The GOOD Stuff about Having a Baby (or Twins) -Part 1

When I was about to bring two humans into the world at the same time, for my first time bringing humans into the world at all, I was scared.  I wanted to know every possible challenge that was going to come my way so I could begin preparing myself to tackle them all.  Unfortunately, after I read blog after blog about the challenges presented with parenting, I became very *blogged down by all the negatives.  This seemingly entirely negative life experience we had embarked on was overwhelmingly depressing, and for a while, I had a hard time figuring out why everyone was so “excited” for me that I was having a baby (babies.)  To my friends who already had kids who only seemed to talk about their icky adventures, I began asking, or rather pleading with them, “Please, there must be something good!  Anything?  Why did you have 3 kids?  Tell me.  There has to be SOME good, right?!”  I am here to tell you there is a lot more than just “some” good.

The Birth Itself

Terrifying!!!  Right?  Let me get this straight…1st, I’m going to dump like a gallon of water out of my body which begins the process of non-duplicated by any other experience pain, and then after hours and hours of this, I’m going to evict 7 lbs of  a blubber ball out of my body by means of a tiny opening it’s not really supposed to fit through?!  Not quite.  None of those words find their way in any means into my description of the day I gave birth to my twins.  🙂  It’s not the daunting, rushing-down-the-hall-on-a-gurney experience you see in the movies.  There is time.  There is even calmness.  The moment you go into labor, you don’t feel that much at all; except maybe, nervous excitement.

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See this? This is not a terrified or pained face! This is the face of nervous excitement! 🙂

After all, the moment you’ve been anticipating for somewhere around 9 months is finally here!  There is time to finish packing your bag with the last-minute things.  It can even take hours for your contractions to become regular enough for it to be a good time to go to the hospital.  I took a shower and shaved my legs one last time! Yes, I was still able to shave my legs with close to 12lbs of baby(ies) and their separate water sacks and placentas in my belly…muscle memory.  🙂  I was in labor for 7 total hours ( I’m thankful) without drugs, got to experience the natural feeling of pushing Pierce out, and I loved it.  I was in pain.  I screamed.  I cursed.  But, I can honestly say I’d do it all over again right now if I could.  It was such a life-altering precious moment that I won’t soon forget, and hope to experience again someday.  A lot of that is because…

 

1) You get a baby at the end!  But seriously, the moment your child is placed upon your chest for the first time, the world stops turning.

Now this is the face of complete and total awe. Completely unaware that my husband was snapping pics, I was lost in a new world. 🙂

Everything that was happening just seconds before has been forgotten and I’m pretty sure there’s like lights and fairy dust dancing around you in circles while happy music plays.  Okay, back to serious; everything looks different.  You’re filled with a lightness, a feeling of completion, and a joy that runs so deep through you that you forget everything it took to get to that moment, and you forget about everyone else in the room for just a moment while you look at your child for the first time, and tell him everything is going to be okay.  You wish time could stand still forever, and think life will never get better than this moment.  Alas, this is only the beginning of good things caused by having a child in your life.  And if you’re having twins, you do it all over again just a few minutes later!

 

Newborn 
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Our little O all burrito-d up at the hospital. 🙂
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Precious P compared to the size of an 8 oz glass of water his first night at home. 🙂

 

Are you kidding me?  What is NOT good about having a newborn?  Okay, everyone knows newborns have ridiculously tiny stomachs, and as a result must wake up every 2-3 hours to eat again, but I’ll take it!  It only lasts a short while, and hello most precious adorable innocent sweet little thing with the most potential in the entire world I’ve ever seen!  I was hesitant, tense, and downright spooked about bringing home not one, but TWO newborns at the same time, and I’m sure most can understand my concerns.  But forget all the real concerns, is there seriously about to be puke, poop, and whatever else comes out of those things all over our apartment all the time?!  No.  Not even close.  When I look back now on our time with our 2 newborns in our house, I remember everything around us feeling so clean.  Almost sterile.  This was because…

1. They Eat, and Therefore Also Puke & Poo, Very Little

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Shocking…I know

I remember back to a time when we used to celebrate the twins drinking 1 ml, and then 1/2 ounce, and then when they moved up to a FULL ounce!  They definitely don’t give you that “eating you out of house and home” feeling for quite a long time, and because they eat so little, they also produce very little puke and poo!  Keeping newborns clean is actually easier than you’d expect. 🙂

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Godfather S feeding teeny amounts to tiny P
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Uncle T looking like a natural, considering our babies were the first he ever held! 🙂

Also, don’t forget a huge aid in keeping newborns clean is the fact that…

2) Newborns don’t move.  When you lay them down, get something to eat, use the restroom, and then come back into the room….they’re still in the exact same spot.  They’re not going anywhere unless you put them there. 🙂

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A P and a pillow on the couch. Neither one will move from that spot. 🙂

 

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Mr. O making it pretty easy for Daddy to get some work done. 🙂
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Even awake and a couple months later..same deal. 🙂

 

3) Newborns also sleep through everything.    You could be at home, at a party, at a concert, or in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and if they needed sleep, they’d just be snoozing away.  It’s quite nice.  You can take them out as often, and for as long as you want!

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Can you find the baby? There is one behind D, asleep on the couch, in the midst of this lively game party! 🙂

 

4) That We’re-the-Only People-in-the-World-Right-Now Feeling

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Middle of the night feedings.  They’re inevitable.  But you can change your attitude and how you deal with them to make them special.  Would you believe me if I told you I miss them?  I do.  They only last a short time, and there’s something about being up in the middle of the night with your baby (or twins), when it seems like the rest of the whole world is asleep, and you’re the only ones up adventuring.  It’s an almost indescribable feeling, but if you’ve been there, you know the one I’m talking about.  I believe it to be the real beginnings of bonding experiences with your child (or children).  🙂

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6 Weeks

6. 6 week old babies start going longer stretches between feedings, especially at night.  It was around this time when I was able to ease up on the feeding or pumping every 2-3-ish hours, and I was able to start sleeping a lot longer stretches.  I think I started with 6 hour stretches, but soon enough I was sleeping 8 hour stretches!  Now, the babies were not yet doing this, but my husband and I slept in shifts, and there are just enough hours in a day for you to sleep 8 hours, your husband to sleep 8 hours, and then for him to go to work for 8 hours (provided he has no commute; D was able to finish working from home during his awake “shift”).  As soon as he came home from work around 5, I would head to bed.  I’d get up at 1, and send him to bed for the night.  He’d get up 9, and head to work!

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The babies slept much better in their “pumpkin chairs,” (as put by Grandma P), so they slept there for the first 3 months or so, and basically never left the living room. 🙂

 

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Of course, they always slept best up on chests. 🙂

 

7.  Getting the twins to eat and sleep on the same schedule became more prevalent around 6 weeks.  Soon, we started being able to catch stretches of sleep all at the same time, and then see each other more while we were awake! 🙂

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Grandpa C showed US how to master the double feeding! We had our own variations. 🙂

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8. Baby Smiles.  Before there were giggles, there were smiles.  The first few times your baby smiles at you, you really do convince yourself it’s too good to be true. “He’s just contorting his face that way, it’s a fluke, ” etc.  Then, when you realize your baby is smiling at you on purpose, well…you can imagine the emotion. 🙂

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O-Man hamming it up for Grandpa M. 🙂
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D to me: “Look at us, we’re bro-ing out.”
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We could finally get pretty good smiles on both of them at the same time for their 3 month pictures! 🙂

 

3 Months

9. Sleep Training

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3-4 months post due date is when the sleep training book we read and believed in, ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins,’ (also available in, ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child’) said it was an acceptable time for sleep training.  I could and probably will write an entire blog post on sleep training, but just in case you’re curious, we went with the “Extinction Method,” or in layman’s terms, “The Cry It Out Method.”  Okay, I know this is extremely controversial, and a lot of people will have a problem with it, but I’m a firm believer in you have to do whatever works for you!  THIS worked/continues to work for us.  It took 3 days and the kids have essentially been sleeping through the night ever since.  Of course, of course, we have the occasional sickness, teething, and what-not, where we usually end up having to re-train them afterwards because they get used to sleeping in bed with Mama and Dada.   But, this continues to work for us.  I mean, sleeping through the night!  3 months (post due date) was good to us!

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Once the babies were sleep trained, they started falling asleep super easy whenever they were tired like they used to in the first days! They even fell asleep randomly in the middle of this photo shoot I had been having with them. 🙂

 

10.  Baby Giggles

Baby giggles out of YOUR child are practically life-changing.

I mean, come on….no matter what they threw at me during the day, this erased it all. 🙂

To Be Continued…

*Haha, get it? Blogged down=bogged down

You Might Need An Attitude Adjustment

Note:  Anxiety and depression are real.  If you think you might struggle with either one of these, please seek help.  
If you're having problems with your mood and/or emotions ALL of the time, try the first 3 things vital for regulating the human body. (Pray).  Eat.  Sleep.  Exercise.  Make it a regular thing.  You might be surprised how much things tend to go out of whack when you forget to eat and sleep.  And when you're out of whack, you don't realize you're not eating and sleeping.  Remember if you don't take care of yourself first, you can't take care of anyone else!  If you already know you're fine, but you're just having troubles feeling grateful lately, read on. :)

My husband came home from work.  “How was your day?” he asked.

I asked him before the kids were born to never come home and ask me, “What did you do today?” because that would make me feel like I accomplished nothing.  He said that was ridiculous because every day my answer could just be, “I raised two kids,” and he would high five me and act like I changed the world, but alas, we came to an agreement that he would just ask me, “How was your day?”  I don’t know….I may be starting to rethink this now.  Here is why:

Are you one of those people who can just never seem to catch a break?  Is your boss always saying the most horrifying things to you?  Do you have a coworker you can’t get away from who makes your life hellish at work?  Do you always seem to catch one cold after the next?  What about the kids?  Have they been sick for seemingly the last 7 months, and that’s how long it’s been since you’ve had a decent night sleep?  Are you saying, “Yes, yes, yes, that’s me!”  Here’s one more question for you:  Do you focus too much on all the negative things that have happened to you, and not nearly enough on the positive things?  Try this instead; tell me all the positive things that have happened in the last 7 months.

Seriously.  Do it.  And none of this, “Well, I did get a raise at work, but now I have more responsibilities, so it’s harder.”  You got a RAISE at work?!  That’s awesome!!  Can we just celebrate that, please?  The reason I’m asking you to list out all the positive things that have happened is because I promise, it will make you feel better.  This is one of the basic laws of life.  If you focus on all the positive things that have happened over time, you will feel like you accomplished more, you felt great doing it, and now life is good again. 🙂

When my husband comes home from work, all I want to do is vent.  The way I feel is I have about 9 hours of kid craziness to catch him up on, and I want him to hear it all, so he knows what I’m dealing with, and how lucky he is to escape it all at work!  Right?  Ick.  Wrong!  First of all, my husband loves me and our kids to the moon and back and does not get his kicks by “escaping” us all day long at work.  He wishes he could stay home with us.  Second of all, he doesn’t really get to “escape.”  He goes and puts all the rest of the energy he has left into his job.  Lastly, and most importantly, do you want to create an environment that your spouse is happy to rush home to every day, and is good energy for you and your kids, or not?

“So, how was your day?” my husband asked me.

“It was good.  Well, the kids both slept for 3 hours, but at different times, and P needed me to hold him the whole time, so… where was my break?”  ”

“Yeah, so…… what about that was good?”

I did not want to tell him.  I wanted to complain more.  Clearly, he wasn’t hearing me, or he would have expressed some sympathy for me, right?

It was then that it suddenly occurred to me I might be the one who needed to change my attitude for this conversation.  I thought maybe, just maybe, if I could get over myself for 2 seconds and answer the dang question honestly, we might get somewhere.

“Well…..I finally got to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy since P needed me to hold him while he was sleeping, one of my friends volunteered to babysit for free, the kids sat still long enough in their high chairs during lunch for me to clean the whole kitchen………….heyyyyy, today was a good day!  Actually, I got some stuff done today.  I didn’t waste today!”

I didn’t want to be treated like a little kid and forced to list the positive things.  I wanted to sit around and complain like two adults.  Isn’t that what adults do?  But then, I tried it.  It changed me on the spot.  It changed my attitude, my feelings about the day, my demeanor towards my husband and my kids, and I felt better.  Sometimes, even just the power of saying things out loud is amazing.

Now, who is with me, and who is still being a sourpuss?  Are you sitting there thinking, “Okay, I tried.  I tried to look back, and find positive things, and nothing came up”?  Look, I do have compassion.  I realize sometimes life hands you really shitty, rotten lemons, and there really is nothing you can do to change those lemons.  You may need to grieve.  Then afterwards, you can hopefully focus on what you do have that is good in order to keep yourself trudging forward.  One of the most joyful and positive people I know hasn’t lived the easiest life.  In the time span of about 3 years, both of her kids moved away, both of her parents and her brother died, she got divorced, her sister went back into the hospital and then needed my friend to take her into her house due to her mental illness, her daughter’s cancer doctors told her her daughter’s cancer came back, she lost several jobs, and oh yeah, she suffered major financial problems.  How is this person one of the most joyful people I know?  1) With God.  2) Because she finds it.  She laughs at everything.  She finds joy in her grandbabies, in being alive, and the family in her life that is also still alive.

If even still, you’re not feeling very positive about your life, you’re going to force me to go even deeper.  In what do I place great joy in my life?  If you know me, you’re probably guessing my kids or my husband, but my first answer is (of course God, and then) being alive.  When I was first diagnosed with stage IV terminal cancer at 9 years old, the first question I asked my doctor was whether or not I was going to die.  My doctor said, “We’re going to do everything we can.”   Even at 9, I knew that meant, “maybe.”  People who know me like to tease me about being the most excitable person they know.  Is it that hard to believe I have been excited about waking up every single day of my life since I found out I might not get to live it anymore?  After incomplete resection of my type of cancer, the 10-year survival rate is no higher than 45%.  I had my first incomplete resection 18 years and 4 months ago.  Not only do I just get to live, but I get to live my life pain free, with no bad residual effects!  I must be the luckiest person alive!  (God is good.)

Do I need to go even deeper?  Okay, listen to this dude talk about orphans in the Philippines for an hour, and hopefully you can see how blessed your life has been.  (If you still feel like you had a bad day, go talk to your doctor, or another professional.  Seriously.  There is no shame, and it might be a healthy decision.  I recommend counseling to everyone I know.)

“Okay, little-miss-bright-side-of-friggin-everything-mom, I know I lead a blessed life, and I have lots of things that other people don’t, but sometimes I just need to vent! Okay?!”

Okay, I agree.  Sometimes, we need to vent to people (especially us extroverts), so we can hear ourselves thinking out loud.  But, can we change these conversations from just ranting complaining to figuring stuff out, seeing the other side, and finding the positives?  If not the positives in that situation, then in other things you have?  How else are we supposed to feel better?

I’m considering asking my husband to change his tune to the question every wife hates to hear, “What did you do today?”  I might just be able to use this as an opportunity to start listing out all the positive things that happened to me.  Then, I can get my focus right, forget the small stuff, and let my attitude be adjusted. 🙂

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My two and a half MONTH baby, O, (last year) in the hospital giggling up a storm before his foot surgery.
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A mere 12 hours after going under anesthesia and being sliced into, my baby O is smiling again, despite the pain, because he sees his mommy and daddy, so life is (obviously) good. 🙂 This little man has taught D and I more about being positive than anything or anyone else.
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After he was done with months of wearing casts where he couldn’t bend his legs at all, (and go into that froggy pose that most newborns love), little O had to wear these braces on his legs 24/7 for a few months. He still wears them at night, and will continue until age 4. I should have gotten a picture of him wearing these and smiling. It wouldn’t have been hard. Despite all this, he is still the happiest baby I have ever met! Did he seriously learn perspective at only a few months of age? 🙂

 

9 Minimalist Things for Surviving Your (Twin) Pregnancy

I call this my “minimalist” list because for starters, it did not involve too many purchases, and also because there was nothing big or bulky that we will now have just sitting in storage.

 

1. My husband, D.                                                                                     Sorry ladies, D cannot be picked up in any store, and is not in stock on Amazon.  But seriously, twin pregnancies are automatically considered high risk, so you have to make a lot more OB appointments than normal mammas, and my husband has been to EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of “our” OB appointments because he wanted to be there, and I don’t know what I would have done without him!  Halfway through the pregnancy we started being seen every two weeks, and soon after, every week, and often times we have been to the doctor 2-3 times per week to check on some questionable looking things.  Until my doctor pulled me out from work for bed rest, I was scheduling the appointments entirely around my work schedule because mine was more strict than D’s, and I was the one who always actually HAD to be there, but he ALWAYS made it work, and I could NOT be more appreciative.  I have not really been a crier this whole pregnancy, but there have been a couple of times where we were delivered some scary news in the office, and with the double the amount of regular pregnancy hormones coursing through me, I couldn’t help but break down right then and there. But D was always there to be my rock, my Mr. Stable; and when you’re not supposed to allow yourself to stress over anything, I don’t know what I would have done without him there.

Alternative Options: A mom, a relative, a friend, a trustworthy coworker, a doula.  I highly recommend taking someone, anyone you trust and feel comfortable with, along for the OB appointments, especially if you know you will probably be receiving big news at the appointment.  It may be important to make sure the person you bring is a positive person, and will not be the one freaking out, while you stay strong for them.  That doesn’t really help.  For me, having anyone to sit there and rub your back while staying strong, and calming YOUR nerves is infinitely better than sitting there alone.  It’s also fun to have someone you know to get excited with when the doctor says something like, “Oh, I can see baby B has hair already!”

2. My “snake” pillow.  Technically, it’s called a ‘Back N Belly Contoured Body Pillow,’ which IS available on amazon..  D started calling it, “the snake,” when I started dragging it around the house from one end so I could have it wherever I decided to sit or lie down.  I am extremely fortunate enough to have a very good friend who happens to be a doula.  One of her clients gave the pillow to her to give to other clients, and she has loaned it to me during the pregnancy.  It was oh-so-wonderful for making even the largest of pregnant bellies (mine) comfortable whilst trying to sleep, and thus, alleviating a bit of my pregnancy insomnia…..buuuuuuut, the downside is it does sort of tend to kick your husband out of bed, so he will probably hate it, and may even start referring to is as, “the other man.”

Here’s a picture of my son,  looking like a Pharaoh wrapped up in the pillow. 🙂

Alternative Minimalist Options: If you don’t happen to get loaned an absurdly extravagant maternity pillow, I know there are a lot cheaper body pillows out there, or a lot of women just surround themselves with the pillows they do have.  That was working for me as well, but I beseech you, if someone offers you one of these AMAZING luxuries, do NOT pass it up!

My Fertility Specialist OB

I decided I needed a fertility specialist OBGYN because of this.  So, I found a WONDERFUL female OBGYN in Mt. View who was a large influence on me becoming pregnant with twins, completely naturally, with some simple advice (don’t wait).  I’ll never forget the moment of the first ultrasound when she said, “Uh oh…How many babies are there???”

3. My High-Risk Pregnancy (Twin) Specialist OB
Alas, as wonderful as she was, and as thankful as I am today to have seen her, once my fertility specialist OB found out I was having twins, she wanted to recommend me to someone better suited for the job.  She was only one woman, and she told me if she delivered the twins, she would for sure take them out via c-section so she knew she could handle the whole thing on her own.  But she knew I wanted to at least attempt to have the twins naturally, so we sought out an OB with experience in high-risk pregnancies, which includes multiples!  

I will never regret this decision.  With the help of my doula friend at the time, we found a doctor who agreed to do everything in his power to deliver the twins naturally, God willing.  Also, he was part of a practice of OBGYNs, so there would be more than 1 OB there for the delivery.  

Wouldn’t you know it, when January 10th rolled around, I was on a maternity floor with 7 other women who had given birth, and I was the ONLY one to do so not via c-section!  Moreover, I was one of only two there who had a multiple birth!  I am convinced it was because I was blessed with the best doctor in the entire world!  Sure, there were complications, but they didn’t let it deter them.  P came perfectly, and then O was still tucked away in his water sack in my right rib, breech.  20 minutes later, O’s heart rate plummeted to 50, but they got him out and all was well. 🙂

I also believe it is thanks to my twin specialist OB that I even made it to 37 weeks pregnant with twins, and the twins got to be over 5 lbs in the first place.  He yelled at me when I was not putting on enough weight, made me stop working way sooner than I wanted to, and kept those babies in when I was 80% effaced and 2 cm dilated for 4 weeks.  I probably could have made it even further if I didn’t get tired of 4 weeks of bed rest, and go shopping when the doc told me 37 weeks was considered full-term for twins, and the babies would be fine if born because they made it to 5 lbs.

4. Maternity Pants, Duh
I am putting this on my list because I want to encourage other new Moms to not be as dumb as me and buck the maternity pants forever because they make you feel like a fatty.  I was feeling very uncomfortable in my new layers of skin (imagine that), and I wanted my body to feel like normal as much as it possibly could.  So even after my Dad adorably bought me my very first pair of maternity jeans, I bucked them for way too long.  Yoga pants, skirts, dresses, and jeans (which were uncomfortably cutting into my stomach, but still fit because they sat low and the babies sat high) were my wardrobe.  Then, finally one day all my other clothes were in the laundry, so I tried on my maternity jeans for the first time since buying them, and it was like heaven around my waist.  Maternity pants are just yoga pants, but made to look like whatever you want on the bottom!  Why have I not been wearing them my whole life?!  Even after I had the babies, I wore them for as long as I possibly could, until they were falling off of me. 🙂

Alternative Minimalist Options: Don’t have a father who’s willing to splurge on maternity pants for you?  No problem.  I didn’t truly need them.  Previously owned dresses and stretchy skirts that could fit under my belly would have been just fine for work all along, and yoga pants and my husband’s pajama pants were my uniform at home. 🙂

5. Comfortable, Cushy Shoes
Just as I did not want to succumb to comfortable pants, I also did not seem to want to admit to needing to wear only cushy shoes.  I wanted to still be able to look like a normal woman, and wear cute boots, just like everyone else.  I did for a very long time, and I also wore a lot of Chuck Taylor’s.  Alas, eventually even those didn’t provide enough cushion for the amount of extra weight I was carrying.  When I finally just switched to my own old gym shoes (even at work), I had another, “Duh!” moment of realizing I should have done it a long time ago.  Nobody cared at all, my feet, legs, and back were happier, and they were hidden mostly under my pants anyways.  I still looked normal. 🙂

6. Snacks in my Pockets… at all Times.
As described in, ‘5 Things Your Bachelor Friends Might Wonder About Your Pregnancy,’ “crashing” is not okay.  In order to combat it, I began to carry snacks in my pockets or in my bag at all times.  D also began to carry around things like, granola bars, cheese crackers, etc. at all times in case I forgot.  He was all too aware of the dangers of not being prepared, haha. 🙂

***Side story***
When I was only 9 weeks pregnant, and not ready to tell everyone yet, I was in my friend’s wedding in Ohio.  I knew I was going to be incessantly snacking, and carrying around a bag just stuffed with snacks, which would probably seem weird, as I don’t normally do this.  As my cover story, I told everyone I had decided I was the bridesmaid on “snack duty” to make sure no one else had any sugar crashes.  I was constantly offering people the snacks out of my magic bag, and it completely covered the fact that I was always chowing down.  Suspicions averted. 🙂

7. My ‘Baby Bargains’ book
Like all pregnant mothers (especially 1st-time), my 1st instinct was to PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE for what I thought was going to be the biggest life change in the history of time.  (I had twins, and I can confirm my life did NOT change as drastically as it did when I was diagnosed with cancer, went to college, or moved to California).  As previously stated, when I was pregnant, I didn’t have a single friend from all 3 of my main friend groups who had a child.  Thus, I turned to the mother of my sweet God-daughter, my sister-in-law, for any and all questions.  The first thing I wanted to know to prepare was what stuff we would actually need.  As my husband and I attempt to live minimalist lives, I didn’t want to buy or receive anything we wouldn’t truly end up needing, and I wanted to know what stuff we could use to make do.  She recommended to me the best book ever, ‘Baby Bargains,’ without which I would have been lost on where to get started!  I checked my local library, but they didn’t have the most recent edition, so I made a tiny purchase for the sake of not making any big or mistake purchases.  One of my favorite things about this book is they constantly keep it updated!  I purchased the TENTH edition!  I just checked Amazon, and the ELEVENTH edition of ‘Baby Bargains’ is actually available on pre-order to be released April 18th, 2015.  How exciting to know they are always up-to-date on the latest gear in order to tell you the best bang for your buck!  It’s like consumer reports, but with a lot more information for babies specifically.

Alternative Minimalist Options: Library or Borrow from a friend!

8. Bio Oil
As mentioned in, My Twin Pregnancy Log, Week by Week, by week 18, my skin began stretching like it had literally never stretched before to make room for TWO babies.  Kind of like hair growing back in to a place you normally keep shaved, but worse.  We tried home remedies like coconut oil of course, but at one point I was still itching so bad, I sent my OB an email that ended with, “Help me!”  I felt desperate.  She emailed back immediately, telling me to go pick up some Bio Oil from our local pharmacy, which my loving husband did for me.  I applied, and it immediately relieved the itching, and either I’m really lucky, or because I was applying this like crazy, I didn’t end up getting stretch marks until the very last week.  After I had the twins, I continued to apply the Bio Oil until the stretch marks disappeared. 🙂

9.  Maternity Support Belt
About halfway through my pregnancy, my new specialist OB began mentioning maternity support belts. and how getting one might be a good idea, but to be honest it kind of went in one ear and out the other.  He wanted me to have one because my job had me on my feet a lot at work, but I didn’t think it was really important because my back felt fine.  I knew they are built to support your stomach, relieving pressure off your back, but I didn’t know they could: relieve pressure off the hips and pelvis, reduce feet and ankle swelling, promote proper posture and balance, reduce stretch marks, and most importantly, support your uterus to prevent pre-term labor contractions!  Just remember, the belt is recommended to be worn as minimally as possible, but if you are exercising or on your feet for anything, I HIGHLY recommend it!

Alternative Minimalist Option: Don’t be on your feet towards the end of pregnancy!






The GOOD Effects of My (Twin) Pregnancy

When I found out I was pregnant, I felt I had a pretty good handle on what would happen, what I could do/couldn’t do while pregnant, etc. because of the many older women in my life who have had children, and have told me their stories over the years.  When I found out I was having twins, I sort of panicked.  (As all couples first do when they find out they are actually getting double what they expected.)  I immediately began researching and reading everything I could about twin pregnancies, mothering multiples, and how to handle two infants at one time ’round the clock.  To make my panicking worse, it seemed like everything I was reading was a highlight of all the negative aspects of mothering multiples.  I understand now that all the blogs I read just wanted to give an honest perspective so other future mammas out there would have no surprises, and would be ready to handle all the sh*t that (literally) comes flying their way.  But it made me angry when I then tried to search for someone’s, anyone’s, account of the positive parts of any of pregnancy, and I came up empty-handed.  I swore to myself then and there I would write blog posts in the future for all the panicking parents out there to know how much of a blessing children can be; and how twins are a double-blessing. 🙂

This post is just for the good parts of (twin) PREGNANCY.  Good parts of parenting (twins) is next!

1.  More Calories Allowed!  Cheers All Around!
The first thing that started immediately was, “Hello extra calories!”  Before I got pregnant, I was actually in pre-wedding dieting mode.  This means my calories not only went up to the standard amount meant to evenly sustain my body and lifestyle everyday, but then I was allowed an extra 600 calories on top of that (300 for each baby)!!!  It was fun. 🙂

One of the plethora of snack plates brought to me by my amazing husband while I was on bed rest. 🙂

2. An Ultrasound at Every Single OB Appointment
Twin pregnancies are considered high risk pregnancies because there is a lot more going on than during singleton pregnancies.  Because of this, they want to keep an extra close watch on how the multiple individuals inside of you are growing at the same time so they do an ultrasound at every single appointment!  We got to actually see our babies moving and hear their heartbeats regularly throughout the whole pregnancy, and that was extraordinary. 🙂

24 weeks, 5 days ultrasound of both boys!  Would you believe me if I told you I can tell who’s who just by looking at their profile?

3. More of an Excuse for Totally Irrational Behavior
Irrational behavior may or may not tend to be a side effect of pregnancy, occasionally, and you know… that’s fine.  You have a whole extra set of hormones surging through you as your body attempts to figure out how to remain functional while supporting a new life and body that it puts before yours.  When you have twins, you have double these new pregnancy hormones, and the wonderful people in my life let me get away with a lot.  Did I yell at people? Yes.  Did they care? No.  Was I immediately regretful and terribly sorry? Yes.  Immediate forgiveness, clean slates, and understanding was always coming my way!  Thank you amazing people in my life! 🙂

“Don’t mess with me while I’m on the prowl for food!”
One of the only ways to calm me down from double pregnancy hormone irrational behavior…hubby being goofy. 🙂


4. Double the Presents and Hand-Me-Downs
When people find out you’re having twins, everyone’s hearts immediately go out to you.  They think to themselves, “You’re having two babies, you need double the stuff (Though, as it turns out, you do not actually need two of everything);”  and the donations come pouring down.  We had someone donate us their entire stock of 30 cloth diapers in great condition!  It was amazing!  At our shower, everyone practically gave us two of everything.  Also, our parents really kicked it into high gear, and gave us about triple the help.  Okay, maybe they would have helped us that much anyway. 🙂

Usually stuff comes in one day at a time, but this was a fun day. 🙂
How could she make only one? 🙂


5. Double the Excitement from Everyone!

One of my favorite parts about finding out we were having twins was that we had already told people we were pregnant, and then we got to go back to those people and mention, “And…oh yeah….IT’S TWINS!”  Everyone had amazing reactions, but my own mother in particular began screaming, dropped the phone, continued to scream, had her husband come in the kitchen to see if she was okay, screamed to him the news, and then the pair of them continued screaming together!  At some point we decided that everyone we would tell from there on out, we would say, “T’s pregnant,” wait for a response, and then add, “With Twins!”  It was incredible. 🙂

6. Getting to Experience Two Babies Inside at the Same Time!
Once upon a time, having more than one baby grow inside of you at a time was something only about 1 in 60 women for fraternal twins and 1 in 250 for identical twins got to experience.  Nowadays, for multiple reasons, the numbers have climbed dramatically, but still only about 1 in 30 women get to experience a pregnancy with multiple babies.  I can tell you from experience, it is tear-jerking and awe-inspiring at every corner.  Just remembering feeling them both kicking from different places at the same time is making me tear up all over again!  Also, my babies moved in different ways with different forces and different levels of activity.  Because there were two in there instead of one, I could already begin to see their personalities emerging, based on their differences.

7. The 2 for 1 Deal
You know I prefer to highlight the good parts of things instead of ever pointing out anything negative, but it’s not exactly a secret that pregnancy for most women isn’t how they would prefer to spend the rest of their lives.  So, if you’re wanting to have multiple children (like we were) anyway, getting two children out of one pregnancy is really a DEAL!  Believe it or not, I’m sort of hoping if I get pregnant again, it’s another set of twins!  The only reason I would not want this would be just so my family can actually experience what one child at a time is like. 🙂

8. When/If People Ask, “Is it twins,” You Can Actually Say, “Yes!”

At the end of my pregnancy, I looked like this:

People definitely started asking me, “Is it twins?”(Usually preceded by “Good Lord, you’re huge!  You can barely walk!  You look like you’re ready to pop!  Any day now, right?”)  Luckily for me, I was able to say, “The TWINS are getting up there in size!”

9. Priority Parking

Okay, so this one is just a general benefit of pregnancy for ALL mothers, but how could I leave it out?  I was SO. EXCITED. when my husband and I pulled into Babies R Us, and we actually got
priority parking!
10.  Using your Stomach as a Table
After many years of seeing other people (perhaps mostly on T.V.) do this, this is the one I have been looking forward to all my life.  It is quite convenient (especially when you eat all the time anyway), and you can bet if you have twins in there, you’ll be able to do this sooner! 🙂
Add caption
11.  Better Marital Sex.
Am I allowed to say that out loud on the internet?  I’ve been married for two years, and I conceived and birthed twins, but it still feels weird to admit out loud that my husband and I are intimate.  I said it because (mostly during the second trimester) it was true, so it’s a valid positive, and the world needs to stay positive.    Sorry, Dad.

5 Ways to Stay Fit During Your (Twin) Pregnancy

I’ve now had a few people ask me how I stayed “so small” for so long during my twin pregnancy.  I was blessed in many ways during the pregnancy to present this illusion, so I figure more people may ask so here we go…

Week 9
But don’t worry world….I had what was coming to me by week 37….
Woah!  Yep…that’s actually my stomach.

There’s a few more photos in my post on my weekly pregnancy log.  Week 23 looks to be where my babies didn’t want to stay hidden anymore. 🙂

1st)  Well the very first thing is though I was pregnant with my first and second baby at the same time, it was my first pregnancy.  It is a well known fact that if your uterus has not yet been fully stretched out by a full-grown baby, it takes a lot longer for your belly to start looking pregnant.  This has been confirmed by some good friends of mine having their second and third children.

2nd) The second thing I had going for me is I really do think I was carrying my twins very high.  The way I know this is my pre-pregnancy jeans actually still fit my entire pregnancy.  I wore maternity jeans because they were MUCH more comfortable, but I tried on my pre-pregnancy jeans towards the end of the pregnancy just to see, and they still fit; which just says to me that I must have really been carrying those babies very high.  I recently spoke with another mama who is pregnant with twins who told me she couldn’t even wear her maternity jeans anymore because they cut into her stomach too much.  We compared notes, and while I was the pregnant lady getting kicked in the ribs, she is the one getting kicked in the pelvis.

3rd) When I got pregnant, I made sure I did not use it as an excuse to just eat anything I wanted.  In the first trimester, I went through extreme food aversions, and the only thing that sounded edible for a while was Arby’s, but after that ended, I went back to eating how I had been eating before, only making sure to add 600 calories a day for the twins.  But, I figured my twins weren’t going to grow healthy and strong in there if I just ate junk all day, so I still paid attention.  At around 23 weeks, I switched to a different OB, and my new OB was concerned that I wasn’t gaining enough weight to make my twins gain enough weight before their almost inevitable early arrival, so I started to eat a LOT more.  This is when I feel like I very suddenly “ballooned.”

4th) When I got pregnant, I did not stop moving.  For most pregnancies, doctors tell women they are allowed to remain just as active as they were before they got pregnant, but no more.  This would have given me a lot of freedom, but my first ob was EXTRA cautious and did not want me to let my heart rate get above 140.  Not knowing what this would be for me, I bought a heart rate monitor, and wore it everywhere for a little while, until I got used to exactly how much effort I could exert.  When you’re pregnant, your heart is pumping for your baby as well as yours, and when you’re pregnant with twins, it’s pumping for 3.  This means my resting heart rate was around 115 towards the middle of the pregnancy, so it did not take long for it to get to 140, but YouTube offers a plethora of prenatal workouts you can do that are not necessarily cardio. 🙂  My job as a speech-language pathologist at an elementary school also had me walking approximately 5 miles everyday (as measured by runkeeper) by picking up and dropping off kids every half hour all day long.  (And the nearest restroom was seriously about .1 miles away!)  The picking up and dropping off got slower….and slower as time went on, but I still had to do it until my doctor said no more!

5th) I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that right when I got pregnant, I was in the best shape of my entire life.  I ran cross country (approximately 30 miles a week for about 4 months) for 6 years, but I was in much better shape when I got pregnant than I ever was during cross country.  I was about to have my wedding so I was paying extreme attention to everything I ate, and I was halfway through full marathon training.  If you’re thinking about having a baby, I highly recommend getting into the best shape you possibly can beforehand!  This will be good for 3 reasons. 1) Your body will have a great starting point, and it will take much more work and time to get it out of shape and push your muscles aside 2) Every OB tells their pregnant patient that they can continue to exercise at exactly the level they were exercising before they got pregnant (as previously mentioned).  If you were already in a great workout regime, just imagine what you can continue to do while pregnant!  3) Lastly, for the most part, after the baby comes out, your body bounces right back to what it was before you got pregnant!  At least, this was true for me.  I have seen it in others, and of course just as before, you have to work to keep it that way, but….HOORAY! 🙂  But remember, you can’t expect your body to go back to something it wasn’t before. 🙂

My Road to Pregnancy…A Childhood Cancer Success Story

I have known my whole life that I wanted to have kids when I grew up.  Thus, my road towards having kids began.  It was not yet known at the time how children would come into my life, but we know now. 🙂

My road towards pregnancy started out different from some people’s.  I say “some” because, did you know, according to statistics:

In 2014, it is estimated that 15,780 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 years will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,960 will die of the disease in the United States.”

“About one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday.”


 

This is how my road started.
After being diagnosed with stage IV terminal cancer, and therefore signing on to become a guinea pig for scientists at Duke University in North Carolina, I underwent chemotherapy treatments with the highest dosages of cytoxan any child had ever received at any Children’s Hospital at that time.
Side note:  I just googled, “late effects of chemotherapy for those with childhood cancer,” and “infertility for childhood cancer patients,” so that I could learn more about it to shed some more light on the subject.  After only a few minutes of reading, I felt myself tearing up and becoming downright DEPRESSED, and I don’t like to subject myself to that!  If you would like to know more about the facts, look it up yourself! Haha!
So what I do know is anyone who has had the full-body-destroying chemo as I had is at an increased risk of infertility.  Unfortunately, given a higher dose than anyone else, they weren’t yet exactly sure what my chances were.  Furthermore, genetics always play a role in these things, and my own mother struggled to get pregnant with me for a year, and then had to have a hysterectomy.  But, there’s always a bright side, right?  My bright side was that I received all my chemo before puberty.  My doctor told me this meant I still had hope.  He has pretty much been telling me my whole life that I would have trouble getting pregnant, but that he would never completely discount something; I still had hope.
But, after about 15 years of my pediatric oncologist (I still see him every year in the long-term clinic) telling me these things, I had long since accepted adoption as my path in life to have children.  I have 3 wonderful adopted cousins, and cousins who are now wonderful parents to beautiful and great kids thanks to the adoption process.  They are my inspiration.  I had actually grown quite fond of the idea of adoption.  I mean, besides saving kids, I also had cancer.  I had the thought, “Can my genes really be that great anyway?”

My favorite nurse, Robbie, and me after she found out I was pregnant.  She was ecstatic 🙂
Dr. B and Me.  I said, “Did you ever think I’d be sitting here pregnant.”  He said, “No.”
So then, I met D.  After meeting the man of my dreams, who was everything I thought a person should be and more, I just wanted to know if I at least had the chance to replicate him into tiny humans.  It was something I thought about the whole time we dated, and I told him upfront about my potential fertility issues.  He continued to pursue me anyway! 🙂

We got engaged 2-4-12, and when I finally graduated and moved to Cali in 2012 to be with him again, I began my search for an OBGYN based on ones who were close in proximity, highly rated, and also specialized in fertility.  I found a WONDERFUL female OBGYN in Mt. View, who I was sure was going to help me through this process…eventually.  D and I weren’t even married yet, but I was thinking about our future. 🙂  Once D and I were married on 10-11-12, my mind immediately came back to the subject of my possible infertility, and I decided to make an appointment with my doctor to be tested for fertility.  I wanted to know if D and I had a window for having a child ourselves, and of course, what exactly that window looked like.

When my test results came back, D came with me to the appointment, and she was able to tell us two things:
1. Half of my egg supply had been wiped out by the chemo.
2.  Every month, a woman usually has about 16 eggs that go through the selection process until 1 egg is selected for possible fertilization.  I have about 2-3 eggs going through this process every month.

At that point she looked at us, and said, “My advice?  Don’t wait.  If you want to have kids, don’t wait.”

Despite expecting this my whole life, we were shocked.  (Much like learning later that there were actually TWO babies growing inside me!)  We were living 2500 miles away from most of our friends and all of our families in a 4 bedroom house with 3 of our best friends.  We had only been married for a couple of months.  We had not yet had our big wedding celebration in Tahoe with all our friends and family.  We knew we wanted a family, but like all our other friends our age, we wanted to wait about 5 years and get a head start on our life goals before children, so that when we had children we could truly focus all our attention on them. 

“Uhhhhh,” my husband finally managed to get out.  “When you say, ‘don’t wait,’ do you mean like another day or another year?”
       

The doctor encouraged us that based on the results, it was not in our best interest to wait at all, but we begged her for an actual time frame.  She took my age (25) into consideration, and said if we were not pregnant within a year, we should come back to begin fertility treatments.  

We needed time to process and discuss.  With having 3 roommates at our house at the time, we went to a Chinese buffet with paper and pen and laid it all out on the table.  We made a list of our goals in life.  Then we looked at the list differently for the first time, and decided whether or not we could accomplish those things with kids in our life.  We decided there was nothing on the list that we could truly be held back from by having kids.   It was an exciting and scary moment at the same time.  
 
We picked some things off the lists that seemed would indeed be easier to accomplish without kids, and we began working on them immediately.  We figured the road ahead towards getting pregnant would probably be a long one, so we had time anyway.  D got to work becoming the co-founder of a company, and I began training for my first full mountain marathon, The Big Sur Trail Marathon.  I signed up and paid to run it on September 28th, 2013.  I got really into the training.  I recruited for myself multiple unofficial running coaches, bought new marathon training tools,  recruited multiple running partners at work and at home, and made sure everything about my body was running smoothly.  Good nutrition, ample sleep, and lots of scheduled and calculated training.  I was in the best shape of my life, and the healthiest I have ever been.  About halfway through the “marathon” training, on a normal after-work run one day, I noticed myself feel extremely sick and almost like fainting after only the first mile on a flat surface.  Low and behold, I had been training for a different marathon all along.
This was taken about 10 days before my 1st pregnancy journey ended. 🙂

 

But, do you know what?  4 days after the birth of our sons, the gaming company D has been working on (Not Robot) was *officially* founded, and they will be releasing their first mobile game (Wave Crash) soon!  Additionally, 9 months after their birth, D and I completed our first half-marathon with their double jogging stroller in tow!  Are we going to go on to pursue our first full right now?  Who knows?  But, we have a good start. 🙂

My AMAZING husband ran hundreds of miles pushing this thing…and I ran a few. 🙂
This Half Marathon was the ‘Monster Dash,’ and had a costume theme.  Meet The Justice Family of America.

Our lives have gone on just as they were going before, but so. much. better. now.  We have much clearer priorities, direction, and motivation to accomplish the goals we set before ourselves.  (Not to mention the abundant giggles, love, and heart-melting. 🙂 )

  
P.S.  The title of this post should really be “My Guided Path Towards Pregnancy,” because I know God laid the whole thing out for us, and as you can see, he has been with me the whole time, guiding me, and holding the light during the times of darkness.

My Twin Pregnancy Log, Week by Week

(Note: I wrote this entire post in my shorthand because that is exactly how I would be writing in my personal journal, as this particular post was designed to be viewed.)

Also, I feel that before reading this it’s important to know why I was convinced for so long I could not actually be pregnant, and just how much it meant to me to be blessed with babies!

Week 6

Week One

  • Bloated.  Start to notice how tummy won’t seem to lay flat, even when I’m on my back.
  • Hormones.  I am naturally an emotional gal, but my raging hormones had me thinking there was something seriously wrong with me before I realized. 🙂  I called a Christian counselor to help get my head straightened out.
Week Two (This is the week when everything starts going crazy)
  • Tired.
  • Headaches.
  • Super Senses.  Start to ask students in the speech room at school, “Do you smell that?  It smells awful in here.”

Tuesday of Week Two

  • Pregnancy Brain.  Attend an apartment viewing with a completely absent mind, not saying anything, and not able to think about it at all.
  • Nausea.  Start to feel really sick on the way home from the apartment viewing-chalk it up to stress, and potentially…car sickness??
  • Food aversions. When we get home from apartment viewing, I ask D to make me a pizza but NOT the way we had been making it with pesto on it because that sounds dreadfully awful.
  • Exhaustion.  Go to bed that night at 8pm.  Wake up at 8am.  Feel cranky and tired.  Not normal.
Week 3:

  • Bladder.  At work, start to notice, ‘Gosh, I sure am starting to have to walk to the ladies room a lot.
  • Spotting.  But, still just think it’s Aunt Flo showing up.

Week 3, Friday May 24th, 2013

  • Late.  4 days late.  I’m often 1-2 days late.  Not 4.  Start to review the past 2 weeks on my calendar, and think about everything that’s been happening.  Start to look up 1st signs of pregnancy on the web.  Realize I have 50-75% of all the “1st signs.”  Decide to go running after work to still continue my marathon training.  Get a PR for the 1st mile.  1.5 miles in….start to feel like vomiting and am also light headed…..but that’s just because I ran the 1st mile so hard, right?  Decide to call D at work, and tell him to meet me at home.  Stop by the store after work.  Pick up test.  $20.  Contemplate saving it for another day because so expensive, and this probably isn’t real, right?  Go home.  Meet D.  Take the 2 different tests provided.  Both say positive.  Still not 100% convinced.  This was supposed to be impossible.  Immediately call OBGYN.  Too late to get in an appointment.  D and I go to Safeway.  Pick up some prenatal vitamins, chicken “sushi,” and pizza ingredients. 🙂  Come home.
  • Clumsy.  Try to make chocolate milk.  Literally push cup of chocolate milk over with my own hand while stirring, and chocolate milk goes all over the carpet.  Think, ‘Oh boy….here we go.”
  • Responsibility.  The realization of huge life changes and new life-time responsibilities settle in.  D’s life flashes before his eyes.  He asks me if my life is also flashing before my eyes.  We process differently. 🙂
  • Protective Father.  The next day we were supposed to go hiking.  D packs up both our bags.  Spends a good amount of time filtering water for my camelbak.  Then he hands me my pack, and I realize the ONLY thing he’s put into my pack is my water.  He has found a way to pack in both sleeping bags, the tent, all the food, all the clothes, and everything else into his pack. 🙂

Week 4, Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

  • OB Apt. Find a way to get in early for our 1st OB apt to confirm.  Nerves!  What will she (the Dr. ) be able to tell us?  Are we really having a baby?  The Dr. sat down in our room, and the first thing she said was, “So, you took my advice!”  She was so happy.  I was confused.  “Am I actually pregnant?”  She confirmed. 🙂
Week 5
  • Pregnancy Brain.  Out to eat with friends, I see D fill his water glass with the water vase on the table.  I realize I need more water, so I proceed to empty the water D has just poured into his glass, into my glass. Aye yai yai…

Week 6

  • Stress and Mood. Unfortunately, seem to find myself yelling a lot, and I really hate it.  Still trying to figure out how to control this new and unexpected evil side of myself, and put her away for good.  Eventually, will learn to control her by eating and sleeping more, and also talking less, haha.  But she also starts disappearing on her own more after week 6 (A.K.A. The Tahoe Wedding Week).
Week 7
  • All day sickness. Find out the truth about “morning sickness” only being a name, and not exactly a real time.  Should be called “all day sickness.”  But, not complaining because extremely fortunately in my case, the bulk of “all day sickness” only lasts during week 7.  I am very blessed!
  • Eat or die. I start to experience hunger in a new way for the first time.  Hunger no longer feels like when you skip a meal, and later say, “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse.”  Hunger now feels like an emergent medical need that could pop up at any time, but you never know when, and if I don’t eat right now, I’ll crash.
  • Crashing.  Crashing was this scary phase where if I didn’t eat immediately, I started to feel like I was slowly dying.  First I would get a serious headache.  Then nausea.  Then it became harder to move.  Pretty soon, I could barely think.  To combat this, we bought lots of snacks to keep with us at all times, but then I was going through another stage…
  •  EXTREME food aversions. A terrible little phase lasting about only 2 weeks for me where only one food in the entire world would sound good at a time, and the sound of any other food made me want to puke.  Even saltines sounded awful at times.  The weird thing was most of the time, the one food that sounded good was Arby’s, which was also the only food I ever wanted when I was on chemotherapy.  I had all but forgotten about that until Arby’s came back into my life during week 7.  Note: Arby’s restaurants are a lot more scarce on the west coast than in the mid west.  (Which made combatting “crashing” extremely difficult.)
Week 8, Wednesday June 26th, 2013
  • Ultrasound.  1st ultrasound!  Excitement!  But also….a little fear.  This is when we get to see and hear the baby for the first time.  It’s supposed to be harder for me to carry a baby to term.  Will everything be okay?
  • TWINS!!: My Grandma has told me my whole life I was going to have twins because there have been twins in every single generation in her family, and I was her only granddaughter.  When I started dating D, I found out he has twin cousins, as I do.  I started to think maybe my Grandma would be right.  As D and I were heading in to the OB apt for the ultrasound, he said something about “the baby,” and smiling, I said, “You mean ‘they?'”  I just knew it was a strong possibility.  As we sat down for the ultrasound, D looked a little pale.  I asked him, “Are you nervous?”  He answered, “Well, now!  It probably IS twins!”  As soon as the Dr. put the ultrasound on me, I could see multiple babies on the screen.  I couldn’t believe it.  Everything we thought would be hard to happen was happening!  But then, I started to freak out a little in my head!  Was there more than two?!  At this point, D could only see fuzz on the screen.  Then the Dr. says, “Uh oh….how many babies are there……???”  D starts to panic as well in his head, “Please not more than two!”  The Dr. counts 2 babies.  I make her re-check.  She confirms, “I am checking from every angle…only two.”
  • Family reactions. We called our parents right after the ultrasound (well, after picking up some pregnancy Arby’s).  My mom seemed to have dropped the phone and then screamed for about 5 minutes straight.  Then she had people running in to her room to make sure she was okay, and she was screaming at them about the twins.  We couldn’t understand the rest of the conversation.
Week 9
Week 10

  • Ligament stretching.  I start to experience horrible and terrifying cramps that leave me unable to walk or move.  If I lay still in one position with a hot rice bag on my belly, I can handle them.  I call the OB to make sure nothing bad is happening.  She assures me this is known as “ligament stretching,” and that in fact, I’m going to feel it worse than a “singleton” pregnancy because my uterus knows it has to stretch out to make room for 2 babies. 🙂  I think this was when my belly really started to change for the first time.  It wasn’t as flat before, but now it was starting to expand and harden.  D and I could see the difference, but you still won’t be able to tell over the clothes for quite a few weeks yet.  Note:  We didn’t have any hot rice or bean bags to ease the pain so D filled his biggest and thickest sock with rice from our pantry, and put it in the microwave.  It worked like a charm. 🙂

Week 12:
7/22/13

  • Nursery.  D says “nursery” for the first time when we get the keys to our 1st apartment for just the two of us.  “This room will be perfect for a nursery.” 🙂 🙂 🙂  I love him!
Week 13-14
  • 2nd trimester.  As the 1st trimester comes to a close, a few things start to come back in to my life, which make both D and I very happy.  Energy is higher, appetite is better because any sickness is all but vanished; and with sickness gone, aversion to other activities is out the window as well. 😉
Week 18, 4 1/2 months
  • Skin Stretching.  I know.  Gross, right?  Up until now, I have mostly gotten away with not looking pregnant, and definitely not needing new clothes yet.  But huge changes are happening to my body like…right now.  I’m convinced it’s all going down this week.  A couple days ago, my body started to itch all over, but mostly confined to the areas that are definitely going to stretch.  At first, I was handling it with lotion, but it got worse.  Yesterday morning, I actually sent an email to my OB about the itching that ended with, “Help me!”  Clothes and sun made the itching worse, so I avoided both.  Then the Dr. called me in the afternoon and told me some better lotions to get, (Bio Oil is very good), and also wrote me prescriptions for antihistamines and a steroid cream, both of which I haven’t felt compelled to use quite yet, as she acted like they were only for a last resort.  Also this week, I have started to notice a difference in the way my regular pants fit for the 1st time.  They are starting to feel tighter, which isn’t too bad yet, but I’m afraid it’s not good for the babies to wear constricting pants, so I’m turning to skirts and dresses until I can replace my pant wardrobe with new, comfortable, maternity pants! 🙂  My dad actually bought me my 1st pair of maternity jeans a couple of weeks ago, so those will be a good start. 🙂  I have this feeling that next week I’ll be double the size I am right now, and be confused as to how that happened so fast!
Week 20
  • BOYS!  We go to get our “anatomy ultrasound” at a special lab, and they first tell us Baby A is a…….BOY!
Baby A

Then they tell us all about Baby A.  Meanwhile I’m dying, and she finally says, “Oh , did you want to know what Baby B is?  Baby B is a…..BOY!

Baby B! (Each baby gets their own announcement)
Week 31

I changed a lot in size between weeks 20 & 31. 🙂

 

  • Nosebleeds
Week 32
  • Cervix is 80% effaced.  Pulled from work and modified bedrest.  Surprise!
Week 33
  • Still 80% effaced, and now 2 cm dilated.  Put on a more strict bedrest of only getting up to use the restroom and go back to the doctors.  Have been given 2 steroid shots in the past 2 days for lungs in case the boys are born within the next week.  Go on progesterone and nifedipine to keep those babies in there, which works for 4 WEEKS! 🙂
Week 37

  • Go in to the doctor, and he tells me since I made it to 37 weeks, and the babies are projected at well over 5 lbs, that I can be taken off bedrest, and do whatever I want.  So that day, I drive my Mom to a shoe store to get her a new pair of running shoes.  The moment we got back home, my water broke, and the twins were born 7 hours later!  Again, I know I am blessed!

 

Headed to the hospital!
1st ever family pic. 🙂
Week 38

 

Why To Run/How To Enjoy Yourself While Running

Here we have some standard jokes often seen on Facebook, imgur, or Pinterest concerning running.

I also often hear people ask the question, “Who actually LIKES running?!”  But I would like to ask the question, why is running such a horrifying hobby?  There are tons of blog posts already written and prepared for you about “How to Run” or “How to train for a 5k, 10k, Half-Marathon, or Marathon.”  This blog post is going to be about, Why to run,” and hopefully you can also glean from it some tips on “How To Enjoy Yourself While Running.”

 Why I Enjoy Running So Much

For my entire life running has been nothing but an enjoyable experience for me, and I guess I should be grateful that it has been.  As mentioned in the previous blog post, one of my earliest memories involves racing my dad and brother around our house.  My dad got my brother and me started with sprinting short distances and racing each other basically as soon as we could walk.  In addition, our grandpa started us on long-distance running very early in life.

My grandpa Monnin was a marathon runner.  As a side tangent, he has won more races than anyone I know.  He won 1st place in his age group for the Columbus marathon when he qualified for the Boston marathon.  If you should ever find yourself at his house, and it is your 1st time there (or 2nd, and then 3rd, like D), he will undoubtedly gesture towards the basement, and mutter, “Come on, I have somethin’ to show ya.”  He will then bring you downstairs into his trophy room and dazzle you with more trophies and medals than you have ever seen.  The truly amazing thing is he could sit there and tell you a story to go with every single medal and trophy; he remembers.  Seeing the trophy room has been an initiation for all significant others who have had the pleasure of coming over to Gma and Gpa’s house.

My cousins, dad, brother, and me running Grandpa’s very last Turkey Trot with him, when he was 81.  He placed 1st in his age group. 🙂

So, when I was about 6, making my brother about 9, my grandpa Monnin started training him for a 1 mile fun-run in Piqua, which all my cousins and I also ran for our very first race.  It was a sort of rite of passage with Gpa.  To help my brother train for this race Gpa came over to our house, drove 1/2 mile down the road, grabbed a gallon of orange paint, dumped a glob on the road, and told my brother to run to there and back.  I love when he does crazy things like that.  That glob of orange paint stayed on the road for a long time, and I remember also using it as a run marker.

My brother and my cousins in their 1st races with Grandpa.  I was too young yet. 🙂

Then in 6th grade, something happened that had a huge impact on why I run today.  Our science teacher, probably my favorite 6th grade teacher, had us playing a game of ‘2 truths and lie.’  As a truth, I threw in that I was running a mile a day with my grandpa.  Our 6th grade science teacher was the high school and junior high cross-country coach.  When my statement was revealed as a truth, he immediately recruited me for his cross-country team.  I figured if this guy could make science fun, he could probably make running pretty fun too.  Plus, I just wanted to be a runner like grandpa.  Though nothing contributive came out of that recruitment for the coach, I am forever grateful I ran cross-country for 6 years.  There were obviously the serious runners and then there were the “social” runners, which was the category in which I immediately and happily placed myself.  Every practice for me was a chance for a great conversation with another one of the more “social” runners.  Anyone who knows me well would understand my feeling of, “how could I not love that?!”  Running with the CC team taught me 3 things: Endurance, pacing, and lastly and most importantly, that running can be an enjoyable experience.  Not only did I have awesome and entertaining teammates, but also an AMAZING coach who made every practice new, fun, and adventurous…for 6 years.

All through college, I used running as a way to make new friends, catch up with friends, and of course attempt to knock off the freshmen 15.  Fast forward eight more years, and now I live in California!  What is different about running in California?  It is always running weather!!!  In Ohio, some might say (except for Grandpa, of course) that running is contingent on weather or treadmill access, but for the past two years I’ve lived in San Jose, it has not yet been too cold, too wet, or too icy to go running!  Granted, the last few weeks of summer have brought rather hot days, where one would prefer to run at night, but it is never nearly as hot as it was when I left Cincinnati.

Another thing different about running in California, for me, are the running trails.  You can usually reach a paved running trail from wherever you live, which is shaded and not cement, so it’s amazing, but occasionally we’ll drive out to do some trail running at a place called, “Rancho San Antonio.”  You basically run up a mountain, and then back down again, but if you have an amazing husband who will agree to push and pull you up the mountain like mine does, then it’s really not that bad. 🙂  Also, when you get to the top, you get to see amazing views of the Bay Area.

Sean took this picture of D and I at the top of Rancho in March of 2012.

This picture marks the beginning of my half-marathon training for the Cincinnati Flying Pig.  My brother told me at Christmastime if I wanted to fun (whoops, Freudian writing) the half, he would run it with me.  Then, D started running ridiculous distances to train for Tough Mudder, and I didn’t want to be left in the dust when I showed up in Cali, so I would try to run however far D told me he ran. Pretty soon into doing so, I realized I might as well keep it up, and start training for the Cincinnati half.  So, I called my brother and took him up on his offer.  Training with my brother was probably one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had running.  Now, I’m usually known to be behind the times, and I had refused for the longest time to listen to music using ear buds because I learned in all my audiology courses how ridiculously terrible ear buds are for your hearing long-term.  But then I discovered early into my half-marathon training that running with music actually changes the entire experience.  Music gives me the power to run twice the distance I was planning to run, in faster times!  Plus, I figured out pretty fast that if you run somewhere where you’re not bothering other people, you can just listen to the music via your phone speakers and not destroy your hearing.  I love listening to music so much that sometimes I find it hard to get out of my car because the radio DJ is doing an incredible job playing my favorite songs back to back.  Well it turns out, if I take those same songs and put them on my phone to listen to while I’m running, I then find myself wanting to run longer and longer just to keep listening to my playlist!  It rocks!  So my brother and I would meet once a week for our long run and listen to running playlists that ranged from Lion King to Disturbed.  The whole time we ran we would be singing and dancing along with the songs.  Not only was it the most fun running ever, but it also had to have improved our lung capacities.

On Sunday May 6th at 6:30am, my brother and I ran the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon.  There was entertainment at every mile marker, and we could hear music almost the whole way.  Needless to say, it was SO. MUCH. FUN!!!  There were people cheering along the entire course as well.  Talk about encouragement!  They had some really great signs, “You’ve been running longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage!”  “There’s free beer and lower taxes at the end!”  My brother and I ended up accomplishing our goal of running an average pace in under 10-minute-miles, and thanks to my brothers’ patience, we got to finish together. 🙂

My brother and I after our 13.1 🙂

To summarize “why to run,” I think a good reason to run is because it has the power to be an enjoyable experience, and also provides a good chance to bond with people.  If the word, “run,” is too daunting, then why not walk?  Now “how to enjoy yourself” during this process is to find your best friend, your significant other, or someone you’ve been meaning to catch up with for a long time, and ask them if they might want to go for a run or walk.  Find your favorite music that gets you pumped, and just let loose.  I do not run for the reasons most people assume one would run.  I do not run because I am in some kind of amazing shape that classifies me as “a runner.”  I do NOT have a “runner’s body.”  I was built short and stout.  I run because I always have fun, I always feel incredibly pumped while doing so, and I always get to have the feeling that I accomplished something after every run.

My grandpa, husband, me, dad, and my twins getting to run their 1st and only 5K with their Great-Grandpa! 🙂  🙂

5 Things Your Bachelor Friends Might Wonder About Your Pregnancy…And Answers For Them

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Status: 29 weeks pregnant today.  4 weeks until there’s a 50% chance of having the twins.  8 weeks until the twins are considered “full term.”

1) Why can’t you hang out on weeknights anymore, and why is activity SO restricted?
Answer: When I am laying down, my heart rate is in the “fat burning” zone,  and any time I’m up and barely moving, my heart rate is in the “aerobic” or “cardio training” zone.
More detail:
I am pregnant with twins.  I have double the amount of pregnancy hormones and associated symptoms in my body.  My heart is beating for 3 people, and my other organs are running for 3 as well, but the babies are growing and pushing my organs over, so they’re less functional.  My diaphragm is being sat on, and my lungs are compressed.  My resting heart rate is between 110 and 120.  I literally just took my heart rate as I’m laying down on the couch in my pajamas and haven’t moved in quite a while.  It was 115.  This means when I am laying down, my heart rate is in the “fat burning” zone, and any time I’m up and barely moving, my heart rate is in the “aerobic” or “cardio training” zone.  At work, my job is to walk around and pick up and drop off kids at their classrooms all day long.  I walk up to 5 miles in a given work day.  At the end of the day, with my heart going like that all day long, you can imagine that I am positively exhausted.  My 16 hour days in Grad school didn’t hold a candle to my now 8 hour days while pregnant with twins.  I’m confident if I hadn’t been marathon training right before pregnancy, there’s no way I’d be able to continue working like this right now.  In addition, I now have a 30lb rock tied to my stomach that I can’t untie, and it makes me hurt all over, so walking and standing are very difficult.
2) Why are you constantly rubbing and poking your stomach?
 
AnswerI am trying to get the babies out of my ribs, and then I am rubbing my ribs because they are bruised.
More detail:
Also, it kind of freaks me out when I see my stomach jump an inch or so out of place unexpectedly, so I put my hand there to make sure the babies haven’t escaped from inside.  Oh, and the ever-stretching skin itches like crazy, so that too.  And sometimes my stomach gets hard all over, and I’m afraid I’m having contractions, but they are probably just the kind that your body does as practice for actual labor.
3) Why can’t you stand up easily, or bend down to tie your shoes? -Your stomach’s not that big, and you haven’t put on that much weight.
 
Answer:  Your core muscles literally run away and hide.
More detail: 
One thing I did not realize before getting pregnant is that your core muscles literally run away and hide.  They stretch out and lose their force.  This is why I cannot bend over, stand up from certain sitting positions, get out of bed without rolling onto the floor on my knees first, and why my back hurts.  For 66% of women during pregnancy, the ab muscles split down the middle and go to the sides so that they are literally not there, resulting in chronic back pain.
4) What in the world is going on with you and food? 
Answer: If I’m regular with my food and eating habits, I can avoid these “crashes,” and best of all, it helps regulate my moods as well.
More detail:
Besides the obvious needing to take in an extra 600 calories a day to support the twins, hunger has not been the same for me since getting pregnant.  When I’m hungry, it starts to feel like I’m literally dying, or at least, what I imagine that to feel like.  When I let myself get to a point where I’m actually overdue for food, I start to shut down.  First I get a headache.  Then, I feel like I’m going to vomit.  Then, I start to lose the ability to walk or move very much, and finally, my mind starts to shut down, and I can’t think anymore.  Food is vital.  If I’m regular with my food and eating habits, I can avoid these “crashes,” and best of all, it helps regulate my moods as well.  This was discovered by my husband and I very early on, but it hasn’t seemed to change all that much.  I cannot go a couple of hours without eating.  You don’t want to see it.

5) Question: Why did you have kids so “early?”
 
Answer:  As I got closer to my husband, and when we got married, I knew I had to at least try to have his kids because he is the most awesome person I ever met, and I wanted to at least try to replicate him into tiny humans.
More detail: (Note: this is just the physical journey on our road to pregnancy; there was certainly a very real spiritual journey as well that I will document.)
 
I am 26 years old, and my husband is 25 years old, and we are the very first couple out of every single one of our high school, college, and California friends to start growing a family.(Revision made 11-7-`14): This made me feel like I was 16 and pregnant, and we both felt like we were too young to be starting a family (as ridiculous as that sounds at 25 & 26).  I felt soout of place among everyone I knew, and I had to reassure myself that I was not having kids “too early.”Read more about why we needed to start earlier than the people we knew here: My Road To Pregnancy
Have more questions?  Please ask.  I will gladly explain.

Wedding Dreams

One of the way too many wedding dresses I tried on before deciding…a year later

I love how my dreams always give me beautiful analogies of what’s happening in my life.

The night before I got married, I had a dream that I walked into a cafeteria full of doctors who had saved my life.  The first one to ever save my life that I knew of was Dr. Shapiro, my first brain surgeon.  Dr. Shapiro was also very young, and as I remember, a very good-looking man.  In my dream, Dr. Shapiro was single, and wanted to date me.  It was as if my brain REALLY raked and raked through all my memories, forcing me to think if there could possibly be someone else I should marry besides D.  My brain produced the first brain surgeon to save my life.  Apparently, my subconscious still finds this guy a hero; and who wouldn’t?  But then, the most amazing thing happened.  Even in my dream, I politely told my life-saving brain surgeon from my past that I was engaged, and I wondered off to find D.  When I found D, he was being a hero!  He was saving this little boy from being attacked by bears (admittedly my biggest fear when we go backpacking in the mountains) who were closing in on all sides of them!  D managed to save the boy and survive!  On the night before I decided to fully devote my life to one man for the rest of my life, my brain did a complete cross-sectional analysis of everyone I could possibly marry, and the results were still D!  I love my subconscious!

The night after the night I was married I had a different dream; one that was more about laying down my life and starting anew.

My “lucky number” has always been #3.  When I was running cross-country, I always wanted the #3 jersey. I couldn’t wait to be a senior so that I would have first pick of the jerseys, and I would know I definitely had #3.  In my dream, D and I went to the same high school, and we were both seniors on the cross-country team.  From the men’s jerseys, he chose #4.  In the women’s jerseys, I immediately snatched up #3 with such pride.  I was so happy.  I had finally gotten to it first.  Then, I saw what D was wearing from across the room.  He had chosen the #4, and another guy had the #3 jersey.  As badly as I wanted that jersey, I laid it down and watched everyone else who wanted it jump on it, as I slowly picked up the women’s #4 jersey and put it on.  It was time to lay down my old life, just living for me, and begin living a whole new life in complete unison with D.  It was more important for us to be #4 together, then me get what I wanted separately.  Another brilliant play by my subconscious.

1st person to call me “Mrs. C” : Cashier at Safeway, looked at my Safeway card, registered under D, and called me Mrs. C, before we were even married. 🙂

1st time I had to say my name was T C, and had to look at it to spell it because I was so nervous: Making dentist apt.

1st time signing my name as T C.  At DMV, on papers I needed to turn in, in front of Jessie.  It was weird, and I realized I was NOT good at signing my new last name at all!  I needed a review of how to make different cursive letters, and even though I have similar transitions in my old last name, it kept looking wrong written in cursive.  I realized I had never ever practiced writing this name in cursive before, only in print.

1st person to ask for my maiden name: Guy at DMV.  Never have I EVER felt more old.  Maiden name?!  Old maid!