No Complaints, Just Anxiety

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Tomorrow I will have made it to 34 weeks, which isn’t yet the minimum that I wanted to make it to before going into labor (that would be at least 35 weeks, which would be next Saturday), but it is getting pretty close.  Still ask me how much anxiety I feel on a daily basis about the welfare of these two fetuses, and the answer is, that hasn’t diminished at all. If they don’t move around the same way as they did the day before, I assume something must be wrong. Even though I am now having weekly doctor’s appointments, non-stress tests, and more frequent ultrasounds, I still feel like it is an eternity between appointments and I worry all the days in between about things that could be going wrong.

My uterus is measuring 47 weeks pregnant, and I cannot sleep for longer than 1 hour without waking up, but I am okay with being pregnant for the three and a half more weeks until my scheduled C-section date. Yes, I have had to deal with the annoyance of gestational diabetes, but thankfully, it has been regulated by diet.  When I am done and I deliver these babies I plan on going to a good bakery and stepping up to the counter and saying, “I will take one of everything.” People who tell you that your craving for sugar goes away when you don’t eat it for a while are liars!  Despite my large girth, I cannot otherwise complain about being pregnant. Sure, I may have so many stretch mark, but on the plus side one of my scars from my laparoscopy has stretched out to looking like a Harry Potter scar on my belly so that makes me feel like I have conquered Voldemort. I have avoided varicose veins so far, so there is that. My blood pressure has been normal, so that has been great. I haven’t had that swelling problem that lots of other pregnant women have so I can still wear normal shoes and my rings and my ankles look fine. I appreciate how nice my skin and hair look these days.  So really, I cannot complain for myself.  I will only say I don’t have time to be that concerned about my own personal well-being aside from how stressed out I am about how these kids are doing inside of me.  Oh and work, I have got so much I need to get done on that front in the next three weeks too.

Halloween Revisited

I realize that it is more than halfway through the month of November, but I would be remiss if I didn’t share a few pictures of the adorable elephant and dinosaur that came to visit for Halloween. They managed to get some pretty good treats in the neighborhood, but it turns out the dinosaur found much more pleasure in handing out handfuls of candy to the guests that came to the door. He would always end with a friendly, “Happy Halloween! Stay Warm!” after the generous portion of candy had been received by the visitor. Of course, a little honey bee always had to be the official secondary greeter at the door too. Here are some photos of the Halloween gang before heading out in the neighborhood:004
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At Least This Is Ready

I mentioned last week the unexpected purchase of the remainder of the furniture for the babies’ room.  Well, little did I know on Saturday, when they delivered the furniture things would get more dramatic.  We purchased the furniture assembled, but it didn’t come that way, and even worse, Buy Buy Baby forgot to give the hardware for the assembly of the furniture to the delivery company.  After an angry phone call, and an even angrier visit to the store to pick up the hardware (oh yes, I don’t think I can think of a time in my life when I have ever actually yelled at four store employees, but it was cathartic, and they really screwed up my Saturday by their mistakes), we had to spend several hours in the afternoon assembling the furniture. It was not how I intended to spend my Saturday, the one day that I actually can run errands and get things done.  So I curse Buy Buy Baby for taking one of my few remaining free Saturdays away from me. I won’t get that back, and I still have a huge to do list.

Anyway, the babies’ room is more or less done. I am no interior designer, and I had no interest in painting or figuring out window treatments at this point in time, but I like the way it looks. I was afraid the room would feel cramped and small with two cribs, but it actually feels more spacious than it did before. I hope those kids like animals found in South Africa, because that is what all of the pictures are. They are pictures that I took when we were there last.  There are also a few pictures of David and I from that trip too. We also have various puppy items, so there isn’t a pure “wildlife safari” theme.  I cannot keep things entirely consistent.

Speaking of puppies, Knightley isn’t entirely sure about the new room. Sometimes, when we are doing things in there he just hangs out in the hallway outside the door.

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I keep promising him that things will be okay, but he isn’t too convinced yet.

Here are some pictures of the room from different angles.
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Lastly, I decided to use this Moses Basket to put some of the toys and things that they might be interested in first. That is the one thing in the room Knightley shows any interest in because he assumes all things stuffed and squeaky belong to him. I love it because I love where the toys came from. A lot of them are things that Melissa gave to me that Harrison and Phoebe had, some are my own stuffed animals (like my own childhood Curious George), and some are things that we picked up on trips. A couple of things are gifts from other friends. It is a basket of happy.

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Thoughts on Baby Furniture Post Election Day

Yesterday, I had a premonition that I needed to check up on the baby furniture collection that we have chosen for the babies. A couple of months ago, David and I purchased a crib and dresser from Buy Buy Baby in a collection that we liked, but we decided on not purchasing the rest of the furniture – a second crib, a hutch for the dresser, and another tall dresser, until the spring, to save money for other needs right now. The sales assistant in the store told us not to worry, it was a popular collection and it absolutely would be there in the spring. Thankfully, I remained a little more skeptical than that. Yesterday, I checked on both the manufacturer’s and Buy Buy Baby’s website for the furniture collection and could find no mention of it. I frantically called the store and they told me that the manufacturer was having problems and taking a break from producing that particular product line. It turns out, that product line is manufactured in the USA (which is part of the reason why David and I wanted to buy it – we like supporting American manufacturers), and their other lines are produced in overseas facilities. The American-made line is “too costly” for them to produce, so they are restructuring and moving that collection to be produced overseas as well. Last night, David and I made a frantic rush to the store to purchase the remaining items that we need that were in stock, before they sold out. So at least we purchased the last of the American-made products.

Today, I woke up to the news that Republicans had made big scores in virtually all political races. It truly has been a triumph for corporate dark money as Republicans sweep office on campaign promises to roll back health care for the poor, limit regulations on Wall Street, and cut taxes for the wealthy. All of this is a tremendous boon for the top 1% of course, as it is exactly what they want. How the dark money overlords can convince middle class Americans to vote for their paid-for candidates is beyond me. The middle class isn’t just stagnating when it comes to growth, it is disappearing. Don’t believe me? Here are some facts and figures that do not lie. It is just more jobs moving overseas to enhance corporate profits, nothing to see here. It baffles me that so many people want to remain ignorant of this reality.

I will continue to try very hard to spend money in a way that is as responsible as I can. I will try to not just pay lip service to trying to support American workers, but it is becoming harder and harder. As frustrated as I am with the election outcomes, I will try my best to still be an idealist and believe that things can get better, no matter how much cynicism I feel inside of me.

Tea with the Ladies

It is true that I have attempted to keep a low profile during this pregnancy. I think I have posted far more on this blog than I actually have discussed with people in real life. So, when my friend Erin asked me if she could throw me a baby shower, my inclination was to say no, because I didn’t want to be the center of attention for anything and also, I didn’t want to plan anything in case something else went wrong.  Finally, we settled on having a small gathering of friends at the Carolina Inn for afternoon tea.  I wanted it to be more of a get-together celebration rather than a shower. Two years ago, when David and I were last in New Orleans I bought this hat (which was the most I had spent on a hat at that point in time), with the justification that I was going to wear it at some celebration when I actually was expecting a baby at some point in time. So, I finally got to wear the hat at its intended purpose, so that felt good. It also just felt good to celebrate with a few close friends, people that had been there for me throughout the past several years through all of the hopes and disappointments. I wasn’t kidding when I said I have been keeping things low profile. Some of these friends only found out that I was pregnant when they received the invitations.

Phoebe joined the ladies for tea, and particularly appreciated the sugar scones.

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Here are a few other pictures of the attendees. I believe a good time was had by all, because we didn’t play any of those ridiculous baby shower games.

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Erin went above and beyond and also ordered some beautiful white and green flower arrangements that happened to be perfectly reminiscent of our wedding flowers.

Also, here is a terrible picture of me with the attendees. I post it here, because it was the only one we took, and looking terrible and pregnant is part of my everyday reality.

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Here I am with Erin afterwards. I look at this picture and I don’t think I look particularly pregnant, just really overweight. Oh well. That wasn’t the point of the day. The point of the day was just to celebrate and have fun with people I care about. Erin was so fantastic to handle all of the arrangements and to drive down from DC. Seriously, I feel incredibly lucky in the friendships that I have.

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It was fun to have a nice, girly tea party, because I know that my days of tea parties are probably going to be few and far between with the boys. Already, I had to drag David along to tea when we would go places in the past, like to the Ritz in London. I don’t think I will be able to manage that with twin boys too.

Nonetheless, it was fun celebrating them this way all the same.

Parenting Resolutions

I am not going to lie, most of me is terrified to become a parent.  My fears are partly practical, but mostly because I feel like there are so many ways to screw up kids these days.  Perhaps there always has been.  However, I will say my fears about having kids immediately escalated the moment my suspicions that we were having two boys were confirmed.  I will be the first to admit I don’t know what to do with boys. I grew up with two sisters.  I feel like my parenting skills would be pretty well-matched to raising strong, tough girls, who don’t view emotion and concern for others as a sign of weakness, but as a sign of strength.

I am more confused about how to do things with right with boys.  It isn’t because I think that at the core, raising girls is different from raising boys, but because society and things like my religion still perpetuate both rigid and subtle gender stereotypes, I feel like you have to have something in your parental arsenal to respond to those messages that boys receive every day about what boys are meant to do and be. I have an arsenal full of responses based on my own experience as a female, less so for the other side.

A little before I found out I was having boys, I read this short article about how to each empathy to boys.  In the article, there are particular descriptions of how I want my children to be able to relate to the world – I want them to be deeply empathic towards others who suffer, to have courage to stand up for what is right and for helping others, and to be able to not only relate to people that are different from them, but to be able to work in teams with people who are different from them and be problem solvers. I want my boys to understand that helping other people and being able to relate to their suffering (and feel things deeply) is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Last night, I was reading in Desmond and Mpho Tutu’s Book of Forgiving, something else that really hit me hard about values I hope to transfer to my children. Tutu recounts the work of Marshall Duke, a psychologist at Emory in the 1990s who completed research that found “The more children knew the stories of their families’ histories – the good, the bad, and the ugly – the more resilient their children turned out to be.” In fact, knowing those stories turned out to be “the single best predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.” Going along with this research, neuropsychiatrist Dan Siegel also found that the best predictor of how well a child will be attached to his or her parents “is whether the parents have a clear and coherent story about their lives and the traumas they have experienced.”

I think that what I read last night is just another way of talking about teaching boys empathy. I think about it in my own life, how much closer I have felt to my family over the years because of things we have endured together, but also in understanding the stories of what family members have done to overcome particular instances of trauma or suffering. I think about it in the way that I am so defensive of the state of Mississippi, even as it continues to exhibit a lack of empathy to its poorest and most vulnerable residents. I care about it so much because its history of traumas is tied up with one half of my family, and I want desperately to make it better (of course, the same can also be said for the North Carolina side of me too, because our state isn’t much better than Mississippi in terms of public policy that takes care of our most vulnerable citizens these days).

I think authenticity is an important value to inculcate in children these days when so much of the world of middle class America is based on superficiality. I am going to try to do it both ways – by encouraging my children to care for the welfare of others and to be honest with themselves about who they are and where they come from. I can only do that by being the most authentic version of myself around them and by not being afraid to share with them the things that have come so very, very hard as well as what has come easy.

This once again may just be Leslie the idealist speaking out of turn from a place of ignorance, but it really is the best that I can do.

My Best Friend, Mr. Knightley

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Sunday morning, I was feeling kind of crummy, and I didn’t have the energy to do much else besides lie on the couch and watch the Premier League.  My sweet little Knightley jumped up right next to me, settled his head on the pillow I was using and his body on top of my right arm, and we took a nap together.  It was twenty minutes of peace and bliss, because I love how that dog is even more cuddly lately.  I have needed it.

I keep thinking, how did I get so lucky to have this dog in my life?  Earlier this month, we celebrated Knightley’s sixth birthday, and I thought how those six years would have been different, and less manageable without him. Some people need people to make it through things; I needed a loyal dog. That is the introvert in me that fails to be able to articulate my feelings in a way that is understandable to other people, but somehow my dog just instinctively knows. Seriously, I don’t know that I would have made it through these past three years in particular without him.  He has been loyal and sympathetic, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think, what can I do today to give Knightley some of the happiness that he has given me? Sadly, dogs’ lives are too short and I want every day that we have together to be a good one.

I know that things change when babies come, but I promised Knightley that my heart just has to get bigger, because I cannot imagine giving up any of the space that he occupies and passing it to someone else.  I owe him every bit the loyalty that he has shown me.  I owe him the same belly rubs, the same treats, the same cuddles, because after all, our choice to have kids isn’t anything Knightley had any control over.  It shouldn’t affect him negatively in any way.  In fact, I really hope that it affects him in the same way that it hopefully will affect me, it will just make his life more full and happy with a bigger pack of humans who love him.

We took this class in the hospital about how to manage pets with kids, and the whole time I was just thinking, I know Knightley gets it. I know he does.  I go on instinct with that, the same way he instinctively understands me too.

And yes, this is probably one of the cheesiest posts that I have ever written.