Thursday, July 31, 2008

Paprika's Art

Paprika is VERY interested in drawing right now. She could spend half the day with her markers and crayons creating her masterpieces. If you ask her what she's doing, she says, "Mama, I'm just drawing." And then she goes right back to work.

In addition, this 23rd month of Paprika's life has been brightened by the introduction of our "Learning Tower"- which is a type of toddler step ladder that lets her explore things at adult height. She can spend a lot of time in the Learning Tower, playing with water in the sink, and if you ask her what she's doing, she'll say, "I'm just washing dishes!" Very helpful. She does get VERY wet, though, and we end up changing her clothes multiple times when she plays in the water.

Paprika is still REALLY into singing and makes up all sorts of songs (with real words now). Her favorite song that she made up herself goes "I wash hands and fingers- don't forget!" It's pretty cute. She can also sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider (with hand motions), Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (also with hand motions), Ring Around the Rosie, the ABC song, Happy Birthday Song, and her favorite- Rockabye Baby.

We started singing Rockabye Baby to her when she goes to bed at night when we got back from the hospital after delivering Vivian and Annemarie. It was a good transition from nursing Paprika to sleep. Well, now SHE sings Rockabye Baby to us- and it sounds something like this (with lots of emphasis): Rockabye BABY on the TREETOP when the wind BLOWS the cradle will ROCK. When the bow BREAKS the cradle will FALL. And down will come BABY cradle and all. If she's singing it and we're not keeping up with her version, she just sings her version louder. Then when she's done, she says "night night mommy and daddy." :-)

The other really cute thing she's doing is when I ask her what certain animals say, she tells me- cat says meow, dog says woof, etc. (that's all old hat)- but when I ask her what a Mommy says, she shouts "I LOVE YOU!" That's pretty awesome. And true!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


We have determined part of the reason why I am so sick. I am allergic to the antibiotic that the doctor prescribed me! Ugh! I have started to feel SO much worse since I started taking the antibiotic yesterday, and after a quick Google search I found out that there is a logical reason- it turns out that the drug is a Sulfa derivitive, and I am VERY allergic to Sulfa.

Headaches, chills, extreme weakness, fever, etc. I just called the doctor on-call and asked for a new antibiotic. Unfortunately, from what I've read, the side effects take awhile to clear- at least a few days. Not good. It sort of seems like a cruel joke right now. A very sick joke.

The Doctor's Appointment

Thank you so much to everyone sending cards and flowers. It is so wonderful to open up the mailbox or go to the front door and have a little (or big) something to brighten my day. :-)

The doctor's visit yesterday went okay. Mr. Mustard met me at the office, which was really nice. There were about a gazillion pregnant women in the waiting room, all complaining. What I wouldn't give for their aches and pains, right?

The doctor did a little check and found that there is some infection (which I knew) going on in my body. I am on antibiotics and we're on a "wait and see" sort of thing- I go back in four weeks for an ultrasound to make sure that everything is clear. I have been in increasing pain over the past week, and I'm not sure what's causing that. I have vicodin, but I would rather 1) know what's causing the pain, and 2) I would rather NOT get addicted to vicodin as I sit here recovering. Nevertheless, the pain is getting worse, which generally is no fun. My leg is also in a lot of pain still (from the epidural). The doctor seemed to think that would get better, too. So, now we're just waiting...waiting...waiting for me to feel better. :-)

Enough about that. Mr. Mustard is finishing up work this week and may take some time off over the next month. We have a wedding to go to in August (Mr. Mustard is the best man!), and other things to attend to- like Paprika's second birthday. So, there are good things on the horizon for the Urth family. :-)

Oh, and Paprika has already informed me what she wants for her birthday: 1) a Happy Cake (what she calls a birthday cake), 2) pretty shoes, and 3) a snake!!! She may get two out of three- we'll see. :-)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Paprika in Red

A few photos of Paprika in daddy's shoes and Ann's T-shirt (with her cell phone, of course!)

American Top Gear Pilot

Mr. Mustard has been working very hard editing the pilot episode of the American version of "Top Gear"- the insanely popular British TV show that is coming to the US. He's one of two editors working on the show, and he has been putting his heart and soul into making it a great show. The taping of the "live" studio portion of the show was on Saturday, so we took Paprika to the babysitter's (no kids under 10 allowed at the taping), and made a day of going to set.

Mr. Mustard LOVES being on set, and it is very much his element. We had a great time hanging out with everyone, and it was wonderful for me to be part of that world for the day. The audience was so excited to be there- about 3000 people waited outside for just a few hundred audience spots. The show looked amazing- Mr. Mustard is so proud of it. It was gratifying to watch Mr. Mustard in his element and see what he's been so excited and proud about for the past month.

The show starts in the Fall, and will hopefully be a huge hit. After watching it, I am pretty sure that it will be a very popular show- it was very fun to watch and even more fun to be there for the taping of it!

Saturday was the two week anniversary of the girls' birth, so it was very hard for me to be at the taping, acting upbeat, while I was silently falling apart on the inside. But I know I have every day to cry, and Saturday was so important to Mr. Mustard.

Sunday we took Paprika to Wall-E, and she did pretty well. The previews lasted half an hour (at least), and then she made it through the first hour of the movie. Then she wanted to leave. "Bye-bye Wall-E" she kept saying when it was time to leave. No crying on her part, just a firm suggestion that it was time to leave- and we took her cue and left the theater before any tears or drama ensued.

Today I have my two week postpartum check-up at the doctor's office. I am still having a great deal of pain- both in my leg from the epidural gone wrong, and in my abdomen. We'll see what he says about all that. I am not looking forward to the visit- but three hours from now it will be all done and I can put it behind me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Support Group

On Thursday night, Mr. Mustard and I went to a support group for parents who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. It is at a local hospital and meets once/month. I was nervous about going, but decided to go anyway- and asked Mr. Mustard to meet me there.

It was quite a task getting there. I dropped Paprika off at the babysitter's, which she did NOT like. She was clinging to me as I left, screaming "mama, mama, NO!!!!!!" as I walked out the door. That was hard. Then Google Maps messed up the directions and I got very lost. So, I switched to the GPS system in our car, but that couldn't find the hospital either. Meanwhile, I was driving due west with the setting sun directly in my eyes blinding me as I drove. Mr. Mustard called to see where I was and I broke down crying- why was this happening to me, why couldn't I find the dang hospital- why does everything have to be so hard these days?

I eventually did find the hospital, and although I was 15 minutes late, the meeting had not started yet. It was good to hear others' stories, and although their stories were also very sad, it was comforting in a way. I'm glad Mr. Mustard went with me- it was nice having him there and having someone to talk to about the meeting after we got home.

You would think that the days passing would make things easier, but it doesn't. It was two weeks ago today that I delivered Vivian and Annemarie, and I feel as lost as ever. I miss them more every day and wish they were here.

The only real time I have to grieve is when Paprika is sleeping because when she's awake, I put on my brave face and try to be really upbeat for her. But when I see her mothering her dolls, singing to them, feeding them, pushing them in their stroller, it makes me really sad. I know how wonderful a big sister she would have been to Vivian and Annemarie, and I am heartbroken that they are not with us.

We were supposed to go to Las Vegas this weekend for Ryan and Tom's bachelor party - well, Mr. Mustard was supposed to go- but then we decided we'd all go and Paprika and I would get a separate room. But when it came down to leaving last night, we just couldn't do it. We're not ready for Las Vegas. I can barely go to the grocery store without breaking down- seeing babies, twins even, and then all the magazine covers that taunt me.

I miss Vivian and Annemarie so much. I know you understand.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sparkle Shoes & Auntie Ann

Paprika has had a LOT of extra love these past few weeks. She's had so much attention lavished on her it's not even funny. Auntie Ann bought her these "princess sparkle shoes" while Ann was visiting, and Paprika LOVES them. She does not want to take them off her feet. She loves posing in her shoes, obviously! She is a fashion model in the making. :-)

Paprika's two favorite things to watch are our French Language DVDs made for Toddlers, and Elmo. Since I've been home from the hospital, she's been able to watch these videos whenever she asks for them. We have a 50 inch plasma TV, so it's quite the experience. Paprika doesn't watch any other television (just the videos)- I really don't want to expose her to commercial television until she is much older.

Anyway, she's never seen the French DVDs as much as she has in the past two weeks, and now I'm surprised to report that she is speaking in French words and phrases. This may seem wonderful, but one thing I did not think about when I ordered them is that neither Mr. Mustard nor I speak French. So, Paprika is speaking to me in French expecting me to understand her, and I have no idea what she's saying. I really should have bought her Spanish language DVDs instead, since then I could understand her. I think I may have to order the Spanish dvds in the next few weeks- this language barrier cannot persist!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Hard Day

Yesterday was a very difficult day for us. We picked up Vivian and Annemarie's ashes at the funeral home. The hardest part was the finality of it all. It hit me that they really are gone and they are not coming back. I hope to see them in Heaven, but that seems so far away right now.

The flowers and cards we have in our house are so beautiful. I wish the flowers and cards were here to celebrate a happier occasion, but having them in our home during this dark time gives me some comfort.

I am really sad right now and feel like this incredible grief will never lift. Everyone else is going on with their lives, and I just want the world to stop and never forget our girls. The more time that passes the further away their memory is for others- although I feel like I am stuck in the same place I was on the day of their birth, July 12th.

I miss them so much.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Overwhelming Gratitude

I want to say thank you for the enormous outpouring of love and support. I have never experienced such kindness and generosity. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to everyone who has reached out to us in this time of darkness and grief for our family. The flowers, plants, meals, cards, emails, and other gifts you have sent have meant so much. I am saving all the cards and emails, and taking photos of all the flowers, plants, and other gifts- and will be saving everything in a memory box for us to remember Vivian and Annemarie.

I want to thank you all personally- and will in time- I just had to say thank you now because my heart is full of love and gratitude for how thoughtful and generous everyone has been. It makes me happy to know that Vivian and Annemarie will be remembered not just by our family, but also by our extended family of friends and loved ones.

I haven't been making phone calls- I just can't talk to anyone right now. I have to admit that I am overwhelmed with grief and sadness. Some moments it just feels too much to bear. I am taking it moment by moment.

Paprika is, of course, a bright ray of joy in our lives and remains oblivious to the fact that life has changed. Mr. Mustard is immersing himself in his work, which is therapeutic for him. I am glad that he has work as a distraction, and that he loves his work as much as he does. It is a blessing.

Tomorrow we will hopefully be able to pick up Vivian and Annemarie's ashes from the funeral home. In a way, I am looking forward to having their ashes home with us. It feels horrible being apart from them.

Mr. Mustard and I have always felt that we are open to the children God gives us, in whatever form and whenever they come. Parenting children that have passed away is different than how I parent our living child because we cannot physically be together. Even though Vivian and Annemarie are no longer with us in body, I love them the same and think about them every bit as much.

I pray that God will give us some peace and will heal our broken hearts. Vivian and Annemarie, we love you.

Thank you all so much for supporting us and loving us as we heal and grieve. Your support and kindness gives me hope and lifts me up.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vivian Margaret and Annemarie Patricia

Vivian Margaret, July 12, 2008, 4:56pm

Annemarie Patricia, July 12, 2008, 5:14pm

It is with terrible sadness that I tell you that we have lost our precious twin daughters. They both passed away in utero from a sudden and catastrophic onset of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. One twin was flooded with fluid and blood while the other was deprived of blood and fluid. We are overcome with overwhelming grief. I feel like my heart has broken and will never recover.

I went into labor on Friday, July 11th, and I was admitted to the Labor and Delivery unit at Cedars-Sinai. At 4:56pm on July 12th, after a long and painful 18 hours of labor, Vivian Margaret was born into the hands of the Dr. D, the obstetrician in the room. Our wonderful nurse, Naomi, wrapped her in a blanket and asked me if I wanted to hold her, and I said that I did. I held her for a few minutes while I continued laboring with Baby B, Annemarie Patricia. Vivian was so beautiful- tiny and perfect. She was perfectly formed, with sweet little hands and features. Her eyes were open and blue. It was hard to let her go even for a moment.

By that time, Dr. K, my OB, (who is an angel), came and broke Annemarie's water. He tried to get to the room in time to deliver Vivian, but she came too fast. Annemarie Patricia was born at 5:14pm on Saturday, July 12th into Dr. K's hands. She was wrapped in a blanket and I held her for a few moments. Like Vivian, she was so perfect, small, and wonderful. All her features were beautiful and tiny. Her hands were laying by her side and everything about her was gorgeous, right down to her perfect little fingers.

After I held Annemarie for a few moments, Dr. K and Dr. D began trying to deliver my placenta. There were some complications with delivering it and it took about an hour and a half for them to fully remove the placenta. I lost a lot of blood and my blood pressure was dropping below 80/40.

After the placenta was delivered, we were given time (as much as we needed) to hold the babies and say goodbye. The nurse wrapped them in blankets and we were able to hold them, take pictures, and have some private time. We arranged for a pastor to come and bless the babies and spend time with us while we had them in our arms. The pastor, Denise, was wonderful- a truly spiritual woman. She treated our family with dignity and respect and prayed with us for the babies to one day reunite with us in Heaven, to know that we love them now and for always, and to pray for them to know our love and God's love. She also prayed for Mr. Mustard and me, for us to hold one another up, to let us know peace, and to help us mourn the loss of our babies. It was a really special time that I cherish.

After the pastor left, we spent more time together just Mr. Mustard, me, Annemarie, and Vivian. Then Tien, our wonderful nurse from the night before, came back. She was creating a memory box for us and wanted to take the babies to dress them, take their footprints, and take some photos for us. Mr. Mustard and I spent the next half hour- just the two of us- in the labor and delivery room, talking, crying, and holding each other. Tien came back with the girls and we held them again for a few more moments to say goodbye. We wanted to hold them forever and never let go, but we knew it was time to say goodbye. Their souls were no longer in their bodies, and we knew that no matter if their bodies left us, they would always be in our hearts and minds, always with us, watching over us and Paprika as our guardian angels.

Our little girls are in our hearts, we love them, and we will never forget them. We are so grateful for the time we had with them, and although we are incredibly sad, we are happy for the moments we did have with them and the blessing and honor of being able to be their parents.

Thank you all for being so supportive during this incredibly difficult time for our family. We will never forget your kindness, your sympathy, and the love that you have for us and our family. You are in our hearts. Bless you all so much.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sushi and Cinema!

We took Robbie out to sushi on Tuesday night. It was his first time ever eating sushi- and I'm pretty sure he liked it. He had salmon, spicy tuna, spider rolls, tempura shrimp rolls, california rolls, and a few others. He maybe had a little too much wasabi on his sushi- as you can see from his face in these pictures.

We've also been taking turns going out to movies with Robbie. Tonight Mr. Mustard and Robbie are out to a movie- and earlier this week Robbie and I went to see Wall-E.

Mr. Mustard teaching Robbie how to use chopsticks:

First bite of sushi:

Too much wasabi!

Beach Day!

Yesterday, Paprika, Robbie, and I spent the whole day at the beach. Robbie had a great time bodysurfing and even made friends with a boy his age. Paprika liked looking at the seagulls and watching the waves crash against the shoreline. It was sunny and gorgeous, and we all had a great time just relaxing by the ocean.

Paprika surprised me because she is still scared of the sand at the beach. She would not let me put her down on the sand. She was okay when she was on our beach blanket, but when we first got to the beach, she was terrified of the sand. All the other toddlers were running in the sand, but Paprika would not touch it. When I tried to build her a sandcastle, she got so upset that I was touching the sand with my fingers. She even put her face down in the blanket, put her hat over her head, and tried to block out even looking at the sand.

Paprika hiding from the sand:

But eventually she sat up on the beach blanket and was very happy to look around at everyone- so long as no sand got on the blanket! I carried her down to the water a few times, but she was too scared to put her feet in the sand even in the ocean water. We had a great time playing games on the beach blanket, though, and it was actually pretty nice not to have to run after Paprika all over the beach. It's not usually the case that she's so happy to sit down on a blanket for so long. We ate mangos and other snacks and had a great time pointing out the seagulls, the helicopters, the other babies, and the ocean waves.

Robbie had a fantastic time in the water. I think he is becoming a California boy before my eyes! :-)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Robbie's Visit

We are about halfway into our 2 1/2 week visit with Robbie and we have been keeping VERY busy. We get out and do a field trip every day, with no exceptions, and it's been really fun. We've gone to all of our old haunts (the Children's Museum twice, the park, the other park, the indoor playground, the go-kart racetrack, and the Botanical Gardens), as well as branched out and tried new things.

Today, for example, we went to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. It was great! Paprika and Robbie both seemed to enjoy it a lot. On the first floor, there is a great exploratory room with live snakes, tarantulas, and other creatures- even a stuffed polar bear that kids can pet. Paprika thought that was just about the neatest thing ever! She had a wonderful time running all around the museum. She did NOT want to be in her stroller or be told where to go. So, we let her run free. She was so interested in everything- especially the huge dinosaur skeletons and the exhibits of elephants and other African mammals (all stuffed, of course).

Having Robbie around makes me really excited to have more children- even though he is much older than Paprika, it is so wonderful to see the excitement in her eyes from having another "kid" to play with. It makes even hanging out at home exciting for Paprika.

We had a wonderful time at the pool party over the weekend. Paprika LOVED the water and did not want to get out of the pool. She wanted to "swim" on her own with the inflatable tube around her for the full 2 1/2 hours we were there. Of course, either Mr. Mustard or I was with her the entire time. But, as soon as we got to the pool party, she wanted in the pool, and we had to drag her out to go home. She had such an awesome time!

One of Paprika's favorite things right now is to go hunting for snakes and spiders. She found a rubber snake in our neighbor's planter and wants to go visit the snake everyday. She wants to pet the snake and kiss it! It's just a rubber snake, but she thinks it's real. So, when she wakes up from her nap in the afternoon, we go "see snake!" and ride her bike around the block. It's the highlight of her afternoon, and it's nice for me to get out for a relaxing walk before sundown.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

4th of July!!!

We had a GREAT 4th of July yesterday. My brother, Robbie, is visiting us from Indiana for 2 1/2 weeks while mom and Eric are in France, Germany, and Italy. We all went to a big 4th of July festival at our favorite park. There were about 5,000 people there. Normally, when Paprika and I visit, there are 20 people there- max. So, it was a little surreal for us!

Mr. Mustard showed up at 8am to reserve us a spot on the lawn. He laid down blankets and rope (as is the custom), then we went and did other things all day (like go to the park and hang out in the airconditioned coolness of our house), and we came back to the festival after Paprika woke up from her afternoon nap. We went right over to our spot and everything was still there!

Paprika was wonderful at the festival. She was happy to play on our little plot of land and didn't try to wander off into the crowd. After awhile we asked her if she wanted to play on the playground, and she said "Yes!" and hopped into her stroller to be strolled over to the playground. After that, we watched fireworks. The fireworks display was AMAZING! We were very close to the fireworks, and it was a little overwhelming for Paprika at first, but by the end of it, she was saying "More, please! Again! Again!" Afterwards, we asked her if she liked fireworks and she said "Yes!!!"

Mr. Mustard's mom is also down visiting us this weekend. Santa Barbara/Goleta is experiencing a big fire, and her neighborhood was evacuated just to be safe. It appears that her house and her neighborhood will be fine- no houses have burned in her area and the fire is moving away. So, that's good news!

This afternoon we are going to a 4th of July pool party (well, actually 5th of July). I am excited to try out Paprika's new water wings! I hope she likes them!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pregnancy News!

I'm starting to get HUGE in the belly and am really loving this pregnancy. I love being pregnant and enjoyed every moment of it with Paprika- and this pregnancy is no different. It's so exciting to feel the miracle of life (or lives!) inside of me and feel such a deep connection to my unborn children. It's the most wonderful gift in the world.

I am now 17 weeks, 5 days pregnant. Most people who see me think I'm 6 to 7 months along. I've gained about 30 pounds, which is right on track (for me!). I am starting to see a perinatologist every two weeks, and my regular OB every two weeks. So, I'll be getting lots of good prenatal care by some of the very best doctors in the world.

I never mentioned this before, but when I was pregnant with Paprika and going to prenatal yoga as Golden Bridge, I talked to Gurmukh about my OB. She said, "Oh, Bobby- he's the doc to go see if you're expecting twins. He's the best there is at that." Of course, I wasn't expecting twins then, but what she said stuck with me. "Bobby" delivered Paprika and we were very happy with how he handled the delivery. This pregnancy, we are back with him and it makes perfect sense because this time we are expecting twins! I am very impressed by his attention to detail, especially after our last visit.

I forgot to mention last week that at our last visit the babies were both measuring very large compared to single babies for their gestational age. They were 16 weeks at the last ultrasound but were measuring more like 18 week singleton babies. This is great news. Perhaps my high protein diet is paying off! I want to give these babies the best start in life possible, and having high birth weights is one of my goals for them.

I am trying to rest as much as possible, but that's not really possible with everything going on right now. Paprika is going through a VERY clingy stage where she wants me and only me. I'm trying to pick her up less, but it is very hard to deny her when she looks up at me with tear-stained cheeks and says, "Pick, mommy, pick up, please." So, it's a work in progress and I'm doing my best. We are thinking about getting Paprika a toddler bed so that I don't have to pick her up to put her in her crib- but we're reluctant to do that because she is so comfortable in her crib- and we don't want to mess up her sleeping schedule again because that would cause even more drama at our house! So, maybe the toddler bed will have to wait.

I go back to the doctor next Friday for a visit- and will get another peek at the babies then. I am hopeful that they are growing well, and that everything is right on track!

I guess the biggest announcement is the one I'm leaving for last: we found out at our last ultrasound that the babies are definitely identical twins, and that we are expecting two girls!!!! We are VERY excited and can't wait to meet our two new daughters and Paprika's two new sisters!

Now we can really begin the name search. Mr. Mustard wanted to wait to start thinking about names until we knew if they were boys or girls- so now that we know, the hunt is on. We are very paticular about names, and we have about every baby name book on the market. There isn't a name that we haven't heard or haven't considered. We will be keeping the names we choose secret until after the birth. We did that with Paprika and enjoyed letting everyone know her name after she was born- so we'll do the same this time! Of course, this pregnancy we have twice the work cut out for us! It's important for us to give our children names they can be proud of and names to live up to!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More Saturn Pictures

Here are a few of the pictures we took to sell the Saturn. Doesn't it look like a pretty sweet ride? :-)

The End of an Era

We sold the Saturn earlier today. We took a few pictures before we said goodbye. We have so many good memories of that car. I bought it in July 1998: exactly 10 years ago! It's a 1995 model and although it was three years old when I got it, it felt like a brand new car to me.

I drove it to California after I graduated college, drove it back to Indiana after the fire (it was the only thing I owned that survived the fire), drove it back to California to attend USC, drove it cross-country and back with Mr. Mustard when we got married. It has been to the peaks of Telluride, Colorado to the depths of the Grand Canyon, to Las Vegas (more than a few times), and many, many, many other points all over the country.

I drove it back and forth from Los Angeles to Berkeley for two years, commuting twice each week during my second year of law school. I drove it when I was pregnant with Paprika, cramming myself inside it six months pregnant to get to class at UCLA during my "year abroad." It has been a wonderful car- only requiring oil every few months and new brakes once or twice. It always starts and it always provides a good, easy ride.

July 1998- Picking Up the Car at Saturn of Fishers:

We sold it to a really nice 19 year old college student named Michael from Australia. He is going to drive it all around the United States for the next year on "walkabout." The car is going to see many more adventures than it would from the inside of our garage. Michael is really sweet and was so excited to get the car. He has been living in Los Angeles for the last few months mentoring underprivileged youth through a Christian church outreach program. We found the best new home for the car, and I feel good about that. Goodbye old friend, many happy travels.