Twin pregnancy: week 22 in review

How far along? 23 weeks today (I had to double check that math after I wrote it. These last few weeks have flown by!)

Weight gain: I'm up to 167 which means I gained three pounds last week! Wowza. Total gain: 28 pounds. This week John took a look at me one evening when he got home from work and said, "I feel like you look more pregnant every day!" I totally agree. It is almost shocking how quickly I'm growing. Most mornings I stand in front of a mirror in awe. This is an amazing process!

How are you feeling: Still feeling pretty good! I continue to be easily winded and wake up 5-6 times each night, but even so I feel happy, healthy, and (relatively) energized during the day*.

*"Day" now = 8am to 4pm.  After that I'm toast. ;-) 

My friends lent me an exercise ball which I hope will help ease some muscle strain I've been feeling in my back and a body pillow which is helping me get more comfortable at night. I love the body pillow but good grief it is an ORDEAL when I need to roll over with it at night. John wakes up with me almost every time because I basically cause an earthquake in our bed. He's so sweet about it though; he told me he doesn't mind that I wake him up all the time because we're in this together. I'm glad he'll never be pregnant because I don't know if I'd be so generous if he woke me up every couple hours!

Noteworthy moments: I had another ultrasound last Friday! The boys continue to grow well. I have my cervical length measured as an indicator of pre-term labour and so far, so good. (Thank you body for finally doing something right. Please keep that up!)

I went into the ultrasound feeling like Baby B had flipped to head down and Baby A was breech... not only breech, either,  but kicking the daylights out of my cervix.

Indeed that was exactly the case! Baby B was head down and Baby A was sitting cross-legged on my cervix. The sonographer laughed, "No wonder you are feeling him so much!" Yea.

Baby A still has time to get into position for a vaginal birth (which I would- probably obviously- prefer over a c-section) but I would of course love to see him go head down sooner rather than later.  I've been putting myself into all sorts of weird positions to try get him out of breech. If you walk into my house and see me hanging off the side of my couch... that's why. The day after my ultrasound I began to feel his kicks higher up on my belly and I no longer felt any down low. I was excited! Unfortunately that lasted two days and now I think he's back in breech position. Come on baby! Turn! 

When I asked, my OB told me that statistically most babies get into their birth position between 28-32 weeks. Since I've got two sharing the space of one, I'd guess they probably run out of space sooner. If you've got any baby-turning tricks let me know! (I already know about Spinning Babies!)

At 22 weeks my belly measured 29 weeks gestation, which is in normal range for twins. Most twin moms measure 8 weeks ahead by the end. For those of you who are into math that means that yes if I make it to 38 weeks gestation I will measure 46 weeks pregnant! Wowza. Still, I hope I make it that far!

Get a little spiritual: I always thought if I could wave a magic wand and pick my pregnancy dates, I would want to be pregnant in the summer. I loved the ideas of wearing flowy summer clothes over my bump, being outside, active, and healthy as my body nourished new life, and living into the sometimes supernatural feeling of pregnancy in the context of long days, shady trees, cold swims, and beautiful sunsets.

Actually that all still sounds great to me.

But truly if I had gotten that summer pregnancy I dreamed about, I would have had a fall or winter baby. That would not have been so wonderful for me as winter is already not my favorite season. Now that I'm expecting spring babies I'm feeling so thankful that I didn't get the summer pregnancy I wanted! Instead I'm looking forward to having my babies when the tulips are blooming, being able to push them in the stroller to the park so Arie can play, and appreciating the early rising/late setting sun to keep me company in my sleep deprived state. John and I will go through the hardest first few months with two newborns in the most beautiful context of a Michigan summer. I wouldn't have picked this for myself but I'm so happy it's what I'm getting!

For that I say a simple, "Thank you God. Amen."

Bump shot: 



Twin pregnancy: week 21 in review

How far along? 22 weeks today!

Weight gain: I'm up to 163lbs, up another 2 pounds since last week. Total gain: 25 pounds. By this week the recommended gain for my starting BMI was between 23-34 pounds so I'm pretty much spot on! Super happy about that.

This week I started to feel big too. Not just in my belly, but all over: arms, legs, face. My wedding rings are even starting to get tight on my hands! I should probably take them off soon so they don't get stuck on me, but I feel naked without them. Maybe I'll buy a cheap replacement band. What did you do when (if) your rings got too tight?

How are you feeling: About the same as last week. I feel pretty great during the day, besides occasional heartburn and being easily winded. At night I have trouble getting comfortable and I've started to have a few bouts of restless leg syndrome. So far taking a warm bath and stretching my legs out seems to help enough. I had restless legs every time we flew to see or came home from seeing Arie, so in a weird way this symptom brings back memories from when I was "expecting" him. Didn't think these two experiences would have any symptoms in common! Ha.

Noteworthy moments: We bought our stroller! I'm like a child in a toy store. So excited! After our second ultrasound, John and I got lunch at a deli and a woman with two kids came into the deli with this stroller. It was the Britax Bready stroller. I knew right away I wanted that stroller! Two weeks ago I found someone selling it on craigslist about an hour away! She only used it 10 times (before her kids insisted on walking everywhere) and sold it for less than half of new. I'm so thrilled with it! Can't wait to walk my babies around with it in May! I posted a picture on instagram if you want to see it.

John and I also got our old playroom/new playroom-guestroom combo basically finished. After reading about how toxic polyurethane is for pregnant women we decided to hold off on finishing the floor (AFTER it was sanded. Fail on our part for not researching sooner!). Instead we bought a big rug. It looks pretty nice despite not being finished! We need curtains and sheets for the bed yet, but once we finish it I'll take some pictures to share. Now that we have a guest space finished we can start on the nursery.

Get a little spiritual: This morning as I was driving Arie to school the sun was rising. The sky looked pink like cotton candy and the tops of some very tall pines were hit by warm yellow rays so bright it almost looked like they were glowing. Arie was amazed by the beauty. It has been cloudy here basically since November; neither of us could remember the last time we saw such a beautiful sunrise. "Mom! Why is the sun doing that?! Why is the sky pink? Why are the trees all bright on top?! Look Mom! Look!"

I'm not glad that it's been overcast here for many weeks nor am I glad I suffered infertility before this pregnancy, but I am thankful for the perspective of awe and gratitude both have given me. Just like Arie was amazed by the sunrise in a way he would not have been if it had been normal and expected, I find myself amazed by this pregnancy. The babies have been moving like crazy this week. Each time I feel them kick my heart grows warm. I can't tell you how many times in a day I think, "I almost didn't experience this. It almost didn't happen." I am incredibly grateful. I am incredibly happy.

Bump shot: 




I was only twenty-seven years old when a nurse called to tell me I had diminished ovarian reserve. I was young and healthy yet unable to conceive. It was obvious to me that something wasn't working right, yet when I watched my rich red blood swell up in a laboratory test tube a few days prior, I didn't imagine it would hold this dark secret: my eggs were aging without me. Or at least, ahead of me. I was young and healthy. My eggs were not.

Upon receiving the news, a gust of breath rushed from my lungs as if I had been kicked in the stomach. I hung up the phone and called my husband, crying, gasping. Fear and pain flooded my body: what if I couldn't bear a child? What if the dream I carried since I was a  little girl stuffing pillows under my shirt never materialized? What if I couldn't get pregnant?

Over the next two years I became well aquatinted with the pain of being kicked. More diagnoses, more treatments, more negative pregnancy tests than I ever imagined taking: kicked, kicked, kicked.

I turned to my God and asked for his divine hand of protection against the pain. Make it stop. That prayer was long left unanswered, but others filled its place: I learned how to heal from each blow, how to endure, how to get back up again each time I was knocked down. How to set my eyes on the heavens even as I lay writhing on the ground.

When I finally became pregnant after a year and a half of surgeries, medications, and fertility procedures, I raised my hands to the heavens with a loud HALLELUJAH! Every scar I bore, both real and metaphorical, served as proud battle wounds in my victory. For two weeks my husband and I celebrated with joy. We told our friends. We shared our news. We put our four-year-old son (by adoption) in a "big brother" shirt.  Soon it was time for our first ultrasound.

While my hormone levels had risen exactly right and I had not bled nor shown any signs of miscarriage, the ultrasound screen before our eyes showed nothing but a black hole where our baby should have been.

Unprepared for that enormous blow, it hit me with unprecedented pain. My ears rang, my vision blurred, the world around me moved in slow motion.



My baby! My baby. 


Kicked down, again.

Slowly I turned back to the lessons of my faith: first, how to breathe. Then, how to heal. Finally, how to get back up and try again.

Half a year later, we did try again. Again we got the good news: I was pregnant! Again my hormone levels rose appropriately. Again I lay back, half naked and vulnerable in every way on a sheet of crinkly white paper, waiting for the ultrasound to begin.

This time the black hole on the screen before us held a beautiful surprise: not just one white bundle of hope, but two! Twins! Two babies. Two heartbeats. Two long-awaited answers to our prayers.

The next few months passed with a mixture of unprecedented happiness and fear of loosing it.
I loved my babies. I believed I would hold them in my arms. Yet part of me was still waiting for that kick to come.

From September through December I waited, breathing easier with every passing week. With every additional scan, every OB visit, every beautifully rhythmic heartbeat sound emanating from a doppler machine, I lowered my defenses. Maybe- prayerfully, hopefully, blessedly- that kick wouldn't come this time. Please let this be it. 

The kick did come. It came unexpectedly one December night as I sat by the lights of our Christmas tree.

But this time, it came from the inside.



My baby. My babies! 


Those kicks, they were small at first: like the rise of bubbles in carbonated drink, the soft brush of cat's tail, or the tickle of a minnow flopping in a wet hand. Stronger and stronger they grew through December. On New Year's Day I called my husband to my side where he placed his warm palm on my swollen belly.

We waited.

Then: bump!

Did you feel that!? 

We grinned.

A kick.

Three weeks later, I feel those kicks every hour of every day. I wait with anticipation for the serendipitous moment when my son will feel them too. His little hands explore my belly impatiently; we wait for that moment when his touch will match up with his brothers' kicks.

These kicks from the inside do exactly the opposite of the blows I endured for years. While they knocked me down, these build me up. While they took my breathe away, I inhale these deeply with delight. While they caused me great pain, these bring me great joy.

This weekend my husband, son, and I were shopping, talking to a sales person. Halfway through a sentence I lost my breathe and winced a little. I stopped and smiled at their expressions:

Don't worry. I said, I'm just being kicked. 



Twin pregnancy: week 20 in review

Last night on one of my many trips to the bathroom I noticed our hallway seemed brighter than usual. The streetlights were shinning so brightly off a new blanket of snow and into our window it seemed almost as if we had left a light on! With winter storm predictions in the forecast I had been wondering if Arie would have his first snow day of the year.  Sure enough, John woke me up this morning with the happy news: snow day!

Unfortunately all visions of making a snow man and sipping hot chocolate quickly disappeared when Arie woke up crying that he didn't feel well. Shouldn't there be a rule against being sick on a snow day?? Poor guy. At first he was saying his tummy hurt, but he did eat breakfast so I don't think it's a stomach bug. He's super stuffed up; hopefully it's just a short lived cold. Maybe we will make it outside this afternoon if he feels a little better!

In any case, on this sick-kid-snowy-day I am officially flipping the page to a new week of pregnancy. Here's my update:

How far along: 21 weeks today.

Weight gain: 161, up two pounds since last week. Total gain: 23 pounds. I had my 20 week appointment last week and my OB was happy with my gain. She made me laugh saying, "And I can still see the bones in your face!" which I suppose means as I continue to get bigger, my face will too. I already notice a big difference in my face but since I look at it everyday I would be the first to notice. I guess I'll just enjoy my facial bone structure while I can! ;-)

How are you feeling: During the day I feel great! I get tired more easily which I'm sure is normal. At night I'm not sleeping the best. I can only sleep on my sides and I when wake up every couple hours to switch sides my body just aches. I must roll around a lot when I'm not pregnant because now that I can't, I have lots of pain at my pressure points (hips, knees, shoulders) and that pins and needles feeling you get when you stay in the wrong position for too long. I'm slowly learning just exactly how to prop myself up with pillows to make sleeping as comfortable as possible.

Noteworthy moments: We had our big anatomy ultrasound on Friday! The boys are officially still two boys and they are growing healthy and strong. They are still measuring a few days ahead of schedule which they have been doing since our very first ultrasound. Great job babies!

In a twin pregnancy, doctors label the babies "A" and "B" based on who is closer to the cervix. Baby A is on my left and Baby B is on my right. I have been feeling almost all fetal kicks on my right with the occasional soft movement on my left. During the ultrasound the babies were true to that form: Baby A was quiet with slow, gentle movements, while Baby B kicked and flipped all over the place! I've heard a number of moms say that their babies' personalities in the womb were an accurate reflection of them outside the womb. I'm so interested to see if that is true for our boys!

My favorite ultrasound picture is this one which shows Baby B (the mover and shaker) kicking Baby A (Mr. Quiet) in the face:

Hopefully the membrane from the amniotic sacs between them
cushioned the blow! 
When we saw this happen on the ultrasound screen I immediately thought about how Arie loves to hear the story of how he threw up on my shoes after we drove him from his orphanage to our apartment in Moscow. He thinks it is hilarious! I bet these boys will also love to hear the story of how Baby B was already kicking his brother in the face before birth! I can hear their giggles already. At least, Baby B's giggles!

We didn't get a great picture of Baby B's profile because he would not.stop.moving, but here's how adorable Baby A is:
His little hand was right up by his mouth. Maybe he'll be a thumb-sucker like big brother! 
And just so Baby B is also represented, here's a tiny little baby foot to "awww!" over:

How wonderful to imagine the places this little foot will carry him in life! 
Get a little Spiritual: Seeing the pictures of Baby B's feet made me think of a hymn I used to sing in church as a girl called "Our God Reigns." The song includes a verse from Isaiah:

"How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
"Your God reigns!"
- Isaiah 52:7

Feet are generally not a part of a person we consider "beautiful" today, but they especially were not a beautiful part of a person back when this passage was written. That was a time when sandaled feet were always dirty, smelly, and gross. What I love about this passage is that it reframes beauty; the least lovely part of us becomes beautiful when it is used to deliver the good news of Christ! As a parent I desire so many things for my children; I know I am not alone in this. This passage helps me refocus on the most important thing: that my children would love their God and share that love with others. Whether I want my children to be beautiful, successful, prosperous, happy... all these things mean nothing "compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:8). I pray these tiny bodies being knit in my womb will be vessels of the great light and love found in Jesus, whatever else they end up doing.

Belly shot: 



Twin pregnancy: week 19 in review

How far along: 20 weeks today! Halfway to term milestone (although I'll deliver before 40 weeks).

Weight gain: I'm up to 159 lbs. Since we were traveling last week, I didn't weight myself but I'm up 4 lbs from two weeks ago making my total gain 21 lbs. Super happy with that! I'm hoping my babies are getting nice and big and ready for the outside world.

How are you feeling? Mostly pretty great! My energy level is much improved as is evidenced by my staying awake until midnight ring in the New Year. Could not have imagined doing that a few weeks ago! My nausea is 95% gone. I have heartburn now, unfortunately, but it's not as bad as the nausea was and I know I can take something if I get super uncomfortable. Overall I feel great and I'm super happy to be able to be cooking in my kitchen again without wanting to puke!

Noteworthy moments: Two big ones:

1) John felt the babies move on New Year's Day! Finally! Their movements have been sporadic so I haven't been able to get him to feel my belly right when they move, but we had a serendipitous moment of good timing on Friday and he felt one solid kick.

Arie hasn't been able to feel them yet, but he does comment frequently on how big my belly is. Usually he has a bewildered tone and tells me I look "kinda weird." Ha! Just wait, buddy. It's only getting bigger.

2) We started preparing the nursery! Well, actually preparing the nursery is a two step process that first involves moving our current guest room (future nursery) to our current playroom (future guest room/playroom combo) and then starting on the future nursery. We painted the walls and tore out the carpet in the playroom so we can refinished the hardwood floors. Painting did not go smoothly. Something went wrong with our paint and despite having it shaken at the store AND stirred at home, it wasn't mixed. Halfway through the gallon the color changed! John brought it back to the store and they apologetically replaced it (and shook it twice for good measure). Their best guess was that they base paint had frozen during delivery.

So a job that should have taken a couple hours took much longer, but it is now done and looks great! Once we refinish the floors later this month we can move the guest room and start on the nursery. It's so exciting to be preparing for our two little boys!

Get a little spiritual: I've cycled back to a spiritual awareness that I've written about in my updates before: my never-ending dependency on the Father. Through the years that we suffered from infertility I spend so much time petitioning before the throne. I asked for everything from pregnancy to strength to wisdom to courage. I felt vulnerable and needy all the time.

I don't think I every consciously named it, but I had a certain expectation that when I finally became pregnant and my prayers for pregnancy were answered, I wouldn't be so needy anymore.

That could not be farther from the truth! It makes me laugh to imagine it now: did I think I would stand up before the throne, thank the Father, and go on my merry way?? Ha. Nope. I'm still on my knees before him. My prayers have changed to be sure- filled with more gratitude- but there are still so many things I need from him. I need provisions of grace everyday. I'm realizing that this position on my knees before my God is not a temporary location. This is where I live and will always live, forever.

What better place can there be, though? To bow before the one who is Love and Light, day after day? This is a place of joy. Though I have spent years here, I have subconsciously considered it a temporary location. Now I am learning that it is actually my home. I am learning to lean into the peace and pleasure here.

"You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Psalm 16:11

Bump shot: 

PS: I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions, but this year I'm hoping to get back into listening to audio books. I've gotten a little heavy-handed with podcasts lately! Podcasts are great but I'm wanting a longer story. There is something about going on a long journey with a book that you can't get from a podcast.

I'm mostly into nonfiction and I love memoir. Last year my favorite read "listen" (maybe one of my favorite reads of all time) was It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell. Just loved it. Please leave me some book recommendations for 2016!

If it's really good story and doesn't come in audio book format I might get into it, but the last time I read a whole book it took me three months to finish. I love audio books because I can listen while I drive, fold laundry, cook, etc. :-) Also I'd love to have a list on deck for the many hours I will soon spend feeding babies!


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