My Birth Wish List

This would have been much more annoying than it is, but I am trying to stay open and not try to control what is beyond my control. That’s why I don’t call it a “birth plan.” (Who really thinks they can “plan” for this?) But I did make a Wish List so that, even if we don’t follow it to the letter, my caregivers can at least understand who I am: a literate hippie who has done extensive research and knows that I don’t have to do anything just for convenience, even if I’m having twins.

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I am SO grateful to be delivering with the world-renowned UCLA team! I have had a very active, mindful, meditative pregnancy, and would love for the birth of the twins to be an extension of that. After nine months of research, thought, and discussion, I’d like to share my goals for labor and delivery. I understand that these are wishes and not guarantees, but I trust my birth team to help me achieve the most peaceful, natural birth possible, and for this I thank you in advance!

General Requests:

  • If induction is deemed necessary, I request that the pitocin be administered following the “low dose” protocol and increased in intervals spaced out enough to allow my body an appropriate amount of time to adjust and react to each dose increase.
  • I would like to decline routine IV prep upon admission.
  • If it is necessary to move to the OR for the “pushing” phase, I request that the staff does everything in its power to retain the calm atmosphere from the labor room to make sure this transition is minimally stressful or scary.

During Labor and Delivery, Here are my requests:

  • A relatively quiet atmosphere with dim lighting and only the presence of necessary medical staff, my husband, and doula.
  • Ability to walk, move around, and use shower, wear my own gown, and play soft music
  • Only necessary staff present.
  • To drink and, if needed, eat lightly
  • To have only intermittent fetal monitoring, unless for a medical emergency
  • Not to be pressured into an epidural if I don’t want it.
  • To be fully apprised and consulted before any medical procedure
  • To labor in positions of my choosing. (No stirrups, please!)
  • No Episiotomy unless dire emergency.
  • Cord to be allowed to finish pulsating before it is clamped
  • To have skin-to-skin contact immediately after Twin A is born, then to wait for contractions to restart naturally for Twin B. When these begin I’d like my husband to hold Twin A for skin-to-skin contact.
  • Allow placentas to exit body naturally, and take placentas home (will sign waiver)

For Babies, I request:

  • Babies to stay with mother at all times
  • No bottles: breastfeeding only
  • Delayed bath so vernix might be absorbed, bathe with pure water only (no soap)
  • Delayed Eye Ointment and Vitamin K until babies have had ample skin-to-skin time

If Cesarean Birth is Necessary, we request:

  • Kai and our Doula be present at all times during procedure.


Again, thank you so much, and know that we are flexible, should any of these requests truly interfere with the safety of our birth.
                      

With gratitude,

Ginger

New Due Date: July 26th

I haven’t been writing because, like I said, I can’t feel my fingers  (among other issues). But I know that if I don’t at least keep this blog moderately updated, my babies will be here and I will have missed the chance to truly capture what it was like to be pregnant. So I’m typing with ghost fingers, and I keep accidnetally hitring teh wonrg bittons.

I can’t believe I’m here, but it’s 37 weeks, and I have been given one more week before the docs have scheduled an induction. Next Wednesday, July 26, unless they come early or I decide to wait a little longer, I will meet my children. This sounds absolutely made-up to me, and I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I am SO EXCITED! I can’t wait to see their little faces and cuddle them and talk to them and name them and feed them and be amazed at how much love is in my life! I can’t wait to feel my fingers again, and lose a ton of weight immediately, and have normal-sized feet, and be able to walk without my whole body hurting, give my husband a full-frontal hug, sleep without all these pillows, lie on my back comfortably, have a cold, frosty IPA, and go surfing again!

However…I don’t want an induction. I don’t want a painful, pitocin-induced birth that will most likely lead to an epidural, though hopefully not any other medical interventions. I want these babies to pick their own birthday; I don’t want to pick it for them! Especially when I know they’re thriving and healthy. So babies, I plead, please come out this week on your own. Because here’s the thing: as much as I don’t want to be induced, I can’t take much more of this pregnancy. I can’t take much more of lying on the couch watching Netflix like an invalid, then forcing myself to get some sort of exercise for an hour or two, which is miserably interrupted every eight minutes by my need to pee. I need my body back, and I am not as patient as I’d like to be. So if the docs say 38 weeks is the end, I am leaning toward saying, “sounds good.”

In some ways, this pregnancy has zoomed by like a falling star. But this past couple weeks, it has felt as interminable as a visit to the DMV. All the physical ailments are torture enough, but I think the worst part for me is the mental incapacity. I can literally think of nothing else but these babies. I have no desire to work on any projects or meet up with anyone, because my brain doesn’t have the ability to squeeze in any concerns but pregnancy and labor and newborns, and I am aware at how paint-dryingly boring that is. It’s hard when anyone tries to make a plan with me because I know the babies might decide to come any time. My attention span is crap, because I read three pages or watch ten minutes of something before realizing that I need to add a few items to my hospital bag or clean out a shelf to make room for bibs. It feels endless and mind-numbing to be where I am (or, I’m sure, to hang out with me).

So pardon me, I’m sure I’ll be a person again someday, but for now I’m off to drink my raspberry leaf tea, take a two-mile walk, have lustless sex, and then go get some acupuncture in hopes of naturally inducing labor.

Pains of the Twin Third Trimester

I’m closing in on 35 weeks. For most first-time moms, that means five (or even six!) more weeks of baby baking…but for me that means I have three weeks or less to meet my son and daughter. The docs said they’d induce me at 38 weeks if the tots haven’t decided to come out on their own accord. My hope is that at 37 weeks (full-term for twins), they’ll just pop right out, healthy and fully-formed, and start looking for the food.

Though I hear at least once a day, “You don’t even look like you’re having twins,” I feel like I’m having twins. I feel heavy in every sense of the word. I shuffle along the street instead of walk, I moan in pain when I roll over, and I look down to see my feet straining my flip-flop straps, fluffy on top like Pillsbury dinner rolls. Still, I know it could be worse. A twin mom is recommended to gain 45 to 60 pounds during pregnancy, and I’ve gained 45 as of this report. I’m still going to prenatal yoga and pilates, riding my bike, swimming, and taking 3 mile walks, though none of those things are comfortable. In pilates this morning we all had to turn sideways for one of the moves, and in the mirror I compared my silhouette to the other pregnant ladies, some of which are at 39 weeks. No matter what people say, my belly is twice the size of the others, bulging comically like a fully-inflated balloon beneath my shirt. The weight has otherwise kindly decided to evenly distribute itself around my body, but I’m personally aware that my boobs, thighs, and booty have all gone up a few sizes. I’m not too bothered by vanity, though. I’m amazed at how strong my body is to have done what it’s done, and actually excited for what it’s about to do.

That’s right, folks. I am excited to feel my insides ripping themselves into pieces as I push two six-pound bowling balls out of my most sensitive little gateway. (Or whatever it’s going to look like when these kids are born.) I theorize that that’s why they build so much bullshit into the third trimester: to make you desperate for it to end. Otherwise everyone would be too scared to go on to the next step. And to what bullshit am I referring, besides the aforementioned heaviness, slow movement, swollen feet? Well, I’m glad you asked.

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Sorry to do this to you, but these are my feet right now. Not a visible vein or bone.

Third Trimester Misery

For one, I haven’t been able to feel the three middle fingertips on my right hand for a month. No joke. I have ghost fingertips. Typing this sucks (though it’s better than writing with a pen). My hand is asleep, and that’s just normal, apparently. Carpal tunnel is one of the awesome symptoms of having so much blood in your body that it compresses your nerves, rendering your hands floppy and useless. Adding to my floppy uselessness is the fact that my pregnancy brain makes me slow in every sense of the word. Not only can I not form coherent sentences, I also dropped an entire bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats and milk all over the kitchen floor yesterday.

And remember the extreme fatigue I had during the first trimester? Well it’s back. I had to quit all semblance of work after last week because I needed the days free so I could pass out on the couch over and over again. All day and night, I wake up for a few hours, then collapse again for a few. My thirst for sleep cannot be quenched.

One of the reasons I stay sleepy is that I am not just supremely uncomfortable in every position now, I am in real pain.  My lower back aches, my legs cramp, and when I wake up to pee for the fifth time at night, my bones are so out of alignment that it takes an entire ten seconds to consciously will my leg to lift and take a step. It hurts to walk until I really get in motion. I hold onto the backs of chairs and push against the wall just to make it to the toilet. I have recently moved my bed to the couch, so that my tailbone can rest between the cushions, and so that my pillow fort won’t smother Kai. Not to mention, I apparently snore now, which I’ve never had a habit of before. So I’m all alone in the living room with the meowing cat and my tingling numb hand, finally falling asleep until I get a rude awakening during the night from a Braxton-Hicks contraction, which feels like my whole middle is a tube of toothpaste being squeezed. I wonder then if labor is imminent, but the tightening usually passes after a few go-rounds and then dulls to a mild period-style cramp, then goes away.

Needless to say, these symptoms, along with the hormones, affect my mood at times. I feel broke-down and useless. I start crying about it on Kai’s shoulder, or I cry about something else, like how I’m afraid we won’t get to ever spend time together again, or how I feel bad for him since he’s working so hard to make our ends meet and I’m not contributing. Luckily though, it’s not all bad.

Redeeming Qualities of the Third Trimester

-My mood, though prone to occasional big, sad swings, isn’t consistently morose like it was during the first trimester. I’m really looking forward to meeting these little beings, and they move so much, and so dramatically, that I can almost imagine them as real. We also got a 3D ultrasound of the baby boy’s face, and that was startlingly precious and reality-inducing.

-The sex is still good, despite the fact that I can’t see anything that’s happening below my middle.

-So many people have contributed to our stash of baby stuff that I’m starting to actually feel like we have everything we need.

-Kai has come with me to all the classes, and I have a doula at the ready. My doctors are all badass females who are totally supportive of natural birth. The babies are healthy and head-down, and I feel like there’s a good chance that this delivery will happen with minimal stress.

-PREGNANCY IS ALMOST OVER AND I DON’T HAVE TO DO IT EVER AGAIN!

 

 

My Pregnant Body

“Woo! You’re carryin’ a lot!”
-Man drinking a 40 who cat-called me while I was taking a walk this week.

Yes. It’s undeniable now, even to bums on the street. Things change about my body every day. My belly button is a half-outie now. My nips are the size of silver dollars. I just saw a photo from a year ago and was astonished at the concave waist I never appreciated enough. I wonder how it will feel to be that svelte again? But first, I have the rest of this journey to finish. And on this journey, life is getting slightly inconvenient.

Body Image
Luckily, my face and the rest of my body haven’t changed much (yet?). A dude flirted with me from behind the other day, and when I turned around to quip back, I could see the surprise on his face. He was no longer interested. It’s okay. I feel like a hippopotamus. I only have about seven pairs of pants and seven shirts I can wear, which I rotate like one of those kids in the math word problems from elementary school. Kai still finds me sexy and we still have a good time in bed. I just close my eyes so I can pretend my belly isn’t obscuring the view of his goods, and try to enjoy the increased sensitivity from all the extra blood. I don’t try very hard when I go somewhere. I feel out of place everywhere, like I’m a spectacle. I feel super old around teenagers, super ugly around pretty people, super ghetto in my maternity clothes when others are dressed nice.

Preggers Exercise
The best thing I can do for my self-image is to get exercise and eat mostly healthily. Every day I do at least a bike ride, walk, or yoga, sometimes pilates or barre, last weekend a “mindful triathlon” with a 5K, aerial yoga, and meditation. But it’s not like I’m going hard when I do work out. When I ride my bike, I’m slow as molasses and even the slightest incline makes me huff and puff, dragging my extra 35 pounds. When I do yoga, I can’t twist, up-dog, lie on my front, or bring my knees to my chest ’cause my belly’s in the way. And anytime I walk for longer than 20 minutes I have to wear one of these big elastic back support things, or the twins start weighing down my womb–it starts stretching, hurting, and feeling like it might break.

After the 5K. I’m the bump on the right.

Peeing
Not to mention, I have to factor in peeing in everything I do. Luckily, I’ve always had tricks that are not for the faint of heart (keeping a Big Gulp cup in the car to pee in when stuck in traffic, digging a hole in the sand at the beach and then strategically placing myself to use the litter box under my towel without anyone knowing), but those aren’t always available. When I take a walk, now I have to plot out the route with the most accessible toilets. Every 8 minutes is preferable, but I can go 15 comfortably if I didn’t just drink a ton of water. Either way, the excruciating urgency always gives way only to a disappointing thimble full of pee, since half my bladder is squished under a baby.

Sleep
Sleep is now uncomfortable in every position. I was making the reclining-on-a-ramp-of-pillows thing work until this (26th!) week, but suddenly, my tailbone feels like it’s on fire after a few hours like that. Side-sleeping is hell, as my bottom leg and both arms begin to tingle/hurt within an hour. Last night, I painstakingly changed positions every few hours, turning on the lamp so I can see how to best rearrange 8-10 pillows, and finally getting an airline donut pillow from under the bed to put my butt on.

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The pillow fort

Who is Moving It?
Beneath my skin, the babies have been making their presence known, and it is reassuring and sweet, even though my belly sometimes feels like a dryer that someone put a few pairs of shoes in and then turned on. It’s such a strange feeling; involuntary movement in my body, like a muscle twitch, but it’s someone else doing it. Sometimes they kick and flutter, other times I can feel them totally changing positions–a little butt sliding against my abdominal wall, changing the shape of my belly. I try to picture who is located where, and I wonder if they’re interacting with each other.

I wonder what other nice surprises I’ll be treated to over the next three months. Three months sounds like a long time, but 12 weeks does not. Soon I will have my body back, but, as my good friend, a mom, recently told me–I will never again have my heart.

 

The Honeymoon Phase

I feel like a totally different person than the depressed shell of a human I was during the first trimester. My mood on the whole has gone from bleak and dismal to relaxed and cheerful in the past month or two: I’m in the Honeymoon Phase of pregnancy, and boy does it feel better.

Factors that could have contributed to this miraculous change:

  • HORMONES: They say the first trimester hormones are the worst, and they level off during mid-pregnancy. I say that is 100% accurate. Most of my depressed days did not feel like they were happening for a concrete reason. I cried just because I couldn’t not cry, I couldn’t see the good in anything, and I didn’t want to get out of bed in the mornings. I didn’t feel like me; I felt I was being controlled by some demon (hormones). After a few months, a switch flipped and I felt like my sunny old self again, complete with goals and interests.
  • TWINS: The anxiety and dark clouds didn’t entirely disappear once we found out it was not just a single baby inside…but that revelation was a huge turning point for my mood. I finally had an explanation for my out-of-the-ordinary emotional incontinence, not to mention my double fatigue. I stopped blaming myself and I actually felt excited for the babies.
  • GIVING FEWER FUCKS: Once I realized I am a human incubator of two lives, I realized that I am doing enough. This attitude is one I’ve been on the path toward for years, getting happier and happier the closer I come to not caring what anyone thinks. But now I’ve arrived. Yeah, we need money, and I need to fulfill my creative goals and keep my friends…but my first priorities are getting enough sleep, healthy food, exercise, meditation, and alone time, then, doing all the research, nesting, and procuring of items that will ensure these babies are safe and healthy once on Earth. That leaves me a mere couple of hours per day to do unrelated things. Does that mean I say “no” more often, and that when I do say “yes,” I am less fun, less accurate, and slower in every way? Yes. Do I give a fuck? No.
  • I’M MARRIED: I never thought I’d be so happy to be married, but this ties in with the previous bullet point. I have found the most amazing companion to help me grow, make me laugh, relax with me, and get me. And he has never been so into me as all the days since we committed our lives to each other. I know we’re in the honeymoon phase, but there’s nothing between us that isn’t real as real gets, and that makes me so glad I’ve long since left the days of running around trying to be as “sexy” as possible, exhausting myself with my “adventures,” smiling and trying to impress everyone around me. No thank you! Kai and I took a little honeymoon to Catalina Island a few weekends ago. We had such a great time. One day, we took a five-hour nap, then went to the grocery store and got hot dogs to grill at our hotel for dinner. We ate them, and some chips, in bed while watching a documentary about the Unabomber.

The fact that I don’t feel I have to search or strive for happiness is the most liberating experience. I’ve accomplished about four things today, so I’m not asking anything else of myself. I’m about to go to bed at 9:30pm and have one of those crazy pregnancy dreams, and just enjoy where I am.

I know that the third trimester is probably going to be a whole ‘nother story, and I’m going to have to learn how to live all over again. And same when the babies get here. I just hope that this ability to let it be will keep growing, and though I know it’s a possibility, I really hope the hormones will never again turn me into someone I don’t recognize.

It’s Really Happening.

I have these dumb apps on my phone which tell me week by week what fruit the babies supposedly resemble, size wise. The Bump says they’re cantaloupes this week, while What to Expect says “ear of corn.” (Huh? How can a baby be the size of an ear of corn? And furthermore, who decided to put “endive” on the list? Who knows anything about the size of an endive?) These comparisons are supposed to get us moms-to-be excited, picturing what’s happening within us more vividly, I guess. But, needless to say, picturing two ears of corn in my belly doesn’t really make me feel motherly.

However, one thing did make me feel it this week. We took a tour of the UCLA BirthPlace, where, Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we will be escorting these two precious souls into the physical realm in 14 weeks or less. That doesn’t sound like long.

As we walked the hallways with other couples, looking at the amenities in the private rooms, with their adjustable lighting for ambience and their couch where my husband will be sleeping, the reality began to set in. THIS IS HAPPENING. I actually began to get excited by the prospect of giving birth, once the nurse clarified some things I’d been worried about: UCLA supports natural births and only intervenes when absolutely necessary. They let you wear your clothes, play your music, put flameless candles around the room…they even give you lavender oil if you want, and they make sure that every baby gets skin-to-skin contact with mom as soon as possible. Babies aren’t taken to the nursery; they stay in the room with their mom and dad. And there’s an iPad menu where you can order whatever food you want, rather than eating smelly hospital food. I’m sure it’s not going to be the most fun I’ve ever had, but it doesn’t scare me at the moment.

I know that, depending on the babies’ placement and size and such, I may not be able to avoid an intervention when the time comes, but I am at least going to do everything I can to make sure these two cook as long and healthily as possible so we can keep them out of the NICU and bring them straight into our arms.