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Archive for May, 2008

There are conflicting reports out there, one saying that Angelina Jolie has given birth to two girls, one saying it’s not true and she’s resting at her fabulous new home in France.  According to what I’d heard, her due date was August 19, which would make her 28 weeks… so I’m really, really hoping the reports are not, in fact, true.

I guess even celebrities aren’t immune from the preemie risk.  Fingers crossed for all the pregnant ladies out there…

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This week, the Foodie Friday column will review a book that was recommended highly by several moms of HDYDI. A cookbook, you say? For babies? I don’t even cook for myself! And that’s where having twins makes this cooking thing seem like a good idea. Have you SEEN what babyfood costs at the grocery store? Times two? For those of us who like cooking and can get excited by the idea of cooking for babies, this cookbook is for you. For those  of you who aren’t sure about it, I recommend doing a bit of research. Maybe making babyfood is easier than you think! Maybe you can make some and buy others. And for those of you buying little jars…we’re not judging you! We each do what we can, and those jars are full of nutritious, yummy (have you ever tasted the banana babyfood? That’s good stuff!), good food. Me, I liked the idea of cloth diapers. For a minute. Before I had twins. Then the idea of saving the environment went out the window—survival was key! But anyway, back to baby food.

The book:

Petit Apetit, by Lisa Barns

This is a baby cookbook written by a woman who is both a mother and a professional cook. Her goal is to create nutritious, fun, good tasting, adventuresome meals for babies and toddlers. It leans toward organic foods, but obviously you don’t have to buy organic in order to prepare the recipes.

Quick labels: It also has little icons next to each recipe so you can quickly see if it is egg-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian etc.  This is great if you are waiting to introduce some foods (eggs, wheat etc..) or if you baby has some food allergies or intolerances.

Sample recipes: Baby bean dip (black beans & yogurt), Baby Biscotti, Baked Ricotta Cake, Portobello Burgers, no-egg pancakes & curry and herb peas. Yum.

Organization: Recipes are broken down into sections by age. It is for babies and toddlers, so happily, the book will still be useful once your kids have passed the pureed food stage (a downcheck of another good baby cookbook, Annabel Karmel’s baby purees).  Of course, check in with your pediatrician around what food recommendations he/she has. Each doctor has a slightly different recommended schedule of when to introduce certain foods.

TIP If you don’t already have ice cube trays, buy the silicon kind. It makes getting those ice cubes of baby food out of trays even easier!

Happy cooking!

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This week I got to do one of my favorite things…have dinner with just my girlfriends. No sippy cups, runny noses or husbands allowed! We had a fantastic time, and covered all the important topics: new jobs, husbands, the kids, birth control, health issues, money, stress and the contents of our diaper bags!

It is kinda funny to see the most seasoned mom of our group (none of us were mom’s when we first became friends) talk about her current diaper bag for child #3. Are you ready for this? She packs two diapers, and a baggie of wipes. And child #3 carries them in his little backpack! Is that genius or what!?

So in that spirit, I am going to share the contents of my diaper bag, however boring that may be! When we first brought the kids home, I would pack a diaper bag for a walk around the block. Seriously.

Now, at 12 months, I have been known to shove a diaper, some wipes and one sippy cup to share in my purse for a super quick outing. But on a daily basis, this is what I keep in my tote:

2 diapers (I rarely have to change the kids in public, they always poop at home!)

Wipes

2 bibs

2 forks/spoons

a roll of disposable bags for smelly diapers

sunscreen in a ziploc

2 or more trinket toys

my wallet, cell phone, and keys (keys are a good sub for toys)

1 burp cloth

goldfish crackers

Edited to add: A small bottle of Clorox Anywhere Hard Surface Spray  (I use it to spray down restraunt tables & highchairs…can’t believe I forgot it the first time!)

These items join the favorites in my bag based on the time of day and duration of our outing:

2 big rubber catch-all bibs

2 sippy cups with milk/water

more food

sun hats

jackets

tylenol

a snack for me!

And yes, it sounds like a lot, but I can fit all of it in this great little striped  tote that I picked up at Bath and Body Works. I stopped packing back up outfits a long time ago, which is going to bit me in the butt at some point, but hey, I like to live dangerously!

Okay, now spill! What’s in your bag???

 

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What’s harder to hold onto than a squirmy baby? A wet and soapy squirmy baby! And what’s even harder than that? Two wet and soapy squirmy babies! Oh, goodness. The heart attacks we’ve all had when combining our children with water. But bathe, we must, at least a few times a week (some of us have it as part of our nightly bedtime ritual, others do not). Just how do you get two little ones clean without undue stress or bodily harm?

The bathtime ritual is a little different for everyone. Some families bathe their kids maybe three times a week, only when really necessary. In the interim, a few wipes can do the trick. Some have an every-other-day ritual, and others have it as part of the nightly bedtime routine. Purely for the sake of cleanliness, most babies do not need a daily bath. Sometimes, especially with the advent of solid foods (how did you get peas on the back of your head?) or toddlers in the summer (c’mon, let’s roll around in this pile of dirt!), it is quite necessary, but not for everyone.

And certainly, there’s nothing saying you have to bathe your kids together! Especially when both parents are home and able to pitch in, there’s much to be said for the one-at-a-time approach. Each baby gets some alone time, and you’ve got two hands to one baby, a nice ratio. That’s what we did for the first seven months or so at my house. M comes home from work, plays with the kids while I prep bathtime. Fussiest baby goes first, you get the idea. It worked pretty well. Except… except the days when M was delayed and I had to do bathtime by myself. Oh my lord, how I hated solo bathtime. But it can be done.

One-parent, one-kid-at-a-time baths require advance preparation and a staging area. Wherever the bath will take place, whether an infant tub, the kitchen sink, or the big tub, you need to get all supplies in order before the first kid has his diaper off. You also need an age-appropriate staging area, such as a bouncy seat, high chair, or fenced-in childproof space for the kid not in the tub. Seriously, we all know that bathtime often coincides with the witching hour, so if it helps to throw on Baby Einstein, Sesame Street, or Cash Cab, you won’t hear us judge. After that, it’s just a question of quick bath and towel dry for baby 1, swap staging areas, and repeat with baby 2. When my kids were still in the bouncy seat stage, I just brought that seat right into the kitchen where the bath was taking place, so everyone could listen to music and hopefully be a teeny bit entertained.

Two in the tub at the same time can be accomplished in a variety of ways. In the pre-sitting days, get yourself two bath pillows (I liked the Safer Bather; a simple foam pillow works as well and is super cheap), put just enough water in the tub to keep the babies warm, and you’re all set. Two-at-a-time is both easier and harder when the babies are able to sit up on their own. Easier in that you have more options, harder in that they can tip over by accident or wiggle around on purpose, thereby upping the difficulty level for mom.

One possibility is the tried-and-true kitchen sink. Depending on the size and shape of your sink, it may or may not work for two at once. But if you’re lucky and have the right size of double sink… voilà! A match made in heaven. Put a towel or non-slip something on the bottom and you’ve got a custom-made double bath that will hold the kids until they’re old enough to be (a little bit) safer in the bathroom tub. Plus, running water can be quite entertaining. (Thanks to Cheryl for pulling that adorable picture out of the archives…)

If you have unstable sitters in the bathroom tub, you’re obviously going to want to use something so that they don’t tip over and whack their heads. Some people swear by two bath seats, which support them but let them wiggle. Another popular hack is to get one large or two small laundry baskets, which can hold babies and toys, and let water in and out, and which Krissy used to great effect when her kids were a bit smaller. I got an inflatable duck tub at my twin club sale, and still have both kids in there. (There are other inflatable tubs that do not involve poultry, of course.) Yes, it’s getting pretty snug, and we’re only still getting by because my daughter is quite small. LauraC tried the same thing, and her boys were not fond of the idea. So you never know what your kids will prefer. Her boys seem to have a darn good time in the tub on their own.

If you’re ready to ditch the bathtub accessories, just plop ’em in the tub. Ideally, you’ve got some kind of non-slip surface, such as a mat or even a towel, at least while they’re still wiggling around and not so graceful. A cover/guard for the spout is also a good idea, to prevent at least a few of the head smacks. Still, slippery babies will do what they’re going to do. Some days they’re going to flaunt the no-standing-in-the-tub rule, they’re going to slip and bonk their heads. No one will be happy. But, live and learn, and you’ll do it better another day.

No matter what your bathing location and method of choice, always remember basic bathtime safety. Prepare everything you’ll need ahead of time, don’t put more than a few inches of water in the tub, and never ever step away when young children are in the water. We don’t want any of you to make headlines involving the phrase: “tragic accident.” Bathtime can be fun, but it can also be dangerous, so don’t take any chances.

But hey, once you’ve got a method figured out… is there anything cuter than two kids at bathtime?

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I’m a planner by nature, so when we found out at 18 weeks there were two boys in my huge belly, I needed to know the answer to one question – are they fraternal or identical? My boys were in separate sacs with separate placentas, so an ultrasound was inconclusive. In addition to my twin pregnancy reading, I also read articles about the pros and cons of knowing zygosity. I came to the conclusion I wanted to definitely know their zygosity.

When the boys were born, they didn’t look anything alike. At all. We painted Nate’s toenail in the NICU as a precaution but we never re-painted it because no one ever got them confused. By the time the placenta test came back inconclusive, we knew in our hearts they were not identical but I needed scientific proof.  We ordered DNA tests and got to play CSI at home. As expected, the results came back and the boys are fraternal.

Shortly after the boys turned one, a crazy thing happened. Nate’s baby hair fell out and in came blond hair. Alex’s eyes turned from blue to brown. I now have one blond hair blue-eyed boy and one brown hair brown-eyed boy. There is no question on their zygosity. However, I’m still glad we did the DNA test. It just would have been nice to save the $175 in an already expensive year!

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I hope everyone out there enjoyed Birth Story Week! It’s one of those fun stories that nearly all moms like to share, especially with pregnant women (in the most horrifying detail possible, for whatever reason). Anyways, we hope it gave our readers an idea of the wide range of experiences out there. Everyone has their own story, a little different from all the others.

In so much as it’s a holiday, I pretty much forgot that it is indeed Monday and my day to post! Doh! I thought I might expand a little on the topic I touched on over at my personal blog today: photos.

I was always a photo nut, from my first plastic Fisher-Price camera with a little manual push/slide to advance the film and the flash cartridges I had to buy separately. This is not to say I’m any great photographer, and I’ve only taken one photography class in my entire life. But still, I really enjoy it. Especially now, in the digital age, when I can snap 100 pictures of the same thing and not worry about wasting film. And while I am, strictly speaking, taking a number of photos that is way above and beyond anything I’ve ever done before, I find I’m actually much worse at documenting “events.”

I never used to be able to pass up taking pictures at a party. I always had my camera in my purse, and whether it was a barbeque or a sorority formal, I had pictures. Maybe I didn’t document every second of the party, but there was some photographic record that it happened. I suppose that started to change a little in the post-college days, but still, I have some very highly-documented weddings in my iPhoto Library. Heck, my cousin Amanda’s wedding about a year and a half ago? 115 shots. Sure, plenty are of the same thing, which is an important technique in terms of getting a good shot, and is more practical with a digital camera than it was with film. But still, well-documented. Pictures of the whole family, pictures of the ceremony, pictures of the “kung-fu fighting.” (Don’t ask, my family is crazy.)

Fast-forward a few months, and I was pregnant. I was huge, uncomfortable, swollen. I’ve always struggled with my weight, so the extra pregnancy flab and swollen face and extremities did not make me eager to have my picture taken. I look back and regret it, but I have pictures of my pregnant self on literally only four different days. Less than 10 total pictures. Not a single one from the shower my friends threw for me, when they came up from Washington, DC and had a “Danger and Peril”-themed shower and one of them was also pregnant with her second child. Did I take advantage of that photo-op, the two pregnant ladies? Nope. Did I have M take a picture right before the babies were born? Nope.

My children, on the other hand, are frighteningly well-documented. In less than 10 months, I’ve taken nearly 2500 shots of my kids. Again, things made possible by digital photography. That does include things like their monthly birthday chair pictures. For instance, their 9-month photo session was no fewer than 65 frames in under 15 minutes. It includes plenty of “outtakes,” but means I’m pretty likely to get some really good ones to send to the family. So if you want to know what my kids looked like on seemingly any day in the last 9 months, I’ve probably got a picture within a 5-day range of that.

If, however, you ask me in a few years who was at my Memorial Day barbeque yesterday? I really couldn’t look at the pictures and tell you. Courtesy of my sister-in-law, to whom I handed my camera, there are plenty of super-cute pictures of my kids. And, um, no one else (I think that’s my friend Ryan in the background, but I wouldn’t swear to it, and am unlikely to remember, three years from now, that he wore a baseball hat that day). Gone are the days when I’d tell people to get close to one another so I could take a picture. No one is quite as into that anymore. Plus, I really do have my hands more full than I used to. Watching the babies, cooking the food, making sure everyone is having a good time… and, having a good time, myself. No time, apparently, to take pictures of my friends having a good time, my sister-in-law’s boyfriend on our swingset, my friend’s kids chasing the dog. It’s too bad, and something I keep meaning to do better. Each time I have a playdate, each time I have a barbeque, we swear we’ll take more pictures of all of us actually “doing” something. And each time, we take one or two and then forget. There are worse things than enjoying each other’s company and spending time with your kids, of course. I just wish, sometimes, that I had some pictures to say that I did something other than take photos of my kids (and no one else) in my backyard or my living room.

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Some of you may have already read our tale of meeting two babies. [It’s in our book Twinspiration, shameless plug, shameless plug!] For those that haven’t, or for those who simply can’t get enough of twin birth stories (I count myself amongst your numbers!), here’s the play-by-play, with an illustration or two…

Dateline: September 4th, 2001. At 36 weeks and 4 days, we were scheduled for our by then weekly check-in with my Ob/Gyn, Dr. Rinehardt, and an ultrasound with perinatologist (high-risk pregnancy specialist), Dr. Troyer.

Both babies (A & B) at this point had been head down for a couple of weeks. Ultrasound weight estimations betwixt the two had always been fairly close, within a few ounces…until that Tuesday. On this fateful day, all skilled surveyors of the images were guesstimating approximately a one-pound difference between Baby A/Boy Child & Baby B/Girl Child. Whereas I thought, “How sweet! He’s a bulky boy & she’s a delicate flower of a girl,” Dr. Rinehardt was less amused. Although not too serious, a broadening weight discrepancy between twins can indicate a beginning trend toward one twin siphoning off more nutrition than is their fair share. 40 weeks is considered full-term for a single birth, 37 weeks for twins. We were pretty dang close. As a matter of fact, we were told should labor begin on its own after 34 weeks, nothing would be done to stop or slow the process.

Dr. R. said, “It’s time for us to start thinking about inducing these babies soon,” and he left the examining room briefly for a tete-a-tete with Dr. Troyer. [added note: We’d NEVER discussed the possibility of an induction or c-section prior to this appointment.] My husband, Scott, and I, heady with the reality of pending births, were discussing which birth date sounded better, when Dr. Rinehardt returned. Apparently “soon” is a very subjective term; he came in and chirped, “I’m on duty tonight. Go on home, get your bag, and let’s bring those babies!” Holy smokes! We must have staggered out of the medical building and gotten to our car somehow, but I barely remember it. What I do remember vividly is getting home, the two of us grinning like idiots, and making key calls to a few family and friends. As we walked out of the house to head back to the hospital, it hit me. The next time we crossed that threshold; we’d be a family of four.
What an indescribable feeling.

We got to the hospital front desk, carrying all our insurance verifications. Sure I looked ready to pop, but I was smiling. (Note: I wasn’t in labor yet!)

Now we loved our hospital, but our one negative experience came as a result of inefficiency (or lack of caring) by the individual who took our insurance information. My husband was suspicious right off the bat about how accurately our details were input into the hospital’s computer system. His suspicions were justified. Believe me, the last thing you want mid-labor is for your hubby to have to leave your side to “clarify” admittance details. In a nutshell, take every card, letter, verification, you have received from your insurance company to the hospital with you. We did, and we needed to show them repeatedly. Keep them in your “packed bag”, or the glove compartment of the car you plan to take to the hospital. Better yet, make copies and keep a set in both locations. Bad enough if your man has to leave the room when you are in labor, Heaven forbid he need to leave the building!

Back to our story: 10pm. I was naturally 2cm dilated, and almost fully effaced. (Side note: words like “dilated” & “effaced” become so frequently used during your pregnancy that you’ll forget your non-pregnant friends and family may have no idea what they mean. Both refer to the status of your cervix, the membrane holding the babies in. Dilated is how “open” the membrane is; effaced is how “thinned” the membrane has become. For the metrically challenged, a cm is about the width of your fingertip.) Dr. Rinehardt was predicting we’d have our A & B before noon the next day. We were put into a Labor & Delivery Room, where monitors/sensor pads were belly-mounted to track Baby A, Baby B & Mommy– keeping an eye on everyone’s blood pressure & stress levels. An IV shunt was attached to the back of my hand to be ready for any/all drugs to be administered. Except for the epidural (the anesthesia shot that desensitizes abdomen, pelvis and gal parts), that one goes in your lower back, and much later in the game. After a short while, you feel like an octopus. Tubes seem to be coming out of you everywhere. A sensor was even attached through my vagina to the top of Baby A’s head. There is a great pulse point atop babies’ noggins. Even after your babies are born, you can often see their heartbeats through the top of their heads. The grandiose idea of having a “moving labor”, where you can walk around and maybe even shower for comfort seemed pretty darned impossible. Shoot, even shifting slightly in the bed could be cause for readjustments of sensor pads in all their various and sundry locations around my body. The best part? The nurses didn’t mind at all. Shift as you need to. You will want to do anything you can to alleviate discomfort, and if rolling to your side helps, do it.

After all our monitors and machines were attached, Baby A’s water sac was broken, labor-inducing drug, Pitocin, was administered through the shunt, and the contractions began. Pitocin is not a “slow build” kind of drug. The contractions begin rapidly, and magnify in strength quickly. As a first-time woman in labor, the big surprise for me was that my contractions felt like intense menstrual cramps. Of course at that point, it became obvious that I had been experiencing some mild contractions off and on the whole preceding weekend. The searing, knife-cut pains I had imagined, and that I had seen portrayed so vigorously on TV, didn’t exist. However, they do intensify…and come more frequently. After all our Prepared Childbirth classes, I knew it wasn’t advisable to get an epidural prior to a 4cm or so dilation. So I started riding it out.

Keep in mind, with a twin pregnancy, almost every Ob/Gyn will heartily encourage you to have an epidural. Even if both babies are head down when labor begins, after the first baby is born, the second, who all the sudden has some room, can go breech or transverse (side to side). Baby B can also go into distress for whatever reason, and an immediate C-Section may be necessary. My opinion (and it’s only that, an opinion)? For your health, your comfort, and for the safety of the babies, don’t be a hero. Get the epidural. As Vicki Iovine wisely illuminates in The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy, no one is there to give out awards when the birthing process is done. You may as well be as comfortable as possible….and she is talking about single births.

Midnight. So there I was, at long last, laboring away, watching the intensity of each contraction form its individual bell curve on the bedside ticker-tape printout. Feeling pretty uncomfortable to put it mildly. I had to stay on one side or the other throughout the bulk of my labor. As we discovered when I nearly passed out in our Non-Stress Test, the weight of the babies and uterus contents was substantial enough to cut off my circulation if I laid on my back. So on my side it was. The only real relief I could experience was my husband pushing his fist with all his force into the small of my back during contractions Bless him, he tried to remember the exact placement between contractions, but the relief spot would move. One of my clearest labor memories is of me grabbing his fist and shifting it, perhaps a wee bit violently, to coincide with the pressure point. The romantic hand massages and eye-to-eye gazes I had imagined seemed ludicrous mid-labor.

1 am or so. Feeling pretty rough. The nurse offers me Stadol. She assures me it is a totally safe drug that will “take the edge off, and feel like I have had a couple of cocktails”. I’m game, and into the hand IV shunt it goes. A couple of cocktails? For me, it was like a bad keg party. Literally, I had bed spins. The edge of labor was off temporarily, but I was miserable. (Don’t use my experience with Stadol as your sole perspective. Most women I know were thrilled with the relief it provided…it just wasn’t good for me.)

1:30 am. The bell curves on the printout kept getting higher and higher, and coming more and more often. Determined not to be a wimpy “Give-Me-The-Drugs-Prior-to-4 cm-Mommy”, I looked at the clock, and was determined to hold off on being measured again until 3:00am. Looking at the clock became fixation on the clock. The “focal point” framed photo of Scott and me in Vegas never made its way out of our bag. The clock had my total attention. Our nurse had departed our room for a delivery in progress, and had other nurses checking in on me. No doubt you have heard it already, but labor and delivery room nurses are amazing, amazing women (and men). One of my “check in nurses” arrived to find me weeping slightly around 2:30 or so. Plus, I was experiencing uncontrollable shivers, the teeth chattering kind…but I wasn’t the least bit cold. (Unbeknownst to me pre-labor, nerves, adrenaline, drastic hormonal fluctuations, all can cause pronounced shivering/chattering. Don’t be alarmed if you vibrate mid-labor like I did. You’re normal.) She went back and told our designated nurse, who had at this point wrapped the delivery she was assisting, and was cleaning up. At 3am, they measured me, and I was 10 cm, ready to deliver! Dr. Rinehardt, rather than whisking us off to the emergency room as we had been told was protocol with twins, said, “We’re going to do this here!” Bless him. In came the double fleets of NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) personnel, isolettes (incubators/baby warming boxes), and delivery paraphernalia. We pushed a few times so I could feel the muscle groups required to do the job. The anesthesiologist was roused from his slumber at no doubt the most dreaded hour of the night to perform the epidural, which he did bleary-eyed, but marvelously. Yes, the needle is daunting. Yes, you have to be immobile, often during a contraction, to receive it. With the pain you will likely be in at the time the epidural is administered, the needle will look like nothing. Plus, you know it holds relief.

Between pushes, I had to roll on my side to ease my aforementioned circulation challenges. So I would push, on my back, to a slow count of 10, and roll over onto my side until the next contraction began. Be forewarned. When you push down in your nether-regions, all the muscle groups down there are next-door neighbors. With my first push, I wee-weed a parabolic stream that my husband still giggles about. Many, if not most, women poo on the table as well. Now is not the time for modesty. Believe me, your doctor and delivery staff have probably seen far worse than you are capable of, so don’t let that worry you.

Scott and I were starting to get a little giddy with excitement, thinking the 8 am status calls we had promised friends and family might actually become birth announcements. No such luck. After a few rounds of pushing, Dr. Rinehardt came back in. [Note: The doctor doesn’t spend all the pushing time with you. He/She will check in during the pushing, and will be there for the entry into the world of your twosome.] Looking at my cervix, he said it seemed to be closing slightly, and there was no reason to make Baby A push through quite yet. Out go the fleets of NICU folk. Into the shunt goes some more Pitocin. Epidural kicked up a notch, and encouragement followed from all to “try and nap”. We rested a bit; Scott claims he actually slept some. I enjoyed watching the contraction bell curves ascend to heretofore unseen heights almost pain free.

Around 9:30am, started getting a bit uncomfortable again. New nurse Ginny on duty measures & checks and we are ready to push again. Dr. Rinehardt agrees.

By 10:00am, we were pushing. And pushing and pushing. My right leg seemed to have collected more than its share of the epidural juice, and was so numb it had to be lifted into the stirrup each pushing session after I rolled onto my back. I was a comical sight.

After many of the pushes, I was offered oxygen. I think it helped. Even if it didn’t help physically, psychologically, the regularity of the roll to back, take deep breath, push to 10-count, exhale deep breath, roll to side, suck on oxygen seemed like a nice rhythm. The rhythm would have to do, since my idea of burning a vanilla scented candle was out of the question with oxygen tanks in the room. Who knew? Thankfully, my husband brought some of our favorite music to play.

By 11:00am, I was back to fixating on that clock. Surely by 11:30am, our boy would be here. Surely by 11:45. Surely by 12:00 noon. Hadn’t Dr. Rinehardt said noon? My stamina was diminishing. Instead of pushing to 10-counts, we began pushing in 2 sets of 8-counts each contraction. Surely by 12:15. I was getting pretty tuckered. All the nurses and Dr. Rinehardt kept bolstering me up with how great each push session was. If so, why wasn’t he here yet? I leaned to Scott, and sought a second opinion. Was our boy’s head even visible? He assured me it definitely was. He saw hair, and it wasn’t mine. Dr. Rinehardt said our boy was wedged in there pretty good, and if all that pushing wasn’t getting him through, he needed to “guide” him out with forceps. No, it wasn’t scary. At this point, he needed to greet the world. Out come these much larger than imagined, but beautifully designed Williams-Sonoma-esque tongs. In our Prepared Childbirth class, we were told that a mirror is positioned to allow the mother a visual of the birth. In multiple births, not necessarily so. At no point were we offered a mirror to watch the births, and I am confident that was a good thing in our case. I do have a hyper-vivid memory of a reflection in the wall-mounted TV screen when the forceps were placed in the birth canal. Scott was a trooper. Hopping between views of the birth and reassurances to me. Pretty quickly it became obvious why the tongs are called “force-ps”, not “guide-rs”. Dr. Rinehardt used Herculean strength, and at 12:34pm, our son was born. Our boy was placed on my chest briefly, Scott cut the cord (which he said felt like celery), and our A-Child was whisked away to be cleaned up & Apgar* tested. (*a test administered to babies at both one minute and five minutes after their birth. The test gauges the baby’s color, respiration, heart rate, muscle tone & reflexes. The one-minute test assesses how the baby fared during the birthing process; the five-minute test determines how the baby is coping with the outside world.) We started to push for our daughter, also known as B-Child. My cervix began to start closing again! Then it happened. I began dry heaving. (You don’t eat or drink anything during labor but ice chips) Dr. Rinehardt said, “Go with that!” Apparently, my push muscles had given out. The miracle of creation provided a secondary set of muscles to get our girl. Dry heaving continued, and by 12:41pm, our daughter was born. Both babies were out, but we still had placentas and all sorts of uterine goo to extract from my gal parts. And of course, my ever-modest cervix really started to close when the babes were both out. My hubby, who wasn’t squeamish at all through the process, looked to see Dr. R almost up to his elbow extracting remnants of the birthing process. That got to him a bit. Another reason I heartily endorse that epidural. After mommy’s uterine cavity was cleared, the babies weighed and Apgar tested, Daddy and I finally had a misty moment. Realizing the magnitude and miracle of the birthing process is overwhelming. You always hear of “death-bed” conversions of faith. You can’t tell me that a “birth-bed” doesn’t inspire you to an even greater degree.

[*Yes, that\'s my knee...my legs are still in the stirrups!]
[Yes, that’s my knee…my legs were still in the stirrups!]

Shortly, the two sweet, clean, swaddled, greasy-eyed babies were brought to us. Absolutely precious. Have your camera ready.

The night after our twins were born, a dear friend of ours took my husband out for a celebratory meal, and to get the real skinny on the birthing experience. His advice to her, “Stop watching ‘A Baby Story’! It’s more like an outtake from ‘Gladiator’.” Whereas I think his assessment was a little gorier than reality, by no means is the experience as pristine & clean as TV mini-documentaries would have you believe. (Writer’s Note: Let me say right now, I enjoy “A Baby Story”. However, don’t think for a second that you will be done and home with your babies in 30 minutes.)

Every labor story is different, single or multiple births. Aspects of my labor experience were picture-perfect. Others, obviously, not so much. Your story will have the same balance of pros and cons. Your labor story will be yours and yours alone. Share it with those who need to hear the positives. Share it with others so they’ll see you made it through the negatives. The end result (and in your case, results) makes it all worthwhile. You will never in your life be more convinced of, and feel an active part in, the miraculous cycle of life.

So you’ve read the unabridged version of a twin labor/delivery and want your partner to have some preparatory insight, but doubt he’ll plow through that lengthy description?

Here’s the condensed, “Breeder’s Digest” version:
We began with an unexpected induction, followed by the tossing away of predicted circumstances and environment, a surprising revelation of what contractions actually felt like, a determined not-to-be wimpy lady in labor, tears, bad drugs, good drugs, an ever-supportive husband, false alarm pushing, cervix closing, fourteen hours of labor (two ardently pushing), clock staring, a numb leg, laughter, oxygen, forceps, a son born, brief meeting, more pushing, dry heaving, a daughter born, brief meeting, cervix determined to close, hard-fought afterbirth retrieval, gynecological embroidery, cleaned/Apgar tested/greasy-eyed babies returned, full family hug and photo, and at last, more tears. Daddy passes two suggested names on a piece of paper to Mommy. Perfect. More laughter. Lives changed forever…in fourteen short hours.

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