Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Uh oh... is it time?

Around 2 o'clock this afternoon, I seriously thought my work day was going to end much earlier than usual. And it wasn't because I had comp time to burn.

I was in the middle of drafting a press release about the opening of North Carolina's first "green" rest area when I began to feel pangs of pain in my belly and along my lower back.

"Ugh," I muttered as I thought back to my lunch. "I probably shouldn't have eaten that tortellini so fast."

Pang... pang. Pang-pang-pang!

It clearly was not the pasta that was causing this pain. It was something different that I hadn't felt before.

At first, I assumed the Wonder Twins were just pushing extra hard against my tummy. They tend to do that after I eat, which makes my baby bump feel quite firm. Sometimes, the pressure is so great that I can't feel gentle touches around my belly button.

This time, though, it wasn't them lobbying for more womb room.

My heart started to race as I pondered the possibilities. Was I in labor? Was I having contractions? Was the Secretary of Transportation going to have to drive me to the hospital in the state SUV?

Being that I have never been pregnant before, I don't exactly know what contractions feel like. Everyone keeps assuring me by saying, "Oh, you'll know." Yeah, right.

My doctor told me contractions would feel like really bad mentrual cramps. The pain kind of felt like that, especially because of the lower back aches, but there was no rhythm to the sensations. They just sort of pulsed to a random beat.

I whispered, "Please don't come yet, girls. You've got four more weeks to finish developing, plus two showers to attend. It's not time."

They must have heard me, because about an hour later, the pain went away. Apparently, the twins enjoy parties just as much as mommy and daddy, and they didn't want to miss out on any celebrations in their honor!

I really think what I was experiencing were Braxton-Hicks contractions. The fake contractions. They're supposed be sporadic, irregular in intensity and not grow stronger with time. That pretty well describes that I felt.

Thank you, baby books, for reminding me of this phenomenon. And, thank you, Dr. John Braxton Hicks, for detecting it in back in 1872.

Next time, I will not allow imitation contractions to fool me! Oh, no. I will walk them off or deep breathe them away. That is, unless they're real contractions.

In that case, I'll make a beeline for the state SUV.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Book Worm and her Squirmy Worms

Beside my bed, there is a large, brown woven basket full of books. One of them is a fiction novel I intended to read last year and clearly never got around to opening. All the rest are pregnancy-related books.

I've got "What to Expect...," "Your Pregnancy Week by Week" and a whole slew of others on topics like breastfeeding and preparing to bring baby (or in my case babies) home from the hospital.

The problem is I haven't really had the time (or frankly the energy) to read them since the middle of my second trimester. Bad mom, I know.

I really think there should be a pamphlet sold with every book that states: "Warning. Planning for motherhood is an exciting, yet time-consuming task. Don't even try to complete this book until you've picked out your baby furniture, registered for gifts, decorated the nursery and childproofed your house. Any attempt to do otherwise is an exercise in futility."

Somehow, I doubt Random House is going to agree with me.

Because I know the Wonder Twins could come at any time in the next few weeks or months, I feel a little guilty that I haven't made my way through more of the book basket by the bed.

This weekend, I tried to make up for my literary deficiency. I overachieved and read the entire end of "Your Pregnancy Week by Week." I am now officially up to date on all things that could possibly happen between now and week 41 (overdue)!

The good thing is I had already learned most of the information in my childbirth class at the hospital.

The bad thing is I think the authors of the book needed some "filler" content for some of the latter chapters, so they found the most disturbing diseases or health problems a baby could possibly suffer from and put at least one in each chapter. Thanks, Nurse Nancy. Now, I won't be able to sleep tonight.

To lessen the nighttime tossing and turning, I try to read in the morning and not just before hitting the sack. It gives me a chance to process the information but not enough time to dwell on it so much that it interrupts my sleep.

That's good news for the twins. They are both extremely active these days, and they tend to launch a physical protest when I move too much at night.

I try to apologize for flipping my giant body from side to side, but I don't think they can hear me. Their response is to push. Hard.

Twin A's new trick is to slide waaaay up under my right rib and push out, forming a big, round bump. Twin B tends to slide to the middle of my tummy and push her head (I think) into what used to be my belly button until it looks like the nose cone of the space shuttle.

Usually, a light tummy massage will lessen the pushing but not always. They are obviously hard headed like their mother.

Their tummy-contorting movements have earned them the nicknames "Mommy's Squirmy Worms."

Perhaps, they'll calm down a little if momma book worm trades her maternity books for "High School Musical 3."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Name Game

Of all the pregnancy-related questions I get asked by friends, colleagues and complete strangers on a regular basis, the most common one is "Have you picked out names yet?"

My 81-year-old grandmother in Pennsylvania just asked me that yesterday. She's knitting Christmas stockings for the Wonder Twins and needs to know their names before she can start winding the red and green yarn around her needles. You see, grandma knits stockings for everyone in the family, and the name always goes at the top of the sock.

"Can't you start at the toe?" I inquired. "No," she said. "That won't work."

Well, unfortunately, I had to tell her the same thing that I tell my friends, colleagues and total strangers: We aren't saying for sure until we meet the girls.

I'll be honest. It's not like we really think we're going to change our minds in the minutes post delivery. We're really using it as more of an excuse to avoid the following hypothetical, yet extremely awkward situations:

1. As soon as I divulge the girls' names, the face of the person I'm talking to is either totally expressionless (bad) or contorts into a fake smile (also bad) while mumbling, "Oh, those are... nice names." Whatever. You hate them. Thanks for your sincerity.

2. Upon hearing the names, the person immediately exclaims with vigor, "I have a third cousin who's a stripper in Wyoming with that SAME name!" OMG! I'm so NOT excited.

3. After I share the names, the person says, "There are 14 girls with those exact names in my son's preschool class. He doesn't get along with any of them." Great. Have you ever thought that it might be your son?

All of those scenarios and thousands of others would definitely make us question the names we've picked for ridiculous reasons. Since we happen to like the names we've picked, we've decided to avoid the weird commentary and keep them a secret until the big day comes.


We will let you know that the babies' middle names are easily pronounceable family names unlike "Dara" and "Geof." You'd be surprised how many times a day we get "Darrah" and "Gee-off."

We'll also tell you some name combinations that we didn't pick:

1. Demi Levine - Sure, "Demi" works as a first name for movie star "Demi Moore," but not so much for the daughter of someone named Dara Demi Levine. Waaaay too confusing when the teenaged boys start calling.

2. Dara Demi Levine, Jr. - No way. Not happening. Sounds like a weird Jewish country song.

3. Geoffina Levine - First, that's not even a name. Second, her nickname would definitely be "Geoffina Levina," which reminds me of "Julia Gulia" in the movie, "The Wedding Singer," with Adam Sandler. That's just mean. We would like the girls to actually have social lives when they're older.

I'm fairly certain I haven't given you enough clues to figure out their names. So, I guess you'll just have to wait until delivery day to find out!

Don't you just love a good cliffhanger? :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Things You Learn on the Throne

It's funny what you discover when you're taking the pee test in the bathroom at the doctor's office. For those of you who don't know, mommies-to-be have to take a urine test every time they go to the OBGYN for a check up.

Today, I had two realizations while sitting on the throne. First, my underwear was inside out. That's what happens when you can no longer see your feet and try to get dressed inside a dark closet. Second, I couldn't see the cup, either. Hitting the sterile container was a new physical challenge that somehow I seemed to master. If only my aim were that good on the golf course.

Once I exited the throne room with newly reversed underwear, Geof and I went into a room where the nurse listened to the babies' heart beats. I love the "wah, wah, wah" sound! Twin A measured about 145 beats per minute. Her sister's rate was slightly higher at 147 bpm. Both are considered very strong and healthy.

Next, Dr. Tosky came in to talk to us about the babies' progress. He was the only obstetrition in the practice that we had not yet met, so we were excited to make his acquaintance and pick his brain about some labor-related questions we had.

He had white hair and a funny New York-ish accent, which was emphasized by his kind, yet straight-to-the-point approach. We immediately liked him. Very "Sopranos."

He said it would be possible for us to have a natural delivery, if the twins are both facing head down. At our last ultrasound, one was still breech. Turn, Twin B, turn!

We think she may be trying. A true womb hog, she often pushes hard against the right and center of my tummy, leaving a large, loaf of bread-like lump at my belly button. This acrobatic manuver forces Twin A to my far right side in a similar-shaped bump.

Yes, it is as weird looking as it sounds. :) Even after stuffing myself at Thanksgiving, my belly has never contorted in such positions.

Dr. Tosky said if Twin B doesn't flip over and face head down, it would not be a good idea to try to have Twin A naturally and her sister by C-section. Too much stress on me.

However, he did say that if a C-section is the route we must go, we don't have to schedule it. We can let my body just start contractions on its own timetable. As odd as it may sound, I really want to do that. I don't want to miss out on this phase of the pregnancy if I don't have to.

The other thing we learned from Dr. Tosky was that most twins come into the world at about 35 weeks. That's three weeks from now!!

Breathing. Very. Fast.

No time for right siding underwear. Nesting time is here!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hooray for Twins Discounts!

Great news from Restoration Hardware Baby and Child where we registered for the Wonder Twins' bedding. It now offers a special discount for multiples! WooHoo!

Twins, Triplets or More Save 15% on Everything With Our Multiples Program
If you're shopping for twins, triplets or more, we have a special program that makes it easier to outfit them. Save 15% when purchasing more than one of the same item, regardless of color. Place your order by contacting Customer Service at 1.800.762.1751, or visit a Restoration Hardware Baby & Child store for assistance.

Purchase two or more of the same full-price Baby & Child item (can be different colors) during the offer period commencing on September 10, 2009, and continuing through and until December 31, 2010, and receive a 15% discount on the purchase price of these items. The 15% discount shall not apply to tax and shipping. Offer excludes sale merchandise. To receive this discount, mention "Multiples Program" when shopping by phone or in-store. Offer not valid for web purchases, purchases made at Restoration Hardware Outlets, Clearance Centers or Warehouse sales, purchases of Home and Outdoor merchandise and/or purchases of gift certificates. Offer cannot be combined with any other offers, promotions, coupons, or program discounts and may not be applied to previous purchases.

BRU offers a similar discount, but it's for 10-percent off, and it has been be on "big ticket" items.

Now, if we could just get a similar break on college tuition... :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Baby Bump Pictures Unveiled

Our awesome friend and photographer Leah Charbonneau has given us special permission to post some of our maternity photo session shots on the Wonder Twins' blog! We are SO pleased with the way they turned out. She did a great job of capturing "us."

We can't wait to hang some pictures in the nursery... and pretty much every other wall in the house!

Feel free to puruse the mini gallery below.

To see more of Leah's gorgeous work, check out www.leahcphotography.com. :) She has already agreed to take pictures of the Wonder Twins after they come into the world. Can't wait!

Daddy's Head has Healed!

In a far less urgent manner than last Sunday morning, Geof, the Wonder Twins and I went to the Emergency Department at Raleigh's Wake Medical Center this morning. Seven days had passed since his traumatic ordeal with the bathroom floor, and it was time to get the stitches out.

We went to the hospital instead of our family care provider, because the cost of the sucture removal was included in our last visit. No need to pay twice!

Unfortunately, that meant we were forced to sit in the waiting area with the really sick people. While I definitely felt sorry for them, I made sure to frequently use hand santizer, because I did not want to catch what they had. Sporting a Michael Jackson-style face mask is not my idea of a successful end to the pregnancy!

After about an hour and a half, we got called back to the minor care area, and Jill the nurse started poking at Geof's stitches. After removing the first two, she declared there was too much "gook" (dried blood and layered antibiotic ointment) caked in Geof's hair to really see the stitches well. So, she scrubbed the gooky area down with some hydrogen peroxide and deemed the wound area much cleaner.

During this process, she decided to tell me all about her daughter who had girl-girl twins last year. Apparently, she did not have an easy pregnancy and ended up in the hospital several times before finally having the babies at 30 weeks.

Ummm... I'll be 31 weeks tomorrow, but that doesn't mean I want to hear about another mother's pregnancy trials and tribulations. Why would you tell me that?

Thankfully, the twin talk ceased when the crooked-looking specialty scissors came back out.

With a few snips, Nurse Jill got all the stitches out with no trouble. She proclaimed that Geof's head wound had healed nicely, but she did point out one spot that would probably still be tender, as indicated by its light pink color. She said Geof should just use sensitivity when washing his hair, and if he had any problems, he should come back in.

Geof is thrilled to be able to wash the back of his head for the first time in a week! To celebrate this monumental achievement, as well as Geof's bravery, we went to Moe's for lunch. The twins must have enjoyed this little Mexican treat, because they are now kicking like crazy! Arriba, chicas!

Again, we'd like to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and prayers during the past week! We are very grateful for Geof's speedy recovery and look forward to our next trip to the hospital being for the babies' birth!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Register This!

Most parents-to-be probably walk into stores like Babies R' Us and get excited about the thousands of items they could register for. From bottle warmers to $700 baby joggers, the list of options is almost endless.

Unless you're me. And, you find the sheer amount of options totally overwhelming, so you run home to read the entire "Baby Bargains" book to determine which type of bottle best prevents colic, which car seat will be safest for the Wonder Twins and which diaper disposal system gets the highest marks for odor elimination. (Remember, we'll have twice the poopy diapers in one room!)

After finishing the book, Geof and I went back to BRU to create our registry. The sign up process was simple. They gave us a scanner, which we immediately turned into a big kids toy. Geof tried to scan my baby bump (sorry, the girls are not for sale), and I used it as a prop in a Charlie's Angels pose when no one was looking.

Armed with "Baby Bargains," we walked down each aisle and started scanning. We began with the big stuff - the really important items we cannot live without like car seats. It's hard to bring babies home from the hospital without them.

After much hemming and hawing, we selected the Chicco Key Fit seats, because they hold infants from four to 32 pounds. All the other seats start at five pounds. Just in case the girls come early and don't weigh much, we wanted to be prepared. The background color of the seats is, much to Geof's disdain, orange - the color of his SEC football rival, the University of Tennessee. Geof plans to remedy this by buying the twins Arkansas Razorback onesies immediately.

Unfortunately, Chicco does not yet make a double stroller for the Key Fit seats to snap into, so we went with a more traditional side-by-side stroller. The Combi model is black with bright green polka dots, which reminded Geof of his mom, Linda, who loved lime green. It folds up like a Tranformer and is pretty light weight for a double stroller. Since the doctor put the "no exercise" edict into effect, I haven't exactly been pumping iron, so my shrunken biceps are grateful for the reduced poundage!

We had heard great things about the Baby Bjorn, but Geof figured he should give one the true Levine test before we double punched the scanner. He gave it the "thumbs up" and already has big plans of dancing around the living room with one of the girls secured firmly to his chest!

I could go on and on about all the other things we registered for and why, but I seriously doubt you'd find that interesting. I will say, though, that we did NOT register for any baby clothes. On purpose. It's shocking, I know.

The truth is we just don't need any. Really. Between my ceaseless shopping sprees at consignment sales and gifts from our awesome friends, the nursery closet is full for the first six months! Our babies are going to be tiny fashionistas!

In all seriousness, feathering the nest for twins is expensive, so we really tried to only register for the items we truly need. And, most of them we need in pairs.

That means I resisted the urge to go scanner crazy and pull the trigger on items like the baby spa, fancy mobiles, and the latest and greatest toys. We don't need them. Well... that is unless the grandparents are buying! :)

You can check out our registry online at http://www.babiesrus.com/. Just click on "find a registry" on the left side of the screen and type in either one of our names. It should pop right up!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Daddy Goes to the ER

There are a lot of things in life that I'm scared of. Tarantulas, scorpions, and armed robbers immediately come to mind.

But, on Sunday morning, I saw the most terrifying sight I'd ever seen - Geof lying on his side on the bathroom floor in a scarlet pool of his own blood. This was no dream. It was a real-life nightmare that I hope I never relive again.

At about 4 a.m., I was awakened by the sound of a loud crash. I bolted out of bed and immediately headed for the stairway, thinking Stella the cat had probably knocked something over downstairs.

As soon as I made it to the landing, I realized there were no lights on downstairs, which struck me as odd. I knew Geof hadn't been in bed when I heard the crash. If he wasn't in bed or downstairs, where was he?

I started calling his name and heard a noise coming from our bedroom. I noticed the bathroom double doors were shut. That was my first sign something was wrong. We only close those doors, when we're showering or getting ready in the morning. They stay open at night.

I opened the doors and called out into the dark bathroom, "Geof?" He responded with some mumbling. When I asked him why he was lying on the floor, he said, "I was so tired. I had to lie down." He was not making much sense, and that made my level of concern rise.

He then warned me that the floor was "wet." "Wet?" I said. "Why is it wet?" He replied in a wavering voice, "I think it's blood."

My adrenaline was pumping hard now. I walked over to the light switch, flicked it on and looked in horror at what I saw. Geof, lying between the bathtub and the potty closet, with a wide circle of blood all around his head.

"Oh God! Oh God!" I yelled in a voice filled with terror.

Mom, who was visiting from Cincinnati for the Labor Day holiday, shared my scared reaction and rushed to the linen closet in the hall for clean towels.

We had no idea exactly what had happened or where the blood was coming from, and Geof clearly was in no state to tell us.

We managed to get him upright and seated on the tub, so we could examine his head. There was so much blood matted in his hair that it was hard to figure out where it was coming from.

After some very gentle wiping with a towel, I could see a large gash in the back of his head. I knew this was not good.

Trying to remain calm, we moved him to the bed where we dressed him in warm clothes to try and stop his shivering, and prepared him for a ride to Wake Med's emergency room. His motor skills were slow, and it was obvious he didn't remember anything that had just happened to him.

On the way to the hospital, I tried to focus on driving and not having a total mental breakdown. I knew that would not be good for Geof or the Wonder Twins.

Mom sat in the backseat with Geof, helping him hold a towel and an ice pack against his throbbing head.

Pieces of the morning started coming back to him slowly. He remembered having a stomach ache. He remembered feeling a little dizzy as he got up to go to the bathroom. He didn't remember anything after that.

After what seemed like an eternity, we entered the ER and were sent into a triage station. A nurse listened to our story of what happened, at least what we could piece together at that point, and said Geof would need a CT Scan. She then wrapped his bleeding head in pads and gauze like you'd see in some type of movie about a WWII hospital.

After Geof's scan, he was given a "room" in the ER where we sat waiting for a doctor to tell us what would happen next.

Dr. Berry started his shift at 7 a.m., and Geof was his first patient. He said Geof would need another CT Scan, because the technicians had done the first one improperly. There was a dark spot on the scan, and Dr. Berry couldn't tell if it was blood... or something else.

Something else? I could feel my blood pressure rising.

Shortly after Geof returned from the second scan, nurses came by to do an EKG test, blood tests and hook him up to an IV. They also cleaned the wound with saline, which from Geof's expression really hurt.

Once he had the test results he needed, Dr. Berry briefed us again. He said the scan and the other tests had come back clear - no "something else" to worry about. Just the two-inch long wound in the back of Geof's head that was so deep it almost reached the bone.

He felt Geof had experienced a "vasovagal" reaction. Medical texts define it this way: "A reflex of the involuntary nervous system that causes the heart to slow down and that, at the same time, affects the nerves to the blood vessels in the legs permitting those vessels to dilate. As a result, the heart puts out less blood, the blood pressure drops, and what blood is circulating tends to go into the legs rather than to the head. The brain is deprived of oxygen and a fainting episode occurs."

In layman's terms, Dr. Berry compared it to locking your legs during a wedding and passing out, or fainting at the sight of blood. He said there is no way to predict or prevent it. He just recommended good hydration and slow movements the next time Geof's stomach got upset.

Following his explanation, Dr. Berry brought in a resident from UNC and began the tedious task of stitching up Geof's wide wound.

First came shots of the numbing agent lidocaine inside and outside the cut. I held Geof's hand and urged him to use some of the same techniques we'd learned in our childbirth class for contractions to bear the pain of the injections.

He was such a trooper. By breathing deeply and focusing on staying relaxed, he survived the shots without making noise or shedding a tear.

After determining the area of the wound was sufficiently numb, the doctors put five stitches inside the cut and at least nine stitches on the outside of his scalp. A thick layer of antibiotic oitment made his hair stiff and sticky around the line of blue stitches.

At 11:30 a.m., Geof's head was repaired, and we were finally discharged.

He spent the afternoon on the couch, taking the maximum amount of Advil and trying to get some rest.

Every day since then, he's felt better and required fewer pain relief pills. The throbbing is going away, and the concussion seems to be fading.

I have assumed the role of prego nurse maid. I spent an hour Monday sloughing the dried blood from Geof's matted hair and cautiously cleaning the area where the stitches are. He's scheduled to get them out on Sunday. He's thoroughly looking forward to washing his hair for the first time in a week. :)

We are extremely thankful for the many kind thoughts and prayers that our friends and family sent our way throughout this terrifying time. We are so grateful that Geof is okay and did not seriously hurt himself.

The Wonder Twins are also doing fine. The shock and trauma of the weekend did not affect them in any way. In fact, we went to the doctor this morning, and their heartbeats and my vital signs are just where they should be.

The girls are extremely proud of their daddy for being so brave, but they hope the next time they have to rush to the hospital is for their births, not another accident!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Milkshakes, C-sections and Casserole Delivered

I haven't really had many serious cravings throughout my pregnancy.

I've heard stories of mommies-to-be sending their husbands out at 2 a.m. for something weird like purple gum balls. Thankfully, for Geof's sleep cycle, I am not one of those people.

Don't get me wrong. I can always eat some ice cream. In fact, I'm pretty sure I ate about a third of a container of chocolate chip cookie dough one night while watching HGTV. But, there hasn't been one major food item that I've just HAD to have during the past 28 weeks.

Tuesday, that changed. I had a serious craving for a Reese's peanut butter cup milkshake from Cook Out. I knew it wasn't exactly calorically or nutritionally friendly, but I really didn't care. I just wanted to slurp up the sweet taste of chocolate, ice cream and peanut butter. Now.

The problem was Geof and I were supposed to be at childbirth class #4 at 7 p.m. It was 6:50 p.m. when we pulled into the Cook Out drive thru.

I knew we were going to be late. But not that late.

With shakes in hand, Geof sped (responsibly) to Rex Hospital, parked and dashed with our pillow and yoga mat to the classroom. I waddled as hurridly as possible behind him.

We rolled in at 7:06 p.m. And, we weren't the last ones there. Sweet! So, by the way, was my milkshake. :)

I happily sucked away on the blissful sugary dessert as I listened to our instructor, Caro, talk about C-sections.

On a side note, there is a real chance I will need to have this surgical procedure. You see, one of the girls is head down, but the other is still head up. If she doesn't take a nose dive soon, surgery will likely be our option.

I had already heard most of the information about C-sections before, but what I didn't know was that I wouldn't be able to hold the twins immediately after they're born. I'd have to wait. I found that thought crushing.

So, during one of our breaks, I asked Caro what my alternatives might be. She said if Twin B doesn't turn, I might be able to have Twin A naturally and then deliver Twin B by C-section. Or, she said I could ask my doctor if she'd deliver the baby breech. I definitely plan to discuss all this at my next appointment with her on Sept. 8.

I guess I'm a little weird, but I really want to know what real labor is like. I'm not afraid of the pain. I'm more afraid of missing out on the whole natural experience. I don't want to show up for a scheduled surgery. I want to have my water break while I'm in line at Cook Out. Okay, maybe not at Cook Out, but you see what I mean, right?

Back to class.

After talk of surgery ceased, Caro passed around a Harrod's shopping bag full of various items. Each future mom took one, and we went around the room explaining what we thought the item was for or represented.

I got a wooden spoon, and of course, Geof and I couldn't help but break into our imitations of the Swedish Chef from "The Muppets."

At first, I jokingly said the spoon was for punishment when chores went undone. But, then, I gave a more serious answer: "It's a reminder to let people cook for you, if they offer."

Eureka! I was right.

I learned I'm also supposed to let friends and family who offer to clean do it.

Hey, if you want to clean my toilet or Stella's litter box, go right ahead! I will not stop you, and neither will the twins.

So, if you feel like you need a little practice cookin' up a casserole for us in the future, feel free to start practicing now. We gladly accept anything edible and not made of Spam.

Milkshakes are also welcome.