Monday, April 28, 2008

Birthing Positions

It was almost a relief when the first doctor said she didn't even want me to try to give birth normally to twins. D1's birth was long and exhausting; D2's birth was short and terrifying. The thought of having a set day, of turning it all over to the doctor, of being relieved of the burden of exercising and rehearsing for a natural delivery, sounded like a blessing in my state of anemic mid-pregnancy exhaustion.

The longer the thought of it brooded in the back of my mind, though, the longer it nagged at me that these were not good reasons. At least not for me. Sure, there are small risks associated with attempting a vaginal birth after a c-section, and those are slightly increased with twins; but then, there are risks (including potentially fatal ones) associated with having a c-section, and they increase each time. The only risk that a scheduled c-section seemed certain to avoid was the risk of having another unscheduled c-section--but scheduling surgery in order to avoid surgery doesn't make a lot of sense.

Truthfully, I simply wanted to dodge responsibility. I was tired; I am tired. Giving birth is a lot of work. I didn't want to fight the doctor or find a new one; I didn't want to deal with the uncertainties of when and how and whether everything would work out. I wanted to just know. And not have to worry about it.

Of course I should have known better. I knew full well that recovering from a c-section is more painful and exhausting than giving birth--only instead of being over when the baby is born, it goes on and on while you should be enjoying the baby. I knew that in life there are no guarantees, no such thing as freedom from risk. But when a doctor is sitting there telling you she'll handle all the risks, it's hard to say no.

Maybe it was the iron pills, but I finally realized that I couldn't just sit back. This is my body and these are my babies and I have to do the best job I can to take care of them: barring a clear indication of genuine complications (not just risk factors), that means trusting my body and theirs to work as God designed them. That means embracing the work it will take to prepare them and me.

At the same time I have to let go of wanting to control the outcome. Nothing could free me from the uncertainty of birth. For all our search for security and guarantees, the doorway to life always comes through the valley of the shadow of death. I was reminded of something a mother of many children told me once, that with every new pregnancy we must pray the prayer of Mary: "Behold, the handmaiden of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." Letting go, giving up control, becoming open: that's what the process of birth is. And it is only the beginning.

So I am doing what I can: we switched to a doctor who actively supports natural birth, we're hiring a doula who's attended twin and VBAC births, I'm doing those exercises. I still don't expect a fairy-tale natural birthing story. I'm still quite concerned that the babies will never move out of their sideways position into one in which a normal birth is even possible. And I still don't like waiting and wondering when and how. But I'm happy to be trying, and I'm trusting that God knows when and how these babies should be born.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Meredith's Thrift Store Nemesis made me laugh and reminded me of a Park Nemesis of my own . . . and one of my more humiliating sins. Some sins beset us for so long we become quite accustomed to them, and if not proud of them, at least not surprised at them. But then sometimes we do something that shocks even us. Surely I'm not that kind of a person.

I do not recommend this method of dealing with one's enemies, real or imaginary.

This occurred when D1 and D2 were both under two and we lived at a brand-spanking new apartment complex on the edge of a very upscale neighborhood. There was a park across the street which we visited pretty much every day in our yard-sale wagon.

I tend to care just enough about outward appearances to remember them when it is too late to do anything about them. At that time I was suffering a great deal of Clothing Angst, perhaps because there had been no money in the budget for mommy clothes, even more likely because I could not step out my door for a breath of fresh air without being in public view. (I do not like living in apartments. I love my backyard, with all its mud and bugs.)

As far as my children's attire, I have similar trouble. The theory of cute, coordinating, unstained outfit is appealing, but it always clashes in practice with my fondness for having them feed themselves unassisted and play in the mud. And their hair, like mine, tends to be impervious to the effects of a comb.

Anyway, there I was with the ducklings at the park, and up drove a very pricey SUV. A petite young woman, every hair in place, got out her proportionally petite and well-coiffed toddler. They both wore perfectly-fitted outfits that not only matched on them, but coordinated with each other, in the stain-revealing shades of white and green. With no stains showing, of course, or even signs that these clothes had ever been worn before.

It had rained recently. Having visited the park regularly, I knew perfectly well that there was a puddle at the top of the slide, just out of view of the average adult, that remained long after the rest of the climbing toy was dry. Nonetheless, I stood back and watched without comment as the toddler climbed to the top, plonked her spotless clothes into the puddle, and slid back down soaking wet.

I did feel guilty about it, or at least bad enough to relent and offer the mother the towel I always kept handy in the wagon for the purpose of drying up that particular puddle. I'm afraid I felt more bad about discovering myself capable of such pettiness than at the envy and greed revealed.

And now I don't know whether I've improved any on that score or not, or that it's just that we've moved closer to a park with a much lower dress code.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Three More Days

No, I'm not planning to go into labor this weekend. (At least I sure hope not. I've felt rather weird all day, but I think it's just . . . feeling weird.) If all goes well, I should have eight more weeks of whining about hip pain and trying to find clothes that fit.

But I just tallied up how many days I actually have to prepare for the babies' arrival. I don't have the energy or brain functionality to do any moving boxes, organizing or planning on days when the ducklings are here. Either dinner or diapers would have to go. Nor do I have much energy left on days when I have a doctor's appointment.

So, there are only left the days every other week when the ducklings are visiting Grandma and I don't have a doctor's appointment. Between now and when I automatically go to weekly visits, that leaves three days.

Three days just doesn't seem like enough time to get ready for anything, let alone handling two newborns. Still on the list to do:
  • Find all the baby-type gear and clothes in the attic and have it accessible (having anything accessible in our attic is a miracle).
  • Pack a hospital bag.
  • Acquire places for the babies to sleep and ride in the car.
  • Write down everything I do around the house and a simplified rotating menu plan so that our very kind and generous helpers are not asking me questions all the time. (Something I find far more fatiguing than doing the work myself.)
  • Set up things with a doula, talk to La Leche League about feeding two at a time, exercise and prepare for the birth (and convince these babies to get their heads down).
  • And, of course, take it easy, drink lots of water, eat lots of protein, and not stress so as not to be going into labor anytime soon.
I wish I had eight weeks for preparation and three days for feeling pregnant.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

D1 Plans the Family

D1 has been talking for sometime about our need to acquire nine children, whereupon we will have to drive a bus.

But this weekend she got an even better idea.

"Hey! When we have MORE than nine children, like sixteen, there will be too many for a bus, and we will have to get a TRAIN!"

I think if she wants sixteen, she's going to have to wait until she can help out. Sixteen grandchildren would be fine by me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Flight Plan

D1&2: Get in your seat! We are flying to Taiwan. We are on the runroad.

QOC: OK. (Raising arms to fly) ffffffft.

D1: No, you are in the back.

QOC: Who is flying the plane?

D2: I am flying the plane. Fffffffffffffft. OK. Here we are in Taiwan.

D1: No, we aren't. It's a long way to Taiwan.

D2: OK. FFffffffffttttt. Here we are in Taiwan.

D1: No, we aren't. It's a long way to Taiwan.

D2: No it's not, it's next to our house.

D1: No it's not, it's far away.

D2: OK. Fffffffffftttttt. Here we are in Taiwan.

D1: No we aren't, it's still a long way to Taiwan.

D2: We are staying home. I can't drive that far.

Five Years Ago Yesterday

DOB and I agreed to merge our libraries.

(P.S. WOW, this is a sappy picture. I'm embarrassed to have allowed myself to be seen in public with such an expression on my face.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Springtime on the Rocks

If you knock and no one answers, come around back. You'll find me there dozing on my special spot of lawn with humps in just the right place, and the ducklings trying to get as muddy as possible.

Those aren't natural rocks, unfortunately. They're chunks of a long-abandoned walkway. But they're still fun to climb on.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Concerning Clothing

The clothing situation was getting desperate, so I betook myself to the thrift store. I am not willing to pay full price for clothes to be worn for two months of lying about the house. But it was getting to the point of buying more clothes or wrapping myself in a sheet for most of the week, and we're short on sheets, too.

Unfortunately, there is a dearth of second-hand maternity clothes above size medium. (And since the tent-like maternity clothes of yesteryear have gone out of style, if your stomach grows beyond medium-sized you are forced into larger sizes whether or not the rest of you has grown apace.)

Why is this? Surely women larger than size medium get pregnant and, eventually, get done being pregnant. What do they do with their clothes? Even at the mothers of twins sales there were only three t-shirts in size large, and two of those were pink. (I think I need counseling on my aversion to pink, it's going beyond a fashion statement to a personal vendetta.)

I did manage to find a couple of pairs of jeans that will still fit, and one cute shirt. Unfortunately, one of the pairs of jeans had--shudder--zippers at the bottoms of the legs. I thought that style had been safely buried in the 80s, but either it is coming back or someone really waited a long time to clean out her closet. Considerations of the style aside, though, what kind of sense is there in making zip-leg jeans for women who can't reach their shoelaces? That pair is destined to become cut-offs.

Everybody likes to moan about the miseries of summer pregnancies, but I have finished all my pregnancies in the warmer months and much prefer it that way. (I'm miserable in hot weather even when I'm not pregnant, so that doesn't make any difference.) I've never needed a maternity coat. I can wear sandals or go barefoot every day. (Barefoot and pregnant is not about male oppression, it's about blood flow. And swelling.) And it's so much easier to keep a newborn healthy and comfy and away from people with evil germs in the summer than in the winter--plus, fewer clothes means less laundry.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


One area we focus on with D2 is learning to ask for help in a pleasant voice instead of FREAKING OUT I AM GOING TO DIE NOW BECAUSE MY BISCUIT IS CRUMBLING!!!! Sometimes DOB in particular encourages this by asking, "Where is your smile?" For some reason, D2 responds by pointing to his ear. Once he's pulled it out of there and gotten it back on his mouth, we're good to go.


I love the way they reverse compound words. For months our bathroom contained a "tub-bath." D2 was looking around for his "Goose Mother" book. D1 is also very PC. When she gets out the red hats, she wants to play "Fire Persons." They also have a few compound words of their own devising, like "yestertime."


Our laundry and food storage is all in the basement. During the course of the day, I usually need to dash down there for a few minutes at a time to switch laundry, pull food out of the freezer to thaw, etc. No matter how brief my run, a crisis is bound to occur at this point. Yesterday I was scooping out rice when I heard D1 screaming from the top of the stairs, "Mama! Mama!"

Notwithstanding the blood-all-over-the-floor tone, I paused to ask, "What is it?"

"I just wrote my whole name!" she said.

Well, that is an exciting milestone, but why must it happen while I am in the basement? And why can't we reserve that tone for actual blood on the floor?

When I got upstairs she had added the rest of the family members' names to her page, although with Mama and Papa she had the same trouble as the little girl spelling banana--it's hard to know when to stop.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Today we went to the license bureau to get our new license plates. On the way out, I caught a whiff of the pancake house a couple storefronts down.

Naturally, even though I had just eaten three poached eggs on toast for breakfast, this set me off into pancake craving. Pancakes are not something we usually have, because we lack a griddle and it just seems like too much trouble. But this time I could not deny; I went home and mixed up a double batch of blender pancakes and a pan of brown sugar syrup.

I ate half of it. All by myself. Two hours after breakfast.

It wasn't that hard (the cooking--or the eating, for that matter). I wondered why I didn't fix this for breakfast more often. Then I remembered: oh yeah, I just ate half the pancakes. All by myself. There are at least three other people who need breakfast, too. But the blender won't hold more batter.

We seem to be outgrowing all standard kitchen equipment. I should know what bigger families do, but I can't seem to get my head around what we should do. It seems to me all the big families I know have taller kitchen helpers, which makes multiple batches or multiple dishes more doable. (That, and I don't know any little kids who eat as much as the ducklings.) I'm not sure what to do until my assistants top four feet. Buy an industrial-sized blender?

The good news is, I'm not that hungry for lunch, so there should be enough to go around. And we've got some nice leftover pancakes for snacks.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Frugal Friday: Sale Preparation

Last Friday night we went to the closest Mothers of Twins club sales. If you have or expect to have babies, live near a good-sized city, and have never checked these out--do. (Search for "mothers of multiples" as well.) There are about a dozen in different regions of our city, and most of them hold two sales a year, a portion of which is open to the public.

I've been going to these sales since before D1 was born, but this was the first year I qualified to go as a member (or pre-member--they didn't want to charge until the babies had arrived safely), so we went the night before and picked up a twin jogging stroller for about a third of the retail price. We also got a beautiful child's wooden rocking chair for $5, a few small toy items, and much of what I needed to round out the duckling's summer wardrobes.

I find the prices are usually comparable to yard sales, with the one downside being that it's hard to dicker when there are thirty sellers to track down across a junior high cafeteria. (I wouldn't bother, unless it was a large item I felt was really overpriced.) The big advantage is the selection, which is about as big as a large children's resale shop. I can rely on these sales to get everything I'm going to need for the new season at one stop, which saves me a huge amount of time and energy. (Like everywhere else, though, second-hand pickings get slimmer as the kids get older.)

Before I go, I look through the hand-me-downs and any old clothes I think will fit (when do kids stop growing into a new size every season?) and write out exactly what I think I still need in colors and sizes. This year I got even smarter and wrote down the duckling's actual measurements before I went, so I could measure the t-shirts and dresses and be sure they were long enough. I also traced their feet, so I could compare the cutouts to shoe soles and be sure they could accommodate D2's wide feet and leave enough room to grow. Much less stressful and I didn't bring home any mistakes.

More Frugal Friday here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


There are people out there--quite a few it seems--who have an aversion to naming children with the expectation of also giving them a nickname.

"Why give a child a name that you don't expect to call him?"

To which I can only reply, "Who said I can only call my child one name?"

Surely if cats, as T. S. Eliot observed, need three names, children need at least as many:

  • A full, dignified name that sounds good after "Senator" or "Doctor." Should also serve well when needed for discipline. (Something I've discovered: if you commonly call the child by a nickname derived from his middle name, it will be hard to do this.)
  • A short, handy nickname for everyday use throughout childhood, one that will not be hideously embarrassing when used by childhood acquaintances in later life. (Multiple options in this category are a bonus.)
  • A totally random, cutesy, utterly hideously embarrassing nickname that has no connection to anything, to be whispered to small infants and dropped before the infant grows old enough to object.

Of course, with a blogging mother, the child also needs a suitable online nickname, though we have taken the easy route out with that.

Maybe my fondness for nicknamable names stems from having an utterly nickname-proof name. In which case, no doubt my children will want nickname-proof names for their children. I did have an embarrassing infantile nickname, which I will not reveal.

Preview Picture

Last summer we were visiting some friends with twins.

"Hey," DOB and Wondergirl said, "Let's get a picture of what QOC looks like with twins."

"Let's not," I said, "I think I'd rather not know." Somehow I had an uneasy vibe about even touching that stroller. But they prevailed.

This is, alas, not a preview of what our backyard will be looking like any time soon.

I just hope I can actually fit back into those clothes.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Everything You Didn't Want to Know

People ask me what it's like being pregnant with twins. It's like being pregnant with one, only three months farther along. So right now I feel about two weeks overdue: everything hurts, I can't find a comfortable position, I get contractions if I stay on my feet for ten minutes, all my cute maternity clothes are too small and only the tents are left. And I still have two and a half months to go. And I don't even have any complications!

All I have to do to reconcile myself to the discomfort of my current position is to go read a few stories of babies born at 28 weeks. It's wonderful what they can do these days in the NICU, but I want my babies with me, thank you very much. So they are welcome to stay in another ten weeks, even if they must tango on my bladder.

The consoling factor on hugeness is that the ducklings still refer to me as "little Mama." I suppose they think this is the logical reciprocal since I call them my little people. Sort of an all-purpose term of endearment. No doubt if we had an elephant it would be their little elephant.

The other difference with twins is that not only am I paranoid about whether I've felt the baby move lately, I'm paranoid about whether I've felt both of them move. Which is hard to know since I'm not quite sure which one is where. Sometimes they kick each other instead of me, which feels odd.

We have acquired the minivan (a Honda Odyssey, the choice of rapidly-growing families everywhere). We have acquired the double jogging stroller, and discovered we have nowhere to store it except in the living room. Making room for the babies is going to require divesting ourselves of some furniture. No matter what everyone says, I refuse to stock up on swings and bouncy seats. I don't like them, I don't trust them, and I don't want one more thing to trip over.

Still on the list to acquire are a co-sleeper (whereby I hope I can keep both babies within arm's length at night) and the monster twin nursing pillow. Still on the list to do is rearrange our bedroom to make space for these things. Also I must decide if I want to stick with the doctors' practice I have or switch to one with a better track record in handling twin VBACs naturally.

Then there's the whole eating and sleeping thing, which takes up pretty much all of my available time. I miss my brain most of all, though. I left the salt and soda out of the biscuits for supper. Not pretty.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Reality Strikes

I was going to write a post rhapsodizing about spring (a compulsion frequently recurring in April).

Then I got my first mosquito bite of the year.

I am very excited, nonetheless, to announce that I think the perennials I transplanted into the front beds last summer have survived and will take their turn after the daffodils, which have been glorious this year. And D1 and I met an avid gardener who lives down the street.

Make that Mother Duck

What type of Mother Hen Are You?
by Educational Resource

If letting the kids get their yard-sale clothes muddy is what it takes to be groovy, then groovy I am. My mother might have been a little horrified at the image, but she probably would have gotten the same result.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Today I got my requested packet from the California State Bar on resigning my membership. Mostly it consisted of dire warnings about how difficult it is to regain membership (almost as difficult as getting it in the first place, but not quite) and how their inactive bar dues ($115 a year) are really quite, quite reasonable all things considered, since you enjoy all the benefits of being a member except being allowed to practice law. (I'm not sure what those other benefits were, except getting the very dull bar journal and having a little card to carry around.)

I still plan to resign. I never was all that interested in practicing law (as opposed to theorizing about law, which fortunately doesn't require a license). California is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. And $115 a year to keep a token membership seems too high. I'll keep my Washington license, which ought to cover me if I ever get an unforeseeable urge to turn back into a lawyer.

It feels kind of weird to toss out something I worked so hard for, though. Now that pretty license is just a wall decoration.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I bet not even E-harmony thinks to ask about this one. I've never heard of it coming up in premarital counseling.

Nonetheless, it's an important question.

How do you eat your grapefruit?

See, I eat grapefruit the proper way, which is to cut it in half, put it in a bowl, sprinkle with salt (OK, so nobody else does this. But it really does taste better.), scoop out the innards one bite at a time, and then squeeze the juice drop by drop into your spoon. A luxurious breakfast experience.

DOB eats grapefruit like an orange: peel, section, eat.

We both refuse to budge.

The trouble is, grapefruit is a two-serving fruit. Thus, instead of sharing a single grapefruit per breakfast, we wind up always having these odd (and bulky) containers with two differently-shaped halves of grapefruit in the fridge. These tend to dry out and not be so tasty the second time around.

The obvious solution would be to each train a duckling to our preference in grapefruit consumption, but so far they have little interest in grapefruit, and ask for a banana or orange instead.

Another area of compatibility I forgot to check was blood type. If only DOB had RH negative blood, I wouldn't have to get Rhogam shots with every pregnancy. I can't convince him to change that, either.

I think we shall survive nonetheless.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Whoot! Whoot!

I passed my 3-hour glucose test, so I can continue eating sugar with reckless abandon. Actually I haven't even liked anything sweet this entire pregnancy, except fruits; I keep trying to eat dessert and finding it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Still, it's better not to have to mess with more stuff to do.

Also, we love the taste of fajitas but they are very messy to serve and eat, and it's almost impossible to find tortillas that don't contain soy. Today I cooked a big pot of rice, dumped the fajita filling on top of that, and everyone was happy and nobody made a mess. Everyone was really after the guacamole, though.

And it was a gloriously sunny day and we spent two and a half hours outside, me basking and reading and the ducklings getting nice and muddy and trying their bikes out again. Nothing will persuade them to use the pedals, though. The hassle of even a trip to the back yard is beginning to distress me, though--how will I manage it when I have to add two babies into the mix, and someone needs to go potty? Aiee!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Power to the (Pregnant) People

This post by Amy had some comments that I could relate to:
When I was single and living on my own, I was a fairly ambitious person. I used to want to live in D.C. and work in government or public policy. One of the young women in this book reminded me of that old Amy.

It just so happened that, on the day I was reading about her life, my life was SOOO stay-at-home-momish. It was one of those days where I felt like I had been doing laundry non-stop for three days. What happened to that young woman I used to be, so full of life and energy?
I know that feeling, all too well. I used to be good at things. I used to have grand ideas. I used to be ready to change the world! I used to have unique and valuable skills. Nowadays, I can't even get the dishes washed. (I can hardly even reach the faucet.)

However, I was also re-reading A History of the American People while waiting to be poked all morning. (Fortunately no one else was in the waiting room for long, so I turned the TV off.) It struck me again, with more force this time, that the key to successful new grand ventures is not the bright and energetic visionaries who get them started. Nor is it how many young, strong men (or, in these more egalitarian times, independent, energetic women) you have around to carry out your plans.

No, what a new colony or novel idea needs to make it a success is a bunch of pregnant mamas waddling around, trying to get supper on the table. That's where permanent colonies come from; that's where lasting social change sets in. Somewhere in the middle of all those diaper changes, a new world is born.

In the book A Lantern in her Hand, an elderly pioneer woman attends the "old settlers" picnic.

And then it was time for the speech of the day. The young county attorney made it, from the airy heights of the band stand, at his side a glass of water on Abbie Deal's marble-topped table.

It was a good speech. It flapped its wings and soared over the oaks and elms, and eventually came home to roost with: "You . . . you were the intrepid people! You, my friends, were the sturdy ones. Your days have been magnificent poems of labor. Your years have been as heroic stories as the sagas. Your lives have been dauntless, courageous, sweeping epics."

"'Sweeping' is the word, Sarah!" Abbie said when the applause had faded away into the grove. "I wish I had a dollar for every broom I've worn out."

Sarah Lutz's little black eyes twinkled.

"How about it, Abbie, do you feel like a poem?"

"No, Sarah, I was always too busy filling up the youngsters and getting the patches on the overalls to notice that I was part of an epic."