Saturday, June 29, 2013

Got Twins? Help a Sista Out


So I thought I'd be ok. Figure out what I needed 2 of, figure out what can be shared, read through recommendations, and then I would be all set. Except with twins, it's not all easy-peasy-logical like that. Things don't fit all nice and neat into categories and some things cross over with twins that don't for parents of singletons. Plus, information specific to twins is a tad on the sparse side; unless you don't have a job, social life, or hobbies. All of which I do have  (yes - I am very aware a lot of that will change come this fall).

Price is an issue. We don't need the most expensive items, nor could we afford it. We don't get the luxury of handing things down to the next sibling. My ideas of a slightly fancy crib with all the ooh-la-la etchings of high-end, wood furniture has gone out the window with the new requirement of 2 simultaneous cribs.

That's not to say I want everything cheap and of suspect quality. Having had a child 21 years ago (oh-my-god just writing that), I am keenly aware that sometimes you have to spend money to save money. And then there are times where cheaper sometimes = less safe, not a description you want with your baby products.

Then there are space issues. Car trunk space issues. Bedroom space issues. Sitting on the couch but there isn't room for 2 things on the floor by the coffee table space issues. Arm space issues. The list goes on and on.

So what's a girl to do?

Instinctively, I reached for the book Baby Bargains (8th edition) a few months back when I was at a large consignment sale. This was at the beginning of the pregnancy and may have even been before we knew we had twins. The book was chocked full of good information, but I realized that it was an older edition and that several safety things had changed since it's 2009 publication. That lead me to purchase the kindle version of the latest edition. (DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, purchase the kindle edition. Hopefully I will remember to post the long list why later.) Suffice to say, that I realized that it, as well as other resources, was lacking in areas that would be important to parents of twins.

What sort of things? I'm glad you asked!!! (I'll even happier if someone has some answers!) Here are some examples from my over-active imagination:

  • Infant carrier car seats. Part of the consideration of these things is weight. While a 30lb carrier (not including baby weight) might be ok to manage going up the stairs to my front door, 2 of these things would not be. Do I just go for the convertible car seats that accommodate infants? The biggest complaint of these (for infants) is that baby wakes up when you remove them (since you can't take the entire thing out each time), but honestly I don't think I'll be able to carry two of the infant car seats every time I leave my car sans hubby. As much as I'd like to see my jiggly arms tone up, I suspect this may not be the best plan. 
  • On that note: what about strollers? Do I go for the strollers that fit the infant car seats or has my previous concern just eliminate them? Side-by-side strollers or front back? Front back facing or non-facing. Which is going to fit better in our car trunks? I know one of us will eventually have to upgrade to a bigger vehicle (please let it be hubby, please let it be hubby), but considering my car was bought in 2010 and hubby's was bought last year - that ain't happening soon. (All those pesky IVF/Surro expenses and son's college expenses.)
  • What about carriers? I grabbed some groovy sling/wrap/boho-whatever-you-call-them at a consignment sale, but I'm guessing that after a few months we will need something a bit sturdier that won't kill my back. I'm only 5'3 and 115lbs. (Ok fine - 123 lbs, but I will get back to my pre-IVF weight soon. Whatever.) What carriers work well when carrying two??? Or do you need one for front and one for back? In that case, what one is safe on your back?
  • Bouncers. Do I need to worry about the elevated head sleep thing for twins? I hear it's common. I've already fallen in love with this ghastly, overpriced Babybjorn Babysitter bouncer that I'm fairly certain we HAVE TO HAVE. Have found a possible used connection for one, but I have no idea how well these things handle up over time. If need be, this will probably be my splurge item. I'm obsessed with them. 

If you are a parent of twins - what were your MUST HAVE items? How many sheets is a good number to have? (Just popped in my head.) How did you address the issues above? What am I forgetting?

HELP A SISTA OUT. I'm beginning to bug out. OK FINE. Bug out more than normal. OK FINE. I never really was normal. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? 
P.S. Please help. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Update: Fat Babies, My Cat Passing, Best Friend Moving, and Father's Day

We went to the OB/GYN and the perinatologist on 06/17. The later meaning ultrasound time! Babies are looking good and each are fatter than a singleton counterpart would be at the same gestation period. At least according to the nurse. Really, what I think she was saying was "not to worry -their size is pretty great."

We were just 1 day shy of the 23 week mark at 1lb 6oz for the girl and 1lb 5oz for the boy. According to fetus growth measurement calculators  that puts them right about at the 55-60 percentile that a singleton would be. For now, I'm calling them my fat ass babies and it makes me happy. Is it wrong for me to think of the girl as a little more bossy than the boy already? Nah - I imagine all different ways they will be - this is just the flavor of the week.

Girl Bean is already behaving naughty and flipped into breech position. She also seems to be hyper and dancy-dancy whenever the cameras come round (ie, ultrasound). Doc says this is ok for now and either one may flip several times before they settle in. Since boy is closer to the cervix, I think it is most important that he not be in breech when the time comes. If SIL is able to have a vaginal delivery, then they can flip the girl if needed and if the doctors think it is ok.

In sadder news, my beloved calico passed away last Thursday. Won't go into the whole sad story, because it's still too hard, but suffice to say she was 18 years old and it was her time. Realized afterwards that I have lived with my beloved girl (17+ years) longer than I have lived with any other living thing; including my parents and my son.

She was a crotchety cat from the day I got her (probably part feral) and I loved every bone in her body. The only living things she liked in this world were occasionally me and often my other cat. Both friendships took years to cultivate. (Conversely, my boy cat loves almost everyone except the un-neutered male that accidentally roamed into our house one day.)

Even with a house full of animals (2 cats and 3 dogs) we would mange to have alone time when I would take my baths in the evening. She would sneak up into our room on the top floor of our house (where animals aren't really allowed according to Daddy) and I would give her the special bowl of bath water she requested for consumption. She always had a thing for bathwater and I never quite knew why. She even "showed" our other cat one night and snuck him in to the forbidden area. He sniffed it and seemed unimpressed, so it remained our personal ritual. Between laps of water she would peek her head over the bathtub for some scratches, a rarity for her as she normally didn't like more than a few touches at one time.

She will be missed.

In other sad news, my BFF moved on Friday. She's the most awesome girl in the world. Both my husband and I adored her and her husband- and really - how often does that happen? She had a baby last year and has been my rock through all of my infertility (and before!). Seeing her baby never made me sad once. He was awesome and I loved spending time with all of them. We've all promised to visit each other often, and I think we will, but I know that sometimes changes when babies come. At least I will see her in August. She coming to throw me a baby shower. YES SHE IS THAT AWESOME.

Last but not least - Happy Father's Day out there to all you new dads, all you dad hopefuls, and all those wonderful Dads of past and present that have guided each and every one of us. My father died when I was very young (3 years old), but my mom married my Step Dad when I was 19/20 and I think he super rocks. Even when he is grumpy which is frequent and funny to me. Kinda like my cat was. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Question of the Week: What's Up with Short-Term Disability Insurance?

Sooooooooo, filling out my new employee forms, the old "do you want to pay for short-term disability insurance?" question popped up. This option wasn't available with my first pregnancy (read: I had no insurance way back then), thus this is a completely new path for me. My current options for it are about $40 a month for the 7 day exclusion option  or $20 for the 30 day exclusion option.

I remembered that other women I know mentioned using it during their maternity leave, so it begs the question: Can I? My quick fingers googled on my iPhone for answers  (it popped in my head while I was at work and I HAD TO KNOW then). Alas, the results were not very helpful. Most of the answers applied towards the surrogate mother and not the intended parent (IP). Switched to googling about people who adopt and one answer returned that they could not. STD benefits (I giggle every time see the acronym) used in the context of maternity leave is allowed because of a woman's need to recover physically. That said - tiny print on a phone, especially when most of the results are on forums, is not full of awesome.

The uncertainty made me think I should to ask a professional, which was great because we already needed to contact our attorney about the next steps. She had told us that if we were successful with IVF then we would need to petition the court to have my name put on the birth certificate (instead of our GC's) during our 2nd trimester. We kept forgetting except at times where emailing/calling her wasn't practical, and thus having this questions (and wanting a fast answer) reminded and motivated us to contact her ASAP.

Side note: attorneys for this process is NOT cheap. This was a cost we didn't account for well. In India it was either included or only a few hundred dollars extra. We naively thought since my SIL was our GC that we would not need an attorney, but our fertility clinic informed us to the contrary. Our total cost for this is around $6500 as explained at the bottom here, with our second payment coming up.

The email I sent was as follows (with the boring parts taken out):
I have a quick question that I think I know the answer to, but maybe you could shed some light. I'm filling out my new employee forms for a job and I have the option to take short term disability.  I know pregnant women often use short term disability to receive partial pay while they are on maternity leave, but I'm not sure if we can use it in our case - or if it's even considered a pre-existing condition. Since it could make such a big difference for us, I want to make sure before I turn it down. I don't think I qualify for FMLA since I haven't been employed for a year. I've been a contractor for 6+months, but was just converted to employee status last week.

The email she sent back was hopeful, but I'm still a little wary:
If you have the opportunity to obtain short term disability, I would suggest you take it.  Yes, many mothers use it for maternity leave and I see no reason why it would not be applicable to you!   Call if you would like to discuss.
So I emailed her this:
Great thanks! When would be a good time to call? For some reason I was under the impression that it applied for maternity leave because the mother goes through something physical (body recovering), but that it didn't apply just for care of children (like adoption). Also wasn't sure if it would be considered pre-existing.

While I'm waiting for our discussion (is it possible she hasn't been asked this before?), I wanted to check in with you guys. For those of you that have used adoption or surrogacy, what was your experience? How does pre-existing conditions fit into all of this? For the ladies out there - did it change if you induced lactation? For the gay men out there: did you get to use short term disability?

Curious minds want to know. (Plus there really does seem to be very little info on it out there - at least if you can't sift through hours and hours of forum stuff that doesn't apply to you.)

Thanks in advance my peoples of the interwebz!