Sunday, April 29, 2012

It Takes A Village

It takes a village to raise a child.  At least that's what I hear.  I'm not quite sure most of us can put that to the test because most of us don't live in a village any more.  It's not 1892 and I'm not living in eastern Europe.  So maybe my saying can be, "It takes a city" or "It takes a concrete jungle."

My friends signed up for which is a calendar on which people can say they will bring over food for new parents.  If you're going to be a parent, ask for food.  If your friend is expecting, bring them food.  It was a great idea from my shower organizer.  It is great to see friends, let them meet the babies, ask them to hold the babies while I showered, shaved, got dressed and transformed from a hideous, unkempt, hairy, smelly, disheveled, crying adult in the fetal position to the handsome, clean-shaven, deodorant wearing, beautifully coiffed prince that I am.  (Yes, I said I'm a prince.  Just nod your head and let me have my moment.)

First of all, I found out my friends are some great cooks.  I ate vegetarian sloppy joes, pasta salad, Mexican fajitas, stuffed shells, an orzo dish, baked ziti, french toast, a lentil pot pie type thing and more.  Yum!

But besides my happy and filled tummy, I found out how much my friends and community care about me.  People drove through Chicago traffic in rush hour to bring food to Derek and me, kept us company and let us sleep.  One amazing friend brought in food when the kids were about a week old.  She called asking what I wanted.  While half asleep I mumbled something into the phone asking for some bananas and apples and got an entire fruit stand's worth of produce.  Friends also brought me moving boxes for packing, Drano, and vitamins.  They washed bottles, offered to do my laundry and talked to me on the phone to keep me company or just keep me awake.

I am just floored by how much love and support I get from my friends.  I have friends from college who have stuck with me for years and I love them for that.  I have friends from my theater work.  Most of them I worked with once for 3-4 months and have developed friendships that have lasted for years.  It's a wonderful thing to find a friend who quickly who turns into a part of your life for so long.  But I have to say that the support that surprised me the most has to be my interpreting community.  As a freelance interpreter, I don't see the same people day to day.  Some interpreters I work with pretty often.  Other interpreters I work with once in a while.   Some peers I literally only see a couple times a year.  And yet so many of the interpreters from my work circle have cheered me on during my process to have a child and continued their support over this last month.  My community comes together when there are births, weddings, deaths, and other big events in our lives.  We are there for each other.  Not everyone gets to say nice, positive things about co-workers and get warm fuzzies from them.  I'm lucky I can and do.  I feel like I'm part of a great community.  I feel like I'm a friend to people more than I realize which is so touching.  I feel like I'm part of a village.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Baby Books

I have great parents.  Make no mistake about that.  The took care of me very well.  Thirty-aomething years later they're still taking care of me by dropping their lives for 5 weeks to help with the twins and the move.  They buy formula and wipes and diapers and let me sleep during the day.  They love me even though I snap at them and hopefully they know it's from the lack of sleep.  The one thing they didn't do for me was save a lock of my hair from my first haircut.

You see, I'm a second child.  It's well known first children often get tons of pictures and memories.  Parents know their first-born child's first word, remember the outfit he wore on his first birthday, kept her ankle tag from the hospital, etc.  Second born children often have less to remember their firsts because their poor frazzled parents are trying to care for baby while preventing a two year old from electrocuting the cat or chewing on daddy's new iphone.  I believe my parents were not overly sentimental capturing every coo, smile and fart my brother ever made on film (maybe I'm wrong) but I know that they do have a lock of hair from his first haircut.  My first snip of hair is in a landfill in New Jersey somewhere.

My goal as a new dad was to document, document, document.  At the baby shower I got a journal and I keep thinking, "oooh...I should write that down" and then don't and now I've realized the journal is packed in a box for our upcoming move.  My documentation of my children's lives is lacking as of now, but if you've ever had newborn twins you'll forgive me.  Showering and getting dressed by 3pm is a major ordeal.  I believe on Maslow's hierarchy of needs writing down how many ounces of formula a baby takes is waaaaaaaay at the top and I'm functioning more on the bottom of the pyramid.  Besides, Derek and I do have a lot of pictures and videos and isn't that more important than how many times baby sneezes per day?

Derek and I have been looking for a baby book to put in pictures of firsts, keep their hospital bracelets, write down their birth weights, etc.  As we went to store after store we were disappointed.

Most books have a family tree page including mommy's side of the family and daddy's side of the family.  Hmmmm...that won't work for us. 

The books also have pages where mommy can write down her feelings during the pregnancy.  That won't work either. 

There is a page for who came to the baby shower and what gifts everyone gave.  Well...we could maybe get a decent record for that page.  I know who came but I don't think I know who gave what.  Apparently people are supposed to buy baby books BEFORE the babies are born.  I didn't know that.

A lot of books ask what baby was wearing when he came home from the hospital and what the weather was like.  We have no idea about clothes.  I know, I know...we're gay men but we're not the designer label type gays.  I'm guessing the twins were wearing a onesie but who knows for sure.  Nothing like feeling you've messed up parenting from day one because you don't know their first outfit at home!  

Derek and I think we have to make our own 21st century baby book unless any of you out there know of a good baby book for gay parents.  Our book willl include the things we think are important, not when baby's first lateral incisor on the left appeared.  Seriously...that was a page in the baby book.  Was that book made for children of dental hygienists and endodontists?  If we like our book maybe we'll market it and make a million because it'll work for gay and lesbian parents.  There are a lot of us out there these days.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Remembering Chloe

My surrogate, "Chloe," decided she would pump and was willing to give us her breast milk for the babies for which I will be eternally grateful and for which I need to give her a nice thank you gift too.  It has been a few weeks since she gave birth and she texted me last week to say that she had a decent supply of milk and wondered if I would come pick it up and bring the babies.

"YES!  Of course I'll come and you can see the twins again!" I said.

A few days ago we went to visit her.  Her sister and cousin were there as well.  It was nice to see them all again.  Unfortunately her mom was not able to be there.  We'll have to find time for the twins to see her mom one of these days.

Now I don't want to give you the wrong impression by saying my twins are bad or cry excessively because they really don't.  Sure, there is the occasional crying fit for an hour or two, but they are generally very happy children.  Sometimes, however, they cry when a bottle is taken out of their mouths during a feeding so they can be burped.  Although I tell them that food will come again, they somehow don't understand that concept.  And yes, my children are more brilliant and amazing than any other children on the face of the earth, but I guess three weeks of life on earth isn't quite enough for them to master the entire English language.  So there is some crying.

When we got to Chloe's house the kids came out of their car seats and went into Chloe's and her sister's laps for feedings.  There was almost no crying.  They seemed so peaceful and content to be with them.

The other thing to know is that Derek and I are the most brilliant and amazing parents on the face of the earth, but I kind of believe that there was something going on in the twins' brilliant and amazing minds that told them Chloe's home - the smells, the sounds, Chloe's voice -- was familiar and safe.  We may never get the technology to truly know what babies are thinking at three weeks old, but I think they are more aware than we think.  I've heard of other stories of children being calmed by "The Price Is Right" because their mothers watched it every day during the pregnancy or being soothed by Adele because her CD was always on for the last nine months.  I think there's something to it.  Anyone else have stories like this?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Is It Day Or Night?

What time is it?  Is it AM or PM?  Wait...what day is it?  Did I eat?  Did I go to the bathroom? 

Yep...that's where we're at now.  A few days after the boys were born I turned to a friend and really wanted breakfast.  She told me it was the middle of the afternoon.  I thought I had just woken up.  To be fair I probably had just woken up because I had (and have) a habit of passing out in the middle of the day due to the lack of sleep.  I currently lose track of which twin drank how much and when and how many times he has peed or pooped.  It's just a constant flow of diapers, laundry, formula and crying.  Here is a list of 10 other things that I have thought or done in the past few weeks...

1. Entertained a guest with my zipper down.
2. Wondered why there was no Red Eye newspaper -- it was because it is a Monday through Friday newspaper and I was asking the question on a Saturday.
3. Wondered why there was no mail -- it was because I wondered this on a Sunday.
4. Bought the wrong size batteries and forgot everything else on my shopping list.
5. Forgot it was Passover.
6. Forgot I had laundry in the washer for a couple hours.
7. Forgot I was cooking rice even after the timer went off.
8. Forgot if I had showered that day or not.
9. Put conditioner in my hair in the shower and forgot to wash it out.
10. Actually forgot my children's names for a few seconds.

Yes, my children will throw number 10 in my face when they get older.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Life Has Changed

I'm a father now.  Some days I still can't believe it.  After years and years of wanting to be a dad, a few years of trying, stacks of bills for agencies, doctors and lawyers, and tons of tears from heartache and joy I finally have my dream -- and even a husband-to-be to boot.  I have two beautiful children, Aaron and Jeffrey.  I hope this blog will help me remember my time with my children.  It goes so fast, doesn't it? I want to remember it and share this with my children.  Hopefully, when they are old enough, they will appreciate this history of our lives together.

Fatherhood is a state of bliss 24/7, right?  Because I love languages I had dreams of teaching my children English, Spanish and American Sign Language.  I couldn't wait to read my favorite childhood books to them.  I imagined myself looking into their eyes and watching them smile as they recognized my voice and face.

Well, I'm learning fatherhood isn't always exactly like I imagined it to be. 

You see, my lovely children liked to stay up all night.  Derek and I had to take turns staying awake almost 24/7 for a while.  The babies would only sleep in our arms, not in any bassinet or car seat we had bought for them.  One night I looked at the time on the microwave clock.  It was 3:41AM, the exact time Jeff was born but one week later..  I was awake with two screaming children.  I grabbed a can of Dr. Pepper for some caffeine thinking to myself, "I rarely drink soda and I can't remember the last time I was up at 3:41AM.  How did this happen to me?"  My life has definitely changed.
Every time I'm cranky from the lack of sleep or a little grossed out by the poop running down the leg I stop and think, "This is the only day I will ever have when they are exactly a week old" or "Enjoy today because they can't wear this cute frog outfit for much longer" or even something as silly as "This is the only first doctor's appointment I'll have with them."  Watching them sleep is beautiful and makes my heart melt and the stress go away.  I know that several years from now I'll long for the days of holding them in my arms while they sleep knowing that I can make them happy with a diaper change, a bottle and a warm embrace.

People have told me every age has pros and cons but they are all precious and special in their own way.  I'm remembering that today - at this moment - when my children are not quite 12 days old.  I'll never get to experience these last 11 days again so I have to enjoy each day as it comes.  I am.

Plus, just nine days into their lives, they started to sleep in places besides our arms.  Derek and I have figured out how they can sleep in their car seats, boppy pillows, a bouncy chair and more.  Hmmm...maybe we're pretty good at this fatherhood thing and it will turn out to be exactly as I imagined it to be.   

We'll see...