Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Secrets

A little over nine weeks ago I became a father.  Although I had nine months to prepare...well, about two years to prepare as I went through surrogacy...well, 10+ years to prepare as I went through this in my head...nothing really prepares you for that moment when your life changes in an indescribable way.  I admit that I imagined seeing my children and breaking down into tears that "the moment" had finally arrived and I would be overcome with a love that I've never felt before.

Here's my big secret: that didn't happen.

Do I love my children?  Yes.  Was I feeling things at that moment I've never felt before?  Yes.  Did my body release so many endorphins that my head exploded from the emotion?  No. 

Let's review what happened...

I had been up about 20 hours by the time the children arrived.  I had been in a hospital room for about 10 hours going back and forth between bored and freezing.  The induction was a little bit of a surprise because it wasn't supposed to happen for another four days so I was caught off guard.  When the doctors decided it was time to push, my surrogate and her mother went into the delivery room while Derek and I stayed in the hospital room not knowing how long it would be until we met our children.  When we met the children a nurse gave me Aaron and told me to feed him even though I told her I had no idea what I was doing.  Then the next nine weeks has been a blur thanks to screaming babies, moving,  and 4-5 hours of sleep a night...on a good night. 

Here are my other secrets: There have been moments when I wondered why I thought I could do this.  There have been moments when I was more frustrated than in love with these kids.  There have been moments when I wished I had the freedom and flexibility I had 10 weeks ago.  

Now here is your secret: You probably felt the same way.  As I talk to other parents and say how hard it is I hear comments like, "I didn't like my daughter for the first several months" and "Anyone who says newborns are cute hasn't taken care of a newborn or they have lost their mind." 

It's nice to know that these feelings are common.  We're taught that the moment you see your baby life will change in an instant and it will all be 100% blissful, but I think that's just what TV and the movies say.  I'm learning that it's normal to have some negative emotions - frustration, fear, stress, etc. - and all that means is that I'm the same as everyone else.

It's now 11:06 p.m. and the twins are both asleep.  They are starting to sleep for longer stretches of time.  They are smiling more and can sometimes be content to look at objects dangling from their bouncy chairs or sit in my lap for 10-15 minutes.  Life is starting to calm down which lets me enjoy the calm more.  And even though I've been hoping to have a little more rest, here's another secret: I'm watching them sleep and wishing one of them would wake up so I can cuddle him in my arms.   

I went back and read my blog from the beginning a little while ago and my first post talks about enjoying each moment because the weeks and months will fly by.  I'm going to try to remember that when I'm frustrated or upset or doubting myself.


At 11:15 p.m., as I was proofreading this entry, Jeff woke up.  I got to cuddle him in my arms.  By midnight Aaron woke up and he screamed his head off during the diaper and clothing change.  But I got to cuddle him in my arms too.  Part of me wishes they hadn't woken up so I could have rested more, but the other 99% of me will remember what I told myself in the first post: enjoy the moment I just had with them when they were 9 weeks and almost 2 days old.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Parents' Generation

In my other blog I wrote about how the grandmothers got together one day and vigorously defended and supported their gay sons which just made my heart swell.  But they're our mothers.  They kinda have to love us.  I think that's in the rule book.  (By the way...I never got my parenting rule book.  Maybe it's lost in the mail.  I hope it gets here soon.  I need one.)

After Derek and I had these two adorable babies let me tell you about the presents that started pouring in.  A bunch of my cousins from my parents generation started sending gifts to our twins.  I grew up knowing a lot of them but have lost touch with most of them.  It was nice that they took the time to buy and send gifts.  Then we started getting gifts from my parents' friends.  I literally haven't met half of them or more.  The women who play mah jongg with my mom and the people with whom she volunteers sent us gifts.  And we're not talking one or two of them.  I'd say about a dozen of fifteen of her friends sent us clothes, books, gift certificates, handmade room decorations and more.  The notes we got were just lovely.  Most were addressed to both Derek and me and they couldn't be happier that we had a family.

I keep hearing statistics like a majority of people under 30 support the right for gays to get married, adopt children, and have every right that heterosexuals have.  Well, the over 30 crowd isn't doing too badly either championing my rights.  Apparently the over 60 crowd is pulling their weight too.  Granted, my parents live in New York City which is known for being very liberal, but it's still gives me warm fuzzies knowing that people in their 60s and 70s -- many of whom I've never even met -- hear about their friend's son and his partner having a baby and send something to celebrate the occasion.  Equal rights will be here one day.  I know it.  Hopefully it will happen before my children are old enough to know that they were born in a time when there weren't equal rights.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Story Time With Twins

A little while ago Melissa at "A Baby For You" had a wonderful post about all of the same sex children's books that were out there.  It was a great post and I definitely plan on getting some of those books soon.  As the twins approach two months old and life starts to settle into a little more of a routine -- well, I use the word routine very loosely -- I have started story time with them.  I've read that it's good to read to your babies as early as possibly.  Story time usually happens like this...

10:03am Daddy gets a book out that is about 4 pages long.
10:04am Daddy puts Aaron in the bouncy chair to prepare for the story.
10:05am One of the cats throws up some food or a hairball.
10:06am While daddy is cleaning up said cat yuckiness Aaron starts crying because he is
                 a) hot
                 b) cold
                 c) tired
                 d) hungry
                 e) a two month old baby
                 f) all of the above
10:07am Daddy picks Aaron up from the bouncy chair and comforts him.
10:10am Aaron calms down and daddy puts him back in the bouncy chair and turns on the vibration.
10:11am Daddy finishes cleaning up cat yuckiness.
10:14am Daddy goes to Jeff who is now asleep and wonders if story time should be postponed.
10:15am While looking at Jeff daddy's blinking causing teeny tiny ripples in the airwaves which is enough to disturb Jeff and he decides to start crying.
10:20am After pacing the apartment bouncing with Jeff for 5 minutes and getting nowhere Daddy decides to change Jeff's diaper.
10:24am After changing his shirt that was peed on, Daddy and Jeff are finally ready to go back to the bouncy seat.
10:26am Daddy opens up the book and shows the first page of the story to Jeff and Aaron.  Aaron immediately looks away.
10:27am Daddy patiently waits for Aaron to not be overstimulated.
10:29am Daddy starts with page one again.
10:30am Daddy gets a phone call he has to take and spends the next 14 minutes on the phone while adding extra bouncing to the seats with his foot to keep the twins calm.
10:44am Jeff is now asleep from all the bouncing and Aaron has spit up all over his shirt.
10:47am Aaron has been changed and is now crying because that's what any sane person would do when going from a wet, smelly shirt to a dry clean one.
10:52am Aaron is back in the chair and at least Jeff is now awake and ready for story time because of Aaron's ear piercing crying.
10:53am Daddy gets to page two of the book.
10:54am Daddy realizes he hasn't gone to the bathroom since being woken up at 7:45am with screams in stereo.  Daddy decides he needs to pee.
10:56am Daddy realizes he has no bottles for the upcoming feeding.  He decides to wash and prepare bottles for the formula.
11:09am The bottles are prepped and Daddy realizes he needs to eat before he starts feeding the boys soon...oh, and brush his teeth too since it's now past 11:00 and he still hasn't brushed his teeth or showered...but the showering can wait.
11:11am Half way through Daddy brushing his teeth Aaron decides to start screaming again.  Daddy puts down his toothbrush to take care of Aaron with a good swaddle.
11:15am Daddy goes back into the bathroom to find a cat sitting on his toothbrush as she licks water out of the sink.
11:18am Daddy finds a new toothbrush.  Luckily he doesn't have to go out to the store to buy a new one or this stimulating and educational story time would have to be canceled for the day.
11:21am Daddy is done brushing his teeth and goes back to read again.  Because he has "baby brain" and doesn't remember what page he is on he goes back to page one.  What if he skips a page?  How will Aaron and Jeff understand what's going on with the pig/bird/monkey/cow/horse in the story?  Or after counting 1 butterfly how did we skip to 3 llamas?  What happened to two?  Best to just start again.
11:22am Daddy reads page one and then realizes he didn't eat
11:23am Daddy searches (in vain) for food and winds up eating Cheeze It crackers, sugar snap peas and a few cashews.  Then he eats a handful of chocolate chips too because it's important to get something from all four food groups: salt, vegetables, fat and chocolate.
11:29am Daddy remember to start on page two
11:31am Jeff starts to fuss because it has been 2 1/2 hours since his last feeding.  Aaron decides to double team daddy with his cries too.  Daddy starts the whole routine of making bottles, changing diapers, burping, changing the babies clothes which now have spit up, changing daddy's clothes which now have spit up, and calming the twins.
12:52pm Daddy starts story time again.  He reads VERY quickly
12:52pm and 18 seconds Daddy finishes another very successful story time.  Four pages of story in 2 hours and 49 minutes!

Oh...and if you answered "F" to the question above then you were right.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What's My Name?

I'm just wondering if other parents had an experience similar to mine.  When my parents were helping to take care of the twins my mom would refer to me as "dad" for things like, "Don't cry, daddy is making a bottle."  Then she would call my dad "grandpa" as in "Do you want grandpa to change your diaper?"  (Clearly I got the fun part of taking care of the babies.)

It takes some time to get used to the fact that I'm dad and my dad is grandpa and my brother is an uncle and my mom is a grandma.  Don't get me wrong.  I like my new title.  It's just that my dad has always been "dad" and now it's me.  That's a big adjustment.

Meanwhile, on the baby front, we have seen a few smiles.  I'm waiting for more, but it's nice to see a few here and there.  It makes the crying more bearable (I've been told crying peaks around 6-8 weeks so we're in the thick of it now) and it also makes me know that I am someone they are starting to recognize and love.  Guess there's no denying I really am Dad. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Parents

I just read an amazing post for Mother's Day.  Mike and Tony write wonderful blog entries.  Their letters to their daughter before she was born would often make me cry.  Their recent posting made me want to copy their idea for an entry.

My parents were just out here for five weeks to help with the twins and the move.  Let's just say that I was not always all sugar and roses to them.  I think the lack of sleep combined with the stress of moving (plus other stresses like trying to navigate paperwork for my HR department, car trouble, condo issues and more) put me in a bad mood with a short fuse.  And yet my both of my parents went above and beyond what they had to do (well, they didn't HAVE to do anything at all) and every day came with more things to help me out - boxes for moving, diapers when they saw we were running low, food for dinner, etc.

I am so lucky to have them.  So many people I know have parents who are not there for them.  Mine are supporting me all the time.  Yes, we fight (sometimes more than I hope to) but they are always there for me and the older I get the more I try to make sure I am always there for them, even if I fail sometimes.  As a father now I'm just barely starting to understand that concept of "You'll always be my baby" and "I'll always love you no matter how big you get."  Try as we might, we really do find ourselves saying the same things our parents said to us even if we swore we'd never say it.

I believe one of the reasons I wanted to be a father so badly is because I had a great family.  So thank you Mom and Dad for providing me with the life, love and support that you do.  It has given me the opportunity to create a wonderful home and family life for Jeff and Aaron.  Hopefully I'll do as well with them as you did with me.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Things You Shouldn't Do With One Month Old Twins

Things you shouldn't do with one month old twins:

- Feed them cow's milk
- Expect to shower before noon
- Eat dinner while it's still hot
- Get your hopes up you'll sleep more than 4 hours a night
- Move to a new apartment

Yep...I highly recommend you don't move when you have one month old twins.  Take it from a man who knows firsthand.  If you do have to move, definitely hire movers.  I don't care how expensive they are, they are worth every penny.

In the long run it was the right thing to do.  The place where we were living wasn't good for a lot of reasons.  It was a duplex and the master bedroom was on the top floor and the twins would eventually have slept downstairs.  The place had some dangerous, open, slippery stairs.  It was old and couldn't get clean even if you scrubbed it.  The top floor was hot and the bottom floor was cold.  The laundry room was in a dirty basement.

Our new place is closer to work for both Derek and me and is all on one floor.  No more carrying babies up and down the stairs (except for trips outside).  Whew.  We also have laundry in our unit!  Baby clothes are tiny so the laundry hasn't really piled up yet, but as the boys get older, start eating solid food, spit up aforementioned solid food, have bigger and nastier poops, play outside in the dirt, etc. I'm sure we'll be so very, very, very grateful we have laundry in our place.  No hoarding quarters this year.  The best thing, though, is that we get to set up a nursery.  As I was unpacking a bunch of books for my little ones I got overwhelmed feeling like a real dad.  Everything was so makeshift the first month because we knew we were moving.  Now, we have a library of children's books, a dresser with their clothes and blankets, room decorations, cribs and everything else that makes it feel like we are providing a home for these babies.  It was pretty exciting to have that feeling. I'm also getting to play my "Schoolhouse Rock" CDs and dance around the kitchen with my boys today.  Finally starting to do the things I had dreamed about doing with my kids. 

Also, in my last posting I talked about how it takes a village to raise kids.  I just didn't know that movers were part of that village too.