Melissa asked a pretty good question: Howare the pets doing? (Emphasis mine.)
With all the talk of babies and such, it's easy to forget that we have a fairly sizable menagerie here.
To answer, they're handling the changes to the household pretty much as we expected them to. The cats were pissed off (literally) or indifferent and Maia was excited to have new pack members but initially got depressed when she found out there would be a lot of changes to her daily routine. (She's a lot less depressed now that we're settled...)
The biggest change for Maia was that we weren't able to spend as much time with her as we used to. During those first crazy weeks, her walks and playtime had to be cut really short since we were fumbling around, learning to live with two babies. The "learning to live with" resulted in an influx of stuff. All of sudden there was a bouncy seat, then along came a swing, and then a "snap n go" stroller frame... Each new thing that came into the bedroom resulted in less floor space for Maia. We suddenly found her to be underfoot most of the time — Mark actually tripped over her one night and faceplanted! — and she seemed a bit confused by all the new things.
She also sensed that her position in the pack had changed. No longer was she "#3" in the chain. There were two wee little beings that were suddenly occupying that place.
But we were sensitive to the changes. We didn't get rid of her dog bed, despite the fact that it took up a lot of floor space and she only slept on it about a quarter of the time, because we knew what message that would send to her. We bought her new toys and treats and played with her whenever one of us didn't have a baby. She got lots of leftover Chinese food. Her walks got longer again. And, we just kept giving her affection — little pats, rubs and "You're a good girl" go a long way.
Thankfully, once we were more certain about our abilities, things got back to quasi-normal.
As for the cats... There've been a couple of "R. Kitty" incidents where Spot has revenge-peed on things — Mark's shorts and Maia's rope toy come instantly to mind — but otherwise, that's been it. Naturally, they've been curious and have wanted to see the babies, but on the few occassions when presented with one they've turned tail and walked away.
Still, they hang out in front of the bedroom door, listening to what's going on inside. So, the cats have pretty much been doing as they've always done.
You see, the bedroom / nursery is the only room that is air conditioned and we've been pretty much holed up in there. (Hence the hanging out in front of our door. Nothing makes a cat more curious than a forbidden place.) It's nothing new, actually, since it's been happening every summer since I moved in with Mark. The cats are locked out but pretty much have run of the rest of the apartment.
Stranger's decided to claim the bathroom as his own personal sanctuary, although occassionally I do find all the cats lying around in there. Why? Who really knows? What I do know is that at the end of summer I will have to replace my bathmats because they are slowly tearing the shit out of them.
Spot, when he isn't following a human around, can usually be found hiding out somewhere in the kitchen. Behind the fan where I can't see him is his favorite spot.
And the cattens, well, they're still evil. They're usually either in the "cat room" (aka, our living room / guest bedroom / home office) or wherever they can cause the most trouble. Oh, and they're actually adult cats now, but I think I will forever refer to them as "the cattens."
So, long story short, everything is pretty much status quo in the animal kingdom.
Now for the sneak peek mentioned in the post title:
Can you guess what I've been up to? Or what I'm going to be doing next?
Baby, baby, please let me hold him I wanna make him stay up all night Sister, sister, he's just a plaything We wanna make him stay up all night Yeah we do
We're actually not the ones making the babies stay up late. In fact, the tables are more than turned in this case. I feel like the proverbial table is doing revolutions and is about to accelerate and lift off.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm actually the one that gets to sleep a good five hour (sometimes more!) stretch at a shot. Mark is currently on duty from around 10 PM until five, although he has bravely and more than courteously stayed on duty until seven. Or nine, like he did this morning. Pumping is exhausting (more on my frustrations with my ta-tas and milk supply at some other point) and Mark realizes that it drains me so he tries not to disturb my rest. He occassionally has to semi-rouse me to feed, hold or comfort a baby, but he tries really hard to only do it if he absolutely needs my help.
Still, sometimes a mother's touch is the only thing a baby wants.
So, we're both pretty exhausted from keeping up with the babies' needs, but we were expecting that. After all, all new parents find themselves sleepless and a little harried.
What I wasn't expecting, though, was for all the days to blur together. I didn't realize today was Sunday until I called a medical supply place. Long story short, I need to exchange the hospital-grade pump that I'm renting from them with one that actually works — theirs is missing a key part — as the $300 breastpump that I bought for work use is dying after less than a month's use. (Granted, I'm probably using it a LOT more than what it was designed for, but this is NOT helping my supply issues right now.) I was pretty freaking surprised to find out from their automated message that it was Sunday and that I should call back during regular business hours. It was then that I realized that I have been drifting through life with no real mooring aside from the twins' feeding times and what's been on Discovery or History at the moment.
Thinking on it, I realized that I had no real recollection about what the hell we've been doing. I had to think very hard about what we did last weekend — I eventually remembered that it had been Father's Day and I let Mark have as much of a day off as was possible. But, I'd honestly thought that Aden had come home last Sunday (he'd come home the week before) and it wasn't until I looked back at the blog and at the 365 pictures that I realized my mistake.
I think part of this stems from the sameness of our days. Get up, feed, change, burp, sleep. This same routine pretty much applies to Mark and me too... I haven't left the apartment since Monday (I think) when I walked Maia for Mark. The closest I've come to human contact (aside from Mark and the babes) has been a conference call that I participated on for a new product we're going to be using at work.
The days blur. And they blur quickly. It's honestly mostly a huge mishmosh for me right now, with some occassional bits that stick in memory.
Like finding Spot sitting on our copy of "The Cat Owner's Manual":
Or finally getting both mobiles, the crib toy (mirror) and baby monitor in place:
And scoring a coup when trying to figure how to carry two babies at the same time:
Getting the babies situated was tricky, but worth it for the instant bliss it brought Hunter:
And I'm doubly-blessed that Aden likes being in the sling:
I do admit that I am looking forward to the day when I won't have to fret about a lot of the baby stuff and my reading selections can lean towards Tolkien and the knitting that I do can resume being challenging:
Then life will be just going with the flow and enjoying the giggles and scraped knees and peas flung at the wall.
Thanks for the comments about the pictures from yesterday!
The cats are in fact totally loving their condo. Mark thought that it was a a somewhat-extravagant splurge at first but he now loves it almost as much as we think they do. (I think he was biased initially because he was the one that had to put it together...) They still need to get used to clawing the sisal but otherwise the cattens and Spot are all over the thing, vying for the top seat. Stranger (the black & white tuxedo cat) still prefers his perch on Mark's reading chair but he doesn't mind the easier access to the food bowl! I'm thrilled that they're actually using it and am looking forward to ditching that ugly old plastic bookcase that we were previously using to keep their food out of Maia's reach.
As for the twins and I, our doctor's appointment went relatively well. I don't have gestational diabetes (hoorah!) and my exhaustion and aches and pains are simply due to the fact that I am carrying two babies. The midwife kept stressing that I should listen to my body and should go on leave when my body told me to, which I'm already planning on. Otherwise, I am doing really, really well in her opinion. My next visit in two weeks (the 30 week mark) will herald the switch from bi-weekly to weekly visits. It's kinda odd to think about it, but I'm in the home stretch.
The only disconcerting thing that turned up at the visit was that Aden weighs about 25% less than Hunter does at this point. He weighs 2 pounds, 1 ounce to her 2 pounds, 12 ounces. I could tell something was up when the ultrasound tech came back and said that Doctor Death had asked her to run a few more tests. I'd never had this particular tech scan me before and she wasn't very helpful or friendly — they usually explain or comment as they scan — so I felt a bit out of sorts and uncomfortable with her. (That and she pushed down really freaking hard on my belly a few times... Hello, that shit HURTS!) She did give me those cool 3D ultrasound pictures of Hunter though — Aden was facing my back until the very last minute so she couldn't get him — so I wound up forgiving her at the end.
Dr. D. did the ultrasound read and he was positive overall. He told me that since the sea monkeys weren't identical that Aden might be hardwired for a lower birth weight. He said that they would check again in 4 weeks and since the discrepancy wasn't larger (say a 30 to 40% difference) and the additional tests were perfectly normal, I really didn't have to worry.
Of course, I was worried until a few of the folks over on Weight Watchers told me their personal experiences. A couple of the twin moms piped in — one woman's twins always had a 10 oz difference in their growth and another was diagnosed with discordant twin growth but her babies turned out to not be that far apart in weight at birth — which helped put my mind at ease for now.
Aside: I get pissed off every time people who don't have kids tell me "Oh, but one twin is ALWAYS XYZ. They're always born just fine..." Thanks for your medical opinion but that's simply not true... There are plenty of babies, singleton and otherwise, that are not just born fine.
I know that I'm not the first woman on the planet to be pregnant or the first person ever to have twins but I really hate when the doctors scare the crap out of you because they legally have to and all your friends just try to blindly reassure you and dismiss your worries. If I'm worried telling me that everything is going to be okay doesn't help me. It just pisses me off because it shows that you don't respect my fears.
This week has gone by too quickly for me... Of course it's because I've been dreading Mark's trip to pick up the car and I'm now counting the minutes until he drives home on Sunday. The funny thing is that aside from this week all the rest of my "pregnancy time" has seemed to just draaaag. But this week, of course, just flew on by.
I've called a few folks from my support network and I feel a bit more comfortable about fending for myself so this weekend won't be that bad. I'm planning to take it super-easy, with the notion of calling and catching up with a few people I haven't spoken to recently, exhaustion permitting. But I'm planning on spending the bulk of my time knitting and decompressing.
My friend Sandy will be coming over tomorrow. I've been promising her a knitting lesson for like forever and a day, and I've got a little yarn and some mags and books to pass on to her. I hope that I can actually manage to teach in a comprehensible manner. My friend Kelly is one of the few people that I have successfully taught how to knit and she's like a bazillion times better at it than I am so she usually teaches at Knit Club. I tend to sit there, fix mistakes and give input every now and again so I feel wildly out of practice. Still, I know Sandy's had a few lessons so hopefully it'll just a question of being able to take off from what she remembers.
Speaking of knitting, progress on the second Oz vest is being quickly made:
My guess is that it will be finished by the end of the weekend. (I might get really ambitious and try to finish it all today.) That leaves completing the second Harvey Kimono and making the second Hooded Pullover before I can block everything to have it ready for finishing. There are booties, beanies and mittens in the picture also but I can make those in a day or two so I'm not sweating those.
Oddly enough I'm feeling really good about my knitting. I probably won't have the baby blanket completed before they are born but I will have plenty of little sweaters ready for when they arrive and as they grow up.
Another week down and another milestone achieved. 28 weeks. The sea monkeys will get a growth check at this Wednesday's ultrasound and are getting closer and closer to being born healthy. Prematurity has been weighing heavily on my mind lately and while I'm not entirely scared of the NICU, I'm hoping that my babies and I can avoid the experience. In the meantime, I feel like I'm playing a random numbers waiting game. Will I go at 36 weeks? At 29? 38?
Add to that gnawing anxiety an amplified fear of being alone. I never thought I would feel as helpless or dependent on someone as I do now. Mark's trip to pick up the car is scaring the shit out of me because it will be the first time since I've gotten pregnant that I will have to fend entirely for myself. Realistically I know that millions of women go through this — heck, Mark's sister was alone for a couple of months while her husband worked away from home! — and it's not like he's going to Zimbabwe for a month like he used to, but still... Even back then his travel bothered me, and I wasn't even pregnant.
I know that I have friends and neighbors that I can invite over to keep me company. And should something go bump in the hall, I will have a locked door and a big ass rottie to protect me. But my biggest fear is that I will go prematurely or slip and have an accident or something. My fear is that I'll have to call a car service to take me to the hospital sometime in the middle of the night. Alone.
Another related fear is that something will happen to Mark and I will be left to raise the twins alone. Without any help.
Aside: With the fear of something happening to Mark comes the completely unrelated fear that we received the wrong donor's sperm and that our babies will be black / asian / martian / not some mix of hispanic and white. Again, totally random and extremely unlikely and if it did happen Mark and I would be pissed at the fuck up but we'd be happy with the babies. However I think his family would completely write me off...
I can't even begin to imagine raising the kids on my own and it brings on my anxiety so badly that I wish I could take Xanax. Instead I've been dealing by thinking about what needs to be done next Monday, planning for my birthday, going over my checklists. There's a much more likely and realistic future in that planning and thinking and I need to start hanging my hat onto that and letting go of the fear.
Still, anxiety aside, I have days when I feel like crying and get extremely frustrated with myself because I feel so fucking helpless. I can't roll over easily or get comfortable in any position or walk without some level of pain. I know that it's a temporary condition but I really do wonder if I'll ever get back to being the strong, shit-kicking, take-no-prisoners woman I perceived myself to be. The fact that some minor aches and pains have worn down my psyche so much makes me think that maybe I wasn't as strong as I thought I was. Pregnancy can be incredibly humbling.
TonightNext Monday (another pregnancy brain goof) we have our infant / child CPR course. It's another step closer to become prepared parents for us. A week after that we have a basic childcare class — gotta learn how to bathe the baby, right? After that it's breastfeeding. Somewhere in that time we need to actually start picking up baby stuff like cribs and clothes and diapers. I'm living from class to doctor's appointment to shopping trip.
While my life has been consumed with thoughts of the future, I have been trying not to neglect the rest of my life. The cats benefited from my need to nest this weekend:
I bought them this HUMONGOUS 82" tall cat condo off of E-bay (under $110! Total score!). I've been thinking that the poor guys needed it since all their favorite haunts are getting a touch bit crowded:
Especialy when Maia gets in on the action:
I also bought myself some yarn because, well... it was 100% silk and on sale and my birthday is at the end of this month...
Plymouth Shire Silk, Frost
Plymouth Shire Silk, Silver
for two "Milan Jackets" (12 month size) from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms
(I also bought a few small knick-knacks from Etsy but I'll share those as they arrive...)
And, I finished the knitting on first of the two Oz vests:
I'm actually really happy with the job I did matching the colors up on the trim and on the fronts. Now I have to do the same with the second one:
There is one thing that I will be changing about the pattern on the second go round, though. It calls for a decorative button flap on the right shoulder, which a) was a pain in the ass to work because it was only two freaking rows deep and b) really didn't add that much to the look. And, considering that I've been having a hard time just finding buttons I like for the other sweaters, I figure I don't need to give myself a headache by trying to find three more. Also, I originally thought that it was a functional thing to help get the vests on and off, but having finished the first one I can see that even it were functional, I wouldn't have needed it. So this design detail is getting tossed for the second vest.
And, don't worry, the second of the Harvey Kimonos has been getting some love as well:
The back is entirely done and I'm now up to the quick-going decrease part for the left front.
And before you think that I'm NEVER going to actually weave in ends and finish these sweaters, I'm trying to finish all the newborn - 3 month size sweaters first so that I can block them in one fell swoop. That means I need to finish the second Harvey Kimono and to start and finish the second Hooded Jacket. I should be getting around to finishing things by the end of the month is my guess. (Yes, I know that the vests are not in the newborn size but who can resist knitting with some luscious Rowan...)
I found an empty paper towel tube in the hall this morning and in my usual 5 AM "just woke the fuck up" state wondered where it came from. I didn't remember putting one in the trash, the cattens' favorite place for fishing for stuff they shouldn't have. (Yes, we know a lid helps. We lost it somehow and are getting a new lidded trash can soon.) So I did what I always do when faced by a possible evil catten act of wanton destruction — put off dealing with the inevitable, got myself a cup of decaf and went to check my email.
At this time, Mark decided to switch back to our room — he sleeps in his old room when my tossing and turning have gotten to be too much for him — and I heard his shuffling steps in the hall, followed by the sound of the closet door opening and closing.
A few minutes later, after Mark had settled into bed, I heard the sounds of faint scrabbling and scratching. I also heard the soft padding sound of multiple feet that can only be described as the "curiosity of cats."
Fearing a repeat of the Nexium incident, I got up to investigate. Sure enough, three of the cats were hanging out in front of the closet door, listening to the commotion inside. Being that it wasn't all four, I knew it wasn't a mouse they were after and realized that Spot had gotten his nosy little ass locked in the closet again.
I walked over, let Spot out and followed the fleeing troop to Mark's room where I finally got my explanation for the empty paper towel tube.
The cattens instantly fled under the bed and left Stranger and Spot to take the blame for the mess. Spot, having already been embarrassed by being accidentally locked in, leapt up to the food bowl and ignored me, while Stranger sat there with his best, "But I'm your favorite..." look.
It didn't matter. I knew who the real culprits were. I'd caught them in the act before. The straw pilfered out of a glass in the sink. The steel wool debacle. The used Q-tips stolen right from under my nose in the bathroom. The knocked over dish of salt and the trail of teeny cat paw prints in the white crystals. The mini binder clip stolen in plain sight — and subsequently retrieved because they decided to noisily play with it at midnight. The scratched and gnawed wood on the kitchen chairs. The pilfered (and as yet unrecovered) diamond pendant. (Well, I didn't actually witness this one but I can hazard a guess...)
Luckily it was only the tail end of a roll of paper towels they shredded so the clean up won't be bad, but still. This goes on the list.
It's not like we don't buy the cats "enrichment items" for their own use. There are scratching pads and posts, soft furry pads to lie on, little "dens" for them to sleep, toys when the dog hasn't pilfered them... Three hots and a cot. The cattens are loved, mostly, and admittedly at times more by Mark than me. I'm not loving this phase, their "terrible twos" as Mark puts it.
Still, I won't get rid of them. I took responsibility for their lives so I'm stuck with them and they're stuck with me, like it or not. And I do love them, for the most part. I know that eventually they will mellow out like Stranger and Spot have.
I just wish they'd get over their adolescent destructo phase really really soon.
According to "What to Expect When You're Expecting," I will be at the six month mark next week. (Don't ask me how pregnancy time works... Douglas Adams would have had a field day with it.)
If I just count weeks, my six month mark is two weeks away. Either way six months... Yikes! That's 2/3 of the way there. That panics me somewhat because there's still SOOOO much to do. But, I kinda wish that time would move faster so the sea monkeys could be earthside already.
Truth be told, the pregnancy is causing some marital problems between Mark and I. We had a really teary blow out this morning about stuff that has been simmering for a while. We both realize we have issues that we need to work out but it's been incredibly hard to do so when all I've been figuratively doing is staring at my belly and praying for the best. Needless to say, we'll be working on communicating better and more often. We're crazy about each other, obviously, but we're also under individual pressure cookers of stress that have not been making things easy.
As for this past weekend's plans... well, I did measure the windows. Everything else got cancelled when Mark told me that there were a few unpaid bills I wasn't aware of. Now, we have more than enough money in savings for these purchases, but I'm a tightwad. I want to touch our savings as little as possible — we'll need it as a cushion when Mark stops working — and had originally thought that we would have enough money left over from our regular pay to order the stuff I'd planned. So we'll have to wait a few more weeks before proceeding with operation "Baby Ready the Apartment". (Oh, and I discovered that it's TOTALLY not worth it to order from Ikea online because the shipping is as much or MORE than the items I want.)
Being that I suddenly found my weekend free, I found enough time to start a completely brand new knitting project:
It's the "Hooded Jacket" pattern from Debbie Bliss' Simply Baby book. I'm making the first one in KnitPicks' Shine Worsted "Terracotta". The second one will be in "Bachelor Button." I worked the initial part of the back and two fronts yesterday, and am halfway through the first sleeve.
Edited to add:I finished the first sleeve on my commute this morning and cast on for the second one.
The pattern calls for working all the individual pieces halfway and then joining them at the underarm. You can kinda see how that works in the finished piece below:
It's been a remarkably easy and quick knit and I've been really digging it, mainly because it's in a different yarn. I'm not particularly fond of KnitPicks Shine — it sheds like a mofo — but it's softer and a little easier on the hands than the Cotton Cashmerino I've been knitting to date.
Also, here's the first half of the leggings. I'm at the point where you decrease and shape the legs. I'm looking forward to the decreases, truth be told, cause it will make the bloody knitting go soooo much faster.
I think it'll wind up taking me a full two weeks of commuter knitting to finish one pair. Once I finish those, I have the mittens, booties and the kimono jackets to make.
And just because, here's a picture of Samwise lounging in the sun.
When I walked in from work yesterday, Mark was nestled in bed in the cat room with Maia locked out. He woke and mumbled, "I think the cats tried to assassinate the dog."
Apparently, he came home to a nice pile of Maia hork that had STEEL WOOL in it. He instantly called the vet, who told him to feed Maia bread and watch to see if she could keep that down. If she could, she was more than likely okay. Maia happily obliged by eating a half loaf of wheat with no difficulties after which Mark, mind at ease, set to cleaning the vomit. I expect the cats sat around with their innocent "Who me?" faces the whole time.
I had, of course, found the steel wool yesterday morning. There was a larger racket than usual in our hallway at 5 AM and I got up to investigate. The cattens — it's ALWAYS the cattens — were playing with something and as I approached they pulled a standard "Cheese it..." and ran away. Seeing nothing in the pitch black, I went back to bed only to haul my ass up about fifteen minutes later when I heard the thundering elephants, I mean cattens, running through the hall again.
How can two creatures that collectively weigh about 15 pounds make so much goddamn noise?
Don't answer that. Please. Especially if your answer would have started with "Wait until..." or have included the words "baby" or "toddler."
This time, I turned on the light (big brain on me, no?) and found what they'd been fucking with — a halfway shredded steel wool pad they'd managed to filch from the kitchen sink. Blearily I picked it — and whatever shreds I saw — up, threw the mess out and went back to bed, giving it no further thought. I mentioned it to Mark later in the day and said we needed to get better about cat proofing the apartment but I put the incident out of my mind.
Unfortunately Maia must have either eaten some shreds I didn't catch or assisted in the initial tearing up. Now WHY a dog would eat steel wool of all things is beyond me, but since Maia occassionally goes fishing for "treats" in the litter box, I'm sure it made sense in her doggie mind.
"Ooooh, a yummy steel wool treat that smells like that piece of cornbread I got other night and cast iron skillet. Let me at it!"
And, of course, it would be the cattens that presented this "treat" to the dog. God help me, but they are sheerly evil.
I'm sure your wondering what the "Boobies for Valentine's Day" in the title is about. Last week one of my friends sent me this article about a hospital that needed boobies to teach women how to breastfeed. The hospital couldn't afford the expensive models and resorted to, you guessed it, knitted boobs.
However, they don't have enough to meet their needs at the moment. I thought this would be a good cause for me to champion a knit-a-thon for, so I wrote to their coordinator. However they're not interested in a knit-a-thon at the time, but they are interested in any donations they can get.
So... If you want to knit a boob for the cause, let me know. I was given a copy of their pattern to share to those interested. Email me using the link in the sidebar at upper left and I will be happy to send you all the relevant information you'll need.
The sea monkeys and I have another pre-natal this morning. We'll be finishing up the anatomy scan so that we can get all the parts they missed last time — the main concern were the heart chambers which were too tiny to see well — as well as checking my cervix again. I'll also meet with my doc afterwards so Mark will finally get to hear the twins' heartbeats. He's only seen them on screen, a la an EKG. I think that will be a nifty V-day's present for him from the kids.
Expect belly pics and ultrasound shots (if we get em) tomorrow.
Smile pretty for the camera, sea monkeys! And keep kicking and growing...