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Semi-regular updates from pregnancy announcement to everyone is home from the hospital.
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Leaving Hospital13 SEP 2001: We are posting the last regular update today. We finally have everyone home together for the first time. We picked up Maddy from the NICU this afternoon. I gave her a bath under the watchful eye of the nurse before getting the father seal of approval. Maddy has been given a clean bill of health. The minute we arrived home, it was time to feed the both of them. Try imagining breast feeding two babies at once. Things have just gotten more interesting.

10 SEP 2001: Tonight's 10 PM feeding went well for Maddy. She took a fair amount of food pretty quickly. She seemed to be actively rooting for food. Her face appears to be filling out a bit. All signs, at least to me, that she is starting to do better. Her blood sugar levels are still a bit low, but OK. The doctors are going to remove the Nasal Gastric tube and space out the feedings again to see how her body regulates the blood sugar on her own.

8 SEP 2001: I was finally able to hold Maddy for a decent amount of time and feed her via bottle without her spitting it all up. Most of her feedings are still with the NG (nasal gastric) tube. She seems to be doing pretty well. Brock had his first appointment with the pediatrician. They look so distinct from each other. Maddy has dark brown hair with a tinge of red. She has a small, upturned nose. Her head is elongated from either being squished by her brother or being the first to arrive. Brock has light brown or blond hair with a hint of red and a roundish face. Both have a small skin bump on the right side of their faces near their ears.

5 SEP 2001: We finally have real names for Paperback Writer and Creed. It took us 6 days after the births to assign real names. We have decided upon Zoë Madison Merlin Grassy and Richard Brock Merlin Grassy IV. Both will have two middle names, one being Lisa's family name of Merlin. We will call each by their other middle names, Brock and Maddy, Wisconsin themed names. Brock is Gaelic for badger. The Badger State of Wisconsin is where Lisa and I grew up. Madison is for the city in Wisconsin where we met. We will abbreviate Madison to Maddy. The name Richard is a nod toward tradition, as I am the third Richard George, after my father and grandfather. I wanted to add a twist to that tradition by coming up with a different middle name (or, in this case, 2 middle names). Since Richard Brock Merlin is different than Richard George, we were not sure if the fourth was appropriate. But we can't locate any source that says we can't. Afterall, he is the 4th generation Richard in a row. As for Zoë, there is no significance other than we like the name. Brock has finally come home, as has Lisa. Maddy has improved enough where she has moved out of the isolette. That means they are confident her temperature is being regulated. Her blood sugar is still a bit low. She is able to feed a tiny bit with a small bottle, though mostly fed via a tube. Tonight will be a long one between keeping a close eye on our son and shuttling expressed milk down to hospital for our daughter. We realized how unprepared we are for one to be home after the nice setup at the hospital.

4 SEP 2001: Our little girl is stable in the NICU. I think it will take some time before she is ready to come home. Our son has been delayed in being discharged until Wednesday, mostly so Lisa can stay at the hospital and have a nurse available to help out one more night so she can get sleep. Very nice pediatrician to do that. We think we finally have names picked out. We will sleep on it and fill out the birth certificates in the morning. Lisa's mother arrives in town Wednesday afternoon. She will hopefully be in Seattle with us for a month.

3 SEP 2001: Lisa has been discharged as of this afternoon. She will board at the hospital tonight with our son. He will be discharged Tuesday. Our little girl is putting up a good fight, but she was finally moved up to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) this afternoon. She needs a little more time as she is having some trouble processing her food. It might be a few days until she is ready. It will be tough to leave with her in the hospital. We have talked about names, but that has been kind of on the backburner. We would like to figure it out by the time "Little Man" is discharged on Tuesday.

2 SEP 2001: Wow, it is now Sunday afternoon. We are now into the 6th day of being at the hospital. Lisa is off all IVs and is doing much better. Our son has been with us from the start and is doing well. He likes to fall asleep in the middle of feeding. Our daughter was placed in a nursery about 5 hours after birth. She has been having a harder time regulating her temperature, as well as problems keeping up good blood sugar levels. There is a chance the hospital may move her into the NICU, but at the moment she is hanging in there. We are hoping to get the kids back together as soon as possible. Lisa was able to try feeding our daughter this afternoon. Mom and son may be discharged on Monday (it will be Labor day, afterall). It may be a few more days until our daughter comes home.

1 SEP 2001: On St. Patrick's Day, we announced that we are expecting twins. Now, we are finally at the end of the pregnancy and ready for the births. Friday morning started out slowly. Lisa was taken off the pitocin Thursday afternoon to stop the contractions and let her rest. Friday afternoon, the nurse restarted the pitocin. The doctor did a couple checks of the cervix from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Lisa was progressing at a nice pace. The doctor felt that she might deliver sometime between 11:00 pm and 3:00 am the next morning. If she had not delivered by 10am Saturday morning, then there would be a c-section. Lisa started getting uncomfortable by 7:30 pm. Around 9:00 pm, the doctor checked the cervix and determined that it was time to deliver. Our niece, Amanda, was going to be in the delivery room with us, but she was out having dinner. I placed a couple calls to her cell phone and only got her voice mail. I let her know she had to get here immediately or miss out. About 15 minutes before Baby A was born, Amanda came flying into the delivery room with pizza inhand for papa. We were glad to see her. Every time I looked around the room, there seemed to be more people crowding in. At one point, there were 15 people in the room, including Amanda, Lisa and myself. We had a compilation music cd playing in the background. We decided if one was born during a Ben Harper song, then Harper would be the name. At one point, the Charlie Brown theme song was playing. Lisa got a little giggly and proclaimed the baby to be named Snoopy if he or she were born at that time. Amanda helped with Lisa's position during pushing while my job was to count the duration of pushing. At 9:42 pm, I got to announce the birth of our daughter in stereo with our niece. She rested on top of mom while we waited for Baby B. At 10:32 pm, our son was born. They were relatively easy births. The placentas, on the other hand, were not as cooperative. They required her to dose up the epidural in case they had to get aggressive pulling them out. She was dosed too high. Amanda immediately noticed that Lisa's blood pressure was dropping. It got down to 55 over 33. Pretty scary for a moment. After the mini-ordeal, we chilled out in the delivery room until 4:30 am before they moved us down to the recovery room. It was all a very enjoyable experience. At least for Richard.

31 AUG 2001: We have babies! One boy, one girl. Mom and babies are doing well. During the pregnancy, we knicknamed the kids Paperback Writer (Twin A, girl) and Creed (Twin B, boy). Paperback Writer is from the name of the Beatles song that was playing when Richard found out he was going to be a father. Creed is from the name of the band that was playing in the background when Lisa first found out she was pregnant and again when she found we were having twins. The name of the Creed song was With Arms Wide Open, appropriately enough, about the impact of having a child on the lead singer of the band. Hopefully, we will decide on formal names soon.

31 AUG 2001: Friday morning... guess what? We finally are getting some changes. Lisa's cervix is finally dialating. 3 cm at the moment. The hospital has restarted the pitocin as of 8 AM. They have started at a low dose and will escalate it every half hour. It has been a couple hours and contractions starting again. Maybe we can deliver the babies today! If not today, surely tomorrow! Lisa is doing well. No pain, fairly well rested, and in good spirits. We are rooting for one late tonight to end August, and one early tomorrow to start September.

30 AUG 2001: It is now Thursday morning. There has been absolutely no change from early Wednesday morning. The doctor is thinking of stopping the pitocin around 3 PM today, then restarting Friday morning, in hopes of jumpstarting the actual labor. At least this might allow Lisa to get some sleep tonight. Looks like we are in here for another day or so before the real action begins.

Lisa with her meds29 AUG 2001: We took Lisa to the hospital around 10 PM Tuesday night to begin inducing labor. Shortly after midnight, she was started on the medication, pitocin. They are increasing the dose gradually. Pitocin has Lisa contracting about every 3 minutes or so. Her cervix needs to shorten another 1+ centimeters before she starts to dialate. So, we might be here all day or more. Around 5:30 AM this morning, Lisa was given magnesium sulfate to combat some pregnancy induced hypertension. The side effects of this drug can be pretty nasty. Fortunately, for Lisa, she is experiencing none of the bad side effects. We were basically up through the night. Tough to sleep when people are checking in every 15 minutes or less. It is around 10 AM Wednesday morning and Lisa is finally getting some shut-eye. More news later.

28 AUG 2001: What do you know? Just when you start to get comfortable, the whole situation changes. We had a normal appointment this afternoon. We had a couple little concerns and the doctor ordered another ultrasound. Seems that Baby A is not growing at the rate expected since the last ultrasound on August 7th. To be on the safe side, it has been decided that she will induce labor starting tonight. So, hopefully next update, we will be telling you about our two healthy newborns! It might be tonight, it might be 2 or 3 days from now.

26 AUG 2001: Our doctor is back in town now. So we will allow the babies to make their appearance now. That's how it works, right? Today is the 37th week of the pregnancy. Lisa has made it to what the hospital considers full-term for twins. The hospital usually does not want the twins to stay in the womb past 38.5 weeks. That would mean we would expect Lisa to be induced by September 5th. Though, our doctor recently mentioned that if the babies are still growing, there is plenty of fluid in the amniotic sacs, and all looks well, then we could wait longer before inducing. Who knows, maybe we could make the normal 40 week full-term date for singleton babies, which would be September 16th for us. We have been on pins and needles since early August, so hard to imagine another 3 weeks. I guess we will set our minds on breaking the record for the largest set of twins born at the University of Washington, which happens to be eleven and fourteen pounds.

Cuzco sleeping17 AUG 2001: We saw our doctor again today. She goes on vacation tomorrow until the 25th of August. That would put us one day before our "expected" due date. Hopefully, we can will the babies to hang on until then. Nothing eventful to report from the appointment. On Sunday, Lisa will have been carrying the babies for 36 weeks. The next scheduled appointment is on the 22nd with a resident at the hospital. Other than that, our puppy, Cuzco, is pooped.

10 AUG 2001: Another weekly Friday appointment at the doctors office completed. After spending a good portion of this week feeling pretty crummy, Lisa seems to have gotten her second wind. We are going to the Seattle Storm women's basketball game tonight and an outdoor movie at Marymoor Park, Saturday night with Amanda, her dog Leslie, and our two dogs, Whitby and Cuzco. You go, girl! The doctor mentioned that if anyone is well-suited to have twins, it is Lisa. Overall, the pregnancy has gone relatively smoothly. The babies should start gaining about one-third to one-half a pound each week now. Hopefully, all will be quiet "to infinity and beyond!", to quote Buzz Lightyear, or at least until we see our doctor again next Friday.

7 AUG 2001: It was quite the eventful day. Lisa had a slight trickle of fluid this morning while sleeping. Perhaps one of the amniotic sacs had ruptured? I thought that maybe today would be the big day. Luckily, it was just a couple hours before a scheduled ultrasound appointment. Lisa thought one of the babies may have turned around in the past couple of days. At the previous ultrasound, we knew both babies were head down. As long as the one closest to the cervix is head down, Lisa can have normal births. If the closer one is breech, then she will be headed toward a c-section. Our niece, Amanda, came with us to today's appointment. The ultrasound showed they have shifted around a bit, but both remain head down. As there is not too much room to move around anymore, they will probably remain vertex or head down. All turned out OK with Lisa's fluid trickle from early in the morning, as it wasdetermined not to be amniotic fluid. The ultrasound did show her cervix is starting to efface or thin. Earlier, the length of the cervix was close to 5 cm and is now nearly half that. A sign that things are starting to move along. The doctor says itcould still be another 3 weeks, but another week is a possibility. From the ultrasound, they were able to calculate the weights as 4.7 pounds for Baby A and just over 5 pounds for Baby B. If the babies decide to wait another 3 weeks, there is potential for a couple 7 pound babies.

3 AUG 2001: In two days, Lisa will be at 34 weeks. This is the first of the target dates. At this point, the lungs should be close to being fully developed and risk for many long term problems disappear. Our doctor would like the babies to make it to at least August 12th, if possible. Any time after that and the doctor would let labor progress naturally. It wouldn't surprise us if they are born August 5th, as Lisa's friend Judy, had twins born this day one year ago. There have been a few too many coincidences going on.

16 JULY 2001: We are now into Week 31 of the pregnancy. We had a bit of a scare on Friday the 13th, of all days! Baby B was experiencing a small period of time with a wacky heart rate. Lisa spent the day up in Labor and Delivery being monitored. Everything seemed to checked out OK. The dose of Atenolol was halved again to 12.5 mg, as the medication can affect the heart rate of the babies. We have another appointment on Tuesday, July 17, then at least every Friday for the next few weeks. We started working on the room for our babies.

Dr. Atkinson & Lisa8 JULY 2001: Lisa is 30 weeks into the pregnancy now. She was placed on the medication Atenolol a week ago due to some concerns regarding an increase in her blood pressure. The medication worked a little too well. Her blood pressure is well within the normal range now, actually lower than her baseline BP. Her heart rate has come down more than expected. So, the doctor has cut the dosage of Atenolol in half. Overall, Lisa and the twins are doing well.

6 JULY 2001: Lisa had another ultrasound on Friday, July 6th. The babies are now 3.1 and 3.6 pounds respectively. Both are well within normal ranges of weight for this point of the pregnancy.

12 JUNE 2001: Lisa's school, Bryn Mawr Elementary, threw a baby shower for us on Tuesday afternoon. Richard's work threw another baby shower for us on 19 JULY 2001. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our colleagues! It really hits home when you start to see all the toys, clothing, and other baby supplies piled up in front of you. Wow, we are going to be parents soon!

8 JUNE 2001: The ultrasound on 8 JUNE 2001,showed that Baby A weighed 970 Grams (2.1 pounds) and Baby B weighed 871 Grams (1.9 pounds). One interesting dynamic changed with the ultrasound on 8 JUNE 2001... Originally, we decided not to find out the sex until birth... Eight weeks earlier, after a previous ultrasound during Week 17, Lisa had leaned over to look at the chart and accidently found out the genders. Richard, on the other hand, still decided to wait. A few weeks later, at Week 25, Lisa had another ultrasound which were told that the genders were incorrectly noted during the previous ultrasound on 10 APR 2001. We are not sure which baby had the incorrect assessment or if both were assessed incorrectly? So, Lisa is now back to square one and we both don't know the genders! It certainly could change the perspective on the name situation... or could it??? We are far apart on names we like and are not even discussing it at the moment. We will probably not decide on names until the late stages. Hopefully, we won't come home with the names Baby A and Baby B. Please give us your input on choosing names for the twins at the Name A Twin survey.

17 MARCH 2001: Happy St. Patrick's Day. We would like to take this opportunity to announce that we are expecting twins! The due date is somewhere between August 23rd and September 3rd, 2001. For a normal singleton birth, full term is considered 40 weeks. For twins, full term is considered 37 weeks. The doctor will not let twin pregnancies go past 38 ½ weeks. Fifty percent of twin births end up being premature. Early January, we realized that Lisa was pregnant. For the weeks following, she has been experiencing some unusual cramping or sharp pains during certain movements and sneezing. We had not decided on a doctor at this point but one clinic wanted her to come in early for an ultrasound so that we could rule out an ectopic pregnancy. At this point, the ultrasound tech proceeded to point out Baby A, then Baby B... Excuse, us? What? We are having twins!?! We were prepared to see the first image of our baby. But two, that through us for a loop. We are very excited, overwhelmed, and looking forward to starting our family with a bang. One of Lisa’s good friends, Judy, had twins last summer. I guess she felt that she had to keep up with the Gutierrez’s. Lisa has been down to LA. a couple times to help out. She has made sure to let me know that I have no idea what we are getting into. Oh well, at this point, ignorance is bliss.

Tambo MachayIn December of 1999, we traveled to the Sacred Valley of Peru to get married. We visited Tambo-Machay, the Temple of the Sacred Waters near Cuzco. It is called the Baths of the Inca because of its channeled springs. This was a site of water worship and purification. Legend has it that if you drink from the ceremonial stone bath, you can expect to have twins. Hey, what can we say? We tempted fate by drinking from the bath!

Over the past few weeks, we have found a wonderful doctor - Dr. Wendy Atkinson, affiliated with the University of Washington. She has determined that the pain Lisa is feeling is normal stretching of ligaments. The facilities at the U appear to be very well geared for multiple births and the people that we have met there have been fantastic. We have just started their Expecting Multiples Class Class. Fun to see what Lisa will be looking like in the not so distant future, as well as have the chance to listen and meet others who have been through this. That’s it for now. Lisa has been very tired and has been having some smell aversions to certain foods, but otherwise is doing well. We do not plan on finding out the gender of the twins until the births. We will post ultrasound pictures and information about identical vs fraternal twins as the pregnancy progresses.