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.

IMG_0927
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!

 

 

MIA: Crazy Pregnant Lady

It’s been over a month-and-a-half since I’ve written. That’s pregnancy, I guess.Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 2.57.54 PM

I used the last few weeks of my energetic second trimester to finish writing, producing, and acting in a web series, while also working here and there as a personal assistant to for two different people and trying to maintain my fitness and sleep.

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 2.57.22 PM
A month into third trimester: working on 1970s series, despite swollen feet.

THEN CAME THE THIRD TRIMESTER. I died. My energy was gone, much like it had been during the first trimester. My attitude was back to bad. My entire body hurt. But I still had stuff to do. I still had another web series to act in. I still had work I had already scheduled for my personal assistant gigs. And the babies are so close. I’m 33 weeks pregnant with twins! I have friends who had twins at 27 weeks! Gotta pack my hospital bag! Make sure the doula and the breast pump and the gear is all lined up! Sometime, it might be nice to get a list of names together that don’t make us retch! I better curate a “Giving Birth” playlist and write down my labor and delivery wish list! And I still haven’t researched hypnobirthing or baby sign language or best sleep practices for twins! But there are days, like yesterday, when I can do nothing but lie on the couch.

Luckily, the third trimester is not a complete repeat of the first. Though I’m back to feeling mostly awful, the one thing I do have is some perspective by now. Not full perspective, mind you, but enough to know that this is a damn hard job I’m doing, and therefore I must go easy on myself. Unlike during the first trimester, it is very clear on the outside that I am not like everybody else, so I don’t have to fight myself when I need to put off everything on my to-do list for another day…or another week. It will all happen when it’s meant to happen.

Dark with the Light

Today I’ve been having another of my existential crises. It came after a week of mostly good feelings, a week without facing the harsher parts of reality. And of course, it is a law that carefree times must necessarily be followed by a cold slap to remind us of the contrast that makes life interesting.

The easy week went thus: First, my mom and sister (who is, remember, two weeks ahead of me in pregnancy) came to Cali to visit. Mom is a fluffy ball of pure love, and my sister is a blessing, as she is a cohort in this strange, uncomfortable rite of passage. We didn’t do much when they were here: just ate at different restaurants and walked around Venice, binged all seven hours of Big Little Lies, and went shopping for maternity clothes. But it was effortless. No dwelling on impending futures and their scary prospects: just strolling along, enjoying each other’s company.

17760134_789858491562_7511223239455570754_n-1.jpg
My sister and me + 3 inside

When they left, Kai and I had a couple days of downtime, and then hopped a boat for Catalina Island, to spend a weekend honeymooning. Again, we didn’t do much; just what we felt like. We went snorkeling and hiking, we ate key lime pie and talked, and heck, one day we slept for five hours and then grilled hot dogs and watched a documentary about the Unabomber. It was as smooth and clear as the teal water by the docks, no agenda.

But then we got home.
Today was such a Monday. My stupid to-do list waited for me. There’s baby stuff to worry about, like scheduling all these birthing and breastfeeding classes, there’s writing and moviemaking assignments I took on for the love. I’ve still got to sleep, eat, and exercise so I can adjust gracefully to the feeling that, as my sister put it today, “my belly is falling out of my body.” But sitting heavily on top of all that, I HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO MAKE MONEY.

All my income-generating gigs are just too hard to do right now. I can’t go bartend when I’d pop the buttons off my black button-down shirt and can’t stay up past 8pm without slurring my words. I can’t chase toddlers around babysitting for more than a couple of hours, and a couple of hours isn’t really worth my time since what I’m looking for is MONEY. I do personal assistant things for a few hours a week, but I have a freaking master’s degree and I should be able to find a PAYING JOB I can do from home! So I spend hours on top of my to-dos, applying for all these stay-at-home jobs that may or may not be legit: writing, editing, grading tests, answering customer service queries, I DON’T FUCKING CARE, I JUST NEED MONEY.

We’ve gotten married, we’ve got two kids on the way, we’ve been on the honeymoon, we got a joint checking account. He’s working like always. I’m struggling, dying, begging the Universe to please guide me toward a not-awful job I can do from home that employs MY BRAIN to GENERATE INCOME. It’s something I’ve waited for patiently since I graduated from all that schooling, through the eleven years of doing creative gigs for free for the love of art, meanwhile making sheckles by serving hors d’oeuvres or schlepping kids around…BUT THE DEADLINE IS APPROACHING. IT’S TIME THIS SHIT PAID OFF. Yes, I am freaking out. Yes I am rethinking my entire existence. Yes I still would rather have this kind of freak-out than work in an office 9-5. But up until now I had the luxury of time because it was just me. Now it is me + 3. And I am a puddle of self-doubt and guilt and exhaustion.

Serves me right for having a low-stress week, I guess.

 

Rainy Day Twin Fears

My disposition has been much sunnier since I found out we’re having twins. It explained all manner of my crazy behavior and made me feel a little less inhuman. But it’s been almost a month since I saw the two little fuzzy black-and-white pictures on the screen, and the further away I get from that concrete evidence, my mind has become increasingly unsettled.

Every morning I wake up and feel my belly to make sure it’s still as big as it was yesterday. In my sleep and in those foggy hours before waking I worry about losing one of the twins. I have no reason to believe that would happen, other than that it has happened to other people.

But what if I’m depleting the twins of nutrients by sleeping on my back like they tell me not to? I just can’t sleep on my side. How the hell do people sleep on their sides? Where do you put your arm? It goes to sleep, and the curve of my womanly hips makes the whole side of my body uncomfortable as one side rests and the other sticks into the air, my torso in an “L” shape. I’ve tried propping pillows every which way, but most nights I eventually say fuck it. In concession, I prop the pillows like a ramp and lie with my head above my heart like I’m in a Craftmatic Adjustable bed. Hoping not to kill a twin, and waking every few hours trying to intuit if they’re both okay.

Before I ingest anything, of course, I Google it to make sure it’s not poison to babies. The real problem with eating is that it is of no interest to me. Food is still, for the most part, gross. Sometimes by the day’s end, I realize I’ve eaten nothing of substance. I was too tired all day to cook anything, and every time I opened the fridge for something quick, it looked disgusting. So I’m at the end of the day begrudgingly eating a bowl of cereal and some pea protein and yogurt to account for my lost nutrients.

I’m almost 16 weeks, and I did enjoy about one week of second trimester energy. But then it faded away with the sunshine that coincided with that week. It could be that my energy is boycotting me because of the fact that it rains EVERY DAMN DAY here in L.A. now, which makes me want to stay indoors and cover up with blankets. And the lack of movement means lack of motivation, and the lack of motivation means fear, and the fear means no food looks good, and generally life is a wet, gray, dismal, boring wash. I can’t wait until I can just take a damn walk! Or wear a tank top instead of the same five layers of clothes that make me feel like a fat eskimo.

I do have an O.B. appointment tomorrow morning. I hope they do an ultrasound and make me feel better.

I’m heading now to buy a twin stroller from a woman on Craigslist who only used it once. Originally this thing is almost $700, and she’s selling it for $500, with an additional bassinet! It’s early, I know, but I need some concrete way to remind me that these babies will probably be okay, and my fears are just products of the gloom that will bring greener, brighter days.

 

Pregnancy as Crappy Air Travel (Extended Metaphor)

To me, being pregnant feels like being stuck on a commercial airline, on an 40-week one-way flight, in coach, in the middle seat, sitting between my partner and a very large person. Damn, this ride is uncomfortable.

For one, there’s that fog of fatigue that set in as soon as the hum of the jet engine started, back in December. No matter how much caffeine I ingest (and I’m only allowed up to 200 mg per day!), every time I lift my head off the headrest, it feels like it weighs 30 pounds. I’ve brought my computer, hopeful to get some work done, but I can barely hold my eyes open. I stow my computer under the seat and berate myself about the to-do list I’ve abandoned.

All I want to do is sleep. The problem is, I can’t for longer than an hour. There’s no leg room. And this fat man to my right is crowding me. I fall asleep in one contorted position until my neck aches and I wake up and have to readjust. I try again and wake up because my butt’s asleep. I lean forward and put my head on the tray table, but after an hour of that, my back is killing me. I’m trapped and growing increasingly cranky.

Also, it doesn’t help that I need to pee every 45 minutes. I have to squeeze past my zaftig neighbor and do the whole bladder-emptying routine so many times that I’m considering just peeing my pants. And when I arrive at the toilet, it turns out to be only about two tablespoons of urine that was making me so uncomfortable.

It’s getting difficult to remember what it was like to enjoy life as I knew it, to run around free in the sunshine, in total control. I hate the feeling of being a passenger, having to play by rules that aren’t mine. On this flight, I am allowed no wine or champagne, no fine cheese or sushi or even deli meat (though I see others around me enjoying all of the above). The flight attendants tell me I can eat as much as I want barring those items, but I don’t want anything. It’s a constant state of yuck in my tummy, like a bad hangover. I’ve opened my barf bag so many times, but I never manage to vomit. I’m starving, but all the options sound disgusting. I only munch on the carbohydrate-laden snacks to settle my poor stomach.

Since I’ve lost all my joy in food and drink and work and activities, since I can’t sleep and I can’t stay awake even long enough to enjoy the in-flight TV, I am losing touch with reality. The recycled air is pumping a certain amount of negativity into my brain, and because of where I sit, I can’t even look out the window to remind myself the sky exists. Luckily, my partner is sitting by the window and is willing to describe to me what he sees from there: a clear sky, a sunset, stars, a moon, pink and purple clouds. But sometimes even his descriptions aren’t enough for me. I want to see it too.

Because of my fragile mental state, I worry about every single bump or patch of turbulence. I sit and fret and ask the people around me if it’s going to be okay, if I’m still going to get there, and some tell me it’s fine. Others try to scare me.

All I have to keep me going is the promise of the destination. My groom-to-be and I are going to live here forever. Where are we headed anyway? Well, I don’t even know its name. All I know is that people who have been there tell me it’s the most rewarding place to live. Which is weird, because the brochures I’ve seen show mostly bleak areas. I realize this is an insane decision to have made, to commit to someplace sight-unseen, and I’m scared, but also excited…because why else would so many people never want to come back?

1896900_653513836464_1051933941_n.jpg

 

 

I Shall Overcome

Dear First Trimester,

Today marked the start of a new week and a new philosophy for me. It’s taken me two months, but I’ve decided I am done playing victim to your terrorism. You can try all you want to destroy me, but it ain’t gonna work anymore. Because I have armed myself with the tools to combat whatever you’ve got to throw at me.

You tried today. You hit me with the nausea first thing, but I ignored you and ate an egg and some toast. And no, I didn’t scramble the fucking egg like some overzealous American pregnancy books said to. I ate it RUNNY! You know why? ‘Cause I like it that way. And yeah, you tried to punish me, bringing the nausea back around on multiple occasions, before lunch, after lunch, in the evening. It’s so clever how you’ve never actually made me vomit, you passive-aggressive minx. You keep the nausea at such a low level that I swear sometimes it could be in my head, but something in my body feels so unsettled and nasty, like a fading hangover, that if I don’t eat some sort of carbohydrate every two hours, I fear death. runny-egg-yolks

But it’s my mind that is strong. You can do me dirty all day, First Trimester, because the only bad things that can truly happen to me are my own thoughts. So starting this week, I choose to think something new. I choose to fill my days with productive plans. (Yeah, I even bought a new planner!) And these plans are going to be things I enjoy, things that enrich me, things that connect me to others. So far, I’ve scheduled some volunteering, lunch with a friend, some pregilates (that’s pregnant pilates), and a date with my man. I also found some new opportunities for work.

I dare you try to foil my plans like you did with that headache when I was seeing a movie with my friend this evening! Because I have H20 and I’m not afraid to drink it! And remember when you hit me so bad with fatigue midday that I couldn’t stand up straight? You had claimed victory when I skipped yoga to take a nap, but guess what? I did my own yoga session when I woke up. Not only that, but I also got to cuddle with my hot man, who took a nap with me!

I’ll admit, you went hard. You took control of my mind and body to an extent that PMS had never been able to achieve, and I know she’s and you are business rivals, so good on ya. I spent stretches of time so depressed that I hardly recognized myself. But I’ve had it with that. I am back from the dead like Michael Myers.
And guess what, First Trimester? You are about to be history. You have one more week before there’s a new sheriff in town, and I hear Second Trimester is much fairer and less dramatic. I sincerely hope it’s a few years before we meet again.

Sincerely,
Crazy Pregnant Lady