Baby Booger-Picker

I have a problem and here it is. I can’t help picking my babies’ noses. There, I told you. I see a booger in there within reach and I have to get it out. The babies hate it. They squirm and cry. Their tiny nostrils are so pink and sensitive. But I can’t help myself.

I never imagined I’d be picking someone else’s nose. When I get the booger out I never know exactly what to do with it, either. I have to walk to the sink with my finger extended before me, as far away as possible from myself, in the breeze. If it doesn’t come off when the faucet stream hits it, I can’t touch it with my other hand, as if I weren’t already holding it.

But what else is there to to? “Hey, pssst, you got a little something right there,” I say to M, motioning subtly. But they just smile obliviously. It’s a tough, thankless job.

I told D about my problem and he said I should write a blog about it. So you can blame him for this.


Moleskine Sketch, Stroller in the Park

Moleskine Sketch, Stroller in the Park

Here’s all I could manage today. I did a sketch in my moleskine of the babies in the car seat stroller-mobile on our walk in Sunset Park. Actually it wasn’t much of a walk. I managed to get us out of the house, but then the babies fell asleep so I just parked the stroller and sat on a bench.

I’m feeling tired today. It was one of those days when I got back to the house and looked up at the front steps with dread, thinking of all the work of lugging the babies and equipment all back up to the top floor.

But it was a beautiful day outside. Fall. Fall is a melancholy time. Maybe that’s all it is, this feeling.

The Dweebs, Halloween 2013

The Dweebs, Halloween 2013

I had to post this photo because it makes me laugh. Who are those dweebs, anyway? Oh wait that’s us… What has happened to us? I love the creepy halloween hand coming in stage left, the haphazard gray moby on the floor. The kneeling, the dweeby smiles, the bad hair, one coat on one coat off, and of course the twin cows… I really should have made us dress up as farmers to match–we just need overalls.

Here’s how it happened. This weekend we went to a little kids Halloween event put on by the neighborhood parents’ group. There was someone there taking pictures of the parents and kids so we got in line. Why not. We don’t have many pictures of the four of us.

When we got to the front of the line we hurriedly took the babies out of their wraps. I unwound my moby wrap, drapes falling everywhere, and tossed it like an octopus on the floor. D kept his on, and also his coat. Everyone was posing in this gold frame. We couldn’t fit in the frame standing, so we knelt with the babies. We had no hands free to hold the frame anyway. “I’ll hold the frame!” volunteered a voice behind us. D had just gone to a new barber around the corner, because who has time to travel around to the barber you like anymore? I haven’t gotten my haircut in since forever and probably never will again. And the babies are wearing cow suits.

But maybe this is all just excuses. What I want to say really is, I guess we’re parents now! Perfectly ready to embarrass our kids.

Happy Halloween!

Bath Time Torture

My babies hate baths. We go through the ordeal twice a week, and each time I hope maybe this time it will be okay…

I set up the baby tub carefully on the dining room table, a nice fluffy towel, some cotton balls, baby shampoo. Undress the first baby, she’s fine. Take her over to the tub, she’s fine. Wipe a little water on her face with a washcloth, sometimes she’s okay. Dip her in the tub WAAAAaaaaAAaAH! And then, as the bath continues, the cries grow hysterical. Wah! Wah! Wah! Wah!

Meanwhile I try to remain calm, speak soothingly. “It’s juuuuust water. Nice warm water. It’s really not that bad, is it? It’s really not that bad, is it? Beginning to wonder myself if it is somehow bad, hands shaking. Does this bring up traumatic NICU bath memories of some sort? Nerves fraying.

Our pediatrician recommends a bath as part of a nice, soothing, go to bed ritual. Not in our house. Today is bath day. Actually yesterday was bath day, but I just didn’t have it in me. Twice a week the dreaded day comes. I’ve gotten very quick at giving baths.

Note: I composed this blog in dread just before I had to give the twins a bath. I am happy to report that both baths went okay. Okay meaning there was some crying, but not the breathless, hysterical crying that sometimes ensues, and at least one twin smiled at me from the tub. So maybe we are getting somewhere. I remain ever-hopeful.

And ever-exhausted.



My Preemies are Big

“She’s big!” That’s what the woman at the daycare said to me today. I could hardly believe my ears. It made me so happy. “That baby over there is seven months, and I think your baby is bigger. It’s good.”

But even as they grow pudgier, like lucky little buddhas you can’t resist giving belly zorbers, in my mind they are still the precious, frightening little 33-weekers stretching their tiny limbs in NICU incubators. The little 3 pound 11 oz, 4 pound 1 oz morsels.

Obviously I have to adjust my image. These are my big, pink-cheeked babies right here. They are not made of sugar or paper. Frightened, over-protective parenting leads to frightened, stressed children. I thought this old article from The Times was interesting. It talks about parents of premature infants and how they can experience a type of PTSD. M and E were born a month and a half early, which is really nothing compared to what some parents, like the parents quoted in the article, go through. But even a two and a half week stay in the NICU leaves an impression.

I can’t help it. My favorite comment from strangers about the babies is still, “They look so healthy!” I am hungry for the reassurance. But they have a lust for life. They are amazing.

Life With Celebrity Twins

The babies have made me a part of the neighborhood. Taking them out for a walk means smiles and thumbs up from strangers, meeting women young and old, waving at kids, petting dogs, conversations of all sorts.

For the two years I lived here before the twins’ arrival I had developed a hello relationship with the two couples downstairs and with one neighbor. Since the babies arrived I have met Carmen and Nilsin next door, their teenage daughter and her friend, their father, and on the other side Ted and Helen, Dorothy, and many of Helen’s lady friends from the neighborhood who gather in her front yard on pleasant evenings. I’ve met Wally down the block and his two bull terriers, Luna and Patchy. And I at least smile at the man on the corner with the long white ponytail, who never gave me the time of day before.

My mother in law, who managed to raise my husband in a rough patch of Yonkers, New York, often gives me advice about how to stay safe in a neighborhood. “You have to go out so people see you,” she says. “Then they know you belong there, and if something happens to you they look out for you.” With these babies, people see me.

Sunset Park is a beautiful mix of Chinese, Mexican, Puerto Rican, young urban professionals, Hasidic Jews and everything in between. As I walk down the street there are exclamations of “Twins?” “Oh, so cute, twins!” “A boy and a girl?” “God bless!” “God bless them!” “Congratulations.” A teen girl crossing the street with a group of friends: “OH MY GOD TWINS!!” An elderly lady carrying two huge bags of cans holds up two fingers and beams, “TWO?!” She then continues to speak to me in Chinese, the both of us smiling the while. A little girl runs up and strokes M’s face and runs off before I can say anything.

Yesterday my neighbor on the left was outside as I arrived home from a walk. “Oh the twins!” she said, “Let me come see how big they are.” “Can I help you up the stairs?” her husband offered, edging down his own stoop. After she’d admired them and was turning toward home she said smiling, “You live in the baby house.” (Our downstairs neighbors also have babies. We are also the only rental building on a block of owners.) “It’s great,” she said, “They bring joy to the block.”

Twins Halloween 2013

Twins Halloween 2013

Farmers and twin baby cows, that’s my concept for Halloween 2013. This idea springs from my having acquired two free baby cow costumes off the local parents’ list serv. I can’t wait to see the babies dressed as little cows. I can’t wait to take them out and show them off. I can’t wait to see other babies dressed in costumes.

I’ve never been that into Halloween before. In fact I can’t remember the last time I dressed up. I think it was in college when I half-heartedly stuck a few glow-in-the-dark stars on myself and said I was the night sky.

But something about the babies is bringing out my Halloween spirit. It isn’t just me, either. D bought a pumpkin and says we are going to carve it. A big pumpkin. I can see this happening with other holidays, too: Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas. We’ll have to show the babies how it’s done. They will keep us in line.

Personally, I can’t wait to eat three-musketeers bars and reminisce about the costumes I made in elementary school. So this works out pretty well for me, too.

Faces in a Blurry Sea

The babies are slowly learning how to use their hands. If you hold something in front of them they move their arms very slowly in its general direction, looking as if they are struggling to control new mechanical arms. When they do finally manage to get a grip on the desired object, eyes crossing in concentration, they will usually toss it immediately onto the floor. Otherwise they will very slowly and deliberately bring their arms, while still gripping the object, in the direction of their mouth. As one hand approaches their mouth the other usually joins, and it is the hands, not the object, which makes first mouth contact. They then suck on the hand while still maintaining a grip on the object, looking thoughtful. And that’s really a day’s work right there.

What a strange feeling it must be, to slowly discover that you have a whole body, and then learn to use it piece by piece. How did they conceive of themselves before, if not as a body? They have been focused on faces for months, but I think it is only now they are discovering that those faces don’t just float in a blurry sea.

Yesterday M was lying in my lap. I turned to look at her, caught her eyes and she startled. I looked away again, then looked back and she startled again. Something is taking shape in her mind.

At the same time, their learning to connect to their bodies is giving me a strange feeling about mine. How strange that arm control is something we must learn. How adeptly I now control these arms, this skin for my mind to live in.

Big Wheels

Yesterday I took the double stroller to KeyFood for the first time. The Double StrollerMobile, the Monkey Mobile. The Big Wheels. For the first few months, every time I’d get the stroller set up with the attachments and two car seats I’d want to start humming the Big Top circus theme.

The good news was I made it into the grocery store through the narrow entry doors without a problem. The bad news was there was no way for me to exit. All of the checkout aisles were too narrow. I bought my milk while the lady behind me in line entertained the twins, and then a guard had to escort me back out the front door.

This is a tandem stroller, not side by side. I wonder what people in wheelchairs do at KeyFood? So I guess that means I’m free of any shopping responsibility until the twins can walk. Or at least, only shopping at Duane Reade drug store, where there are nice wide aisles. So I guess that limits me to beer and candy corns. Could be worse.