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.

 

 

The Kindness of Others

We have our share of worries (mostly financial / job / logistics related), but if we were to focus on the honest truth, it is this: we have everything we need and more. Maybe we don’t have it all figured out, but the amount of love here is astounding, and not just between me and Kai.

It’s coming at us from all directions. We are lucky to have families who want to help us out…but it’s not just those closest to us who have shown us kindness. A neighbor we barely know brought us a load of baby blankets and gear. An ex-neighbor dropped by with a card and new outfits for the twins. People from our hometowns have sent us money and furniture and so much more. An employer gave me some maternity clothes. My girlfriends who’ve had babies have sent clothes and useful items. The whole world is supporting us, it seems.

We’ve spent so much time reflecting, researching, soul-searching, trying to make more solid plans for what our lives will look like in a few months. Kai is trying to go back to school, I’m trying to find a work-from-home job, we’re educating ourselves as much as possible on child-rearing and twin-wrangling, looking to more spacious living arrangements in beach-radius. And, realizing it’s going to be very difficult at times, we are also determined to make this new existence a reality without losing sight of our goals: to raise conscious, thoughtful, proactive, loving kids who know how to love life, and to be conscious, thoughtful, proactive, loving adults who do the same.

And it seems, based on what I’ve seen lately, that the Universe would support that.

Glowing? and Other Body Issues

I must have been glowing today, or else people feel sorry for me because my belly is huge. But I think I was glowing, because I was wearing a tank top and Venice Beach souvenir sweatpants, with no makeup and my hair in a pile on my head. I had just done laundry and was pumping gas when a duo of twenty-something guys in the car next to me (who could only see my head above the car, and not my Rubenesque bod), kept checking me out and smiling at me. They continued to do so, the way I remember guys doing back when I was “hot,” and then as they got into their car, they said, “Have a good night,” and watched me as they drove away. I wondered if they could spot my carry-on luggage when they got the full view. Or maybe they saw it all along and just have a fetish for round women?

Strangely, though, right after they left, a car from Minnesota pulled up with a young woman, a young man, and a dog. I was almost done pumping my gas, and the woman, a cute red-haired gal, went in to grab a soda, and when she came back, she just yelled, “You’re pretty!” to me and then got into her car. I blushed and said, “Thank you!” and then her man said, “She really means that, because she only says it a couple times a year.” It was the oddest, sweetest thing, and I must say it made a heavy woman feel good.

Not that I don’t feel beautiful anymore; it’s just different. I mean, this pregnancy experience is like going through puberty in fast-forward. Every day there’s a new surprise, and I won’t lie, some of them gross me out. Every pink part of my body is now swollen and dark. I could give you more details, but it might embarrass you. I feel lucky that my face, arms, and legs still resemble their old selves, and I fear the next few months when they might also become unrecognizable.

At least my husband (who every few days is still saying, “You’re my wife!”) is still into me. In fact, he is more into me than he has been since, like, we started dating. I suppose it’s because I’m a living manifestation of his potency as a man, but he maintains that’s not it and that I’m just “beautiful.” I catch him looking at me in this proud haze, as if in disbelief that he nabbed me, and touching me as much as he can (and not just my formerly tiny boobs, which have now doubled in size!)

I’ve so far kept the stretch marks at bay by slathering sweet almond oil all over my belly every time I remember, which is at least once a day, sometimes twice. Here’s hoping it keeps working. My hair is a mane that rivals Fabio’s. People comment on it all the time. My skin is still remarkably clear, while my belly button is halfway to an outtie. My feet don’t seem swollen yet, nor do my hands. My walk is slowly becoming a bit of a waddle, and I actually have been wearing one of those elastic belts to support my heavy womb if I go on a long walk, or else I can feel them in there, stretching ligaments–it feels like a side stitch, right in the gut.

At 22 Weeks, I’m my own science experiment. I’ve been through more extreme ups and downs in the past four months than ever in my whole life (and that’s saying a lot for me). But I’m more than halfway through now, and hope I can continue to watch with interest instead of letting the abruptness of these changes scare the Venice Beach sweatpants off me.

Halfway There (Gender Spoiler Alert!)

This week has been so full of happiness and good vibes. It just goes to show the truth in the quote my sister always reminds me of: “If you’re having a bad day…just wait. It’ll turn around. If you’re having a good day…just wait. It’ll turn around.”

After we had such a wonderful wedding on Friday, I had a relaxing weekend, followed by a flurry of creative writing with my partners, because we are almost finished with ten episodes of a series that is soon to be filmed and paid for…not by us, but by a company!

Then, Kai and I went for our 20-week ultrasound. It took so long for the doctors to thoroughly examine each twin that the goo they put on my belly started to dry. But it was worth it, because not only did we find out that both of them were good-sized and fully formed and healthy (and crazy…kicking each other in the heads and dancing the whole time), but also we found out their genders!

I am not super motivated to do some gender-reveal photo shoot…maybe because I’ve been sharing wedding photos and baby propaganda for a couple of weeks and I’m pretty sure people are tired of looking at me…so I will reveal it through these cute mice in a matchbox that a friend got for us.

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I took a poll and while a lot of people predicted the twins would be two girls, the majority, including my mom, Kai’s mom, my sister, and my best friends, predicted it would be a boy and a girl. Very few people guessed two boys.

And guess who won?

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Majority rules! I had also felt this whole time that I had a girl on my left and a boy on my right, (though I started to doubt myself a few weeks ago when I met an old Chinese healer man at a farmers market who predicted two girls). But my intuition, as usual, was right!

Kai and I watched the ultrasound screen together, wondering when the doctor would stop measuring bones and finally tell us, and when she did, we felt like we were living in a dream. How could I be here right now, married to the love of my life and four months away from being a mother to a son and a daughter, when four years ago I was at the rock-bottom dregs of despair, and a year ago I was blithely coasting, unsure of everything in my life? There are ups and downs always to remind me how to feel, but ultimately I sense the world showering me with abundance right now, and I’m excited for what else is to come.

Thank God for Wedding Day

Ten Reasons I was in Hell for Two Weeks Prior to the Wedding

I had a really hard couple of weeks leading up until St. Patrick’s Day, which was also our wedding day. I will elucidate the reasons. (1) I began working over an hour’s drive away for a lady who, to put it bluntly, made me feel like I was having a nervous breakdown every time I was around her, such was her anxiety and need for control. Why did I start such a job at 18 weeks pregnant with twins, you ask? Well, because (2) I was broke as ever, freaking out about barely having enough money for my own half of the rent, let alone twins on their way in four months. In addition to that stressful job, I had (Reason 3) about five other odd jobs I had agreed to take on weeks ago when I couldn’t find any work at all. So (4) I was spending every second of every day in my car driving around to these jobs, which meant (5) I had no time for exercise or relaxation or taking care of myself. Thus (6) my body felt like it had been in a trash compactor and all the food I ate was what I packed in lunchboxes for myself through the day or what I bought cheaply from some crappy fast food place along the way. I was changing clothes in my car up to three times a day, depending on auditions or gigs I had. I was meditating in my car, crying in my car, aching in my car. On top of that, I have a writing job (not paying yet, but we have a company interested in funding us) that I actually do want to do. Besides spending time with my man, nesting, doing yoga, eating, and sleeping, this is the only thing I actually give a crap about, and (7) because of all this other shit, I was having to wait til the last possible minute to actually get my writing done, constantly feeling like a mess of a human who was letting my writing partners down. So with all of that, in addition to the (8) standard pregnancy symptoms of exhaustion, brain fog ,and hormonal anger/sadness, it’s not surprising that (9) Kai and I were not getting along. I was a total mess, and I wasn’t ever home, but when I was, he was also exhausted from working so much and just couldn’t be there for me like I needed. It was a lot of struggle. I called every therapist, friend, and family member I could for help. Oh and to put the icing on the cake, I had gotten a callback for a very prestigious national commercial a few days before the wedding. Guess when it was shooting? On our wedding day. So in addition to all the aforementioned stress,  (10) I was terrified I might get the job and have no choice, being so poor, but to take it, and have to reschedule our wedding.

 

…Then the Day Came to Save Us

Needless to say, as stressed and hormonal as I was, my expectations weren’t too high for our wedding day. I was glad to be marrying this wonderful man, the father of my children, but I was sure the day itself would be as stressful as every other day I’d been growing accustomed to lately. By the night before, there was no word from the commercial, so I had dodged that bullet. Our wedding would happen as planned. I had also informed Stressful Lady and all my other gigs that Friday I was not available for anything. Also, Kai and I worked out our arguments, understanding that both of us were going through a lot. The night before, I looked back on all my journals since I’d met him and made him a little book of all the entries where I had said I knew he was the one, or dreamed of marrying him. They dated back to four years ago, after we’d been dating only two months.

When the morning came, instead of waking up at 7, I I left my phone on silent and didn’t check any texts (and, yes, there were some asking “Ginger, can you be here at ___ time to do ___ thing for me?” NO.) I woke up beside the love of my life and the sun was shining in the windows. I made us pancakes and he made coffee, and we played acoustic love songs and enjoyed a lazy morning. His parents arrived as we were getting ready. In our finery, we got our things together and left for the courthouse. On the way I pulled some jasmine off one of the vines on 16th Street and fixed my hair in the car. Kai looked so handsome, and I felt as pretty as I ever have, as if my growing excitement was shining from within. I couldn’t believe how smoothly and stress-free this all was going.

We could only invite twenty people, and those were all family members or our oldest and closest L.A. friends–the ones we’ve shared the good and bad with over the years–and it began to dawn on us how special this getting married thing actually was. Where before, we knew our level of commitment, now, all these people we cared about were so excited for us. Now they knew, too. Even strangers on the street would clap and congratulate us as we passed. It felt like the whole world was rooting for our love, and nothing has ever felt more right.

I was so glad we didn’t have some overblown, shallow wedding with music and bridesmaids’ dresses and a party with a DJ. I really just wanted him, and he wanted me, and it just so happened that there were a few other people who cared to share these moments with us. We ate at a Santa Monica restaurant afterward, and then walked down to Ocean Avenue to our little surf hotel, where the nice guy working there had upgraded us to their largest suite because he was also rooting for our love. Our friends and family drank a little, and I got to have a glass of champagne, and we talked for a couple hours, then they left us to slow dance alone in our room, husband and wife.

In my journal three years ago, I had said that our wedding day would be one of the happiest days of my life. I have never experienced anything like it before, but I was right. Neither of us could stop smiling, and it still feels beautifully surreal to be a “real” family.

Divine Timing – I’m Engaged

I have gone from the dregs of despair to feeling like I’ve won life’s lottery.

We drove up the coast to one of our favorite spots, Solstice Canyon. We were both free and Kai suggested we go for a hike.

The sky was sharp cerulean. All the hills were green from the past few months of rain, and the sun was bright. We found our path and began walking up the steep hills, where the still-damp dirt was washed through with crevasses we had to hop over. We talked, then just climbed.

I get winded a little easier since I’ve been carrying these little babies, but it felt good to breathe hard. Everything smelled like Eucalyptus and Rosemary. We stopped here and there to take in the view. Kai took selfies of us, which is usually more my job.

Near the top of the mountain we strayed from the path and followed a tiny trail through the brambles that led to the peak. The peak was a grassy meadow with a seascape on all sides. The ocean was a deep sapphire, dappled with light. We sat down in the grass and let the sun warm our faces.

We both meditate for 24 minutes every day, and sitting surrounded by nature, this seemed like the perfect place. He set his watch and we closed our eyes, and heard wind rustling, birds chirping, and the occasional small plane fly by. I fell into my own breath, and soon was roused by the beep.

I opened my eyes.

He was on one knee.

I looked at him, taking note of his amber-green eyes. He was really seeing me. And he was on one knee. The breeze blew.

He said, “Will you marry me?”

Tears came to my eyes. “Are you serious?” I think I said, and as he told me he was, I said, “yes!” And more tears came. I hugged him.

“I love you,” I said. “I have known you’re what I wanted since we met.”

“I love you too,” he said. “But you still haven’t answered my question.”

“Yes I did,” I said. “Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.”

He hugged me more. He told me he had asked my parents’ blessing over Christmas, and I thought of how, at Christmas, I had, in a hormonal fit, reamed him up one side and down the other for saying the wrong thing on the car ride to Kentucky. It had taken me days to forgive myself. I couldn’t believe he could love me past that enough to know he wanted to marry me.

He held out some ring-shaped blue plastic. “I wish I had the ring. I’ve picked one out, I just didn’t know what size you were, and I tried every way I could to figure it out. Can you try these on?”

I didn’t care, I told him, if I even got a ring. Yes, it would be nice to have that symbol to look at when I’m feeling low, but he was my prize. I couldn’t stop smiling as I tried them on. “I feel so precious, like a little doll right now,” I said.

“You are so precious.”

He told me that for months, he had been talking to his cousin and to one of his friends about proposing, telling them he’d probably do it within six months to a year. He said that one night after a discussion with them, he actually went online and started searching for rings.

The next day, he said, was the day we found out I was pregnant.

And like that, I have gone from a single gal who worries about dying alone, to a woman on the verge of having my ideal husband and two children at once. Divine timing is real, it turns out.

Magical, Life-Changing News

I’d been lying in bed like an invalid for months. Gone was my interest in writing and life beyond the couch, gone was my strength and my desire to see humans. Even though I hadn’t vomited or bled or had any extra pain, I worried that on a basic level, I must not be cut out for what other women could handle. Psychologically, I was wrecked. I felt I was not enough: I was weak; I was less than. A couple weeks ago it got so bad that I called the depression hotline and set up a psychiatric evaluation. Something didn’t feel right. Why was this baby taking such a toll on me? Yeah, they say the first trimester is hard, but nobody seemed to understand the level of negative emotion that had claimed me as its own. What didn’t seem normal was the complete lack of control I felt over my own mind and body. Even my therapist, who has given birth twice, commented that my level of exhaustion seemed profuse. She wondered if I might have had the flu.

But today, all that changed in an instant.

We were at our 12-week ultrasound. My new doctor put the gel on my belly and moved the wand around. We saw a little fetus on the screen. It was much bigger and clearer than it had been three weeks ago.

“Have you guys had an ultrasound before?” she asked.

“Yes, we had a vaginal one at nine weeks,” I said.

“Just to see the heartbeat?”

“Yeah. We saw the little embryo, but the picture wasn’t very clear.”

She slid the wand along my stomach and the picture changed. “Did you see both the babies?”

I looked at Kai, whose eyes were round as globes. “What?” we both said.

“You’re having twins! You didn’t know?”

We burst into loud, nervous laughter. “Are you serious?” he said. It felt like finding out we were pregnant all over again, but this time, more joyful. What were we going to do!? How did this happen? What was this world we were suddenly inhabiting?

“I’m terrified,” I said, but I was laughing. It seemed like a hilarious joke the Universe was playing.

“Here’s baby number two,” the doctor said. On the screen we saw two distinct sacs with two distinct babies. “These are not identical twins. They each have their own placenta. You had two eggs and they both got fertilized,” she said.

She lingered for a while on the front baby, who was doing flips, clearly visible. The doctor said she was 80% sure of its sex: most likely a girl. Then she moved to the baby in the back, who was lying in child’s pose with his butt above his head. She couldn’t tell the sex of that one. I think of him as a boy right now. We shall see. She played both heartbeats out loud, and they sounded so strong. She said they looked like two beautiful, healthy babies.

And I am a different person now. I’ll tell you why.

I had been flogging myself nonstop for months. But suddenly, I stopped. The depression, the lack of motivation, the exhaustion, the out-of-control way I behaved when I thought the world was ending…it wasn’t because I am weaker than everyone else! It wasn’t because I am less-than! I hadn’t lost myself! I WAS GROWING TWO BABIES AND TWO PLACENTAS! I was barraged with double the hormones, double the fatigue for good reason!

In fact, now that I know this, I can reclaim my true birthright as a superhuman! I may have been slow to work, joyless, and ill-feeling for a while, but even through those symptoms, I kept doing my yoga, kept walking, kept eating healthily, kept looking for solutions for my maladies. I felt like giving up a few times, even uttered “I want to die” a few times, but I never did.

And now that I know there are two babies in my belly, it feels right. I had felt so lonely, worrying what my stress would do to this one baby. Now I picture these two beautiful quarter-Japanese little humans bringing so much laughter and light into our home, being there for each other, really making us a family. I feel nothing but excitement.

For now, all my fear is gone. I can do this.

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A few months ago, every egg I cracked for a WEEK had double yolks. Do you think it was a coincidence?

Miracle/Coincidence: How I Found Out

One sunny, clear day a couple of months ago, I was running errands, feeling energetic and cheerful.

I got a phone call from my little sister. (My sister is 29 and lives a couple thousand miles away from me, but we are very close.) She said she had something surprising to tell me. “How would you like…to be an aunt?” she said.

My eyes welled up at the stoplight. “Are you serious?” I asked. I was surprised because my sister was, at the time, training daily to get her black belt in Krav Maga. She hasn’t spent much time talking about a desire for children. Also, she’s in a relationship with a bloke she’s frequently been unsure about. Nonetheless, I felt a surge of happiness on her behalf when she confirmed it was true. “Are you happy about it?”

She told me she was. “You know what’s strange?” I said. “I am very attuned to my cycles and all that, and I’ve been waiting four days for my period.”

“Wouldn’t that be weird?” she said.

“Yeah. But it’s probably just stress or something.”

Inside the grocery store, I called my boyfriend and told him the news. He was also surprised, but seemed positive about it. I didn’t tell him that I myself was purchasing a two-pack of home pregnancy tests.

Back at home in our little one bedroom apartment, he was sitting at the desk doing some homework for a class he’s taking. I walked past him into the bathroom with the little box.

“Are you taking a pregnancy test?” He sounded shaky.

“Yeah. But don’t worry. It’s just to make sure.”

I peed on the little stick, whose tip reminded me of one of those invisible ink markers from elementary school. I put the cap on it and set it on the sink while I waited atop the closed toilet seat, watching it.

The first line appeared immediately. And in only a matter of seconds, a faint second line was starting to materialize. I thought it was my imagination. But a few seconds later, the second line was almost as dark as the first. I referred to the box as a guide. “Two lines = pregnant.”

My heart stopped. I didn’t know how to feel.

I walked outside the bathroom and set the positive test in front of my boyfriend at the computer. Then I began pacing. “Oh my God. What the heck? How?” I was bewildered. My sister had just told me about her pregnancy an hour ago, which was enough of a shock, and now this?

My boyfriend said, “Is this a joke?”

“No,” I said.

“How did it happen?”

“I don’t know!” I felt a spark of happiness but also a flood of terror. I didn’t want to appear too happy, in case he wasn’t happy. For some reason I worried he’d think that I planned this without him, since technically I’m the one who is supposed to be vigilant with charting my temperature and cervical fluid and making sure we use birth control accordingly. I flopped face down on the bed. Then I sat up again and looked at him.

His face looked disoriented for a second, but then a smile broke through. “Well,” he said, “I guess we’re doing this.”

I walked over and hugged him tightly. He hugged me back. Something in me felt like I should apologize, God knows why. I didn’t. I just looked at his gorgeous face and breathed it in, not knowing what to say. Then I got up and poured myself a glass of water.

“I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to finish this homework before I can really process this,” he said, turning back to his books.

I took a picture of the positive test and texted it to my sister with the message You’re never going to believe this.