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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Our Stay in the Maternity Ward

Our time in the hospital was often occupied with visiting friends and family, which is exactly what we wanted.  It was neat to see everyone so excited over our two new babies.

Coolest thing about having twins: When two people visit, they can both hold a baby!

We tried to snap a photo of each guest holding both babies at the same time.  People’s faces instantly light up when they’re holding two newborns.  I mean, it’s not something that you do everyday, right?

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Fine, I’ll just say it so everyone knows: I didn’t spend a single night at the hospital with my wife.

She insisted that I went home each night to be with our dogs, who were still the loves of her life.  But really, I think she just wanted to have sleepovers with her best friend, like she had been doing since their friendship began in first grade.  This is a great place for an old photo of these two BFFs.

Each night at 8:00, Katy would walk into our room wearing sweatpants and carrying her overnight bag and pillow.  I’d stick around for a few minutes and then take off, passing the baton to Katy-Daddy.  Katy helped Megg with night feedings and diaper changes and kept meticulous notes about feeding and dirty diapers.

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I woke up each morning, fed and walked our dogs, gave them kisses from Mom, and reported back for the day shift in the maternity ward.  I would find the two girls having breakfast, holding babies, and being besties.

It was perfect.

My wife got some rest, our best friend got quality time with the babies, and the dogs were still feeling the love.

The rest of our stay was routine, or as far as “routine” can be with twins who are just a few days old.

Because our friends were just down the hall, and we wanted to live our lives as normally as possible, we had a small get-together one night, complete with snacks and beers, like we have done for the past few years.  Nurses would pop in and see that patients from down the hall were in our room.  They would check their charts to make sure they were in the right room, and we would explain our friendship to them, while hiding our adult beverages like we were sneaky high school kids.

This whole twin-parenting thing wouldn’t be too bad!

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On our final day, Mom was still pretty exhausted and recovering from her c-section, and we decided that we would ask for another night in the hospital, mostly so we could continue to make the most of their amazing staff.  We made sure that we rehearsed our lines for the plea, in order to make our case as powerful as possible.

Then the time came.

The doctor heard our request and came to discuss it with us.

We didn’t really have to make too much of an argument actually, and the sympathetic doctor did all of the work for us.

She literally took my wife’s hands in hers and said, “Mom, you just had major surgery and now you have twins.  Babycakes, it’s a no brainer, you’re staying.”

I swear, I almost hugged the woman.  We were prepared to cry and beg, but we didn’t even have to!

What a relief.  So we hunkered down for our final night

Post-Delivery Introductions

Dahlia pushed Mom’s bed, while Nurse #2 and I pushed the babies’ carts, and we went up the elevator and to the baby floor, or whatever it’s called.

We found our excited parents waiting outside of the room with Mom’s brother and his fiance.

I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions.  My facial expressions are usually a dead giveaway.  (This was a concern of Megg’s about having me in the delivery room, but my poker face served me well.)  I’m sure I was grinning ear-to-ear as we introduced those two tiny babies to our families.

The babies and I stayed in the corridor with our families as Megg was helped into the post-delivery bed that she would be hanging out for the the next few days.  Our family “oohed and ahhed” at the babies and each family member told me who each baby resembled.

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Mom was finally able to hydrate and I presented her with her treasured blue Gatorade.  She was advised to take it slow with the fluids because of the anesthesia, but it wasn’t that easy.

In a matter of minutes, she started puking, giving back all of her new-found fluids.  Her soon-to-be sister in law, who’s a nurse, was quick to grab a bin of some sort and pull Megg’s hair back.

It just kept coming.  Sorry, but it did.

Puking isn’t really a big deal to me, but after the whole ordeal she had just been through, this puking episode had me on edge.

After emptying her stomach’s contents several times, we settled into the room and looked at our new babies, along with those family members who didn’t leave when Megg started puking.

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They were really here.  Finally.

Those two little specks that we saw on the ultrasound screen so long ago, were now two real people, swaddled in the standard hospital receiving blankets.  Those blankets, by the way, are probably the most photographed piece of material on this planet.

Now that they were here, we didn’t really know what to do with them.  I mean, they didn’t really do much.  Just kind of laid there.  Like really new newborns are supposed to, I suppose.

Coolest story ever: our best friends had just delivered their baby two days prior and they were down the hall from us.  They came over to check out our new goods, and just like that, it was like old times: hanging out with our friends, like we’ve done for the past ten years.  But now we all had babies.

I guess this was our life now.  Not too bad.

Off to the Recovery Room

Mom and babies were wheeled out to the recovery room and I followed, holding my wife’s hand.  As soon as we were placed in our small, secluded spot, we finally had some alone time.

The alone time lasted about 30 seconds.

Before we knew it, the nurse was taking our babies from their little incubators and bringing them to Mom, who was exhausted and still lying on the hospital bed.

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She quickly pulled down Mom’s gown at the top, as if there was nothing there that she didn’t want the whole world to see.  I know my wife is a modest girl, so I just kind of looked away, knowing that she wouldn’t be totally comfortable with this whole thing either.

Then they put the babies, both of them, on Mom’s chest.

Oh yeah, the whole skin-to-skin contact thing that I had heard about.

Not quite.

My wife was a mom now, so apparently she was expected to breastfeed immediately.  They quickly put our new baby girl on Mom and instructed Mom how to ensure a firm latch.  The kid was less than 20 minutes old and they were forcing her face into feeding position, squeezing her cheeks and stuff to make sure she was feeding.  Then came Baby Boy onto the other side.

What?  Seriously?

Wasn’t this tandem breastfeeding for like, professional twin moms?

Megg was a novice, being forced to try a pretty overwhelming task, while still pretty loopy from the drugs that were just being fed through her spine from the twin delivery.  It was daunting, to say the least.

Actually, it was insane.

Again, my wife is tough.  She can handle almost anything.  And she can certainly put anyone in their rightful place if needed, but she laid there passively, letting this rough nurse manipulate her and our newborns.  I can’t even imagine the whirlwind of emotions that she was experiencing.  She just kind of laid there and succumbed to the instructions of the staff.

She was softly crying, which is a miracle, because I would have been a wreck.  This was all so new to her.

Rough Nurse saw her tears and said, in a tone too judgmental for my taste, “Want to talk about it, Mom?”

“No,” was her reply.

Damn right she didn’t want to talk about it!  She probably couldn’t talk about it if she tried.   So lay off, lady!

Super tiny Baby Boy just couldn’t latch, so they put him on her chest where he just laid and looked at me.

Cute little guy.

My son.

Crazy.

Rough Nurse, who must have skipped the chapter on bedside manners when she was in nursing school, asked, “What’s his name?”

“Griffin”, I told her.

“Oh, you might want to reconsider that name.  He’s pretty small.”

Strike three, you’re out.

She was implying that my perfect son, who only weighed 4lbs 10oz, was too small to live up to his name, Griffin.  Just because a griffin is a mythological creature, a lion with an eagle’s head, doesn’t mean the name won’t work for my sweet son, despite his size.

At that exact moment, I became a dad.  My passive nature dissolved and I defended my family.

I looked at her name tag and fired back.  “You’re name is Dahlia and you’re certainly no flower.”  It was my finest moment.  Ever.

My wife didn’t say a word, but I knew that once I said it, she was proud to have married me seven years ago.  Dahlia (stupid name anyway) backed off and let us have some time alone.

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We marveled at our twins and noted how our little boy was so cute and seemingly needy as he laid on her chest.  I know it sounds strange, but he reminded us of our bulldog at home.  Our sweet dog, who has cost us over $15,000 in countless surgeries and health issues, also loved his mom and she loved him more than anything in this world.  I told Mom about the mental connection I’d made between bulldog and boy, and she said that she was already thinking the same thing.  Our big girl, who actually only weighed 6lbs 8oz, was eating like a champ.  Apparently she had been doing this in the womb too, saving none for her younger brother.

Mom ate a few cups of ice chips to quench her 12-hour thirst and we waited for her body temperature to rise so we could go to the room where we would stay for the next three or four days.

Before you know it, Dahlia came back and said that it was time to bathe the babies.  I stepped aside so she could grab our new little girl, Scout.  (I hope that name didn’t offend Dahlia, but I forgot to double check with her.)  “Come on Dad, you’re going to bathe her.”

Excuse me?

No, that’s ok.  I’m hardly qualified to touch my own newborns, so bathing them is out of the question.  You can go ahead and bathe them, thanks.

Not quite.  I realized that this was a case of sink or swim.  Baptism by fire, I suppose.  So I decided to let her throw me right into the whole parenting thing, and I bathed my daughter.  Of course I was doing it wrong, wiping too gently and not actually cleaning her because I was afraid of breaking her, but by the time I had to bathe Griffin, I was a little more confident.

So with two clean babies (thank you very much), we waited for another 30 minutes or so before moving up to our room, where we would introduce our new family members to our parents and other family members.