Almost there / by Martha Keyes

Things are starting to get very real around here. I've reached of 33.5 weeks now, and suddenly time seems to be very short. At our appointment with the OB the other day, I asked the doctor at what point we wouldn't try to stop labor if it started. 
"34 weeks," she said. 
Woah. 
Now, obviously, I am not hoping or even planning for delivering these babies in a week, but it's not outside the realm of possibility. From all my obsessive reading of twin birth stories, for most women pregnant with twins, things seems to be going just fine...until they're not, and then suddenly the babies are on their way. 

Though time seems short, in some ways I feel like these next few weeks are going to go by    v e r y   s l o w l y. Carrying twins is definitely taking a toll on my body.
The other night, I woke up around 1:30 for my fourth trip to the bathroom (TMI?). Using the dresser on my side of the bed to assist me in hoisting my large, pregnant self out of the bed, I stepped on my swollen left foot and then on my swollen right foot and then nearly collapsed due to the pain in my back. My sacroiliac joint has been a huge issue, and putting weight on my right foot was incredibly painful. I hobbled to the bathroom, looking like a fool, and stopped shy of the bathroom to pop a couple of antacids, since my unwise evening snack was persistently attempting to make its way back out of my esophagus. I grabbed the bottle of tums and could barely open it due to the arthritic and swollen joints in my hands and to my numb fingertips. After my bathroom trip, I hobbled back into bed, propping myself up for an hour without sleep as I tried to keep the heartburn and acid reflux at bay. 
I thought of what a picture I presented and laughed a bit to myself. This is what life looks like for me right now. 
It also looks like me trying to squeeze between two cars and turning sideways out of habit--until realizing that my profile is no longer the thinnest option. 
It looks like me putting on mascara and suddenly becoming breathless. 
It looks like me asking Brandon to help me get my boots off and on, knowing that the zipper protests as he tries to zip the boots over my very swollen feet, ankles, and calves. I have to put on my boots before noon to ensure that they can zip up over my progressively-swelling ankles.
It looks like me saying goodbye to one of my two pairs of maternity pants because I know that the next time I put them on, I will literally have to cut them off. Skinny maternity jeans were not made for swollen cankles.

I probably sound like a big complainer. Mostly I just find all these things funny--I barely recognize my body in its current state. Not just because of my growing belly--that is the very least of the ways my body is different from what I'm used to. And despite the plethora of strange and persistent symptoms I've experienced throughout pregnancy, I have felt very blessed in this pregnancy. I truly am grateful that I'm not on bedrest; that the twins are still growing inside me; that I don't have gestational diabetes or preeclampsia (cross your fingers that it stays that way); that I'M PREGNANT--something that we didn't always think was even possible. I have so much to be grateful for! But this pregnancy also isn't a walk in the park. My incredibly generous ward threw me a shower earlier this week, and I think I heard three times from different women a common comment I've gotten during this pregnancy:
"I always wanted twins! It would be so nice to just have one pregnancy and two babies." 
And then I just smile.
If twin pregnancy were just like any other pregnancy, maybe? (still...two babies at a time ain't no cake walk, people!) But it's not. I know many women pregnant with one baby have incredibly difficult pregnancies and encounter complications. I don't mean to minimize that. But the likelihood of pregnancy complications and difficulties; the early onset of all unpleasant pregnancy symptoms; the sheer toll that having more than one baby takes on your body isn't something to be waved aside. There is a good reason that most babies come one at a time. 

Despite that, we are getting very excited to meet these two little guys! Every child comes to the this earth with personality, and twins provide a unique opportunity to see just how much of a child's personality is nurture versus nature. I'm not suffering from any illusions about how purely blissful life will be with twins--I understand very well that our life is going to be a sleep-deprived circus--but I'm also making an effort to remind myself more often that I'm going to love these babies something fierce. Yes, it's going to be hard, incredibly hard. But I will also be motivated with a unique kind of love that I haven't yet experienced in this life, and I'm excited for that.

At our 31 week growth scan, Baby A was measuring 3 pounds 8 oz, and Baby B was measuring 3 pounds 4 oz. They're keeping a close eye on Baby B's kidneys since he has some dilation issues going on, but other than that, they are doing so well! Currently, they are both positioned in a way that would allow me to avoid a c-section, provided labor goes smoothly. Hopefully they stay that way, but I have coached myself to have an open mind about how the birthing process will occur--we've had to develop open minds about the entire process of starting a family, and labor/delivery are no different. There are so many variables in a twin birth, and the number one priority is absolutely that they arrive as healthy and as strong as possible. There are some things I would definitely prefer or like to see happen, and my OB supports all of those things, but I have read enough twin birth stories to understand that situations can and do arise, and that I need to be flexible. I made sure to choose an OB who I trust--I drive much further than I need to in order to see my OB--precisely so that I am not stressed out about having to fight for things I want during the labor and delivery process. I feel very blessed to have found the OB I did (thanks to my cousin Brooke who is just a week behind me in pregnancy), and to know that she will be the doctor to deliver these babies, even if they come on Christmas. 

Meanwhile, supposedly the babies become less active as they lose space. That has definitely not been my experience yet. I'm to the point where a large percentage of their movement is uncomfortable, and it's pretty dang frequent! They get the hiccups quite often--sometimes simultaneously. When their feet get up into my ribs and lungs, it can cause some fairly painful sensations, but for me the most painful thing is when they move limbs across the middle of my belly--right where my belly button is. It feels like they might burst through sometimes--they are strong little dudes! Despite it being uncomfortable, it's still incredibly awesome. The ONLY thing I will miss about being pregnant is feeling them move inside me. So often I wish Brandon could know what it feels like. The best way I've found to describe the way that some of the movement feels is to liken it to a massage chair with a "kneading" setting. Except that the kneading is happening from the inside of you. That kneading can feel good, but it can also be too strong and cause discomfort. 

In other news, we took some pictures! Only some minor arm-twisting was required to get Brandon on board ;)

I love our little family! I can't wait to see our little babies and get to know them.