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


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)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

And I'm Back in the Hospital at 32 Weeks. Part II: Kathy vs. Beef Ragout, Mark vs. Curtains

The prognosis is pretty much the same now (the doctors think I'll make it to 34 weeks, maybe 35), but they think I'm stable enough to send home this weekend (a.k.a. right now). My bed rest will be a bit stricter than before (less standing, even more laying, and no occasional trips to restaurants). My doctors want me to start walking a little more each day to give me strength in advance of my going home. Right now just walking across the room is extremely tiring. The first night I left my room with Mark to take a walk I wore a hospital gown, a nursing gown as a coat (so I wouldn't flash anyone while wearing my hospital gown), and my "leg irons" (not plugged in) that cover my calves and keep me from having blood clots. (Wearing the "leg irons" reminded me of those movies where an escaped convict wears handcuffs even though the chain connecting them has been cut away.) Basically I looked like an escaped mental patient. My nurse hadn't gotten the "start walking around" memo from the doctor so she rushed over and told me I couldn't do this and I was supposed to be on bed rest.

My doctor wanted me to stand and walk around the hospital more so first order of business? Belly pics!

Previous belly pics

11/17 (33 weeks; Mark: 7 1/2 months; Kathy: 8 months)

Note: Mark thinks the months should follow the Gregorian calendar, and while I agree in theory, pregnant ladies seem to all go by a 4 week month culminating in a 10 month/40 week pregnancy. I'm including these numbers so you'll be able to compare me against other pregnant chicks.

Guest rebuttal from Mark: Yeah, I think months should follow the Gregorian calendar. This is all my crazy fantasizing about how months should work and not, say, the accepted calendar of the near-entirety of the civilized world. I suppose when Kathy's in power, school children will learn the mnemonic:

Twenty-eight days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have twenty-eight,
except February, it has twenty-eight we find;
unless it's leap year, then it has twenty-eight

And by the way, who ever heard of a ten month pregnancy? In what species? Panda bears? Everyone knows the human gestational period is nine months. That's elementary school knowledge. The people on Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? know this - even the adults!

Speaking of doctors, twice during this stay I've met two doctors for the first time and had them say to me, "I know you were worried when you were here last time but there's nothing to worry about this time." This makes me think I must have some coded message across the top of my file. Perhaps "WW" for "worrywart"? Can any medical doctors confirm if this type of code exists?

A dietician came by with their full menu of meal options. This sounded great at first but only half the time do I actually get what I order. For instance when I ordered the bagel and cream cheese for breakfast one day I received a tray that was completely empty except for a couple packs of crackers and peanut butter. (Where's me breakfast? -Hospitalized Leprechaun) This time around, instead of Salisbury Steak, they're trying to get rid of something which looks equally unappetizing called Beef Ragout; like maybe they found an overturned Beef Ragout truck by the side of the highway. Several times they've pulled a Folger's switch and replaced my actual choices with this monstrosity. ("Let's see if she notices...")

This Beef Ragout looks decent. It's obviously not Kaiser's Beef Ragout.

Last time the best thing about being in the hospital was a visit by some therapy dogs and it wasn't until I got home that I realized I could have requested more visits. This time I requested frequent visits but it didn't go quite as well. Since I'm allergic I don't want to pet the dogs - and I can sense the owners thinking "Then, why I am here?" Also some of the dogs are tiny which just doesn't interest me. (Sorry, tiny dog lovers.) And lastly they come by when I'm alone (often when I'm sleeping) and then I have to make awkward small talk with the owners. So now I've requested that they visit only on weekends so that Mark can pet the dogs and there are two of us to engage the owners in awkward small talk.

Therapy golden retriever, Boston, and me. (You may recognize my leg irons from my last hospital stay.)

Boston close-up. Wait, what's on his harness?

Boston's Kaiser badge!

Meanwhile, Mark wages war against the curtain in my room... and loses.

Mark walks into the curtain Blair Witch style.
As Suzanne Vega sang in
Luka, "Yes I think I'm okay. I walked into the curtain again."

No pictures please.

Mark "Houdinis" his way out.

Yeah, I got stuck in a curtain. Jealous?

And I'm Back in the Hospital at 32 Weeks. Part I: Not Again...

On 11/11 the twins chose to celebrate Veterans Day by making another break for it. (Next time they should try a rock hammer and a Rita Hayworth poster.) I noticed a few contractions (which is normal), and laid down to watch Top Chef and see if there were any more. They were occurring every 8 minutes which is problematic because when they're at a regular interval they could lead to labor. Mark and I grabbed our things. By now I really should have a travel bag ready instead of my usual tactic of dumping a camera, magazines, and a diabetes kit in a plastic Target bag. Mark predicted we'd be at the hospital for 2 1/2 hours. I said 7. The correct answer will be 255 by noon this Sunday morning.

As usual I felt like it took Kaiser forever to process me, have a nurse see me, set me up on contraction and fetal heart monitors, and finally see a doctor. The whole time I worried that the longer it took them the more likely I was to dilate further and go into labor. So, chop chop, people! The doctor (sorry - not the zombie gynecologist, whom I haven't seen all week) apologized for her cold speculum (as though that's the uncomfortable part of the exam). She determined I was 3.5 cm dilated, compared to 1 cm just a week before. Two days later another doctor said I was dilated 3 cm, but I think it's just variation among doctors - the cervix is measured with the fingers so the process is inherently imprecise. It's highly unlikely it's another case of the incredible shrinking cervix. (I can't decide if that would be the best or worst Nancy Drew book ever.)

Just replace "mansion" with cervix.

I was given a shot of terbutaline like last time. It's pretty much the only thing that can stop the contractions (apart from the nifedipine I was already taking), but if you go into active labor it won't do anything. The side effects are not unlike drinking a Jolt Soda. I also received steroid injections again to strengthen the babies' lungs and hearts. They gave me an IV because I couldn't have food in my system if I were to go into labor. I had that IV until 2:30 p.m. the next day. You might think you'd feel full while on an IV, but not true - I was starving.

The first day was pretty scary - contractions seemed to die down and then start up again. After I was stabilized I had a couple scary moments here and there like the time I had a lot more contractions than usual (they were at regular intervals, too), and was then hooked up to fetal heart rate and contraction machines all night. (I got to sleep at 6:30 a.m.) For the most part, however, it was nowhere near as scary as my pre-term labor scare at 26 weeks, mostly because the expected outcome of a delivery at 32 weeks is much much better.

Mark made me a new sign and posted it in my hospital room a few days ago when I made it to 33 weeks. He's added a new star every week since week 29. I now have a 5 star uterus! Also, note Mark's new pregnancy beard. It's the longest it's ever been - he guesses it's four weeks of growth, but I think five. (You can see it in its early stages here.) Whether or not he'll keep it until the babies are born is still a mystery...

The prognosis when I arrived was that I would probably go to 34 weeks, maybe 35. If you go into labor at 34 weeks the doctors generally don't try to stop it, but the babies would spend some time in the ICU. 35 weeks would mean the twins could probably stay in my room (with maybe a day in the ICU), and go home with us. 36 weeks is considered full term for twins (moms just run out of belly space). One thing in my favor is that at my last ultrasound appointment two weeks ago, Twin A (the boy) was estimated to be 3 lbs, 9 oz. and Twin B (the girl) was 3 lbs., 11 oz. Those are 49th and 57th percentiles respectively, on the same scale used for singletons, which means they're quite big for twins. Gestational age is the best predictor of fetal health, followed by weight. Apparently it's unusual for Twin B's to be bigger because Twin A's usually have the "better" placentas.

When I'm unable to blow dry my hair and have to lie down on a pillow after washing my hair, after a few hours I look like Russell Brand (hopefully sans facial hair).

Next Time:
Part II: Kathy vs. Beef Ragout, Mark vs. Curtains

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Would You Like to Play a Price Is Right Pricing Game?

Do you remember the old Race Game? (Fun fact: it debuted four days before I was born.) Contestants were given four price tags and four prizes, and they tried to put the price tag on the corresponding prize. Once they assigned price tags to all four prizes they'd run back to a juke box looking machine with a lever. They'd pull the lever to find out how many they had correct, and then they'd run around swapping price tags and returning to the lever until they got all four right (to win all four prizes) or ran out of time.

Here are four price tags...

Lady in 70s muumuu guesses which price tags belong to what prizes.

Wait, is that lady barefoot? I mean, 70s muumuu lady has two of the four right.

Mark was intrigued by the retail prices of the four pieces of equipment that came with my blood sugar testing kit. (Fortunately they were mostly covered by insurance.) He put the prices on post-its and had me put them next to what I thought were the corresponding "prizes." There was no time limit and all I won was my diabetes testing equipment back (yay). Also, Mark made me pull his arm down as a lever in order for him to tell me how many I had right. The game took longer than I'd like to admit.

Let's see how you do.

Here are the prices:


And here are the "prizes":

One box with two vials of control solution (used to test the accuracy of the glucometer)

Two boxes, each containing 100 lancets (used for finger pricking)

Glucometer (to test blood sugar), travel case, lancet holding device for finger pricking, a few test strips and lancets, and instruction manual

Two boxes of 100 test strips each. Blood is placed on the strip and the glucometer produces a reading.

The answer is below Wilford...

The "prizes" are in order from least to most expensive.

$9.70 - control solution
$20.20 - lancets
$25.99 - glucometer and kit
$99.99 - test strips (I know!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Living with the Beetus

I'll try not to whine too much.

One of the frustrating parts of having gestational diabetes (GD) is that I'm supposed to eat protein with every meal and snack. There are only so many snacks involving peanut butter, cheese, or nuts a girl can take. I'm not a picky eater but one food I don't like (unless it's in cake or even fried rice) is egg. After my GD diagnosis I had four more meals in the hospital. My only request was that they not bring me egg (or, let's be honest, Salisbury Steak), and even then I still received an omelet and an egg salad sandwich. It's as though they don't know how to feed you when you have GD if you don't like eggs.

Salisbury steak? No thanks.
(Note: I've discovered that at the hospital you should ask for the non-advertised Indian menu. It's like getting the kosher meal on a plane. You don't have to actually keep kosher to get it, and it tastes a lot better.)

Fun fact about GD: you can't have milk or fruit for breakfast. So when I was on the phone with the Kaiser nutritionist asking for breakfast suggestions (since I can't have cereal, fruit, or even sugar free jam on toast), and told her I didn't like eggs, she still made two suggestions involving eggs. When I asked for non-egg breakfast ideas (for the love of God!) she suggested fish. For breakfast. To someone who is on bed rest and can't cook. But also: fish?! It's not a good sign when Kaiser's sample GD menu for a day's worth of meals and snacks starts repeating itself (peanut butter and crackers for two different snacks) as though they've run out of ideas. Honestly given my love of carbs, I'd rather be on a low-fat diet. (Yes, I know they're not great for dieting either, but still.) I'm starting to think GD stands for something else...

Even needlepoint Salisbury steak is sad.

In case you have the beetus and you're trying to figure out what to eat, this is what I'm subsisting on snack-wise. It may look like a lot but since I need to get a snack every two hours it gets old quickly. For every snack, I have a little from column A and a little from column B so I get protein.

Column A: Protein
Peanut buttter and crackers
Cheese and crackers
String cheese
Hummus and carrots
Trail mix (as long as there's not too much sugar from the fruit)
Deli caprese salad
El Pollo Loco pinto beans

Column B: Other snacks that won't spike my blood sugar
Whole wheat mini bagels with low fat veggie cream cheese
Bran and shredded wheat biscuit cereal
Kashi puff cereal (tasteless)
Whole wheat toast with sugar free jam
Whole wheat waffles with frozen (defrosted) blueberries
Non-fat plain yogurt with fresh fruit
Dreyer's low carb ice cream bars

For the first time ever our fridge is full. Mark has to go to the grocery store for me once or twice a week.

El Pollo Loco beans taste better than they look. (I'm not sure what the brown stuff in here is but the beans are vegetarian.) They definitely don't go with most things in Column B though (like blueberry waffles and ice cream bars).

Mark likes to test his own blood sugar from time to time. He claims it's because his father has diabetes, but my friends think it's because he likes to compete with me the same way he does with the "blood pressure game." (Mark likes to go to the pharmacy section in stores to test his pulse rate with the blood pressure gauge. Much of it is to compete with me which is pointless because he always wins. Then after I'm done he goes again because he wants his "score" to be left behind so the next person feels bad. Heartwarming.)

Mark gets ready to poke himself. It might be better if he aimed for the tip of his finger.

Mark in pain. Wuss. Some of us have to do this four times a day.

Brendan decided to get in on the blood sugar testing action. It's finger prickin' good!

At first I thought my having diabeetus was sort of a b.s. diagnosis. Mark's uncle said as much and he's a rheumatologist. However, I recently had my highest (worst) blood sugar level yet of 163 (it's rare that my after meal scores aren't between 95 and 130) after eating Chinese food. Mark then tested himself since he ate the same meal and drank a can of Coke. He scored a 122. Obviously there's something different about my glucose tolerance, plus I'm not going to chance the health of my babies. That means it's lots of peanut butter and crackers for me until about 5 weeks after the twins are born when I get tested again. (The bad news is that 50% of women with gestational diabetes become diabetic later in life.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Mom Keeps Calling Me Violet Beauregarde with Good Reason

She says I need to be juiced!

Instead of the delivery room she thinks I should have Oompa Loompas take me to Wonka's juicing room. (Oompa Loompas: No creepier than zombie gynecologist.)

Maybe it's because I now look like this:

Left: 9/29 (25 weeks; Mark: 5 3/4 months; Kathy: 6 months)
Right: 10/18 (28 weeks; Mark: 6 1/2 months; Kathy:6 3/4 months)

Note: Mark thinks the months should follow the Gregorian calendar, and while I agree in theory, pregnant ladies seem to all go by a 4 week month culminating in a 10 month/40 week pregnancy. I'm including these numbers so you'll be able to compare me against other pregnant chicks.

There are three weeks between the pictures above instead of two like I did before because I was in the hospital. I learned my lesson and after that started taking photos once a week (instead of once every two) because you never know...
Left:10/24 (29 weeks; Mark: 6 3/4 months; Kathy:7 months)
Right: 11/01 (30 weeks; Mark: 7 months; Kathy: 7 1/4 months)

And the latest. Drumroll please...




11/07 (31 weeks; Mark: 7 months; Kathy: 7 1/2 months)

Here's me in August and September.

Here's me in June and July.

At my last appointment zombie gynecologist measured my belly and said I was at term size... if I was carrying one baby.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

So I Gots the Diabeetus

Thankfully it's the gestational kind but still...

In my first trimester I was screened for gestational diabetes (GD) because I met three risk factors - I'll be 35 or older at time of delivery (I'll be 35), I'm carrying multiples, and I have a parent with diabetes (thanks Dad). That test was negative. At my last OB/Gyn appointment two weeks before my hospital stay, my doctor ordered a one hour diabetes screening test for me, which all pregnant women get at the beginning of their third trimester. She said I could get it that day, but didn't recommend it if I'd eaten a lot of starch right before seeing her. (Oops. Flash back to my all potato lunch a half hour before.)

Wilford Brimley might be next in line to replace my obsession with Patrick Swayze. Who would have thought Swayze would be the first to go?

Fast forward to two weeks later in the hospital. I requested the diabetes test while I was there so I wouldn't have to make a special trip back. But they ordered me the three hour fasting test instead of the one hour screening. I tried to talk my way into the one hour screening since I didn't want to have to fast for 12 hours and miss breakfast but it was to no avail. So I got to drink the glucola, a super sugary orange or lime (depending on the flavor you get) drink that tastes like really terrible fruit soda, and they took my blood four times - once to get my fasting level, and then three times in one hour increments after the glucola. That night I found out I tested positive. I passed the fasting and one hour marks, but missed the two and three hour ones. Which means I would have probably passed the one hour screening! (Plus it's possible the steroids I took to strengthen the babies' lungs may have made my blood sugar levels higher.) Of course since the three hour test is the more rigorous one those scores stood and I wouldn't be given the one hour one which is really just a screening test. But still... crap.

Thankfully before I found out, I finally got one of the Haagen Dazs ice cream bars they bring around to hospital patients.

More Wilford. Hmmm... now that's a name I haven't heard on a baby ever. Maybe it's time to bring it back... Wilford Swayze Pilloff?

Then the next morning a nurse came by to administer the one hour test and mysteriously said one of the doctors had ordered it. I drank the nasty Glucola again, and an hour later, literally right when the nurse was about to test my blood sugar, she got a phone call saying the test had been canceled. I tried to convince her to do it anyway to no avail. So they gave the super sugary Glucola to someone with diabetes for nothing. (Ironically they wondered why my blood sugar was high when I was tested after lunch. I was like, "Um, Glucola?")

There's nothing like having Glucola for breakfast to days in a row.

This happened my last day in the hospital when I found my cervix had "miraculously" closed to 1 cm and I could go home. The only thing that could have made the day perfect would have been finding out I no longer had the beetus.

So now I'm at home and I have to prick a finger four times a day (when I first wake up and an hour after each meal). Thankfully it's just the diet-controlled beetus and not the insulin one.

I test my blood four times a day to make sure I'm not in the Kenny Loggins blood sugar danger zone.