23 July 2007

quiet days

Not too much going on with the long break between medical checkups. The babes were very still for about three days (Fri.-Sun.) which had me feeling panicky last night, but when Niek put his hands on my belly, they decided to play along. Phew! We could very clearly feel both the twins. It's funny, how they have such different ways of moving and interacting. Anyway, I will try to hold out till the next ultrasound, which is August 9th. I suspect that the sinus infection I've been battling may have something to do with their quietness - if I feel run down, they surely must.

We received some absolutely adorable hats in the mail from stitching friend Cathy. They're Minnesota Twins hats and have 'twins' all over them, which totally cracked Niek and I up. Other people have contacted me to ask about gifts, and I really must reply ... it's just that the days seem to be over before they've properly gotten started! My apologies, dear friends!

For physical changes, the swelling in my hands has dropped off drastically - I can even get my wedding band back on the right finger. (Typing with it on my other hand has felt positively bizarre, and I've made so many typos as a result!) My sinuses are still a huge pain in the patootie, but the saline rinses and staying off dairy products seem to keep it at a bearable level. I've been really tired, but that's my own fault for going to bed too late. The morning sickness seems to be gone, but it's been replaced by heartburn. Everything seems to be pretty much normal - though I will feel greatly relieved when we've again had a peek at the twins and know for sure that things are going well.

13 July 2007

doula found, gender screening scheduled

In spite of being busy entertaining curious acquaintences who apparently just wanted to see what a real-life soon-to-be mother-of-five looks like (talk about feeling like you're on the wrong side of the glass at the zoo!), a lot of baby stuff has gotten done this week. Today I met with Anna, who will be our doula at the twins' birth. She's had experience at a twin birth, so that's also reassuring. She had a chance to see me when I was not exactly at my best, having gotten rather hopelessly lost driving around The Hague for about an hour. But you know, how she 'handled' me was actually the clincher. I know what I'm like when I'm in one of those moods, and she did a great job giving me room to be frustrated/stressy while not buying into it herself. No small feat, as those who know me best will attest.

And I've scheduled the ultrasound to peek at the twins' gender(s). Here in Holland, this sort of ultrasound is referred to as a 'fun echo' and takes place in private practice, rather than through your doctor or hospital. So you have to make an extra appointment and cough up some cash. We're going to the same place we went during Nicky and Rowen's pregnancies and we're making it a big family event so all the kids can see the twins "on TV". Should be lots of fun! :D

Now to get those library books out of the library and into the space I've cleared in the attic. I'm thinking of rigging up some sort of pulley system, so I don't have to make ten thousand trips up and down the stairs carrying books. It shouldn't be hard to do ...

We are at 15 weeks today. My, how time flies!!

12 July 2007

want information about living in the Netherlands?

Then go to Ash! Yes, she may be an expat who hasn't even lived a full decade here, but the woman seriously knows her stuff!

On Monday I had an appointment with my family doctor, as you may remember, to discuss my fears of delivering the twins while surrounded by total strangers. I specifically asked my doctor about doulas and she said no such thing existed in this country - you could have an OB-GYN or a midwife, but those were the only choices when it came to childbirth.

She was wrong! Ash read my post and immediately responded with the name of an acquaintance of hers who had done doula work - and even volunteered to do it herself if I couldn't find a pro (now how many friends would offer to do something like that?!). Through Ash's contact, I made contact with another doula who led me to the website for the Dutch association of registered doulas. I've now spoken to two wonderful women on the phone and am certain that when my wee travellers decide to make their Grand Entrance, Niek and I will not be walking into that deliver room alone!

Thank you, Ash!

For those left wondering, "What is a doula?", in a nutshell:

A doula is a trained labor support person who provides emotional and physical support to a laboring woman and her partner. She is not a medical person, but she can offer a wide range of comfort measures during labor, continuous reassurance, and coping techniques. In my situation, she can also act as an on-the-fly translator, since my higher brain functions short out during labor. LOL! A doula is a trusted and familiar face in an unfamiliar and sometimes scary situation who knows how you want your birth experience to go and will help you achieve that if it is possible.

Women supported by a doula during labor have been shown to have:

50% reduction of cesarean rate
25% shorter labor
60% reduction in epidural requests
30% reduction in analgesia use
40% reduction in forceps delivery
(figures taken from here)

I have never had medical pain relief during childbirth, and don't plan to start now. I also don't want an epidural, so it will be helpful to have someone else present who can help me hold the medical staff in check (they are so eager to offer drugs for the pain).

09 July 2007

rolling up my shirtsleeves

Today I tore through the under-the-eaves cupboards on my side of the bedroom. What a lot of dust! I'm still sneezing. LOL. I have three large boxes of clothing to donate, one box of kids' clothes that I need to launder and transfer to Nicky and Rowen's cupboards, and a small stack of clothes that I hope will fit me again ... someday. I also found more maternity clothes hiding way in back - what a relief! I really thought I'd gotten rid of all of them and that I'd be stuck in the same pair of stretchy brown pants for the whole pregnancy. So my laundry pile has tripled, but it's well worth it. I also found Max's baby quilt, made by my sister Sharon, that I will launder and use for the twins. It'll be the start of a family heirloom. :)

My talk with my family doctor went well. My blood pressure is very fine - apparently the reading taken at my last GYN appointment was reflecting my stress at hearing that my GYN wouldn't be the one to deliver the twins. My doctor said there really isn't a work-around to the on-duty system that's used here for deliveries. Doctors simply are not 'on call' and come in for the deliveries of their own patients. Nor do doulas, labor coaches, or any intermediary position between 'regular Joe' and medical professions exist under the Dutch system. Basically, it's like buying a lottery ticket. She did suggest that instead of having all my appointments with one GYN that I rotate through the department and have all the doctors for at least one appointment so it won't be a total stranger that I'm confronted with at the time of the delivery. Far from ideal, but it is a practical suggestion that I'll follow through on. She was also glad I wanted to start with a dietician now because apparently I'm at fairly high risk for gestational diabetes - age, twins, and weight. :( So I've got the names and numbers to set that up this afternoon.

On the baby-front, I will be an aunt tomorrow afternoon! My SIL is having a scheduled C-section to deliver a baby girl. :)

08 July 2007

thank you!

A Streetcar Named Desire remains one of my favorite films of all time, and today's posting makes me think of poor Blanche as she drawls in her Southern ladylike way, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." Now no one here is a stranger to me, nor am I a woman that can be compared to the tragic figure of Blanche, but the generosity of my friends has been quite overwhelming and brought me pretty darn close to tears.

I have been a little bit worried about the amount of baby things we need in a fairly short period of time, but thanks to some remarkably dear friends, you'll notice that our pre-birth list has shrunk considerably. I can't begin to tell you what a relief it is to know that there will be that much less time spent scrambling around for necessities! Now I really have got to use that time for cleaning! LOL!

We've had a quiet week. I tend to take a nap most afternoons. I can feel the babies nearly every day now - particularly in the middle of the night if I need to get up with one of the kids (though Niek does this most of the time now) or if I have a "call" from Mother Nature to answer. I'm startlingly large even though I haven't actually gained more than a few pounds - being under 5'3" means that those little fellas have no where to go but straight out. LOL. I could very easily pass for 6 months pregnant, which is really weird. I'm feeling very well, though, and am popping in to see my family doctor tomorrow morning to check my blood pressure, weight, and discuss the delivery and where I can find a dietician (my previous one is no longer in the business) to ward off gestational diabetes. I have a pretty good rapport with my family doctor and I'm quite looking forward to the chance to talk things over with her - she's both sensible and sensitive, which is a rare mix. I suspect she'll be interested in the pregnancy, too, simply because spontaneous twinning is relatively rare.

In addition to the generosity of friends, I can't close without saying thank you to two very special mothers - my own and Niek's. My mom is already gearing her office (she owns her own real estate office) to deal with her month-long absence around December when she will come stay with us to help out. With three kids already in place, our household is very busy and wouldn't be able to limp along for any amount of time without 'a mom' in place. Mom, thank you!! And Niek's mom has offered us a family heirloom cradle to use during the first half year or so while the twins sleep in our room - I've never had use of a family heirloom, so this is just incredibly special to me. Thanks, Brigitte!

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers

04 July 2007

let the emotions begin!

So, I'm in the second trimester and the all-day sickness has pretty much ceased. What an experience that was! I have a newfound sympathy for sufferers of (so-called) morning sickness! And I'm no longer dropping off to sleep without warning like some victim of narcolepsy. The kids found that amusing, but I didn't. However, it seems like the emotion hormones have kicked in, and with a vengeance!

This is one aspect of pregnancy I've never liked. I can't trust if my reactions to things are valid or not. Last night, I actually yelled at Niek on the phone because he missed a special dinner I'd made and hadn't bothered to call (a sore spot that's existed for years, but suddenly it seemed huge). Today I'm feeling borderline weepy because I want to be home, in Maine, for the Fourth of July. And I don't even particularly like this holiday! The neverending rain and gray skies we've had for weeks doesn't exactly help matters. I've also been freaking out about the delivery, now that I know my GYN will not be present. And no one gets why I'm upset about it! I've scheduled an appointment with my family doctor to see if she can clue me in to some sort of workaround, where I can have some medical person that I know and trust on hand for the delivery. Fingers crossed....

On a much brighter note, I regularly feel the twins during the kids' bedtime stories - apparently having Nicky or Rowen on my lap is the trick - the quieter twin on my right reacts especially strongly. It's pretty neat. They're still too small to feel them actually kicking, but any movement is very exciting and welcome.

Today I'm taking the kids to a photographer for professional photos. And this will be the last time I'll take "just" the three of them! How funny is that! The 40 week due date is 6 months from today. WOW!

02 July 2007

IJsselland: second prenatal checkup with Schmitz

Today's appointment was a bit disappointing - I hit a parking barrier in the (seriously overcrowded) hospital lot and then the doctor was running nearly an hour behind and had an intern (who was very in-your-face). In an apparent attempt to catch up to her schedule, she was practically pushing me out the door as soon as I came. I did have a chance to ask a few questions:

*regarding the due date: she says I'm to consider 4 Jan our due date and not to re-consider for 37 weeks
I guess this means I'll continue to go through the long explanation I've been using, about how the 40 week date is Jan. 4th, but the realistic date is Dec. 14th.

*regarding concerns about diet/gestational diabetes: there is not much to do about gestational diabetes unless it comes up (which is totally contrary to all I've read in regard to dietary changes)although I may want to decrease my bread and fruit intake
I'll call my former dietician, who helped so much with my asthma/sinus issues a few years ago. I hope she's still in the book!

*regarding who will perform the delivery: whoever is on duty will deliver the twins (and that probably won't be her because she only works 3 days a week)
For someone already trying not to freak about a hospital delivery (I'm a strong proponent for home births), the thought of facing a team of total strangers at such an emotional and potentially scary moment is threatening to seriously overwhelm me.

*regarding hospital policy on twin births: the hospital has a policy of trying for vaginal twin deliveries and only intervening with a C-section if there is no choice. So an epidural the moment I walk in the door is not mandatory.
Okay, there's the only good news in the whole lot. I do want the chance for a normal delivery but of course if intervention is necessary, that's all there is to it.

The ultrasound was super-fast - just enough to see the babies and check the heartbeats. No measurements. My urine was fine, whatever that means ;), and my weight is only about 1 kilo more than it was before I got pregnant. My blood pressure was 130/90, which is higher than I'd like to see it but they didn't say a word. And weirdly, I don't go back for 7 weeks because 'not much happens for the next couple of months' according to the doctor.

But the good news is, they babies are fine and so am I. If the doc thinks I don't need another appointment for such a long time, I'm going to take that as sign that everything is peachy keen.