Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Babies! (Also bah humbug)

Could these "special days" pile up on me any more?!  First it's Father's Day, then our wedding anniversary, and now it's the twins' birthday.  Triple bah humbug!  Or bah humbug x4 even, on account of the double birthday.

Birthday celebrations?  Give me a break.  Everybody was born on one day or another.  Happy birthday, everybody.  I'm glad you were born.  Do we really have to do this every stinkin' year?  Sheesh.

From now on, I declare the Sunday closest to June 25th "Birthfatherversary Day" in our house.  Adults shall feast on hamburgers, beer, and cake.  Children may smash a pinata, but it will be inside an industrial strength trash bag and they will be allowed exactly three minutes to pick their steamed vegetables out of the bag before Dad throws it in the dumpster.

Friends and family have been saying, "I can't believe it's been a year since they were born!  It seems like just the other day."  Although I usually nod and say, "I know, right?  It's crazy," I really believe that this is a load of crap.  It seems exactly like a year to me.  In fact, this might be the single most accurately calibrated year on record.  Remember the character in Catch 22 who always tried to make everything as tedious as possible to increase his perceived tenure on earth?  That's kind of like me this year.  But I'm not trying to manipulate time.  It's just that there's been a lot of stuff to do.  Real stuff, like grownups do.  Building a house.  Raising kids.  It's like in the olden days, when time didn't whiz by in a blur of cocktail parties and exotic vacations.  It's not tedious, really.  Just old-fashioned.  The year we went to Croatia, Argentina, and Lake Tahoe?  That took like a month and a half.


So here's the part where I poignantly reminisce about my babies' first year on Spaceship Earth.  Get your hankies out.

Labor: So boring. 48 hours.  My most vivid recollection is seeing a lot of  the 1959 movie "Anatomy of a Murder" for the first time, in which Jimmy Stewart speaks frankly about panties.  Dr. Mom was bored too.  And more uncomfortable than me.  Of course she was a trouper/trooper and didn't complain at all.  What did you expect?  

Delivery: Wow!  So exciting I could hardly process it.  It was like the time when we saw KA in Vegas after drinking a couple martinis, except it all happened in ten minutes.  They had to do a C-section, and it was over almost as soon as it started.  A close friend of ours who is an OB doc happened to be on call at the hospital, and our regular OB was like, "Do you want to do the C-section?"  Our friend didn't really want to cut Dr. Mom open, but she agreed to assist.  So that's my memory of the operation.  Dr. Mom was there too, of course; but she was all enshrouded and a little out of it.  I was focused on the action.  Our friend, with whom we had enjoyed many delicious dinners, pleasant excursions to the beach, and mellow evenings watching movies, was all of the sudden, "RETRACT, RETRACT...GIVE ME THAT CLAMP...MOP MY BROW...METZENBAUM SCISSORS...GET THAT CAT OUT OF HERE!"  They sliced my wife right open!  And then Cobra came out!  And then Butterbean came out!

There was something about their first cries that pure, I guess...primal, obviously.  I can still feel it in my chest like I was breathing air for the first time too.  And hear it.  In fact, I still hear it quite a bit.

 "A" is for Asian.  We thought Cobra looked more Asian than her sister at birth.  But really, most babies look kind of Asian

"B" is for Butterbean

Home: We settled into a routine of chaos.  I was about halfway through building the addition that would double the size of our house.  We were down to 800 square feet of livable space, with a back door that opened onto a full-blown construction site, where I worked about twelve hours a day.  My mother-in-law stayed with us for the first month, cooking nonstop on the industrial gas burners we had set up in the wood frame of what would become the family room, and shooing me away when I tried to calm a screaming baby or two in the middle of the night.  Thank Little Baby Jesus for her.  Dr. Mom became a baby-feeding automaton who could only eat, sleep, hold babies, and produce milk.

I was fond of the twins right off the bat, but it was all still more than a little surreal and often frustrating.  I have problems dealing with people and things that don't have the ability to reason.  They were two little squawk boxes writhing around in a crib, mostly unaware of their surroundings and their fellow human beings.  It's a good thing I read a book that explained the concept of the "fourth trimester"--the 3 month period when a baby is more like a fetus than a person--because there were times when I thought, this can't be right...why are they screaming like this?...this is not a sensible evolutionary adaptation...I don't feel like protecting this baby right now, I feel like getting it as far away from me as possible.

Growing on each other: Genetics isn't everything.  But it's powerful stuff.  When your kid looks kind of like you, or your spouse, or your grandfather, or your sister-in-law, that's when it starts getting real.  At least it did for me.  Most people say that Cobra looks like me, and Butterbean looks like her mom.  I can see that.  But I didn't realize it by staring at the girls and analyzing their features.  I noticed it when I was looking in the mirror and yawning, or squinting, or brushing my teeth.  I look just like that kid!  And Butterbean looks just like her cousin when she sneezes!  And Cobra looks like my sister's baby pictures!  Have we got a family here, or what?

Dr. Mom stayed home during the first four months, while I more or less finished the addition.  So although I was technically in the same house as the babies, I might as well have been on a jobsite in another town.  Except I got to pop in and play with them every couple of hours.  During this time, especially after they started getting cute and developing personalities, I had some ambivalence about their progress.  Each tooth that came in felt like a month that went by too fast and would never come back.


Dad at the office

But since I have become the boss of childcare, I no longer jealously guard their babyhood.  Each new development seems to happen just as I am becoming prepared for it.  Their mobility and ability to express themselves is commensurate with my growing ability to identify potential hazards always express myself as candidly as I would among grownups.  We seem suited to one another.

Cobra (L) and Butterbean.  About 4 months old?

I feel a little guilty, I guess, that I've got it so good.  Dr. Mom had to do the heavy lifting (with help from grandmas, grandpas, and aunties) for the first four months, which was brutal.  And most families are lucky if one parent even gets to stay with the kid(s) during that trying "fourth trimester."  I'm allowed to do all the fun stuff that is often reserved for outside daycare providers.

But I'm sure the comeuppance is nigh.  Keeping that in mind tempers my annoying optimism.  For instance, instead of rhapsodizing about my wonderful, nap-loving, happy babies right now, I'm supposed to be preparing the house for their birthday party tomorrow.

Birthday party?  For one-year-olds?  Are you kidding me?  The best we can hope for is that they won't have long-lasting psychological damage from the overwhelming stranger anxiety they're sure to experience.  Or the profane muttering of their old man as he cleans the house and arranges the frilly pink party favors. 

Hanging out on the deck.  I just got the handrail on in time for the party.  Redwood and stainless steel cables, if you're interested in that kind of stuff.


Butterbean with her latest fetish--the play salt shaker.


  1. Holy crap, those twins are adorable! And not at all identical! Cobra looks like a tiny, feminine girlie girl. And is it just me or does Butterbean have a look on her face that says "Just wait till I'm thirteen, dad, I'm going to be a crazy, tree climbing tomboy with wild hair who also is discovering boys and bad music and how to annoy my parents TO THE MAX!"

    Hey, with that attitude she should be MY kid. :)

    Happy birthday twins!

  2. Happy birthday to your girls! They are so cute. But you knew that. The first birthday is a bit weird, because, um really, they won't remember it, but you will and when you're staring their 8th birthday in the face (Indy will be 8 next month! Holy crap!) you'll be glad you have memories of that sweet first birthday before you have to go all Indiana Jones, or pirates or whatever. It was so simple when he was little; cake a few presents and done. Now, it's a production. You'll have a double production. Hold on, my friend. One day you'll look back fondly on how easy this was.

  3. Even better post than usual. Happy birthday to our little sweeties! So glad we will see you all soon. With much love...
    And the deck handrail looks great.

  4. Happy day, Butter Babies!

    Oh, God. The first year with twins was so, so long. I remember clearly, sitting on the floor, with two 11-month-olds standing in front of me, each attached to a boob, and thinking, "I feel like a fucking cow. I'm cutting these demons off on their first birthday." And I did.

    You're welcome for the imagery. The end.

  5. Not to wax sentimental (cuz, you know, we don't do that), but this was a great freakin' post. Be sure to have the twins read this when they turn 18.

    True, the first birthday party isn't going to be a memory for them, but the fact is, you kept not one, but TWO babies happy and healthy and alive for a year. If that's not cause to celebrate, I don't know what is. Therefore I reject your bah humbug.

  6. Your curmudgeonliness (is that a word?) is hilarious and endearing, Andy. Happy happy birthday to the girls!

  7. I agree with all the commenters - that first year doesn't go by nearly fast enough. Keep notes, or if you're anything like me, you'll have forgotten everything by the time they're teens...
    P.S. Those cool stainless-steel cables? I'll give them a month, and you'll be looking at some sad-ass, droopy wires. (We put in the same ones before our darling kitten was born.) I reckon Butterbean looks like she could already broach the perimeter of your deck...

  8. Veg,
    It's hard to tell how their personalities will turn out. They change every couple days. But I'm pretty sure that look is saying, "Daddy, I could never hurt you in any way."

    Thanks for recognizing the cuteness. No thanks for making me dread the future. At least the parties will be on the same day. Watch--they'll demand separate parties with separate themes. Princesses and fairies or some crap.

    They can't wait to see you too!

    Sarah P,
    huhuhuh...butter babies. Yeah--thanks for the image. I'll definitely use it later.

    Sentimental? Don't know the meaning of the word! I like your attitude about the party. It's a celebration of OUR achievement! (Honestly, my humbuggery is mostly theoretical.)

    That's totally a word! Thanks!

  9. Anon,
    As long as the interwebz survive the coming apocalypse, I will have a pretty thorough set of notes on the babies' antics!

    Re: steel cables--they should have some kind of turnbuckle or tensioner so that you can tighten them up. The system I use (Cable Rail) has a threaded rod on one end so you can just tune up the cables like guitar strings. I've installed them on several other decks I've built and haven't had any complaints so far!

  10. Nobody ever sharpied my forehead. Damnit.

  11. I would like to make a request if I may: I'm guessing that the twins' crazy auntie will be at the birthday party. If yes, please post more pictures of her "creations" with the babies.


  12. Buggin,
    You can always do it yourself! It's fun.

    Sorry, Crazy Auntie had the best intentions to create a whole mermaid scene, but we all passed out after the guests left and didn't wake up until baby dinner time. Then Auntie had to go home. We'll try again in a couple weeks.

  13. Great post! I agree that the first year doesn't go by fast enough. While I didn't have twins, my two youngest are 364 days apart. And yes, with all three of mine, I must admit that labor was perhaps the most boring until we had #3 because then it was only about 12 minutes long.
    Happy "Birthfatherversary Day"

  14. The deck is gorgeous, as are the girls. Happy birthday to them.

  15. Wow, your girls have the same birthday as my Dad. And they both look great, per usual, along with the deck. Congratulations on your many and varied accomplishments!

  16. I appreciate the tix to the gun show.

    Excuse me while I spend the next 24 hrs at the gym.

  17. Those kids are pretty cute, you know. And my kids didn't look Asian, they looked like fat Eskimos. Which is weird, because I am NOT an Eskimo. And Dave is an albino.

    So the plot THICKENS.

    Also, like happy birthday and stuff.

  18. I didn't really "get" the whole 1-year-old birthday party concept either. Although it was gently pointed out ot me that it isn't really for the KIDS.

    Happy birthday tiny people!

  19. Your blog is greatness! I shall be back :0)

  20. Ha! Came across your blog by accident (Google picked it up when I searched for "church for cynics"). Your family sounds like a good mix of fun and realism with a nice, content undertone. Sorry, but it's true.

    I love the nicknames for the twins, and the graphic. So true!


Don't hold back.


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