A Day With Four Kids

Things I’ve Already Done Today:

  • Wake up.
  • Change both babies’ diapers
  • Kiss The Bean goodbye as he heads off to work
  • Plop both babies in their high chairs, return to kitchen, and ponder the contents of the pantry and the fridge.  No milk.  No butter.  No cereal.  No gluten-free bread.  No tortillas.  No cheese.  No … well, anything easy.
  • Scramble some eggs.  Eggs and leftover Cheerios for everyone.  Yay, nutrition!
  • While everyone is eating, go outside.  Let Artemis go pee.  Feed horses.  Water chickens.  Water the wilted tomato plants.  Collect chicken eggs.
  • Return inside.  Dress all four children in clean clothes, brush their hair, their teeth.  Occasionally scream out “WE ARE LATE!  MOVE FASTER! WHY IS THE TV ON?!?!?  STAND IN THE CORNER! NO, WAIT, THERE’S NO TIME!”
  • Drop older boys off at Vacation Bible School so they can learn about patience and love and gentle kindness.
  • Idle in the parking lot and consider what you are going to make for lunch and dinner. Factor in your schedule. Realize there is no avoiding it – you need to go to the grocery store, RIGHT NOW.
  • Drive to Longview.
  • Arrive at WinCo.  Plop one twin in the cart, the other in a carrier, and purchase $280 worth of groceries, self bag, and get an extra cart to hold them.
  • Drag out both carts by yourself, load them up in the car, load up the babies and hand them each a squeeze pouch of apple sauce.  Realize it’s only been 41 minutes since you arrived.  Turn on car and head for home.
  • Pause at a red light and marvel at your awesomeness. 41 minutes.  You rock.
  • Turn on the latest Bloody Jack/Jacky Faber audio book.
  • Five minutes from home, wince as Magpie succumbs to carsickness and explodes vomity applesauce everywhere.
  • Pull into driveway.
  • Unload Magpie, strip her down, and haul nekkid baby upstairs and plop her in the shower.
  • Head back downstairs.  Use paper towels to wipe up the visible vomit.  Toss into plastic bag, then trash can.
  • Load up arms with as many bags of groceries as you possibly can.
  • Head back upstairs.  Deposit said bags on kitchen floor.
  • Head back downstairs for more groceries.
  • Repeat a stupid number of times.  Mentally cuss architect who invented houses with a main floor not on the ground level.
  • Bring up the last thing – a watermelon – and then head downstairs, turn off car, extricate sleeping Finn who stays sleeping.  HOORAY!
  • Creep through threshold of house, which (as always) automatically causes the sleeping Finn to wake and begin shrieking violently.
  • Plop shrieking baby on floor.
  • Grab towel, go get Magpie out of the shower, and head to her room to dry her off and put on new clothes.
  • Step over shrieking Finn, who continues to follow you around the house so he can be very certain you are hearing his outrage properly.
  • Change Magpie into clothes, then plop both babies in high chairs. Swipe contents of their still-dirty-from-breakfast trays onto the floor.  Good thing you have a Labrador, right?
  • Give them Ritz crackers to keep them quiet.
  • Clean out fridge of old food, wipe down shelves.
  • Glance at clock.  ACK!  YOU HAVE TO BE AT THE CHURCH IN 16 MINUTES!!
  • Put away frozen and refrigerated foods.  Stack the non-perishable items on the counters.
  • Lock Labrador in bedroom so she doesn’t give in to temptation, eat the groceries, and force you to skin her alive.
  • With a baby in each arm, use your chin to hit the unlock button on the van keys. Head downstairs carrying both babies.
  • Arrive at van, reach out a hand to open the door, and have it automatically lock as soon as you touch it.
  • Take a brief moment to imagine using a castration knife on the idiot engineer who decided that when you hit “unlock” on a vehicle that it should automatically relock itself.
  • Walk back upstairs with the babies.  Try to tuck the keys in the waistband of your pocketless workout pants you’re wearing.  Give up.  Grab the keys with your mouth, instead.
  • Walk back down the stairs while staring up at the left sky, right sky, left sky, right sky, left sky, right sky in an attempt to keep the keys out of the four baby hands trying to jerk it out of your mouth.
  • Get babies in car seat, pretending not to notice the still-wet vomit spots on Magpie’s carseat.
  • Drive like the wind to the church.
  • Kids are supposed to leave at 12:35.  It’s 12:33.  Put one baby in a carrier, tuck the other in your arm, head to get the kids.
  • Awesome.  Your kids are both the last ones in their classroom.  Awesome. You’re such an awesome mom.
  • Instead of “hi” your children greet you with “You weren’t there to see us do our performance on stage.  When I realized you weren’t there, I almost cried in front of everyone.  Everybody else’s moms were there.  Why not you?”
  • Try to explain about groceries, realize you’re just making them sadder, and apologize.
  • Return home.  Head back upstairs.
  • Let Artemis out to go potty.
  • Start cooking lunch.
  • Realize you forgot Artemis outside – HOORAY!  She was waiting at the back door.  Good dog.  Very good dog.
  • Put babies back in high chairs.  Swipe uneaten Ritz crackers to the floor.  Good thing you have a Labrador, huh?
  • Feed everyone.
  • Ignore the “Now can we go to the fair?  Now?  When we’re done eating, right? Right?  Then we can go?  Remember, today is fair day?” coming from the kitchen table.
  • While they’re eating, finish putting away groceries.
  • Glance at clock – 1:14 pm.  Oh, Lord.  It’s only halfway through the day.  I’m only halfway through the day.

 

Things still to do today:

  • Take all four kids to the fair
  • Cook dinner
  • Take care of horses and settle them in for the night
  • Shower
  • Exercise
  • Meal prep, so I can eat healthy
  • Laundry, so I can go to work tomorrow and smell gross
  • Sweep?  Maybe dishes?
  • Evening baths
  • Get kids in PJs and in bed
  • Find pencil sharpener and sharpen pencils.
  • Track down the creators of those inspirational “nobody’s busy, it’s just a matter of priorities” quotes you keep seeing on Facebook and stab them in the eye with a pencil.
  • Sleep?  Maybe?  Pretty please, babies?  Can this be the night you two both sleep through the night?

If anyone knows the address of the person who first said this, send it to me in an email. I’ve got a drawer full of pencils just waiting to meet them.

Twins: A Birth Story

Hey.

See that title up there?

Yup.  I gave birth.  And now I’m going to write about it, partly because I want to get it down on paper before time and sleeplessness (oh, the sleeplessness) steal it from my memory….

And partly because in those final few weeks of pregnancy I scoured the internet for stories about women giving birth to twins, so I figure I should probably give back to the community, as it were.

Continue reading

Babies

I was never much of a baby person.

Oh, I did the odd babysitting here and there in my teenage years.  I liked kids, they liked me, and it was easy money…. but I usually refused any jobs where the babies were younger than 8 or 9 months old.

If that sounds harsh it’s because the feeling was mutual – I didn’t really care for little babies, and little babies didn’t really like me. They let me know in no uncertain terms.

“Oh, Becky, it’s just in your head.  Here, hold her,” someone would say, depositing a blank-faced infant in my arms.  Almost immediately, the baby would stiffen.

“Relax – just hold her close,” they’d say.

“I am.  She feels like 2 x 4.”

“Just…. just relax.”

“I’M TRYING,” I’d say, through gritted teeth.  “Hey, uh… baby.  Hey there.  Good girl…. good…. girl.”

The baby would usually stare at me dubiously for a few more moments, and then burst into frantic tears.  Get me out of this imposter’s arms.  SAVE ME.  SAVE ME FROM HER UNCOMFORTABLE INCOMPETENCE!

It never failed – you could give me the happiest, most complacent, 100% asleep infant and I could have it crying in a matter of minutes, just by trying to hold it.

What can I say?  It was a gift.

The good news is that the first few weeks after a baby is born, they tend to be pretty much dead to the world.  They wake, they cry for food, you feed them, you change their diaper, and they go back to sleep.  In terms of being interactive, they’re about as socially fun as a hermit crab.

I think the reason they sleep so much in the beginning isn’t because they’re tired from birth…. it’s because it’s to give inept baby-handling parents like me a chance to figure out what they’re doing.  Eventually they wake up from the just-born stupor, but hopefully by that time you’re not as uncomfortable with handling your own baby.

Since I never had any desperate desire to have or hold little babies of my own,  I could never understand why people went so ga-ga over babies.  They weren’t all that cute, in the grand scheme of things.  They have swollen faces, they twist up their faces with really weird expressions, and they generally look kind of, well… weird.

I mean, here are some newborn otters:

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And here is a newborn infant (mine, to be exact):

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From a purely logical perspective, I think we can all agree the otters are cuter.  They’re fuzzy, soft, round little bits of adorableness.  You can practically feel your hand reaching out to pet one.

The newborn babies just kind of looks… pink.  And swollen.  And disgruntled.  They look like disappointed, naked little grubs…. and yet when I see those photos of the twins just after they were born, something wrenches on my inside, and I can practically feel my brain hitting the release switch on a massive load of bonding hormones.

It’s not just because they are tiny, or because they are mine… I think it goes deeper than that.  When I see tiny babies on the street, I think I am drawn to them because I know how incredibly fleeting that first period is.  I don’t see a newborn baby – I see DragonMonkey as he was when I first met him. Even though I wouldn’t trade the lanky, logical, fun boy he is nowadays, I miss his sweet softness.

Which, now that I think about it, is low-down dirty lie. He was only sweet and soft for the first 2 or 3 weeks.  After that he screamed and puked and was in all ways an incredibly high-needs baby….

But eh.  It’s a sweet lie.  If my brain is going to feed me lies, I don’t mind that one all that much.

Moving on to the whole point of this musing: I never really expected to be that “into” babies…. but lately it feels like I just can’t get enough.  You’d think it would the opposite. With two babies pressed to me all day long, you’d think I would be over holding infants, but the opposite is true.

The twins are 7 months old now, and the other day I looked at Magpie as she was stretched out during one of her naps, and I realized she no longer qualifies as a tiny baby. I saw my first hint of toddler.  It’s subtle, but it’s there – a slight lengthening of her forearms, the way she throws her arms above her head like a child instead of the tight curl of the just-born.

I’m not really sure what it is, but lately when I’m looking at the twins I can see the hints of the people they will become, and it makes me both proud and nostalgic, as if they’ve already grown, and flown away….

When in reality, Magpie is pressed against me, laying flat against the still-soft surface of my stomach.  Kraken is crashed out in his baby swing – he’ll be too big for it soon, but for the time being it’s a helpful bedtime tool.  Magpie though… lately she’s been weaning her own self off of the swing, much to my dismay.  It makes getting her down for the night a lot harder, and by the time she’s finally asleep I have a tendency to just sit still and hold her rather than risk waking her.

Besides…. the view is pretty sweet.  She’s sprawled over me in the complete, sleepy abandon that only the truly young seem to manage.  Her cheeks are flushed with the heat of sleep, one arm thrown back, lips pursed in a nursing dream.  I ought to put her down.  I ought to clean up the living room, or prepare the boys’ lunch for school in the morning.  Oh, sure, everyone likes to quote that “I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep”poem, but they forget about the other lines: “The shopping’s not done and the bills are past due, and out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo.”

There’s so much that needs to be done, not the least of which is getting to bed early.  I’m very, very sleep deprived this week.  I ought to go to bed early, so I’m not grumpy and mean tomorrow from lack of sleep.

But instead, I press my hand against Magpie’s head, feeling the pleasing curve of her skull beneath my palm.  I feel the heat of her skin against my own,  brush my thumb against the curve of her cheek, and I watch her breathe… and grow.

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Dexterity: Day 4 of How To Be A Crappy Mom

Everybody talks about the benefits of breastfeeding your baby.

I suppose I could go into all the benefits, but that would require things like research, and linking articles, and not getting ready to drag my very, very tired self into bed…. only to realize I never wrote anything and forcing myself to sit down and start a post at 9:27 pm on a borrowed computer.

Was that whiny?   Don’t get me wrong, I love writing… but the twins haven’t let me sleep very much the past few nights, and this is pretty much what my brain is shouting at me as I type, making it very hard to focus on my story.

Please bear with me.

Moving on:

I suppose you’re just gonna have to trust me on the benefits of breast milk.  I mean, I suppose you could go research it for yourself… just keep in mind that a lot of those sites tend to be SUPER pro-breastfeeding, and kind of negative against formula.

 

How dare you use formula.  Ding Ding Ding.  How dare you.

How dare you use formula. Ding Ding Ding. How dare you.

I say however you want to get food in that infant of yours is all the same to me.  Besides, I’m not necessarily sure I believe all the stuff that breast milk is purported to do.

Are you concerned about your newborn getting sick?  Try breast milk! It’s chock full of antibodies!

Does your baby have an eye infection?  Try breast milk!

Do the people on your morning commute have trouble merging and cause traffic to back up?  Try breast milk!

Anyways, there’s all sorts of reason to breastfeed your baby, but nobody talks about the best part:

Nursing your baby = Guilt-free phone-surfing or book-reading time.

Oh, sure, you could be one of those uber-moms who manages to nurse her baby while simultaneously sweeping the kitchen floor…. but why?  Why would you do that to yourself, when you have this built-in alarm clock of a crying baby that gives you the chance to just sit down and be lazy every 2-3 hours?

I will admit that tandem nursing the twins has been amazing simply based on the fact that it’s literally impossible for me to do anything but nurse them.  It’s the ultimate in excuses.

What’s that?  The living room needs vacuuming?  Oh, I’m sorry… I just don’t have the time.  I’m currently providing sustenance to my tiny infants.  Oh, gee… the older boys need lunch?  Honey, can you make them sandwiches?  The babies are hungry, and if I don’t nurse them right now, my supply might drop and then where would we be?

 

There is only one downside to all of this:  by choosing to nurse, you are kind of the sole provider of food to the babies… and thus you do end up getting the short end of the stick when it comes to sleep.  This wouldn’t be so much of an issue except…. except I get really clumsy when I’m sleepy.

And this wouldn’t be that big of an issue, except that I like to read my book while I’m nursing….

And even that wouldn’t be that big of an issue if it were a light paperback, but the problem is that I have been reading most of my books on my phone…

Which means I either need to find a way to get more sleep, and thus improve my dexterity…
Or I need to quit dropping my cell phone on the babies’ heads while they are peacefully enjoying their meal.

Not only does it make me feel like a super, super crappy mom to watch them slowly screw up their faces and wail in fear/pain…… but I’m beginning to question whether or not they are even going to be able to pass the 4th grade.

 

Rationalization: How To Be A Crappy Mom

It’s Sunday morning. I should make everyone bacon.

Oh, yeah.  Bacon and pancakes.  That’s the sort of thing an awesome mom would do on a Sunday morning.  She’d get up, and put on her blue bathrobe, start the coffee, and then she’d fill the kitchen with the scent of sizzling, popping bacon and delicious gluten-free pancakes.  She’d probably even hum a little tune, and remember to hug each child in turn, and inquire about their sleep in a pleasant, never-ruffled voice.

I’m gonna do it.  I’m gonna make them bacon and pancakes and I’m gonna totally be that mom today.

Oh.  Wait. I don’t have any more gluten-free pancake mix.  Crap.

Well, that’s okay.  It’s not like I said the word “pancakes” out loud.  The kids won’t know what they’re missing.  I can always make bacon and eggs instead – Lord knows I have enough eggs.  With, err, “three” chickens (just like the city ordinances require), I definitely have enough eggs.

Eggs and bacon is still a really awesome thing on a Sunday morning. It’s an American staple – who doesn’t love it?  Bacon and eggs.  I’m gonna be that awesome mom who makes the whole house smell like bacon and eggs on Sunday morning.

Except….. except I can’t find any bacon in the fridge.  Or the freezer.  Or the basement freezer.

Well, crap.

Eggs and…. eggs?  Or maybe Miguitas – eggs and tortillas?  How many times have I cooked that this week? Will they go for it?  I glance at the sleep-tousled boys in the living room, lounging in their mismatched pajamas as they stare blankly at cartoons.

“Hey boys… you guys want Miguitas for breakfast?  Or do you just want me to make them over-easy?”  I take a moment and pride myself in the way I managed to word that – it gives them the illusion of choice, but still leaves them without a real decision.  If that’s not being a real mom, I don’t know what is.

Neither boy bothers to take their eyes off the flickering screen long enough to respond.

“Chicken nuggets.  I want chicken nuggets.”

“Me too!  I want chicken nuggets, too!”

What?  Eww.  Gross.  “Chicken nuggets aren’t a breakfast food,” I say. “How about cereal? Cereal and milk?”

“No, thank you,”  DragonMonkey says, all pleasant politeness.

“Yeah, no thank you,” Squid echoes.  “Can I please have chicken nuggets?”

“Guys.  This is Sunday. You can’t have…. it’s just….”  I stare at them, frustrated.  It’s Sunday morning.  We’re supposed to be eating pancakes and eggs… or at the very least bacon and eggs. You can’t have a beautiful, Norman-Rockwell style Sunday morning with frozen gluten-free chicken nuggets heated up in the microwave on scratched Ikea plastic plates.

This morning was supposed to look like this… only with pancakes instead of turkey.

I mean, technically you can, but nobody is gonna be painting a picture of it any time soon.

I open my mouth once again, drawing breath to tell them no, that they can’t have chicken nuggets for breakfast, that it’s trashy and gross, and terrible nutrition, and we have higher standards than that, and….

… and at least it has protein?  I mean, what exactly are pancakes, anyways, but flat, uninteresting doughnuts that you pour sugary maple syrup over?  Chicken nuggets don’t have a high sugar content.  I mean, it’s not like they’re asking to shoot up heroin, or juggling puppies, right?  It’s just chicken nuggets…. and gluten-free ones at that.

Surely that gives me some kind of bragging power?  I mean, sure, we’re not eating gluten-free by choice, but the fact that it’s gluten-free (and therefore “healthy”) balances out the fact that it’s 7:30 in the morning and I’m pouring ketchup as dipping sauce for my kids’ breakfast, right?

Right?

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Stretching Those Unused Muscles

What do you do when the words come back, and you long to write…. but it’s been so long you’ve almost forgotten how?

I guess the best answer is you just jump in and start writing, and eventually you’ll find your groove again .

**************

 

I’m enjoying my children.

 

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When did DragonMonkey get so old?

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I think Squid wanted to pop this pony in the back of our minivan and take her home

What a bland thing to write.  I know.  A good life doesn’t really make for very interesting writing, or stories, not unless you put some real effort into it.  I do feel a small pang of regret that I won’t be able to look back on the twins’ infancy the way I am able to with DragonMonkey and Squid’s.

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Aside from a few Facebook entries chronicling my sleep deprivation, or sharing a couple of pictures of the Kraken crying, I just haven’t really taken down too many of their stories.

I think I realized in the beginning that I would have to make a choice:  Do I chronicle the twins’ infancy – the small details, like the way Magpie would only “talk” at first if she had her dimpled, tiny fingers wrapped firmly around an index finger, anchoring her so the sound could bubble up out of her?  The way I broke down sobbing at six weeks, crying out that I‘ve done nothing but sit on this couch nursing twins for six weeks straight, I even sleep sitting up, people aren’t made to be in a sitting position for this long, I’ve been sitting on my stupid butt for so long I actually gave myself hemorrhoids, please I just want to go outside, I just want to sleep more than two hours at a stretch, please I want to feel the sun on my face….

 

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Shouldn’t I be writing down the intricacies of the Kraken’s cry, the way it starts out sounding like a stalled engine every single time he wakes up, or the silent way he laughs? What about the way his small, warm body curls against mine at night?

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Shouldn’t I be writing about that, so I can have the memories to luxuriate in at a later date?

Or do I breathe them in now, pouring out my love in the small, simple touches of mothering that leave no time for anything but, only to have time and sleeplessness wear away the details until I’m left with nothing more than a vague sense of memory?

In case you can’t tell from the crickets and tumbleweeds on this blog, I went with option two.

 

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I’d like to say I’m doing all sorts Pinterest-worthy mothering to my four kids…. but mostly, I’m just being lazy and enjoying the heck out of them.  I suppose I ought to be doing more – signing them up for some sort of school sport, or reading more to them, or coming up with brain-growing crafts, or something like that.

 

I mean, I’m not saying it’s all perfect.  I yell too much some days.  The older boys get loud and obnoxious with each other.  The babies scream.

 

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Marvelous Magpie

It’s not perfect and I’m not perfect…. but overall?  It’s good.  Real good.

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I find myself sinking into the feel of the babies in my arms, or eavesdropping on the older boys’ playing with all the lazy indulgence of a binge eater nibbling on the last few chocolates in a box.

They say that childhood is fleeting  –  “they” being the people who no longer have access to it as much as they would desire.  If you ask the mother of a cranky two-year old toddler how fleeting childhood is, the answer will invariably be “not fleeting enough”…. but I feel it. I feel the press of time weighing down on me like the weight of the summer sun, and I feel the way this will be gone all too soon, so I drink it in, trying to drench my skin and my soul in the feel of this brief moment before it’s gone.

 

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I’ve always had these moments of joy in my kids – I just never really write about them. There’s something very easy and simple to invite strangers on the internet to take a peek on the funny, embarrassing, or frustrating areas of my life.  It’s a lot more dangerous to invite them to look in on the private things I love.

 

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If I share a story about how am stupid, and someone reaches out to tell me, “Hey, Becky, that’s pretty stupid”… well, obviously we agree with each other.

But… but I don’t know how my heart could handle hearing a similar about something that’s actually precious to me.  Oh, sure, I could get over it, but mostly I think….why risk it?

The thing is, I know why I feel this need, this sense of urgency to just take joy in my babies.

I have a friend.  Had a friend.  Have a friend?

 

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Oh, it wasn’t one of those uber-close friendships.  She was just someone I knew briefly in high school and only reconnected with recently because of the internet.  On the surface we had a lot in common.  Silly stuff.  We’re both tall.  We both grew up in Huntington Beach.  We both went to the same church.  We both had the same group of church friends.  We both loved sports, and the outdoors, and the color burnt orange and Calvin and Hobbes.  We both got married and had some kids.  We both believe in Christ.  We both had twins.  Of course, we have our differences too.

I never had to leave my husband because of…. well, let’s just leave it at irreconcilable differences.  I never had to move cross-country with six-week old twins.  I never got diagnosed with aggressive cancer when my babies were three months old, either.

I’d been following her story for a while – the radiation, the chemo, the sickness, the laughter, the trials… if you ask me, I think it’s easier to be brave in a single moment than it is to be brave through a long, hard slog.  She was brave.  She even had the tattoo to prove it.

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Bravery in the small things seems so much harder to me

 

And eventually it came down to the end.  And that’s where our stories differ, too.  I got to spend my summer snuggling my babies.  She got to spend hers learning how to say goodbye, to watch her babies turn to her parents as their primary caregivers, to be looking to transition to that next stage in life – heaven.

I received the news of her passing via Facebook… which is as it should be.  I wasn’t a close family friend, or someone who was all that close with her in the end…. but her passing still hit me.

I loaded up the babies into a stroller and we all headed out to the park – the boys bouncing and chattering about Pokemon Go, me quiet in contemplation of inevitable mortality, the simple joy of the sun on my shoulders, and the sound of my children.

For the record I’ve decided it’s impossible to be truly sad when you have to focus on herding children down a sidewalk – it takes too much effort and concentration to keep them all heading the same direction.  Besides, there was something healing in just being a mom to my kids in response to her finally resting from her fight, and flying away home.

I know this is heavy stuff, so I guess I’ll end it here.  I just wanted to take the time to say….Julianne, I can’t wait to hang with you in heaven.  And in the meantime…. thank you for making me a better mom, and for reminding me that it’s okay to just enjoy my kids.

 

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Updates, Horses, and Photo Dump

I gave birth three and a half months ago.

It is SO strange to type that out.  I feel like between exhaustion and the simple act of caring for twins  I completely lost a chunk of time.  One moment it was winter, and then I went to the hospital on February 29th, labored for a little bit, pushed for a couple of minutes and out popped twins.

 

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I loaded them up in the car two days later, marvelling during the ride home at the hints of flowers popping out on trees that marked the arrival of spring.  We drove home, unlatched the car seats and walked the new babies inside…

 

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And now it’s summer.

I feel like a DVD with a scratch. I never felt the time pass, even though I was awake for most of it, what with nursing ’round the clock.  Where did the spring of 2016 go?  I have no idea, but it was 100 degrees this past weekend, so I’m pretty sure summer is here.

There hasn’t been time for much other than living in the moment, especially not much time for writing.  The words are still there, rattling around in my sleep-deprived brain, but I just don’t have the spare hands for the typing.  I’ve been working on a post here and there, as well as a “birth story” post for the past… well, three months. I  intended on having the story  of their arrival typed out within the week so I could remember all the tiny details.

At this point, I’ll be happy to post it by the time the twins hit kindergarten.

And you know what?

That’s okay.

It’s more than okay.  These are my last babies, and while it doesn’t make for good blog posts or even a great social life, I’m simply allowing myself to enjoy them as much as possible, because having been through this twice before, I know exactly how fast the first year flies by.

 

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I am content and happy with my life, my four kids, my family.

 

In fact, I’m so content and happy it actually makes me feel a little uncomfortable.    There’s a small part of me that wishes I was unhappy with simply hanging out, that wonders if I’m becoming… well, placid.  Isn’t that why they used to recommend breeding fractious fillies?  To calm them down?  Shouldn’t I be uncomfortable and itchy, struggling against the bonds of a minivan (I had to get a Kia Sedona to fit everyone…. and I actually love it.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen) and angry at the fit of my mom jeans?

….and yet I’m not. Oh, sure, if I had the chance to go on a secret mission where I travelled to Europe and saved the world against Nazi Zombies I would totally go….

 

I’d look just like this, only with slightly fewer tattoos

 

….But if I did go I’d have to bring along my breast pump and pump every two hours to avoid clogged ducts.  I’d also have to arrange daycare for four (FOUR!?!) kids, which would be so expensive I’d have to save up for it… and even if I could arrange it, who would cover my shifts at the library?

Daydreaming about big adventures has gotten so complicated as of late, which is why I’m sticking to daydreaming about horses.

Speaking of daydreaming about horses….

Now that I’ve sort of caught everyone up on what I’ve been up to since January, you can help me with a very important question:

Which imaginary horse should I imaginarily buy?  I mean, we’re just going to ignore the fact that I barely have time to see Caspian as it is.  I definitely don’t have the money or time for a second horse right now.  We’re also going to ignore the fact that this imaginary horse is being bought in addition to this guy, who I’ve already imaginarily bought from Scandia Morgan Farm:

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This is Scandia Anthem, and I’ve been drooling over him since he was born. He’s not even for sale, yet I’ve been imaginarily buying him for years now.

This new imaginarily bought horse is one that I am going to put in my imaginary pasture on the imaginary land I don’t own.  He/She is going to grow up and (aside from learning basic manners and maybe ponying a couple of trails)  will just grow up and be a horse until around four years old… at which point the twins will be old enough for me to start really working him/her.

Now that you know the rules, which one should I nab?

Currently we have three contenders:

Contender #1:

 

 

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This little red colt was only born this week, so he’s less and impressive and more  adorable with that ribby, just-born look.  Still, everything seems to be put in the perfect place as far as his conformation, and he comes from a long line of GORGEOUS Morgans.

 

Here is mom:

 

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And here is dad:

 

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Scandias Trademark

And here is Grandpa:

 

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Marvelous Intrigue

 

I mean…. ’nuff said, am I right?

Contender #2:

 

 

Curtain

Look at her!  She’s 14.2 at two years old, so she’ll be plenty stout enough to carry me and not make me feel too big.  Plus, she’s stunning.

 

Here is mom:

 

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Scandias Lady in Red

And here is dad:

 

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Marvelous Intrigue

As you can tell, I’ve got a thing for Marvelous Intrigue – I think he’s put together gooorgeously and all his colts and fillies grow up with that same gorgeous look.

Anyways, since the filly’s older I won’t have to wait as long to start her.  I’m not a big fan of the yearling stage, so I’d get to bypass that stage as well.

 

Contestant #3:

 

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BLUE EYES.  I don’t care if you don’t like blue eyes… I’ve got a thing for them.  It’s silly, I know.  But LOOOK.  IT’S A BLUE EYED BUCKSKIN MORGAN COLT.

Here is mom:

 

 

And here is dad:

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UDM White Water… photo credit to the very talented Heather Moreton: https://www.flickr.com/people/desertnightcreations/

I guess, in the interest of being a nice person I should mention these horses are actually for sale, and that I suppose you could for-real buy them.  You can find them here:

Scandia Morgan Horse Farm

and here:

Beaches Triple T Ranch

I suppose I would even forgive you if you did buy them out from underneath me, but only if you promised to update me with regular photos.

On Writer’s Block and Whining

At this point I don’t even know how many thousands of words I’ve typed into unpublished blogposts that will never seen the light of day.

To save on your eye strain and my boredom at hearing myself whine for paragraphs upon paragraphs, here is the one sentence summary of all the posts you guys will never read:

I’m having twins, and while I’m not excited yet, I’m finally feeling less dread about the prospect.

Yup.  That’s me – I’m making my bid early for next year’s Mom of the Year award.

 

Isn’t that a heck of a thing to admit out loud?  The words “dread” and “kids I’m gonna give birth to” probably shouldn’t ever go together.  I feel a little guilty even writing them. These are people inside me.  People, who for the first few years of their life will think I hang the sun/moon/stars…. and I’m admitting that I’m dreading their arrival. What a terrible emotion for anyone to have, much less their mother.

And for the record, when my twins stumble upon some ancient cached copy of my blog a couple of decades from now and try to use this against me in court to force me to pay their therapy bills… Sorry, guys.  I really don’t mean it personally.  It’s just…. at this point you’re not really individuals to me – you’re just the tiny little invisible people inside me who seem to relish making me sick.

I’ve spent the last six weeks or so alternating between freaking out and feeling guilty about freaking out. Seriously, if “oh, no, I’m bringing two babies into a happy family instead of just one baby” is the worst of my life’s concerns, then I’d say my life is pretty good.  I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right to freak out.

It’s just… two of them.  TWO.  At once. For, like, ever.

It surprised me when The Bean was the first one to climb aboard the “Woo-Hoo! Twins!” Train. It didn’t take him hardly any time at all.  By the time the evening of our first ultrasound rolled around, he was already chugging along and picking up steam and grinning over, “two babies!”

It’s just…. ugh.  Pregnancy has never been my favorite state, and twin pregnancy is just so, so much worse.  It feels a lot like my body has been hijacked, and I’m just being dragged along for the ride.  Plus, it’s honestly a little bit lonely.  I’m too sick to go out there and arrange playdates, so most of the time it’s just me, the dogs, the kids, the living room, and occasional trips to throw up all over the toilet.

I had all of these plans of enjoying my third and final pregnancy, being comfortable with the familiar….  and, well, those plans obviously fell by the wayside.

In case you’re curious, I’m here to tell you that, so far, a singleton pregnancy vs a twin pregnancy feels a lot like the difference between a deer in a petting zoo and a petting an Alaskan moose with rabies.  Also, the moose thinks you’re out to get her baby.  And you’re trapped in an elevator with her.  And oh, look – she just snorted a bad batch of cocaine.

 

I did what I always do when feeling lost… and I tried to make sense of it via the internet.  I’ve spent hours trying to find online blogs about moms experiencing twin pregnancy, but I’ve discovered that twin moms who blog come in three flavors:

  1. The “Fit Pregnancy” Mom:  I admire fit pregnancy mom…. but it’s disheartening to see women in bikinis two weeks after giving birth… or, heck, two weeks before giving birth.  I’m not bitter/jealous of them – I’ve skimmed their blogs, and they’re out there doing hours of pilates while 8 months along.  Dude.  They’ve earned their flat belly.  They’ve really, really, REALLY earned it.  It’s just…. I don’t feel much kinship.
  2. The “I’m Doubly Blessed!” Mom:  I think these make for beautiful blogs, and I’m not trying to disparage them, because I think it’s a great perspective to have…. it’s just that reading them makes me feel guilty. I want to be immediately happy with the news of having twins.  I think that’s a great response.  I know I should feel like that… but if I felt like that already, I wouldn’t be out there Googling inspiration.
  3. The “Dead Twins” Mom:  HOLY CRAP, there’s a lot of those out there.  I feel like their blogs should come with some kind of a trigger warning:  “Don’t get attached to this mom’s pregnancy. Trust us.  It ends horribly.”  I try to avoid those for obvious reasons.

 

Anyways, that’s where I’m at.  I’m starting to come around now that I don’t feel so terribly awful all the time – vomiting is now down to only once or twice a week, which feels AMAZING!  I’m 18 weeks along which is kind of considered the halfway point for twins – if I haven’t given birth by 38 weeks along (March 11th, I think?) then they’ll schedule an induction.

I’m not very big on inductions and interventions, but my new perinatologist doctor was very firm but polite on that aspect:  If I disagreed with the “not past 38 weeks” aspect, she would be happy to recommend some other doctors to me who would be willing to see me.

The stubborn part of me considered it, but not only does she seem very competent/intelligent, she is a big fan of “no C-sections unless absolutely necessary, even for twin moms” (HOORAY!)… AND she has tiny, slender little arms.

The last part is important, because here’s what happens a lot of the time when you give birth vaginally to twins.  After the first twin comes out the second twin is usually (more often than not) not in a good position for giving birth.  Either they were breech (feet first) to begin with, or transverse (laying all sideways across the top), or they rotate into a weird position once they find themselves with all sorts of legroom after their sibling comes out.

Luckily for me, my doctor is very skilled at breech extraction.

Isn’t that a nice, scientific term?  “Breech extraction” It sounds so much better than “I’m very well trained at putting on the LONG rubber glove and plunging shoulder deep into your nether regions in order to haul out your stubborn, sideways unborn child.”

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Like this, only sexier. Because nothing says sexy like an entire arm up your crotch.  

At my first appointment with my new doctor she was trying to gain momentum in order to talk me into an epidural (I really didn’t want one with Squid, but finally gave in after the first 31 hours)… and I had to cut her off.  “Look, lady, I’ve watched the Youtube videos.  I’ve seen how far you’re going to go spelunking.  I do NOT want to feel that without epidural.”

Anyways, that’s the glamorous reality of my new life:  I watch Youtube videos of doctors shoving arms up women in order to haul out slippery, screamy children, I get nauseous every night, I collapse in bed by 9pm every night in a sleep so deep it might as well be a coma, and I lay in bed awake from 3am to 5am every night (morning?) for no particular reason.

I also spend a lot of time trying to put off making difficult, soul-wrenching, adult decisions:  Do I try to find someone to lease Caspian for me, or do I simply put him up for sale?

The lease makes the most sense to my heart, although writing the Craigslist ad is still surprisingly difficult.  It’s necessary though.  I’ll be going down to only 10 hours a week at my library job, which means a 50% reduction in pay at a time when we’ll have more expenses than ever.

Selling Caspian makes the most sense, but tears at my heart in a way I try not to think too much about.

It helps if I think of numbers:  I won’t be able to go to the barn without hiring a babysitter (an impossible extra cost) or depending on my mom – The Bean’s only home by 7pm three or four months out of the year – the rest of the time he’s home around 9pm – way too late for me to go riding.

Board (plus farrier, plus feed) averages out to $350 a month.

And then there’s the numbers of actual horse time: the chances of me getting any significant, regular horse time with a set of twins (not even factoring in the fact I’ll have four children.  FOUR?! ) before 2017… or heck, 2018?  It’s not that great.

If I’m considering numbers it helps for me to pick a date at random:  let’s say 18 months after giving birth.  By a year and a half the twins will be toddlers – hyperactive but more manageable in terms of having a schedule and sleeping through the night and not relying on me making milk for them 24/7.

That’s 22 months from now, give or take.

If Caspian sold today, in 22 months I could be saving $7700 in horse board… at a time when we’re really, really going to be needing the money. That’s money which could be applied towards our new vehicle (we have to get rid of my Scion XB – it doesn’t fit four car seats), towards diapers (I’m going to try to do some cloth diapering, since twins use about 500 diapers a month, but still, it’s gonna cost!) or most importantly, it’s $7700 which could be spent on catching up on some of our debts.

Then again, if we’re thinking about numbers….

It would be 2017 or even 2018 before I seriously considered buying another horse.

2018 before I could own a horse again.

That’s such a terrifying thought to me that I do my best to just put it out of my mind, a la Scarlett O’Hara.

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If I leased him, even a half lease, I could apply the money made from my library job (the money left over after babysitting expenses) towards half his board.  But what if the lease went sour?  What if they injure him by hot rodding him around the arena?  What then?

Wait.  Hold on.  Waaaaaaaait.  Seeee???  Do you see why I haven’t been blogging?  I have no interest in becoming Twin Mom Variation #4:  Mom Who Only Sees The Dark Side Of Twins And Complains A Lot.

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to lately.  I’ve been going through the house and making Goodwill trips like crazy as I try to make room for the impending influx of baby accessories.  I’ve been eating… and then puking, and then eating again.

On a shallow side note – all of the twin books like to emphasize how hard it is to gain weight while pregnant with twins, and I am here to tell you… they’re absolutely right.  Between the puking and my food aversions and the simple fact that there’s two tiny little people inside me sucking out all my nutrients, I’ve only put on 9 pounds… and that’s WITH me deliberately eating high-fat items like fettucine alfredo with butter steak on top.  I think I gained 9 pounds in the first week with my previous two pregnancies, so it’s kind of a nice side benefit.

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I’ve also been getting regular ultrasounds – my next one is on November 6th.  So Twin B’s gender is still up in the air, but it’s been confirmed that Twin A is definitely a boy.

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Unknown gender Twin BB using his/her brother like the world’s most comfortable beanbag.

 

So, now I’ve got this whiny post out-of-the-way, and you’re all up to date.  I can go through my drafts folder and delete the rest of my “what am I going to doooooo” type posts and move on with writing about things that make me happy.

What have you all been up to?

 

How NOT to Have A Third Kid

My saddle finally arrived a couple of weeks ago. (Edit:  It arrived back in July – this post has been a long time in writing, for reasons you’ll see in a bit.)

I’ll go into all of its details and story behind ordering it later, but for now the short and sweet of it: it’s a 17 inch Eurolight and it fits my butt like a glove…. Which is a terrible simile now that I think about it, because a glove wouldn’t fit a posterior very well, but you know what I mean.

 

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It arrived in the mail and I took it down to the barn the next day, only to discover that the cinch (girth? I can never keep that term straight) didn’t fit.

I really had nobody to blame but me – I could have measured at any point in the 1+ year I ended up waiting on the saddle…. but then again, that would have been the behavior of a responsible adult, and if I were a responsible adult this blog probably wouldn’t even exist.

I indulged in a pity party on Facebook (I wanna ride my saddle but the cinch/girth won’t fiiiiiit) only to have it cut short by amazing people offering to help me out.  I’m firmly convinced that endurance riders are some of the nicest horse people around.  “My horse is in the hospital and I’ll be making a five-hour trip home tomorrow, but I’ll stop in a parking lot on the way home just to meet up with you so I can give you this obscenely expensive girth for free.”

That kind of charity is mind-boggling to me and something I aspire to.

So, naturally, being me… I was a big fat jerk and was 15 minutes late to the meet up. SIGH.

In my defense I did leave in time. I just didn’t account for the extra time it would take me as I stopped four and five times along the way to retch and gag and vomit on the side of the road.

 

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I think I’ve ended up becoming Facebook friends with most of you guys, but in case I’m not, yeah.  I’m pregnant again. Yes, it was on purpose.  Yes, we’re happy.  No, it wasn’t an accident.  Yes, I know what causes it.

So, now you know where I disappeared to.  I meant to type something up before I fell off the deep end of morning sickness…. but holy crap! One day I was doing okay, and the next day I was absolutely disabled with nausea.  I’m not exaggerating:  I was borderline disabled – any time I moved too fast I gagged.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to take care of a house and chase after kids without moving?

For those of you who have followed this blog, you know that me and puking during pregnancy is no new thing…. but this was ridiculous.  In case you’re curious, at some point during the horribleness I made a mental list of terrible things I’ve put up with, with “1” being the worst, and “5” being “still really crappy, but survivable:

 

  1. P.U.P.P.P :  had this with DragonMonkey, and there’s no way to describe how bad it was.  You can block out pain and push it to the back of your mind – you can’t block out itching.  And this wasn’t really itching – it was “itchy” in the same way you can compare a skinned knee and the late stages of labor are both “pain”.
  2. Morning Sickness: ‘Nuff said.
  3. Rheumatoid Arthritis:  I think the worst part of this is you never know how long each flare up is going to take.  The overall pain is less, but it just NEVER ENDS.
  4. Migraines: I’ve only had two, but they were so bad that sound started having a color (and not a pretty one.)
  5. Appendicitis: Self-explanatory – it was bad but not TERRIBLE until till it started leaking inside me.

You get the point.  My morning sickness was really, really bad this go-round.  Somewhere around 7 weeks pregnant I gave up toughing it out and tried to call the doctor to get some medicines.   I say “tried” because it took me almost an hour to make the call, because I literally could not stop retching long enough to place the phone call.  Even after I finally made the appointment I couldn’t quit.  I vomited on the way to the doctors, which was less than half a mile from my house.  I checked in to the doctors and then waited outside for them to call me back, where I could gag and puke without witnesses.
My doctor, who is normally “let’s try to take it naturally” took one look at me (when I came back from puking yet again during the middle of the exam) and prescribed me Zofran.

Sweet, sweet, beautiful Zofran!

The downside to Zofran is that, unbeknownst to me, my insurance will only cover so many pills in a single month.  Still, with the magical help of better living through chemicals I was able to keep the vomiting down to a reasonable 2-3 times a day, instead of 20 plus times a day.  The nausea was still there, but the vomiting was a reasonable amount.

Still – I remember laying there on my couch a couple of weeks ago (I think I was 8 weeks along?), thinking that I would never, ever, ever, EVER wish anything bad to happen to my baby…. but if I miscarried, I would be okay with it, because I could finally get a break from the unrelenting nausea.

Of course, the next day the nausea eased somewhat and I was horrified, convinced I’d magically willed my baby into dying.  I was a terrible, horrible, worthless kind of a person who didn’t even deserve to live and HRAAAAUUUUGGGGGHHHH…. the vomiting returned and for once I was actually relieved to be miserably sick.

So, now you know what I’ve been doing since late July, when the morning sickness kicked in:  I’ve been laying on my couch, occasionally stumbling to the bathroom to vomit, occasionally vomiting into towels, into trash cans, in my car, on the side of the road, in grocery store bathroom stalls, into my hands….vomiting so hard I routinely peed my pants like a two-year old resisting toilet training… and then vomiting some more.

It started to feel like I was living in super gross version of a Dr. Seuss book.  Would you, could you, in the rain?  HRAAAAUUUGGH.  In a house?  HRAAUUUUGGGH.  With a mouse?  HRAUUUUUUUGH.

Oh, I’ve also been going through 2-3 spit towels a day.  In case you’re curious what a spit-towel is, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a towel I spit into.  For some stupid reason my body decided it would be really fun to make 4x the amount of spit it needed.  It was even grosser than it sounded – my mouth was literally filling up with spit (to the point my cheeks would start ballooning if I held it in) every single minute of every single hour of the day.  I could only swallow so much spit, so I had to start carrying around a spit towel – in public I downgraded it to spit napkins.

Pregnancy and me:  it’s seriously the sexiest thing ever.

Right around the time my Zofran ran out and I discovered my insurance was unwilling to refill it, we were all hit with the stomach flu.

In case you were curious, the difference between the stomach flu and morning sickness is that with the stomach flu you have to worry about it coming out both ends, so to speak.

Sexy.  SOOOOOO, SOOOOOO very sexy.

I survived, but barely.

Three days after the stomach flu hit our house…..it was like a switch flipped inside me and I began to feel better.  I was still nauseous, but it was just normal waves of sickness, and there were 1/2 hour to hour-long stretches where I actually felt almost normal.

I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it felt like heaven to me.  Ever day since then has been a little bit better – right now I’m only getting sick at night, and I feel almost completely normal during the day.  I’m almost 13 weeks along and I feel good!  Hooray!

Which is why today came as such a complete surprise.

After going way past my due date with both Squid and DragonMonkey my OB decided it would be in our best interest to get a dating scan – an ultrasound where we made sure the baby’s due date was correct.  I didn’t mind at all.  Who doesn’t like to take a peek at the kid in their belly?  Besides, without it I would be stuck waiting to see the baby until we got our big scan done at around 20 weeks along.

I convinced The Bean to come along – if it sounds like he’s not particularly enthused about ultrasounds, it’s because he’s not.  Oh, he’s joined me for every “big scan”, but for some reason he can’t make heads or tails of ultrasound images.  I could probably show him a printed-off picture of a staticky tv screen and tell him it was a profile pic of the baby, and he’d likely smile and nod and tell me it looks great.  I have no idea why it’s so hard for him to see things in an ultrasound, but it is.

In an effort to help him figure the pictures out I convinced him to check out the early scan – with the baby not-so-squished inside me, it’s easier to see body parts, and legs, and arms as the kid wiggles and swims about.

We had to drive to Portland’s OHSU clinic and use their fancy ultrasound machine, as the one in little town isn’t that sensitive, but since The Bean works in downtown Portland, that worked out for the best.  We checked in and were shown back to a little room, where I lay down on a table and the ultrasound tech squirted the goo on my belly.  She  put the wand down and…..

And all of a sudden the room got really, really quiet.

I could see the baby very clearly.  I could also see…..

I glanced at the ultrasound technician, who was sitting very, very still in her chair.

The Bean leaned forward.  “Is that….”

“Yup,” the ultrasound technician replied.

I looked back at the screen, and swallowed heavily before asking, “Are there….”

“Yup,” she replied again.

The room got quiet for a moment – and for a second, I was just overwhelmed with this vague, almost queasy surreal sensation.  It was like… like if I didn’t say the words, it wouldn’t actually be real.  But it was real, wasn’t it? I could see it clearly on the monitor in front of me.

I bit the bullet and said the actual word, just to be certain.  “Twins.  You’re saying there’s two of them.  I’m having twins.”

“Yup!  Twins!”

Upon hearing that proclamation I clapped my hands twice, demurely, and said, “Quite nice, quite nice,” and the ultrasound then proceeded in a normal, classy fashion.

I absolutely did not alternate between tears and hysterical laughter and saying inappropriate things that rhymed with “Holy THIT. THIT, two of them.  Twins.  THIT. Twins.”

The Bean didn’t begin sweating, and his hands didn’t go cold.

I didn’t burst into tears later on in the day when someone asked me if I was expecting.

I also didn’t spend the rest of the day in a daze, occasionally saying “holy crap” out loud from time to time.

And if you believe that, I’ve got some Arizona seafront property to sell you.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – twins are a great thing.  They’re fun.  They’re cute.  It’s just… twins fall into that category of “weird stuff that exists but happens to someone else.”

I guess I just forgot that for all of you, I am someone else.

 

Twin darker color

I think I labeled them wrong – the pink one is supposed to be Twin B (the one higher up in the uterus), and the blue one is supposed Twin A (the one closer to the exit), and holy crap there are two of them, how am I going to keep them straight?  Also, pink really is for girl, and blue really is for boy…. although since I’m still so early that’s only about 85% accurate.

 

Twins, guys.

I’m having TWINS.