Two babies, two weeks

My babies are two weeks old! After my horrible pregnancy, I totally deserved the easy delivery I got. I was induced around 8am, had about an hour of painful contractions midday, got my epidural, and was ready to push before 7pm. I delivered in the operating room because baby b was breech, but she came out feet first just after 7:30, three minutes after her sister. Unfortunately, I had bad bleeding and the pressing of my stomach to get the clots out was torture. But the babies were soon brought to us wearing their “a” and “b” hats. They are perfect.

I hated staying in the hospital. The nurses never stop harassing you, but never manage to bring you what you need. I didn’t feel like eating the whole time and slept no more than an hour or two at a time. Still, everyone was kind and knew a lot about breastfeeding. Which is why, I’m certain, we’ve been successful at breastfeeding almost exclusively.

We’ve obviously had ups and downs. The first few nights were rough, unsurprisingly. After that, they started sleeping in four- hour stretches. And then we hit some bumps with feeding and have had a really tough time. Plus, my husband is back at work now, working nights. I’d give anything to be able to feed them at the same time. Just having to listen to one cry while the other one eats is awful. Breastfeeding pillows don’t work for me at all. They mainly eat with me on my side. My wrists get horribly sore in any other position except tummy to tummy leaning way back, which works for when we are out. I’ll see if anyone at a La Leche League meeting has tandem feeding tips soon.

I’m having the time of my life. We’ve taken them to Target twice and today we went to the mall! Alice and Roxanne are the best tiny humans ever.

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2 X The Family

Nearly 2.5 years after deciding we were ready to have a baby, we’re getting two. In two days, at 38 weeks pregnant, I’m scheduled to birth twin girls. I realized with a horrible start in the middle of the night that I failed to document any of it in any real, concrete way. I suddenly feel like I have to put it into words and make sure it’s an existing story, rather than one I might have imagined in a fever dream.

In October 2010, we went to Aruba and I stopped taking birth control. About a year later, my husband had his sperm tested and the results showed low motility. With low sperm motility, all you can really do is hope for the best. Couples often still get pregnant, but it can take much longer. Finally, after 16 months of trying, I was pregnant. We were thrilled and embarked on a weekend getaway to Moab, UT and Arches National Park. On the way home, I started bleeding. It didn’t stop, and I miscarried at 7 weeks. I barely remember the entire incident.

I’ve known for years that I have bipolar disorder. I’ve taken medication off and on, but never found one I liked. I was managing okay for several years, but the miscarriage pushed me into a dark space I’d never experienced before. Being desperately depressed on my birthday, even while shopping and eating and drinking and doing all of my favorite things, was a good sign that I needed to see the doctor. I waited, however, and soon I was so depressed that I couldn’t eat. I’d go home from work and drink and stare. And so I got myself to the doctor and started taking Lamictal. It worked.

Just as the levels were hitting the right mark, I found out I was pregnant again. It was July and I was stunned that it had happened so quickly. And I was shell-shocked. I didn’t allow myself to believe any of it. My husband was thrilled, but I could tell he felt the same sense of fear. We were leaving for New York City a week later and I was certain that while we were there, I would have another miscarriage. I made it back, still pregnant, and then around 10 weeks I started bleeding again.

Without being able to feel my body at all, we went to have an emergency ultrasound. When the technician asked if we’d been using fertility medications, I could barely breathe. I knew he was about to tell us that there were two babies. There were. And they were fine. The bleeding had been a benign hemorrhage and it had stopped. Leaving the hospital that day, I’d never in my life felt better.

People don’t really talk about how much harder it is to carry multiples. They mostly talk about the many diapers and twice the toddler messes. But with these sweet little vampires attached to my insides, I felt the life drain from me. The all-day, all-night nausea made me wish I was dead. It made me say aloud that I wanted to die. The horrible sickness was like nothing else I had ever experienced. I struggled to make it to work every day. Eventually, I had to go on Zofran, an anti-nausea medication, and even then I was unable to eat more than a few hundred calories a day.

And then I realized that the depression had returned. It was as if I had been so lost in the physical symptoms that I didn’t even realize I was mostly wishing I was dead because of intense sadness. One day, crying on the bathroom floor at work, I realized I had to talk to my doctor. I told my OBGYN and he said that the extra fluids had most likely diluted my Lamictal levels. I also found out that prenatal depression is just as common as postpartum depression. Sure enough, there was no Lamictal showing in my blood. Over the next few months, we increased and increased and tested and finally found an amount that made me feel like some kind of human again.

My pregnancy has been a ghostly blur. The nausea never went away, though it did get better. I often throw up just because Baby B is pushing too hard into my stomach. I’ve gained just 6 pounds (see: I’ve lost 30 +). I’ve been paralyzed by sciatica. I’m sometimes so thirsty that my stomach can’t even hold the amount of water that I desperately want to drink. One of the saddest parts is that I’ve withdrawn from most people because I hate how pregnancy has turned me into a “pregnant person”. In other words, it’s all anyone will talk to me about. It’s all people see. Strangers stop me to ask about it. And I’m suddenly not a person at all.

But, I’ve brought to fruition a dream my husband has had since before we met. I’ve created something that I’ve always wanted. I worked just long enough to hold onto my job (I had to switch to work from home at 32 weeks and start my 12-week leave at 35). I’ve been lucky enough to feel life move inside my body. Honestly, I’ll miss the way my stomach ripples with hiccups and kicks. I can’t believe I’ll be seeing the little faces in such a short time. And I can’t wait for my life, my new life, to start.

The best ultrasound picture — the one that shows them both together:

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Hippie Times

Late spring is my hippie-est time of year. It’s when I’m most likely to stumble upon the first outdoor festivals of the season. Those hippie gatherings are based on anything that people can think of to finally have the chance to wear fringe tanks and eat snow cones again. Even if it’s still just barely 60 degrees. Yesterday, it was Earth Day Jam. Yes, Earth Day was a full week ago. It’s okay! Festivals, people. Festivals. They had plenty of tie-dye booths and a really awesome psychedelic band called The Risin’ Sun.

 

If you’re short on festivals at the moment, try some frolicking in a nicely cultivated public garden. I went to Red Butte Garden for the first time yesterday and it offered a very nice level of splendor. And, I think, one of the best photographs I’ve ever taken:

Also, the woods, which I love:

Can’t you just hear Fleetwood Mac?

Too bad I wasn’t wearing one of these festival outfits from Free People:

Next Friday night, stay home.

I mean, be prepared, but don’t go out. Here’s my three-step process:

1- The cocktail:


My birthday happened recently, and I tried the birthday cake shots on pinterest. Very disappointing. They had cake mix, which only made them gritty, and the vodka mixed with the half and half just seemed sour. This left me with whip cream and cake vodkas. Tough times, right? I’ve been experimenting with mixtures, from orange juice to lemon drop martini mix, but the very best is the key lime pie:

Key Lime Pie Cocktail
Equal parts of…
Whip Cream Vodka
Cake Vodka
Sweetened Lime Juice

2- The sandwich:


I just love a pinterest success story. This pear and havarti sandwich comes from Foodie Crush. I made a few changes, though. I skipped the jam, because I thought that sounded too sweet with the honey. I believe that was the right choice. I also put basil in the honey mixture instead of rosemary, and stuck with standard sandwich bread. And then I proceeded to eat two. One of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, and not as complicated as it seems.

Pear and Honey with Havarti Grilled Cheese
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
2 slices of bread
½ fresh pear, sliced
slices Havarti cheese
1 egg, whisked
1 tablespoon milk

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add honey and basil and stir until blended. Simmer for at least a few minutes, and as much as 30. Remove from heat.

2. Layer cheese, pear, honey, and more cheese between two slices of bread.

3. Heat a skillet on medium and melt 1 tablespoon of butter. In a shallow bowl, whisk egg and milk together. Dip composed sandwiches in egg mixture, and add to skillet. Cook until golden on both sides.

3- Dark Shadows:


You’ve likely seen the commercials for the movie of the same name featuring Johnny Depp. But did you know that it was a soap opera in the 1960s? Very fortunately, it’s available on Netflix Instant. The very gothic, mysterious, half-hour episodes are extremely addicting and are perfect for when you want to eat in front of the television. Which, for me, is every meal.

Bonus: Breakfast Sandwich


The next morning, you’ll have hard honey sauce still sitting in the pan. You may be out of pears, but apples will do. So reheat the honey and make another havarti sandwich with plenty of egg and an iced coffee. There. Now you’re allowed to leave your home.

High West Distillery & Saloon

Am I the only adult who turns her birthday into a week-long celebration? Last Sunday I turned 30! But, obviously, the birthday things had to start on Friday evening. Drinks with coworkers, pub pizza, comedy show, a museum visit, a different pub dinner, and three separate shopping trips filled my three-day weekend. Then, yesterday, I popped out for ice cream and called it “birthday ice cream”. Those who follow me on foursquare and facebook are definitely sick of my birthday by now. For my official birthday thing, though, I went to High West Distillery & Saloon in Park City.

I’ve had High West whiskey before — on ice at a local post-prohibition era saloon and sips here and there at parties. All whiskey-loving Utahns with any respect for their own taste buds hold it in high esteem. I first heard about the restaurant about a year ago, and tried very hard to get in during Sundance, but they were closed for private parties. Sunday, April 15th turned out to be the perfect time to go. I got quite drunk off two Sazeracs, which is my favorite cocktail. (made with whiskey, sugar, bitters, lemon, and absinthe). In an interesting twist, I like the Sazerac at that post-prohibition era saloon (Bar X, note also that it is owned by Ty Burrell), where they make it with HIGH WEST WHISKEY. BUT, still good Sazaracs, especially since they are hard to come by, being the world’s oldest cocktail (allegedly).

For dinner, we had five small plates: House-Made Sourdough Pretzel; Shishito Peppers 2 Ways; Frisee, Pear, and Duck Proscuitto Salad; Utah Ballard Farms Pulled Pork; Still House Mac & Cheese.

The best was the Shishito Peppers. Half of them were whiskey-battered and fried; the other half were grilled in sesame sauce. They are followed closely by the salad, which was smothered in whiskey vinaigrette, blue cheese, and candied nuts. The pretzel was smokey and soft and served with spicy Dijon. The pulled pork was piled high on a fried tomato. Coming in last is the mac & cheese. Why is mac & cheese always boring, even in nice restaurants? We topped off the meal with the chocolate and whiskey pairing, which included three types of whiskey and six fabulous and unusual chocolate truffles.

And now I badly need to eat.

Cherry Chocolate Surprise Birthday Cupcakes

The surprise is: they’re strawberry. Where are all of the cherry chip cake mixes? That was my favorite flavor as a kid. Cherry chip cake with Kool Aid frosting made the best birthday cakes. Kool Aid frosting is homemade frosting flavored and colored with cherry Kool Aid. I had my heart set on cherry chip, so even though I had to buy strawberry, I still topped them with maraschino cherries so that they would look like something Hello Kitty would eat. And I believe she would.

I saw the idea for these on Pinterest. And they are simply brownie batter on the bottom half, strawberry cake batter on the top half, and frosted with store-bought vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. Extremely easy, but still wildly crowd-pleasing, at least for a group of 20- and 30-something professional writers.

Friday Mixology

Friday is almost here. Are you prepared? Friday evening is when I do my best at-home cocktailing. Ending the week with a drinking ritual without having to leave the basement is more than ideal.

If you’ve ever had a free cocktail at a casino, then you know that they can be pretty unreliable. They’re often too sweet, or not sweet enough, and usually doused with more alcohol than you’d planned on. That is, after all, the casino’s best bet for getting that bit of extra money out of you. But if you’ve spent as much time as I have strolling through neon casinos and jumping from slot machine to slot machine as a delightfully bad cover band plays in the background, then it’s possible you’ve come to appreciate campy daiquiris made from bulk-bought cocktail base and topped with cheap whipped cream and a cherry.

I kind of like how cheap and dirty the brand name “Creamie” looks and sounds, especially when turning it into something slightly elicit. I was actually wandering through the grocery store when the idea struck me: Turn Creamies into cocktails.

The Creamie Banana Colada

One banana Creamie
One ounce of Malibu coconut rum
One ounce of pineapple juice

Place the Creamie in a glass and pour the rum and juice over it. Carefully cut the Creamie off the stick and mix with an immersion blender.

Margaritas are the exact opposite of daiquiris and coladas. They’re a beverage instead of a dessert; they are measured more carefully; they have a savory touch: the salt. The salt, for me, is nearly the best part. Unlike daiquiris and coladas, I can remember all of the great margaritas I have had. The very best one, I mean TWO, were served in mason jars at Iguana Joe’s in Aruba’s Paseo Horencia Mall. It stands in my memory as one of my favorite meals. The air was hot and sticky. The sun was going down and we could see the fountain putting on its light show from the balcony of the restaurant. I had fries with a side of queso and a dripping, messy, dirty chili burger. After I was just drunk enough, we wandered through the mall and ate crepes filled with Nutella. The crepes were served to us by one of Aruba’s famously flirty, shirtless young boys. The whole memory makes me ache to go back. And so I drown the pain in the margarita that I’ve managed to recreate.

Margarita

Equal parts tequilla, sweetened lime juice, water, and triple sec
Dump in a shaker with plenty of ice and mix
Poor into a salt-rimmed glass
(This particular glass is rimmed with Hawaiian sea salt, which is peach-colored and earthy. Look for exotic sea salts in gourmet super markets.)

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