Overwhelmed with Happiness and Hormones

Megg’s transformation to “mom” was the funniest thing I have ever witnessed.

You see, she’s not the mushy type.  Well, she’s not the mushy type with anyone other than our dogs, who she loves more than life itself.

Each day when she comes home, she runs upstairs to put on her play clothes, just like a third grade boy does when he gets home from school.  But she doesn’t run outside to play with her friends until the streetlights come on.  Instead, she immediately runs down the steps and smothers her pups with hugs and kisses.  She shares this affection with no one else.  No.  One.  Else.

But those babies changed all of that.

In the hospital, we probably said to each other at least fifty times, “Can you believe they’re really ours?”   Nope, I couldn’t believe it either.  We were totally in love with these two.  Our hearts doubled in size to accommodate the love we now felt for those two swaddled buggars.

Over the next few weeks, whether from hormones or pure happiness, she became a blubbering mess.  She had become a mom to the fullest.

So many times, she would explain to me just how happy she was and we would talk about how we never knew we could be so happy.  Really cheesy stuff.  Everyone told us that we would feel this way, but we usually laughed at these people and called them softies.

But we were the softies now.  And we were really soft.

Mom’s tears of joy would come several times a day and she would utter phrases that I could have never predicted, especially in the context of newborn twins.

Phrases like:

We’re so lucky.

I love them so much.

We’re so lucky.

I’m so glad there’s two (which was the most surprising).

And every other mushy phrase that no one would ever expect her to say.

Honestly, we had feared the idea of twins for a while, but now we considered ourselves way luckier than those poor souls who only had one newborn. We would literally spend hours gazing at those tiny faces, then smiling at each other before returning our eyes to the babies.  Total softies.

Her heart’s space is probably 90% occupied with an unconditional love for her dogs and babies.

And I’m thrilled that the remaining space is filled with her love for me and soft pretzels.

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Newborn Twins and New Routines at Home

The first week home with our twins wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

I was home from work, trying to make the most of my final two weeks of summer before I had to go back to school.  At this point, they weren’t awake for any real stretch of time, and they were relatively low maintenance.

Ignorance was bliss.  Big time.

I was nowhere near prepared for the madness that would ensue over the next few weeks, and even worse, at the exact time I would return to the classroom.  Not only the classroom, but the school track as well, where I would spend three hours each day after school coaching the cross country team.

This is the part where I would thank all of our family members for taking a month off from work to live with us.  Or where I would sing the praises of our devoted full-time nanny.  Or the kind neighbor who came over every day to help us manage two newborns.

But it was just us.

More specifically, just Mom.

She was a one-woman team from the wee hours of the morning when I left the house, until my arrival back home nearly twelve hours later.  I would also spend a few hours tutoring kids on two days of the week, which extended my time away from home.  It was totally unrealistic to expect her to do all of this on her own, but she did it.  And she did it well.  She was defying the odds and probably pushing the boundaries of her sanity.

She was amazing.  People were astonished when they learned of my long hours at work and her longer hours at home.  I felt very guilty about it, because honestly, teaching all day and coaching for a few hours after school was so much easier than caring for newborns twins, all day, by yourself.

And she knew it too, but she was she gracious enough not to remind me how much harder her job was.  Actually, she was downright normal about the whole thing.

When I arrived home each night, I was usually greeted with a friendly, “Can you please wash your hands and take someone?”

That’s it!  That’s it?

No cursing, crying, or yelling?  Nope.

She wouldn’t even dump the babies on me and leave the house, like I know I would if it was me staying home with them all day.

 

But I didn’t understand the system right away.

For the previous seven years of our life together, I would come home from work and start making dinner.  When I tried to do that a few times this year, she reminded me that she had taken care of babies all day, so dinner could wait, or she could make dinner while I cared for the babies.

Duh.  Of course.  That makes total sense.

Even though it made total sense, it still didn’t click with me.  I had my routines that I followed for years and I had a hard time changing them.  I realize that I sound crazy, but it was something that I struggled with for a while.  And I’d be lying if I said that if I still don’t hang onto my old ways.  And it would take a while before I could really accept it.

Heading Home with Newborn Twins

Our homecoming day had finally arrived.

We somehow managed to accumulate even more baby stuff while we were in the hospital, so I started making trips to the car with all of our belongings.

One potential problem that could have thwarted things was the infamous car seat challenge.  Sounds like an 80’s board game, but it’s not.

You see, Griffin was still extremely small.  Because he was so small, there was a chance that our car seat, which was designed for normal-sized babies, wouldn’t get the job done safely.  So they had to do a trial run.

They put little Griffin in his car seat, which now included special modifications, consisting of strategically placed, rolled-up receiving blankets.  The blankets ensured a more secure fit in the seat.  After he was buckled in, they monitored his vital signs to guarantee that he would be ok in the seat.  My little boy passed with flying colors, and he was officially safe to ride in his gigantic car seat.

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Here we go!

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A member of the hospital staff came with the wheelchair and Megg hopped in.  She carried one baby in its carrier and her mother carried the other.  I bent over to pick up the diaper bag, and Megg’s gigantic, expensive camera fell from my shoulder onto the floor.

Awesome.

I was afraid to look up because I didn’t want to see the look she was probably giving me.  I picked it up, re-secured the strap on my shoulder, and tried again.

This time, Megg’s tumbler of water fell from the side pouch, and crashed onto the floor.

Awesome.

Because I had managed to drop everything I attempted to carry, I was convinced that every adult in the room was doubting my ability to raise these kids.  I was evening beginning to doubt it myself.

Somehow we made it to the first floor with nothing else falling from hands.  We posed for a few photos and headed home on the nicest, coolest day of the summer.  It was the perfect day to welcome these newborn twins to their new home!

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We arrived at home with the same number of living babies that we had when we left the hospital.  A small victory.

Our four-legged babies were so happy to see Mom and she was liberal with her kisses and dog treats.  When I came in the house with the twins, the pups looked at the baby carriers and probably assumed that someone with babies was visiting us, and that there was no chance those babies could actually be ours.

Before I knew it, there were two podsters on the coffee table holding our sleeping babies.  I suggested to my mother-in-law that we should put the babies in the office, where we had set up a “downstairs nursery”.

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My suggestion was shot down.

In my rational mind, the babies would sleep in their designated room, just like most people sleep in their room.  But there is no room for rational thinking with twins, I suppose.  I was informed that they would occupy the coffee table for the next few weeks because it was the hub of life and we could tend to them better if they were in the same room as us.

But the coffee table and living room are not for babies.  They are for us, and drinks, and food.

Not anymore.  

 

New Dad Panic (that didn’t take long)

On the second day in the hospital, Scout started making choking noises and I instantly panicked.  Normal behavior for a guy who’s only been a dad for two days, right?  Right?

This panic led to me pressing some button on the wall, hoping someone would come to help our rescue.  I had no clue that this button was actually the “Code Blue” button that should only be pressed when your baby stops breathing.  My bad.

We heard an announcement of “Code Blue”, followed by our room number.  I looked at Mom and wondered if that was for us.  In a matter of seconds, three nurses and two doctors ran into the room and I told them that Scout was choking.  They rolled their eyes at each other (which was really meant for me), held her on her stomach, and calmly slapped her back.  As it turns out, it wasn’t really an emergency (to them).

I apologized and explained that I didn’t know what the buttons on the wall were for because no one explained them to us.  They were kind and explained the purpose of each button.

They also said that when babies are born naturally, a lot of their mucus and other fluids are sort of squeezed out of their chests, but that sometimes c-section babies retain some of this mucus.  They advised us to keep her upright for a while so she doesn’t choke again.  No problem.

Mom asked me if I was okay and I told her I was, so she tried to get a little sleep.

As she was sleeping, and I was holding Scout upright, I noticed that Griffin’s hat had come off his head.  I remembered the instructions I was given earlier in day: Make sure you keep the babies swaddled and keep their hats on at all times, especially him, since he’s so small.

New dad panic hit me again.

I needed to get the boy’s hat back on his head.  Like, now.

Holding Scout in one arm, I used my free hand to put Griffin’s hat back on.  But I couldn’t get it on with one hand.

I tried again and again, but the stupid hat refused to go on.

I was convinced that Scout would immediately choke and die if I laid her down for two seconds while I put Griffin’s hat on.  That was literally the scenario playing in my head.

But Griffin would also freeze to death if I didn’t put his hat on.  I imagined my son’s body temperature dropping two degrees for every second I delayed.  Probably crazy-person thoughts, but I then again, I was probably a crazy person.

I didn’t want to wake up my exhausted wife.  She had been through a lot and she had little time to rest because of the constant visitors.  I was a dad now, so I had to handle things.  By myself.  But I couldn’t handle things and I started to seriously panic.

I walked over to Griffin and held his hat in place with my free hand, while holding Scout in the other arm.

How am I going to raise two babies once we leave the hospital?  I can’t even put the kid’s hat on with one hand.

So I just kind of held his hat on for a few minutes and started crying to myself.

I wasn’t cut out for this twin stuff.  There’s no way I can do this.

I felt bad for my wife because she was teamed up with a dud (me).  I pictured myself in gym class, with two captains picking teams, and my wife (who would definitely be a captain) had to reluctantly let me on her team because I was the last turd left in the class.

She woke up and asked me if I was okay.  I explained the guaranteed-death scenario that I was faced with and she took Scout, while I secured Griffin’s hat on his cold head.

Disaster averted.  She helped me laugh it off and told me I was crazy.  And all was right with the world.

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