28 June 2007

the list - a work in progress

We need
before the births:
knitting lessons - lol!
a couple more preemie outfits?
nursing pillows
two winter snugglies for outdoor use (I plan to make these)
newborn diapers, diaper wipes, salve, etc.
playpen mat
2 slaapzaken, smallest size (sleeping 'bags' for in the weig)
twin stroller
after the births:
two crib mattrasses
size 62 clothing - everything! yikes!
bureau(s) for kids to use in (former) library

We have
4 onesies per child (preemie size/maat 50) - thank you, Rachael!
one infant car seat
one infant car seat - thank you, Anja!
baby swing - thank you, Anja!
baby tubs
2 cribs
playpen (at Eric's)
one cradle
a family cradle- thank you, Brigitte!
2 onesies
2 boxpakjes
6 shirts
2 pants
2 hats
2 booties
blankets & sheets for cradles and cribs
2 summer outfits - thank you, Brigitte!

What we need to do
while pregnant:
contact LLL for 'lessons' on tandem nursing
stock up on DVDs, games, etc. to do with kids during last month(s) of pregnancy (begun)
a survival box for my mom, including phrase book, phone numbers, Celsius to Farenheit conversion, etc.
before the births:
put new linoleum in upstairs bathroom
ruthlessly clear out the attic and storage area
refill existing pillows for use during pregnancy/nursing
arrange housekeeping from October to March (or later)
enroll Rowen in school
get a larger vehicle (Niek is working on this)
prepare surprise boxes for the kids to open while I'm in the hospital (begun)
after the births:
move books out of library (to where??)
get rid of couch in library
get rid of old TV and computer in library
repair walls in library where book cases have hung
repaint library walls
make new curtains for library
move Rowen & Nicky's beds to library
get rid of onesie stroller

tick the first item off the list!

Actually, the list still exists only in my head, but I've been thinking (not obsessing!) over the things we need to get done before December 14th ... new lino on the bathroom floor, a second bassinette, two car seats, ...

Well, now we only need one more car seat! I picked this up today for 30 euro - the owner was glad to have cash in hand and I'm glad to have a nearly-new infant car seat for a fraction of the cost out of the baby store!

26 June 2007

June 25th, 2007: it moved!

Laying in bed tonight, Niek put his hand firmly on my left side while I was prattling along, talking about tomorrow's big appointment. He was quiet, which should've been a sign. I stretched my legs out, and as soon as I did, I felt kicking! Niek said he'd felt something 'like a ball nestled against my hand' for awhile, but as soon as I stretched out, the little fishy got VERY active indeed! We laid there for a good 15 minutes, laughing and feeling like we were part of a miracle. When he tried it on the right-side twin, I could feel faint swishings, like the ripples from a fish deep in the depths. Wow.

June 26th, 2007: NT screening at EMC

Today's the big day. I have been thinking alot about the different ways this day can play out and I convince myself I am ready for whatever I hear. I am grateful for what we've been given and I can't claim a right to more - to perfect babies, to anything. I can only be thankful for what I have. I feel much calmer than I have before the other appointments. I only worry that we'll get someone as incommunicative as the GYN we had last time at this hospital. We have no kids with us today - it was hard to arrange something for Rowen, but the daycare agreed to swap days, this one time, so she is safe there. The boys are at school for the day.

We get there and the idiot doctor has written the appointment down wrong, so we have a longish wait. But this hospital does do things on time, so it's not too bad. Our technicians are friendly and forthcoming. Again, the file does not contain the information that it's twins, but the techs are quick to adapt and don't seem upset. We start with a thru-the-belly ultrasound. The babies are both laying the wrong way to see the neck fold, but she manages to get alot of other necessary measurements while the other tech enters them into the computer program. After a good half hour, it's decided that we'll have to continue internally. Not too fun, but definately clearer images. The little buggers still won't turn the right way, but the twin on my left is going through a whole range of movements. You'd swear he/she is showing off. At one point, s/he's on her/his head and kicking straight up in the "air"! We all crack up at the antics ... meanwhile, the twin to my right is sitting up exactly as if s/he were reading a book. We did get a picture of this. Too funny. :D The tech askes me to cough, hard, in hopes it'll make them move. They do, but not as desired. LOL! Finally, she says we'll try again via the belly. It seems they've done all their tricks for us now, and both cooperate at exactly the same moment and the tech is able to get very clear, very accurate readings of that teensy neck fold. Amazing. After having watched them for nearly a full hour, I cannot believe there could be anything wrong. We know the organs are all okay, so it's 'only' a matter of the Down's risk figure. I don't care. At this point, they could say the computer went down and they couldn't calculate it. It wouldn't matter. But of course we sit there and go through the figures with them and the babies are in great shape - our risk factor is that same as that of a 29 year old pregnant woman, which is to say, nearly statistically insignificant. We're walking on air. We're so happy we both forget we don't have money for the parking and Niek has to go back to the hospital while I doze and daydream in the car. We're having two beautiful babies, everyone!!

June 21st, 2007: unscheduled visit to IJsselland

This week has been so hard - it was around this time we lost Pepper last year, and we never found out why. We didn't find anything out at that stupid appointment last week at the EMC. By Thursday, I can't stand it anymore and call the hospital. I explain my fears and the receptionist tells me to come in and they'll fit me in where they can in the morning hours. Rowen and I hop in the car and off we go; it's my first time driving to the hospital alone and I'm a little nervous about getting lost. Concentrating on the directions keeps my mind off doom scenarios. Rowen's great company, too.

We get to the hospital and they pass our file on. Rowen and I wait. And wait. She's brought all kinds of little animal toys with her and we play with them. They have parties, go for naps, take rides on the bigger animals. The other women in the waiting room watch us and one lady tries to play, too, but Rowen freezes her out. That girl has the force of personality for a world leader, I swear. Finally, after an hour of not going crazy with worry, a doctor calls my name and we go in. It's a man, but not a scary one. He checks my chart, I explain my worry, and he quickly sits me in the exam chair. The babies pop up on the screen right away, but I have that same blindness I had last time we were here and I can't see heartbeats. He can though, and very quickly says they're doing great. The monitor looks like nothing but grainy shades of gray to me, but his assistant agrees that everything looks great. I must still look pale or something because he slows down for a moment to explain that at this stage in my pregnancy, there is now less than a 1% chance of it going wrong. "Enjoy" he tells me. I promise I will try. I have to stop partway down the hall to call Niek, my legs are shaking so badly. We laugh with more than a little sound of tears in our voices, and I take Rowen out to McDonalds to celebrate.

June 11th, 2007: Erasmus Medical Center, GYN

Because it couldn't be 100% confirmed at IJsselland that the twins are fraternal, we need to go to the big (and my god, do I mean big - this place is like a city in & of itself) hospital where another GYN will determine if the twins are fraternal or identical. There's a two-day growth difference between the babes, which is worrisome if they are identical. An identical twin pregnancy turns out to be fraught with danger, especially at my age. I had no idea that so many things could go wrong. Of course, I've been Googling everything I can find to read - including some really horrific stuff that I've managed to scare myself silly with. Every night at bedtime, I lay my hands on my belly and think good thoughts to the babies. I swear I can feel something in return, a sort of awareness. I know it sounds cracked, but I really do feel something ... till the day before this appointment. So now I've been putting myself through terrors that something went wrong....

This hospital is everything I don't like about hospitals. It's huge. It's totally impersonal. There are creepy people everywhere, no doubt spreading awful germs all over the place. Oh, I hate hospitals. We finally get our card and are pointed in the right direction of the part of this sprawling edifice that we need to be in. We're a little early, but the wait is short and we're soon in the office of a small, gray-haired, very brusque doctor. Nicky is with us again, and manages to melt some of the frost off her. I cannot understand her - she has some accent, combined with her very short way of speaking. I feel like an imbecile. She scolds us for not announcing we have twins - this is not in the file, this is not regular, this should not be done this way. I feel frustrated because the other hospital made the appointment and it would seem their job to convey this information.

We head over to the exam table where she yanks at my clothing and pours the gel all over the place (including my clothes). She can't make the babies out clearly. I start to panic again. She won't talk to us about what she sees or doesn't see. We don't know why she's acting this way and I begin to worry in earnest. She says she's going off for another doctor to have her to take a look. I can't even glance at Niek and Nicky, I'm too scared. The other doctor comes in very quickly and takes over the controls. She pushes the handset hard into my belly, after first criticizing the other doctor's methods, and voila, there are the twins. I can see heartbeats. But the whole purpose of this seems only to be to measure the septum, which divides them, and to ensure they have individual placentas. The other doctor does this and leaves without saying much of anything. Our doctor scuttles over to the desk area and starts setting up another appointment after advising us on the risks associated with my age. We explain we want only the nuchal tranparency test, which poses no risk at all. "But that's inconclusive with twins! You'll want another test to be sure!" I start to feel like I need to argue, but then I realize that I don't have to go to any appointments I don't want. We schedule the NT scan and leave, with me muttering that I don't want to go back to this hospital any more than absolutely necessary.

June 4th, 2007: the first exam

We have Nicky with us at the hospital because we couldn't find anyone to pick him up after school and watch him till we got home. He's such a wild child, but his antics keep me amused and distracted during the long wait. Why are doctors never on time for their appointment? The waiting room is full of every sort of pregnant woman you can imagine, including the one opposite us who is wearing a micro skirt and showing us her undies. There are also a number of elderly ladies here who are obviously having other problems and I can't help but think of Aunt Hattie, which in turn makes me think of my own advanced years. I try to concentrate on Nicky and his stunts, which definately liven up the waiting room. Niek speaks to another couple and it amazes me, the way he can just talk to total strangers. It reminds me of Daddy. The other couple is very surprised, but then a sort of conversation ensues. Niek insults one of the doctors - who truly does look like a creepy pervert you'd call the cops on if you saw him around your kid - and I just know that's going to be their doctor. It is! But theĆ½ didn't seem to really get what he is saying and they go off in a good mood to Mr. Creepy Comb-Over. I'm glad I insisted on a female GYN even if it did mean waiting an extra week.

Finally we're called in by a teensy woman who seems more nervous than I am. Not a good sign. But she turns out to be some sort of student having an internship day. Our doctor is a robust, friendly, kind of loud woman. She makes fun of my Dutch, which goes down the wrong way, but we quickly get back on better footing. Lots of history to run through. Finally, when I swear I'll explode from the tension of waiting even one more second, we go into the exam room itself. She doesn't monkey around with a belly ultrasound, which we already know can be misleading early in a pregnancy, but goes straight for the 'inwendig' form. Not really a pleasurable experience, but at least you're getting an accurate view of what's going on in there. We immediately see a surprsingly large (I think it's surprsing anyway) baby pop up on the screen. It looks like a fishy reptile, it's still in that early fetus-form of development. I can't see the heartbeat. I convince myself there is no heartbeat. For an eternity, I'm convinced the baby is dead and I can't breathe or move or anything. "Not again!" I want to cry. But everyone around me comes back into focus and they're all smiling and looking happy ... I've had some sort of panic attack but I don't think anyone noticed. Now I'm worried that the fact that I literally wasn't breathing has hurt the baby, but I see it move and now of course I can see the heart beating - how did I not see it a moment ago? Everyone's happy. The baby is the right size, shape, everything. "But wait!" I interrrupt. "I know there is something going on that's different. Would you look for another one, please?" The doctor is laughing at me, not even trying to hide how silly she thinks I am. She must get these crazy pregnant ladies through here all the time saying wacked out stuff. She moves the magic wand a little bit and - yes! this time I'm the first to see it, I'm sure of it - there's another little sack. Another painful breath-holding experience - I've gone blind, I cannot read these crazy gray pictures anymore - and then she says, "Yes! There's another one and there's the heartbeat!" and suddenly everyone is laughing. The doctor can't believe there are twins - she gets all giddy and silly herself. The assistant has 3 1/2 year old twins and is excited for us. Niek and I seem quiet in the middle of all this noise, just looking at each other. It's one of those rare moments of complete comprehension, of oneness between two people. We knew, we say to each other with our eyes. We knew it all along.

My knees are so shaky I can't get out of the exam chair right away, but again, no one seems to really notice. I wobble over to get tidied up and head down for the blood tests. Niek's talking and laughing with the doctor and assistant. Nicky is dancing around all this expensive equipment and not breaking a thing. I'm ... somehwere else entirely. Is this for real? Am I being trusted not 'simply' with a new life to grow and nuture, but with two?? I feel so calm, so humble, so grateful. Is this what religion is like for people? Whatever it is, this sense of peace just flows over and through and around me.

June 4th, 2007: before the first exam

After nearly driving myself to distraction imagining the horrible things that could've gone wrong, the date of the first doctor's appointment is finally here. After some deliberation, I've chosen IJsselland Ziekenhuis, which is about 20 minutes away in Capelle a/d IJssel. I could not, would not, face the army of incompetents over at Groene Hart Ziekenhuis in Gouda after the horrors of last year and the incorrect diagnosis (of menopause/infertility) the year before that. The mere thought of stepping through those doors again sends shudders through me. I discussed IJsselland with my family doctor and she agreed it was a good choice. Now we'll finally find out - is the baby okay? why do I feel so awful? why is my belly showing already? I'm terribly frightened. I haven't slept well, despite being exhausted. I'm worried that my worrying puts the baby in danger....

week of May 7th, 2007

Took a pregnancy test ... suspicions confirmed. Very relieved I went off my meds last month. But now what??? Waiting, and worrying. And more worrying ....