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?