I switched it the next time.

The log was essential to me for a long time. I took a large pad of paper, drew a line down the middle, wrote "Edward" at the top of one column and "Elizabeth" at the top of the other, and every time any substance went in or out of a baby, I made a note of it. I can't believe how many times I had to check to see if it had been one hour or three since the babies last nursed. Same with diapers: I would feel as if I had just changed a baby's diaper a second ago, but look, it had been hours. And the pediatrician's office was calling me every day for the first week or two, "just checking in" but also asking me very specific questions about how many wet diapers each baby had had. Without my log, there is no way I would have had any idea how to answer that question.

There was one period when I assigned each twin a "side," and that was when I got a breast infection. It was so painful, and one baby was doing that thing where they latch on and off repeatedly just for fun, so I put that baby on the non-hurty side, and put the all-business baby on the hurty side. Even after the infection subsided, I kept doing it this way because it was so much easier to keep track of. But then after a few weeks, I noticed that one baby always seemed hungrier, and always nursed longer. I wondered if it was possible that one side was producing more milk than the other side, so I immediately went back to switching sides at each feeding, and the hungrier baby got less hungry.

You also might be wondering when I stopped breastfeeding the twins together. When the twins were 7 or 8 months old, they were nursing fewer times per day, and for less time at each feeding. They were more able to wait for a feeding, and more able to be distracted by toys while they waited. They were getting a little big for the tandem nursing pillow, and I was running into a problem with one twin being done long before the other twin was done, so that one twin was restless and squirmy and wanting to play and poke at the other twin, but I couldn't put that twin down because I was stuck under the nursing pillow. That's when I started nursing them consecutively instead of together. I would occasionally run into problems in the middle of the night, if both twins were screaming to be fed---but then Paul would just cuddle one baby while I nursed whichever baby was currently the faster eater, and before long everything would be back to sleep.

There. Is that everything?

Breastfeeding Twins

I remember when the twins were teeny babies and I would take them out, the first questions people would ask were "Are they boys or girls?" and "How much did they weigh?" After that, the women would ask in hushed tones, "You're not...nursing them, are you?" Why, yes! Yes I was. And so I had to say so, and accept my new reputation as some sort of Hard-Core Breastfeed-or-Die type.

I was fully prepared to bottle-feed, and in fact I had pre-purchased a small supply of bottles and formula in case it was an emergency and I couldn't nurse them even one more single second. But as it turned out, neither twin ever took a bottle. It happened this way not because I am so philosophically firm on the issue of breastfeeding, but because I am lazy and breastfeeding was genuinely easier for me.

It wouldn't have been easier, though, without two things. The first thing was the training the nurses gave me at the hospital. They let me get all the way to 4:30 in the morning the first night without intervening: I'd said I wanted to feed the twins separately at first, and learn to feed them together later, so they let me go to it. All night long, I was feeding one baby while the other baby cried, back and forth between them.

I was actually more incredulous than miserable: still high from the birth, and from the feeling of not being pregnant anymore, my feeling was more, "Um, this isn't going to work!" than "Open that window so I can leap out." At 4:30, the nurse came in. "So," she said. "Would you like me to show you how to tandem-nurse now?" I did not fall to the floor and cover her white sensible shoes with kisses, whatever you may have heard. But I did say, "Um, yes. Please." So she showed me how to stack pillows and how to arrange two babies and how to sit properly so I wasn't dying from discomfort, and that was the first thing that made everything easier. From then on, I breastfed both babies at the same time, so I was never jittering one leg nervously as a baby screamed and I mentally begged the other baby to hurry up and finish already. Also, it takes half the time of feeding babies one after the other.

The second thing that made everything easier was a gift from my cousin Lee: a tandem nursing pillow. It was inflatable, which turned out to be one of its best features: I could make it a little firmer or a little softer depending on the babies' sizes and positions. It came with an inflatable back pillow, which made me much more comfortable. And it propped both babies to exactly the right height, so that I could even take my hands off them and read a book while I nursed them. I could theoretically nurse both babies at the same time using piles of pillows like they did in the hospital, but that was much more difficult to arrange.

I got so comfortable using that pillow and scooping up babies and having peace and quiet while they nursed, it never seemed like the right time to start fussing with bottles. The one time I really, really wanted bottles, though, was when we were out. How do you breastfeed twins discreetly in public? The answer is that you do not. What you do is you nurse one baby discreetly while the other one wails, drawing attention to you sitting there with a huge squirming lump under your shirt. It confuses people: there's the crying baby who clearly wants to eat, so what are you doing? They come in for a closer look. The baby unlatches to see who that is coming over, revealing half a boob. Jesus.

Oh, did I mention that breastfeeding twins burns about 1000 calories per day? Yes. It is glorious.

October 24, 2006

Possession by Baby

I'm reading a book called The Girls, which is about a set of conjoined twins. One of the twins becomes pregnant. Two things she says about pregnancy resonate with me:

- "Having been born, as Ruby and I were intended to be born, joined at the skull, we are normal to ourselves. It's normal for me and Ruby to be who we are and to live as we do. But being pregnant did not feel normal. For the first time in my life, I felt fully freakish and monstrously, hideously, deformed."

- "...my delight and my horror, and my misery and my bliss, at the occupation of my body."


Okay, so I don't truly feel freakish, or monstrously hideously deformed, nor would I say I've experienced "horror." But it does feel peculiar, this possession by baby.

I've Got a Secret

Considering how much of my mental activity is taken up with being pregnant, it is a surprise to me that no one knows about it unless I tell them. They might think I look tired, or ill, or that my skin sure doesn't look as good as usual, or that my hair seems to need washing, but they don't know I'm pregnant. My own husband wouldn't know, if I hadn't told him.

That is one of the satisfactions of early pregnancy, and also one of the things that makes the information difficult to incorporate. It is pleasing, walking around with that "I've got a secret" feeling. I know I'm pregnant, but the clerk at the grocery store doesn't. I know I'm pregnant, but the old woman who just said, "FOUR children? I can't imagine!" doesn't. I can still sleep on my tum if I want to, or I can lie on my back. I can sit normally in a chair. I'm wearing my "fat pants," but other than that I'm in regular clothes.

But it is hard to accept the realness of the situation, when everything seems the same. I don't look pregnant. I don't feel pregnant. I feel like I have stomach flu. I can leaf through The Baby Name Wizard a million times, but I'm looking at names for a theoretical baby, not one who will actually be here next year.

October 23, 2006

Doing It Wrong

Yesterday I had some painful cramping, and it crossed my mind that having a miscarriage would not be 100% bad. Today when I have felt even queasier than usual all day, and the twins have seemed especially baby-like and difficult to manage emotionally and logistically, and the pregnancy stretches long before me with all its impending discomforts ("Oh, that 'can't breathe' feeling--I forgot that's coming up soon"), it crosses my mind again. Then I feel worse, imagining how I'll feel later, when the dear, dear baby is born and irreplaceable, and I'm looking down at it thinking, "I thought a miscarriage might in some ways be welcome."

It's such a neverending feeling of "doing it wrong," this parenting thing. I remember back when I was pregnant with my first, thinking things like, "Maybe this whole thing was a bad idea. Maybe we should have gone with the other plan, the one where we have cats and tulips and money and we spend weekends at Barnes & Noble." When I was pregnant with my second, I was thinking, "The spacing is all wrong. We should have gone with the other plan, the one where we waited until Robert was in kindergarten, or until he was 3-1/2, or until NEVER." When I was pregnant with the twins, I was thinking, "We should have stopped at two. Something will go wrong, and everyone will say, 'You just HAD to keep going, you just COULDN'T be happy with the national average.' Also, now we can't have a sedan, we're going to have to get a minivan."

Now I'm pregnant for a fourth time, and I didn't mean to be, and that raises even more of these feelings and thoughts. Thoughts like, "This baby wasn't supposed to happen." Thoughts like, "Maybe we've wrecked our Exactly Right family, and we'll always think so, and always wish we hadn't."

Fortunately these thoughts are balanced by other thoughts, thoughts from the part of me that isn't under siege by hormones that attack with barfing and emotions. Thoughts from my usual self, the self that says, "These things usually work out fine in the end, after a brief panicky adjustment period" and "One day in the future, you'll look back and won't be able to believe you didn't know this baby was coming all along" and "Oooh goodie, a BABY!!"

You're Beautiful the Way You Are

Do you have a song you're embarrassed to have an emotional reaction to, but you can't help it? Mine is Martina McBride's "This One's For the Girls." I hear it in the car from time to time, and I lose it every time. Extra losing it if I'm driving, music-video-style, past first a group of teenaged girls, then an older woman walking briskly, then a middle-aged woman with her dog. It makes me feel all connected to all those other "girls," even the teenaged ones who usually grate on my nerves by shrieking and shoving as they walk along, giving sidelong glances toward the road to make sure everyone's watching.

October 20, 2006

Click

I just watched the new(ish) Adam Sandler movie Click. It's about a guy who gets a remote that lets him fast-forward or pause parts of his life. He uses it to fast-forward the plodding time until his promotion, and of course discovers that this means he lost time with his family, too. The problem gets worse and worse until he's missed practically his whole life, and also he's lost his wife, missed his kids' childhoods, missed the death of a parent, etc. Looking back, he realizes he's done none of the important things and all of the stupid things, and he's wasted his entire life.

Is there any movie more likely to strike a parent's heart with fear and anxiety? Already I worry that while I'm "taking a break from the kids," what I'm really doing is spending time with the computer that I'll look back on later as a colossal waste of time that took me away from my dear, dear children. Okay, so they're driving me nuts now and if I don't get away from them the yelling is going to start, but what if one of them DIES? And then I'll think back and I'll remember all the times I said, "Not now, honey, just let Mommy check her email." OH MY GOD.

And what about all the times I hope for things to be over? I hope for potty-training to be over, for the tantrum stage to be over, for the back-talking thing to be over. But then I'll be old, and the house will be quiet and I'll have nothing to do, and my children will be far away and will think I'm foolish and old, and I'll pine for these days! I'll want nothing more than to wipe up pee drops from the floor around the toilet again! I'll have to beg one of my grown sons to come over and miss the bowl! I'm wasting my whole life!

I've been hoping for the morning sickness to hurry up and go away, but later I'll imagine this pregnancy in a glow of morning sunshine, when everything was beautiful and full of hope, and there were things to look forward to.

What is the matter with our brains, that they have to screw with us like this? We shouldn't have to feel as if we're missing things if we're not enjoying every single not-always-enjoyable second. This parenting thing is the best ever, but it can also be the worst ever, and it is a huge pain in the ass to realize that later on I'm going to be wishing I'd spent more time doing it. Right now I want to spend some time writing, or reading, or eating some Kit Kat Bites I don't have to share, but later on that won't seem important at all, and I'll be beating myself up for the hours I didn't spend cuddling the babies and playing games with my older kids. That sucks!

One reason I keep a journal (not this blog, but an actual physical journal) is that it lets me feel like I'm storing things up for later. I can't enjoy this deluge of parenting right now, while I'm drowning in it, but I can put some of it in a book and take it out later on and enjoy it then. I take too many photos for the same reason: if I take photos, I'm storing little bits of time. I can't see it now, when I'm so tired and barfy and just want to go to a store by myself, but I can see it later. Through TEARS, probably. URG.

And speaking of tears, I cried so hard during that movie I nearly barfed. Pregnancy hormones + pregnancy nausea + huge sentimental moment with the rain pouring down and declarations of love with music to match = sobbing + gagging.

Shorthairs

I have first-haircut photos for each of my first two kids, and both of them are under a year old in those photos. Robert was about 11 months old, and I gave him a trim before his one-year photo. William was more like 10 months old, and he got a haircut because his hair was so shaggy.

Neither of the twins has yet needed a haircut, and they are 16 months old. They have short, fine, baby hair still. Elizabeth's is a little longer than Edward's, but only long enough for the silliest of teesy ponytails, the kind that slips out if she shakes her head. When I take the twins out in public, people often think they're two boys.

When, oh when will I be able to style her hair in little styley ways? It was one of the main benefits of having a girl, I thought.

October 19, 2006

Today's Attempt: Ginger. Also, Recipe for "Healthy Pancakes."

Ginger! Ah, ginger, proclaimed by so many to be the One True Cure for nausea!

For my experiment I bought Ginger Altoids, ginger ale, and crystallized ginger. I also baked ginger snaps with extra ginger, made a batch of Healthy Pancakes (this recipe below) with ginger, and put the ginger container on the counter to add to various things, including the ginger ale since I'd read that not all ginger ale contains actual ginger.

My conclusion: it's no help. Also, the crystallized ginger was VILE and I threw it out.

Ginger can be a comforting flavor, but it didn't help with my nausea. And I will say this, without making it clear how I came to possess this information: ginger ale is a particularly revolting substance to throw up.

Some of the places that mention ginger say that it has to be FRESH ginger, and perhaps that is the issue here. I started getting nervous, though, about all the warnings that too much ginger (without ever defining "too much") could cause miscarriage.


As Promised Above, the Healthy Pancakes Recipe

2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup rolled oats, uncooked
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
2 packets Splenda
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
(or other spices such as ginger and cloves, in similar quantities)
sliced banana (optional)

In a blender or food processor, blend together all ingredients until smooth (and no little escapist oaties clinging to the sides). Spray skillet with cooking spray and set temperature to medium-hot. Add batter to heated skillet and top with sliced banana if desired; cook until sides are browned.

This is not exactly a breathtakingly delicious recipe, but it's hearty and filling and I've come to enjoy it now that I no longer expect a pancake but rather this substitute. I don't use banana, because I don't like bananas and particularly not warm bananas, but the original recipe included it.

Mom Delicious

Here is what is bothering me (today): the "Kid delicious, Mom nutritious!"-type advertising. I understand what they're trying to communicate: your kids will like it better than carrot sticks, and you will like it better than Pop-Tarts (for them, I mean; for yourself, you'd want the Pop-Tarts). But doesn't it make "Mom" sound like a big old stick-in-the-mud, a sourpuss card-carrying member of the Nutrition Police? "Hey, we know you usually want your kids to eat tasteless nutritious crap, but here's something yummy that even YOU will let them eat, you heartless old nag! For the love of pete, give the kid a break now and then, will ya?"

Personally, I groan just a much as the kids do about things like eating vegetables. I try to set a good example, and that good example is that I eat things that are good for me even though I don't like them, not that I go around like MY mom did, saying, "Mmm-MM! These carrots are so sweet, they're just like CANDY!"

I don't think it does a kid any favors to hear that fruits and vegetables are more delicious than a Burger King TenderCrisp Spicy chicken sandwich with a large side of fries. This was the message at my house growing up, and the conclusions I drew were (1) that my mom was nuts and didn't know what the heck she was talking about, and (2) that if people were supposed to find fruits and vegetables more delicious than junk, then something was wrong with me. It would have worked better on me for her to say that we can't always eat the things our tastebuds lead us to, and that a person can learn to also like the nutritious foods they have to eat most of the time. I can go for that point of view: grapes and apples ARE yummy, as long as no one is trying to tell me they're "dessert." Carrot sticks CAN be satisfying, as long as no one is saying they're a good substitute for chips.

October 18, 2006

Today's Attempt: Almonds

I'd read several places that almonds were a good way to reduce pregnancy nausea. I will try anything short of crack that claims to reduce pregnancy nausea, so 24 hours and $4 later, I had a can of almonds in the house.

No dice. Not only are they ineffective at reducing nausea (for me, I mean), they're a grainy, pasty thing to try to chew and swallow when you're queasy. Little teeny bits cling to my mouth and throat, making me cough and then, of course, gag.

Unplanned

Here is something I am suddenly wondering about: If your baby is unplanned, is that something you keep a secret?

I was thinking about how, when someone tells me their baby was not planned, I always remember that little nugget of information. Even if I know they love their baby and are so glad the baby is here, I still remember that the baby was "an accident." I wouldn't want someone remembering that about my baby.

Most of my babies were planned. This last one wasn't. I don't know if I'm supposed to be keeping that a secret. I haven't been. For one thing, it's hard to lie about: if you have twins, and you're due with another baby before the twins turn 2, it's not likely you planned it that way. If you've gone around for years saying you wanted four children, and when you had your third and fourth together you went around saying, "Well, I guess this is the last pregnancy, then!," and then you get pregnant again, it's not likely you planned it that way. If you've mentioned to all your dear close friends that you're just waiting for your period so you can start taking the Pill again, and then you get pregnant, it's not likely you planned it that way. And it doesn't really work, anyway, to say to my dear close friends, "YES! Yes, we totally planned this 100%!," and then not be able to talk to them about my mixed feelings, or how it felt to find out, or all of the worries I have about it.

But I'm nervous that knowing he/she wasn't planned will make this baby feel that he/she wasn't wanted. "Unplanned" and "unwanted" are such entirely different things.

October 17, 2006

Breakfast Time

Is there anything more miserable for a nauseated pregnant woman than dealing with breakfast? Later on in the day, maybe something will appeal. But at breakfast time, the whole kitchen seems dreary, and full of gross food no one should eat. The sink area smells like last night's dinner. The refrigerator smells like leftovers, and something sour no one else can smell. Every option seems unappealing, and there is the full knowledge that no matter what is chosen, it will not sit well on the tum. It will grudgingly dissolve in there, but it will not bring release from the nausea. And yet something must be eaten, or the situation will worsen. It is a sad, sad time of day.

Here's The Only Thing That Works

I have given up trying to find something that will make me stop coughing. The OB gave me a list of medications safe to take during pregnancy, and the only one listed for coughing is "regular Robitussin," which is an expectorant (to make you cough up gunk from your lungs) not a suppressant (to make the coughing stop). I tried it anyway, and of course it made no difference. (That taste, it reminds me of childhood. In 25 years they haven't changed it. I still had to drink it fast so it would be down my throat before my mouth knew what had hit it.) I also tried a vaporizer, sleeping half-sitting up, breathing slowly through my nose, letting a hard candy dissolve slowly in my mouth---anything anyone said helped them to stop coughing. No good, any of it.

Here is the only thing that works: Benedryl, to knock me flat out so I don't notice the coughing. It's on my list for itching, allergies, and trouble sleeping, and I think this qualifies as the last one. I take two Benedryl about half an hour before bed, and I sleep almost all night.

I hate taking medicine when I'm pregnant. No matter how safe the medicine, no matter how many years pregnant women have taken it with no ill effect, I am always half-thinking that in 25 years we'll find out it took 20 IQ points off the fetus, or that it causes the next generation to be born with flippers.

October 16, 2006

Goddamned Coughing; Also, Sudden Cultural Reference

Wasn't I just saying that this new vitamin supplement spared me waking in the wee hours of the morning? Yes, but tonight it is not the queasiness that has roused me, it is the coughing, the coughing, the goddamned coughing. Every fall/winter I get these colds that lead to relentless coughing: it wakes me up, my ribs hurt from it, the tickle in my throat is unendurable if I try to talk or, you know, breathe.

As far as I can tell, none of the over-the-counter cough medicines work even a little tiny bit. A doctor once gave me a prescription for a cough syrup with codeine in it, and that did work a little---but only because it knocked me into a narcotic coma, not because it did anything about the cough. If you've found some sort of miracle product, please let me know.

When I'm pregnant, these coughs are so much worse: not only am I unable to induce coma via Nyquil, the coughing can trigger barfing. And when I'm pregnant, I'm already uncomfortable and sorry for myself, and adding illness seems so, so unfair. Paul said he'd read that a pregnant woman has lower immunity to illness because otherwise her body would think the baby was an intruder and get rid of it. This did make me feel a little less sorry for myself: illness = helping baby.

Tonight I finally gave up trying to sleep through it. It was 4:00 a.m., I'd been awake with the coughing every hour or so all night, and I was noticing that every time I coughed (every eight seconds), Paul moved around a little, so I must be messing with his sleep, too. I'm up having some graham crackers and water and some Tylenol for the rib pain.

Hey, have you been watching My Name Is Earl? I realize everyone else has been raving about this show and giving it awards and writing articles about the actors, but we only just noticed it. (I think a child puts its parents about 5 months behind, culturally-speaking. Add a second child? Now you're 10 months behind.) We're getting the first season on DVD from Netflix, and so far it's bear-awesome.

October 15, 2006

Nauseated Rx

The nurse at the OB office gave me a sample pack of a prescription medication I'd never heard of, which is supposed to help alleviate some of the nausea I'm about to go crazy from. The medication is called Premesis Rx, and it's just a vitamin supplement: 75 mg of slow-release vitamin B6 (the normal daily amount is 2 mg), plus some B12, some calcium carbonate, and some folic acid. I gather that only the B6 reduces nausea. (The calcium carbonate is like nibbling 2/5ths of a Tums tablet: I guess it could help a little, but it's not something you'd get a not-covered-by-your-insurance prescription for.)

I tried taking it last night, and although I am still queasy all the 24-hour-day long, I haven't actually barfed, nor have I woken at 3:00 in the morning too nauseated to get back to sleep, nor have I felt as if I wished I myself had never been conceived. I wonder, could it be working? Has anyone else tried this, or known anyone who tried it, and did it work? The nurse at the OB office said she tried it for her own pregnancies but it was a complete bust for her.

She also said there's something else they can prescribe if this doesn't work. My question is, WHY HAS NO ONE MENTIONED THESE TWO PRESCRIPTIONS TO ME BEFORE, WHEN I HAVE BARFED MY WAY THROUGH THE FIRST TRIMESTER MORE THAN THREE TIMES NOW?? I think the reason is that I'm insufficiently whiny (in person, I mean). I say I'm having some trouble with morning sickness, and the OB says heartily that that's perfectly normal, and I say "Oh" and thank him. Whereas what I should be doing is grabbing him by his collar and saying, "NO, I don't think you UNDERSTAND. I can't SWALLOW. I can't SLEEP. I am BARFING INTO THE TOILET at 3:00 a.m., 7:30 a.m., and 2:30 p.m., and lying groaning on the recliner in between, and unless you do something about it, I will be doing this for EIGHT MISERABLE WEEKS you bastard, and my guess is that if you had this feeling for TWO DAYS you would be CRYING FOR YOUR MAMA."

October 14, 2006

Prime Idiot

It's 4:30 in the morning; I've been up since 3:30. This is happening almost every night: I wake up queasy and restless and uncomfortable and the wrong temperature, and can't go back to sleep. This particular night, I have the additional keep-me-up of feeling like a prime idiot for once again practically kissing a doctor's sandals for giving me what I think was a wrong and inappropriately dismissive diagnosis.

For the last few days, I've been running a fever on and off. The highest it's been is 99.9, so I'm not exactly combusting here, but when the fever is "on" I feel so awful I can't even describe it. I feel as if I'm dying, or as if I'd like to. I can barely walk or move, but sitting/lying still doesn't help either. I feel like I can't lift the babies, or change their diapers, or comb my hair, or swallow food. AWFUL, is what I'm saying here. Also, I have a gunky cough, and when I breathe in my lungs feel sore.

I went to my primary care physician's office, confident I'd be walking away with an antibiotic. They made me see the nurse-practitioner, which is standard for this stupid office: the actual doctors have 3-month waits for appointments. His diagnosis? Probably a cold. Just keep taking Tylenol every six hours. His attitude was dismissive and amused, like I was some silly pregnant woman wasting his time. He noticed that Elizabeth was coughing, and I said, "Yes, we've had a cold going through our house," and he said, "Well, guess what?"--meaning DUH, lady, you have that cold too, you didn't need a DOCTOR VISIT to tell you that.

As I understand it, though, a CHILD might get a fever from a cold, but adults usually do not. In an adult, a fever is usually a good sign that something is wrong. And in a pregnant adult, I don't think I'd take a chance on that, if I were a doctor: infections can be serious, serious things.

I can't believe he sent me away as if I were just there for fun, maybe trying to score some "good stuff" antibiotics. It is no small feat for me to get to a doctor appointment: I have to schedule it around a 2nd grader and a kindergartner's schedules, and I have to bring the twins with me in their ginormous stroller that barely wedges into the exam room, and the twins have to miss all or part of their nap. I don't go in until I am so worried about my health, I'm starting to wring my hands and hyperventilate and imagine scenarios where the last-rites priest says, "But why didn't you call the doctor sooner?" A brief glance at my medical records should show that almost every single time I come in, it's something that requires medical attention--and on the few occasions I've gone out of there without medication, I've been back a week later and they've given it to me that time, finally willing to concede that I have, for one memorable example, pneumonia.

What I really can't believe is that I said not one word of this to the nurse-practitioner. I said "okay." I thanked him. I'm completely responsible for the well-being of a child living inside my own personal body, and I have a fever, and I feel so bad I have WISHED FOR DEATH, and I thanked him and paid my co-pay and didn't even argue a little. Okay, I argued a teeny bit: I said I was worried about the fever, because I knew pregnant women shouldn't have fevers. He gave another dismissive look/sound/gesture and said, "Well, sure, if you were running a constant 102 that would be another matter." Me: "Okay! Thank you!"

In part, I blame my mother, who reared me with such a deeply respectful attitude toward authority, I have been unable to break that attitude even when a break is richly, richly called for. But in addition to the nurture, it is my own shy, fearful, confrontation-hating nature that turns against me. If only there were a medication for THAT.

October 13, 2006

Intake Appointment

I had my first OB appointment this morning. It was an "intake" appointment: I just saw the nurse and updated my family history, got my free tote bag and my lab paperwork and my sheet of which medications are approved to take during pregnancy and which aren't ("DO take your prenatal vitamins! DON'T take crack!").

Every time I've gone to the intake appointment before, they've asked if the pregnancy was planned, and I'd been debating what to say this time. Just "unplanned" and leave it at that? How should I do my tone of voice so that they don't ask me any unpleasant questions? Luckily, the nurse didn't ask this time. I suppose they assume that once you have four children, a pregnancy is either planned or you're too dim to figure out how it keeps happening.

First Barfing!

First barfing! 4:00 a.m.

October 12, 2006

Quease-riffic

So. queasy. I feel so awful, I don't know how I can get through the next 2 months of it. (And I feel so, so, SO sorry for the women who have this the whole 9 months. I think sainthood isn't too lofty a reward for those women.) This morning as soon as I got up, I ate saltines and ginger ale and banana, but I'm still on the verge of actual barfing. I feel tired and achy all over. Usually I get the twins dressed right after they have their breakfast, but today I barely felt like I could lift them from their high chairs into their play yard. Then I sat in the recliner for awhile, feeling yucky.

I don't even want to read. I don't want to go anywhere or do anything. I don't want to pick up toddlers. All I want to do is WHINE.

I keep looking for more solutions to the problem, but my conclusion is that there is no solution. People mention ginger, and peppermint, and a whole bunch of other things, but the consensus seems to be that nothing really works on "morning sickness" except time: getting past it.

Here is what I am really wondering: Is this the usual nausea I have with every pregnancy? Or is this the more intense variety I had when I was expecting the twins?

October 10, 2006

Pregnancy Feelings, Good and Bad

Good pregnancy feelings:
  • I am doing something important every second of every day, even if I am eating Dove chocolates and reading a People Magazine.
  • I wonder if this baby will be a boy or a girl?
  • I wonder what we should name the baby?
  • I wonder if it will be twins again?
  • I can eat well and exercise, for actual health reasons and not for "being healthier" in the sense of "I don't care what I have to eat or not eat, I WILL hold up my 'fat pants' next to me and be dwarfed by them."
  • Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, a BABY.
Bad pregnancy feelings:
  • I think I'm going to barf.
  • Nothing sounds good. What can I eat? Everything looks gross.
  • That statistic my mom told me ten years ago about most families having one more child than they should have had. My mom, who makes up statistics. That I then believe, for some reason.
  • I can't believe I have to go through this physical misery again.
  • Oh my god, the medication I took before I knew I was pregnant!
  • Oh my god, I didn't realize too much ginger was dangerous!
  • Oh my god, now I have to be careful of AROMATHERAPEUTIC OILS??
  • Definitely, I am going to barf.

Here It Comes

Last night I woke up at about 3:00, and I couldn't get back to sleep because I was too queasy. I finally got up and did a few chores: labeling photos (from July--I'm more than a little behind on this chore), emptying the dish rack, etc., while drinking tea and eating saltines. I tried going back to bed around 4:00, but felt so very, very queasy I had to get up again. At 5:30 I felt a little better, and very carefully lay back down, and felt well enough to drift off. At 6:15, William came in to tell me there was a spider in his room.

So, morning sickness again. One of the few reasons I was glad I was done having babies was that I was done with morning sickness. The weeks of it seem endless. I think some people think it's just a little touch of wooziness, and of course that's all some women get: one of my friends assured me that if I nibbled a saltine first thing in the morning and stopped lying around so much, I'd feel better---making it clear to me that she didn't deal with the level of morning sickness I'm dealing with. Here is what it's like: it's like having stomach flu for nine weeks. Anyone could be excused for going INSANE in such a situation.

That's Okay, Then

Oh, I could use a baby frontpack for the new baby. I'll be a sight, won't I? Two walking children, two children in a mammoth double stroller, one child strapped to me. But it solves the problem I seized up with yesterday, wondering how I would even transport this many babies.

I could also shop in the evenings, when Paul is home from work and the kids are asleep.

October 9, 2006

Sudden Panic

I just had my first big swoop of doubt. I was going through some photos from the summer, Robert and William at the pool having swimming lessons. I was thinking about how great that worked: I'd put the twins in their double stroller and we'd sit and watch Robert and William swim, and it was such a nice way to have some summer automatically at the beginning of each day.

I was thinking about how I'd definitely sign them up for lessons again this year. Then I realized that this year, I'll have a new baby, just a month or two old. The twins will be in their double stroller--and where will the new baby be? In fact, where will the new baby be on any outing? Already I am out of room in the shopping cart.

Trying to Appreciate It; Also, Trying Not to Barf

I am trying to appreciate this pregnancy, and not hurry it up. I am so impatient, already I am counting weeks until the ultrasound, counting weeks until the end of the first trimester, counting weeks until the birth---feeling restless and anxious for time to pass.

When I was pregnant with the twins, I thought it would be my last pregnancy, and so I had a little rejoicing/mourning thing going with each new thing: "Woo hoo, that was the LAST morning sickness! Ohhh, that was the last time I'll feel 'the first real kick'," etc. After the babies were born, I felt a little pang of envy every time I read a book where a character discovers she's pregnant. I wished for that feeling again, that feeling when you see the second line appear. I wished for the anticipation: will the baby be a boy or a girl, and what will he/she look like, and when will he/she be here? I wished for that feeling of having a secret passenger---and then, later, of that feeling that everyone can see that you're working on something important.

Of course, as soon as I get the unexpected treat of experiencing that anticipation and those feelings again, I start RUSHING it. Oh, god, I'm not even six weeks, why can't things move faster? I am trying not to do that. I'm trying to enjoy the knowledge that I Am Pregnant, and trying to enjoy the fun of not knowing everything yet. It is difficult, though, to fully enjoy The Moment when I feel like I'm going to start barfing any minute now.

October 8, 2006

Living in the Later

I am always reading and hearing about how it important it is to "live in the now," to "be present." This is not something that comes naturally to me. I like to live partly in the now, and partly in the later.

This way of living is what helps me to keep things together, even with four children. Yes, part of me is here, listening to my 7-year-old tell me about number stories (that's what they're calling word problems now)--but part of me is keeping a mental list that stretches from what I need to do in 5 minutes (get the laundry before the buzzer drives me insane, bring that box to the basement on my way down to get the laundry, start the twins on a snack) to what I need to do in 50 years (should probably leave grandma's jade jewelry set to a granddaughter).

This is also what lets me keep an optimistic outlook when something unexpected happens. Paul, who lives in the now to such an extent that he won't put a twist-tie on the bread because he can't envision a time when the bread will turn stale, is overwhelmed at the idea of this unexpected pregnancy. He is not thinking far enough ahead. He is thinking short-term at best: how will we handle so many little children, how will we afford so many diapers? Whereas I am happily dwelling in the future, where we will look back on this as the lovely, lovely surprise that brought us our darling child ____, who is getting married today and hasn't it all gone so fast?

October 5, 2006

Telling

Last night we emailed our parents with the news that we were expecting again. This is my fourth time sharing news of this sort, and every single time it has made me feel like barfing.

The first time was most disillusioning, because I had thought that telling would be one of the most fun things about being pregnant---but then after I told, I had that barfy feeling and almost wished I weren't pregnant. With subsequent pregnancies I've been more prepared for that feeling.

It's such a relief to be getting the telling part over with.

October 3, 2006

Welcome

An unexpected (but welcome) pregnancy is one of the craziest surprise treats ever. It's like going out on errands, and when I come back there's this huge gift-wrapped package on our front porch. It's like finding out I have a talent for something I never would have expected I could do, breaking out into loud perfect song and getting signed on the spot.

I was walking along saying la-la-la, and I had no idea I had a stowaway. There I was, feeling sad about not having more babies! There I was, doing the grocery shopping! There I was, going out to get the mail! And all along, you were already there. And then the day came that I found out about you, and everything shifted.

Now I know you're in there. I'm sending you messages, messages of folic acid and vitamin A and extra iron. I'm you gifts, gifts like skipping coffee and going to bed early and not coloring my hair. You're the size of a sesame seed, and already you need things from me.

Reeling

You know what makes a great cleaning brush for faucets? One of those little soft baby hairbrushes they give you in the maternity ward of the hospital. A little hairbrush that will have lived at your house for less than two years by the time you bring home another little hairbrush. Oh, god.

I am still reeling from the news that I am unexpectedly expecting. I found out about the usefulness of that little brush during an adrenaline-fueled cleaning frenzy yesterday. I was restless and energetic, and couldn't sit still or focus. The twins are still babies to me, and now there will be another baby. It is hard for that information to absorb. I'm letting it sit on my skin, waiting.

I'm glad I used some of that energy to clean the bathroom. I've been reading my old journals from the beginnings of my other pregnancies, and I see I can expect to be barfing soon, and relentlessly.

Paul is freaking out a little: how will we have enough time and attention for five children? and where will we put them all? and how will we afford them all? I am not freaking out about these things. I am focused on the impending barfing.

October 2, 2006

News

Remember a couple of days ago, my dream that I was in the OB's office waiting to find out if I were pregnant? Remember me saying that I would like another baby? Holy crap, I didn't mean RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Due date June 7th, 2007. That's before the twins' second birthday, for those of you playing along at home.

Shut Up

Have any of you ever been tempted to say something less than fully supportive to your chatty, communicative 5-year-old? Something along the lines of "Shut up, shut UP, SHUT UPPPPPPPPPPP!" Just me, then?

I feel like my mind is a bucket, and it can only hold so much before it starts spilling all over the place, causing flooding and water damage and insurance claims that never get settled satisfactorily. I have so many things I'm thinking about and keeping track of, it's like I'm balancing on a high wire. Any additional input is like a little shove. A constant stream of chatter is like getting poked with a stick again and again and again and again.

I try to stop what I'm doing and FOCUS. I know I should be engaging in careful, loving listening. I should be giving my whole attention. I know I should be valuing these conversations, setting them aside for the days when I'm begging my sullen, silent teenager to say even a single word to me other than a grunt.

I can't, though. I can't. It's one thing if it's one of those cute things you can write down in the journal: William to Robert, in a superior tone of voice, "Things that live in the water aren't animals. They're INSECTS." It's another thing entirely when it's a relentless monologue: "Mommy, I'm up here. I see an ant down there! Look at this piece of paper, it's so paper! Paper paper paper paper paper. POW! Pow pow pow, I got you, baby Edward! Look, Mommy, I got baby Edward. Mommy, can you get this knot out? Can you make a new knot, EXACTLY in the middle? I want it in the middle. Middle middle middle, a knot in the middle. There's that ant! A, B, C, one, two, three! Ding, dong, baby! Ding, dong, baby! Ding, baby, dong, baby! Ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong! My teeth are chilly! Nyuh nyuh nyuh nyuh. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy! I see another ant."

And so on. Let's say this has gone on for half an hour. Let's say I've asked him nicely to go find something to do, to give me a minute to rest my ears, to hang on for a second while I finish this one thing I'm trying to remember to put on the shopping list....oh no, I've forgotten it. NOW may I use "shut up"? DANG IT. Can I get earplugs, then? NO? You are so strict.