Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Old Friends, Gelato, and Stones

This weekend one of our dearest friends Emily came for a visit, which was incredibly wonderful.  There is something so comfortable and joyful about a close old friend.  A friend that you clean the house for, but not too much.  A friend that can tolerate your hormone induced mood swings (and give you a big hug).  A friend that you speak truth to and expect the same in return.  A friend that it is just so easy to spend time with, it's as if she's part of the family.  We spent so much time laughing and chatting and catching up, it was just perfect.  And of course made sure to take a nap each and every afternoon.

And as if that weren't enough, we headed out for some gelato and outdoor play on Sunday afternoon, which made a perfect trifecta.  The children ate a flavor called lemon ricotta cardamom and loved it, which sort of blew my mind.  On Sunday, we let the kids stay up super late, and we went to the pool after Hugo went to bed, and then came home and watched Wallace and Gromit until our eyes closed from sleepiness.  It was awesome.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

16 Weeks Pregnant With Twins

 (with my entourage, complete with a builder hat and Selma)

The past couple of weeks I have become quite obviously, undeniably pregnant!  Woo hoo!  Friends and strangers alike greet me, and then my pregnant belly, with eye contact.  A whole table of neighbors stood in unison when they noticed I was looking for a chair.  This being pregnant with twins thing?  Not half bad.

This week we found a wonderful practice of midwives who are excited to support us in a fully natural birth: no induction, no epidural, just labor as it was intended to be.  It was a small miracle to be accepted as their patient, and when we met with the head midwife, we fully understood why they are in such high demand.  Thoughtful, caring, and very experienced with childbirth, they only have a 5% c-section rate for their in-hospital births, which is pretty great.  I fully believe that God entrusted my body with these two babies for a reason.  My body is capable of doing this, every bit of it.  I am so thrilled to be receiving care from professions who agree.

Hugo has adopted Veronica (we really need to actually give these babies names before it is too late to change the children's minds!) and likes to put almonds in my bellybutton for her.  It is quite sweet.  But in truth, those almonds would be of more use in my mouth, as I've been experiencing intense hunger unlike anything I have known outside of the early days of nursing (nursing mothers, you know just what I mean).  Ben has been relishing the opportunity to prepare me a huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, fruit, an english muffin, milk, and coffee.  And that barely takes the edge off the hunger.  Grow, babies, grow!

And as if to march in time with my appetite, my emotions have been present and oh so intense.  It doesn't take much to get me to tear up.  Realizing Ben took a sandwich to work that I had been hoping to have for lunch?  Seeing a mother being sweet to her child?  Watching the Pope at World Youth Day?   Oh brother, this is bad.

I just found a post I made when I was 16 weeks pregnant with Hugo and quite proud of my pregnant belly.  Move over, singleton pregnancy, the twins are here!  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

I made a peach pie the other week, and it looked so lovely!  In the end, the pie was only so-so, but I was pleased with the crust.

An assortment of summer fun!  
Lily *loved* the playground equipment at a friend's park birthday, and the only thing I wish I had captured was Ben and his friends taking their turns playing.
Some of the neighborhood kids playing together, which must be one of the best things about summer!
And the magic of a box, which continues to be one of the best toys ever. 

What is the ticket to making dinner uninterrupted?  Setting up your two year old with a bowl of soapy water, a cloth diaper, and a dump truck.  He worked diligently for half an hour cleaning his truck.  Perfect!

Zosia has started reading to the littler kids, which makes us so incredibly happy.  She just fluent enough a reader that they seem to accept her as a stand in for a parent.  Here, Ben let her read Hugo his bedtime story. I don't think we'll make it a habit, but it's definitely handy in a pinch.

I'm linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter today: I went to their DC meetup last night and it was a very nice evening.  So many lovely women, cute babies, beautiful pregnant women, and wise experienced mothers.  It was nice to sit down and talk about everything from creating community to raising boys and helping children behave at mass.  I was definitely taking notes!

round button chicken

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

For a Ride with Five

I'm pedaling for four!  Even I am impressed.
Hugo and his friend Molly.  A budding romance perhaps?

One of our favorite things to do together as a family is to go for a bikeride, and it doesn't get much better than going down to the farmer's market together.  Those of you around these parts know that on a Saturday morning, there's not much to do other than go down to the farmer's market.  Which isn't a bad thing, especially given that the farmer's market is year round, and pretty awesome.  It's also just about guaranteed that you will see a lot of friends, which means that as soon as you get off your bikes, you can have the gratification of romping around with some people you love.

Our current setup includes Hugo on a babyseat with me, Lily in a trailer with Ben, and Zosia riding along on her bike.  It works great for shorter rides around town, and if we want to go for something longer, we can put Lily on my babyseat and Zosia and Hugo in the trailer.  My mind is already trying to figure out how we'll pull this one off next summer, but if she can do it, we can too!  Seriously, I need a bike with many baby seats and much bigger leg muscles.  Going for a bikeride with five kids in tow?  Challenge accepted.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday This and That

(Aren't they cute?  There's few things Ben likes more than a good laugh)

We just had my favorite type of weekend, which is the type where there seems to be plenty of free time.  These are the best! There's nothing like following each family member's whims and relaxing together.

So, in no particular order, here are a few things I've been enjoying:

::Whenever I get a spare moment, I've been watching snippets of this documentary (it's amazing!  I really love it.  I do think I would have loved living on The Farm with these guys).

::We have our upcoming beach trip on our minds.  Does anyone have experience with a sun tent or something like it?  Who has been to the beach with little kids recently, and what was the single best thing you brought along?

::And for those of you who are also pregnant over the hot summer months, I've found a great, comfortable shoe to accommodate your feet!  I remember when I was six months pregnant with Zosia, we got back to Boston after doing some very ambitious hiking in the White Mountains, and I found that none of my shoes fit.  Not one pair.  We hobbled down to Harvard Square, and I went to four shoe stores before I found a pair of flip flops that would fit my swollen, sore feet.  I wore those shoes every day for the rest of my pregnancy, so I definitely value a pair of supportive shoes in pregnancy.

::And while I'm uncharacteristically linking up to products and things I like, one of my hypnobirthing moms gave me this teething necklace years ago, and I wear it all the time (even though I don't have any teething babies at the moment).  I get so many compliments on it, and people never believe it's actually intended for babies (Rosie, I'm looking at you: I think Mary Claire would like one of these :-).

Happy Monday!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

15 Weeks Pregnant

This week has brought a few exciting developments in the twin department.  First and foremost, we had an ultrasound which showed that the kiddos are definitively di-di meaning that they have separate placentas and separate amniotic sacs.  For the pregnancy, delivery, and these babies overall health that is wonderful news!  Basically, it just means that there are two separate babies that each have exactly what they need.  It also means that the twins are quite likely fraternal (about 90% of di-di twins are fraternal), the one major downside of this likelihood being we will not be able to perform scientific experiments on them (I had thought of such good ones, too!).

The girls have named the babies Annika and Veronica, and while we have gently mentioned that these are not their actual names, it has not deterred our two little mommies from adopting one of the twins as their own (Lily's is Annika, and seems to get the vast majority of love and attention as Lily is very interested in giving my tummy kisses, and Zosia's is Veronica).

When we first told the kids about the babies the girls were absolutely thrilled and Hugo was somewhat in denial.  "Mommy has two babies in her tummy," we explained, to which he just looked at as and simply replied, "Nope."  When we pressed it a little further, he continued to say "Nope," and then started to explain, "Rene (what he calls my sister) baby!  Mommy no baby."  Thank you for the explanation, Hugo!  We must have gotten confused!

The good news is that over the past week or two as my tummy has started showing clear and indisputable evidence of there being two babies in there, Hugo has very much embraced the idea of there being two babies in there.  Not only does he agree that there are babies in there, but he very eagerly loves to give the babies kisses.  Of course he is going to love this: the boy adores babies.  And as I'm sure you all understand, no matter how many newborn babies there are around, he will always remain my baby too.

And there's something about finding out that you're expecting twins that makes you notice twins everywhere.  Did you hear about Atlanta's twin pandas?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hot hot summer

Whew!  It's been hot and we've been passing the time either at the pool, where the girls finished up their swim lessons today (and got little trophies!  Can you imagine how thrilled they were?), or at home keeping cool.  These are the Virginia summers I remember.  Hot and humid and oppressively hot, just as it should be.  These long hot days give us a little reason to take a break inside, reading books together or making pancakes.  It's sort of nice, in the middle of the most active and exhausting season of the year to be taking a break to make play dough or play dressup inside.  Hugo has become the girls' little dressup buddy, and he can be cast as anything from a ballerina to a baby in the circus (this was especially cute, as Lily was the ringmaster leading him around by a rope).  It warms my heart to see them welcoming him into their play.

I have made it a habit to take a nap every single afternoon, which has been totally amazing.  Pregnant women everywhere, feel free to take naps!  Actually, any and all people everywhere, feel free to take naps!  It really is a rite of summer.

We have stayed for a bit at the pool every morning, and Hugo has come to tolerate and even enjoy the water, which makes us all so happy.  We started out bribing him with M&Ms, then coerced him into the pool until he decided it was okay.  Today the two of us even spent our time laughing and playing together, which is so much better.  There is nothing he loves more than watching his sisters jump and dive into the water, which means he has some great entertainment.  And those couple of hours we've spent outside in the morning have given us all some pretty awesome tan lines.

I've been hopping all around town figuring things out about these twins, but I'll share more with you about that some other time.  In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying whatever summer has in store for you and staying cool!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Notes on Being 14 Weeks Pregnant with Twins

My dinner the other night: brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, and fried liver and onions (and whole milk, of course!).  Yum!  By the way, I am the only one in my family who will touch liver.  I love it, and it is so healthy for a woman's body!
Whew: after weeks of morning sickness I have finally found my appetite!  Which, I have learned, when expecting twins, is a good thing.  I am doing my best to eat plentifully and healthfully, making up for lost time during the first trimester.  Apparently these next few weeks are the most important when it comes to gaining weight and giving the twins plenty of nutrition to grow, and I've been working hard!

More than anything, it is a relief to be feeling more or less my regular self, with energy to enjoy the kids and all the rest life has to offer.  This weekend, I felt the babies move ("early quickening" is the term, I have learned), and when I am lying on my back you can see a distinct baby bump.  At the beginning of the week, Ben informed me that I didn't really look pregnant when I was standing up (which, as you can see in the picture taken on Monday, is sort of true), but I'm pretty sure that has changed in the past couple of days.  My body has never had any trouble growing nice large babies, and here we have two!

In many ways, this pregnancy is a new experience for me.  It's the first time that I have ever been treated as anything other than very low risk.  In the past, the world has been my oyster when it comes to birth choices.  Midwife in a hospital?  Sure!  Homebirth with a midwife?  Of course!  Wait until you naturally go into labor?  No problem!  I had the luxury of choosing the birth setup that was the most comfortable, safe, and ideal for us: for Zosia's birth, that meant midwives in a hospital, and with our subsequent two it meant a homebirth with a great practice of midwives.  Both fully covered by insurance, by the way.

This time around, Ben and I have decided that we would feel most comfortable having a natural labor in a hospital for the twins.  We like the idea of having the extra support should we need it, and the idea of transferring from home to a hospital mid labor (or after having delivered one of the babies) sounds anything but ideal.  We would rather have a safe, comfortable, and low-intervention setup at a hospital that would allow me to have the babies naturally.  But it requires a very special doctor or midwife to support a mother of twins through natural childbirth.

The practice of midwives we have used in the past don't do twins: they deal only with the most low-risk and straightforward of situations.  In searching for another practice I have learned what most women who have gone through a pregnancy already know: your choices vary drastically based on the provider that you choose.  Not every ob, and not even every midwife treat your particular pregnancy in the same way.  Some providers induce for twins (right now we think ours are mono/di, for those who know the twin lingo) at 37 weeks, others do not.  Some have a standard policy of bedrest for twins after a certain gestational age, others do not.  Some require an epidural, others do not.  Some will deliver vaginally as long as the first twin is head down, others will only deliver vaginally if both are head down.  It has been a wonderful and education experience to have to do research, interview providers, and ultimately advocate for myself and my babies, because this is what most women go through.  And it is tricky territory!

I like one midwife whom I have met with very much, and am interviewing another group of midwives whom I am hoping have more lenient policies regarding induction and the setup at birth.  Ultimately, this will be a team effort with a midwife and an ob working together.  I will keep you posted about where we end up.

Like all mothers, my hope is for these babies to be safe and healthy, and I believe the best path towards that is the same as for all of my children: through carefully listening to my body through pregnancy (following my appetite, listening to my body's need for rest and activity), and then allowing my body to work with the babies naturally through birth and beyond.  I am excited for what this pregnancy has in store!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Tales of our Adventures

::these two have an understanding
::is there any greater love than watching a friend's naked child?
:Lily quickly turned the dock into a stage.
::Selma is quite happy to become a wild dog for the weekend, hunting snakes and fawns.
:This swingset was so fun.
::Yum: waffles for breakfast.
::Hugo is starting to accept snuggles from more members of the family.
::on the dock looking for tadpoles in the morning.  We never did catch one.
::on a mule with a hunting hat.  I think she's never been happier.
::there was a hill covered in fossils, and Michelle is a fossil hunting maven.  Each girl found and took one home as a souvenir.
::early morning snuggles
::Watching a butterfly out the window
::Hugo actually did a great job running around naked until about two minutes before we left, at which point he climbed on top of the piano and peed all over the piano and living room.  I sort of think it was intentional, that little miscreant.
::If you squint you can see the mama deer with her fawn! Such a beautiful thing.

So I can't help myself from sharing a few stories from the weekend.  Perhaps the most dramatic was when Selma (our pup) spotted a fawn and chased her into the wilderness.  Selma has only run off once, and it was while on a hike with Ben.  He was walking with friends on a trail, and she darted off after some wild animal, and was retrieved many miles away thanks to her dog tag.  We forgot to take her tag with us to the farm (eek!).  She spotted the fawn and ran at breakneck speed.  Apparently, both Selma and the fawn are quite the skilled runners.  Patrick heroically sprinted after her... for miles, while she ran after this little fawn: up a mountain, up and down the ridge, and finally pouncing on the poor thing. Well, thankfully for the fawn, it turns out that Selma has no idea what to do with prey quite that sizable, and so the fawn just bounded up and away, while Selma collapsed from exhaustion.  That must have been the single best day in Selma's life.  We spent the evening worrying about the fawn (would she find her mother? Was she okay?) only to see her, happily frolicking with her mother the next morning.  The happiest ending to the story.

We hunted and found fossils, saw countless types of scat, and hiked up to a lookout tower for dinner.  The boys enjoyed a 35 mile bike ride (look out Tour de France), and Michelle and I soaked in some mineral springs (so relaxing and amazing!  I have been dreaming of them since getting home!).  

But excitement aside, I think the best thing must have been doing absolutely nothing.  We read and cooked and napped and enjoyed one another's company.  What a restful place!  

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Visit to the Farm

Happy Fourth of July!  We just got back from a weekend trip to our friend's incredibly beautiful family farm in the mountains of Virginia.  It was such a restful and imaginative place filled with discoveries to be made, places to explore, and the beauties of nature.  We arrived the evening of the fourth to a dinner with our friends, an exploratory walk around the farm (there's the old farmhouse, complete with a fossil table... more on fossils later!), and of course fireworks after the sun went down.  Ben and the children have declared that we must buy a farm.  In truth, I think they just adored our visit.