Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Baby Day: Part II

Part I

When we got to OB Receiving and found that I hadn't dilated any more, I nearly cried. Five days earlier, I'd been in false labor for over 18 hours, and I was so afraid that I'd go through the same thing again. However, they weren't about to send me home without monitoring me, not with me being 35w6d pregnant with twins, 3 cm dilated, and contracting every three-four minutes, and I was admitted to see if I was in active labor or not.

In retrospect, it's hard to remember what the contractions were like. I don't specifically have a memory of them being painful, although I know that they were, if not as intense as later-stage labor might have been. What I remember is that they were almost like out-of-body experiences -- I went somewhere else when one started, huffed through it, and came back to myself as it ended. I was having them frequently enough, and they were long enough, that I only got about two minutes of rest in between.

I know I thought about one of the few times I've been really scared for my life, when I was sailing a Sunfish on Lake Michigan and a storm blew up quickly. I was farther out than I should have been, the wind kept turtling the very small boat nearly as fast as I could right it, and there came a point when I thought, I'm not going to be able to right it again if it goes over. That's how I felt, like I got swamped again as soon as I caught my breath, endlessly over and over, with no end in sight. Knowing that I could have to go through long hours of this again, without necessarily having babies at the end, was beyond discouraging.

I think I would have had an even harder time with it if I'd actually intended to have a vaginal delivery, but that was never part of the plan. I'd decided very early on in the pregnancy that I wanted to go ahead and plan on having a C-section, regardless of the position of the babies. To a certain extent, this was because of endless harping from my mother about pelvic floor integrity, but mostly, I was terribly afraid of having to have an emergency C-section for Baby B. I never had any particular attachment to the idea of a natural birth anyway, given that so few things about my pregnancy were natural and easy.

Some women, in that situation, turn their energies toward envisioning a perfect birth, but I wasn't going to get that no matter what -- my hospital's policy is that vaginal twin deliveries happen in the OR, not in cushy birthing suites with family and friends, and epidural catheters are strongly recommended even if no medication is given. Plus, I was secretly convinced that my babies were going to wind up in the NICU anyway, and that I'd go through all the pain only to get cheated out of the mother-baby bonding experience. So I went for the delivery option I knew would give me the least chance of things going haywire. Unlike Stacie, I didn't mourn my C-section -- it was how I always knew things would go, and by planning it all along, I knew I wasn't as likely to wind up with a rushed and scary operation, or feel like a failure.

So, the only reason I even cared about actually being in active labor was so that I could have the babies. My C-section was formally scheduled for 37 weeks on 9/14, but they'd do it as soon as I made it to active labor, which my hospital defined as 4cm + contractions. I was desperate to have the babies NOW, and I certainly had the contractions, so all I wanted was to dilate that last measly inch. Unfortunately, I was having a really hard time with that, and there was no cervical change when the resident checked me after an hour.

At that point, they started talking about sending me home if I didn't start going somewhere soon, to which I was adamantly opposed. I kind of knew at the time that I wasn't really being logical, that simply being in the hospital wouldn't help me have the babies if it wasn't time, but I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of leaving without babies, or going home while contracting so intensely. I was afraid that I'd wind up having the babies at home -- everyone kept telling me that I'd know when they were really coming, but I didn't know it would be any different from what I was already going through, until it came time to push. They said they'd check me again in another hour, but that if I hadn't pulled it off by then, it probably wouldn't happen.

Of course, when the next check came, there was no change. However, I straight-out refused to go home (I actually said, "You can't make me"), at least not while I was contracting like that. That's when the doctor suggested a shot of terbutaline, to calm down the contractions; standard practice is not to stop labor after 34 weeks, but I technically wasn't actually in labor, and I guess stopping not-labor is OK. I was getting pretty tired by that point, and if I wasn't going to deliver, I figured I might as well get comfortable and contraction-free. The contraction pattern was starting to get a little disorganized, too, so it seemed plausible that we might be able to shut it down.

When they gave me the terb, though, a funny thing happened. I got the shakes, as I had the previous times I'd had terbutaline, and just like all those times, it didn't stop the contractions. This time, though, the contraction pattern changed. The intensity of them lessened a little bit, but the frequency actually increased to every two minutes like clockwork. This was apparently interesting enough to warrant watching me for another hour, and at the end of it, my own Dr. Dreamboat appeared to do the check himself.

The jury will probably always be out on just what happened next. There was a cervix check, which seemed much longer and more painful than the previous ones, and Dr. Dreamboat announced, well, you've progressed, you're officially in labor. He did *not* say that I'd dilated to 4cm, and I think everyone in the room noticed that. At least, all the residents had "oh, really?" looks on their faces, according to G, but it's not like they were about to argue with the attending physician. I am deeply suspicious that I hadn't actually progressed any farther, and that he just went ahead and called it out of pity. I also wonder if he stripped my membranes while he was in there, with that very invasive cervix check. The contractions afterward, while we waited for the surgical team to assemble, seemed steadier, and I had a feeling of inevitability, like the babies would come now whether or not I had the section. However, it's hard to say; perhaps it was all in my head, or the terb really had kicked my stupid irritable uterus over the edge. However, I'll never know, as Dr. Dreamboat subsequently left the practice before my 6-week checkup, and it's not like it matters to anything except my curiosity.

In any case, I was finally granted a trip upstairs to L&D to await my surgery. Dr. Dreamboat wanted to do the surgery himself, anesthesia had to get their act together, family had to be summoned, and nurses had to ask me the same thousand questions they'd asked every time before. My L&D room was sunny and warm, and had the same view as my room from the OHSS hospitalization in the very beginning of the pregnancy. For some reason, that was the little detail which made the whole thing sink in -- I'd made it all the way through, and now I was going to have our daughters.

I was still laboring pretty intensely for the two hours it took to get everything ready. I remember being desperately thirsty, and feeling really annoyed at all the people who kept trying to interrupt me and ask me things, and wanting to yell, "figure it out yourselves!". I was also really peeved at G. I felt this intense need to be close to him -- I wanted to have my hand held and my hair stroked -- and he wasn't doing a very good job of it. He had what he claims is the worst headache he's ever had, prompted by not having had any breakfast and missing lunch to take me to the hospital, and he kept letting go of my hand. I'm willing to believe he really did feel awful, but I WAS IN LABOR. I win, the end. I'm not mad about it now -- it's not like I needed him to support me while I pushed the babies out -- but it's definitely one of those things he'll get tweaked about until the end of time.

After a lot of hurry-up-and-waiting, we agreed that I would have a spinal, that G would be in the room with me (which had been in some doubt), and that my brother (who had just finished his OB rotation in med school) would assist on the surgery. I had originally been against that idea, but when it came down to brass tacks, it really didn't matter to me -- he's (sort of) a doctor, after all, and by that point every other doctor, resident, and student in the hospital had been up in my business anyway. If it's weird that my brother was involved, well, it's also weird that all his buddies were also involved. For that matter, my mom's boss got me pregnant, and my former babysitting clients did some of my OB care, so most of my personal boundaries were pretty much long gone.

It took over two hours in all, but at about 6:15 PM, they came to wheel me away. I watched my mother as I left the room, thinking, next time I see her, I'll be a mother too.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Baby Day: Part I

Part II

I've been reading about other people's births lately, and it's reminded me that I never really did talk about mine. At the time, I had so many other things I wanted to talk about, and it didn't really seem like that great a story. There was epic false labor, but then it got less interesting -- I managed to go into labor enough to dilate a little more, had my C-section, and the babies were born, the end. Still, I'd like to tell it, if only so that I have it down before I forget any more details.

That Wednesday was an absolutely beautiful morning. I couldn't help thinking of it as "9/11 gorgeous" -- there was a lot of media chatter about the upcoming fifth anniversary, and the weather was just the same clear September sunshine as that lovely day when G called and woke me up to tell me, "I think it's the end of the world or something". My first waking thought was the same one I'd had every day since the preterm labor at 32 weeks, the simple question, "will my babies be born today?". Four weeks earlier, I'd asked it in fear, but now I was mentally exhausted and physically miserable, and I just wanted it to be over.

My friends told me, just wait, I'd want them back in, assvice which infuriated me -- I'd waited forever for these babies, and it's not like any of them had twins. My husband told me, be patient, that every day of misery would pay off in terms of the babies' health. I knew he was right, but I didn't have any more patience left in me. It was perfectly clear to me that the skin of my swollen legs would start splitting right open, and that I would get stuck in my recliner because I was too heavy to get up. I laid in bed for a bit after waking, unwilling to make the effort to get myself out of it, until Baby A forced the question by kicking my unmentionables.

I got up and settled myself in the recliner with my laptop, and realized I was having contractions, nice strong regular ones. Now, you'd think contractions would be exciting, but I was way too jaded by this point in the game to assume they were actually going to do anything useful. I waited a while before bothering to time them, but they kept right on coming every four to five minutes, even after I showered and waddled around the house for a bit. By 11 AM, two hours after they started, I decided it was a good idea to summon G home, but I fully expected they'd stop by the time he arrived. They didn't, though, so we took the hospital bag and headed toward the hospital. I called my mom on the way, who told me that she'd had a feeling it would be today, and that 9/6/06 would be a good birthday. G and I agreed, and in between contractions, we talked about what a beautiful day to have babies. After a particularly strong one, I told him I'd be damned if I was coming home without them, but internally I wasn't all that optimistic it would actually happen.

When we arrived at OB Receiving, it looked like I was right not to be optimistic. They hooked me up to the monitors, just like they'd done five or six times before, and once again, I was having nice regular contractions. However, I was still no more than 3 cm dilated, just like I'd been that weekend, and so we settled down to see how things progressed.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Everyone told me how your post-partum body is never quite the same, and I knew that having twins would exacerbate it. I expected a thickened waist (check), some extra pounds (now non-check, thanks to the breastfed-twins-miracle-diet), sagging (check), scars (check), and stretch marks (also check, but fading). I miss my pre-pregnancy, pre-infertility self, but I'm working to get as close to it as I can, and progress is being made. I may not ever get back to where I was, but I can live with, even be proud of, the things that time and effort won't cure.

What I did not anticipate was that I'd be looking at surgery less than six months after the birth of the girls, but after my consult with the orthopedic surgeon, that's exactly what's going to happen.

It started thirteen years ago, with a skiing accident on my senior-year spring break ski trip. I was an advanced-novice skier, so not terribly skilled, but it could have happened to anyone -- a hockey stop, an ice patch, a too-tight binding that didn't release. My ski went one way, my knee another, the rest of me a third, and suddenly I was rolling around howling in the snow. I turned out to have partial tears of my ACL and MCL and a reasonable amount of damage to my knee cartilage. The meniscus was surgically repaired, but the ligaments weren't fixable; completely torn ligaments get replaced, but you can't sew up partial tears, so you go through physical therapy to strengthen the leg and adapt to a slightly looser knee.

I did well after surgery, and the knee didn't give me much more trouble after that. In fact, the last three years or so saw it in the best shape since the accident, as I took up weightlifting and built up my quads enough to compensate for the looseness. Then, infertility happened, and things began to go haywire. I gained a massive amount of weight (5 lbs with the letrozole cycle, 15 lbs during the six weeks of estrogen therapy, and 5 more with the Clomid cycle), and developed a bad case of the awfuckits -- it seemed pointless to exercise when I was helplessly gaining weight from the hormones, not to mention that I was just generally sad and depressed.

Happily, I got pregnant, but almost immediately developed severe OHSS; by the time that cleared up enough to permit exercise, I was at the end of the first trimester, fighting constant fatigue, and developing an irritable uterus. I got put on restricted activity after a bleeding episode at 26 weeks, then strict bedrest when preterm labor hit at 32 weeks, and by the time the babies were born at 36 weeks, I was weak as a kitten. I gained 30 lbs in those last four weeks, for a total of nearly 60, and I could barely walk or get out of my chair -- I was so huge and heavy and swollen, and everything below my chin hurt like fire.

I didn't work out that there was a knee-specific problem until the babies were about ten days old. By that time, the massive fluid retention had gone away, and I was beginning to feel like myself again. Then one day, I was half-reclined on the bed nursing, with my legs out in front of me, and when I pulled my left leg up to support the baby on that side, it hurt. The knee felt way too loose, and there was pain at the back of it, and I knew in that moment that there was more cartilage damage. At the advice of my OB, I waited until two months after the delivery to see an orthopod. By that time, the looseness had resolved some, but the pain was still there, so I was sent for an MRI. While it didn't show a meniscus tear, it did show a cyst, which means that there's about a 98% chance that there is a tear, obscured from MRI by the scarring from my previous surgery. The doctor's opinion is that it's the result of my preexisting looseness plus the ligament relaxation of pregnancy, exacerbated by the overall muscle weakness and the large rapid weight gain.

Meniscus tears don't usually fix themselves, especially not the kind that usually are responsible for cysts. I knew that from my previous surgery, and so I've been suspicious almost since the birth that surgery was somewhere ahead of me. I thought at some length about whether to fix it now or wait until later, as there are arguments on both sides and eventually concluded that now would be the best choice. I don't think there is ever a *good* time to have knee surgery when one is the parent of young twins, but I think it's probably easier when they are of limited mobility. Too, I hope to have more children, possibly including another set of twins if we have to go the infertility route, and so it may be five to ten years before I have no children requiring either constant carrying or constant chasing. The doctor says the damage will only worsen over time, particularly with another pregnancy, but that if we fix it now, the next pregnancy may not start any new damage. Plus, there's a lot of stuff I'd like to be able to do over the next couple years, like kneeling by the tub to bathe the girls, sitting indian-style on the floor with them, or squatting down to tie shoelaces, that I currently can't reliably do.

So, I'm scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on February 28th. They won't know how extensive the damage is until they are looking at it, so at this point, I don't know how involved a surgery it will be, or how slowly I will recover. The greater likelihood is that they will simply remove the damaged portion of the meniscus. While this further increases my risk for arthritis down the road, it is a much easier recovery; I'll be able to bear weight on it within just a few days, and won't require much in the way of physical therapy. If there are tears that can be repaired, I'm looking at four to six weeks on crutches plus substantial PT, but I'm somewhat less likely to be troubled by it in the future.

G will be able to take off work and help me for the first few days, and if I have the easier surgery, I should be able to manage the babies solo when he goes back to work on Monday. If it goes the other way, well, I'm not exactly sure how it's going to work. At this point, the babies are not really rolling over much (though I know that may change in a month), so my current theory is that we can all just camp out in the co-sleeper and the bed for a while. Later, I might be able to work something out for moving the babies around the house using the sling, but I'm still at a loss as to how I'm going to get the three of us out to physical therapy sessions.

Uncharacteristically for me, I'm choosing not to worry about it right now -- it'll work out somehow if and when it becomes a problem, and I've got better things to waste my worrying energy on. That's an attitude I never could manage to take in my pre-motherhood life, and I'm still somewhat surprised at the new roll-with-the-punches me. I guess that's a fair trade for a few bits of knee cartilage.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Whole cloth

At the girls' checkup last week, my pediatrician, who has two sets of IVF twins, mentioned that she thought one of the unexpected hard parts of infant twins is clothing management. I don't know that it had ever occurred to me that it's a twin-specific problem, but goodness knows it is staggering.

We're still pretty much living off hand-me-downs from one of my mom's patients, which is wonderful, but it's also occasionally stressful. For starters, it's more work than you would think to manage donated clothes. Since they have grown out of all of the newborn things (except for a couple Carter's onesies which run really long), and Katherine in particular is at the upper end of the 0-3 range, we have an enormous pile of outgrown clothes waiting to be handed off to some other future mom of twin girls. I'm somewhat reluctant to actually give them away, officially because who knows but that we might have another pair of girls, unofficially because it's a measure of how fast they're growing. However, the former can be solved when it happens and the latter is just denial, so that enormous pile needs to be sorted and folded and bagged. At the current rate of progress, this will happen in approximately June.

Additionally, I feel a mild compulsion to try and wear all of the seasonally appropriate outfits at least once (and feel bad about the unworn non-seasonal ones). In addition to being needlessly complicated, it creates an awful lot of laundry. We go out on excursions most days, and I dress the girls in cutesy matchy outfits for most excursions, and Claire reliably spits up and prevents outfits from being re-worn. Four or five outfits per baby per week, plus sleepers and onesies (often several of these a day, per Claire and the spit-up), plus sheets and blankets and changing pad covers (again, per Claire), and we're talking about a substantial amount of laundry. Some of it's my own fault for dressing them up, but there's a lot even without the outfits.

So you would think I'd be looking for ways to cut it down, but instead I've been increasing it... by moving to cloth diapers. Now, I'm not what I'd consider a hard-core attachment parent type (although I maybe lean a little bit more in that direction than otherwise), nor am I a rabid environmentalist. What I am is frugal enough to realize that we're literally throwing away a not-insubstantial amount of money on disposable diapers. While it's true that cloth has a start-up cost and that washing them isn't free, it's still cheaper than $60 or more per month for disposables.

I used exclusively disposables until the girls hit about 10 lbs, which in retrospect was a wise decision. As newborns, they used an astonishing quantity of diapers, sometimes two or three per change, and the expense of an adequate cloth supply would have been considerable. Also, while they weren't teeny preemies, they are definitely at the very low end of the weight curve, and many cloth diapers don't fit littler babies as well. As they got bigger and less poopy, though, cloth started to seem like a realistic option.

My friends all thought I was nuts, of course, but the internet said modern cloth diapers are a different deal from the diapers of yesteryear, and The Internet Never Lies, right? So I ordered a couple different kinds of diapers, and started using them on a trial basis. The SwaddleBees leaked so badly that I'm sending it back, and I've had some issues with the Happy Heiny as well, though it's still in the daily rotation. I'm not a big fan of the snaps on the FuzziBunz, either. The BumGenius, though, has proved to be a real winner, and I went back and ordered a bunch more of those.

I have ordered, but not yet used, some of the old-fashioned prefolds. My friend Cara is very happy with prefolds and wool soakers, so I figured that rather than buy covers, I'd just knit myself a couple of soakers. So far, I've managed to finish one soaker (using the CurlyPurly pattern), which just came off the blocking board today and is ready for use. It knit up quickly and seems to have turned out reasonably well, though I'm holding off on starting the second until I use the first one tomorrow and see if adjustments need to be made.

We're still using disposables at night, and whenever I forget to wash the diapers at the end of the day, since I only have about a full day's worth of cloth at this point (though I'll be ordering more shortly). I'm also using disposable wipes, which I thought would save me some trouble but has actually proved to be a minor hassle, since I have to pick them out of the used diapers before washing. I'll be switching over to mainly flannel wipes soon, I think. The DiaperChamp works pretty well as a cloth diaper pail, although it is smallish for twins, and only holds about one day's diapers.

Overall, I'm really happy with the cloth. Washing them isn't too gross, though I know this will change as soon as we start solids. We actually have better luck with the cloth BumGenius diapers than we do with the disposables -- I've never had a cloth blowout and very little leaking, which can't be said for disposables. Washing and re-stuffing them every night is a little bit of a pain; it's do-able, yes, but I'll be happier when I have a two-day supply. I'm hoping I like the prefolds/soakers, too -- they look really cute, and I'm plotting all sorts of embellishments and color combos for soakers and longies.

So yes, I'd officially consider myself a cloth-diapering mom at this point. Who else is using cloth diapers, especially with twins?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Four Months

Saturday was Claire and Katherine's four-month birthday, and they are growing and changing so quickly -- it seems like they learn something new every day.

Two weeks ago, they figured out that people are supposed to smile and talk, so that's what they started doing. We go on a lot of excursions, and of course they get a lot of attention from random strangers, and right around Christmas they started cooing and smiling back at the people who talk to them. There's actually some pattern to it, too -- if you talk to them, they'll talk back, and you can carry on a little conversation of "aaaaahhh" and "meeeeh" and such. Claire even said "mama" the other day, though I must admit she said it to the wrought-iron headboard and not to me. I love love love having such responsive babies -- it's so nice to know that they recognize me and love me!

The personality differences are really emerging strongly, too. Claire is, I think, going to be extroverted; she requires a lot of interaction, but she gives as much as she gets. Katherine has consistently been more laid-back, but she has such a sweet happy smile and clearly loves to snuggle and cuddle. It's funny how they are mimicking each of us in personality as well as in looks.

Last week, they really discovered their hands. We've had uncoordinated batting for a while, but now it is purposeful reaching and grasping, and often pulling into the mouth. We've also passed the annoying musical toy milestone -- their bouncy seats have mobiles with little farm animals, and both babies will now reach out and pull the handle on the cow to play "Old MacDonald". The bouncy seats are out of tune with each other, and the babies don't play their cows in sync, and it makes an absolutely hellish noise. Needless to say, I encourage them to do it over and over, just to watch how they grin and squeal.

This week, Claire has officially rolled over from back to tummy, although she didn't much care for the experience -- she loves rolling onto her side, but gets ticked when she goes all the way over. Katherine has rolled from back to side a bare handful of times, and doesn't show much interest in it. However, both babies sit up in their Bumbo seats like little champs, and Katherine especially is starting to do little "crunches", as though she wants to sit. They also enjoy standing, and I think a Jumperoo is in our very near future.

They continue to sleep in their nursery, and I've even managed to clear out the second crib and separate them, so they're not kicking each other in the mornings any more. The wonderful, blessed, amazing nighttime sleeping still continues, although bedtime routine has somehow gotten out of whack with the holidays and can now happen anywhere between 7 and 10. We're still halfway between routine and not-routine, with mornings tending to organization and afternoons falling apart.

At their pediatrician visit on Thursday, Claire weighed 10 lbs 5 oz and was 23", and Katherine was 11 lbs 9 oz and 23 3/4". This is pretty tiny for four-month-olds, and it's still small even if you adjust it backwards a month -- Claire is in the 3rd percentile (10th adjusted) and Katherine is in the 10th percentile (25+ adjusted). They're not quite as far behind height-wise, at 10th and 25th percentiles actual age, but they are still definitely petite. However, they are consistently gaining weight, if slowly, and the pediatrician pronounced herself pleased with their growth.

Claire's head size is also being watched, as it is below the 3rd percentile, which can be indicative of microcephaly. Thankfully, she's got no other signs -- her fontanels are normal, and she's obviously very intelligent and is meeting milestones -- and teeny-tiny heads run in the family, but we'll continue to keep an eye out for skull development issues. Of course, you may be very sure that nobody ever calls her Zippy the Pinhead!

We are continuing to exclusively breastfeed, and that continues to go fantastically -- the first 10 weeks were absolute hell, eight or ten or twelve times a day, but now I'm enjoying it, and proud of my body's ability to do this one thing right. I have not started them on solids yet, and have no immediate plans to, since it doesn't seem to me that they're developmentally ready. I've given them tiny tastes of soft foods I am eating, and they have been pretty nonplussed by the experience, so we'll wait for a while.

I'm now at pre-pregnancy weight, and have started monitoring my intake a bit more closely to work on the 25-odd pounds of infertility weight. I had hoped to begin exercising, as the year-plus of inactivity has left me desperately weak and out-of-shape, but have been set back by two bouts of bronchitis and the ongoing knee troubles. My MRI last week revealed that I have a meniscal cyst, which is almost always the result of a degenerative meniscal tear; I don't have my follow-up consult for another week, but Google tells me that the doctor will almost certainly recommend arthroscopic surgery to repair or remove the damaged cartilage. I'm thinking that I'll have that done as soon as possible, while the girls are still easy to manage -- better now, while they can stay in cribs or on the bed with me all day, than when they are crawling or toddling. I'm not thrilled about the whole thing, but the knee is interfering with my daily life, and cartilage damage won't heal on its own. Yet another physical toll of twin pregnancy, I s'pose.

I'm loving life as a stay-at-home mom, although I am doing a little bit of consulting work during naps and after bedtime. I quit my job when my maternity leave ended in early November; we discussed the possibility of going very part-time, but the company really wanted to have someone in the position full-time, and I just wasn't willing to do that. I was sorry to leave -- I loved working there, really enjoyed the work and the people -- but I've never for a moment since felt like it was the wrong choice. I may do some consulting work for them in the future, to keep my foot in the door there; however I don't expect to go back to even a half-time job for at least the next few years, until the girls (and potential future children) are in preschool. Really, if we're being honest, I may not ever go back -- I did freelance work for five years, so it's not a problem for me to just keep doing that forever.

This does, however, markedly lessen my enthusiasm to finish up my master's (in computer science) and graduate this spring. With the direction my life has taken, it's hard to retroactively justify it, but I need to finish this last little bit so as not to make it a total waste of money and effort. I'm completely uninterested in doing so, but discipline is good for the soul, I guess.

Speaking of discipline, I do intend to get back to posting more, now that the holidays are complete. Coming soon: house-hunting, and I still owe y'all the birth story, don't I?