Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Twilight Zone*

Bright lights overhead, loss of sensation. Dark blue drape cloths, a barrier broken.

New life emerges, cries break the silence of the cold theatre. Time slows, hours slip by drip by drip.

Winding hallways, stark white walls. Rest.

Day becomes night, night becomes day. Snatches of sleep. Glimpses of perfection, awe at the creation of tiny beings.

Long, slow, painful walks. Recovery. Life-sustaining nourishment - one to another.

Life-long bonds created, cherished moments anticipated, the miracle of life celebrated.

Leila and Lisa - 5 days old
*AKA - surviving the first week with twins...


Thursday, 23 May 2013

They're Here!

This post is going to be short and sweet - just wanted to announce the arrival of Lisa Beth Portela and Leila Joy Portela!

On their way to the ICU, sharing an incubator
More specifics later of my delivery and recovery, but for now...

Lisa Beth Portela
20 May 2013 at 1:14pm
Weight: 2.665 kilos (5.8 lbs)
Length: 46 cm

Leila Joy Portela
20 May 2013 at 1:15pm
Weight: 2.425 kilos (5.3 lbs)
Length: 46.5 cm
On our way home from the hospital - Thursday. 
Still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that I have twins, and four kids! My older two have been home with daddy, nana and auntie Jaz for the past few days and since they are all still getting over colds, I'll be staying with my in-laws and the twins for a few more days before heading home.

We praise God for healthy, happy (and currently very sleepy) babies. The girls only had to stay in the ICU for a few hours for observation and then we had them in my recovery room. We did make good use of the nursery at night though, as my recovery was a little harder than I expected. Tonight will be my first night with the girls on my own (and my mother-in-law to help).

Thanks for all your prayers and congratulations. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Bump: 36 Weeks



How far along: 36 Weeks as of May 19
Development: Well, we're at the finish line, folks. In the last week I had two doctor's appointments, three non-stress tests, and an ultrasound. Everything looks great but the girls are both heads up so we are going ahead with a scheduled c-section tomorrow! They are estimated to be about 45 cm long and about 2.3 kilos (about 5 lbs). It will be interesting to see what their actual measurements are after all this monitoring and guessing.
Movement: The girls are really very active. I'm hoping all this kicking and exercising has helped them become strong so they'll do well when they're born.
Weight Gain: Total weight gain this pregnancy - 6.6 kgs (14 and a half lbs)
Maternity Clothes: Full on with maternity pants and long, long tops and dresses.
Stretch Marks: My belly is so stretched it is shiny and I've lost feeling right above my belly button. It is the weirdest sensation to poke it and not really feel it at all.
Best moment of my week: Although it's been hard to be away from my kids, it has been so nice to rest and relax at my in-laws place. We lived here for a while, so it feels like another home to me. Plus, I don't have to cook, wash dishes, do laundry, or run after rambunctious pre-schoolers!
Worst moment: Last Monday when I went to my doctor's appointment with a serious cold and fever. The fever raised the girls heart rates and so I had to spend the whole afternoon in the hospital doing another stress-test, ultrasound and wearing an annoying mask that made my glasses fog up. At least my mil treated me to Starbucks when we were done with our four-hour hospital ordeal.
Sleep: Have had some bad nights, but overall can't complain too much. I know how little sleep I'll be getting in the next few months so I'm trying to get as much as I can right now. It is hard to turn around and I'm pretty achy in the morning.
Miss Anything: Feeling comfortable.
Food Cravings: No cravings - just hungry and thirsty all the time.
Aversions: Nope - just have to be careful about what I eat so I don't get heartburn or acid reflux.
Gender: Girls!
Labor signs: A few random contractions here and there.
Belly Button: What belly button?
Rings: On
Mood: Feeling just about every emotion possible about my upcoming (and first ever) surgery to have these girls - excited, anxious, nervous, worried, happy.
Looking forward: There are so many things I'm looking forward to this week! Mostly losing my belly and being able to sleep on my tummy, and back, and being able to turn around without massive effort. And although I know the c-section recovery will not be quick, I'm looking forward to getting my post-baby body back! More energy and ability to play with and snuggle and cuddle ALL my kids!

If you're the praying type - please pray for the surgery tomorrow. As I mentioned it's my first surgery ever, and while I feel totally safe and comfortable with my doctor, we would appreciate your prayers for her and the girls - that they would be born healthy, that their lungs would be fully developed, and that they won't need an extensive stay in the hospital. Thanks!

Want to read my other "bump" updates? 15 Weeks18 Weeks21 Weeks, 24 Weeks, 27 Weeks30 Weeks and 33 Weeks. 

Friday, 17 May 2013

You know you're having twins when....

My last appointment with my doctor - she'll be doing my c-section
on Monday morning. 
1. People have been asking from 6 months on, "oh, are you due soon?"

2. Even your maternity shirts aren't long enough to cover your growing bump.

3. You can't see your belly button when you're standing up, let alone your feet. 

4. Your belly stretches so much that parts of it become numb to the touch.

5. You kind of forget how big your belly is and keep bumping it when you open doors.

6. You use your laptop on your lap and can't see the keyboard.

7. You've been for so many ultrasounds and exams that the people know you at the labs.

Sometimes it feels very surreal that we are having twins. We have everything ready for the two of them; a big crib for them to share, two carseats, a double stroller, oodles of diapers and clothes and bottles and  pacifiers. I've done ten ultrasounds, and every time I see the two of them, hear their heartbeats, and as they've grown I can feel them kicking, pushing and rolling inside me. And yet I think it will still only be "real" to me when I see them both born and hold them in my arms. Three days to go!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Calm before the Storm

and a 35 week update.

If you read my Mother's Day post here, you'll see that I have a pretty awesome mother and mother-in-law. As I head into the last week of my twin pregnancy their help and support have gone over and beyond what I could ever ask for. 

You see, we live in a small-ish city just outside of Sao Paulo. On a Sunday, we can make it into the center of Sao Paulo in less than an hour. On a weekday, during rush hour(s), it can take upwards of 2 and a half hours. When Elena was born, we were living in Sao Paulo and we had a great labor and delivery experience at a Maternity hospital here that is very close to my in-laws. Also, my doctor is around the corner. So for the last eight months I've been coming here for all my ultrasounds and doctor's appointments. With the increased risk in a multiple pregnancy, my doctor suggested I spend at least the last week of my pregnancy at my in-laws. 

So when my mom planned her trip here for the twins birth, she came a few weeks early so she could stay at our home with the kids, while I have sort of bed-rest at my in-laws. This way the kids can keep up with their normal routine before life gets crazy! And I get a little time to rest before the twins are born. 

Yesterday we had a little hiccup with our plan for a nice calm week before the storm of birth, newborns and all that. I suddenly developed a bad cold/cough/fever on Sunday night and by my doctor's appointment on Monday I was feeling distinctly under the weather. When we checked the babies' heart rates they were elevated. As we monitored them for about 15 minutes, they continued that way. My doctor was pretty sure it was a result of my fever, so she gave me some medicine and sent me off to the hospital to do another ultrasound and another session of monitoring the girls' hearts. If they had not returned to normal (which they did, thankfully!) I may have had an emergency c-section last night! Although we are technically "ready" for their birth, I am so thankful that I have a few more days to recover from this cold. 

And while I am missing my kiddos like crazy, I know they are in the capable hands of my mom. We are going to surprise them tomorrow when we go back to our home after picking up my sister, who is also arriving to help with the kids and twins. 

It's going to be a full house! 

And here we are at 35 Weeks...

I'm not going to go through the whole list thing - I'll save that for my last update - when I hit 36 weeks on Sunday! It is true that the last few weeks are the hardest. For me probably from about 34 weeks I started to feel very massive, and have quite a bit of pain during the day and a hard time getting comfortable in any position. Sleep - well, let's just say the twins are already preparing me for multiple mid-night wake-up calls! All in all, I am so thankful for having an easy and uncomplicated multiple pregnancy, and being able to still (mostly) care for my kids up until this week. I'm sure looking forward to losing this belly, getting back my ability to pick up and carry all my kids, and holding my sweet little girls on my lap. I do wish I could get at least an extra hand though; how do you carry both of them and do anything else? ;)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mother's Day

This is a pretty special Mother's Day for me. I've spent three Mother's Days pregnant, and this will be my sixth Mother's Day since Lucas first made me a mom. But what makes this one special is that it is the first Mother's Day I get to spend with my mother since I became a mom. We've been separated by a continent or two for the last 10 years, and the upcoming birth of my twins (next week! YIKES!) is what allowed her to be here with me this year.
My two precious children who made me a mom.
Becoming a mother is what enables you to really appreciate your own mom. Nothing like a few years of being pregnant, nursing, changing diapers, tucking into bed, potty training, snuggling, tickling and playing to make you think of all your mom did for you. All she did to prepare you to become a mom yourself one day. And now I have the opportunity to see my mother not only as mom, but also as a grandma.
Top left: Holding her first born's first born (Lucas). Top right: Holding the second born (Elena)
Bottom: This week - enjoying ice cream together.
 At this point in my life, I am so grateful to have my mom around. Feeling massively pregnant my mom has been a wonderful help around the house in the last 10 days since she arrived in Brazil. I'm not quite sure how I would be managing without her. The kids love her and are having a great time with Nana around.

Mom, in the midst of this sure-to-be-life-changing event, I am cherishing the quiet moments we have together to drink tea, talk and pray together, and enjoy the friendship we have developed despite living so far apart normally. I am inspired by your selfless servant's heart and I hope you know how loved and valued you are. Love you!!

Of course, there is also the other side of our family, and I could not do a Mother's Day post without also talking about my amazing mother-in-law. All the clich├ęd jokes about mothers-in-law are totally irrelevant in our case (although I do like to clean my house before my mil arrives - even if she's coming to help me clean...) I have been welcomed into the family as a true daughter and my mother-in-law continually shows her love for me and our little family in a multitude of ways that would take too long to mention here. I'm also not quite sure how I would have managed the past few months without her.

Top left: With Lucas (one of our first few days in Brazil) Top right: With Elena
Bottom: Reading to both kids
Mom, I have been so blessed to spend the last few Mother's Days with you. You continue to amaze me with the way you are constantly serving those around you and opening your home to anyone who needs a place to stay. I am so thankful for our relationship that has flourished over the last few years as you've helped me adapt to Brazil, go through two pregnancies and strengthened me as a mom and wife. Love you!
A rare moment with my Mom,  Mother-in-law and my kids. (At the Zoo in Sao Paulo)
So I guess this is a doubly special Mother's Day as I get to spend it in anticipation of two more little blessings and in the wonderful company of my two moms and two crazy kids (who for some reason got up early today and haven't yet figured out that mom needs at least one day to sleep in and get breakfast in bed). Maybe next year?

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

DIY - Hospital Name Plaque

Well, it's been a while since I've had a "crafty" post - and of course this one is also related to the twins. It's just a little baby crazy around here.

In Brazil it is customary to have a personalized name plaque at the hospital when your baby is born. You walk down the halls of the maternity ward and are greeted by all sorts of simple (and not-so-simple) name signs adorning all the doors of the recovery rooms. When Elena was born, my sister-in-law made me a cute little sign to hang on the door.
Some examples of the signs you'd see in the hospital
A few weeks ago it hit me that I needed to get going on a name plaque for the girls! I didn't really look around for inspiration, I just wanted to use what we had around the house. (My hubby gets worried when I say things like, "I've got a new project!" He was happy that this one only cost me $10)

Here's what I started with:
The decorative wooden sign was one that I had bought a few years ago, and I'm not quite sure why as we aren't really big wine drinkers in our family. So it could definitely be turned into something more useful. The other things were collected from various baby showers and I bought a few little extra things. 
1. First I used my handsaw to cut the scrap piece of wood to the right length to create a shelf at the bottom of the sign.

2. A few small nails to secure the bottom piece,

3. All nailed in across the length of the board.

4. Painted white with a few coats with my helper, Lucas. (He also added some other designs when I wasn't looking). 

5. Lined up some green scrapbook paper to wrap around the bottom. 

6 - 8. Glued the top, bottom and back and smoothing the paper around the edges.

9. Ran a piece of masking tape along the back to secure the paper. Notice Lucas had also added some designs to the back of the wood. 

 10. Designed a background for the sign highlighting the girls names.

11. Printed.

12. Cut it out. The paper didn't quite reach the whole length of the wood so I cut two slices off the ends and added a band of ribbon in the middle.

13. The sign ready with the background and green scrapbook paper.

 The last thing to do was to  arrange the flowers and prams and glue them down with my hot-glue gun. There's a small hook so we can hang this on the hospital door and when we come home it will find a place in their corner of our room until they get their own. I like that it can hang on the wall as well as rest on a shelf.

Ok girls, we're ready for you now! 
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