Friday, April 17, 2015

The Day We Found Out Baby Charlies' Genders

Proud Parents-to-Be!
(PS The lady sitting behind us with the glasses is Carrie, who filmed the video)

In case you didn't see the video: 
(Caution: may cause tears)
Justin & Sara's Twins - We tell you the genders! from Pixel Hawk on Vimeo.

Monday after we finished our ultrasound and appointment with the doctor, our technician Jessica came out with two sealed manila envelopes marked "Twin A" & "Twin B". I stuck them in my journal and stuffed it into my black and red chicken tote bag. Dr. Brass came out as we were about to leave and asked us our guesses. We scheduled our next appointment with her and headed out the door. Everyone was is so sweet to us in perinatology. Like a bunch of old friends.

We had a carload of errands to do: Home Depot, Powell's Books, UPS, New Seasons. Stopping in the rain here and there along the way as we drove north back to our house to check each item off the list, it took a while to get home.

Molly texted me at about 4:00PM while we were in the car: "So are you celebrating? :)" I told her we hadn't looked yet. She said, "When are you crazies going to look?!?"

Delayed gratification. It is an art. Justin and I are pretty good at it.

Truthfully part of it was that we were both nervous about opening the envelopes. It's good to know but then there's no turning back. I was definitely scared to find out. We had both hoping for one of each.

Originally, we'd thought we'd get a coffee or treat after the appointment and go up to the top of Mount Tabor or to our bench under the trees in Fernhill (the park that we live on), but water kept falling from the sky, and the cool air wasn't too inviting.

"Maybe we should just do it at home," I said.

Justin's idea: "I think we should go to Cha Ba Thai." Which is not a fancy place at all, but it is the place we always go to, maybe about twenty blocks from our house. The wait staff already knew us. It was kind of like home.

Around 7:30, we hopped into my car, carrying Justin's good camera and the little manila envelopes. I sped there and got a spot in front of the door. We dressed nice (for us) for the occasion. Since I'm already starting to have difficulty fitting into a lot of my normal clothes, I had a limited selection. Justin put on my favorite shirt of his. We were ready for some life changing news.

"Sit wherever you like," the cute Asian guy at the door told us.

The air was a little loud with conversation in there, and we wondered if it was the right place to be. We chose the wall where it seemed most quiet. And because we liked the barn-looking backdrop.

We sat down and Justin put our little "The Charlies" Valentine's card at the table next to us and the two envelopes sitting out between us. We ordered dinner- red curry duck for Justin and red curry tofu for me.

After the food was ordered, we thought maybe that was the time to do the deed. Who could record it for us? Justin thought the waitstaff but they seemed too busy. I thought maybe the two ladies behind us. We hmmed and hawed. I went over and asked the ladies if they could film us and told them what we were doing. One woman said she could not work a camera, but the other woman with shoulder-length grey hair and aqua glasses thought she could. Justin showed her the basics. Her name was Carrie.

Our moment was here.

We didn't have a plan. But we decided to shuffle and pick. I got Twin A and had to go first.

Opening that envelope felt like jumping off a huge scary cliff. My heart was racing. I was holding my breath and biting my lower lip.

When I saw A was a boy I was thinking, Oh my God, we're going to have two boys. It was a panicked feeling. I truthfully really wanted one boy. But I didn't really want two. It was probably just because I grew up with all girls.

Justin has more practice in being on camera, and using dramatic pause. He took his time opening his envelope. I was so surprised when he said "B is a girl". I really couldn't believe it.

After it was done, we were both so relieved. We both were a little scared of a house full of barbie girls or rowdy boys. One of each seemed like unbelievable good luck.

Our next ultrasound is on April 28th. They couldn't quite get all the views of the heart and spine that they needed. Justin will be in North Carolina, so my sister Carrie is going to go with me and see the twins in action.

So here we go along the way. What an amazing journey already.

A: Sweet Little Baby Boy Charlie
B: Sweet Little Baby Girl Charlie

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ultrasound #4: Feet and Heads and Two Healthy STUBBORN Little Charlies!


Apparently the mostly vegetarian diet is still working. (I have added fish to help with the protein.) The babies are thriving, growing, moving a lot and right on schedule.

This afternoon we had our fourth ultrasound, which was for the full anatomical scan and also for gender determination. We arrived at Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital to meet up with the perinatology department, and ended up with the same sweet ultrasound tech, Jessica, and our great doctor, Elizabeth Brass. Our last appointment was on the westside, so it was cool to see the same faces in a different location.

We were also fortunate enough to have the patient experience of "not getting checked in". We'd been there for thirty minutes waiting when I started to wonder. No one really ever runs twenty minutes late at Kaiser without letting you know. Kicking myself for not wearing my badge (which would have let me in the door), I was about to phone the desk upstairs when one of the MAs came out and called my name, and said I hadn't been checked in.

The anatomical exam was mostly successful, though not everything was visualized as our doctor wanted- so we have to go back in two weeks for a second ultrasound for more views of the heart in A and more of the spine in B.

We also decided we'd come home with envelopes telling us what the genders were. Justin had the idea that we should put them in separate envelopes and each of us open one.

This morning in bed we made our guesses:
  • Sara: A: boy, B: girl  (though I have had SIX dreams that I had two girls-- I think it's just because I grew up with all girls.
  • Justin: A: girl, B: boy.
Little Charlies A & B were very stubborn and neither wanted to be pigeonholed into a gender category for most of the exam. (Apparently they take after their mom & dad!) Fortunately our ultrasound tech, Jessica was also very stubborn and kept trying. We helped move things along by threatening to name them Pat Jean & Kim Terry. Finally they succumbed to the pressure and Jessica got their photos while we kept our eyes closed tight. She printed them out and hid them in labeled matching manila envelopes.


After the ultrasound, we had an appointment with Dr. Brass. She said everything looked great. They were right on target for size. Good amniotic fluid for both babies. We will be 19 weeks on Wednesday, so technically today we were 18 weeks 5 days today. Head sizes were normal for age.
  • A: measuring 19 weeks, 1 day, breech presentation, laying right under my belly button
  • B: measuring 18 weeks, 6 days, transverse presentation, laying above my belly button, almost under my ribs. 
(NO WONDER I FELT LIKE THEY WERE TAKING UP A TON OF SPACE! I thought they were way up there near my sternum and all the way down to my lady flower-- I was right!)

Cutest Lil Feet!
Charlie A always gets the better photo, but I think it's because Charlie B is up under my ribs almost.

Good news: I weighed in today at 154 (with clothes). Starting weight was 139 (without clothes). I am finally going up. I found a great online website,, which I've been using to been to track my calorie and protein intake and am actually doing a lot better than I thought I was. The goal is 100-120 g of protein per day for twins, and I'm pretty close. Since we're into the second trimester, I'm trying to be more careful about getting the right food in. I'm still never hungry but I eat anyway, and am getting at least 2,000 calories per day- a lot more than I used to eat- I'm just naturally a crazy fruit and veggie lady, but the three of us are doing pretty well. One of of the mamas on my natural birth twins group pointed out that being pregnant with twins puts your body in nutritional distress. Which is about the way it feels. But we are doing fine. The Charlies are a strong and stubborn family! :)

Extra Protein-- I'm a BODY BUILDER now. A Double Body Builder!
I never dreamed I'd be eating protein bars!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

18 Weeks Today Short Update

In five days we have our next ultrasound and OB appointment. I've amassed a plethora of questions for the OB, gathered through contact with friends and the forces of the internet. I found an awesome closed group on Facebook called "Birthing Multiples Naturally" which is full of great information, goodwill, photos, and positive stories. Even when things go not as planned, the outcomes are still healthy babies. It's an inspiration with moms from all over the world.

The genders should be known to us soon if A&B are agreeable at the next appointment, but we're not going to be spreading the word until we are back to see our families around the 3rd of May. As well this next ultrasound is the really intense one where they look for any anatomical irregularities. It will be nice to have that appointment done.


With all the research I've done, I'm feeling more hopeful for a non-medicated birth if things are situated okay with Baby A and Baby B. We will just have to go along and see how things go.

As of today:

Weight Gain: 11 lbs
Activities: Yoga, Biking, Walking, Hiking
Food: Vegetarian plus fish for the babes and prenatals
Mood: Relaxed and healthy, though I can tell I'm starting to walk differently
Clothes: Some still fit. The pants are getting a little more tricky. Ordered maternity clothes and regular fold down yoga pants for the coming weeks.

Onward and upward!! :) 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Quiet Morning Lake Quinault: Peace has Settled In

Cozied in under the covers last night in our room overlooking Lake Quinault, trying to read my Northwest Gardening book to figure out what to plant and where in our newly barren yard, my eyes could not stay straight. Rolling into the back of my head over and over. You are going to sleep now, they protested. I didn't have much say. What can you do when your eyes are rolling backwards on their own accord?

It was only 8:30. 

I decided to give up. By 9, I was in another world. Justin beside me reading in the dark. Bailey zonked out on the floor. He has no qualms about sleeping anytime or too much. Unlike us over-productive humans. 

My dreams have switched tone in the last two weeks, thankfully. Night after night, I'd been dragged through vivid nightmares. From break-ins, to homeless people living with us swimming in the river behind our house. Avoiding semi-automatic weapon gunfire. Drinking cider beers and forgetting I was pregnant. Long drawn out, colorful dreams, persistent in their disconcerting nature. I almost dreaded sleep. 

But the last few nights, they've been colorful but more amusing. Like a lady whose maroon curly hair  (only part of her hair was a wig) got caught on my phoropter (the thing that has all the lenses in it in front of your face to check your glasses) and hung off the top when I pulled it away from her eyes.  It was funny, and oddly amusing and so colorful. It makes me happy to remember it.

I wake up on my back with my arms above my head, fingers intertwined like I'm praying, or maybe in my mind I'm out in the grass in a field looking up at the blue sky. I always know I'm relaxed when I wake up like that. It's weird, like babies sleep and I've only done this in the last few years since dating Justin. I wonder what we do at night. 

So some sort of inner calm has settled in. Maybe I'm finally relaxing into the pregnancy. It only took three months to relax. I'd guess this might be normal. 

We're happy to have this retreat from Portland. After months of adjustments to reality, endless efforts on the house, we deserved a getaway.

Charlie can't stop working in the yard. 

The floors will be sanded and finished on Thursday.
16.5 Weeks.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Calm in the Storm of Twins- & Flashback to 10 week Twin Ultrasound with Interpretation

Ultrasound from week 10. This one is interesting because it shows both at once. Twin A (on my left side) will be the presenting twin (born first), because s/he is lower. If Twin A is larger (which s/he has been all along by about 2-3 days), then a vaginal birth will be attempted and possible, no matter what the presentation of Twin B is. Twin B can be manipulated in the womb if breach or transverse.

A lot of the hard work is done. We hired a doula who specializes in twins. She has forty twin births under her belt with only four c-sections. We've found a birthing class nine blocks from our home and a Dads 101 class for Justin. I found prenatal yoga classes near our house. We have a good OB lined up who also had twins (though we are not guaranteed her for delivery). I've have made it through several twin books. Friends have offered a crib, and a double bob stroller. Baby clothes and maternity clothes. And love and support. And excitement.

The kitchen will be done next week. Today they installed the hardwoods.

I've gained about seven pounds now. And there's enough out front that patients have actually asked if I was pregnant. At sixteen weeks with twins, you're not exactly flat anymore.

Monday was my day off. I hopped on my old 1979 Schwinn which I'd recently outfitted with new tires, brakes and cables and pedaled up the hill. The wind and rain questioned my choice of transportation. I could barely get up the tiny hill next to our house. But I moved forward. Intrepid. Dressed head to toe in rain gear. Even rain boots and rain gloves. After a quick stop at the Community Cycling Center where they adjusted my brakes, I coasted down the hill to the Albina Library.

It was quiet day aside from an appointment at 2:00 with my counselor. Who ironically also has twins (which I didn't know until recently). Adopted. With nine days notice. They had just decided they didn't need to have kids, and weren't even in the process of adoption when it basically fell into their laps. Suddenly they had two daughters. The girls are 18 now, and everything turned out fine. It made me thankful that we likely have 6-7 months to prepare.

Afterward, I glided down Ankeney Street toward Sizzle Pie Pizza on Burnside to redeem my free slice from a donation to the Give Guide. With my bike locked up outside, I plopped my green backpack on the table and picked out a tofu olive pizza. It was okay. But as I sat there, I thought how much I was enjoying my freedom. How I should savor these months. Soon this will come to an end. Riding around and doing what I want. Watching people. Enjoying the world.

I've been told that I should stop riding my bike. In case I fall off and damage my babies. I am planning to ride until I feel that my balance is compromised. Plus I only ride on quiet streets and not fast. I guess I figure I could get in a car accident. Fall down the stairs. Fall walking. Or slip in the shower. I could wear full body armor and a stomach protector. But I am just going to live my life instead and hope for the best. I'm pretty sturdy. I'm sure my kids will be too.

We found a few people off Craig's list to come and take away most (about 15-20) of our overgrown plants in the yard. Justin and I have dug up the front yard and planted seedlings inside. We might go a little overboard this year. Then we can decide if we need to scale back and put a patch of grass in the front yard. Justin thinks we need a patch of grass for the little Charlies to sit in while we garden. He might be right.

It's weird to imagine going from "us" two to "us" four. I just have no idea what it will be like. I'm sure everyone who has had kids before me has gone through this thought process. As well, the experience of my body changing into something else as it's creating two little beings. I would've never understood had I not experienced it. How we create other little people from such a small bit of cells. And then it somehow works out. It's pretty amazing.

I'm starting a writing class this week. Probably the last in a while. Carrie and Justin and I and the dogs are headed to the rainforest this weekend for a getaway and hiking.

We're just planning to enjoy ourselves and our little life for now. And hope for the best.