An open letter to some random women

Dear random women I have encountered recently at the grocery store, and the doctor’s office,

We have to talk.

I didn’t talk to you in the moment, because I tend to have an extremely long hang time when startled, and particularly when people behave badly. Especially when I’m upset. And I was really pretty upset. Let me explain.

I’ll address you based on the order in which these things happened.

First, ladies in the grocery store. I feel like twin babies are not.. uncommon. And when I go to the grocery store with them I have become used to the nonstop comments. I’ve even developed strategies to avoid having endless conversations about their age, gender, means of conception, or identical vs. fraternal status. Or whether twins run in my family. And the twins you’ve met before now.

I honestly don’t mind these interactions (except when I’m trying to be efficient in the store), and I thought that’s where our encounter was going when you approached me and the boys. You said something, but I didn’t get to respond before you were in the stroller taking photographs of the babies.

I was so shocked I knocked over a glass bottle of kombucha (shaddup) and made both a glorious mess and commotion. You were not deterred. Why did you want pictures of my babies? What were you doing? What will you use the photos for?

I will never know, because by the time I had collected myself enough to speak words, you were scurrying off, with photos of my babies on your phone. I was rattled for the rest of the night.

***

This brings me to you, woman-trying-to-help, and mean woman.

I didn’t want to bring my twins to the doctor’s office on Monday. Not even a little bit. But I’m not working (for $) right now, and I can’t afford a baby sitter. And I feel very guilty bullying my in-laws into doing it all the time. But I digress. I was with the babies, and they were not happy.

In their defense, they’re 23 weeks old, and the appointment was smack in the middle of a feeding time.

By the time I was done with the doctor– an hour long event that basically entailed her rocking one of the babies and trying to talk over their wailing– the babies were really fed up with… not being fed. I had only one bottle with me, because I am a sleep deprived mess, so I proceeded to feed half to each baby. This satisfied neither, and they both kept wailing.

In desperation, I ran to the bathroom and began filling up the bottle with warm tap water. You came out of one of the stalls. “Tap water?” you (stranger #1) asked, horrified. “Oh no no. You can’t use that. Let me get you some bottled water.”

I looked down at my already-ready bottle, and my screaming babies, and I sighed. You were trying to be nice. So I waited while they hollered, trying in vain to soothe them with pacifiers. After what seemed like a year, you returned with two small bottles of icy cold water.

I know the babies won’t take water that cold. But you hovered, and I sighed, and gave it a shot. And of course, the babies would not drink. As I futilely tried to persuade them, that cold would be “refreshing” you fussed and interfered. And then you, stranger #2, exited a bathroom stall.

You saw the canister of formula on the counter- the result of countless hours of ingredients research and obsessing and self flagellation. And you made a sound of disgust: “Formula, really?”

I just looked at you.

“Don’t you know ‘breast is best’?” You tsked.

Oh good, that old chestnut. Said by someone who has no idea what my baby feeding journey has been like, no regard for the challenges multiples introduce. Said when I was already a hair’s breadth away from crying in public. I was too shocked to speak. So were you, stranger #1, so you fled that shit show. Said something about “leaving me to it”, and bolted.

This is probably the part of the story where I’m supposed to digress and give my readers a sob story about why formula has entered my life. I’m supposed to try to shut down criticism anyone might have. I’m not going to do that, because it’s nobody’s damn business.

After having a good cry about it all in my car on the way home, and later that night, I’m just … disappointed in all three of you.

Like asking someone who isn’t pregnant when she’s due, I was shocked to be confronted by people out in the “wild” who really behave this way. Shocked as I am about people asking me if the twins are “natural”. I do think these people are outliers- I don’t subscribe to any “decline of civilization” narrative.

But I read every week about women being abused for breast feeding in public, and being abused if they don’t. So clearly, there are plenty of people out there who need to get the message that some things are just none of their business.

That is all. Carry on… differently.

(And if you see photos of my twins anywhere… let me know, okay?)

Maybe I should start a think tank

(Tangentially, I wrote a Scary Mommy article recently: 10 Things That Surprised me About Having a C-section. Let me know what you think. More on that front to come.)

***

After a lengthy, meandering series of patio discussions recently with M, it was actually two conversations with friends (you know who you are!), a job posting, and a scheduled job interview that pushed me from aggressive hedging (it’s not just an oxymoron, it’s a lifestyle!) into the realm of needing to act.

This is about the job thing again.

The morning unfolded like this:

  1. I received an email telling me I have a 3 hour job interview lined up for tomorrow. For the job that I was just telling M last night I think I may neither be qualified for, nor want.
  2. I told a friend that I couldn’t meet her for lunch tomorrow, because of it. She asked about the job and then kindly said that it sounded “intellectually beneath me”. That gave me pause.[1]
  3. I told a long distance friend about the job interview and she said “Great but… that’s not really what you want to do, right?”
  4. Money, I told them both. We still haven’t paid off the twins’ medical bills (etc.)
  5. I saw a posting by data & society looking for a research manager. My heart started beating faster. I’ve wanted to get involved with them for a while. I read through the entire posting, and when I made it to the bottom I saw the dreaded words: “This is not a remote position. You must be able to work full time from Data & Society’s offices in the Flatiron District.”  I must be in good company trying to find remote work…

I paced around my house, feeling depressed. Dropped a quick email to danah, who I went to college with and who sits on the advisory board for d&s – and who by no means has the time to reply to an email from me.

Then the twins started screaming, and I had to disconnect and try to juggle tandem feeding of two fussy babies. I may have sworn a few times.

IMG_7739

The twins were kind enough to do this while I wrote the blog entry.

Ok. So I’m in Houston. I have a PhD in anthropology with a focus on media/technology. I’ve spent the majority of my career in the academic world. There are no positions here for me, and only money buys me the time to work on my publications (need to not be doing other jobs full-time, including watching the babies).

Maybe I should start a research group. Or a think tank. Or freelance research until I can find enough work to start the group. I know so many underemployed or unemployed PhDs. Adjuncting is unsustainable, financially. Not everyone can move, so we could all work from where we need to be- providing on-site researchers around the world for our clients.

Please share this with anyone who might be able to help with this mission. Anyone I can connect with on this would be a valuable ally.

 

  1. I don’t like thinking anything is intellectually beneath me- but I know what she means. Not challenging enough, not aligned with my professional trajectory, whatever that is.

I Should be Job Hunting

But instead I am using the maybe ten minutes of time I can cheat from today to write in here. Because I need some unwinding, now! It’s really been a crazy day, and also a crazy couple of months. To the point where I can’t tell if the house being covered in my hair is postpartum shedding or stress shedding. Because I do the stress thing, but the postpartum thing happens to most women (I hear).

Anyway.

What can I write about here without getting into trouble or getting anyone else here into trouble? Ok, not going to talk about the M’s ex-wife situation because that’s going to lawyers and mediators soon. How about my ex-roommate suing me for moving out early (because I got pregnant and engaged)? Nope.

I never needed a lawyer before this year. Now I need a really good one, and a friend willing to start a successful gofundme (or ? site?) campaign to make that happen. Because I won’t beg for money even when I need to beg for money.

Adding to that issue, I got laid off this past Weds. (Hang on, crying baby…. Ok, back.) I guess I’ll tell you about that.

Since returning from maternity leave to find that all the senior management at my company had been laid off, I felt like my days there were numbered. I mean, they never really had any work for me there. I did mostly busy work, and that’s not what I got a PhD for.

But before maternity leave, well, I was super (duper) pregnant and not really up to job hunting, beyond academic job apps. The problem with those apps is that I was too tired to (Hang on, crying baby…. Ok, back.) get it together after a long work day and publish the articles I need to be publishing / write the book proposal I need to be writing… So I wasn’t a compelling candidate for a tenure-track position.

Anyway, I honestly tried to bust tail on the aforementioned busywork. Occasionally I was thrown tasks that I had zero background in and qualification for, and that would trigger massive anxiety. I was getting f’ed with a lot there, and would often find myself pacing the hall, furious, or trying not to cry.

So anyway, a week ago this past Friday I was assigned a task that was in no way finishable in one day. And obviously, I was supposed to do it in a day. I froze. I had a panic attack. After a weird convo with my boss, I ended up closing the day unsure whether I should be trying to finish it over the weekend. But that was no easy feat, because we have four boys of different ages in the house who need caring for, and just Martin and I struggling to stay on top of the chaos. I did check in on the task (twice), but heard no reply.

On Monday I was asked to do it by Weds. I cracked my metaphorical knuckles and (Hang on, crying baby…. Ok, back.) came up with a plan to get it done. And Mon, Tues, and Weds I missed pumping sessions, skipped eating and drinking and peeing and… finally at 3:45 pm on Wednesday, I finished. 15 minutes before I needed to pick up the twins.

Boss called me into an office in the back- one of the laid off senior managers’ offices. He checked my work, told me it was complete, and then told me I was laid off.

I almost drowned in the weirdness.

Despite my boss’s suggestion, I didn’t want to go awkwardly out into the main room (the “bullpen”) and say “Hey guys, I got laid off. Nice working with you. Love you, bye!” I’d rather march into the main room with my pumping bra still up my shirt and accidentally drop it on someone’s foot. (Happened once.)

I opted to slink out and leave most of my stuff (including the day’s pumped boob milk) behind.

I was reeling. On one hand, I saw that train coming a mile away. On the other hand, I was ashamed to be laid off, and furious, and sad.

M and I stayed up until midnight drinking wine and postmortum-ing the whole scenario on our back patio.

I am holding a lot of details back (Tangent: I just shed a few hairs on my computer), but I’m not a total idiot- anyone could read this. I’m just mostly an idiot.

Onward with figuring out what to do with my life at 37 with a PhD!

 

Dressing for Abdominal Muscle Separation

Following a twin pregnancy, I ended up with the “to-be-expected” diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation). Basically, my ab muscles spread apart so far to accommodate two huge babies, that they’re having trouble pulling themselves back in and up. I made an appointment for physical therapy today though (and you should too, if you have the DR).

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to figure out clothing. As anyone postpartum knows, fashion is a bit of a challenge while you’re changing size. My maternity pants are too large and baggy now, but I can’t fit comfortably into a single pair of my pre-pregnancy bottoms. So I’m putting together a bit of a checklist for myself, and thought I’d share the research effort- my finds are biased towards things I can wear during a hot Houston summer.

And I learned the hard way- don’t buy maternity dresses- they’re meant to accentuate the belly, and they’ll make you look like you’re still pregnant.

None of these are affiliate links, nor did any give me any free products to review (although, um, if any of you lovely clothing purveyors are offering I am for sale. Hit me up.)

  • Elastic waistband skirts – I love how many colors these come in, and I ordered the mint because it’s spring! (Or summer. Sprunger.)
  • Relatedly, I love how this top gathers just where I need to divert people’s attention. So many nifty colors, too.
  • This asymmetrical nursing top  – I actually have found that when I try to wear baggier tops, especially maternity tops, I look bigger. The cut of this top is really flattering on my torso with its giant paunch.
  • That said, I think tees along these lines would actually work too.
  • This link may not work for long, but there was a whole tunic category here.
  • These work / business casual pants that are also forgiving of a changing waist size (ordering a pair for summer!)
  • Basic shorts in a nice elastic waistband. Because: weekends.
  • That whole “dress yoga pants” thing? Made for us postpartum ladies.
  • More affordably, I shopped at uniqlo often when I lived in Japan. And they make so many pairs of pants that I can wear right now. Apparently they’re looking into a Houston store, which would be almost as confusing to my poor brain as the Japanese grocery going in around the corner.
  • I’m kinda eyeing some comfy shorts from H&M- and trying to decide if these would show more leg than my late 30s self wants to show. This dress might hide my tummy with its waist cinching action. Belted dresses in general could really work at the moment- ooh, I like this shirt dress too.
  • Dang, I wish these belly shaping pants would come back in stock in my size.
  • Plus: Don’t be afraid to try something tailored in the waist. I know, I know. But a lot of the large “tent garments” actually exacerbate the problem. <— I have clearly read far too many women’s mags during my maternity leave.

Ok, I need to stahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhp.

An afterword: This is in some ways a controversial topic. No, I mean it! On one hand, I don’t believe in feeling badly about my body on an intellectual level. On the other hand, I roll my eyes at the “tiger stripes” rhetoric about stretch marks. Truth: I can’t wait to heal my tummy muscles! Truth: I want to smile when I look in the mirror in the meantime AND be comfortable. Truth: the time I actually wore PJ pants to work in desperation was a day I hit peak “I am frumpy” inner monologue.

I actually don’t do well with fashion. I’ve never had much taste in clothing, and find the choices overwhelming. In some ways, having limitations is really working for me. But it’s a bit defeating to get dressed at the moment so, I guess I’d better go shopping…*

*M, if you read this, I’ll hold off for now because… vacation money

 

 

The Twins’ Birth Story Part 2

Argh, I hate pumping. But here I am once again, pumping milk because… can’t bring the babies to my office.

So, where was I in the birth saga? Oh right, at 35 weeks. Well, after a hospital stay for no reason, I went back to work on Tuesday, and tried to resume Life as Usual. But I kept having contractions and getting even more pregnant, so every day it was even less fun to try to sit at a desk than the day before (except that one day with the full body relentless itching. That day was a special hell.) A few days later, my OB reported that I hadn’t dilated any further, and asked me to consider induction at 37 weeks.

IMG_6950

Too much pregnant, you guys. No sir.

M and I really wrestled with this one. Induction didn’t seem necessary at all. But doctors tend to intervene with twins at 38 weeks anyway, and I was so uncomfortable by then that I could not think straight. I put off answering the doctor for a while. And then I finally conceded. Friday, February 12 we’d induce. Turns out, the doc just sorta threw that suggestion out there for fun, because he in no way expected me to hold out that long.

Surprise!

Also, he had a vacation planned starting February 13, and wanted to pull out the twins before that. Not my favorite reason for getting pitocin. So, M and I were expected to be at the hospital by 5AM on Friday, but the hospital told us not to leave to come in until we got a call.

Waiting For a Room

M and I busied ourselves that morning by driving to get breakfast sandwiches, waiting outside the drive through until it opened. By 7, no call had yet come, so we called them.

Turns out most of the women in Harris County had descended on the hospital Thursday night, and there was no room at the inn. We were put in line to wait for a room along with the other potential inductions. And we waited. All day… we waited. Finally we set up the Scrabble set to try to distract ourselves, and the phone rang. 13 hours after our original appointment it was finally go time.

Alas for me, my OB had finished his shift and was officially on vacation. And my doula had been available that morning, but not overnight. Suddenly there wasn’t really any reason to induce me, but between the nervous anticipation of the 35 weeks’ hospital stay and our Friday wait, we couldn’t psychologically handle the idea of turning around and going home again.

Mostly Monitors

I was started on such a small amount of pitocin that nothing really happened. It turned out that the hospital staff was basically trying to hold back any progress until the morning shift came back on duty. So began the overnight torture with baby monitors– the same problems as the last time. 2 IVs in my hands, one pulse monitor, and two non-wireless baby monitors. Those stupid things pinched and poked and slid around. And every two minutes or less a nurse would come in to fiddle with them in the hopes that they’d stay on. But they didn’t, and I crankily looked through lowered eyelids at the girls who were tugging and pressing and leaving welts all over my abdomen.

When it became clear that this was going to be a slow delivery, M ducked out to go get us some Chipotle. I wasn’t supposed to be eating anything, of course, so we began this ridiculous ritual of pretending my burrito was his every time someone walked in. Except, I would be chewing and dropping beans down my “pretty pushers” gown (I loved that thing because it covered my butt. Just saying.)

M and I tried to continue our Scrabble game, and at first I was kicking his ass, but with every interruption to wrangle my monitors, and every uptake in the pitocin, I got a bit worse at it. I eventually stalled on the longest turn ever, which was me sitting in front of the same letters for an hour, trying to remember English.

L, the doula-in-training arrived.. My actual doula never did show up to any of my birthing scenes. L, M, and I were like: “Here we go again…” Mostly we were hoping not to sit around all night trying to entertain each other. Alas.

This time I was given even less freedom than during the 35-week scare. I was told sternly not to take the monitors off, and therefore could not walk far or get into the tub. I could stand next to my bed rocking back and forth.

I don’t remember if anyone else slept. I know I didn’t. I remember turning the nature channel on the in-room TV. ( It was basically a slow-mo video with new age music playing over it. ) And all the beeping of monitors, and watching the heart rates and unimpressive contractions. I just remembered that I turned on the Republican Debates for a while, because I thought the intellectual pain would distract from my physical ouchies.

Pro tip: Never look at Donald Trump or Ted Cruz while in labor.

The Action Begins

At 6AM some nurses with a slightly better monitor-placement-technique arrived. And then they cranked my pitocin, and the party really got started. I was breathing through the contractions easily for a while, pacing around as I did. But then they told me they wanted to break my water, so I hopped back up on the table (Haha.. hopped. I had around 13 lbs of baby in me, 2 placentas, and two bags of water… I hadn’t hopped in months.)

I actually kind of thought the water being broken felt good- it was like a warm bowl of water being poured on my legs. But then shit got really real- so much pitocin, and so much #**(*#$w8#$%#% pain. I think I was finally fully dilated? M can perhaps correct me on the sequence of events.

At first I was like: “clearly I can do this, because I am a badass.” But the pain rapidly began ramping up. I tried yoga breathing, and all of the relaxation techniques I hadn’t learned in the childbirthing classes I hadn’t taken.

Pitocin contractions are kind of … something else, and I was miserably covered in monitors and IV lines already. I remember the pain being so intense that after initially thinking I could “mind over matter” anything, I got to a place where I could not handle it. I had been told that I really needed to get an epidural, because the likelihood of C-section delivery is so high with twins, and at that moment I was like “okay, I am more than ready to cave. Bring on the giant spine needle”.

I actually don’t really remember the interval of time between then and when the anesthesiologist arrived. I do remember thinking I was going to black out from the pain, and I do remember he had the same name as one of the twins. Martin had to leave, because apparently husbands have fainted watching this procedure happen, and if anyone startles the anesthesiologist while he inserts the needle, I might not have working legs anymore.

So, a nurse and I sat on the bed and I let them numb my back, then did my best to answer questions about whether I could feel anything (I can’t ##(*(# tell! My whole body feels like it’s being ripped in two right now, sir!)  I moaned and whimpered, and slumped over as he worked his magic. And gradually, gradually the pain let up and my cognitive function returned to me.

I actually felt good enough to play Scrabble again.

Time to Push

Alas, I needed to be pushing. M. came back in to cheer me on, and “not my doctor” and a nurse came to hold my legs. Most of you ladies know the drill… breathing and pushing, breathing and pushing. F’s head was poking down, so they got a scalp monitor on him. But unfortunately, I didn’t manage to push out any babies despite my efforts. Narrow pelvis and all. I did feel like I almost caused a vein to burst in my temples though.

The doc said that because C2 was expected to be enormous, that if I did manage to get F out, I’d still probably wind up in a C-section. Worst of both worlds, basically. M and I had everyone leave the room so we could deliberate.

We decided to stop pushing.

Maybe if the babies had been ready to come out on their own and hadn’t been induced, it could have been avoided. Who knows.

There were so many C-sections happening that night (Mmmm hmmm ….) that because we weren’t an emergency, we had to wait. So we did, chatting and watching the television and marveling over the magic of epidurals.

Somewhere in here, M’s brother showed up with some chicken sandwiches and fries. We basically were like “L’s about to go into the operating room. Can’t talk now. Love you!”

It turned out I had to start out in the OR by myself. M couldn’t be there while they got set up, for some reason. As I was wheeled away from him on my bed, I wanted so badly to reach out to him. I wanted his hand in mine. I didn’t want to be taken away all by myself.

C-Section Land

The OR was the brightest room I’ve ever been in, but for some reason I was intensely drowsy. What had I been given? I kept closing my eyes, then opening them to strain and try to see M. Another anesthesiologist began working on ensuring that my entire abdomen was numb. And the requisite large curtain was placed just below my chest.

Poke poke. “Can you feel that?” “Okay, tell me when you can feel me touching your torso.” He gave me a shot in my right arm, and then my left. I still don’t know what those things were. It’s possible he explained them while I floated in and out of drowsiness. I listened to the nurses and doctors talk about their Valentines Day date plans (it was late Feb. 13th).

Finally M appeared- from my perspective, seemingly out of nowhere. He was next to me, holding my hand. I squeezed it as hard as I could, so the doctors couldn’t take him away again. Then everything gets a bit blurry. I remember feeling something under my tongue all of a sudden, and being told not to swallow it. Then I swallowed it. M says it was some sort of medication that gives you short term memory loss. (What??) I promptly began throwing up. Then the violent shaking started. I couldn’t keep that under control, and understand that it was a kind of hormonal shock.

Someone showed me one of the babies- F, I guess? Then he was whisked away. Another baby was shown to me… little baby C2. Nurses were huddling all around them, and I was too out of it to know if that was a bad thing. Someone told me they were both in great shape, and then I don’t really recall how I got to the recovery room. And how it was almost midnight.

Okay, Recovery

M passed out on the cot next to me, completely exhausted. But now I was awake because I couldn’t control the shaking, and I was the thirstiest I’d ever been in my life. Maybe due to blood loss? But I didn’t know then what I know now- that I’d been hemorrhaging in the OR. And the docs had to take my uterus out of my body, dump me sideways to get all the fluid inside me out, and then patch up the ol’ uterus.

Oh, and stitch me up.

I wasn’t allowed to have anything to drink, because I could do serious damage to myself if I coughed, sneezed, choked, or threw up. But after pleading with the nurse for an hour, she finally let me have some ice chips. I sat there for hours on my cot, sucking on one ice cube after another and wondering how I could get the fountain drink in M’s bag over to me to drink from. If I could have reached it, I’d have downed the whole thing. I was desperate and obsessed. The nurse would poke her head in and ask if I needed anything. I repeated the same refrain:

“Can I have water?”
“Can I have ice?”

I was sure the babies were just being examined, and that they’d be out of the doctors’ clutches and in my arms in no time.

My room

We were waiting for a hospital room, the room I’d be camped out in for the next four days while I recovered. But the hospital was so crowded full of women popping out babies (or having them surgically removed), that we waited in recovery for hours, until a room could be found. The benefit of the overcrowding was that I landed the extra-pricey recovery suite that the hospital shows off on tours. And I didn’t have to pay extra! There was a whole sitting area with a sofa and television– ideal for those times when visitors wanted to pop by, but I was sleeping.

I was completely beside myself with exhaustion now, but still too thirsty and twitchy to sleep. I actually don’t remember anything before getting to have that first cup of water, so urgent was my desire to drink. It was then that I learned that the twins were in the NICU, but not with any major problems. F was 6 lbs 1 oz, and C2 was 6 lbs 13 oz (not the behemoth he was expected to be). C2 was just having issues with reflux and losing oxygen saturation in his blood when he tried to eat. F was having blood sugar issues.

I still hadn’t really seen them. But after downing cup after cup of water, I was determined to go. Except I finally passed out- fell asleep would be understating it.

I woke up in a lot of pain, with a nurse feeding me pills. I couldn’t sit up. I couldn’t roll over. A lactation consultant was there, encouraging me to try out the breast pump and get some colostrum for the twins. We hooked it up… and… I felt like the world’s best mama, because that stuff started coming out in full force (by colostrum standards, that is). Everyone praised me, as though I had done it on purpose. I think that was the last time I was a gold star milk cow. At least during that early period I was still able to maintain my fantasy that I’d feed the babies solely by tandem breast feeding them- and love it. (Snort.)

Babies! Babies!

M went down to the NICU to visit the twins a couple of times before I made it down there. I was so excited, but it was a production to get me out of that bed. Rolling out of it didn’t really work, and trying to pull me up was excruciating. I couldn’t walk, so we needed to somehow pour me into a wheelchair. Every move I made seemed to engage my ab muscles, and caused me to grit my teeth in pain- and that was with plenty of Vicodin (I know so little about drugs that it wasn’t until about a month later that I realized Hydrocodone was the generic name for Vicodin. But I digress.)

The twins actually had their own room, which was lovely (I mean, for a NICU situation). I can still hear the sounds of the monitors in my ears if I think about it, and the feeling of standing by their isolette watching their little chests rise and fall. I remember nursing Freddie for the first time, and honestly, I’ve been lucky with the twins because they both generally latch on effortlessly and well. I’ve been unlucky that their birth coincided with a stressful life period (maybe more about that later, if I can figure out how to talk about it) and that it affected my milk supply.

I got pretty engorged during that time in the hospital because of my inability to make it down to nurse as much as I wanted… the lactation consultants were very proactive at Texas Children’s though… although I could have done without one of them hand-milking me for an hour that one time. I haven’t hand expressed milk but one time since then- with twins there’s usually not an oversupply, so the one time was when I’d had a bunch of “I’m stressed out” wine and forgot to bring the infernal pump home from work.

Anyway, this is getting long and rambly now so I’ll end it. Twins came home after 6 (F) and 7 (C2) days in the NICU, and we’ve been home living our chaotic and constipated lives since then. Oh, yeah, and I forgot how to pee after the C-section, but that’s another story.

 

 

 

 

The Twins’ Birth Story: Part 1

Part 1: 

Our story begins at 35 weeks pregnant and already extremely over it. I couldn’t sit down comfortably for very long, couldn’t stand comfortably, and waddled when I tried to walk. M and I knew that the writing was on the wall for our having date time, so as we enjoyed a leisurely Sunday morning sipping coffee on our patio and chatting, I mentioned that I would love to visit the ocean together. M suggested we head to Kemah, a mysterious beachy-tourist town in Texas that I’d never been to. During the hour long drive there, I felt a little stiff and a bit extra achy, but assumed it was just more random side effects of being that pregnant. It wasn’t until M dropped me off to search for parking that I realized that something different was happening.

I hadn’t noticed any Braxton-Hicks contractions during my pregnancy, and I really didn’t know what a contraction felt like. But I started trying to time these weird sensations I was having- and I was so very inaccurate (as it turned out). After a minute of making weird faces, I texted M to get his butt back to me and not worry about parking, as I didn’t think we’d be staying.

We actually managed to dart over to the end of a pier before driving back into Houston to the hospital. Standing and looking at the waves with my love, I felt calm- but also like I might drop a watermelon from between my legs at any time. Off we went.

On the hospital admitting floor, I was surprised to find that I was 4cm dilated, and definitely contracting- part of me had kind of thought that I was being a hypochondriac. But no, I was promptly admitted. I felt a little bit better about nearly falling on the floor while trying to check in, and circling the “ARHGDHDGJHDGJHG” face on the pain scale. I got a wheelchair ride to the laborin’ floor. 

We texted the doula, but she was sick and said she’d send an assistant. L turned out to be an early 20-something, sweet girl- not quite the birth expert I’d paid for. But I digress. At least she brought lavender oil and heat packs- those made life nicer. 

I’ve never had so many people shove their hands up in my stuff before-  repeated checking to see if I was dilating any further had me wanting to kick a couple of the residents. Not everyone is equally good at those checks. I’m looking at you- short-haired female resident! 

But the main issue was the fetal monitors. I had been hoping to walk around, sit on a birthing ball, take baths, etc. But because there were two babies, I had to have two full sets of monitors on me, and neither were the wireless kind (those apparently can’t be used if you need two of them). I was tethered to the bed, and could only pace a bit nearby unless I wanted to break rules and take off the monitors. When the nurses put a separate pulse monitor on me, I nearly punted one of them. Oh, and I nearly forgot- I hadn’t had the bacteria test thing done yet (because: only at 35 weeks), so I had to have an IV on me pumping me with antibiotics just in case. Y’know, so I didn’t give crotch-monkeys to the babies. 

(Honestly, Baby A was so far down that nobody seemed able to get the monitor to stay on him anyway. The constant poking and prodding and rearranging the monitors was the worst part of the whole thing.)

M and I tried to watch episodes of The Great British Baking Show on iPhone between my contractions, because that was about all my poor brain could handle. The assistant doula napped on the window seat while Not A Lot happened. 

Somewhere in the middle of this, M’s mom arrived with our hospital bags- just in time for me to get another dilation check. I kinda flustered a bit about the idea of having family members see my “business”, so M wound up encouraging her to leave. She offered to pick up my little geriatric dog Mei from our house, and dog sit her- and then she cleared out so I could wave my bits in the doctors’ faces in relative peace. 

But I  wasn’t getting any more dilated, just hungrier and more fatigued. Eventually, I was allowed to take a break from the monitors to get in the bath tub- which had lovely jets, but a nonfunctioning drain. I shoved my heel into it and tried to, y’know, earth mama my twins out into the world. 

Doc made another appearance and told me that it seemed like my contractions had stalled and, indeed, not much was happening. This was the first time I heard that I might be discharged, and I was like “Really? I have to do this again in the future? I have to go back to work tomorrow?” 

When Doc finally made the call that I would be going back home, M went and got us McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches- because that was what was open in the medical center at 4am. Until recently, I hadn’t been to McDonald’s in more than a decade. That morning, it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. 

So we went home. We didn’t go to work that day- we dozed on the couch and decompressed a bit, and grumbled and fussed. We didn’t see any more action for two whole weeks. 

Continued in Part 2! 

My crazy morning

Hello again, after so very long. I have so much to update. Here’s the short and dirty version:

M and I got married. I became a stepmom to A+C. We bought a house. I got pregnant. We had the twins, C2+F.

So I overslept this morning because I was just feeling worn out- hit the snooze until seven, and then bolted upright in a panic, because I needed to drive the twins to their aunt’s and then get myself to work. I really, really wanted to nurse the twins, but they weren’t screaming so I focused on getting myself ready and out the door. Coffee. Pumping supplies for work. Glance at the twins’ bag, hoping it was filled with the right things. A bagel for me. No time to shower. Twins in the carseats, and go! Around then my boobs started leaking like crazy. Fine, nursing pads. Keep driving. Thinking about how the reason I am doing the morning dropoff is because I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, and this means I will only have four hours at work today. Whether that’s enough to meet a deadline or not, I don’t know. But I am definitely behind on work this week (and I have work to do!) because I leave at 4 to pick up the twins every day- it takes me about 3 hours, round trip, thanks to the Houston flooding, and the beast that is the Sam Houston Tollway/290 circuit.

I finally make it to work around 9:30, but I have to go to the bathroom so badly I’d considered pulling over while driving. My boobs start to leak again. I am getting Skype messages from co-workers asking for things, but I need to pump before I do anything, so I don’t even sit down at my desk. I just run for the pumping room, fumbling with the parts while milk drips onto my laptop and the table, and runs down my chest.

I sit. I breathe. I wish I’d had time to shower and spend some snuggling time with the babies. Happy Thursday.