Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 235 - Chaos & Cheerios®

It's not that nothing noteworthy has happened in the weeks since my last post. Quite the contrary. I feel fortunate to have had the time, on occasion, to bathe or to tie my shoes.

These babies will not be denied!

Let's just say that in looking back at my posts this year, I find myself longing for some of the most difficult times I've described! Just when I think it can't get any harder, or that I won't be able to manage...well, it does and I am. And, for added perspective, the first few weeks at home with them were far harder than I had ever dreamed.

So what's changed? I'll start with what is probably the least physically-significant change, but is without question the most joyous for us:
Spitting up is UNDER CONTROL!!!!!!!!!!!! Was that overstated? Hardly. I wish I could make it blink, shimmy, and dance.

In the past three weeks or so, Girlie has all but stopped. Boy still does perhaps 2-3 times per day. [addendum--today was kind of a messy setback. But I digest.] Believe me, that's a 400-500% improvement! (In both frequency and quantity.) It is a categorical breath of fresh air. The number of burp cloths we went through on a daily basis? Good estimate...20. Now, it's closer to 4 or 5. The Maytag Man appreciates this fact nearly as much as we do.

Next up, crawling. Boy is all over the place. Now, to be clear, it's not so much as a crawl as it is the worm. He actually flops. But it's speed flopping. Hatches are battened down. Cabinets are locked and gates are sprouting up all over the house. What's amazing to me is what he finds on the floor. I guess it serves to show us how little--or how much more we need to vacuum. He finds a little speck of whatzit--half the size of a grain of cornstarch, and into the mouth it goes. Perhaps another drawback to having babies fairly late in life--the eyesight deficit! The babes and we are clearly on different playing fields. Girlie's top speed remains at 0.0mph. (Occasionally it's -0.5. Yes, she has a intermittently-functional reverse gear.)

One of the mental images I've carried throughout the past year is the expectation of finding one of the kids standing in his or her crib as we enter the nursery to greet them in the morning. Boy was first, not surprisingly. This happened two days ago--and it truly was adorable. As with many adorable, sweet, heartwarming positives, there is also a darker side. The heinousness here is the fact that his crib-standing now obstructs his falling asleep. Where we once could lay him down in the crib and expect him to drift off (often preceded by significant hollering, but at least faithful hollering!) We can now expect him to stand at the crib rail and scream for what seems like hours. We're trying storybooks, singing, rocking, sound machines, iPod Baby Einstein, and monkey dancing. What. A. Drain!

Both have begun forming word-like sounds. Boy started with DA-DA's last week and Girlie with BA-BA's this week! That's fun. We're not yet ascribing any purposeful meaning to the sounds--much as I'd like to claim to be a target for the former. Still, I'm getting excited to converse with my kids. A whole new world is coming. Soon, I'll be able to reason with them and get them to stop complaining, crying, or otherwise behaving unpleasantly! Phew, that will be a relief. And then I will begin their lessons in quantum theory as relates to porcine aeronautics.

Solid foods have become a bi-daily adventure. Wifey lovingly prepares a variety of homemade baby fare consisting of sweet potatoes (a favorite throughout the household), apples, peas, squash, zucchini, and many more! But the titular saving grace has to be Cheerios. My toolbox for baby placation contains a few items such as toys, videos, singing, and books. But Cheerios (and now Puffs--thank you, Kyle!) are my weapons of choice. Despite the fact that the combination of Cheerios and baby saliva, when dried, yield an insoluble cement, they pacify like nothing I've encountered to date.

I've got more, but this has become too long for anyone to read. And I care about you. And your time. More soon!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 169 - Milestones? Who Has Time for Milestones?

I know it's been forever...and I've missed you.

As I sit here awaiting news of yet another great-niece or nephew, I'm musing on the fact that my babies will be a mere seven months older than their second cousins--but separated by a generation.

Now back to me.

The babies have really changed since my last post. Both are sitting up--though they can't yet get to that position. We've also begun feeding solid food. Their first was pears--an eventual big hit. Then it was sweet potatoes. I think those have continued to be a favorite. Peas, on the other hand, foot, forehead, etc., have been unceremoniously rejected. You should have seen the look on Boy's face when he fully experienced what was in his mouth. He jerked his head back and made a face that looked like he'd swallowed a rotten lemon. Soaked in vinegar. Haha--it was hysterical. So was the second spoonful. And the third. Did we enjoy it too much? Ok, no more peas. They also like squash, zucchini, and apples. And squash/pears cocktail is a big hit. Squares!

Last weekend we went to Lake Michigan for a mini vacation. The babes got their first boat ride and ski-tube experience. Granted, for the tubing, they were in our laps, wearing infant life-vests, and going maybe four miles an hour. Not exactly E-ticket. To illustrate it further, Girlie fell asleep halfway through. Then she peed on me. Hadn't felt compelled to put her in a swim diaper. It's a lake. Live and learn.

Crawling is mere days away for Boy. He's up on hands and knees and is rocking. So far, his only motion is in reverse. But the hatches are battened for the coming baby boogie.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 121 - What a Lives

Wouldn't it be nice to be a baby? I mean, sure you wouldn't be able to talk, read, or play Bejeweled Blitz, but man what a life! Imagine having everything brought to you. Imagine not having bills, work/home/life stresses. I suppose it's all relative; their stresses, like having their bottle a few minutes "late" or having a squishy diaper are probably as hard for them to manage as our day-to-day trials. But it sure looks good from this side of the crib!

Girlie was drinking her bottle today and started screaming for some mysterious reason (gas bubbles?) Anyhow, I sat her up and in no less than five seconds her eyes drooped and her head fell forward. Asleep. She startled herself back awake, but was then just fine and continued eating.

The vomiting, though. That would do me in. It's not something that I ever do--period. Sorry, the spitup tangent again.

Anyhow, it's nice to see their little grownup-stress-free lives. Refreshing to live vicariously through their blissful ignorance.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Day 115 - Ready to Roll

Amongst other milestones and developmental achievements, I've really been looking forward to some obvious, deliberate interaction between the babes. So far they've just had what looks like merely a passing awareness of one another. Perhaps there's more going on inside, but they've either hidden it from me or they're simply speaking a subtle dialect of twinese.

Yesterday I saw a very sweet and purposeful exchange. Girlie was playing with her feet. (Another milestone that I failed to announce a couple of weeks back.) She brought her left foot to her mouth and Boy, laying next to her, reached out his right hand and grabbed her foot, pulling it right out of her mouth. She looked over at him, they locked eyes, and both smiled. (Then they probably spit up all over each other, I don't really remember.)

Boy is probably just days away from sitting up. He likes to be in that position and can maintain his balance pretty well with a hand on his back or with Mom or Dad holding one of his hands. He's also begun to roll. If I remember correctly, one of my nieces never really crawled, she just rolled around the house. I think it's time for the next stage in baby-proofing. Time to put away the barbed wire and the cellophane curtains. Girlie is taking her sweet time, which is totally fine. She'll come along when she's ready. In the meantime, maybe I'll have only one rolling/crawling/toddling child at a least for a few days! Six months from now, all bets are off. Frankly, it's still unfathomable the thought of having two children running around this house. Daily.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day [-144] - The Day My Earth Stood Still

I've been asked to recount my first day of fatherhood. And although it doesn't exactly fit with the concept--or at least the trend--of this blog, I thought, if nothing else, it might be a nice record to keep here. I actually wrote about the day, November 30th, 2010, as it happened. Somehow, somewhere that text may exist. But the whirlwind of the day's events has sent it to live with the socks. So, here's my attempt to recount what was a nearly impossibly blurry day:

On the morning of November 30th, 2010, Wifey's doctor called personally to say that we needed to head to the hospital and that we may well be delivering that day. Results from a blood test the day before revealed that she had a rare, potentially life-threatening complication that could require immediate delivery.

The car had been packed with car seats and such for a couple of weeks--so off we went. After a brief consult at the hospital (with what seemed like half of the doctors in the building) we were told that today was in fact the day. Now comes the blurry part. She was prepped for an emergency c-section (under general anesthesia) and I was shuffled off into the recovery room to wait. I had my computer and a little rolling table on which to type. I was dressed in scrubs, booties, and a mask. And I was out of my mind. I had never thought of facebook as a therapeutic device, but writing updates and messaging friends & family felt....sane.

20 minutes or so into my exile, a nurse came in to the room and delivered the most understated question I've ever been asked, "Hi, Dad. Do you want to meet your babies?"

I was lead into one of the warmest rooms ever--the incubator room, I suppose. On the way, a doc told me that Wifey had done just fine and was recovering. She lay unconscious in the adjacent room--all I could see was her bent knee sticking out through the blue linens. Then, there they were. So incredibly small, fragile looking, and pink. My children. They were 5½ weeks early--and ultra skinny. (A little frightening.)

I had my hands clasped behind my back and was leaning over to look at them as they lay face-up on their warming tables. Were they alright? Was I allowed to touch them?

"They're doing just fine," The nurse said. "[Boy] is grunting and needed some oxygen at first, but he's just fine. You can touch them."  I was hyperventilating a bit. (As evidenced in the video below.)

They were so warm. So absolutely helpless. So utterly terrifying.

I remember thinking that when I first saw my children, I would be overcome with an enormous sense of love--a nurturing, natural fatherhood instinct. That wasn't quite it for me. I could hardly believe they were mine. There was no immediate spark or connection. I was just overwhelmed. Just another example of how things aren't always as you'd expect. I wonder what other fathers feel in similar situations.

Mom was wheeled in a half-an-hour later, or so. She was groggy and painful--which only added to the surrealism of my day. She was conscious enough, though, to worry about the delivery and how successful it had been. My reassurance seemed to have little effect. But they had all done wonderfully. The babes were taken to the NICU on a different floor; Wifey wouldn't see them for another couple of hours. (Before she was initially taken to surgery, she had made me promise not to name them. So much for Ozzie and Harriet.) She doesn't really recall meeting them for the first time--so I'm entrusted with that memory. I'll forever remember the tear in her eye.

It was only later that I learned that Wifey's condition was associated with a 20% mortality rate--for her. The number was twice that for the babes. The nurse that had ordered the blood test the day before did so essentially on a whim. Had it not been for her, this blog may have been much different--if present.

And here I am, Girlie sleeping on my chest as I write this. Has my life ever been different? Now that's the blurry part.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 83 - Baby Gifts - From Babies, that is

My longest stretch yet between posts has been, well, rough. The babes have been frustrating, beautiful, demanding, cute, and aggravating. (In no particular order.) I've not been inspired to write about these trials as nothing terribly noteworthy has happened with respect to developmental milestones. Docs say that they're on target and even ahead of the curve in many regards--growth, coordination, awareness, etc. But it sure has felt a bit stagnant when it comes to those gifts I've mentioned in blogs past. As a reminder, I've considered smiles to be the only real gifts the babes have, at this point, to give willingly. Cuteness doesn't count--and love is arguably not yet present. (Or if it is, it's not yet overtly distinguishable.) Those smiles have sustained me through many a challenge and frustration that at-home-fatherhood has brought. More recently there have been the first hints of some giggling and even some apparent face-recognition. More gifts.

They've both been especially fussy over the past couple of weeks--generally preceding feeding time. Sometimes it seems that, during my days, feeding is all I'm working towards. The crying begins in earnest a half-an-hour or so before [our desired, scheduled] feedings. That's fine, I mean I'm not so delusional that I expect feeding times to be adhered to rigidly --but that's been the trend. And they've seemed relatively comfortable with it. But the fussiness sometimes begins an hour or more prior. And that's....hard.

And then came today's 3:30pm feeding....
We returned from some errands at 3:35--the stress of a five minute discrepancy is manageable--oh, don't you worry about me! I got the bottles ready, set up my work area with burp cloths, bottle holders and the laptop-on-a-tray. (The latter being my "down time" sanity-maintenance-device.) To this mixture I add two whole babies and 16 fl oz. or formula. To my absolute surprise, Boy rejected the bottle, looked up into my eyes, and delivered the biggest, most directly connected smile I've ever seen from him. It completely warmed my occasionally complacent heart. Sometimes I get into the feeding routine and it becomes admittedly a bit methodical; he snapped me right back with those baby blues. Girlie was in good spirits as well, which in and of itself can be a blessing. It was a great, and greatly needed afternoon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 69 - Small Victories

I haven't written in a while--we had a guest in town last week. She was a huge help and great fun. Then she went back home to Minnesota. :(

We've noticed that whenever guests leave, the following day tends to be pretty insane with regard to baby temperaments. Yesterday was no exception. Boy had a day of major...dissatisfaction. He was inconsolable for several hours straight--towards the end of which I was nearly out of my mind. What can be so upsetting to infants, I wonder? You go through the list, checking off all the usual suspects until it is (and you are) exhausted. And then it stops. And it's fine. SO frustrating.

Today I decided to pack up for an outing before their 11:30 feeding. Pretty ambitious, I thought. We went to our local hangout--a Westfield mall--to look for trouble. There was, in fact, no trouble--at least not until feeding time. Twin Pop grabbed a couple of tacos and a drink just in time to avert a double-duty hunger crisis. Then it was off to the Family Room--if I haven't mentioned this here before, it's a really cool space with a row of changing tables, comfy chairs, curtained-off nursing areas and a parent/child restroom. We like it there. I'm not used to feeding the babes without a fairly wide chair--both laying between the outside of my legs and a pillow/armrest. No luck here. The chairs, while comfy, are narrow--so I was short a couple of limbs.

After packing up and returning home, I changed their car-jostling-induced barf-soaked outfits. (See how cavalier I am about this now?) And I decided to make another attempt at an afternoon nap. (Them, not me. That's still all but impossible.) I was shooting for 1:30, but I got them down at 1:45. Pretty good. At this moment, it's 2:40 and they've been remarkably quiet! HooHaaaaay!

It's the little victories like this that give me the optimism to face the next challenge. Let me tell you, friend, it is stinkin' hard. SO much harder than I'd ever imagined. I can't in good conscience recommend this to anyone. Don't get me wrong, I love being a dad and I love my babes. I can't always say that I love my job. But.......

Raise you hand if you can. Exactly. Pipe down, Twin Pop.

We're getting some baby giggles around here!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 59 - Mayhem to Merriment

Yesterday was the single most difficult day yet. The babes were miserable from most of late morning through the afternoon. I felt totally helpless and incompetent. Yes, I know I'm not--it just felt so at the time. We're attempting to regulate naps during the day to improve bedtime. It's also to get them on a schedule--with the goal of giving Twin Pop some reasonably reliable time to accomplish...anything during the day. I should mention that we're on a four night stretch of through-the-night sleeping, which is simply wonderful! Bedtime, however, continues to be a little chaotic., pretty much only for Girlie. She's our bedtime banshee! We can pretty much count on 15-30 minutes of screaming each night. Could be worse, I guess. Has been worse! Anyhow, I'm just glad yesterday is behind me--it was a moment of total and complete weakness in which I felt like running screaming through the neighborhood. Perhaps I should have. I would likely have been given a little mandatory vacation--complete with free room and board! And I could have made some new friends!

This morning, following their first feeding, Wifey brought the babes in and laid them in bed next to me. This has been our norm for a while--it gives me a few moments to awaken and to remember that I'm no longer childless. And how. We've been attempting to keep them awake with some playtime until their morning nap. So far it's had little or no success. The playtime is fine, bus as soon as they're set in the crib, it all falls apart. But....and a very big but...
My little girl laughed this morning!
What a beautiful, rough, awkward little laugh it was. It's funny to imagine, if you'd never laughed in your life, how it would sound. Well, it is stinkin' cute. I was rattling a toy with all kinds of shakers, bells, and stuff and she apparently thought it was very funny. I tried a few times just to make sure. And I am; she did. :)

Today was glorious--which was greatly needed. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 57 - ♣ A Lucky Break ♣

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 
It has indeed been a lucky day for Twin Pop! Wifey took the day off to make up for some extra hours last weekend. We all piled up and went to breakfast at a local pancake joint. The hostess seated us all in an empty side room. Privacy or expulsion? You decide. Great way to start the day though--and the babes were angelic!

We then visited a nearby community park for a ~2 mile lakeside stroll. Babes slept for half, and fussed for the other. Not a huge deal. I should add that this was the first day with a temperature much above the 30's. We got some low 60's! Truly a slice of heaven!

When we got home, Wifey fully took the reigns and I went out to the movies! My first solo recreational outing since becoming a dad. I had popcorn! And soda! Ah, careless disregard of calories. So great.

Following a brief, duty-bound trip to the supermarket, I returned home to get the corned beef dinner underway. My BabiesMama is a saint--I really needed that recharge. :)

We also tried Baby Einstein today--well, Baby Bach to be specific. At 3.5 months, I wouldn't have thought it so appealing to the babes. I mean, their attention spans seem little better than a moth's in a discotheque. I made that up myself. Anyhow, they sat there, transfixed for nearly the entire 30 minute segment. It's baby crack! I can already see how difficult it's gonna be not sitting them in front of that stuff every day. I shall resist.

Leprechaun emoticon  A truly great day. And I'm not even Irish.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 54 - Mad Skillz

Forget the smiling, rolling over, sitting up, Dah-dah babbling. My kids are strikingly skilled at precision puking. OK, OK, spitting up. I know--it's not yet supposed to be called vomit. Whatever you call it, it is consumed--and then unconsumed in short order. The point is, they are infantile masters at placing it where I desperately don't want it.

I have developed a generally successful feeding strategy in which I sit in a chair with baby bookends--their feet at my back. I put a burp cloth under each babe and fold a blanket into a tube--wrapping it around their chins to hold up their bottles. As I mentioned recently, it's a hands free performance. All well and good until burp time.

This is boring.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 52 - How Hard Can it Be.

Feeding the babes as I type this. Oh, I've got the hands-free thing down cold. That is until burp time. (Then I'm about three hands short.) It's a peaceful moment--both making little cooing/gurgling sounds as they drink from their little bottles. This is one of the sweet & happy parenting times. Frankly, it's a complete and total relief.

It's been particularly stressful lately. I had a moment yesterday in which I felt 100% incapable as a parent. It was a wail-fest, folks. Absolute inconsolability for two hours straight. Perhaps I'm spoiled, but this was the first time I've been faced with such...intensity from them. Passers-by might have thought the babes were being dismembered. I'm glad it was cold out--there were no passers-by. It's moments like those that I feel as if we've made a mistake bringing children into the world. Or, at the very least, wishing that I had majored in child-development.

I knew this would be hard. I never knew it could be Olympic, triganomic, tax code, soufflé, encyclopedia-sales hard. Despite the frequent social proclaimations to the contrary, Super Dad I am not. I am just Dad. Doing my best, failing more often than I'd like, and just trying to remain sane enough to give my children the best lives possible--with the tools at my disposal.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 49 - Evening 1

Little Girl had an ophthalmologist appointment today. We were concerned that she may have a lazy eye. Turns out that preemies have a higher propensity for that sort of thing--eyes slightly crossed, poor at tracking, etc. Doc says she's far-sighted, which she explained was actually a good and normal thing for infants. For one thing, I was surprised at how much can actually be diagnosed in a child who can't exactly sit in front of the lens monster picking out backwards E's. There's apparently a lot that can be learned, optically, from measuring the clarity of the light, the distance between nerves and corneas or some such. Anyhow, Doc said, in her opinion, that my girl probably won't need glasses as all. (I'm assuming it's not a free pass through middle age.) Girlie was so good; she had her pupils dilated and only cried a smidge.

Tonight, Wifey has a late meeting. So it's actually my first full day as Twin Pop. I was a little concerned, following naptime today, that the rest of the day would be a bit Chernobylesque. But, come bedtime, they actually settled down a bit. As I type this, they've been in bed for 40 minutes and the last 15 have been quiet. Keeping my fingers crossed. ajkqfoip cqajopq %q

I had a lovely, albeit short nap with my babes today in my recliner. We listened to the 1933 King Kong soundtrack. Hey, I hardly consider anything weird around here anymore. It was very sweet. The reminds me. I haven't discussed music here. I've compiled a fairly extensive library of musical pieces for the [hopeful] benefit of the kids. Classical, jazz, new age, light swing, some soundtracks, etc. (King Kong is not amongst the set.) Wifey and I both want this to be a musical household. The notion that someday the sibs could sit down and jam together is alluring. We want to play music for them as they sleep, but we also want to be careful that they don't rely on it. I really think it stimulates their development and I can't wait to witness their musical tastes!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 46.5 - Our Will Be Done

Ladies and Gentlemen....we have achieved, all of us, a full-night's sleep. The three magic words that been so coveted and yet so elusive: Through The Night. Three-months-and-a-few-days-old. I'll take it.

Now. I don't even begin to fantasize that this is a permanent, or even a beginning of a pattern. But, as with each previous hour-milestone, there's been a great glimmer of hope that we're doing the right thing! Rolling the dice for a second night now. Problem is, they woke at 6:15am last night which is more than an hour ahead of our preferred first feeding of the day. So their clocks were out of whack today. We'll see. We plan a celebratory outing tomorrow (Sunday) night. Let's hear it for small victories!! 

These babies are really beginning to be grinners. It's so much fun to watch them gaining the ability to smile. It's sometimes hard to remember that stuff like that has to be learned. A couple of days ago, Boy made his first observed purposeful hand to mouth motion. He was sucking on his fist. Just to be sure, I pulled his hand down to his waist and he slowly, clumsily, put his fist back into his mouth. So adorable.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 43 - Twins vs. Braves

Went for a Synagis vaccine and checkup yesterday. Of all places for a twice-baked meltdown, I suppose the pedes office is amongst the "best". More on that in a moment.

I arrived at the office with both babes, feeling a little like royalty--doors being opened for me left and right. Haven't quite gotten the knack for door opening with a carrier in each hand. Must continue my training. (But O Master, where art thou?) I barely had time to set down the carriers and check in before the traveling peanut gallery opened for business.

 "Oh, Honey, TWO!" One lady began, somewhat innocuously. 
Another lady followed, "Oh, you're brave!" Beg pardon? I'm not even sure what she was trying to say. As a nurse led us back to a room, I responded to the lady, "Like I have a choice." The nurse laughed. Seriously, "brave?"

I guess I take this stuff too seriously. In my mind, it's not unlike dealing with rude/stupid drivers. You know when you get so mad at someone who cuts you off or slights you in some other vehicularly impaired manner? Sometimes I find it difficult to remember that it's only one person--not the same person, out to get you every time. Everyone's entitled to a mistake, or a lapse in judgment. Am I arguing for or against myself? Just trying to rationalize my venting.

Boy's diaper rash finally seems to have gone. I can't believe it took three months.  (Almost to the day.) It seemed like it was often on the verge of resolving--like there was something preventing it from reaching 100% I just couldn't put my finger on it. (Eww.)

So, back to the twinfuriaton. Upon arrival at the pedes office, both babes were sleeping like...(hah, that's a ridiculous axiom)...babies. The nurse showed us to a room, gave the usual "down to the diaper" instruction, weighed them and left. It was about then that they let loose with perhaps the single....double....largest co-conniption I had ever seen. I was rocking, swaying, bouncing (not shaking) and shushing my heart out--to no avail. Meanwhile, Boy was clearly doing a lousy job at concealing a poopy diaper. I changed him on the table, both still wailing, and returned to my feeble attempts at soothing. That lasted about five to ten minutes until they finally regained control. I never knew how incredibly frustrating it would be to endure a tantrum that has no apparent motivation. x2. This played out like a bad Mr. Mom/Daddy Daycare/yadda yadda movie; it was seriously no more than 30 seconds of calm before.......the nurse returned with the syringes.

Needles to say (sorry) there was another period of...unrest before we were able to leave. (Regardless, they have to wait ten minutes following Synagis in case they break out or swell up into blueberries, etc.)

I wish I could say that they spent the remainder of the afternoon sleeping it off. Unfortunately, I suspect the Synagis may have been laced with Red Bull.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 40 - Tough Going

My blog drought of late is due to a combination of busyness and, frankly, exasperation. These babes are exhausting. Little spirit-sapping resource sponges, the lot of 'em. I love them mercilessly; don't doubt that for a second. I decided, though, to post this less-than-peaches-and-cream report because it is reality.

There are a variety of (generally unsolicited) opinions regarding the level of difficulty to expect of twin rearing. One is that this moment in time, with infants, is by far the most difficult time we'll experience. Another is that this is the best of times; we will never again have it so easy. It's a different kind of difficult, right? A different kind of easy? I mean, it's doubtless that when the teen years roll in I'll experience a little nostalgia for these days.

I guess it's all about us. I don't mean that in a narcissistic way. I simply mean that it's all about our personal experience and how we handle the issues that arise to meet us along the way. At least, that's what I'm telling myself. Ok, it's about them.

The babes are growing and healthy. I'm thrilled about that. They're now smiling fairly regularly and seem to be experiencing more of their environment. I'm not yet convinced that they know me from the garbage man, but I'm sure that's on the horizon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 33 - Cousinfest

Wifey's sister, her husband and their three kids are visiting for a week. The kids (9, 7, and 5) were, at first, a little nervous around the babes--hesitant to hold them. That was yesterday. Today is a different story. They're all but fighting over holding, carrying, and feeding them. Though I suspect this contention won't spill over into diaper changing, it's great to see the enthusiasm. How wonderful to have so many willing and extra hands to hold babies!

I have to say, these babies are pretty good restaurant patrons--and so far, travelers in general. Yes, I know that may well change as they get older, louder, and harder to appease. But it's nice at the moment; they just sleep.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 29 - Lashing Out

It seems a commonly held belief, amongst many women, that males are frequently and aggravatingly blessed with long, beautiful eyelashes--and that it's just not fair. I've never heard this from a man, but it seems to be a point upon which women love to commiserate socially. My boy does indeed have long, dark, thick eyelashes. (That I'm sure he'll be thrilled to display some day in Boy Scouts.) The amusing part, to me, is that whenever a woman says something like this, it's said in a way that sounds as if it's the first time they've ever said it.

Aha! But Girlie is getting quite the set of Maybellinesque lashes herself! Counter point and ammo for next time.

Went to the mall today for a little out & about time. They did SO well. They slept most of the time and I was able to stroll around a bit like a regular dude. With twins. By himself. 

When we got home, both diapers were totally clear. Weird, as we were gone for about 2-3 hours total. And scary, cause the dam was no doubt about to burst. Fortunately they waited until I was feeding them and completely immobilized. Only a small area on my pants leg was compromised. I've had worse.

Apparently, shopping is exhausting even when you're eleven weeks old. Pooped, but not too to poop.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 27 - Pooped Cupids

Happy Valentines Day!

I wanted to talk about a couple of things today. Firstly, we've started sleep training. (Which, when we say it aloud to anyone, is invariably followed by, "You, or the babies?" The world is a stage. Anyhow, Wifey bought this book upon recommendation:
Twelve Hours' Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old: A Step-by-Step Plan for Baby Sleep Success

Sounds like voodoo, given that our babes are in their 10th week and we've held a rather consistent 3-4 hour sleep interval up to this point. Granted, they're a little off schedule being preemies, but they've also been "learning" sleep for longer than they otherwise would have. So this is day three. It's hard to say I've seen progress--Girlie has become almost reliably fussy at bedtime. The past several nights she's cried for an inconsolable hour before settling down--and then only briefly before finally sleeping a stretch. Boy has been remarkable--almost TwinPop-like in his thirst for sleep. Frankly, the prospect of 8+ hours of sleep is not only unfathomable, but it also makes me salivate just a little. (Insert Homer Simpson drooling sound: gahwahghahwa).

I've also been meaning to talk a bit about our first (and now first few) restaurant outings with the babes. Our first was with some visiting family to a local pizza joint. But I should back up if I'm to properly explain why this is such a big deal to me. Have you ever been to a movie at which somebody has decided to bring a screaming infant--or a noisy, wandering toddler? I just don't get it. Wifey and I are a little geeky in our love for loud action adventures--something we're sadly putting on hold for a while. Shortly before the babes' arrival, we went to see some alien invasion flick, rated R I might add, and we were shocked to see a family in attendance with both of the examples I've just mentioned. It was shocking not only due to their obliviousness towards their own brood, but also because of the apparent selfishness that says, "We can't wait for a babysitter, or for a DVD release--we have to go tonight!" The content of the film no doubt went over the kids' heads--so I guess that's a plus. But the volume of the action sequences certainly did not go over, but instead through and consequently out of their heads.

As a long time non-parent--by choice--I have developed perhaps an overly thin skin when it comes to this type of parental behavior. The aggressive arm-jerking of exasperated parents on their screaming children in supermarkets across the country has left me hypersensitive towards intolerant and apathetic parenting. That being said, I know it's impossible to judge until I've walked in the shoes of those I criticize. Still, it encourages me that I have so far retained this hypersensitivity. I refuse to let my children cry and fuss at levels that disturb fellow patrons. I will pick them up and escape to the car or at the very least (weather permitting) to the parking lot. Why is this so mystifying for some?

So, back to our first outings. They went very well--it is so nice to get out. It's felt a little like being in a zoo. To take nothing away from those who have blessed us with their presence and assistance, it feels like being viewed and fed without the ability to venture out into the plains, the jungle, or--in our case of late--the frozen tundra.

Our second one was interesting in that there was a long line in the restaurant's entryway. The babes in their car seats were somewhat paraded about as people in the queue ogled. Again, more with the baffled twin-questions and declarations:
"My sister has twins." I was informed.
"Cool," I wanted to say, "I used to have a grandmother."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day 25 - Relative Quiet

We've had a fairly steady stream of guests lately. It's been extraordinarily great--very helpful. In addition to the babes and the challenges they hold, Wifey's health has really benefited from the help. Sometimes it's just nice to have another set of hands. I really value my family--old and new. Wait, I mean existing and newer. Never mind. 

Today the babes are out and about with Wifey and Wifey Mom & Pop. That leaves me here at home. ALONE. (Slaps hands to cheeks and screams in the mirror.) This is great. I'm gonna [try to] sleep! Not sure I've been alone in a while. I hope I remember how to get along with myself.

The babes continue to smile more and have begun to grow out of their first clothes. I was hoping they'd stay in the same clothes at least until they started school. Nobody told me I'd have to keep buying new clothes. Sheesh.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 23 - Tag Team, Round 1 of 7,450

Not much to say today other than that the babes sure seemed to be on the same page today. In other words, one screamed while the other slept. Reverse and repeat. All day long.

I had a brief fantasy that I might sneak a nap in this afternoon. Hehe. Haha. Bwahahahahh. Ehem. Hehe.

I remembered a thought today that I had during the babes' two-week stay in the NICU. I Remember feeling just a hint of sadness that their cries were so soft and squeaky--a little anemic sounding, really. Any trace of that sadness has been obliterated, my friends. Yessiree.

It's SO stinking cold out this week--negative double digits overnight and no positive doubles during the day. Not that I'm a weather wimp--I just wish I could take the babes outside. REALLY looking forward to spring.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 20 - Coming Up for Air

Friends, I'd like to give you my perspective on sleep deprivation. At first, it seems just like typical fatigue--as in a long weekend partying, etc. It's frustrating in that, if you're accustomed to it, sleep seems so elusive but so desirable. Then the fatigue mutates. I place hallucinations (mind you I'm referring only to fatigue-induced hallucinations) squarely between stages one and two on the deprivation scale. (Oh how I've longed for a return to stage two.) At this point you lose all track of time. For example, in addition to never knowing what day it is, I also generally have no idea how much was consumed or at what time the previous feeding took place.

There's something about the start-and-stop nature of sleeping--like perpetual power naps--that is especially draining over the course of several weeks. Although I choose not to go into greater detail here, Wifey has had some health issues of late that have added some more stress--and a good deal more sleep deprivation to the family dynamic. I mention this because it further illustrates my perspective here. I've felt rather zombiesque lately. With some family generously offering their time and assistance over the past few weeks I've started to notice what I can only describe as a light at the end of a tunnel (<---notice the indefinite article). 

Problem is that it's been just out of reach. To me, it's totally analogous to being asthmatic and struggling to catch my breath. Wifey rules, friends. Last night I caught my breath. I slept 8 hours straight. It was the longest stretch of sleep I've had since November 29th. 

I also want to mention that although the great blizzard of '11 has come and gone, the accompanying stress of that certainly had a hand in keeping the household a little more off balance. It continues to be unexpected the unexpected things that arise. Wasn't that deep?

As this is supposed to be a blog about the babes, let me come back full circle to them. I know that my level of fatigue has impacted them. I'm grumpier, have less tolerance and am probably less adept at comforting any fussiness that comes up. I'll just proceed as though this realized respite will indeed make an improvement in this regard.

They are doing beautifully. We think that Boy's diaper rash is finally starting to turn the corner. (That reads oddly now that I look at it. Oh well.) They're both gaining weight appropriately and are thriving. I feel so recharged at the moment--really hoping the charge lasts for another couple of months. :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day ??? - I hardly know my name

The babes are just fine--but I'm not feeling particularly verbose today. Some of you know what's going on--but if you don't, it's nothing personal. I simply don't feel compelled at this time to blog (or facebook) about junk that's less-than-positive. I'm sure everything will work out--at least I'm optimistic about it. Loving wifey extra today. And extremely thankful for family.

Still, very, very drained.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 14 - Twins? Snow Pain, Snow Gain

Today was the babes' second Synagis vaccine. Still a little leery of vaccines in general, but the evidence is mounting against the nay-sayers. This week, anyhow. This particular vaccine is over $2,000 per baby--once per month for three months. Fortunately our deductible will be fulfilled rather quickly. Yay--I think. :\

In venturing out to the clinic, the babes and I were out in the earliest stages of this [promised] storm o' the century. It's amazing how much heavier two infant seats feel when snowflakes are stinging your face. I was pleased to have more than one door opened for me. Thank you, people.

As the kids were getting shot, I pondered the possibility of keeping the doctors' office as pleasant an experience as possible--as they grow. I don't recall ever hating the doctor, but I can imagine getting soured on the notion pretty quickly when all you get are shots. I doubt that suckers and stickers are enough bribery for the average kid. Am I wrong?

What we're really happy about is that the babes are much more equipped now for public excursions. We'll be braving....ulp....restaurants fairly soon. I've forgotten what those things look like from the inside. Chuck E. Cheese, anyone? Gack. They might as well serve petri dish pizzas. Maybe with hazmat onesies.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 13 - Batteries Drained

Even if there had been no new [high-maintenance, completely dependent] additions to the family, this would have been a rough couple of months around here. One of my favorite SNL quotes:  I, too, have worn the brown helmet. 

Last night was a really rough one. Girlie slept only sporadically--hence, so did we. I completely zone out with regard to the current time, during the night. As I mentioned to Wifey today, I no longer even know if I'm sleep deprived. I used to shamble about the house in a stupor--now I think my stupor is somewhat swifter.

I had finally fallen asleep around 7 this morning when the phone rang. It was my darling informing me that the car was dying and she would not likely make it to work. So I [like shambling of old] got out of bed and packed up the babes for a fun trip to meet Mommy at the mechanic. New alternator. Yay. But enough about me.

The babes are doing just fine. Hard to say if/how Girlie's fussiness is affecting Boy. Hopefully this is just a short stage. A friend of a friend--with twins--sent this yesterday. I'm still laughing about it. It's funny and scary how spot on it is. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 11 - Putting the Grin in Chagrin

At 8:00 this morning, my little tank boy gave me a wonderful gift--he smiled at me. :) At first, I was naturally suspicious of other forces at work. I tried some more goofy cooing and it worked--three more times. It's official--he can stay! I was really looking forward to this moment--more so than any developmental milestone to date. To this point, they've been so apparently oblivious to their world. I mean, they respond to some sounds and gaze at bright colors and patterns, but until today I haven't felt as if they've had any real appreciation for their environment. It's perhaps especially rewarding following yesterday--a busy, crazy, but doable day!

The emotional caveat is that the smile occurred during my feeding shift as Wifey slept in the next room. I posted my excitement on facebook before returning to bed. By the time I woke up, she had seen my post. I felt a little bad about that.

It's unrealistic to hope that the twins' milestones will always occur at similar times--let alone the same day. And then one did. Girlie smiled at me at 1:15 this afternoon. How gorgeous--one of those big, open-mouthed baby smiles! My faith in this smile's genuineness was something slightly less than 100%. Not that I think she was leading me on--I was merely able to coax two of them. But I'm counting it!

Did Wifey get to see this one? Sadly, no. She was getting her hair did.

This is something she and I have discussed; it's likely that she will miss more of these milestones as they occur. We're both a little sad about that. All I can do is keep the video cam handy. Maybe she'll witness the first solid poop! I love you, Wifey. :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 10 - The Latest Twinfusion, etc.

Guy in futon store:
"Oh, you have a boy and a girl?" Futon Guy said, after noticing the pink and blue carseat covers. "Identical?"
"No, a boy and a girl can't be identical." I said.
Slightly flustered, but playing it off--and without missing a beat, he said, "I meant just in the face."
"Oh, OK," I said. "No, they're not."

Lady passing by as I pushed the stroller:
"Ooooh, they'll never be that small again."  
So I hope.

I should really compile these.

Today I attempted solo bathtime. Don't giggle. It was Boy's turn first and he wasn't happy about it. He was, however, significantly less upset than his sister who was waiting on deck. I have to say, holding onto a slippery, flailing & wailing baby while another baby hollered from across the room....not so pleasant. Ahhh, but the reward.....clean, happy, napping babies. That they were slathered in pretty-smelling baby lotion didn't even detract from the situation!

Wifey returned home to clean babes, dinner in the oven and dishes done. Believe me, I'm rarely if ever a horn-tooter, but I felt pretty good about my dadding for the day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 9 - Run of the Mill Bedlam

Haven't been on in a few days--well, I mean here. I feel like I'm on 24/7. No dress rehearsal--I'm on.

The past few days were marked with lots of bodily functions, and unpleasant substances. Another family day tomorrow (Thursday) with the four of us at home. I have already come to savor such days as they will shortly be limited to weekends. 

Today I packed up the babes for a road trip. The idea was to head to Bed Bath & Beyond for an iPod dock for Twin Pop followed by a visit to the local beverage superstore for a brand new tequila--I collect exotic tequila species. Can I tell you how odd it feels (and probably looks) to carry two car seats into a liquor store? Alright, I will. If felt all kinds of odd. I plopped one seat into a the shopping cart basket and put the other on the rack above the child seat. (Pretty cool how that fits there. Things I never thought of.) I wheeled the squeaky cart around the store picking up a few goodies and becoming engaged in a couple of conversations.

My trip home took longer than expected. And I should also mention that I broke a cardinal rule for new parents. The diaper bag is your American Express Card. Yep, I left home without it. I could embellish a more interesting consequence, but fortunately we made it home without incident. I can say, however, that I've become remarkably adept at one armed, behind-the-seat pacifier management. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 6 - The Trend. Remember the TREND.

What a night. So this is what all the warnings and stories are all about.

Girl was inconsolable most of the night--that is until feeding time. More in a moment.

With Wifey transitioning back to work, we're really trying (so far with good success) to feed them between 2 and 4am. The goal being to allow her to feed them right before leaving for work. I have to say that we've done well, considering the opposition. Last night, however, it was...harder. Last night was the first night--ever--that there's been any extended period of inconsolable nighttime crying. (By the babies.)

Girl was fussy for a good portion of the day yesterday--and into the evening. Could be growth spurts, could be...I dunno...gingivitis. Anyhow, as bedtime came and went, they were in their cribs but she wasn't having any of it. I stayed up in the nursery, trying to nap on the twin bed (not to be confused with the twin's bed.) She was alternating between crying and screaming. Crying is better. 

While waiting it out, one of our two dogs barked to be let out of the bedroom across the hall. This is her new thing. She can hold it for 12 hours, unless someone is awake and she's thinking about it. Well, she was definitely thinking about it. I let her out and into the nursery and I returned to consolation duty. The dog promptly peed on the floor. Yay. I hurried downstairs to get the carpet stuff--now both babies were crying. I cleaned up the mess and sat back down to feed them. I should also mention the baby pee, spit-up, and poop outs sprinkled liberally throughout the ordeal.

Boy was still crying. Girl was now totally asleep. Out so cold that I almost got up for help. She was fine, but really had no interest in eating.

As I type this, it's surprises me how less-significant the situation seems. Well, at 2:30am, it seemed pretty damned significant. So much so that my jaw still hurts from clenching.

They're sleeping next to me on the couch right now. A very, very welcome relief. I'm mentally recharging. We're all exhausted.

Why are the line breaks so huge on this page? I can't fix that either.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day Four - Vaccination "Fallout"

The babes both slept remarkably well last night following their vaccinations. We were told this might happen. There was one 6.5 hour stretch followed by a 5 hour; we slept pretty well too! 

One thing we weren't told, however, was that there might be a little bit of...constipation. Not to get too graphic, but I was a bit surprised that constipation can actually exist given the typical consistency of day-to-day liquid-diet diaper content. It can. We know this because diapers today were essentially just wet. Oh, and because of the explosion on the changing table just before bedtime. HO-LY CRAP. Our poor girl must have dropped half her weight. Wifey was sitting on the couch holding her and said, "Oh, my. I think I need help." I dropped everything, including [gently] the boy I was holding. She barely made it to the changing table in time. I shudder to think of the mess we would have found in the middle of the night had it not happened when it did. I couldn't help myself--I took a picture. I will not be posting or sharing it--at least not until I need ammunition during her teen years.

Another crisis averted. Except now we wait for Boy's turn. So far, no suspicious sounds from the baby monitor. Crossing my fingers.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day Three - Mom's Home!

As she transitions back to full-time work, the wife is home today and for the weekend. Ahhh...seems like old times! The babes don't yet know the difference--I mean, at this point they wouldn't know the difference between me and Koko the gorilla. Still, it's nice to have the additional hands and the free[er] time to take care of some other stuff. (Like work I've been putting off. As I sit here blogging.)

It's vaccination day today. :) & :(
This round consists of rotovirus, polio, and I think parvo and hogwarts.
Just got back. Poor babies--but they were brave and did remarkably well. Must be very frightening. Our pedes' office is a group with 16 doctors. We usually have the same doc, but today we had the short, bumbling, and dull guy. No help for Boy'a diaper rash, unfortunately. Just waiting & airing it out.

One of Wifey's co-worker's husbands is a woodworker and built the babes this gorgeous rocking horse. He doesn't even really know us--which makes it that much more surprising. This is a treasure that we'll be sure to bring out in a few years. Actually, it may stay out on display.

That's about all for today. I can't adequately describe how great it is to have Wifey home for a few more days. I'm going to miss her a lot during the work weeks that follow. I'm embarrassed to say that it took something like this to make me appreciate her presence so. Babies or no, she's the best and I'm the luckiest guy I know.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day Two - Preserving Sanity

Yesterday ended on sort of a downer--unrelated to the twins. But that's another story. Today, however, it was back to business as "usual". After a few hours of feed/change/wait/repeat, I decided to pack up the babes and head to the local mall. Seemed like a good time of day--school hadn't yet let out. Getting them in their infant seats is becoming easier. And yet, they're becoming more and more aware of the process, which proves less of a novelty to them--thus any impending fussiness is not forestalled.

We made it to the mall, after a quick fast food detour. I'm trying to be healthy and good to myself, but the stop sprinkled a bit of normalcy into my day. I score that as Body: 0 - Mind: 1. While pushing the stroller (aka, the bus) through the mall, I am intrigued by peoples' reaction to us. Lots of eyes see one baby, but not all see both. Those who do, tend to next look up at me--no doubt formulating some story in their heads. Then there are those who see the twins and say something like, "Oh, there's two!" And, "Look, honey, twins." Usually in the tone of voice that's meant to be heard only by others in their group. Maybe not even noteworthy--but I just take it all in.

Boy started fussing so much that I had to unstrap him and take him out. You'd think the Walmart doors opened at 4AM on December 26th. Wow, I was almost immediately swamped by a group of senior citizens awwing and cooing. "Not many men would do what you're doing." One said as they walked away. Maybe. But I think a lot of that has to do with circumstance. I think if a lot of men were in my shoes--they would.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day One

Wifey headed back to work today; the babes are seven weeks old. As this day approached, I was bombarded by several feelings--most lay somewhere in between fear and doubt. They're so helpless--and SO hard to read. I have to say that they've been better than expected with regard to temperament. But as any new parent knows, that inconsolable meltdown is about the hardest thing yet. Fortunately, knock on mouse, there hasn't been an excess of that sort of thing.

My girl was fussier than usual today. She acted hungry but when I offered her a bottle, she just fell asleep. Whatever works, I guess.

Boy has a nasty diaper rash that we've been battling. As I type, he's laying face-down next to me airing out his bare bum. Poor guy. We've tried everything we (and our doc) can think of. I guess it's just a matter of time.

As I return to the blogging world, following a hiatus of over six years, I am reminded of how challenging it is to entertain. I plan to rely on the ever-present material, likely served-up daily, as I begin this journey. I don't really like the term stay-at-home-dad. It's trite. I'm a dad.