"I'm Going Home" - The Rocky Horror Show

After finally experiencing the momentous occasion of the birth of my twins, the next big event that I had been anxiously waiting for was to go back home. At 122 days in the hospital, I only had four more days to go until my discharge papers were signed making my entire hospital stay a whopping 126 days! April 25th could not come soon enough and unfortunately, those four little days recovering from surgery were going to be harder than expected. Immediately after the c-section, I was taken to the recovery room where we got to spend our "golden hour" with the twins and get some good skin to skin contact before they got whisked away to be fully cleaned up and checked out. My epidural was still going strong so I was feeling really good snuggled up with the kids and just taking in the fact that I had successfully accomplished the biggest challenge in my entire life. Then once the twins left, the anesthesiologist started to transition me from my epidural to regular pain medications since we were only going to be in the recovery room for about two hours. The nurses mentioned that during surgery, there was one complication that occurred which was now under control. I had lost a large amount of blood when the two placentas were removed. This occurred because my uterus was not able to work normally since I had been so inactive these past several months. My uterine muscles were atrophied along with all of the rest of my muscles. My doctor had anticipated this outcome so they put in a Bakri balloon to put pressure on the bleeding so that I would not need a transfusion. This life saving device came with a price because once the epidural was turned off, the strongest of medications did absolutely nothing to control the pain from everything I just went through. They gave me Percocet, Dilaudid, Morphine, and Oxycontin to name a few, but nothing could touch this level of pain. After five long hours, they ended up turning back on my epidural which provided the only relief. While this whole ordeal was going on, I sent Brett out with the twins to spend time with our families who were worried about us since I had not been released from the recovery room. Brett soon returned with the twins once I was stable and after a total of seven hours in recovery, I was sent back to my original room in labor and delivery to be closely observed. I did not get to see my family at all since we got back to our room at 2:00am. After two difficult days recovering, we then made the transition to our postpartum room on the other side of the maternity ward where we would spend our last two nights at the hospital.

After all of the months isolated from the real world, April 25th was at last here and the final packing began. Before we officially left, I decided to take a walk around the hospital one last time. Ironically on this day, the hospital started a new program where all of the moms on bed rest would meet twice a month on their gurneys to discuss their thoughts and feelings with the hospital social worker. Apparently, this program was in the works for awhile and my Facebook group helped make these face-to-face meetings more of a priority. I popped into the meeting briefly to say goodbye to everyone and assure them that every single second spent lying in bed was so unbelievably worth it. Once my babies were in my arms, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat regardless of how difficult or long this endeavor had been. It was nice seeing everyone and being able to leave them with hope that bed rest can lead to a very successful outcome in their own pregnancies.

The last and most important things we had to pack up were of course the twins in their brand new car seats which I got to see in person for the very first time. A huge wave of emotion began to hit me as the room started to look empty with all of our things loaded up on carts to take down to the car. Tears began to fall as a wheelchair was rolled in, signaling that my stay was in fact over. It was very surreal to know that my new life was finally about to begin as I sat down in the wheelchair with Ethan on my lap in his car seat. We started to move and Brett walked next to me carrying Ella in her car seat as we both cried tears of joy. Then after 126 days of confinement, my wheelchair was pushed out into the fresh air and I got to see the gorgeous blue sky for the first time since December. I could see the clouds and the sun and human life happening outside of the hospital walls. I then realized just how much this entire experience completely changed my life and the way I view the world. I had given up four months of my life in order to give my kids the chance to live. A very small price to pay for two beautiful, healthy babies who will get to know that life is extremely precious once they have been told the story of how they came into this world.

*The song "I'm Going Home" is from the 1975 Broadway musical The Rocky Horror Show which then became the famous midnight cult movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Frank-N-Furter sings this soulful ballad once he finds out that he is being taken back to his home planet but desires to stay on Earth instead. In my case, there was no way I was desiring to stay at that hospital one more minute, and seeing our car pulled up outside ready to take us all back together was so glorious. The entire car ride home both Brett and I continued to cry that at last we were free to be a family. Brett had made the lonely drive back and forth down Pacific Coast Highway so many times coming to visit me. Now, his wish came true that this final drive back home included not only me, but the twins as well. We all made it through this incredible journey with an enormous appreciation for all of the amazing blessings in our life. Don't dream it...be it!

 My first glimpse of the sky!

My first glimpse of the sky!

 I'm free!!!

I'm free!!!

 Happy tears as we leave as a family

Happy tears as we leave as a family

 A dream come true

A dream come true

"Paciencia Y Fe" - In the Heights

The day had come exactly four months from when the journey began. I was admitted into the hospital on December 21st and now on the very last day of the 36th week, my babies were finally born on April 21st. While being on bed rest, I have listened to the heartbeats of my twins 244 times and felt them kicking and moving inside of my belly more times than I could count. As I was waiting for the c-section to begin, I could not help but think about how extraordinary it would be to able to meet and hold them after all of this time spent lying in bed. The night before that amazing day, Brett and I decided to have a date night since it would be our last official night together as a married couple without kids. I was allowed to leave my room and have dinner with him in the family dining room at the hospital. It felt so good just to be able to sit in a chair and eat normally for the first time since becoming bedridden. I definitely will not miss eating lying down with a big towel draped over me. He brought in yummy food from Hillstone which is one of our favorite restaurants and we had a feast with filets and loaded baked potatoes. A much needed break from my usual hospital food dining experience. Dinner was really nice and we got to spend some time out on the patio for some fresh air before going back to the room. After dinner, we arrived in the now famous, room 2524 and the packing up began. Brett started taking all of the decorations off of the walls and little by little, this room went back to the way it was 17 weeks ago. It was very bittersweet in a way because our "Santa Monica studio" had become our new home, but we were so excited to be finally going back to our real home as a family.

The next day, when the time came to go to the operating room, they let me walk down the hall instead of being rolled in which made the start of this next chapter just that much better. Finally on my feet again! My doctor told me how amazed he was that I had gotten this far along in my pregnancy. He, along with all of the nurses were expecting my c-section to be an unplanned event. Typically, women in my situation go into full preterm labor where contractions can't not be stopped by major drugs and the birth commences with an emergency c-section. This scenario had already happened to some of the other moms here on bed rest, so I always made sure to prepare myself for this kind of potentially scary event. Yet as each week went by, the chances of me delivering too early became less likely and the NICU started becoming a maybe instead of a have to.

In the operating room, I was being prepped for surgery and a sense of calm came over me even though I was being poked and prodded. Then Brett came in and sat down beside me in full scrubs and I knew that the show was about to start. At 5:22pm the first cry was heard from Ella Madison and my own tears could not stop flowing. Then at 5:23pm there was another cry from Ethan Tate and my joyous crying began to echo theirs. Two strong crying babies! They are breathing on their own which means that they could be alright. As soon as Brett came back to me after checking on them he confirmed that they were both very healthy scoring an 8 on their first APGAR test at one minute old and then the score raised to 9 at the five minute mark. No NICU!!! Once they were all cleaned up, they brought them over to me so that I could kiss each one and look at them for the first time. After all of the incredible sacrifice and hard work over the past couple of years, we were finally a family and all of the thousands of minutes spent on bed rest just melted away. Not only were they healthy but everyone in that operating room could not believe their weights! Ethan weighed 6 pounds 2 ounces and Ella weighed 6 pounds even. My petite five foot frame carried over 12 pounds of baby not including the added weight of the two placentas and amniotic fluid sacks. What was even more amazing was the fact that this small piece of string which held my cervix shut for the past four months made this successful outcome possible. My doctor is also an expert at performing the cerclage procedure which drastically helped improved my odds. I heard many horror stories online of poorly done cerclage procedures where the stitch comes loose or falls out, resulting in dire circumstances. When I was being sewn up after the c-section, he was also taking out the cerclage and I requested to keep this miraculous piece of string so that I could never forget how Dr. Tabsh saved the two precious lives of my twins.

*The song "Paciencia Y Fe" is from the 2008 Broadway musical In the Heightswhich won many Tony Awards including Best Musical. The character Abuela Claudia sings this song about her journey to America from Cuba as a young girl, and how her mother kept telling her "paciencia y fe" which means patience and faith since the transition was very difficult. Since being admitted into the hospital, this song has been playing inside of my head because I knew that patience and faith were two things that I would need to survive this tremendous life event. It was so important to stay positive, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and most importantly...stay in bed!

 Brett taking down the decorations

Brett taking down the decorations

 Me and Dr. Tabsh the night before the c-section

Me and Dr. Tabsh the night before the c-section

 The Broadway Babies meet Mommy!

The Broadway Babies meet Mommy!

 Proud Papa

Proud Papa

"Something's Coming" - West Side Story

"I got a feeling there's a miracle due, gonna come true, coming to me!" Four months ago, I was given the goal to make it to 36 weeks in my pregnancy so that my twins had the best chance of surviving and leaving the womb pretty much "cooked."  I prayed for this to come true but was always worried that they would have different plans and arrive prematurely.  Each week that went by became a new milestone and celebration because their chances for being healthy kept rising and the threat of staying in the NICU kept falling.  I was also questioning whether or not my petite body could withstand two babies continuing to grow inside of me, but week by week my belly expanded without hesitation.  Since I have miraculously met this goal, the final countdown to parenthood has officially begun.

Now that my "graduation" is so close I can taste it, I can't help but think what I will actually miss about living in the hospital.  This whole experience is not something I would choose for myself or anyone for that matter, but there are some aspects that will be hard to say goodbye to.  Other than the obvious superficial things like not having to cook, clean, or lift a finger, the saddest part of leaving is saying goodbye to all of the nurses that have become my new family.  I literally spent more time with them throughout my stay then with my family and friends since the nurses were taking care of me for the duration of their long, 12 hour shifts.  When I felt lonely, they were there and I really got to know them well in between medicine distribution, checking my vital signs, performing the fetal non-stress tests, etc.  I definitely plan on keeping in touch with my nurses and bringing the twins by for a visit when we are in the area.

The other women on bed rest that I have met while in the hospital have also played a big role in keeping me sane during this time.  The large amount of encouragement and good vibes has been some of the best medicine I have received while being here.  Plans have already been made to meet up with our babies to keep our little "sorority" going outside of the Facebook group and hospital walls.  Some of the Moms have delivered since I have been here and after I leave, there will be even more on their way to "graduating" themselves.  I also plan on continuing to maintain the Facebook group for all of the future bed rest Moms that will move-in after I have left.  The nurses know how to direct new patients to the group and I look forward to watching the amount of members expand for as long as it can last.  One big question I keep thinking about is who will be the next to inhabit room 2524 and more importantly, who will receive the magical sunflower?  I can definitely attest to its powers having become the next Mom that has successfully reached the coveted 36 week mark.

So the anticipation and excitement has really started to build because I could go into labor at any time now and there will be no need to try to stop it with heavy duty drugs.  If I end up not going into labor on my own, then the doctor will just schedule the c-section this week or the next.  My husband will start to pack up my things and take the decorations off of the wall as we prepare for the birth and the much awaited move to the postpartum section of the maternity ward.  It is very strange to finally be at the end of my pregnancy journey after spending so many days in waiting that seemed to last forever.  Now with time flying by, Brett and I are trying to think of everything that needs to be in place so that we are as prepared as possible once we take that car ride home and permanently leave The BirthPlace.  I remember the last car ride we took together was filled with fear as we raced to the hospital after that fateful 19 week ultrasound appointment.  What a difference 17 weeks makes where instead of fear and worry, our car will be filled with joy, elation, and of course two beautiful babies.

*The song "Something's Coming" is from the 1957 Broadway musical West Side Storywhich is a musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set in 1950's New York City. The main character Tony, is singing about his future and the exciting possibilities that might await him at the dance that night.  He ends up being right because he meets the love of his life, Maria and both of their lives are forever changed.  I am so happy that in my world, the "something" that is coming are my twins which will forever change the lives of Brett and myself.  We completely appreciate all of the love and support throughout these past four months from everyone that has reached out in our time of need.  It is obvious that all of the prayers and well wishes have worked and our dream of becoming a family will come true before the end of April!  "There's something due any day..."

 The magical sunflower worked!

The magical sunflower worked!

"Free" - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

At this point of my hospital stay I have gotten used to missing out on a lot of events that I was supposed to attend.  This latest one being the Passover Seder, and it is probably the first time I have ever missed going in my whole life.  Usually at my family's Seder, we read the story of Passover about how the Israelites were freed from slavery in ancient Egypt.  Then, we talk about our own lives and how over this past year we were "freed" from something ourselves.  Last year for instance, my husband was very excited to speak about how he was finally free from school since he had just graduated from Pepperdine University with an MBA.  This year for me, in less than a month I will soon be free from my hospital bed and allowed to actually leave the four walls of this room which have become my world over the course of four months. But as I near the end of my pregnancy, even though it feels really good to be so close to going home, these next couple of weeks will not be too easy on my body.  I have gained 50 pounds so far and with my limited mobility of being on bed rest, it has gotten extremely hard to walk back and forth to the bathroom since I feel out of breath and exhausted.  While lying in bed, if I need to switch positions, just turning from one side to the other feels like I am trying to complete a marathon.  I have a special bar above my bed which helps me move around by using my upper body since I basically don't have functioning abs at this point.  To help with my motivation, I have hung baby clothes on this bar so that I am always keeping my eye on the prize no matter how difficult it gets (I have to give credit to one of the Moms from my bed rest Facebook group who gave me this creative idea).  At this point, my main concern is just getting home and starting to take care of two newborns with this altered body.  By then, I will not only be recovering from my muscle atrophy and fatigue, but also the c-section surgery.  Regardless of how uncomfortable it is being enslaved in a body that has been put through so much, I will finally get the freedom to be a mother which I have constantly been longing for.

Even though I am in a lot of pain and discomfort right now, it helps me so much to flashback to a time where I gained another huge sense of freedom when my infertility issues were finally solved.  It really felt like my husband and I had a huge loss of control with trying to get pregnant for two years.  Especially when it seemed like everyone else around us automatically got the privilege to create human life without complications.  We were slaves to alternative treatments and drugs with constant appointments to our reproductive endocrinologist and acupuncturist.  Every time there was a failed attempt to get pregnant, it was so devastating and difficult to start all over again with a new plan of action.  You try so hard to stay positive but yet you don't want to get your hopes up too much just in case it wasn't meant to be.  At last year's Passover Seder, I could not help but think about my own "bondage" to these fertility drugs and really prayed that this "affliction" would soon be over.  Luckily, all of my prayers were answered four months later when we finally got good news that there was not only one embryo but two!

So for now, I am just going suck up the pain and keep myself laser focused on what I came here to do.  I have already endured two years with the infertility problems and now almost four months of strict hospital bed rest.  I can certainly last a few more weeks if it means that all of my dreams will come true of having a family of my own.  "Free! Oh, what a word!"

*The song "Free" is from the 1962 Broadway musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forumwith music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.  The character Pseudolus is a Roman slave who wants nothing more than to be free and agrees to help his master Hero find love in exchange for his freedom.  In the song, Pseudolus is fantasizing about what it will actually be like once he is free and starts talking about all of things he will get to do.  I have already romanced this idea in a previous blog post but now with the reality so close, I have taken it a step further and started a to-do list of important things to get done once the babies are born (call the health insurance, get the car seats installed into the car, schedule the first pediatrician appointment, etc).  It will be so strange to be back in society where I am not constantly connected to a monitor and watched like a hawk to ensure that I am staying in bed.  This freedom thing will become very real when all of the things in my room get packed up and then I am getting wheeled into the operating room to start my new life as a mother of twins.

 My bar gets me out of bed and doubles as a rack for baby clothes!

My bar gets me out of bed and doubles as a rack for baby clothes!

"So Much Better" - Legally Blonde the Musical

"Yes that's my name in black and white, maybe I'm doing something right..." On March 27th I was extremely excited to see myself on the front page of the newspaper and could not help but think...how did I get here?  Exactly 100 days ago today, I was a crying big hot mess cursing the world for putting me into this predicament of confined hospital bed rest.  How could this be happening to me?  Why can't I just have a normal pregnancy?  What did I do to deserve this?  Luckily, my dramatics didn't last very long and instead of getting mad or depressed, I quickly knew that in order to survive I had to get my psyche in check.

Initially, my intentions were self-serving because I instinctually knew that I had to talk to others going through my exact dilemma in order to gain some sort of relief.  As mentioned in previous blog posts, I reached out to the other women on bed rest here at the hospital and put together a private Facebook group so that we can all talk together.  That small act of starting the group morphed into an amazing forum to help not only myself, but all of the other women who were hungry for that same connection.  A similar phenomenon happened with my blog since I had started writing it to have an outlet for all of my feelings and to inform family and friends about the latest news regarding me and the twins.  Other than the Facebook group, I was also connecting to women on different online support groups where I shared with them my blog website.  Little by little, I began to get more followers and women who I had never even met before living across the country and in other countries, were leaving comments and telling me their own stories of bed rest and high risk pregnancy.  I started to feel less alone knowing that so many other women out there were dealing with the same issues.

In addition, word started getting around to the hospital administration about my blog and Facebook group.  Eventually the marketing director of the hospital came to visit me because he thought that my story was newsworthy and loved the fact that patient morale and well-being had improved in the maternity ward.  I was surprised to hear that what I had done was of interest to the media but at first I didn't get too excited since I was not sure what would really come of it.  I was then contacted by the hospital's public relations representative so that she could get more information from me in order to pitch the story to the press.  Before I knew it, she had lined up an interview with the Ventura County Star newspaper which is a very popular and well known news source where I live.  They came by to interview me and take pictures which was very fun and I still could not believe this was all happening.  The reality didn't really sink in until I got confirmation of when the story was coming out but I had no clue where in the paper the article would be located.  I figured I would be tucked away in the health section somewhere and even told my husband to flip through the paper before buying it to be sure I was even in there.  To my surprise, I received a text message from him with a picture of the front page and my jaw dropped. Again...how did I get here?

The bottom line is that we all do extraordinary acts which may start out as just plain common sense in our minds.  I had no idea that this seemingly unpleasant experience would change from a negative interruption of my life into a positive life changing event. The newspaper article was a great platform to get my story out and hopefully others who read the article will start their own Facebook groups or blogs if they are in similar situations.  It is easy to lose focus and slump back into the "woe is me" frame of mind but it really doesn't help anybody.  Once I began to see the positive outcomes that were manifesting, it gave me such joy to know that so many others were happier and felt support because of what I had accomplished.  Even though I have done a lot of things over the past 100 days, in about a month, absolutely nothing will compare to the miracle of bringing two new lives into this world.

*The song "So Much Better" is from the 2007 Broadway musical Legally Blonde the Musicalwhich originally started out as a popular non-musical film in 2001.  In the song, the character Elle Woods just found out that she got accepted into a very important internship after working extremely hard in her classes at Harvard Law School.  She originally went to Harvard to follow her heart and try to re-kindle a romance but then got serious about her studies and overcame some major obstacles.  Like Elle, my journey started out in a completely different direction with me just trying to cope and make sense with what was happening.  Then I began getting serious about keeping a positive attitude with a focus on helping others.  By doing so, I started feeling "so much better than before" and if my lungs were not being smushed by the twins, I would sing that extremely long note at the end of the song!

 Extra, Extra! Read all about it!

Extra, Extra! Read all about it!

"Someone Else's Story" - Chess

Initially when I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix, I really had no idea how close I came to losing my twins.  I knew the situation was serious enough for me to be admitted into the hospital, but I felt like I was well taken care of and the issue was at least under control.  It was not until I began to research my condition that I realized just how lucky I was to have a doctor who was able to stop a disaster from happening.  In doing my research, I found out that a normal cervix during pregnancy should measure 3cm or greater but mine had shortened to just 0.8cm!  If left untreated, I would have gone into full preterm labor probably in the next week and given birth to babies that were not viable to live outside of the womb. My first instinct when I started my bed rest journey was to seek out support from others in the same boat as me.  Right away, I created the private Facebook group to speak with the other Moms on bed rest in the hospital, and then I branched out to all sorts of online support groups which were specific to my exact condition.  I soon began to discover that within these groups, I was a minority since this was my very first pregnancy and I had no history of miscarriage or stillbirth.  More often than not, an incompetent cervix is usually diagnosed only after a woman has gone through one or more losses because it is not caught soon enough and some doctors don't include this test during exams.  I was extremely fortunate to be under the care of a high risk doctor (due to being pregnant with twins) who routinely checks for this condition between weeks 18-20.  I was actually looking forward to my 19 week ultrasound mainly because the sexes would be determined, plus the doctor would be doing an anatomy scan where all of the body parts and internal organs would be measured and examined.  The excitement would soon turn to fear once he informed my husband and I that there was bad news.

With such a shocking diagnosis and treatment plan, I selfishly kept thinking about how miserable the next 4-5 months would be at the hospital stuck in bed all day and night.  But as my research started, I began to shift my thinking outward and fully empathize with all of the stories I came across where women had been through the unthinkable nightmare of losing their babies.  How could I possibly complain or feel bad for myself?!?  So many women would give anything to be where I was if it meant their babies were still safe and inside their womb.  Everyday that I am here is truly a gift and as the days, weeks, and months roll by, I can't help but feel incredibly fortunate that I have gotten this far.

One particular story I recently found online really hit home for me because just two days after I was admitted into The BirthPlace, this other woman Cori, was admitted as well for the same exact condition.  In her own blog, she writes about how it was discovered that she had an incompetent cervix and a cerclage procedure was scheduled on the same day that I was going to have mine...Christmas Eve.  Unfortunately for Cori, her water ended up breaking before the procedure could even take place and nothing could be done at that point to save the baby.  Reading this tragic story, I started thinking that as I was being wheeled into the operating room, this poor woman was already at the end of her journey knowing that soon she would be delivering her baby that would not even get the chance to live.  Later that evening, I was recovering from surgery with the new possibility of delivering full term babies while just a few doors down from me, Cori was holding her angel in her arms and saying goodbye.  As I near the 100 day mark, it seems like a very long time to be stuck in the hospital but I bet Cori or any other woman who has suffered a loss would gladly stay in the hospital over 200 days if it meant saving their baby's life.  Bed rest can be a very stressful and unpleasant experience for most women, but focusing on these kind of stories can really help put things into perspective and completely change your attitude...I know it definitely changed mine.

*The song "Someone Else's Story" is from the 1988 Broadway musical Chesswhich has music written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus from ABBA with lyrics by Tim Rice.  The song is actually about a marriage coming to an end but the message in the song is that the woman experiencing this loss wishes her story was not her own.  I am sure that women who have experienced losing their baby certainly wish that this incident did not happen to them.  Originally, when I found out I would be on bed rest for several months, I really hoped that this could have been someone else's story.  But now, I am beyond grateful that this is in fact my story after reading about countless women who were not as lucky as I.  This lesson really makes me count my blessings and be utterly thankful that I have made it 95 days in the hospital with hopefully more days to come.

 On my way to surgery on Christmas Eve

On my way to surgery on Christmas Eve

"A Quiet Night at Home" - bare: A Pop Opera

There are certain aspects of pregnancy bed rest that are just so ironic when I think about what my new life will be like once I deliver.  I will be going from such an isolated, quiet environment to raising two newborns all at once.  Trust me, I am taking full advantage of this alone time to catch up on reading, watch all the movies in my Netflix queue, and of course write this blog.  But even with these activities to take up my time day after day, bed rest can still be a depressing experience due to the lack of human contact and solitary confinement.  Thankfully, I have created alternatives for myself by starting the Facebook group with the other moms on bed rest and also encouraging friends and family to visit.  Regardless, this experience is definitely in no way a vacation, and having this much time to myself mixed with my lack of freedom sometimes makes me feel like a prisoner. Just think about it...there are 24 hours in each day.  If I sleep about 8 hours a night, for the remaining 16 hours I am pretty much by myself.  Yes, there will be the occasional visitor and my nurse checks in on me as well, but in general I am alone way more than the average person is on a daily basis.  Definitely a huge change from my old life where I interacted with dozens of people per day.  Being here three months now, I have gotten into a routine and this lifestyle change is not as challenging as it was before.  With a little more than a month to go I have started focusing on what life will be like outside of room 2524.

Is bed rest a nice break before the craziness of being a new parent takes over?  Or does bed rest cause more of a shock to the system going from one extreme to the next?  These four months in the hospital will soon become a blur as I spend the next 18+ years caring for these twins wishing that I could get some of that alone time back.  The bottom line is that no matter how unpleasant this solitude is sometimes, there will probably be many times in the near future when I will realize that I took it for granted.  That is the nature of the bed rest beast.

But as I think back to the many hours of time with me, myself, and I (approximately 2,088 hours at this point), the big picture looks better and better.  When I am in the thick of being alone, it is hard to get out of that funk and look on the bright side since so many thoughts and feelings take over my brain.  Although looking back, I have been very productive and many things that I was able to accomplish here, would not have been possible if I was just home living my life as a normal and busy pregnant woman.  For instance, I was able to spend good, quality time putting my baby registry together online by researching which products had the highest reviews and ruling out what were absolute necessities.  Also, I have been able to read a bunch of books on baby care which I would not have had the time for once the babies were home.  Most importantly, being alone has given me the chance to really focus on the new lives growing inside of me.  Since I am constantly laying down, I have the advantage to feel all fetal movement without any distractions.  I can just stop whatever I am doing to watch a foot protrude against my skin and feel the interactions between both babies as they fight for space and kick my ribs.  They constantly remind me that in actuality, I have never been alone since being confined to bed rest!  The twins have been with me through this entire journey and continue to remind me to focus on why I am here and not what I am missing out on in the real world.  It is way too easy to take the "woe is me" stance when put in this situation but early on I realized that was not my style nor was it productive in any way.  I have so many things to be thankful for in my life and when I finally leave this hospital, I will have two more blessings to add to the ever growing list.

*The song "A Quiet Night at Home" is from the 2004 Off-Broadway musical bare: A Pop Opera, which is a powerful musical that deals with how sexuality and religion can sometimes be at war with each other.  The main story revolves around two gay high school students in a secret relationship at Catholic boarding school and the issues that arise in their world.  The song itself is sung by the character Nadia who is the overweight sister of Jason (one of the main characters in the secret relationship with his roommate Peter).  She is often the outcast because of her looks and this song sums up her feelings about being isolated from her peers.  Like Nadia, I have been in that sad place of feeling like I was missing out on life by being stuck at the hospital.  My feelings have definitely changed as time has gone on because I put the focus on what I could control as opposed to all of the things I couldn't.  So as I get closer to the end of my bed rest journey, I have accepted the quiet for now but fully look forward to the lack thereof once I get home with my two little rib kickers. :)

 Just some of the baby books I have been reading

Just some of the baby books I have been reading

 Quiet time with a therapy dog

Quiet time with a therapy dog

"I Know It's Today" - Shrek the Musical

Guest blog post: I received another letter from my husband Brett which I wanted to share again in my blog. The first letter I shared was written at the very beginning of this crazy journey and now this letter gives a more in depth look at how this separation has been affecting Brett for almost three months now. For instance, on top of everything Brett is already handling on his own, he also has to prepare for the twins arrival and get the entire nursery set up.  Thankfully, friends and family have helped out but this is just one more example of something that the two of us should be working on together, but can't.  I keep telling people that even though my life has changed dramatically since I was put in this hospital bed, my husband's life has been equally changed in a unique way. Dear Sweety Cat,

I can't believe it's spring-ahead Sunday already — week 31!  It feels like it was just last Sunday.  Sadly, I know for you, this is not the case.  For me, on the other side of our separated lives, time seems like a blur because I am running so fast. I try to sneak in selfish moments of relaxation whenever I can, as that is all I am craving these days.  Sometimes all I want to do is lie in bed for days like you, and sleep, and all you want to do is lead my life, running around, outside of your Rapunzel tower.  I mean, that's sort of how it is for you. "The Maiden in the Tower," but with constant beeping sounds, stale recycled air, and hearing delivering mothers screaming because they don’t want an epidural. What a weird life.

We're now 81 days into this crazy chapter of life living apart.  I have driven over 2,500 miles to visit you, slept in your room 32 nights, and we’re practically family with the nursing staff since they know us so well.  You are “sitting on your eggs” while they develop, and I am running around — working in my new office in Santa Monica, taking care of the four cats in Agoura Hills, as well as all the other nonsense that keeps our lives going.  I ran out of the house so quickly the other day, I completely forgot to bring with me my Burke Williams gift card that you got me for Valentine's Day.  I had to postpone Friday's much-needed spa appointment until next Friday.  Oh well.

So what is it like in my shoes?  For one thing, it’s not nearly as painful and isolating as what you are going through, but probably equally as interesting.  I tell the story of why you are living in a hospital every time I meet someone new, or when someone asks how you are, or what's going on in my life.  Everyone's reaction is the same: surprised, empathetic, and bewildered all at once.  "Oh wow, a girl and a boy — you’re so lucky, an instant family!"  It's really an amazing reaction.  I wish you were present to hear everyone's excitement for us.  It's like when you tell someone you got into a really great university, and they are so excited for you.  It’s a very nice feeling.

Last night at the party I went to, I brought you with me on FaceTime and I had a virtual date.  That was unique. You sort of got to be there, and for about 30 minutes I felt complete again with my other half — albeit electronically.  If this is how technology is today, what will it be like when the Ziggies are our age?

I've been meaning to write this entry for over a month now.  This has been the most challenging, most exciting, most adventurous, and most different part of my life.  No doubt.  I have a new circle of business colleagues, I bike to work, I visit you everyday in your tower, and I am truly blessed to have two healthy babies about to enter our lives in a matter of weeks!  My parents are incredibly supportive and present in our journey and provide you with the nurturing love and support you need to get through this time.

I can’t believe we’re nearing the end.  It’s going to happen soon.  I can’t wait for you and the babies to come home.  Our kitties miss you so much!  I miss you even more.  This has been arduous at times, but I know it will be so worth it in the end.  I know we have been incredibly strong throughout all this, and I know we will be incredible parents.  We’re doing it, we’re doing it well, and we are unstoppable.  I love you so much!  Keep being so amazing and strong!  You are an inspiration to so many people, including me.  You motivate me to work so hard.  This is the beginning of a beautiful chapter.

Love,

Sweety

*The song "I Know It's Today" is from the 2008 Broadway musical Shrek the Musicalwhich is based on the popular animated film from 2001. In the song, Princess Fiona longs for a prince to come find her but the years keep rolling by with no luck and she gets very tired of waiting. As Brett mentions in his letter, I am very much like "The Maiden in the Tower" waiting to be set free. But unlike Fiona, I have my prince and even though I have endured many days of waiting to go back to our life together, I know the finish line is near. The babies keep getting bigger and my due date is fast approaching. Knowing that I have already endured almost 12 weeks here on bed rest, what's another 6? It will be so amazing when I can actually say for certain " I know it's today" and meet my babies for the first time.

 Brett's pile of nursery furniture

Brett's pile of nursery furniture

 Brett putting together one of the cribs

Brett putting together one of the cribs

"You Can't Stop the Beat" - Hairspray

When I was first admitted to the hospital, I quickly realized that a lot of fun plans would be cancelled due to the circumstances. Many of these plans had to do with things I was looking forward to while being pregnant for the first time. I had witnessed several family members and friends have beautiful maternity photo shoots, enjoy baby showers thrown in their honor, and attend child care classes with other young parents-to-be. I wanted all of that so much and had already put plans in motion to get those same experiences for myself until of course, life was put on hold. I called to cancel the child care classes that were already scheduled and all baby shower plans were cancelled as well for the time being. I was also really looking forward to doing a maternity photo shoot in my third trimester but now that would be yet another item added onto the quickly growing list of "not possible." But luckily, I am not one to easily surrender when told "no you can't." Obviously, some of these first-time pregnancy experiences are truly not able to be pulled off while I am stuck in bed so my focus went to the ones that had potential. First order of business was to adjust the baby shower plans and see about having some sort of party at the hospital. There was a social room down the hall which I found out has been used for this purpose before but it was quite small. The solution...have a small guest list for this baby shower and plan a bigger event after the babies are born. Now that the wheels were in motion for this item, the next problem to solve was to find out how to have a maternity photo shoot at the hospital. I discovered that there was a photographer contracted with the hospital who did newborn photo shoots so I emailed them about the possibility of a maternity photo shoot. They said that it could be done and I got a session scheduled right away.

The actual photo shoot was interesting because I could not leave my room and there were not many places to get good shots or lighting. The photographer was very creative and able to manipulate a lot of the pictures to make it look like Brett and I were no where near a hospital. We were not out in a beautiful field like how I had imagined the original photo shoot to be before landing in the hospital, but the mission was accomplished to get pretty pictures of my big belly while I still had the chance.

After a couple months of planning by the "committee," my hospital baby shower finally arrived! I got permission to lay down on the couch in the social room so I didn't have to be on a gurney. The room was nicely decorated and it was so great to see close family and friends all together for the occasion. Unfortunately, one big upset which occurred was that my Dad flaked last minute. He was all set to go to my baby shower and I even arranged a ride for him to ensure he would get there. From the start it was very hard to get him to agree to go since he does not like being at hospitals and he is kind of socially awkward. He would like nothing more than to just stay at home and watch TV since human interaction is not really his thing. My Dad would actually do pretty well on bed rest...maybe he is secretly jealous of my situation? To sum him up, he is not a very normal Dad and has only visited me once since I have been at the hospital and that visit lasted five minutes. I really wanted him at the baby shower but he lived up to all expectations and was a no show once again. It's hard enough not having my Mom around during these special occasions but then my Dad chooses to opt out which just sucks. Regardless of this disappointment, I decided to not let it bother me and to just enjoy the party without him there.

The whole baby shower experience for me was very special not only because I thought it would not be possible for this to occur, but also because I got a little taste of my old life. I put on real clothes, make-up, straightened my hair, and most importantly, got to leave my room for a couple of hours! It did take a lot of energy to get ready and by the time I got to the party, I was very tired. Luckily, everyone was helpful in making sure I was comfortable and deep down, I was just so happy to at least be able to have a baby shower experience in spite of my physical condition. Overall, being on bed rest has forced me make a ton of sacrifices but I have been able to come up with creative alternatives to feel more in control and normal. It is very easy to start feeling sorry for yourself while at the hospital but I am all about coming up with solutions to problems instead of complaining about them.

*The song "You Can't Stop the Beat" is from the 2002 Broadway musical Hairspraythat originated as a John Waters movie in 1988 (another one of my favorite movies when I was growing up). This song is the big energetic closing number that shows when you really want something, nothing can get in your way. It is a very inspiring song that makes you feel unstoppable and it definitely helps me get motivated to make a difference when things are not going according to plan. Now my only goal is to hopefully make it to 36 weeks which is only 6 weeks away! I just have to hope that the twins share that goal and keep the beat going.

 Maternity photo shoot

Maternity photo shoot

 Getting ready for the baby shower

Getting ready for the baby shower

 Hanging out on my couch at the baby shower

Hanging out on my couch at the baby shower

"Home" - The Wiz

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!

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

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

"My Funny Valentine" - Babes in Arms

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 Armsby 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.

 These put a smile on my face

These put a smile on my face

 Our wedding photo on canvas

Our wedding photo on canvas

"Beauty School Dropout" - Grease

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 Greasewhich 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.

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

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

 Pampered pregnant princess

Pampered pregnant princess

"Waiting for Life" - Once on This Island

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 Islandwhich 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.

 My college graduation (2005)

My college graduation (2005)

"Putting It Together" - Sunday in the Park with George

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 Georgewith 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!

 Many hours spent on the Babies R Us website

Many hours spent on the Babies R Us website

 Back at home...nursery colors are being tested

Back at home...nursery colors are being tested

"Memory" - Cats

Last night I had an unexpected visitor. The woman who lived in this hospital room before I did came back to visit the nursing staff and also requested to take a peek at her old room. I was very excited to meet an alumnus of The BirthPlace who had made it out successfully with a healthy baby. She had been at the hospital for four months and experienced the exact complications that I am experiencing. For months she lived in this same room, ate the same food, stared out the same window, and probably had the same thoughts and fears as I do. Now here she was, three months later with a beautiful healthy baby in her arms telling me that every second she spent here was worth the wait. Then I wondered who I would be talking to several months from now in my room. The past meeting the present to not only find closure, but offer support and guidance. This experience brought back a memory for me from when I chose to visit my past and reflect upon a major time in my life. Last summer, I was in the area that I grew up in and decided to drive by the house I lived in from birth to the age of 16. This house had a lot of really great memories for me, but it also had some bad ones as well. When my family and I moved out, it was not by choice, but because my parents could not afford it anymore and foreclosure was the result. My dad was having trouble getting steady work, my mom didn't work, so they ended up refinancing several times until they were upside down and unable to make the payments. This whole experience was very traumatic for me because everything that was familiar was getting taken away and I had absolutely no control over the situation. I loved that house and never imagined that we would actually live anywhere else. I was going to miss all of the numerous parties and holidays celebrated there, the dozens of lush palm trees that made our house stand out from all the rest, and the mini pet cemetery in the backyard where all of our beloved furry friends were put to rest (don't judge...you know you have one too). I could take none of this with me...just memories.

I would need those memories as my husband and I pulled up to the house, well over a decade later. The new owners did not take care of the house at all and the front yard was just a bunch of dead grass with a few surviving palm trees. The actual exterior of the house had paint peeling off and it just looked so neglected. I could not believe how much had changed since I lived there and I was even more curious to see the interior. Unfortunately, no one answered the door so my tour was never going to happen. Maybe it was better that way. It's as if when we moved out, we took with us all of the life and happiness and left behind a sad shell of a house.

I think we are all intrigued as human beings to return to our past to relive our memories and reflect upon the events that formed who we are today. Moving out of the house you were raised in is a pretty common event, but for me, I was forced to grow up a lot and learn to embrace major changes instead of letting them bring me down. I was not like many of my other friends who already had experienced parents getting divorced or other life altering events. This was the first major crisis I had to deal with. After losing the house, change became much easier for me to deal with and I truly believe that particular event is helping me today with my complicated pregnancy. I am able to roll with the punches and just take all of the challenges thrown my way. I now have officially been diagnosed with gestational diabetes which means a major change in my diet and constant monitoring of my blood sugar. Of course I am sad that I have another restriction added to the list but there is nothing I can do to change that diagnosis...much like the "diagnosis" of foreclosure so many years ago. So instead of getting mad or upset, I am focusing on how to enjoy my new diet which I plan on continuing after I give birth because it will definitely help me fit back into my skinny jeans!

*The song "Memory" is from the 1982 Broadway musical Catswhich ran for 18 straight years and is currently the 2nd longest running show in Broadway history. This famous song is an emotional ballad where the character Grizabella, is deeply reminiscing about the past. I feel it is so important to reflect upon past events to help guide you in the present. Negative experiences might seem like a catastrophe in the moment, but once time heals, you realize that you learned a valuable lesson which has helped you grow and prepare for the future. Everything I am going through now is happening for a reason and I can't wait to share my story to the next mom who resides in this room. A new day will begin.

 My old house in shambles

My old house in shambles

 So many memories

So many memories

"Feed Me (Git It)" - Little Shop of Horrors

Like every pregnant woman, I am very hungry all the time...especially since I am eating for three. At the beginning of my pregnancy I did have some weird cravings which mainly consisted of wanting spicy buffalo wings for every meal, especially breakfast. Now that I am stuck in bed, it seems that my cravings for food are not as strong as they used to be. Possibly because I know that I am not able to satisfy a craving as easily as before, due to lack of mobility and having a limited menu to order from. It's a nice treat when visitors come by with snacks and food from the outside world to shake up my usual diet because the hospital serves absolutely no fried foods (my current craving)! Other than not serving fried foods, which I guess is the right thing to do at a hospital, I had a beef to pick with the cafeteria because of some errors happening when I did order their food. Recently, the hospital has been going through some transitions and construction which caused the cafeteria to be moved and they are still trying to get their act together. Over the past few days, food has been brought to my room extremely late, the order has been wrong, or they just forget to bring the food altogether. This would be annoying to the average person but to a hungry pregnant woman with raging hormones, any delays with food being served means war! Plus it's not just the fact that I am pregnant, but I am also completely powerless being on bed rest since I can't just get up and do something about it myself. I can complain to my nurses and then they call someone but by that point I have already raided my snack bag while I wait for the cafeteria to get it right. I'm also not the only one with these issues since all of my other bed rest friends are experiencing the same thing. Luckily, today I rattled enough chains to talk to the cafeteria supervisor in person and hopefully, everything will get better since now I have his number on speed dial.

In addition to the cafeteria drama, another black cloud regarding food might be on the horizon. I recently took a blood test in order to determine if I have gestational diabetes. I was given this disgusting drink (which contained 50 grams of sugar) to find out whether my body could regulate my insulin levels properly. Gestational diabetes is very common if you are having multiples because of the higher increase in hormone levels but luckily, the disease is only temporary and goes away once you deliver. Being on bed rest also increases the chances of gestational diabetes due to not being able to exercise or burn calories. With all of these odds stacked against me, I did not expect to pass and I ended up failing the first test. All hope is not lost because I have one more test to take which will give the final say on whether or not I get this diagnosis. The three hour glucose tolerance test is a lot more intense and I get to have more of that lovely sugar drink that actually tastes like flat Fanta but ten times sweeter.

The one silver lining is that for three days before I take this next test, I have to be on a high carbohydrate diet to get my pancreas ready for the marathon. Over these three days, I will give my pancreas a big workout by eating 300 grams of carbs per day. This way, when I take the test, my pancreas is prepped and ready to tackle that nasty drink. But if my body is not working the way it should, my pancreas will not do its job correctly and then I will officially have gestational diabetes. For now, I will fully enjoy my carb splurge since my diet might change drastically if I don't pass the test. The twins and I are all crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. Thankfully, even if I do end up testing positive, I am in a controlled environment with dietitians to consult and nurses to take care of me 24/7. I just don't like the idea of having to get my finger poked several times a day...but I'll give them a few drops if that'll appease and then I just need to worry about getting the twins to grow for me!

*The song "Feed Me (Git It)" is from the 1982 Off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrorswhich later was adapted into a film in 1986 and then revived on Broadway in 2003. Being pregnant and having this huge appetite, I sometimes can really relate to Audrey II (the man eating plant). In the song, Audrey II is desperately bribing his caretaker Seymour to feed him humans in order to survive. Other than the eating humans part, I am in a situation where I have to rely on people to get me food which is another reminder that I can't be independent. If I end up being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, that will be yet another restriction to add to the list. Of course, I am hoping for the best and staying as positive as ever. Overall, I just keep telling myself that this whole experience is just a blip and before I know it, I will be out of here with two little babies singing this very song to me all day and all night.

 Nasty glucose drink

Nasty glucose drink

 On the phone while enjoying my carbs

On the phone while enjoying my carbs

"Seasons of Love" - RENT

44,640 minutes: How do you measure a month? Measure in love. I have reached my one month anniversary here at The BirthPlace and looking back over these past 31 days, I can't stop thinking about all of the people in my life who have reached out to me in my time of need to offer support and love. I am blessed to be going through all of this during a time when I can talk to loved ones many miles away via FaceTime and actually see them instead of just hearing their voice. I have also been able to keep up with what my cats are doing back at home using FaceTime as well! At the beginning of this bed rest journey, I was extremely scared, I was in shock, and I could not believe that I would be living in a hospital for the next four months. From the start, I had numerous family members and friends jump right in to make sure I did not feel so isolated and it has helped my well-being tremendously. Thank you!

Since this was my first hospital stay ever, I had no idea what it felt like to be the one lying in bed since I was always the one doing the visiting. Unfortunately, I had my fair share of hospital visits with my mom throughout most of my life due to her on-going illnesses. I remember that when my mom was admitted to the hospital in April 2007, no one knew if she would be released or if this was it. We realized pretty quickly that she was probably not coming home and she stayed hospitalized until she passed away in September 2007. For those five months, I was going back and forth to the hospital to visit her and saw her about every other day but that still was never enough for her. Now I know why.

Other than getting all of my feelings out through this blog, having visitors has been the best medicine for my emotional health. On days when no one comes by, it gets extremely lonely here and as much as I try to fill my time up with writing, reading, or watching movies, I still yearn for human contact. Thankfully, I typically have a steady flow of visitors, but I now realize what my mom was talking about. Even though this hospital stay is temporary, the day to day isolation is really hard to handle. I keep my outlook very positive because I am on bed rest for such a wonderful reason and I look forward to meeting my babies in the very near future. Even with this "glass half full" mentality, I still have my sad moments which pretty much only show up when I am left alone in my room, especially late at night. Luckily, my husband spends the night numerous times during the week which helps out a lot. Brett has his own bed since sleeping extremely inclined on a twin hospital bed is not too comfortable for one person, let alone two. The hard part is the next morning when he has to go back home to work and take care of the cats because I hate having to say goodbye. One remedy for my loneliness which keeps happening more and more is being able to feel the twins move inside of me. I am really never truly alone here because I have the two of them dancing in my belly! I know that the more these movements happen, the happier I will be because it means that they are growing and that we will all be out of here soon.

*The song "Seasons of Love" is from the 1996 Broadway musical RENTwhich is one of my all-time favorite musicals. This song opens act two and talks about how a year should be measured not using time (525,600 minutes), but measured with love. The theme of the song is how I am viewing my time here so that I am not focusing solely on how many days I have left...but none the less, marking an X on my calendar everyday is still very satisfying! I am thinking about the love I receive from everyone who is taking time out of their busy lives to visit me or connect with me over the phone or internet. I even got a huge surprise the other day from a visitor I was not expecting at all. My dad showed up out of the blue to visit me and it made me so happy because for my dad, getting out of the house to visit someone at the hospital is not something he does, especially after what happened with my mom. Even so, he came to see me for a brief visit and I told him that it really meant a lot to me having him here. Hopefully, this visit will not be a one-time thing and he will come back again. With one month down and three more to go, I will continue to measure in love and can't wait to spend more time with the important people in my life.

On a side note, as an added bonus for coming to visit, we have set up a "Splash Down Pool" for friends and family to gamble and guess when the babies will be born. Since this is like a Super Bowl pool, the winner will get the pool of money if they pick the correct date! Good luck!

 The start of 24 weeks!

The start of 24 weeks!

 Jump into the pool

Jump into the pool

"I Know Things Now" - Into the Woods

Sometimes when you finally get something you really want or desire, it does not turn out to be as great as expected. With so many freedoms and privileges taken away due to being on bed rest, any taste of normal should be celebrated, but I soon discovered that living in this altered life, normal is not worth the trouble in some cases. Let the shower story begin! So I was taken downstairs for another ultrasound which was great because I was able to escape my room yet again. This was a quick scan just to check that the amniotic fluid levels were not getting low since that is a common side effect of the anti-contraction medication that I am on. Everything was looking great so I asked the doctor if I could finally take a shower since it had been a month since I arrived at the hospital and these sponge baths were not the best. I heard from my other friends here on bed rest, that a five minute shower in a chair was an option if the doctor allowed it. My doctor said that he would have to think about it so I was not sure if it would actually happen, but I did inform the nurses about my request to hopefully expedite the approval. One amazing thing did happen on the way back up to my room after the ultrasound...I got to go outside! There was a small patio which I spotted and quickly convinced the nurse with me to have my wheelchair pushed out. It was the first time since December 21st that I got to breathe in fresh air and be out in the open. Even though it was only for two minutes, I took it all in and it was completely glorious.

My elation continued as later in the day I found out that my shower was in fact approved! I decided to take it at night because my hubby would be there to help me with this process since I would have limited access being seated in a chair the entire time. As the shower began, my excitement quickly faded once I realized that my so-called relaxing shower would be anything but. First of all, the water pressure was extremely low and there were no alternative settings on the shower head to fix this making it very difficult to get all of the soap out of my hair. In addition, sitting down while showering is a lot harder than it looks because I am so limited with movement and not everything is getting completely cleaned or rinsed due to my position. Also, the tub itself was so narrow that they had to place the chair in sideways so I wasn't able to sit properly on it. To top that off...I had only five minutes to get everything done so I was working really hard to meet that deadline with all of the obstacles in my way. By the time I was finished, I didn't even feel that clean and was completely exhausted. Because I am lying down 99% of the time, any physical activity is a huge deal. Just walking to the bathroom, my heart starts to race due to my extremely low activity level. Now I just spent the past five minutes feverishly trying to clean every inch of my body and it feels like I just ran a 5K without stopping. What I thought would be such a treat turned out to be such a let down and I realized that I wouldn't be able to take a good shower until I am home and back in my comfort zone.

For now I will have to just stick with the sponge baths and getting my hair washed in a sink once a week. It is not ideal, but far better than attempting to shower with limitations which don't make me feel good. Also, by sitting down in the shower, even just for five minutes and exerting myself the way I did, I realized it was definitely not worth it if it affected the babies in anyway. They probably only felt some extra movement than what they are used to but in the end, why risk it?

*The song "I Know Things Now" is from the 1987 Broadway musical Into the Woodsby Stephen Sondheim which mashes together several fairy tales set to an adult theme. The song itself is sung by Little Red Riding Hood where she talks about her encounter with the Big Bad Wolf and how in a way, she lost her innocence and learned a huge lesson about trust. The lesson I learned about my shower was definitely not as profound, but now I know that taking one is just not good for me or my babies. It is just one more lesson I am learning about making sacrifices for my children and focusing on what is in their best interest and not my own. I will take a really awesome shower when I get home where everything will be comfortable and familiar while the babies are safe with their Daddy. Until then, the shower alternatives at the hospital still get the job done so don't be afraid to visit me...I promise you that I am clean and smell lovely!

 Shower drama

Shower drama

"Day By Day" - Godspell

Being in the hospital, I am not more religious than I was before, but that I am definitely turning to my religion for support and prayer during this uncertain time. Even though I am in the safest place possible at this point, there are still so many things that can go wrong...specifically, the twins being born too soon. For almost a month now, my doctor has been able to stop the preterm labor from advancing with the cerclage procedure, anti-contraction medication, and me lying in the Trendelenburg position for about 23.5 hours a day. My biggest concern and fear is not knowing how long all of these interventions will last and can only hope that I make it to 37 weeks (full term for twins). Of course if the twins are born sooner, there is still a good chance of survival but I would hate for the babies to start their lives in the NICU with tubes and breathing machines connected to them. I know I should not think about these kind of things and stay positive, but I do need to mentally prepare myself for this possibility and not be caught off-guard if complications arise. Even so, I am still turning to prayer in order to try to prevent any negative outcomes. I have the hospital chaplain come visit me on a weekly basis to help me with the prayers and to talk to me about my feelings regarding my fears. This has been very helpful and it actually brings back a surprisingly nice memory of when my mom was in the hospital. I arranged to have a local Rabbi come visit her to recite the Mi Sheberach prayer which is the Jewish prayer for healing. She was so happy to have this prayer said to her but then she could not remember the name of the prayer afterwards once he left. My mom kept on calling it the "Mushy Bushy" which brought a little bit of humor and joy during such a sad time. Now I am the one asking for the Mi Sheberach to be recited to me, while under my breath pronouncing it "Mushy Bushy" in honor of my mom. :)

In addition to the prayers, I have been receiving a Shabbat kit every Friday when the chaplain comes to visit which includes challah bread, grape juice, and electric candles (so that the hospital doesn't get burned down). Prior to arriving in the hospital when I was living my busy life, I would rarely celebrate Shabbat at home and only attended services sporadically throughout the year. I am not that religious to begin with, but I do try to uphold traditions and holidays as much as possible. Now every Friday, I am performing my own little Shabbat ceremony since I finally have the time to do so. Shabbat is a time of rest and reflection which is difficult to fully participate in when your mind is constantly trying to remember what needs to be accomplished over the weekend. I guess taking part completely in the true meaning of Shabbat with no distractions is just another bed rest perk! Hopefully God notices this and gives me some much needed brownie points.

*The song "Day By Day" is from the 1971 Off-Broadway musical Godspellwhich later made its way to Broadway in 1976 (currently, there is a new revival on Broadway now). The song's main message about God is to "see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly" which I feel like I have been doing since the start of this bed rest predicament because I need all of the spiritual help I can get. Turning to prayer is the one thing that is really helping me focus on positive thinking while trying to silence the worried "what ifs" in my head. The song title itself is very fitting for my situation as well because I am constantly just counting down the days until that 37 week mark which I do hope I make it to (or very close at least). I have a calendar that is hanging in my room where I mark an X on each day as it passes. I have been here a total of 26 days so far, hopefully I have 98 more to go. Day by day by day by day...

 My Shabbat kit

My Shabbat kit

 Counting down the days

Counting down the days

"Part of Your World" - The Little Mermaid

With the majority of my freedom and independence taken away, I have really started to appreciate what I was able to do before being admitted to the hospital. Some things that have been taken off of my plate are a nice break (driving, cooking, cleaning, etc), while others, I think about constantly and can't wait to have my normal life back. For instance, I severely miss the simple act of going outside and getting fresh air, among many other small joys. My rules here on bed rest are this: I must stay in bed and only get up to go to the bathroom. Everything else must be done for me and I cannot leave my room. Granted, there are a lot of productive things I can do while lying down but at only three weeks of being on bed rest, I am already getting antsy. What would you do if your total time out of bed for the day was less than the length of a sitcom? However, this past Tuesday night, I got a huge treat which I am still smiling about. At 10:45pm my nurse showed up in my room with a wheelchair and told me that it was my turn to get an ultrasound and check up from the doctor. Other than the short ultrasound on my birthday to solely check the sexes of the babies, the last major ultrasound I had was right before I got admitted into the hospital. For three weeks, I had only left my room once and that was to go to around the corner to the operating room for my cerclage procedure. Now I was being whisked off in a wheelchair (not lying down!) to go all the way to the 1st floor where my doctor has his regular office. For weeks now I have been asking visitors to describe to me what the rest of the hallways, the nurses station, and the ever popular nourishment room looks like since I have become such a sheltered little creature.

I made sure that they rolled me slowly because I wanted to take everything in. Who knew that I would be fascinated by looking at a waiting room or being inside of an elevator?!? To add to my rising excitement, was the fact that I would get to see my babies again! It was nice to not have to wait to see my doctor because at my previous ultrasound appointments, he was so busy that sometimes our appointment set for 6:00pm would actually happen at 10:00pm. Luckily we could call in advance to get a better estimate so we were not sitting there for several hours but regardless, there was a lot of waiting involved. Of course, seeing a doctor in high demand is more reassuring than seeing someone who has a very empty appointment book, so it did not bother me too much. At least one perk of hospital bed rest gets me in to see my doctor immediately as well as the twins!

Thankfully everything looked good on the ultrasound so it was time for me to go back up to my room. I was able to convince my nurse to let me visit with one of my bed rest friends in their room before being locked down into my own. It is really amazing how therapeutic it is to talk to someone who is going through exactly what you are. To most people, bed rest looks like a mini vacation but it is a lot harder than it seems and takes a ton of discipline...especially to someone who is a busy body/mover and a shaker type of person (me). What I wouldn't give to just go outside and run a stupid errand! Again, this is very temporary and for such an amazing reason but hey...I do need to vent every once and awhile. I'm sure most people get tired of lying in bed when they are sick for a couple of days at home, but they get better and then life resumes. For me, my whole life is lying in bed.

*The song "Part of Your World" is from the 2008 Broadway musical The Little Mermaid, which of course was also an animated film that originally featured the song. In the show, Ariel is singing about feeling like she is missing out on a better life and wants to become human. I can truly relate to what she is going through because I really "want to be where the people are." When I was let out of my room for that brief period of time, it was like I grew legs and got to explore the great beyond...I even wanted to grab a fork and start brushing my hair! But seriously, you never have full appreciation for something until it's gone and I really do miss my old life. Maybe this is all happening for a reason so that I can have an easier transition into becoming a mom for two babies at once which will be a heck of a challenge and also take away many freedoms. I think I should start getting used to losing some independence and freedom because when the babies arrive, they will always come first, not me. I guess I have to stop being shellfish. :)

 My view to the outside world

My view to the outside world