Today is Sunday, a nice calm Sunday. It’s pouring rain outside, and that combined with the melting snow has made for some soupy lawn shenanigans and a kind of dreary view. But it’s peaceful and calm, and honestly, after this week, I need a nice, peaceful, calm day.
(side note: I totally wrote this last night and it’s so long that I couldn’t finish it until today, oops)
Not that this week was wholly bad, mind you. It was actually really good on a lot of levels! Just… it was one of those weeks where everything happened so much, and by the time I crashed last night, I was relieved to put a pin in it and just enjoy the good memories and the knowledge that next week will be just as crazy (but still in good ways).
Last Sunday, I guess some superb owls were around? I don’t know. We mostly spent the day either at the supermarket or at Target or home. I was craving some chips of any kind, but the superb owls had made off with most of them, which was a little depressing, but not the end of the world.
And even Monday was a calm day. Sam and I followed his usual routine, playing all morning while checking in with his favorite TV shows (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and My Little Pony, for those keeping track at home), a nice lunch (which he devoured enthusiastically thanks to the promise of dessert cookies), calm naptime and a bit of screen time before an evening filled with him enthusiastically waiting for Kyle to get home. And then Sam went to bed after dinner, Kyle and I relaxed apart and together, and Monday was a wholly normal day.
Tuesday was not.
Tuesday, I had some testing to do–specifically the dreaded three-hour glucose test.
The glucose tests are for the sake of seeing if you have gestational diabetes. As pregnancy complications go, GD isn’t really high on the scale of freaking out. It’s not nothing, and you do have to keep an eye on it, as it can cause plenty of complications (especially later on), but compared to, say, preeclampsia, it’s relatively meh; and the testing for it is probably the biggest nuisance of the entire situation.
When I was pregnant with Sam, there were potentially two GD tests I could wind up taking–the one-hour and the three-hour. The one-hour was the first and was more of a screening. For that test, I had to fast the 12 hours beforehand, get my blood drawn, drink the second-most god-awful sugary drink in the history of the world in under five minutes, wait an hour, and then get my blood drawn again. The drink was awful, but the orange flavor helped… it tasted kind of like a melted popsicle with a weird aftertaste, and while that’s not a good flavor, it wasn’t horrendous. After that one-hour test, I went out for breakfast with Kat and my mom, and life was grand.
And I passed, so I got to skip the three hour test.
This time around, they’d changed the screening protocol. You used to need to fast before the screening, but this time around, they told me to go ahead and eat breakfast, whatever, it doesn’t matter. I still had to drink the gross drink (it’s called Glucola, by the way, and this time it was fruit punch flavored, but really, it tasted like if NyQuil tasted worse) and wait the hour, but they didn’t take my blood beforehand, so the whole thing seemed… kind of screwy, to be honest. Without a controlled test environment, how was the test supposed to tell anyone anything except that if you chug a bunch of soda immediately after breakfast, you’ll have high glucose levels? I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure that experiments work best if you have controls in place, so why would they do any sort of testing this way? You don’t know what I had for breakfast. I may have had a completely carb-and-glucose free meal, or I may have chowed down on some chocolate cake. How is that supposed to tell anyone anything?
Which is all to say that I did not pass this time because I ate breakfast.
I figured that the breakfast was the reason, but I still worried, what if it wasn’t? Gestational diabetes is more common in people who were obese before getting pregnant (hi) and people who are carrying multiples (hi). The potential complications of GD weren’t something that worried me too much–with treatment, the likelihood of really nasty complications developing isn’t very high. On the other hand, the treatment made me nervous, since it mostly falls under the umbrella of “lifestyle changes.”
I’m entirely capable of making lifestyle changes; Kyle and I made some major lifestyle changes when we were trying to get pregnant with Sam. I know that, if I had to, I could cut out the carbs and the sugars and make it through the rest of pregnancy without issue… but I really didn’t want to. For one (comparatively minor) thing, my baby shower was coming up on Saturday (more on that in a bit), and I knew that my family had planned quite the spread, food-wise. Macaroni and cheese bakes, an ice cream cake, cupcakes to decorate, a cheese platter with delicious artisanal crackers, the works. I know I could technically still eat all of that if I had gestational diabetes, but not without paying for it, and that made me sad.
I also worried about the impact lifestyle changes would have on the family as a whole. Kyle promised that he’d join me in the dietary changes, but my big worry was Sam. Like most three-year-olds, he has a very… limited palate. He likes foods that are beige, the primary exceptions being chocolate, broccoli, pepperonis, and apples. Sometimes carrots, too. He doesn’t like meat of any kind, and attempts to change that with even the beigest of meats, the chicken nugget, have all been unsuccessful. He’s also thoroughly unbribeable unless you bribe him to do something he already wanted to do.
And, well. I could probably figure out a way to enjoy zoodles instead of noodles or many varieties of carb-free meals, but Sam?
So I went in nervous. The three-hour glucose test is a fasting test, so I went in hungry and very tired, had my first blood draw, and then chugged an 8 ounce bottle of even sweeter Glucola (for the one-hour test, you drink a mixture that’s got 50g of sugar; for the three-hour test, you drink a mixture that’s got 100g of sugar, and let me tell you, you taste every. single. gram.). And then I waited for them to call me in for hourly blood draws until my three hours was up.
The lab was mostly populated with people fighting off some sort of viral infection, so immediately, I wanted to hide. I’m not usually one to shy away from folks fighting off illness–it’s not their fault they got sick, after all–but knowing how nasty flu season has been and knowing how bad the flu can be when you’re pregnant, I was kind of wishing for a hazmat suit, especially when a tween flopped down next to me and proceeded to hack up a lung every two minutes or so without covering his mouth. Hnnngh.
The other most common patients I saw were babies. Babies and lab work are never fun, but they all need it at some point, whether it’s testing for lead levels or something more serious. And, well. There were a lot coming for those tests on Tuesday. The smallest was dressed in red checked pajamas and a pair of sneakers. He seemed to have just learned how to walk and kept toddling over to the lab entrance and then back to his mom when he got concerned. He had the cutest black bowlcut and was basically just charming the hell out of everyone there…
…and then he had to go get his blood drawn and came out sniffling and trying to be brave but failing miserably, and my heart shattered just a little bit.
Anyway. The test was long enough that I got to see the entirety of a snowstorm play out and see that it had all melted by the time I left.
The real snowstorm, the one that made things gross, hit on Wednesday, shortly after I called the doctor and got my results back–negative for gestational diabetes, yes! Kyle worked from home that day, as he had on Tuesday, though this time because of the snow. It wasn’t supposed to hit until that afternoon, but it would’ve made for a hellish evening commute, and he figured he could just work more easily if he didn’t bother.
So it was a typical day with Kyle working from home, and by that I mean that Sam was out of his mind with glee. He loves when his dad works from home, somehow convinced that this means he’ll get more playtime during the day (he doesn’t). He also usually has to be corralled away from the office door so that he doesn’t spend the entire day butting in on Kyle’s phone calls or trying to convince Kyle that he should stop coding and play Overwatch instead.
In short: I did a lot on Wednesday.
That may have been why, as the day wore down, I started to feel a nasty pain around my left eye. Or it may have been the weather. Whatever the reason, by 8:00, I had a full-blown migraine with aura. Now, this would usually just be a sign for me to just go to bed and pray it would improve by the morning except that severe headaches with vision disturbances are also a sign of one of the Big Bads of Pregnancy, preeclampsia.
With preeclampsia, everything sort of goes wrong at once. Your blood pressure rises to dangerously high levels, your liver gives you the finger, and it’s basically a huge emergency situation that means delivery is imminent unless you want yourself and your baby (or babies) to die. It’s another thing that’s more likely with obesity, twin pregnancies, and also with the medication I’m taking for my depression and anxiety.
(and before you ask: I’m still on the medication because I like not being suicidal and/or having panic attacks, particularly when pregnant. There’s a risk of preeclampsia with the medication, but there’s a guarantee of a downward spiral without it)
Anyway, there I was with a migraine that kept me from focusing on the computer screen in the least. Kyle noticed me looking worried and asked what was wrong, so I explained the situation to him. He’s a worrier himself, even more than I am, and when I explained what preeclampsia was and how I was feeling, he said, “Call your doctor. Now.”
“Can’t I just have a drink of water first?”
He was right, of course, and I swallowed my absolute loathing for phone calls (seriously, even calling friends, I’m like… why do I have to do this??? The only people I don’t get skittish about calling are Kyle and my mom, and that’s it in the entire world) to call the 24-hour nurse line and ask for advice. They connected me with the on-call doctor pretty quickly, and she said that while my lack of swelling and so-far, so-good blood pressure readings were reassuring signs, she wanted me to come in for testing and observation so that we could completely rule out preeclampsia.
Because you don’t fuck around with preeclampsia.
While this was an overall good idea, it still created something of a dilemma for us, and that dilemma’s name was Sam. We needed to get Sam to my parents’ house so they could watch him overnight, get to the hospital, and hopefully get home, all over VERY icy roads. Fortunately, my parents were more than willing to help out with the entire situation, and Sam was so soundly asleep that the transfer between our house and theirs went almost entirely unnoticed (by Sam, at least). We packed a bag for him to stay overnight, and my mom said that she’d either take Sam to school the next day or just have him stay at the house until I was done with my doctor’s appointment in the morning.
Next, it was off to the hospital. The roads weren’t as nasty as we expected, but everything was quickly gaining a fine sheen of ice, and the temperatures were dropping quickly. If we got to go home that night, it would be a very interesting drive.
Kyle and I both tried to keep things light on the drive in, but we were nervous. I’ve only just hit 29 weeks this week, and that’s pretty early for even the most healthy of babies to be born. Our twins would be looking at a fairly long NICU stay and, what’s more, we wouldn’t be as close to them as we wanted. The hospital we’re delivering at only has a Level 2B NICU, which is great for babies who aren’t that sick or are born past 32 weeks gestation… but that wouldn’t have been us. We’d have needed to be transported by ambulance to our hospital’s affiliate in Boston, Tufts and its Floating Hospital for Children. On the one hand, if you’re going to have a sick baby, Floating Hospital is the place to do it. Boston overall is the place to do it. Our medical facilities are among the best in the nation, and they’re constantly coming up with new technologies and new methods of treatment for all of their patients.
On the other hand, nobody wants to see their baby or babies that sick. And on the other other hand, Boston is a huge drive for us–without traffic, we’re looking at 45 minutes at least, and there’s always downtown city traffic. We’d figure it out, of course, but the idea had us both a little shaken. At a closer hospital, we could visit the twins often, as often as we felt necessary, and it wouldn’t have a huge impact on our lives overall. At Tufts, though?
It was after hours when we arrived, so we had to go through the ER to get to the maternity ward, up on the third level. The nurse at the front desk was more than happy to assist and even called a wheelchair for me, which I blame on the fact that even though the twins are 29 weeks along, I look like I’m at a full 40. Another nurse, apparently visiting from Florida (poor thing, what a night to be visiting from Florida), wheeled me along while cheerfully gabbing away about the weather and the superb owls and other innocuous topics; Kyle shuffled along behind us, bearing most of the nervousness for the rest of the group.
I haven’t taken the hospital tour yet, so getting to see the maternity ward was pretty awesome. It’s a nice place with private rooms and pleasant views from every window. The nursing staff are all really helpful and cool, and I’m grateful for that: although I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with L&D nurses, I know a lot of people who’ve had some absolute Nurse Ratchets, and that’s something that can just ruin the entire experience.
(the niceness of these nurses made me feel extra good about my L&D strategy of bringing in food for anyone who will be helping deliver my babies. Last time, we brought candy, and I think we will again this time, plus granola bars that they can nosh on whenever they have a couple of seconds free)
Anyway, needless to say, I didn’t deliver on Wednesday; it was just a migraine after all. The hospital visit was as unremarkable as they come: I gave urine and blood, I had my blood pressure monitored, the babies were monitored (they kept moving away from the heartbeat monitors because neither of them are fans of having their space intruded on; Carrie, in particular, kept kicking at the darn thing to try and get it off). At one point, I received an ultrasound from the on-call OB resident (who looked to be about 12) because they kept losing the babies’ heartbeats–not because either Isaac or Carrie were in distress, but because neither of them wanted to have any attention paid to them.
All told, we were in the hospital about three hours, and we got sent home after I got Hospital Brand Excedrin for my migraine. Everyone agreed that I’d done the right thing by coming in, so I didn’t feel too bad about “crying wolf,” as it were, and best of all, we learned that–at least on Wednesday night–both babies are head-down. This vastly increases my chances for a vaginal delivery, meaning shorter recovery time and, you know, a lack of major abdominal surgery.
We got home around 1 a.m. and promptly fell asleep because Kyle had to work and I had a doctor’s appointment the next day. Both were similarly unremarkable, to a point: my doctor’s appointment was a nice, quick one that lasted less than 15 minutes and mostly involved a conversation about (a) how they’re hoping I’ll stay pregnant for at least another 3-4 weeks; and (b) what I want to do for birth control afterwards.
I told my provider (not Dr. Solano, whom I’m seeing in ~2 weeks) that I want the whole system removed. I’m 100% serious on this; I don’t know if I can get a complete hysterectomy before the age of 35 without a major medical reason, but I want one like Christmas. I’ve had nearly 25 years of agonizing periods and overall misery. I’m done. I want this terrible pear-shaped organ taken out of my body, set on fire, and peed on by a dog.
My provider misinterpreted this to mean that I wanted my tubes tied (an option, but it means I still get periods, so not the BEST option) and told me that I could get my tubes tied during a C-section or afterwards. OR, if I didn’t want to have surgery in the first year after giving birth, I could have an IUD instead!
I took the pamphlet. I do not want an IUD.
But that was another conversation for another time. My mom and I both got back to the house around the same time, her with Sam and me with a Dr. Pepper. Sam was effusively excited to be home, hugging me and cuddling up with his blankets and having a wonderful time. My mom was glad to have further details of my hospital adventure to put her mind at ease. We had a lovely visit and, when my mom left, it was time for Sam to go up for his afternoon rest.
And this is where things got interesting.
Sam was upstairs for about 45 minutes, and he was playing quietly. I had my lunch and began to tool around online, checking to make sure the minivans we’re hoping to buy next weekend were still around, chatting with friends, the works. At the 45 minute mark, Sam called down to me, “Mommy, I pooped.”
This is not uncommon for my not-completely-potty-trained child, who will do everything in the toilet except poop there. We send him up for rest time with a pull-up on, and that’s usually when he chooses to go. “Alright,” I told him, “I’ll be up in a few minutes.”
I set about gathering the things I’d need to change a poopy diaper, and Sam called down again, this time with a wail of despair. “Mommy, the poop is getting everywhere!”
There are many phrases you never want to hear as a parent. Most pertain to situations in which your child is dead, injured, or in grave danger; but assuming that your child is healthy and safe, and assuming that you are caring for them at the moment, the phrase “Mommy, the poop is getting everywhere!” ranks pretty high on the list of things you DO NOT EVER WANT TO HEAR. What does it mean, that the poop is getting everywhere? Is it on your clothes? Is it on the walls? Is it on the floor? Did you clog a toilet? What happened? How afraid should I be?
Very, as it turned out.
I told Sam not to move and made my way up the stairs, carrying plastic bags, diapers, wipes, and faith. At the foot of the stairs, the stench hit me, an almost visible miasma that I’m 99% sure gave me X-Man powers. It grew stronger as I ascended and nearly brought tears to my eyes when I reached the room.
The sight that greeted me shook me to my core. Sam lay on a pile of blankets, tears in his eyes. His feet were barely recognizable as such, as they were coated with poop. Poop trailed down his legs and arms, though I thankfully didn’t see any near his face. A trail of poop footprints led from the doorway to the blankets, like incredibly pungent ancient fossils. Shadows prevented me from seeing the state of the blankets upon which he lay, but that was probably for the best.
I swore as quietly as I could. In a very PG-13 way, even though my head was screaming obscenities that would get me banned from most decent theaters.
But I had to take care of it. I pasted on a smile. “Alright, buddy!” I said in my chipperest voice, like we were just going to change his diaper in a completely normal situation. “Let’s get over to the bed so I can change you!”
Sam stood. The tears in his eyes began to trickle down, but I kept the smile on. “Come on, bud, I’ve got you,” I said. I lifted him gingerly under his arms and placed as much of his lower half as I could on a plastic bag. And then we began.
The de-poopinating took about 45 minutes, all said and done. And it was nasty. Without details, I’ll say that by the time I considered Sam clean enough for decent society, his poor hands, feet, legs, and butt were scrubbed so hard that they’d gone pink and raw. He spent most of the time crying “Mommy, that really hurts!” and I spent most of the time feeling guilty because SON YOU NEED TO BE CLEAN but oh, I imagine it hurt a lot. And I didn’t want it to.
But he got clean, and then I looked around the room and felt a wave of despair. The carpet was vile. The blankets were terrifying. And Sam himself could probably stand to have a proper bath or shower rather than the wipe down I gave him.
And I couldn’t do any of it.
As I said before, the twins are 29 weeks along, but I’m measuring 40 weeks. My belly is huge. It eclipses half of my thighs. It kicks Kyle out of bed. It weighs a ton. And I cannot bend over, even to do mundane things like putting on socks or shoes. Getting down to scrub the floor, pick up the blankets, even crouching to help Sam with a shower or bath? Absolutely out of the question.
And I still have 9 weeks or so to go!
I set Sam up in Kyle and my bed with his Kindle and told him that I’d be back soon. And then I called Kyle, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I was crying a little when I did. I begged him to come home early. Not too early, I told him, like you don’t have to leave right this second, but there’s so much to be cleaned and if we wait until the usual time you get home, at 7:30, Sam won’t get to bed until midnight.
Kyle is a good husband. He talked to his boss right then and there and was home in an hour, armed with carpet cleaner, treats for Sam, dinner stuff, and a kiss for me. He kissed me, kissed Sam, cleaned the carpets, put the blankets in the wash, and then dove back into work.
And there was morning and there was evening on Thursday.
Friday was blissfully calm. Sam had a wholly normal day, I had a wholly normal day, and Kyle had a wholly normal day. We were all sort of holding our breath for Saturday, though, because Saturday was my baby shower.
My mom and my cousins especially were adamant that I have a baby shower for the twins. It’s been four years since Sam was born, I needed a lot of stuff, and on my part, I really wanted to celebrate this rainbow pregnancy with the people I love most. And they, along with my aunt and uncle, planned a fantastic little party for me, complete with cupcake and onesie decorating, an ice cream cake, Mad Libs, and everyone I loved surrounding me.
I was even more excited about the party, too, because my aunties on my dad’s side were planning to attend. I adore them, honestly, but we live so far away from each other than I rarely get to see them outside of Major Life Events, like weddings and baby showers and so on. BUT they all RSVPed, which caused me to break into my happy dance, and I was seriously bouncing with joy just to see them there. I’ve missed them! I think the last time we were all together was at my cousin Tim’s wedding in 2015, so seeing them again was just awesome, absolutely awesome.
And the whole party had the net effect of making me feel a million times more loved and supported than I already did. I know how much my family loves me, and how we have a very strong sense of being there for each other as a group, but it’s always awesome to have that reminder, seeing the people you love all together and telling you how much they care.
Which is to say, it was a really good end to a crazy week. Next week is going to be similarly busy, though I’m hoping we can avoid the whole hospital visit thing. And I’m hoping that the weeks that follow will be chill enough that we can prepare for the twins’ arrival in relative calm.
But we’ll see.