Sunday, December 6, 2009

Showering for 4, Part III: The Games


This was the logo made for the shower and used on the Evite and signs outside. Look familiar?

Game #1: Everyone had a picture on their backs of a famous set of twins (e.g. Luke & Leia), a famous parent of twins (e.g. Julia Roberts), or a famous person that has a twin, whether or not they're known for having a twin (e.g. Justin Timberlake). They then asked other people yes or no questions to figure out the identity of their pictures. I had Ricky Martin who apparently is the father of twins, and I thought was of medium difficulty. I thought Mark had the hardest one with Ann Landers and Dear Abby, just because it's hard to guess their field (not acting, sports, or music), until I saw Drew's. He had Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski who, as everybody knows, are the President and Former Prime Minister of Poland.

The eyes? The cheekbones? Come on! Who doesn't know that Lech and Jaroslaw are twins?

Game #2: Baby bingo! While Mark and I opened gifts everyone got a bingo card with the spaces occupied by a combination of 1) gifts we might receive (onesies, blankets, something with elephants) and 2) things I might say when opening gifts. I never realized how often I started sentences with "sadly," "thankfully," and "in my defense."

Oddly enough I didn't mention Patrick Swayze even once. Well... until I got this:



But that's just baiting me.


Mark's mom sent us adorable crocheted animals.


Mark off a space on your Bingo card if you have "something with lions."


It's a zoo... plus a dinosaur!

The prizes for the games were socks with crazy prints inspired by my own odd collection of socks, which includes eyeball socks, toe socks (one has cow spots and the toes are udders), as well as socks for nearly every holiday.

Game #3: This was a The Price Is Right style pricing game where we had to rank 12 baby items in order from most to least expensive, and also guess their prices. I think Mark had the second lowest score (you can tell who made the registries).

This card shows the answers, but who knew diaper cream was so spendy?

We ran out of time on our club room reservation so we continued the festivities in our apartment and played the final game. (Unfortunately there wasn't enough time for Lila's chocolate fondue.)

Game #4: Because of my love of TV in general, and 80s sitcoms in particular, Brendan put together two sitcom quizzes. (He and Lila also made TV based games for our bridal shower and one of these was later integrated into Brendan and Jon's awesome online game, Celebrity Guess Who.) The first quiz dealt with identifying the type of floorplan different sitcoms had - whether the kitchen was on the left or on the right of the living room. The floorplans were taken from this site. For the second quiz we were given a blank map of the U.S. and a list of sitcoms and told to identify the city where each show took place. (My favorite two things - geography and TV!) The actual quiz is here. The answers were taken from this site. (There's also a cool map also just showing New York City shows.)

The favors were packets of tea with commemorative "evil David Hasselhoff" seals.

Does KITT also have an evil twin with a goatee?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What Bed Rest for Two Months Is Like, Part II: I Make Fun of My Mother's Videos

I take a drug called Nifedipine, which is usually used to treat high blood pressure, but for me is key in stopping contractions. I set an alarm to take it every three hours, eight times a day. Just to be safe, at night I set two alarms. In addition because of my gestational diabetes, I check my blood sugar when I wake up and an hour after every meal. That means more alarms. I LIVE by alarms now. My sleeping hours are interrupted by a combination of niphedipine alarms every three hours and waking up to pee every one to two hours (the twins don't give my bladder much space). It feels like this is just preparation for what sleep will be like with two newborns.


All I hear any more...

I also have to do contraction checks twice a day for an hour each time. This actually started before I was ever in the hospital as part of a program to identify labor-inducing contractions and prevent pre-term labor in moms carrying multiples. Contraction checks involve lying on your side while you feel your belly with your hand. A hardening of the uterus is a Braxton Hicks contraction, and they often don't even involve pressure or pain. Contractions are okay (and normal as the pregnancy progresses) but it's of concern if there are too many within an hour or if they're at set intervals. (Thank goodness each of the three times I may have started to go into labor I noticed the contractions right away!) Then I log the number of contractions in that hour in my contraction diary. (This is in addition to my gestational diabetes blood sugar log.) Someone from the "contraction hotline" calls me once a week to record all the contraction totals. I'm not completely sure why.)


"Dear contraction diary... Zombie gynecologist is so dreamy..."

So two hours of my day is spent lying down with my hand on my belly feeling for contractions. Thankfully my doctor told me yesterday I could stop because all they care about now are the stronger ones. All I can do during that time is talk on the phone and watch TV. I often talk to Mark's mom or my mom, who also likes to send me awful Mork and Mindy videos of the episodes where Mork has a baby. I definitely run out of shows to watch. I pick ones I don't watch with Mark, so it's been a lot of Say Yes to the Dress, America's Next Top Model, Survivor, and Models of the Runway. (Don't judge!) Also, I watch reality show analysis on video on Entertainment Weekly's website. (Twins, if you're reading this in the future, I know you now think your mommy is brain dead.)

I know it's hard to believe but Jonathan Winters playing Mork and Mindy's child who ages in reverse does not hold up well.


Did The Curious Case of (Why No One Edited) Benjamin Button steal their central idea from Mork and Mindy but make it creepier?

I also have to sit or lie down to see how long it takes to feel ten fetal movements. It usually doesn't take too long. In the morning you can literally see my belly rolling around from the twins moving. It's not as weird as this video from my mom. (Don't worry, it's not Mork and Mindy.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

What Bed Rest for Two Months Is Like, Part I: What Happened to Autumn?

I've been on bed rest for two months now. It's weird not experiencing the entire season of autumn, or weather at all for that matter. I feel like Haley Joel Osment in A.I. (not that I saw it), asking "What is love?'


"What is autumn?"
"Autumn is real, but he is not."

Most people assume that I'm bored. I'm not-- well, not exactly... The hardest part is being isolated and not seeing people, not going outside, and not having the freedom to move at will. I definitely appreciate when friends come over.

When Mark is home he prepares all my meals and snacks and leaves a pitcher of water for me for the day. Sometime he leaves me a squeaky toy filled with treats which I can bat around to release tasty morsels. It's frustrating not being able to do things for myself, not being able to get the twins' room ready, and not being able to organize and clean the house.

I've had two different types of best rest. Thankfully both included bathroom and shower privileges as well as sitting in a chair to eat. When I was discharged from the hospital for the first time in mid-October, I was on "take it easy" bed rest. I was told to lie down 80% of the time, but Female Asian Doogie said I could also do things that made me happy, like go out to dinner or visit friends (as long as I was resting after I arrived). I didn't want to overdo it and only left the house about twice a week. I was concerned enough about overdoing it that we even wrote an offer on a house I never saw. (Female Asian Doogie recommended bed rest but also said it has yet to be proven to be effective. I will not be a happy camper if in ten years bed rest is definitively found not to help.)

After my latest hospital stint, I was given stricter bed rest. My doctor said I could still microwave simple meals like before, but I really should only move minimally. And I was not to leave the apartment except for appointments. Since being on bed rest I really appreciate just being outside in the car and taking the usual streets to go to the doctor. Until two days ago, when I had back-to-back doctor and ultrasound appointments, I hadn't left the apartment in a week and a half. And the next time I leave it'll either be to see the doc or because I'm going into labor.

I have two lying down spots at home - the bed and the sofa - and especially now I try to stay in each for several hours before moving to the next. That means constantly planning out what I need and then transporting my cell phone, home phone, drugs, glass of water, snack, etc. whenever I want to move between spots. Most of the time I'm on the bed where the laptop is. Unfortunately lying down means I only have one hand free for the computer which in turn means I have to hunt and peck to type. It can be exhausting. On the sofa I'm usually watching TV or going through baby clothes to write down who gave me what.

Being immobile for two months takes its toll on the body. Obviously you take in calories and have no way to burn them off (hello, Kathy beached whale). Interestingly enough, I actually lost about five pounds the frst stay in the hospital and a couple more in the second, just from muscle atrophy. Now I get tired and breathe hard just changing rooms (or turning over - again, slowly like a beached whale). Because of all the lying down, my feet and legs don't get swollen like other pregnant women, but now my hands do. For the same reason my eyes are constantly puffy.


The way I'm cooped up I feel like a piece of veal.


Next Time (Don't Worry It Gets Better)... Part II: I Make Fun of My Mother's Videos

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Showering for 4, Part II: The Attendees and a Photo Essay on Elliott's Mouth

Unfortunately from my limited bed rest sofa vantage point I missed out on getting good pictures of many in attendance including Lila, Kelsi, Brendan, April, Drew, Heidi, Alison, Raelle, and Zack.

Some pictures of the attendees:


Rachel holds a package with a message she transcribed from her four year old daughter.:
"Dear MarKathy, I hope you love your babies. We're making a present just for you. -Raelle"


Lindsey's mom, April, told her she could touch my belly as long as she was very gentle.


Lindsey's dad and local politico, Bryan, with his son Brady.


Rivven as the youngest person ever to wear a Richard Simmons costume. (Halloween was the day before.)


I like to think she was inspired by my Halloween costume from last year. (Mark was the woman who claimed that someone carved a B into her cheek (for Barack) after seeing her McCain bumper sticker, a.k.a. the world's most last minute costume.)


More Lindsey.


Heidi's dog, Strider, is clearly thrilled to be here.



Strider's not sure what to make of Mark's lumbering zombie walk.


I read a card from my mother-in-law while Mark opens the gift.


Justin.

And now, a photo essay on Elliott's mouth:


Uh-oh. Tim holds his son, Elliott whose mouth looks like it could be full of something...


Phew. I guess it was a false alarm.


Maybe not...


Next time... Part III: The Games

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Showering for 4, Part I: Baby Shower for My Evil Twins

When I was in the hospital during my first pre term labor scare at the beginning of October, we asked our friends to postpone the baby shower they'd planned until after the babies were born. At the time, my prognosis indicated there was a good chance I wouldn't even make it to 10/25, the original shower date, and I was supposed to be on strict bed rest the remainder of my pregnancy anyway (so no leaving the apartment). But then of course I was released to go home on modified bed rest when it was discovered I had a magical shrinking cervix. Baby shower back on!


Mark with me wearing a "Mom to Be" sash and a dress that looked cute on me a month and a half earlier, but resembled a tent by the time of the shower.

The only problem was that the club room in our complex was no longer available on 10/25. (The club room - a big nice room with a living area, kitchen, and seating ideal for large parties - usually costs $70/hour, but last time we negotiated our lease I got one free use of the club room thrown in. I actually had a potential future baby shower in mind!) So we scheduled the shower for the following weekend, 11/1. The timing was really lucky because I ended up in the hospital for part of the day on the original date (a brief pre term labor scare), and then I had an extendo hospital stay starting 11/11.

Of course I was still on modified bed rest during the shower so I spent most of the time on one of the couches, but I could still enjoy everyone's company.


My typical baby shower position, splayed out on the couch. It's hard to read in this picture, but the pretty sign above me says "Happy Twins to You." I may reuse it in the nursery...

Lila, Rachel, and Kelsi organized a great shower with lots of elements customized to us. There was pizza from one our favorite places, Speederia, which is too far for us to drive to while I'm on bed rest; Matthew made his famous lemonade (alas, gestational diabetes!); and there was also a yummy salad and a pitcher of water made fancy with fresh fruit.

This sign was inspired by the one I made for Mark's birthday in March, whch in turn was inspired by...


...this sign from an episode of The Office in which Dwight was in charge of birthday decorations.

There were pictures of evil twins all over the room. It was an awesome theme. Perhaps they'll end up in the nursery as well...


My favorite evil twin picture.


Next time... Part II: The Attendees and a Photo Essay on Elliott's Mouth

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's Worse? An 8 Hour Childbirth Class or Actual Childbirth?

Mark and I took an 8 hour childbirth class at the end of September. If I'd known that would have been my last bedrest-free weekend before going to the hospital the following Sunday, I wouldn't have elected to spend it in a classroom at Kaiser. Heck, we determined halfway into the class that it was a waste of time. But where else could I subject Mark to a bunch of graphic birthing videos. (I have to wonder though, who agrees to star in them...)

The instructor had all the mothers-to-be give their partners a massage for 2 minutes. Mark missed out on this because he made the mistake of going to the bathroom and (I'm guessing) leisurely checking his phone. Then the future dads had to give the moms a 20 minute massage. Thankfully Mark was back in time for that.


Mark massaging me by order of the instructor.

No childbirth class is complete without a segment on breathing through pain. Our instructor actually demonstrated slowly breathing in and out (super simple, just like it sounds) for 40 seconds before determinig we were ready to try it on our own with her. She then taught us "hee-hee-hee-hoo" breathing, exhaling on the "hoo." She gave each of us (guys, too) a piece of ice to hold in each hand, and had us breathe hrough the pain for 45 seconds. Mark grimaced all the way through it and appeared to be in obvious pain, waving his hands back and forth, by the time he was able to drop it. Meanwhile, I went an extra 15 seconds just for show. (of course I'm sure childbirth feels just like some pieces of ice in your hands.)

Next, only the ladies went another 45 seconds while their partners helped them breathe. The instructor had shown us an alternative way to do the "hee-hee-hee-hoo" breathing which involved the partners holding up fingers indicating how many "hee"s to do. Mark decided to go this route. But instead of doing 3 or 4 "hee"s like the instructor demonstrated he went off-script. One time he held up 8 fingers with thumbs interlocked making butterfly hands, another time just held up a fist for zero, and on and on. He cracked me up (as well as the other nurse there to observe), and the 45 seconds literally flew by as I honestly didn't notice the pain.

I'm sure when I'm actually giving birth Mark's antics will amuse me for about 2 minutes before I slap him.

There was a woman there expecting twins who was due a day before me. Granted, she was taller and therefore had more room for them to grow, but she barely looked pregnant! Compare that to me in these pictures where I'm 25 1/2 weeks along but could pass for full term. I wanted to get a picture with her for the blog but Mark thought that would be weird.


We were encouraged to try out the exercise balls and try tennis ball massage.


Then Mark wanted to play...


See those trash cans behind Mark? Immediately after striking this pose he lost his balance, and fell into them like a bowling ball into bowling pins. It was awesome.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Goo-goo-gle

A couple week ago Mark went to the "Google baby shower." It's an event held once a month for parents-to-be where Google goes over employee leave policies and benefits. My favorite benefit is a $500 take-out food credit, though sadly it's not $1000 for twins. Everyone who attended received the gift below (we got two, for obvious reasons).


Google onesies and hats! (The spacing between letters on the onesies is different from the usual Google logo.)


Google bibs!


Google bib close-up!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

September San Diego Trip: Pickles & Belly Showdowns

Mark and I drove down to San Diego to visit my parents in early September (and yes, I'm finally getting around to writing about it now). My only mention of it so far, besides my recent post about my Jeopardy audition, was in showing a picture of my ridiculously swollen feet from the 8 hour drive. (Warning: the image in the link is truly disturbing. Also, the image must have been burned onto many retinas because I've received more questions about it than any other picture on my blog, with most people asking if my feet are still like that. Let me emphasize - my feet were only like this for two days.)

Anyway, I thought I'd finally get around to posting pictures of our adventures now.


Here's me belly to belly with my dad's friend, John. I'm not sure why I'm so eager to go belly to belly with everyone. By the way, those aren't granny panties I'm wearing but the pulled down belly panel of my maternity corduroys.


At my favorite deli, D.Z. Akin's, I decided that since I was preggers I should also pretend to have a manic desire to eat pickles.
(Thanks, Mom for the blouse!)



Mrs. Kathy talks to the twins, much like when Mrs. Mark promised them lots of cookies.


Do you remember this picture from Mr. and Mrs. Kathy's visit in mid-July?


Here's how the competition stacks up two months later. (And yes, the whiteness of my belly could blind people.)
I'm catching up to Mr. Kathy but I think he must have one more baby on me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Is "I Tried out for Jeopardy"?

(Like my Swayze birthday, it's another post with minimal pregnancy info.)

The last game show I tried out for was the messy kid's game show, Double Dare. I was in the 7th grade and it had only been on the air for a month. The host, Marc Summers (who ironically turned out to be super-obsessive-compulsive about messiness), actually came to the audition unlike a certain French Canadian game show host I can think of. Curse you, Trebek!

Nothing says serious game show like the words "Super Sloppiest Moments."

Anyway I took the online test in January and the Jeop' powers that be invited me to an audition in San Diego a few months ago. First round: 50 question fill-in test. (You don't find out how you do but I suspicion they administer it partly to confirm that you were the one that took the online test.) Second round: You're called up in groups of three, given buzzers, and let loose to play several minutes of Jeopardy, projected on a screen. When I first took my place at the front of the room to play, my belly blocked the game being projected. I was nervous going up, but once there felt totally relaxed and found it was actually a lot of fun to play. I thought I did pretty well in my group, but I played a little dirty by continually returning to geography questions. How could I resist?


Here's me and my baby bump next to the Jeopardy audition sign.

Some questions I got right.:

1) What state capital on the Gastineau Channel is surrounded by mountains?
2) What European country is home to the port cities of Dubrovnik and Split?

One that still kills me that I got wrong.:
3) Pittsburgh is located where the Ohio River forms at the confluence of the Allegheny and what other river?

(Answers at bottom of post)

We were all given Jeopardy souvenir pens. Unfortunately, during the practice Jeopardy rounds they were used for evil, not good. Many of the people who weren't playing would use the clicking mechanism on the pen to practice clicking in on a buzzer. This was super annoying because it reeked of, "Look at me! Look at me! I know the answer!" and these idiots were always in my line of sight when watching the practice rounds.


My most prized possession.

After our practice round, while still standing in front of the Jeopardy board, the three of us were then interviewed for several minutes each. I mentioned how I'd visited nearly 70 Chevys restaurants, and the auditioners said, "I don't think there are any Chevys in LA." Then I proceeded to name off LA area cities with Chevys. "There's West Covina, Encino, Glendale..." At least I wasn't of the people who talked about their hobbies of (yawn) gardening and (kiss of death) reading.

Overall I think it went well. They hold onto your contact info for 2 years if they want to use you. I told them I wouldn't be available until June of next year (busy raising twins) so we'll see... I think if I actually made it on the show I'd die from nervousness, but it was a fun experience to try out.

Jeopardy fun facts:
-They discourage you from saying "Alex" as in "I'll take Potpourri for $200, Alex" because that one extra word slows down the game.
-Two or more people cannot share the same first name in the same show. This means if you had the name Ken during Ken Jennings' 75 show run you were out of luck (or, if you think about it, really lucky).


Ken Jennings in the most awesome shirt ever.


Some of the ways Ken signed in while on Jeopardy.

Demographic snapshot of our room of 21 people.:
-Only 4 of us appeared to be under 40.
-About 75% of the room was male.
-I think there were probably 18 non-Hispanic white contestants.
-95% weren't from San Diego and many had traveled from across the country.


Answers to Jeopardy questions:
1) Juneau (Thanks for that Alaskan cruise last year, Mr. & Mrs. Mark!)
2) Croatia
3) Monongahela (I said Susquehanna)
Lilypie Pregnancy tickers