Archives for June 2009

What Just Happened?

Everything for the past two days is a blur. At this point, I’m actually glad that I was making notes along the way to post to this blog, else I might not know what happened either. This post is to give a bit more detail to the process of your birth, and what has happened since then. It will be a bit longer before I can get more photos up here, but we are indeed taking pictures.

By around 3:00 AM yesterday (6/28) Momma was in really active labor, and we moved into the operating room. Even though we were planning on a vaginal birth, because twins can be high risk, the docs wanted everything in place to deal with any emergency should something go wrong. We had the primary doctor, two neonatal specialists, an anesthesiologist, at least 3 nurses, and a partridge in a pear tree. Literally, I think there were close to 10 people in the room, not counting Momma, me, and the two little ones that were about to join us.

Momma kept pushing and pushing, and although we were making progress, little Anna simply could not get past that last bit at the end. The Doc wanted to use something called vacuum suction to help get you out. My first thought was that something like a shop-vac was a bit over the top for a case like this, but it turns out that the vacuum extractor is a small device about the size of a sliced lemon that the doc attached to your (Anna’s) head when you stuck it out during Momma’s pushing. That way, when the contraction subsided and Momma simply could not push any longer, this device could help hold on so that you did not slide backwards too far, making Momma start over again with each push.

As much as I wanted to look at the business end of what was happening down there, I also wanted to stay close to Momma who was working so very hard to bring you into this world. So I stayed by momma, but raised my head so that I cold see enough of what was going on to let Momma know how wonderful she is, and the progress she was making.

Let me tell you, Anna, when your head finally came out, it was definitely clear that the rest of you would shortly follow. I’ve seen pictures and video of live births, and it still ends up looking a bit clinical, slimey, and, well, a bit gross. Up close and personal, it was nothing short of amazing. Sure, you were all covered in goo and all, but you were also alive, real, and our daughter!

The docs took care of your umbilical cord, took you off to a heat lamp to make sure you stayed warm, wiped you down a bit, then brought you to the scale where I got to look at you and take pictures. As much as I wanted to just stare at you and hold you, Momma was still quite busy, and there was still the matter of your brother to get out.

Unlike you, Anna, who had her head pointed down, Lucas was sitting sideways across the top back of the uterus. The doc reached in, but could not tell for sure if she had your hand or your foot. Another doc ran the ultrasound to confirm that the doc had hold of your foot, then the she pulled you out by your feet. Now, that may sound straight forward, except that Lucas was still very wet and gooey.

So, Lucas, when the doc got your foot outside, she wrapped it in a towel to get a better grip, then slowly pulled you out a bit more, wrapping more and more in the towel as she went. That was going reasonably well until it came time to get your head out, at which point it looked like you got a wee bit stuck. The doc wiggled and turned you around a bit and you popped out too. However, unlike your sister who started to whimper and cry as soon as she came out, you were a bit quiet, and very pale ashen color. The other docs whisked you to the side of the room and put you on oxygen, and in short order you started to cry too. The odd part about both of your birth is that this is one of the few times when your loud, bellowing cries are actually music to our ears because it means you are alive and breathing.

From the early hours of this morning when you were born, much of the morning and afternoon was spent calling friends and family. Two of your grandparents came over to visit, as did one of your aunts and uncles. So that’s the basic story of how you came into being, joining us in this world.

In posts that follow, I’ll tell you about how we’re adapting, and hopefully get some more pictures up here. For now, we just need to get you fed, and us some sleep.

Active Labor & Birth

By 11:45 PM on the 28th, you had reached 7 cm dilation, up from 3 CM around 10:30 PM. Apparently, things are about to start getting a bit faster from here on out. Of course, “faster’ in baby-time means we’re still looking at another few hours. I’m still tired, but I can’t sleep worth a darned at this point.

1:15 AM, Monday morning. About 15 minutes ago, the doc put an internal fetal monitor on baby-A (the girl). Unlike the external monitor that makes a rhythmic WHOSH-ing sound, the internal monitor makes a clean, crisp THUNK-THUNK-THUNK sound, beeting at roughly 140 beats per minute. In the background, I have Carlos Nakai’s “Ancestral Voices” CD playing. It consists of flute and native American chants. In that music, the sound of the drum represents the heartbeat and life. Perhaps it’s coincidence, but our daughter’s heartbeat is almost in sync with the beat of life in the background of the music. Truly it is a sound of peace, strength, love, beauty, and life.

1:25 AM. There’s another woman somewhere down the hall (perhaps even on the other end of the building, for all I know), and she’s definitely one of those screamers like one hears in the movies. Momma told me that she may be one of those soon too. So I made her a deal. She can scream all she wants, if it’s OK for me to cry. We agreed that we may both end up crying, and that’s OK.

Because of the epidural, Momma’s not allowed to eat anything. Even water is restricted, except that I can feed her pieces of ice. Every 10 minutes or so I try to get her to eat another piece of ice. It’s both to keep her hydrated, and also to give me some semblance of being useful beyond these little blog posts and running the background music on iTunes.

2:15 AM. Each of us just got between 10 and 15 minutes sleep in the last 45 minutes. I know you did because I could hear you snoring, and I know I did because you woke me up to say that you reached full dilation. in writing, “full dilation” sounds so clinical. A more appropriate description would be that you have reached “OH MY GOODNESS!! WE’RE ABOUT TO BEGIN THE NEXT STAGE OF OUR LIFE!!!” but of course, that just takes too long to say.

***

Despite frequent updates above, I’ve got to stop the updates here… It is now 9:15 PM on the 29th. Anna and Lucas were born at 6:03 AM and 6:08 AM, respectively. They both weighed 6 pounds 10 ounces. There’s obviously a lot that happened in the intervening gap, but both of us are simply exhausted right now. The babies are beautiful, well behaved, and sleeping right now. Both momma’s are recovering.

And So It Begins

At about 3:15 AM this morning, one of you had your water break. That means that the sac that you swim in sprung a leak, and that you are preparing to be born some time in the VERY near future. Then momma lost her mucous plug. That’s a big ball of snot that makes sure nothing goes in, and nothing comes out from what has been your home for the past 38 weeks.

Around 6:00 AM, momma woke me up to tell me about the contractions. We were going to go on a road-trip, on account of just last Tuesday the doc said that you were not showing any signs of being ready, but obviously, things change. By 8 AM, we finished packing our bag, Momma took a shower, and we headed off to the hospital. There was no sense of urgency or need for speed, since things were still quite slow, but there was more than enough excitement and anticipation.

In Triage, the nurse put two fetal-heart-beat monitors on Momma, looking to keep track of you. The trouble was that we could only find one of you with the monitors. The other one would come and go, and we could not tell if the monitor was in the right place. The doctor did a quick check of Momma’s cervix and found that it had thinned out quite a bit, but that it was still not very open. They told us to go for a walk and come back after 11am. This was not because Momma was not ready, but because the birthing suite and our nurse wold be available at that time. So we went to the cafeteria, then walked around the hospital.

By around 11:30 AM, we had our room and we were getting situated. The nurse put the fetal monitors back on and again had trouble ensuring that we were looking at two separate heart beats. Eventually, they brought in an ultrasound to take a better look, only to discover that you two had shifted considerably since the last time when we knew where you were, and we were looking for the hearts in the wrong place. With that sorted out, we could see that both of you were still doing quite well.

By around 2PM, we were coming up on 12 hours, and the doc started you out on a very low dose of Pitocin to move things along a bit.

It’s now 3:15 PM, contractions are presently around 4-5 minutes apart, yet we are still in early labor. I put on some music for Momma (The Prayer Cycle), and we eagerly await the next step in the delivery process.

***

It’s about 6:15 PM, and Momma just got an epidural for pain management. Even though she was the one going through the contractions, I felt a pain too as I helplessly stood by, trying to comfort her through the repeating waves of pushing and discomfort. At this point, the contractions are continuing at about the same rate, but the pain on her face is drastically reduced.

The Pitocin level is still only at 2 drops per hour, and the contractions are coming about every two to four minutes apart.

***

It’s now 10:30 PM. Early labor has been going on for about 19 hours, and Momma is just now dilated to 3 cm. Unfortunately, she’s also got a low grade fever. That is not uncommon with an epidural, since the body looses some of its thermo-regulation. So we have the room as cold as it will get, I’m wearing my pile jacket, and Momma is still hot even after being stripped down to almost nothing, being fed ice cubes, and with a cold rag behind her neck.

***

11:15 PM. It doesn’t look like you two are going to make it out today. I was hoping that you and I might actually share a birthday, but instead, it looks like you will be born in the wee hours of the morning on the 29th. Momma and I each got a tiny bit of shut-eye, but there’s no denying the fact that it has been a very long day so far. Of course, when you two do come out, I expect that Momma will be so ramped up on Ocytocin, and I will be wired on adrenaline, that the lack of sleep won’t even occur to us. Instead, it will probably hit like a ton of bricks when we finally get you home.

It’s really quite a bizarre thought to me at this point. Sure, we got pregnant on purpose, and with a fair amount of deliberate and high-tech assistance. Sure, we have been thinking about your growth and eventual arrival for many months. Sure, we have been buying and recieving various baby paraphernalia for the past month or so. Sure, we have an entire room in the house dedicated just for you. And yet, even with all of that, the notion that one day very very soon, Momma and I will walk into our home with not one, but TWO brand new babies, despite the fact that neither one of us has any parenting experience whatsoever, well, that’s just plain spooky.

Two Hours in the Sky With No Pants

Today was a very good day for flying. I was sitting in the office, looking out the windows at the clouds, and knew that I had to find a way to escape from work. By 3pm, the forces of cloud-suck were far too great, and I left early. I had already packed all of my flying gear in the car, having previously checked weather reports that called for good conditions.

However, much to my dismay, when I went into the locker room at work to change into my flying cloths I discovered that I did not bring my pants. I had also worn a skirt that day, so there was no way I could fly in that. If I went from work, back home, and then to the mountain, it would cost me almost two hours of flying time, gas, and sitting in traffic. I could pick up a cheap pair of hiking pants on the way, but that too would be time-consuming and unnecessary. So I decided to go flying without them.

Now, lest you think my lower half was completely in the buff, I did have an outer flight suit that I wore. I managed to launch from Poo Poo Point, on the north end of Tiger Mountain by around 4:30 PM, climbing to an altitude of nearly 5,000 feet and floating over lower Issaquah for nearly an hour. It’s COLD up there with no pants. However, I did discover that I could feel the temperature difference between my right and my left legs as I flew through the air, allowing me to make better decisions regarding which way to turn to remain in the thermals.

Flying is always a gateway to joy for me, but this flight was especially so. Imagine something that you truly love, and then knowing that in a matter of days, it may be months or more before you get to experience it again. With the birth of you two literally around the corner, each and every flight is an experience of sublime beauty and pleasure, knowing full well that in a matter of days, my focus will shift dramatically.

So as I circled one thermal with a bald eagle no more than 20 feet away from me, I was deeply in tune with the feel of the wind on my face, the feel of the lift upon my wing, and the magnificence of the creature who was my flying companion. I could see every feather of its outstretched wing, especially the ones on the outer wingtip as it felt the air with all the confidence and familiarity that you and I typically associate with the feel of the ground beneath our feet.

After reaching the top of the thermal, the eagle and I parted ways amid the vast expanse of the sky that we share. As I put myself into a slow, final, and graceful turn to the right, I could see Mt. Ranier with crystal clarity, Puget Sound, Seattle’s skyline, lake Washington, Bellevue, Lake Sammamish, Mt. Si and the Cascades off in the distance. I was alone now, with the freedom to go wherever I wanted merely by the gentle shift of weight in my harness and the control-lines in my hands that led to the trailing edge of my wing. Looking up, there was a cloud beginning to disperse above my head, and the blue and white sky contrasted with the bold red, white, and gray of my wing, beneath which hung over a hundred thin lines of various colors like the stings of a harp, except that they all came together in two points by my sides where I could play with them.

While some flights are a rapid, wild, invigorating rush of adrenaline, others, like this one, are an experience of peace, serenity, and joy. I fly because I feel the need to travel freely amid the sky and clouds. I fly because I feel it deeply and profoundly within my flesh and bones. I fly because it is a consistently reliable gateway to my essence of JOY.

Tick Tock!

By the looks of things around here so far, either we are planning for your grand debut with a multitude of wardrobe changes, or we are planning a fashion show for the Lilliputian Army. Now, I realize that you two are going to grow quite rapidly in the beginning, and we have cloths from a variety of sources and of different sizes. All the same, I swear that the baby-cloths are multiplying in the washer and dryer like Tribbles.

Momma went to the Doctor again this past Monday, and so far, you two are not showing any signs of wanting out. Despite yet another centimeter in growth, with Momma now 4′ 1/2″ around, the cervix is still completely closed. The Doc said she was expecting at least a little opening by now. We have another appointment next Tuesday (6/30/09), and the Doc says that if you haven’t at least started making plans to come out, then we’re going to plan some remodeling of your womb in the hopes of coaxing you out by the weekend of July 4th.

Here on the outside where we live, the 4th of July is a big day for lots of historical reasons. I realize that the whole notion of “History” is absurd to you at this point. All you really need to know is that when it gets dark, there’s a very large amount of noise. At some point in your early future, you’ll also get to meet your “sister” the dog. You see, she was our first “child” of sorts, and has been a major affection hound all her life. From her standpoint, on the 4th of July weekend the world will be coming to pieces, the sky will be falling down, and then of course there’s the fact that the two of you will come into the house and drastically upset the natural pecking order. So you see, despite it being a day of great joy for us, we’re none too sure how the dog will respond.

Going back to the hurricane story, usually when a hurricane starts getting close, there are major storms, significant winds, and lots of rain. We’re not getting any of that so far in regards to your arrival. Momma is starting to wonder if a better model might be that of an earthquake. Either way, we know that your arrival is rapidly approaching, even if we don’t know just when it will be yet.

It’s all just as well… we still have yet to pack that “bag” of things that we know we need to take with us to the hospital.

We Need More Beads!

We have been taking a variety of classes in preparation for your arrival. Among them are Infant CPR, Caring for Multiples, Car Seat Safety, Postpartum Issues, one on Sleep (yours, not ours), and maybe one or two others. Earlier this week we had the Postpartum class, and that was quite an eye-opener. For example, we learned that 80% of parents (mothers especially) go through “Baby Blues.” Also, of a number of college kids subjected to sleep deprivation, 100% of them showed signs of clinical depression within a month. We also did an exercise with beads.

In that exercise, we took a circle and divided it up into 8 pie-slices. In up to 7 of those, we were supposed to put down typical activities that make up our day, such as eating & food preparation, sleeping, working, recreation, etc. We were given 24 beads, and supposed to divvy them up one bead for each hour that we spend in those activities. Lastly, we needed to find 10 beads that we could take from anywhere we wanted, and move them into the “Baby” pie. It became instantly obvious that we need more beads! I suppose that maybe we could borrow some beads from other friends and family now and then who are willing to help out. Nonetheless, despite all that my other friends and family said about you two being a lot of work, that exercise really started making it tangible. And in another couple weeks, you’ll show us first hand what it looks like for real.

So I’ve been writing you these letters over the past several months, and they have been a variety of observations, stories, and sometimes just plain silliness. At this point, however, with Momma as big as a house and your due-date rapidly approaching, I’m definitely getting scared. I am not just nervous, excited, or anxious. I am talking all out scared about what we’re getting into, how it will impact us, how we will cope, the changes that you will bring to our lives, and how your arrival will begin to change us. At a minimum, you will change us from a couple to a family, from adults into parents, and from average human beings into babbling, crazy, sleep-deprived, poop-focused zombies. Amid all that change and chaos, I also somehow have to continue to function somewhat normally at work, although I will be taking about a month away from the office to care for both you and Momma.

In the last post, I compared your arrival to a hurricane that is forecast to make landfall in the Seattle area by late June to mid July. Well, this time I’m thinking about it more like a roller-coaster with a really long line. You’ll learn about roller coasters when you’re older, but the important thing is that in addition to being wild, jostling, fast, and adventurous rides, the good ones are also somewhat scary. And even after having gone on them, I still want to go again. More bizarre still, at least when I was little, is that I would start getting more and more excited even as we made our way up to the front of the line for our turn to get on the ride. Well, this ride has a line that is nearly nine-months long, we are nearly to the front of the line, and the cost to get on the ride is ten beads. Like I said before… we need more beads.

Names

Congratulations! You have names! Well, that’s mostly true. You see, while Momma and I are in agreement for both of your first names, she still wants to reserve the right to change them up until you are born. Plus, she’s concerned that if we reveal your names, the dark powers of the force may come to impose their will upon us. And so, young Padawan, for your own protection, we are keeping your names a secret.

Earlier today, we had another ultrasound. Both of you are still doing quite well, and you are getting quite large. One of you is about 5 pounds 9 ounces, and the other is 5 pounds 13 ounces, and that’s with another 3-4 weeks before you see the light of day. The doctor told us that your weights are in-line with singleton weights at this stage, rather than being reduced on account of being twins.

Meanwhile, from the outside, Momma is absolutely huge! As of today, she is now 122cm around. That’s 4-feet in diameter, and she’s still growing at roughly 1cm per week. So never mind the due-date… if you two don’t come out soon, Momma is literally going to explode. Remarkably, however, her belly-button has not popped out. Instead, it has gotten very flat, and almost looks like the Mitsubishi symbol.

About a week ago, we took a tour of the birthing center at the hospital to become more familiar with where it is, what it looks like, to streamline check-in procedures, and to get a general idea of where we’ll be staying in the last hours before your arrival. In some ways, I am equating your arrival to a hurricane. You’ve been a tropical depression for months, and are now gaining hurricane strength. We expect that you will make landfall some time near the end of this month, but no matter how much one knows about how a hurricane is tracking or where and when it will hit, it still packs a wallop of force when it comes ashore.