Monday, December 6, 2010

A Woman, A Dog, A Security Guard, and A Foreigner

My morning walks are proving to be interesting if not flat out entertaining at times. By getting out with the boys early in the morning, I am able to walk through local neighborhoods with no more than a friendly nod from the security guard. This easy access allows me a small glimpse into areas I would not otherwise see.

Just the other day, I came across a most unusual sight involving a local woman, a dog, a security guard, and a foreigner. While this seems like the beginning of a bad joke, it was actually a really entertaining moment.

As I was carving out my usual path across Nanjing Xi Lu (the N.Y.C equivalent of Fifth Ave), I noticed a rather unusual scenario unfolding before me. Standing next to the entrance of a large mall was a woman entrenched in conversation with what appeared to be the mall guard. Over the course of her entire conversation (at least the 3 minutes I witnessed) - her dog was mounting her leg at a frantic and steady pace. She seemed completely at ease with this. Her conversation remained on track, even lively as she obliged the randy little animal without second thought.

Approaching the scene from the opposite direction was another foreigner. Unlike myself- grungy, dripping with sweat and looking like I had woken up 10 times on and off through the night to finally awake at 5 am; this guy was the epitome of cleanliness and fashion.  Great care had been taken to put together his outfit. From his clean shaven face and well tailored suit, to the the hat that was oh-so-carefully tipped 20 degrees to the right; one could tell that this was a man who worked hard to look good and was consequently pleased with his appearance.

As I passed the lady with the mounting dog from one direction and the well dressed foreigner passed from the other- I was amazed to note that this gentlemen tried to appear completely unaware of what was happening in front of him. I say tried, because there is no way he could have missed this scene and its absurdity (unless of course, he had a rare medical condition that rendered his peripheral vision useless).

I've lived in Shanghai for close to 4 years now and I have seen a lot of strange and unusual things. It's easy and often necessary to numb to some of them. After all, living in a city of approximately 22 million people is overwhelming on good days. It's important to block out the chaos when it threatens to swallow you. But after this scenario- I'm not sure what was more unusual- seeing the randy dog being obliged by its owner, or the foreigner working so hard not to notice...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Traveling With Twins Part III: The Gulag

As the plane approached Moscow and began it's descent, a wave of relief came over my tense and tired body like a massage. A round of clapping joined the screeching sounds of the landing gear as it met the tarmac and I felt inclined to join in. People clapped to thank the pilot for the safe arrival; fearful travelers clapped to thank God that they did not die in a fireball speeding to the earth; and I clapped because my hellish 10 hours of air travel had come to a close. Before long, I would be in the comfort of my Novotel hotel room in Moscow; and I was looking forward to a hot shower, a fresh change of clothes, and a place to unwind before our final trek to Nice the next day.

We exited the plane and gathered our two car seats, one rather mammoth baby carriage, four carry-on bags and our two children; and entered the airport corridor hoping to find signs that pointed the way to our "airport" hotel. Instead, we found ourselves in the midst of a rather confused looking crowd of fellow passengers being guided by a stout and stern looking woman who seemed to hold the key to all knowledge about all things related to air travel in Moscow. Clearly, we were not meant for this group of bewildered looking people- we just needed to get our luggage and get to our hotel. As things unfolded, it became very clear that we did in fact belong to this group- and it wouldn't be long before we would be looking equally bewildered as we were being ushered about by another stern looking woman of importance. 

Our "simple" layover in Moscow became quite a complicated mess. As we were merely flying through for connection purposes, we did not get the needed visa's to travel within the country. After all, we were within the 24 hour time limit to be without a visa, so we thought it wise to avoid the $1000 price tag. Little did we know that this seemingly simple connection/ overnight stay in Moscow would become quite an adventure.

After 3 hours of sitting and waiting while people made phone calls, looked at our passports, talked to us, and took us to different sections of the airport- we were finally boarding a secured (aka police escorted) bus and on our way to the hotel (sadly without our luggage and strangely not on the airport grounds). As we drove up to the front of the hotel, I didn't know what to expect. Despite the cold reception from both person and climate in Russia, I was pleased to see that our hotel appeared to be warm and cozy- even a bit posh. After 10 minutes of waiting in the bus, we were released and being ushered into the hotel by what I later realized was another police escort.

As we entered the hotel lobby I was relieved to see a variety of restaurants and even noticed that one of our favorite beers was on tap at the German themed pub. We may not have had our luggage, but there was some consolation in the fact that we could relax and unwind in this comfortable hotel and perhaps even enjoy a beer.

Any fantasy that I had about relaxing in the hotel and sampling the menu of this quaint little restaurant was squashed as the reality of our stay revealed itself. After checking in, we were taken up to our room in a "special elevator". As we arrived at our floor, the elevator doors opened to a rather dingy looking corridor filled with surveillance cameras and a guard sitting at a desk. We were told that we would not be able to leave our room and if we wanted food, we would have to order room service. Looking to further console myself, I thought " well, this is a Novotel, so at lest the rooms will be nice." I soon learned that Moscow didn't just take the nice out of people, but the hotel rooms as well.

I have little doubt that the rest of the hotel rooms were quite lovely, but we were unfortunate enough to be part of the "secured wing" (Gulag). Whoever made decisions for this wing figured we didn't need towels, extra amenities like tooth brushes or combs, or shampoo and soap. After a quick glance around our less than favorable surroundings- I was almost shocked to see that they provided toilet paper.

As I quietly ruminated and mumbled things under my breath about communists and the fact that I would never want to visit Russia, my adventure loving husband looked more and more amused. He urged me to set aside my grumblings and sense of injustice and just enjoy the humor in all of it. The adventure seeking boy inside of him loved the fact that we were essentially being held (mostly of our own will) in a hotel room in Russia until the time that we could board our plane for France.

I conceded that he was probably right and took comfort in the fact that we were no longer on a 10 hour flight with my screaming children. We were halfway through the journey to France and only had to survive the night in a secured Russian hotel before we were on our flight to Nice. And after the flight that got us to this point- I thought no problem! So we bathed the kiddos, put them to sleep and tucked into our room service dinner (which was actually quite tasty) before heading off to bed ourselves.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I'm not entirely sure how often twin moms can say they feel like Supermom. It's probably more accurate to say we feel like Frazzled mom, Going-in-thirty-different-directions mom, Sleep-deprived mom, or a host of other non- super related titles. Despite the fact that many people think we are super human for simply surviving the pregnancy, birth and first few months of raising twins; I'm going to guess it's not that way for most of us. But allow me to remove the large umbrella here and just speak for myself when I say it's not enough. For me- I need to do a little more than manage a shower before noon to feel accomplished in this crazy twin parenting world.

This morning was one of those rare Supermom kinds of days for me. I managed to get more than 3 hours of sleep through the night, had both babies wake at a humane hour, fed them, changed them, got them dressed, gave them their medicine, had breakfast, made my husband a cappuccino, and got myself and the kids out the door for a much needed walk...and I did it all before 8am!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Traveling With Twins Part II: The Hand Off

As I paced the aisles of the airplane trying to look as in control and as calm as possible; I scanned the crowd for an eager Chinese Ayi (auntie) to hand my children off to. I knew the plane had to be teeming with eager women just waiting to get their hands on the Shuangbaotai (refer to earlier post titled Shuangbaotai for definition), and I was desperate to find just one.

Now allow me to clarify this whole handing off thing. When I say hand off, I don't mean permanently (though the thought had crossed my mind on more than one occasion) To hand your child off to a total stranger and allow them to be occupied for a while seems strange and practically unacceptable to those of us in Western cultures; but this practice is completely normal in the East, and more specifically in China. I was simply looking for a kind and eager person who could only see my malcontent squirming little screamer as a mound of sweet cooing baby; a person who was so blinded by their love for babies (almost any Chinese person qualifies) - that they would simply take them out of my arms and occupy them so I had enough time to pee.

As I was approaching the 350th walk down the aisle of the plane, a lovely Romanian woman who spoke very little English- stood up and simply took Naaman from my arms. It was love at first sight for both of them. She oohed and cooed and he paid it back ten fold. I stood there for a minute or two to seem like I was being an attentive mother, and then quickly ran to the loo.

When I returned from my blissful 1 minute break- the plane had practically broken out in a riot of women. As they realized I was willing to hand off my babies, a floodgate of Ayi's opened and poured forth.

As my little celebrities were being passed around to all the eager aunties (and granny's too) who were just waiting to squeeze them; Phil and I took the opportunity to sit for a few minutes and take a deep breath.

I only wish the floodgate had opened a few hundred paces earlier...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Traveling With Twins: Part 1 (along with a lot of side comments)

We just returned home from our first official family trip. I say official because it isn't the first time that we have traveled as a family. This was however, our first trip for the sake of leisure (as if that is attainable with 7 month old twins). 

We decided early on (before actually having twins) that we didn't want to be parents who stayed glued home for the first several years of their children's lives (though there may be some sanity and wisdom in that). So in true Phil and Jen form- we decided that 7 months would be a good age (why- I have no idea); and we started planning our European vacation. After deciding on the South of France- we honed in on some quaint rustic towns and worked on finding and booking a villa. Once all things were booked and paid for, it was time to pack (and for me- time to panic).

As the 7 month mark approached for the boys, I began to realize that all of the little benchmarks I had been hoping for (and quite frankly, counting on) were not being met. When they were 4 months old and we were planning our future travels- I had this picture in mind that I would have 2 babies who were sleeping through the night, eating solids regularly, and an overall feeling of normalcy and freedom returning in my life. As our trip drew near- I was forced to contend with a very different reality. Instead of the above mentioned picture, I had two babies who were teething, sleeping horribly through the night, feeding every two hours 24 hours/day, and there was nothing normal or sane feeling about my life. My quaint and somewhat peaceful little vacation on the Mediterranean was becoming a looming nightmare. Instead of looking forward to France and all of the wonderful clean air and tasty food- I had resigned myself to think, "at least I will be miserable in France instead of China."

The first leg of our journey would take us from Shanghai to Moscow for a 1 night layover (a story that deserves its own post) and then we would head to Nice the next day. As we prepared for take off- the worst case scenario began to unfold. My two sweet little hell cats started shrieking for no apparent reason (and they continued to do so, on and off, for the next 5 hours). We were finally "those people" on the plane. The Old Catholic God of my mother's past emerged for a moment when I thought surely we were being punished by God for something.Four long hours into the 10 hour flight, I had convinced myself that once we got to Moscow- we would promptly find flights back to Shanghai, and I informed Phil that I was not going on to France. My saner half refused to accept this and told me to suck it up and deal with it. After all he reasoned, by the time we got to Moscow it would be a matter of another 4 hour flight before we were in sunny Nice and enjoying the beautiful weather (little hell cats and all).

I conceded, gritted my teeth, and walked the aisles of the plane for the next 6 hours...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I've started taking daily walks through the neighborhoods around my apartment building. Since the boys don't seem to sleep in past 6 am, I have decided to embrace their early morning wakings with a daily ritual that involves a little exercise for me, a little sleep induction for the kiddos, and a tiny glimpse into the local life around me.

As a foreigner living here in Shanghai, it is incredibly easy to live a sheltered existence. All creature comforts are fairly attainable. Unlike other countries, you never really have to learn the language to survive and thrive. If you have a driver, it's likely that you never have to take the metro or get lost walking around trying to find that one store a friend told you about. You can shop exclusively at Western stocked grocery stores buying Quaker Oatmeal, Breyers Ice Cream or whatever other things you ate back home. In fact, after the initial settling in period, finding a community of friends, and recovering from culture shock; most of us are a year into our 2-3 year assignments and find little desire in expanding our comfortable routines to include anything more Chinese than that cute silk top we had made at the fabric market.

Don't get me wrong, I don't claim to be living among the locals here. I like my comfy four bedroom apartment, and after 3 years of taxis, metros and hoofing it- I love having a driver. I also enjoy buying my breads at various European bakeries and I look very forward to my morning breakfast dates with my hubby (I usually order the pancakes). I don't speak Mandarin well enough to have any truly meaningful conversations, and with 6 month old twins, I don't have any illusions that I will be furthering my Mandarin skills either. 

With that said, I do miss China sometimes. It's weird to say that given the fact that I live here, but it's true. I don't have the China experience that some of my more adventurous (childless) friends have; and I do see a value in soaking in the culture to the best of my ability, so the best of my ability happens to be my daily walks. I head out with the boys in the wee hours of morning and I wind their carriage through the alleyways of various hidden neighborhoods.

As women wash their hair and children brush their teeth over street drains, I provide them with an equally amusing picture- a foreigner walking through their neighborhood pushing a stroller with not one, but TWO babies! I can barely walk 10 feet without hearing the words shuangbaotai uttered beneath a persons breath. The occasional brave soul actually attempts to speak to the foreign anomaly (that's me); and they ask if I do in fact have shuangbaotai tucked within the massive stroller before me. I smile and nod in confirmation that I do indeed have what they suspect- shuangbaotai...twins.

I tell you if I were Angelina Jolie walking down the street (minus her own twins); she would not get as much as a second glance from most of these local folks. 

So step aside Angie- the shuangbaotai are coming!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Sleep Fairy

What a difference a little sleep makes! This is one of those obvious statements people throw around without much thought; and until you have lived with so little sleep over such a long period of time, you don’t realize just how true it is. In fact, you begin to forget what it feels like to be human at all.

I was blessed last night by the sleep fairy; though I am referring to my husband so perhaps I should say something like the sleep manly- man or the sleep king. Whatever I call him; he took two dream feeds and the boys had their biggest stretch of sleep in months… a whopping 4 hours! All things combined and I had collected more sleep by 1 am than I normally do in an entire night.

Armed with my super human powers, I awoke with the boys at 5:45 this morning and felt as though I could conquer the day; so conquer I did. I let Phil sleep in while I got them ready and took them for an early morning walk through the city.

Big deal you think; but huge milestone for all of us. Let me give you a wee bit of background so you can appreciate the milestone along with me.

For the last 6 months, life has been a blur at best. Between recovering from a high risk pregnancy, a premature delivery, 5 days in the hospital trying to hold off labor, an eventual c section, caring for premature twins, going from bottle feeding to breast only feeding, and then reflux to top it off- I have felt like a shell of my former self; no, not even a shell. A shell implies the remnants of shape and form, and I am not even sure I have felt that. A trip out with the help of another is a daunting task in itself; so a trip out on my own, though seemingly unremarkable is quite remarkable indeed.

As I strolled through some of my favorite alleyways enjoying the beautiful day, I felt particularly empowered and entirely capable. It was in that moment that I realized capable is not a word I would use to describe myself in this whole parenting process. After too many months of very little sleep combined with the challenges of living in a foreign country with no family nearby, raising twins, and dealing with reflux- I’d forgotten what it was like to even feel capable.

I must say it feels pretty good...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Where Has All the Mayonnaise Gone?

It's that time again in Shanghai when all of the foreigners who traveled home for the summer break have returned. Along with their return comes a certain loss of food comfort and security. Being one of those foreigners who doesn't really travel home over the summer, I am lulled into a false sense of shopping security over the months of June, July, and August. I only purchase what I need because I know it will be there when I return. Every September smacks me back into reality when I am faced with empty shelves for weeks on end.

With the returning herd having consumed a variety of items into oblivion, I am forced once again into the ugly habit of mass purchasing; a survival tactic in which we purchases our favorite goods in quantities that rival Y2K stocking.

If I happen to find mayonnaise one of these days...I'm buying a case.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Accidental Parent

I have become an accidental parent. Despite my best efforts, I have unknowingly created patterns and behaviors in my children that have complicated our sleep lives. After what I swore was the last night of sleep insanity in my home- we started "sleep training" the boys. We settled on the pick up; put down and shush pat method, and away we went. I crammed in a few chapters of the Baby Whisperer that afternoon and Phil got a crash course in how we would approach the night as soon as he walked in the door. He had about 10 minutes (our sleep window of opportunity) to eat and change his clothes before he was thrown into the trenches for what had the potential to be a very long battle. Though I have read a fair amount on this method, we really were winging it a bit. But winging it or not, I was desperate to do something- anything. My sanity was hanging on its last remaining thread and I figured there was no time like the present for making some serious changes.

Isaac and Naaman are just shy of 6 months and their night waking had increased to a level where I was not sleeping, they were not sleeping well, and everyone was suffering. After dragging my feet a bit too long on starting the process- I drag them no more.

So armed with ear plugs, a full stomach and an empty bladder- I was ready for a long stint in the nursery; ready to help my children learn to fall asleep without the aid of the bouncing ball (killing my back), the rocking chair, or any other jiggling motions. I was shocked to find that a mere 20 minutes later- I was exiting the nursery with a sleeping baby. I've read stories of babies that needed to be picked up and put down as many as 140 times in one go; and I was sure my guys would be close to that. It turns out that Isaac only needed 5 or 6 pick ups and he was working his own way to dream land with nothing more than my hand patting him on the chest.

Morning came, and we were all a bit more rested. Though the boys still woke frequently (I will tackle the issue of night weaning a little later), they slept better between wakings and went a bit longer than usual. All in all- it felt like a bit of a victory for us. When morning came- I wondered what the daytime nap situation would be like. I got my nanny on board and we approached the daytime naps in the same fashion as bedtime and... so far so good. 

I definitely have a lot of work ahead of me, but it feels so good to have purpose in the process and light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blissful Moments

This morning was "date morning". Phil and I have decided to make every Saturday morning from 8 am-noon couple time. I'll admit that 8am- noon is a bit strange, but it happens to be the only space in the week when our nanny and ayi work at the same times while Phil is home. It is therefore, our opportunity to spend some time together while they watch the boys. 

Despite the fact that my brain was fogged by the remnants of a migraine that rendered me useless the day before, that I had only slept 1-2 hours since 2:30 in the morning and that Phil had taken the night shift; we dragged our tired bodies out of bed, showered and made for a little German restaurant in the French Concession for breakfast. We tucked into our traditional European breakfast-assorted breads, meats, and cheeses; along with jam, fruit, and really yummy coffee- and it occurred to me how truly fortunate we are. As the parents of 5 month old twins, I think the fact that we are able to get out at all and spend time together is a fairly remarkable thing. Not everyone is fortunate enough to live in a country like China where you can have 2 full time staff members who love your children and take great care of them...for such a small amount of money.

After our lovely and leisurely breakfast, we returned home to sleeping babies and crawled back into bed for a much needed nap. For the first time in a really long time I just laid in bed looking at one of my sleeping angels swinging back and forth and was able to savor the moment...

Monday, August 23, 2010

One Down...Three to Go

We survived the night, and I would daresay we did fairly well. This was the first of 4 nights that I will be without Phil as he travels for business. My girlfriend Lisa came over in the afternoon to lend a little moral support, and I had my nanny stay overnight in case both babies woke up at the same time. Amazingly, I didn't even need her until 6am! I say amazing because Phil and I spent the night before on the floor; him with Isaac and me with Naaman, from 2am until 4am while they played. Needless to say, I was a bit worried we would have a repeat of that last night. We did not however; and by 7am I managed to get 7 hours of sleep (albeit in small chunks over a 10 hour time period), eat breakfast, and even take a shower!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


It's truly amazing what you can get away with eating while breast feeding twins. Never in a million years would I have imagined being able to eat the stuff I've been eating without gaining an extra 30-40 pounds. Seriously; I polish off a sleeve of Marks & Spencer chocolate chip cookies during my daily reads. (For those curious types, I am currently enjoying the company of Monsieur Hercule Poirot on his many mysterious adventures). I have to admit that even as I sit here blogging, I am contemplating the best method of disposal for the cookie crumbs that have gathered beneath me on the desk.

Due to the sensitive nature of my preemie babies little tummies (that and their reflux)- I have a very limited diet. No dairy; nothing spicy; no caffeine, coffees or teas of any stripe; no chicken; nothing acidic (ruling out most fruits); and let's not forget nothing gassy (ruling out most veggies and beans). What is a girl left to eat you ask? This is a simpler list for me to share by far. Drum roll please... I can eat: oatmeal, avocados, pears, and said cookies. That's about it. Technically, I probably shouldn't even these little treats from Marks & Spencer, but they don't seem to bother the babies bellies too much- so they have become my one sweet indulgence.

I will say that while I haven't gained weight, I haven't worked too hard at regaining my former shape either. With trying to maintain enough milk for two growing and rather hungry babes- I've been a bit nervous about working out or trying to lose weight. With the introduction of solids in the boys near future however, I think it best that I try to break some very bad habits before I lose the fat and calorie burning machine that is known as my breast feeding self.

First step: think about it (done). Second step: write about it (done). Third step: enjoy my avocado and mayonnaise sandwiches (off to make one now). Fourth step: cut back on the cookies (the when and how of this step will be decided at a later date).

Off to make my super fatty sandwich...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sleep: Part 2

I am going to preface this with a warning- I am taking on the often controversial subject of sleep and parenting and while I have no intention of offending anyone out there, I am certain I will. We all do what we think is best for our families and I am just sharing my honest personal thoughts...)

So back to what I was saying in the last post: sleep, parenting, having twins, etc, etc...

I guess I really have to start with the fact that I gave birth to my children very early and rather unexpectedly. Seven weeks prior to most mothers due dates- we are reading up on childbirth, what to pack in our bags for the hospital and last minute name ideas. When I went into labor (6.5 weeks early- I hadn't really made it to the part about what to do once the baby arrived. So once the babies arrived- I didn't have a whole lot more than vague ideas about what parenting would look like once we got home with our little bundles.

I am currently 5 months into this crazy thing called twin parenting and I can tell you with all honesty that my life looks nothing like I had envisioned. No surprise really. We new parents have all of these unrealistic romanticized versions of what it's like to have a baby floating around in our subconscious minds. They magically fit into our lives, going wherever we go- the absolute picture of a contented, docile, cooing little mound of flesh that drifts off into dreamland all on their own. So wrong! While some parents are blessed with a reality not too far off from what I have just described, the vast majority of us are left scratching our heads when our well meaning (childless) friends ask us if our baby sleeps through the night yet.

By the way- this whole sleeps through the night thing is a myth. Aside from the occasional angelic baby or the parent who has decided to do the cry it out method and has successfully managed to "sleep train" their child- most babies do not actually sleep through the night. A baby is actually considered sleeping through the night if they have a stretch of 5 hours or more. That means that we parents are still waking up at ungodly hours of the night; and I do mean ungodly. Waking up at 2 or 3 am has a tendency to reveal the not- so- nice sides of a person.

So here I am- 5 months in and I have 2 babies (not 1) who are in need of constant attention when it come to sleeping and they are waking every 2 hours to feed all night long (I think I mentioned this before, but it is worth noting again to elicit your sympathies). In an effort to regain sanity, I have obtained all major sleep books and started reading about methods that span the styles- super attachment parenting methods (no surprise these folks don't have twins with reflux), the cry it out crowd, the Ferber method, and so on. While I have gleaned helpful bits of information from each book- I would have to say that none have left me feeling all that comfortable or excited to take on the task of "sleep training".

Then I came across this book by Tracy Hogg called Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. She has a unique middle of the road perspective that I appreciate. So far, this book has resonated with me the most. It teaches you how to help your child learn to sleep on their own without employing any extreme tactics. No crying it out alone, no schedules mapped out to the second, no sleeping in the parents bed until the age of 3 with demand feeding at all hours, no allowing children to set the tone in the home, etc. I realize in reading this book that we have a lot of bad habits to undo, but I finally feel good about how we can undo them and what we can put in place of them.

Of course, what looks good in a book may look entirely different in practice- but I'll keep you posted...

Oh, and the next time you are invited to a baby shower- give the parents to be, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer as a gift. (author is in no way shape or form- paid by Tracy Hogg or any of her affiliates ;)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sleep: Part 1

It's a little before 7 pm and both of my children are bathed, fed and asleep. There was little protest or crying on their part, and I am feeling unusually at ease after putting them to sleep. Sadly, the trend toward bedtime has gotten worse over the last month or so. With increasing difficulty- we do everything short of a head stand to get them to go to bed; and to make matters worse- they have started waking every two hours to eat all night long. I am exhausted, they are exhausted, and I am ready to ship them back from wherever it is they came from. On this unusual evening I have decided to write a bit about my observations and frustrations regarding sleep and parenting twins...more to come- I am going to bed now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hindsight isn't always a good thing

It's seems like an eternity since I last wrote. Life has been incredibly busy to say the least. After giving birth to twin boys a little over four months ago- life has been a bit of a blur. In between getting to know these two little people, caring for and feeding them, and trying to get enough sleep to stay sane; we took on the colossal task of traveling back to the US with them! (Some of you may be thinking I must not have attained the sanity maintaining sleep I needed after all.)

Approximately 8 weeks after they were born, my mother (who had been with us in Shanghai for a month already) and I boarded a plane with the boys for the 14 hour journey back to the US. I was incredibly nervous about how they would do on this flight. Approximately 5 days before we left for the US, Isaac and Naaman were diagnosed with reflux. For weeks before this diagnosis the only thing we knew was that we went from having 2 moderately happy children who slept well in their cribs, to 2 insane little babies who wouldn't sleep more than an hour at a time and screamed often. We were going through 50-60 burp cloths every day because they were spitting up so much, and they would only sleep if they were on one of us. It was insanely stressful to say the least. Fortunately, by a bit of a fluke- our pediatrician diagnosed them with reflux and suggested we start them on medication. I was quite reluctant to medicate them until I went home and did a little research. When I realized they had 8 out of 10 symptoms (and you only need 1 to have it) - I knew it was serious, and decided to try the medication until we got back to the US and saw our pediatrician there.

The US was great in a lot of ways. We were able to see family and friends; and most importantly- the boys were able to meet all of their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family.

I have to say though that if I knew ahead of time what challenges we would have faced going to the US and traveling all over with newborns, I might not have gone. So I guess I am glad that I didn't know ahead of time...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Baby Haze

We've been home for two weeks tomorrow and I have managed to survive being home with 2 newborn babies while Phil has returned to work. Survived is about the best I can say. Everyone who has had babies and particularly those who have had twins have told me- "it will get better", "the first year was a blur", etc. They aren't kidding about the blur thing and I am waiting for the get better part.

The fact that I am blogging right now is fairly remarkable, but I find that my own mental survival relies on my ability to write. I would love to start at the beginning and blog about labor and birth, premature infants and our 16 day hospital stay; but I haven't really had the opportunity to fully process those things. So instead of waiting to wade through my emotions regarding all of these things, I will just jump in and write a bit about where things are at now.

I would like to be a bit more original here, but things are essentially elbow deep in spit up, covered in breast milk, and dodging projectile elements out of every orifice. As I sit here writing, I wear the stains of baby battle on my shirt. I think the babies have won today. Other days I feel like we might be winning the battle, but the fact that I haven't showered, slept or had a sane thought all day long tells me that they are winning this round.

As we all know- having a baby is tough work. Having twins is an entirely different thing; and having them in China has taken the challenge to an entirely different level. I am fortunate and blessed to have great friends here who have really offered a lot of help. I am also fortunate to live in a country where having a nanny is incredibly affordable. I can't fathom doing any of this without that while living in a foreign country.

It's during the 3 am feedings in particular, that I sit and contemplate other twin families that I know of. Many of them live near their family and community or are in the media (and I realize that they have round the clock help). It was during one of these twilight feedings that I decided it was time to get a live in ayi. I never thought I would do it or want someone living in my home; but after the last few nights of taking on two crying, hungry babies- I say bring on the evening help!

I remember the early days when I lived in China and wasn't sure I would even hire an ayi to come clean my house let alone live in it and take care of my babies. Oh how 3 years of living in this country and giving birth to two babies will change ones mind...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Labor- Day 5

It's Monday afternoon and I am still in the hospital awaiting the arrival of our babies. I have made it past 34 weeks- 34 weeks and 4 days to be exact, and the Dr's couldn't be more thrilled.

Though my water broke last Wednesday, all is well in my body. There are no signs of infection, fetal stress, or any other health problems. I have been in labor on some level for the last 3 days. Contractions really started getting stronger and more frequent yesterday evening and into the night, but this morning and afternoon things have calmed down quite a bit.

We met with our Dr. and midwife this morning and I was slightly surprised to find that they wanted me to continue to keep them inside for as long as possible. I am not surprised that they think it is best for them to continue to grow and develop in me; just surprised because I had started to shift my focus yesterday from prevention of labor to encouragement of labor.

It's been an interesting journey thus far. I have to say that I never imagined being in the hospital for such a long time before the birth of our twins, but as I sit here blogging I realize that I haven't really thought about it that much anyway. I think its better that way- not to think too much about it. The more expectations I have in this process, the more potential there will be for disappointment and stress. And right now, I am in as much of a mental waiting game (or more) as I am in a physical waiting game.

It would be really easy for me to grow weary after sitting in the same hospital room day after day, slipping in and out of contractions and wondering if labor is really starting. So it's really important to remain in the moment and not concern myself with what I had envisioned or what lies ahead. I didn't imagine or "mentally prepare" for pre-term labor, but I am in it and trying to apply the same principals and approach that I would with any other labor- let the body do what it needs to do and allow the process to happen. Obviously I have to apply other thought and wisdom to the unique situation that I am in, but the core remains the same.

With the decision to try to keep them in a bit longer, we have had to change our game plan a bit. I will take it very easy and avoid labor inducing measures for as long as physically comfortable. If contractions overwhelm me and pain sets in- I will work with it and move and be confident in the labor process. If it stays at bay, I will encourage that process as well. For now, my body seems content to slowly labor, so I am assisting that process by resting on my side, listening to music, and visiting with a friend soon.

I sent Phil out this afternoon with our driver to get some food and other necessities. The poor guy has been going a bit stir crazy (5 days in 1 room will do that to anyone), so I thought it would be good for him to get out and blow the stink off so to speak. We have been incredibly fortunate to have great friends who are visiting us, bringing us necessities and supporting and encouraging us through this process.

Thanks to all of you!

Phil and Jen

Friday, March 5, 2010


I'm 34 weeks pregnant today and sitting in the hospital waiting for labor to kick in. I thought it would be a good distraction to do a little blogging while my contractions are light and manageable. I also thought it might be a little novel to blog while in labor. I mean how many women can say they blogged during labor?

I can't guarantee that my thoughts or words will be very coherent, but here they are...

Early morning on my birthday (4:00 am), I had a bit of an indication that my water might have started to break. After going in to the hospital and spending a good portion of the day being monitored, we determined that I would likely be going into labor within the next week, but since I was only 33 weeks and 5 days pregnant- we hoped to prolong it as much as possible. After a shot of steroids to mature the babies lungs, we got to go home for some much needed rest.

That night, some friends of ours came over with dinner and a cake and we got to celebrate my birthday (from my bed).

Hoping for a good nights sleep, we went to bed around 10 pm (I could not fall asleep) only to find that at midnight my water did indeed break. I let Phil sleep for another 30 minutes before I broke the news to him. This time no false runs; we were going in to the hospital for good until the babies would come. So we took our time gathering all the necessary items (and then some), woke our driver from a deep sleep, loaded the car, and went to the hospital.

So now we are on day two in the hospital. Because my water broke and the babies are still a bit early, I will be here until they come. The hospital staff is great about this being a slow process and taking as much time as we need. As my midwife stated- "you are a much better incubator than a machine". I couldn't agree more.

For now, our plan is to relax and do what we can to keep the process slow. But as the day goes on and my contractions increase to every 3 minutes or so- I am beginning to wonder if this will be much longer.

We shall see...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spring Festival

Chinese New Year is over and we have survived!

Phil and I have been living here in China for over three years, but this was the first time we actually remained in the country for the week long celebration. Also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, it is the most significant holiday for the Chinese people. For many, it is the only time in the year that they will be able to travel back to their hometowns to see their spouses, children, and extended family!

After all of the "horror" stories we had heard from other expats- the around the clock fireworks, everything closing down, and the general mass of people in transit (which is no small thing in China); the idea to remain here over the holiday never appealed to us. We have always taken this particular holiday break to go back to the US for a family visit. Given the fact that I would be 32 weeks pregnant with our twins this time around, staying in Shanghai during the Chinese New Year was our fate.

Expecting nothing but annoying firecrackers and difficulty getting food (due to all of the closures); I was surprised to find that halfway into the holiday week- we were eating well and had no real sleep interruptions from the fireworks. I was beginning to think we were in the clear since our new apartment is not in a heavily residential area, but I wouldn’t dare verbalize this thought for fear that I would jinx us.

Just when I thought it was safe to take a deep breath- day 5 came upon us. I mentioned that we didn’t live in a large residential area right? Well, we do live in a huge retail area and it just so happens that day 5 ushers in the money god. Midnight hit, and all firecracker hell broke loose. It was absolutely amazing how many firecrackers were being lit off around our entire building. Every window I looked out had firecrackers going off. It got to the point that I couldn’t see across the street because of the heavy fog of smoke oozing from all the fireworks. These retailers wanted the money god to notice them, and they certainly won’t be able to blame this night for any poor sales in the future.

Other than that night we had a fairly relaxed and firecracker free week; and a week that we were essentially dreading turned out to be a pretty decent one.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why Not Question the Status Quo?

I’m just a writing machine lately. I guess I have a lot to write about and more time on my hands since we have unpacked and almost completely organized our previously chaotic home. Down time has been an absolute necessity for me these days, and with this extra time, I have begun to read a lot more on the actual birth process in preparation for the event. We will go for an ultrasound on the 16th of January and find out which way the babies are facing. They say that with twins, the babies’ positions are fairly decided by week 28 due to the lack of space. If baby 1 is head down and it stays that way- we are on for a natural delivery (January 16th has since passed and we did find out that baby 1 is head down!); and that brings me to the subject of this writing- natural childbirth.

I should probably start this by telling you that my desire to one day experience pregnancy was perhaps a bit different from other women. It wasn’t about having that wonderful little bundle of baby at the end of 9 months as much as it was about having the privilege and opportunity to experience childbirth. It’s true. I know some of you are thinking smugly to yourself that you would love to hear what I have to say after I actually experience childbirth. But let me encourage you instead, to think- wow, that’s really interesting; and have an open mind to other perspectives.

For many of you who know me, natural childbirth has been a passion of mine for a long time. I could blame it on the fact that my mother and “2nd mother” are both midwives and I grew up surrounded by women who were activists in the field of labor and delivery; tirelessly working to change shortcomings in the medical system as they knew it. But that really only explains a small part of where my passion comes from. After all, how many times have we been exposed to philosophies or ideas by our family, to turn around and do the exact opposite?

I used to tell my mother that if and when I had babies- they could knock me out and wake me up when it was over. I would say this in part to watch her squirm, but I would also say this in part because it was truly how I felt. So what happened to me along the way? How did I become such a proponent for natural childbirth?

Well, as I watched different girlfriends and acquaintances around me give birth with varying degrees of satisfaction, dissatisfaction, trauma, and disappointment; I began to ask questions like why? Did it have to be that way? What led to some of these really disappointing outcomes? Why did some people have really great and fulfilling labor experiences, while others were left to feel disappointed, empty, and wounded?

As I embarked on this journey of questioning, I began to see a common thread throughout those experiences that were positive and those that were not.

For all of us, I believe our top priority is giving birth to a healthy baby. Many of us are taught to think that this will often be at the cost of our labor and birth experience, when in fact it is quite the opposite. A well informed woman along with her well informed husband, have a statistically higher rate of satisfaction in the whole process; along with a statistically lower rate of intervention, cesarean and disappointment. Now this is not to say that cesarean= disappointment. There are ways to feel fulfillment through this type of birth as well; but it does take a bit more planning and preparation in order to feel positive toward an unplanned cesarean birth.

Back to the common thread I have found throughout different birth experiences... education, empowerment, and action. Women and their spouses who are educated about the birth process, their bodies, and how we were created to function are more empowered and thus more confident in taking an active role in their birth plan; making it much more possible to experience the birth they desire.

Unfortunately, a lot of us do not think about these things until after we have given birth for the first time. For many, the extent of our education comes from books like What to Expect When You’re Expecting and the readily available horror stories other women feel they should share with all expectant moms. Often, we go into the birth process feeling tentative, scared, and certain that our Dr. knows best. We assume that as things have improved with medical technology it has made birth better, and that medical intervention is therefore a good and necessary thing. As a result of all of these elements- we essentially walk in, play the good patient, and allow everyone else to make decisions for us.

Ask most women if there were things they would have changed about their birth experience, and they will tell you yes. The sad truth is that there were likely a number of things that they could have changed had they had the tools, knowledge, and confidence to do so. It is often during subsequent pregnancies that many of these women further educate themselves and take more active roles.

(Then there are those of us trying to learn from them and do this ahead of time.)

Phil and I have just finished The Birth Book by Dr. Sears and The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin; and they have been incredibly wonderful tools in preparing and empowering us both for childbirth.

Why do all of this you ask? Because I believe that child birth is a unique and sacred gift and experience that requires planning and preparation; because there are women out there who feel it has been one of the most wonderful and fulfilling experiences in their lives; because I think we have been told lies by the medical establishment and are selling ourselves and our bodies short on a daily basis when we preemptively say we can’t handle pain and just need a drug to help us cope; because we continue to give our bodies and births over to an establishment that makes decisions based on the fear of lawsuits; and because our cesarean and drug induced birth rates are climbing with each day in the US while our safety still ranks low compared to many other nations.

Mainly, I want to see what this amazing body can do in the right environment with the support of my awesome husband.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Stretchy Pants

Tomorrow marks 30 weeks in this pregnancy. Each day brings with it blessings as well as challenges. As this has become a higher risk pregnancy, the threat of premature labor is very real. So we are happy with each day that passes because it is one more day that the babies get to grow bigger and stronger and more developed.

It's amazing to me how much my body changes every day. In the past week, I have noticed a marked increase in my girth and decrease in my mobility and comfort. At this point, I have gained over 40 pounds and I have another 15- 20 to go based on growth rates for twin pregnancies! Did I mention I have gained over 40 pounds at this point? And wait, there's more. We noted during my Dr's appointment today that I have gained 3 pounds since Saturday alone; and though I am technically 30 weeks tomorrow, I am already measuring at 42 weeks!

I won't lie- it's shocking to me as well. People keep telling me that I am all belly and I look great (which is wonderful regardless of its truthfulness). I would say that I am mainly belly (which also explains the back pain after 10 minutes of standing). After all, when is the last time you had to strap 30 pounds straight off your abdomen and attempt to stand for any amount of time? Exactly.

Until recently, I have been focused on maintaining a certain level of "grooming” during this pregnancy. I didn't actually realize the degree of my vanity until I got pregnant; but I found that once I was, I didn't want to be one of those frumpy pregnant women who wore moo moos or her husbands sweats all day every day (sorry to you lovely ladies who did). As such, certain things became enemies in my mind. Things like sweat pants, tennis shoes and the god- forsaken stretchy pant; though comfortable, became symbols of all that was wrong with pregnancy and fashion. To me, they were a sign of a woman who was giving up and hiding what could be a beautiful and vibrant time in her life.

Well I am here to tell you that it's true. I gave up. I went and bought stretchy pants the other day. In fact, I specifically went out in search of said cursed garment. I did my best to find a pair that I could camouflage into looking like a proper pair of pants, but who was I kidding? Stretchy pants are stretchy pants regardless of how you try to dress them up. They also happen to be the most comfortable piece of clothing I own at this point.

Note from the author:

As I sit here writing this, it has occurred to me that I may be attempting to compensate for my loss of conviction. I have managed to fit a manicure, pedicure, waxing, hair, and massage appointment all into this one week; the one week I happened to buy the stretchy pants. Coincidence? Hmmmm....

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Oh Patty Melt...

As I sit here attempting to push through complete writers block; my home is filling with the delicious aroma of sautéed onions. The promise of dinner to come proves too overwhelming for clarity in my thought process, and searching for "inspiration" that will take me into uninterrupted prose is growing more difficult as the aromas intensify and swirl around me. For a pregnant woman with writer’s block- the wonderful smell of food serves to dull the brain and merely adds insult to my injury.

My wonderful husband has taken on the task of making dinner this evening and per my insane beef craving- he is making patty melts. For those of you who are unfamiliar with said American culinary delight, here is Wikipedia's definition: “A patty melt is a type of sandwich consisting of a hamburger patty (hence the name), pieces of sautéed or grilled onion, and Swiss cheese between two slices of bread (traditionally rye, though sourdough, or Texas toast have recently been substituted). The sandwich is then fried with butter on a frying pan so that the cheese melts thoroughly.”

So there you have it; beef, butter, melted cheese, and fried bread. Need I say more? Oh- don’t forget the onions!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Let's Just Call It What It Is

As I sit here contemplating my next writing topic, several titles come to mind. Stretchy Pants, Elbow Deep, All Things Baby, The Elderly Outrun Me, Compression Socks Are My Friend, and several other pathetically pregnancy related phrases come to mind. I realize that by waiting until I was so far along in a multiples pregnancy to actually start writing about the pregnancy- may have just left the gory depressing details of being enormous, immobile, and thoroughly challenged to write about.

See, for most women (the average singleton pregnancy, that is), they only have to go through the joys of swollen ankles, challenged mobility, difficulty breathing, and so on for a few weeks. With a twin pregnancy- I get to go through this stage for a lot longer. For example- I am currently 28 weeks pregnant and measuring at 37 weeks. So right around 27 weeks (36 weeks measurement), my ankles started the fairly common swelling that is experienced in late term pregnancy; the wedding rings came off to avoid morning finger amputation; I found a sudden affinity for "stretchy pants"; and moving from a laying position to a seated one became an event in my day. Singletons get to go through this for 3-4 weeks; I get to go through this for 3 months!

So imagine my joy when the Dr. informed me that I needed to "rest a lot more". As her definition unfolded before me, I realized it was a clever and artful cover for what many of us know as bed rest. As I spent the next few days contemplating what 3 hours on my feet really looked like (after shower, food prep, and 30 trips to the loo) - I realized I was in for a big change. I am grateful that I am not on complete bed rest with sponge bath and bucket only privileges, but I can't say I am entirely thrilled by this either.

This is the point where some of you are thinking I might need a dose of perspective. I assure you that I do not. The immense importance of resting and keeping these babies healthy, growing, and inside has escaped me in no way shape or form. While I am mourning the loss of my freedom (sorry to those of you who continually remind me that I need to enjoy this time because it won't come again- ever); I am also incredibly focused on keeping safe and healthy babies inside me vs. the NICU.

That disclaimer aside- it looks like being such a procrastinator with catching up on all things baby works well for me in this situation; because now I have about 10 books to catch up on and read, baby registries to work on, names and birth plans to work out, and a number of other things to work on.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The 5 Words A Pregnant Woman Doesn't Like to Hear

There comes a point in every woman’s pregnancy where she dreads hearing the words “I think it’s time to…” This morning, as I sat braced in the uncomfortably hard tradional Chinese chair in my living room, I heard those dreaded words uttered from the lips of my own husband. To make it worse, he chose to share his thoughts with me over the phone! It’s never a good sign when your husband starts out a phone conversation from the safety of his office with “I think it’s time to…” As a pregnant woman who is very aware of her challenged state (and the ways it may be challenging her mate), any number of fill in the blank scenarios can come to mind in a millisecond of hearing those words.

Let’s explore a few that came to mine.

I think it’s time to…

-use shock therapy for your snoring

-submit photos of you to “freakishly huge pregnancy”

-make you sleep on the couch (after all, you sound like Chewbaka)

-sleep in separate rooms

-smother you with a pillow

-see a therapist (can anyone say mood swings?)

-put you on a diet

-move out for a little while

-take away the chocolate

So imagine my relief when he simply suggested we switch blankets with the spare room so we can each have our own separate duvets (that way when I get in and out of bed 15 times at night to use the loo- I won’t pull the blankets off of him). Whew! Glad I get to keep my chocolate.

Friday, January 8, 2010

7 Months and Counting

It’s hard to believe that I am approaching 7 months of pregnancy with these two crazy little human beings growing inside me. Only recently do I feel like I am absorbing and processing through the enormity of this gift and blessing. With a twin pregnancy I could technically (and thankfully safely) go into labor at 36 weeks. That only gives me 10 more weeks! Given how quickly the last 26 have gone by, 10 weeks feels a little closer than I would like it to.

I am trying not to feel like I am behind in preparation. I really don’t think that I am, but our minds have a way of making us feel like we’re never doing all that we should. I suppose that I could have started to prepare more at an earlier point, but for a variety of reasons I found it difficult to do that.

First and foremost for me was the desire to enjoy my child-less state for as long as possible. I knew the time would come soon enough where I would be elbow deep in all things baby, and I really wanted to preserve and enjoy the “husband and wife sans children” life that Phil and I have shared for the last 7 years. I was actually a bit surprised by how anti baby stuff I really felt. But more on that topic later…

As I grew bigger and found the reality of my pregnant state weighing in from all sides, the holidays provided a bit of a distraction for me. Again- I focused on the fact that this might be my last holiday for a while where I could cook, bake in my usual overboard fashion, and focus on those around me without baby distractions.

So now that the holidays are over and I am growing very large with children, it’s become impossible for me to ignore what is going on inside my body. As they kick and move and carry out daily patterns of interaction with us, they become more like real babies and less like growth stages that I read about each week in my pregnancy book.

For the most part, Phil and I have done some much needed unpacking and clearing out of what will be the nursery; and once we take down all of the Christmas stuff, I will officially feel moved in and settled. It really is the perfect time for us to start our birth class (which will happen next Saturday), register for baby stuff, and prepare for the birth and arrival of our babies. When I start to feel behind, I just need to remember this.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Moo Moo's and Lead Aprons

This whole "resting" phase of the pregnancy is great for blogging. I've never had so much time on my hands to bore the sense out of you all with my fun pregnancy details. To pay homage to the fact that this blog was originally a means to communicate our experience here in China, I figured that I should include a segment on what it is like to be a pregnant foreigner living here in Shanghai.

Allow me to start out by telling you about pregnant women in general here on the mainland. It is a phenomenon that one can barely wrap their brain around. The following may offend some, but please be assured that I mean this in the most respectful way possible; just putting a humorous (albeit slightly offensive) spin on it.

Phil and I have lived here in Shanghai for close to 3 years and it has taken me being pregnant here to begin to understand (on some very small level) what previously confounded me. For example, why did a perfectly adorable, fashionable, slim young woman almost instantly transform into a moo moo wearing waddling invalid the moment she found out she was pregnant? And what was with the apron that so many pregnant women donned in their maternity wardrobe? After a little while I started to think that there was a level of "living it up" playing into the psyche of Chinese women. I began to wonder if the fact that so many women here can only have one baby caused them to celebrate and often times milk their pregnancies for all they were worth. Not knowing what birth restrictions are like in my own life, I thought I might do the same if I was in their situation.

Now I typically hesitate when it comes to "us and them" talk; but trust me when I tell you that pregnancy is one experience that highlights the vast difference between women in the Western world and China.

The fact that I wear pants, carry bags on occasion, exercise, eat spicy foods, and drink cold water while I am pregnant makes me a close cousin to a 3 headed monster. When I was training my new ayi- I had to explain to her that despite her strongly held beliefs that all of the foods that I liked and all of the things that I wanted done would harm my babies- we have been giving birth to happy healthy babies in the West for a good long time now. She conceded that I was correct, but deep down probably wondered if we did have as many healthy babies as we claimed.

So with some amount of reluctance- she began to cook our food with soy sauce and hot peppers (2 things many Chinese people believe is harmful during pregnancy).

Since becoming pregnant, I have discovered some answers to my questions (please keep in mind that these are my own narrow observations along with answers from some Chinese friends):

Why the moo moo? Because it is believed that pants will cut off blood flow and harm the baby.

Why the apron? Because it has lead in it and protects the baby from harmful radiation (now if you could just convince someone that the metals they get in their daily consumption of water and fish are way more of an issue #?!@)

Why the waddle? Because it is believed that massage is bad for pregnancy. (If I go more than a week without a massage, I waddle too.)

Why no spicy food? Because it is believed that people who eat spicy food will give birth to girls.

Why no soy sauce? Because it is believed that your baby will have darker skin. I have also heard this about chocolate. (Forget about genetics.)

As for the general "invalid" vibe that pregnant women give off- I have recently discovered the beauty and necessity in milking that for all it's worth. After all, we’re in a city of 22 million people- all fighting for themselves. Vehicles will run you and your 90 year old granny over without a second thought, and you are left to fend and fight for yourself in every arena of life. For the most part, pregnant women here do enjoy a status of respect and preference that one will never see again in her life. So who cares if you don't show until you are 6 months pregnant- if you're wearing your moo moo and lead vest- everyone knows you are. Heck, you might even get a seat on a crowded rush hour metro without having to ask. And that is certainly worth it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

i'll take my cheeseburger with a side of leather please?

It turns out that the swelling of last week was my body's way of telling me I had done way too much over the holidays. Since my initial puffy little feet scare, all has been relatively well. Other than my husband looking at me and blurting out the occasional "you're huge" while laughing- all is well in pregnancy land. Well, all except my blood sugar and iron levels.

As is expected in a twin pregnancy, my midwife discovered that I was a bit iron deficient during my last appointment. I had a hint this might be the case when I started these crazy cravings last week for leather, nail polish remover, and new carpet (oh the thought of carpet still makes my mouth water a bit). Pica is a little known disorder that is caused by anemia during pregnancy, and it makes women crave really strange things like sand, rubber, and metal. I happened to go the route of leather and new carpet. So now I am on my happy little iron pills waiting for these crazy cravings to subside as well as a return to my absolutely non-existent energy.

As for my sugar levels and the possible threat of gestational diabetes- I got off sugar and haven't looked back. My midwife is hopeful the rise in sugar levels are a result of some holiday over-indulging (who, me?). So we'll see how the 2nd and more miserable fasting glucose test goes on Wednesday. Hopefully all will be well and I will just maintain my sugar free lifestyle for the duration of the pregnancy. I guess it's good I've been craving leather and not sugar though, right?

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