Archive | February, 2012

“Home” – The Wiz

25 Feb

Homesickness is a very real illness and I am definitely infected with it. There are so many things I miss about being home and in my neighborhood that I keep fantasizing about what it would be like if I had a 24 hour “hall pass.” If I could leave the hospital for 24 hours and not have any of the physical limitations I am currently facing (muscle atrophy, fatigue, contractions), what sort of things would I take advantage of? With all of this time on my hands, I have deeply thought about my escape and what that day would entail.

First and foremost before any special outings, I would arrive back home and just enjoy being there. I would spend a lot of time with my cats because at this point, they probably think I am either dead or I abandoned them! After some quality time with my four legged kids, I will take that long awaited shower I keep dreaming about. I would love to take a bubble bath too but on my one day off, I want to limit the amount of lying down for obvious reasons. Once I am fully clean and rejuvenated from the shower, I will put on real clothes (not pajamas) and actually put some shoes on! Wearing my normal clothes, I will venture outside into the fresh air and just take a nice long walk in the sunshine. Not being able to go outside and only breathing air from an air conditioner is unbelievably depressing…especially when I have a window to look out of to taunt me and make me feel like a caged bird. This is probably one of the toughest things to deal with at the hospital because I do feel like a prisoner sometimes. Okay, back to my fantasy! Where was I…oh yeah, in the great outdoors. So I spend a good amount of time just walking around my neighborhood taking in the beauty of nature and doing some much needed people watching. I walk to my favorite local nail salon and get the full mani/pedi/massage treatment as a gift to myself. I loved the session I had at the hospital but nothing beats the real experience of sitting in one of those comfy chairs that massages your back the entire time. Yum!

After fulfilling my mind and body, the next order of business is taking care of my stomach with food! At the hospital, the food has gotten very repetitive and I am not enjoying ordering the same things over and over again. Plus, it never arrives very hot since there is a long path taken in order to reach my room. The same holds true for food brought in by visitors. I love getting variety with outside meals but I am constantly eating food that is luke warm or heated up by a microwave. To top it off, I have only been allowed to eat while lying in bed with a big towel draped over me for spills. Not very appetizing or comfortable. For my hospital day off, I will actually sit at a table and receive piping hot food! The first place I go…In-N-Out Burger, and I will savor every minute of it.

Now that I am fed and have gotten my fill of being outside, I will hop into my car and drive around to run errands and go shopping. This day is not about doing anything extraordinary but literally just doing the ordinary. I miss normal and part of that normal is driving to pick up the dry cleaning, stopping by Petsmart for cat food, and taking a stroll through the mall to buy clothes and eat a pretzel. You would think that on my one day off I would rush over to Disneyland, go to the theatre, or do something really exciting but honestly, it’s all about the simple things. The most simple thing being at the very end of the day, where the only lying down I want to do is on my own bed. Sleeping on a twin sized slanted hospital bed is about as uncomfortable as it sounds. Regardless of the countless hours I have spent lying in bed at the hospital, I still just want to curl up in my own bed and sleep soundly without any beeping contraction monitors waking me up. Although this entire day is simply a fantasy, I will get to do all of these things soon enough once I have delivered. Well, maybe not the sleeping soundly part once the babies come home but everything else is definitely possible. Until then, I will have to keep clicking my heels with the hopes that I will soon be back home.

*The song “Home” is from the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz which is a unique retelling of The Wizard of Oz way before Wicked came along. The Wiz was then made into a movie in 1978 starring Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow. This was one of my favorite movies growing up which I watched on Betamax…yes Betamax, not VHS. This song in the show is the closing number where Dorothy is about to go back home after experiencing her amazing journey through Oz. She reflects on what she has learned, how she has grown, and how much she will appreciate her life back in Kansas. In a way, I am in my own kind of Oz, far away from home facing challenges and making new friends. Like Dorothy, I want nothing more than to go home and be in my familiar surroundings again. My husband actually gave me the idea for this blog post because he asked me what I would do if I had one day to go back to my former life. This song popped into my head and I started thinking about how Dorothy felt being stuck in Oz. Like Dorothy, I also realize that there is no place like home and thankfully, soon that home will include two little munchkins!

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There's no place like home...with Milo

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“My Funny Valentine” – Babes in Arms

19 Feb

At this point, I have already celebrated many holidays here at the hospital, but they did have to be modified due to the circumstances. For instance, my Hanukkah menorah was made up of electric candles instead of real ones, I didn’t drink any champagne on New Year’s Eve, and most importantly, my awesome “Dirty Thirty” travel birthday plans were completely cancelled. Now with Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I knew this February 14th would be very different from all of the ones before. Even so, my husband and I both had plans to make this Valentine’s Day as normal as possible and use it as another excuse to express our love for one another.

Before I get into the festivities, there were some major developments that happened the day before. Out of the blue I started having lots of contractions which was strange because there was not anything that I was doing differently with my activity level. I was still just lying in bed 99% of the day. About two weeks prior, my doctor did take me off of the anti-contraction medication I was on since my amniotic fluid levels were getting low, and that was a possible side effect from the meds. They were monitoring me closely to make sure that the fluid levels went back to normal, which they did, and that I was not having any more contractions. Everything was going just fine until February 13th when my contractions kicked into high gear. I have never been able to feel any of these contractions for whatever reason but they show up on the contraction monitor and alert the nurses that there is an issue. One or two contractions every couple of hours is not a big deal, but on Monday they jumped up to nine per hour! It was a good thing that I was not able to feel them because they were not very intense but the frequency was concerning because quantity could be dangerous regardless of the level of intensity. I was started on a new anti-contraction medication that night which gave me a lot of unpleasant side effects. The side effects did not hurt the babies at all but they made me very uncomfortable while my body was getting used to this new drug. In addition, I now had to be woken up to take the medication every six hours so at midnight and 6:00am my sleep was interrupted. Other than being woken up to take the medication, every time I was having contractions, the nurse would come in to wake me up to empty my bladder to help stop the contractions. If your bladder is full, there is less room for the uterus and contractions are more likely to occur until the bladder is emptied. Overall, this new fiasco meant very little sleep for me and more importantly a fear that this complication could get worse.

The next day after barely sleeping, Brett came by in the morning and surprised me with two bouquets of roses, balloons, and wall decorations for my room. He brought me an amazing gift as well which was one of our wedding pictures blown up onto a canvas. I cried when I opened it because it was so thoughtful and beautiful. I had already given Brett his gift the week before since all of my shopping had to be done online and shipped out. I ordered him a Burke Williams Spa gift card so that he can have some relaxation between taking care of me, the kitties, the bills, the apartment, etc. So far, my Valentine’s Day was pretty awesome considering the circumstances. He left for work and then came back in the evening with take-out from Buca Di Beppo which was so much better than the usual hospital cafeteria food. Luckily, throughout the day, the medication had started to work with me having less contractions than before but still not as few as when I was on the first medication. Regardless of this new scary situation, I just focused on enjoying the holiday and visualizing my uterus calming down so that I could get another couple of months to have these babies cook. I never imagined that our last Valentine’s Day without kids would be like this but in the end, we made the best of it and now we can look forward to sharing this holiday with our twins in the years to come.

*The song “My Funny Valentine” is from the 1937 Broadway musical Babes in Arms by Rogers & Hart. This song became a very famous standard after being in the show and most people today don’t even know that it originated from this early musical. For me, this song represents how even though you may not have the most perfect Valentine or Valentine’s Day, it really doesn’t matter because love is what is truly important. I did have a “funny” Valentine’s Day with not being able to go out on a real date with my husband and being stuck in bed with scary contractions, but we made it work. This whole bed rest experience has been about adapting to change and embracing it instead of getting upset that expectations have been skewed. Just one more life lesson to work on by the time the twins arrive.

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These put a smile on my face

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Our wedding photo on canvas

“Beauty School Dropout” – Grease

14 Feb

There are a lot of sacrifices I am making while on bed rest and a minor one that I am really missing right now is my usual beauty routine. I guess you could say that I am pretty low maintenance to begin with regarding beauty. I have never been one to wear make-up on a regular basis and I go to a hair salon about twice a year for trims. Regardless of my lax regimen, I think I miss having the ability and freedom to spruce up my looks, especially since I feel pretty disheveled on a daily basis. For two months now, I have worn nothing but pajamas!

To know what I am missing out on, let me explain what my usual routine was before I became bedridden. As I mentioned, I am not a huge fan of make-up so I would only wear some if there was a special occasion. My hair on the other hand, would eat up most of my time because it is very long and would take awhile to straighten and style. Other than a blow dryer and flat iron, I used about four different products in it to get my hair smooth and straight since it has a bit of a wave and gets frizzy easily. Luckily, I don’t dye my hair anymore (I used to be blonde) so the only upkeep I had was the day-to-day grooming and occasional haircut. Lately, my hair is pretty much neglected. Sorry hair!!! It gets washed once a week in a sink and just stays pulled back into a ponytail most of the time. I don’t even bother putting any products into it because they will only make my hair greasier as the days go on. Instead, I use dry shampoo as long as I can but that starts failing because it only works its magic up to a certain point. Overall, I have just learned to live with my new look and realize that this is only preparing me for when I get home eventually. Soon I will find out that even with the access to a real shower and blow dryer, I will not have the time to indulge thanks to my two little ones taking up all of my attention.

Other than hair and make-up, there is the issue of cleaning my body, shaving, and taking care of my nails while on bed rest. As mentioned before in earlier blog posts, showering is not an option due to how strenuous it is on my atrophied body so sponge baths in bed are the only alternative. They work and I definitely feel clean afterwards but you get cold in the process once water starts evaporating off of your skin. While taking these sponge baths, I am constantly reminded of the fact that shaving my legs is something that will have to be neglected for now because reaching over my belly is not the easiest thing…especially with a sharp razor in hand. The same goes for maintaining my toenails. I literally cannot reach them and since I have been here, they have just kept on growing. Guess those prenatal vitamins are working! My fingernails I am able to at least trim and maintain but I don’t even want to bother with nail polish because I am bound to have some sort of spillage or snafu in my bed.

But recently…a miracle happened! One of my cousins decided to treat me to a professional mani/pedi where the nail salon came to me. Two women from a local nail salon came directly to my hospital room and made me feel human for an hour. I got my finger and toe nails trimmed and polished, plus I received relaxing arm and leg massages as well. I closed my eyes and just pictured myself in the salon itself…away from my hospital prison. It was so nice to feel feminine and pretty again after a couple months of frump. Even though my beauty has taken a backseat recently, it is all well worth it for my two little ones. So with two months gone and two months to go, my looks will be a little neglected here at the hospital as my focus is on making sure my babies look beautiful inside of my belly…beautiful strong heartbeats, beautiful development, and beautiful growth.

*The song “Beauty School Dropout” is from the 1972 Broadway musical Grease which was made into a very popular film version in 1978 (which I am sure you have seen about 50 times or more…I know I have). Lately I have been feeling like a beauty school dropout every time I look in the mirror because I am not used to seeing myself this sloppy looking. My beauty is obviously not my first priority while I am here and I know I am probably the only one who cares. It has nothing to do with what others think because I am in the hospital and this is what I am supposed to look like. It would be very weird to be looking put together and pretty when the only thing I am doing is lying in bed all day. The bottom line is that any shred of normalcy (clean hair, manicured nails, etc.) makes me feel better while going through this stressful experience. I am truly learning to appreciate the little things and not take anything for granted.

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Just like at the salon...minus the gurney!

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Pampered pregnant princess

“Waiting for Life” – Once on This Island

9 Feb

Being at the hospital now for 50 days, there has been some turnover with the other girls on bed rest. They have either 1) delivered, 2) been stable enough to go home to continue bed rest without constant monitoring, or 3) are extremely close to their due date and are sent home to go into labor naturally. Due to my circumstances, going home before delivery is never going to be an option so seeing others leave is bittersweet. After a whole lot of patience, determination, and discipline they are in a sense, graduating. But instead of getting a diploma or degree at the end, they get a baby! I am definitely sad to see them leave our little community here but it gives me so much hope and inspiration that I will soon get there and I might just hear “Pomp and Circumstance” playing in the distance.

Thinking back to all of the other graduations I have had in my life, it reminds me how special that time is and how each of those experiences have been preparing me for what I am going through right now. Graduation represents a new beginning or rite of passage where possibilities seem to be endless. It also forces me to think back on all of the hard work and accomplishments which made the graduation possible to begin with. College was of course much more challenging than all of the other schooling and education I have received as a child and adolescent. No one is holding my hand anymore to make sure I get to class or that my homework is completed. I also had to pay a lot of money to be there and if I didn’t put in the effort, my money would be wasted and all the responsibility would be on my shoulders. College is truly one of the first adult tests that I faced which was vital in assisting me to have a successful career and future. Although, while in college I did still feel like I was in a safe bubble since expectations of success were not going to come until after finishing. This was the time to “incubate” and absorb all of the knowledge possible. I was in complete preparation mode just waiting to start my life after being in school for practically all of it. Then, the bubble gets popped and the real adventure begins.

For me, being pregnant is very similar to this experience since I have wanted to become a mom my entire life. Every life lesson along the way was been preparing me for this very moment. Being on bed rest is my final exam which if successful, will result in becoming a parent and getting to gleefully toss my mortarboard up into the air. I am mastering the art of patience which I know I will need once these two babies come into this world. I have the time now to study, focus on the end goal, and use my next 70+ days wisely. I started as “one small girl” but as I grow, my commencement draws near and a very important life chapter will begin as I transition into the role of parent.

*The song “Waiting For Life” is from the 1990 Broadway musical Once on This Island which tells the love story of Ti Moune who is a peasant girl that falls in love with a rich man from the upper-class. At the very beginning of the show, she sings this inspiring song praying to the Gods that she is ready to start her life, find adventure, and love. When I was about to graduate college, I too was waiting for my own life to truly begin once school was finally over. I got to move in with the love of my life, get married, start my career, and ultimately start a family. Now, I am waiting for two little lives to begin and as each day passes, I see others around me starting this journey and reassuring me that there is a very bright light at the end of this long tunnel.

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My college graduation (2005)

“Putting It Together” – Sunday in the Park with George

4 Feb

I feel like I have become a detective lately…you know, the kind with the big magnifying glass analyzing every detail and clue. That’s me. One major discovery that just happened was that I found out I actually do not have gestational diabetes. Yay!!! When I took the test and was getting my blood drawn every hour, the nurse kept coming back with news that my levels were still very high and my outcome was not looking good. Once the testing was finally complete, she told me that my numbers did not drop to where they needed to be and we had to wait for orders from the doctor to start testing my blood sugar. I immediately changed my diet and was anticipating the poking and prodding to begin. Days past with no finger pricks and my nurses were confused as to why there were no orders yet since they all saw the test results in my chart. My doctor is a very busy man so a delay was not out of the ordinary. Plus I was being very good about my new diet which lowered their level of concern. I got called in for an ultrasound a few days after my glucose test and finally got a chance to remind my doctor about the orders we were all waiting on. He informed me that I did in fact pass which is why orders were never written in the first place! Apparently, since I am having twins, the parameters are higher than the norm so even though my numbers were elevated, it was in the normal range for my particular condition. There could have been better communication between the doctor and nurses but in the end, I was very happy to have some good news come my way. Mystery solved!

Another mystery which has been taking up a lot of my time lately is trying to figure out exactly what items to put on my baby registry. I am the farthest from knowing anything about babies or children, let alone what products are the right ones to get for them. Growing up, I was the baby of the family and never had the opportunity to change a baby’s diaper, feed a baby, etc. Even as I got older I never got a chance babysit or look after anyone else’s children. It got to the point where I realized that I would just learn all of these things once I had my own children and in a way, I liked that idea of starting from scratch. Before I get to tackle all of the day-to-day maintenance with my kids, the first order of business while they are still in the womb is to make sure I am getting the proper merchandise for their health and well-being.

Luckily, I have many resources to turn to since recently, family and friends have had babies and I was able to get guidance from them about what worked and what didn’t. Other than their helpful tips, I knew I had to do my own research into a world that I knew very little about. To top it off, I was at a disadvantage not being able to actually go into the store to “test drive” certain products or see them in person. All of my shopping had to be done remotely from my hospital bed relying on customer reviews, consumer reports, and videos demonstrating different products in action. One huge advantage I did have was time…and a lot of it! I tore through my new “Baby Bargains” book which gives detailed ratings and information about what products are a waste of money, what products are vital, and how to get the best bang for your buck. There are so many different brands and options for every little item which is completely overwhelming to new parents. I remember in the past just going into Babies R Us to buy baby shower gifts for friends and leaving with my head spinning because of how massive the inventory was for this market! You would think that there may be a handful of different brands to choose from but it is more like dozens and beyond…for example, there are over 50 different car seats!!!

Putting together this registry was like teaching myself a new language. I had a lot of motivation to do this right because I wanted to not only have the highest rated products which were safe, but also the most convenient and user friendly. I know I will not have the time or patience to deal with a stroller that is more difficult to fold up or lift while I have twins screaming at me so taking the time to do the work and research now was essential. I realize how lucky I am to live in a time where I have the internet to get this done while on bed rest. Yes, it would have been fun to run around Babies R Us with my husband and the scanning gun doing this task together, but that was not meant to be. Instead, I got to play detective while he gets to play interior designer with the nursery. The bottom line is that in the end, the twins will have exactly what they need thanks to a team effort from mommy and daddy.

*The song “Putting It Together” is from the 1984 Broadway musical Sunday in the Park with George with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical focuses around the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” and the artist Georges Seurat. In the show, the song is sung by George, the great-grandson of the painter who is now an artist himself trying to make his mark in the modern art world one hundred years later (the first act of the show takes place 1884 while the second act jumps ahead to the future). The song is very lyric heavy (like most Sondheim songs) and talks about how many minute details go into making art. “Art isn’t easy” and I have found that neither are baby registries! I am normally a very detail oriented type of person so I approached this registry like it was a piece of art and took my time until I felt that I did get it just right. In no way am I an expert on baby products now but I do feel very well informed and look forward to getting to put these items to use this spring!

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Many hours spent on the Babies R Us website

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Back at home...nursery colors are being tested