Anti-Vaxxers Changed My Mind

The flower they're sitting on is absolutely as real as the threat of autism presented by vaccines.

The flower they’re sitting on is absolutely as real as the threat of autism presented by vaccines.

I never really gave vaccinations a second thought until a few years ago when I first became aware of the former-Dr. Wakefield/Jenny McCarthy/autism/big pharma/parental choice “debate”. I admit, I was a bit taken aback. How could intelligent, rational, educated people who grew up in a world free of polio and smallpox and in which cases of measles and whooping cough were few and far between, risk the health and lives of their children based on a thoroughly debunked study done by a doctor whose “study” was retracted and who has been legally barred from practicing medicine?

Well, I have to admit; I’m pretty set in my beliefs, especially those built around scientific facts, but today the anti-vaxxer movement actually changed my mind.

Today I took our 10-month-old boys to one of those little play areas that shopping malls have these days. I put them down on the floor and stood back while they crawled around, hovering just enough to make sure they didn’t trip the bigger kids or get trampled by same.

A little girl (4ish?) walked by and ended up randomly stopping and standing next to the boys as she watched some other kids play. I wouldn’t have even noticed, but I saw that she was coughing. Without covering her mouth. Kind of a lot. Nothing hackey or pained, just a little cough.

For whatever reason, that little cough nearly triggered a panic attack in me. It’s not that I thought that the little girl had the Andromeda Strain (obviously; she would have been long dead from coagulated blood) or something that would be spread to my boys; I’m sure she didn’t. Kids cough. Kids have runny noses. Kids throw up for no reason. Kids get sick.

Until recently, though, kids rarely got sick from diseases that are now preventable because of vaccines. It’s been a non-issue for years, but now some parents are choosing to forgo vaccinations.

If I had given vaccinations a second thought, I would have thought that I could take my babies out to mingle with other children without fearing at all for their safety from diseases that went the way of poodle skirts and penny candy. My boys aren’t old enough to have gotten their full regimen of vaccines, which means that they are still vulnerable to diseases that can fucking kill them.

Now I’m paranoid. I’ll be worried about play dates and schools and playgrounds. I’m not going to lock my kids up in plastic quarantine tents, but now I’ll wonder if we’re going to be a thread in the CDC investigation tracing the origin of the latest outbreak like the recent one stemming from Disneyland.

I thought my kids were automatically safe from preventable diseases because of vaccines and herd immunity. Now, I’ve changed my mind.

Advertisements

A Brief* Update With Photos**

*really long   **all the photos ever

It’s been a while, so I’m going to spare you the “update” and just cram a big fat sack of adorable down your throats.

Seen the boys lately? Nine-months old

Seen the boys lately? Nine-months old, almost 10 as of this writing.

C

C.

M being somber...

M. Wait for it…

There's the smile!

…there it is!

When we last left our heroes, we were wrapping up the holidays:

IMG_3928

The fam came by to visit me at work one day. The sign was coincidental, advantageous, and awesome.

As families go, we're the best one ever.

As families go, we’re the best one ever, so just stop deluding yourselves.

IMG_3932

Between mobile babies, company, and all the hullabaloo during Christmas, Jack had to get resourceful when it came to naps. He’s normally a sleep-in-designated-sleeping-areas cat.

IMG_3931 IMG_3930

IMG_3807Between mobile babies, company, and all the hullabaloo during Christmas, Jack had to get resourceful when it came to naps. He's normally a sleep-in-designated-sleeping-areas cat.

ICYMI, the boys are advancing every day. Part of the reason for the delay and format of this post is because it’s hard to keep up:

We keep moving further from purees as we introduce more and more people food:

"You know how you hate that 'more of it on you than in you" joke, dad? Think it."

“You know how you hate that ‘more of it on you than in you’ joke, dad? It’s stuck in your mind like an earworm, isn’t it?”

"You've been feeding me the freshest milk ever when aged milk is so awesome???"

He likes cheese. He can stay.

Not everything's a hit.

Not everything’s a hit.

IMG_3760

"What about comfort food?"

“What about our comfort foods?”

Of course familiar items remain on the menu, like hoodie drawstrings...

Not to worry! Favorite and familiar items remain on the menu, like hoodie drawstrings…

...spoons...

…spoons…

...each other...

…each other…

...play mats...

…play mats…

...and can Koozies.

…and can Koozies.

Sometimes, distracting babies by pretending the spoon is a plane or car, or by dazzling them with a display of grade A daddery is necessary to get them to eat.

Sometimes a little sleight of hand is required to get them to eat. Pretending the spoon is an airplane or choo-choo, or holding a spoon in your mouth, for example.

Take a good look, pediatric psychologists; this is what killing it as a parent looks like.

Take a good look; this is some grade-A daddery.

Sometimes we bust out the heavy guns: U.S.S. Enterprise spoon. Do the nacelles light up? Uh, yeah. You don't want to look like a loser with non-lighty spoon nacelles.

Sometimes we bust out the heavy guns: U.S.S. Enterprise spoon. Do the nacelles light up? Uh, yeah. You don’t want to look like a loser with non-lighty Enterprise-spoon nacelles.

Both boys have been standing with support for a while now, and C is starting to let go and stand for a few seconds.

They've been pulling ourselves to standing for a while now, but it bears mentioning again.

They’ve been pulling ourselves to standing for a while now, but it bears mentioning again.

See "cat sleeping in duffle bag," above.

See “cat sleeping in duffle bag,” above.

As hard as we’ve tried to keep the boys contained to one room at a time, the layout of our house makes it difficult. Many of their escape attempts are at least somewhat successful.

It started with shaking the gates, smacking them, checking for weaknesses...

It started with C shaking the gates, smacking them, checking for weaknesses…

...and before we knew it, he had found gaps and sprung himself.

…and before we knew it, he found weak points and started to spring himself with some frequency.

When stronger barricades were installed, they were simply toppled.

When stronger barricades were installed, they were simply toppled.

2014-11-21 16.15.27

Adorably toppled.

2015-01-20 10.37.36

Sometimes a little teamwork is needed…

Fun babies having fun:

Of course, sometimes they're more about the production side of food.

M likes to help in the kitchen…

2014-12-13 11.01.28

She’s laughing here, but she stops when she realizes they lifted her rings and credit cards.

We discovered laundry baskets not too long ago.

They discovered laundry baskets recently.

2014-12-14 09.49.19 2014-12-14 09.57.57 2014-12-17 06.52.18

2015-02-07 18.19.34 2015-02-07 18.20.35

If making paper pirate hats and playing on the floor with infants is wrong, I don't want to be right.

If making paper pirate hats and playing on the floor with infants is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

The fun of cardboard boxes was discovered around the same time...

Fun with cardboard boxes was discovered around the same time as the laundry baskets.

2014-12-31 10.06.02

I thought C was narcissistic, but turns out reflection-smooching is a thing.

2014-12-31 11.49.05-1 2014-12-31 16.32.55-1

Our anniversary was pretty low-key this year. The boys picked B.J.'s, and I think we all had a pretty good time.

Our anniversary was pretty low-key this year. The boys picked B.J.’s, and I think we all had a pretty good time.

IMG_3946

I spent way too much time writing and deleting dialogue between these two in this pic. Let’s just say there was some disagreement about pizza toppings. Oh, and the appropriate hoppiness of IPAs.

2014-12-30 12.15.18

She: “Cheers, yes, thanks, OK, let’s go.” They: “You mentioned a frozen cheesecake pla-oh MOM, c’mon!”

Sometimes a bamboo wok spatula is just a bamboo wok spatula.

Sometimes a bamboo wok spatula is just a bamboo wok spatula.

Wrestling over this walker toy thing. I wish that more photos had come out...

Wrestling over this walker toy thing. I wish that more photos had come out…

2015-01-02 07.29.25

Reading/singing from/with "Frog Trouble", a sing-along book of original kids' songs by real artists.

Reading/singing from/with “Frog Trouble”, a sing-along book of original kids’ songs by real artists.

I think it speaks for itself.

Hard to believe…

Outings:

We’ve begun taking the boys to play areas that seem to be in every shopping mall these days, as well as to parks and other places where they can get exercise and play. C is very much about crawling all over, climbing, and taking other people’s stuff. M is more about finding one spot to play and chilling, which means he is often under my arm as I chase down his brother.

Upon first realizing that he is free...

Upon first realizing that he is free…

"Ima go crazy."

“Oh yeah…”

IMG_4104

IMG_4105

He climbed higher (note the grown man's hip) but by then I was in a crouched baby-catching position.

He climbed higher (note the grown man’s hip) but by then I was in a crouched baby-catching position.

IMG_4108IMG_4110

They chased away another little kid so that they could play with this spinny wall thing that they didn't even know how to work. Jerks.

They chased away another little kid so that they could play with this spinny wall thing that they didn’t even know how to work. Jerks.

IMG_4121

Anne Geddes has really lost her touch...

Anne Geddes has really lost her touch…

IMG_4159 IMG_4160

Again with the fake ferries...

Again with the fake ferries…

IMG_4166

mandatory "whale of a good time" joke

[mandatory “whale of a good time” joke]

IMG_4173 IMG_4176

"Do I follow you around ant take pictures when you're at your job?"

“Do I follow you around ant take pictures when you’re at your job?”

IMG_4226 IMG_4232 IMG_4233 IMG_4234

We had nice enough weather recently to take them to a nearby park for some sun and fresh air.

2015-01-25 15.46.46

Unfortunately we were there on Opposite Day, so don’t read too much into the smiles.

2015-01-25 15.38.22-2 2015-01-25 15.42.05

Even the kitchen has been baby-proofed and opened for exercise and exploration:

The kitchen was also recently opened up for exploration, with their very own cabinet of unbreakables to not break.

They even got their own cabinets and drawers of unbreakables.

2015-01-29 15.47.49 2015-02-03 17.02.27

2015-02-04 11.39.14

2015-01-29 15.52.05 2015-01-29 15.52.14

Baby Proofing 101: Don't leave floor-level major appliances open.

Baby Proofing 101: Don’t leave floor-level major appliances open.

Coincidental: The first witnessed standing of C without pulling himself up on furniture or something.

Coincidental: The first witnessed standing of C without pulling himself up on furniture or something.

Speaking of furniture, C also started climbing on that...

Speaking of furniture, C also started climbing on that…

...and even getting himself down without falling (sometimes).

…and even getting himself down without falling (sometimes).

2015-02-04 14.58.26

Just cute babies being cute:

Some of these are repeats, but I’m not sorry.

2015-01-06 11.42.05

They’re right to look concerned; this two-seat shopping cart didn’t seem all that safe. Convenient, though!

2014-11-21 09.35.14 2014-11-27 14.30.11 2014-12-11 14.48.40 2014-12-13 11.04.09 2014-12-16 11.21.04 2014-12-17 10.16.47 2014-12-17 10.28.07 2014-12-19 06.17.29 2014-12-30 18.12.22 2015-01-01 06.15.44 2015-01-01 11.58.10 2015-01-05 08.59.29 2015-01-05 08.59.42 2015-01-05 09.04.10 2015-01-05 09.19.45 2015-01-07 16.12.35 2015-01-10 06.17.49 2015-01-10 07.25.39 2015-01-10 07.25.43 2015-01-11 17.49.30 2015-01-19 18.36.23 2015-01-25 14.54.58 2015-02-02 10.30.26 2015-02-03 12.51.26 2015-02-03 13.16.43 2015-02-03 17.06.04 IMG_3490 IMG_3792 2015-02-06 10.39.28IMG_3808 IMG_3817 IMG_3887 IMG_3905 IMG_3947 IMG_4243IMG_4043IMG_4044

IMG_4208

A moment for M:

If you look back at a lot of the posts on this blog, I talk about and/or you can see in pictures M’s bent neck and big round head, both as a result of torticollis. He’s come a long way since birth, and even though they both have, I’m very happy because he had an extra hurdle to jump. Although each boy has developed different abilities at different rates, M has mostly caught up to C on physicality and was even climbing stairs first. He’s also starting to hand things over when asked, deliberately stack and unstack (not knock over), is a proficient clapper, and I’m pretty sure I saw him flipping off someone at Target the other day.

"If my dust gets in your mouth, don't worry, it's edible."

“If my dust gets in your mouth, don’t worry, it’s edible.”

IMG_4207

"I'm happy. I know it. Well, I know what to do next!"

“I’m happy. I know it. Well, I know what to do next!”

Maybe you can't tell here, but this kid dropped or tried to drop each of the little wooden milk bottles back into this vintage truck when I would hand them to him. He's done the same thing with other toys. No word on when we'll stop having to pick up after him.

Maybe you can’t tell here, but this kid dropped or tried to drop each of the little wooden milk bottles back into this vintage truck when I would hand them to him. He’s done the same thing with other toys. No word on when we’ll stop having to pick up after him.

IMG_7930

“My work here is done.”

Wish I Knew Then…

This is by no means the only nor the most definitive list covering this subject, but I had to throw in my two cents on two babies.

  1. You need more of everything than with a singleton.

This may seem obvious, but the full implication of this didn’t hit me until our boys were here. Sure, you need two cribs and twice as many clothes, but there are a lot of things I’d never thought of beforehand. You’ll be doing twice as much laundry, so there’ll be twice as much detergent and twice as much utility use; this includes your laundry, because now you’ll have two babies throwing up on you. Of course you’ll need two baby monitor cameras, so you’ll need two spots to mount them where the cords can reach an outlet. You’ll need a diaper bag that’s twice as big. That toy they like? You’ll probably want to get another one. You’ll be going through twice as many paper towels and trash bags. Speaking of trash bags, you might want to call your trash utility company and get the larger size of trash can, because your current one ain’t big enough. Your doctor bills will be twice as big, your storage space will go away, and you’ll need two “baby’s first whatever” baubles each holiday.

More. Of. Everything.

  1. Multiples are (apparently) medical aberrations.

When you go out in public, people will assault you with questions:

“Are they twins?” “Does it run in the family?” “Are they identical?” and comments: “My neighbor’s sister’s friend had twins.” “You have your hands full!” Kat even had someone ask to take pictures of our boys once to show some relative or other who was having twins. Two babies in Target might as well be the Dionne quintuplets in their display nursery.

  1. They divide and conquer.

Changing a diaper? The other baby’s going to start crying. One’s hungry? The other one won’t be. Are they mobile? They’re going to go different directions and/or move at different speeds. One will cry and wake up the other; then they’ll swap. One will get his clothes off while you’re dressing the other. They are not homogenous, and they won’t let you forget it.

  1. You compare their development.

Multiples don’t develop at the same speed as each other. One might start crawling first and the other will be verbalizing first. You will be constantly worrying that one or the other is behind, whereas with one baby you don’t have that constant comparison.

  1. They have a frenemy right from the start.

They will play with each other and giggle at each other and love each other. They will also hit each other, steal toys from each other, and push each other over.

  1. Shopping becomes a massive challenge.

It had never occurred to me what an ordeal a casual trip to the store could be. I imagine it’s difficult enough with one baby: managing the diaper bag, a cart, a baby, and possibly a stroller is hard enough. It’s obviously more difficult to have twins with you, but not just twice as hard. Most shopping carts only have one seat for little ones, and the ones that do are often plastic monstrosities that are almost impossible to steer and which are less safe than seats in a regular cart. That big diaper bag becomes more of a burden when it takes up more space in your cart or when you have to cram it underneath. Sure, you could wear one or two babies (I usually do), but that presents its own inconveniences. Getting into the store seems to take forever by the time you get them out of your vehicle, put in seats or carriers, buckled in, and all the other adjustments you need to make. I’ve also found that one kid usually ends up pooping or something early in the trip, and one later, each time forcing us to get to a bathroom, dig out the diaper bag, and pray that no one takes our cart while we’re taking care of business.

Oh, and you can’t just tuck them under your arms and pop in to Target. In fact, you can’t “pop in” anywhere. If you want to stop at 7/11 for a Red Bull and bag of Fritos, you’ll need to either go through the loading/unloading process again or leave your babies in the car.

  1. You become smug.

Yes, you have your hands full, but you’re rocking it. Parents of singletons who complain are wimps. Sleep is for the weak. You can lug a squirming little human around under each arm. You can change two diapers almost as fast as some parents can change one. You became ambidextrous almost overnight. Your superiority will never fully be appreciated by others.

Oh, but you will bow down to the abilities of parents of triplets, quads, etc.

Coming Back to Christmas

I think it’s been a combination of factors that have led me to what at best can be called a disinterest in and at worst a loathing of Christmas and its entire affiliated season.

First and foremost, I have been working some form of customer service/retail job for the last…well, every day I’ve ever been employed for my entire life. In particular, for the last – oh my God – seven years, I have been employed with a high-end grocery store. Something about having wealthy people get pissy because you’re sold out of organic mulling spice packs can really chip away at my holiday spirit. Add to that year after year of looping Christmas music (courtesy Muzac) bombarding me for 8+ hours a day, lack of time with family, and first-hand experience with people at a level of holiday narcissism and gluttony that would make Linus vomit into his blanket.

On top of this you can stack age, a growing lack of disinterest in holidays in general, and the shadow of depression looming over me even darker when I’d rather be enjoying the season with my family. It has all added up to what amounts more or less to a resentment of holidays in general and Christmas in particular.

A robust and sincere tip of the hat to my brothers and sisters in retail, food service, hospitality, and other service jobs who don’t flinch during holiday times and especially to those who enjoy them. Kudos, and I even get it. The holidays are more intense, seem to fly by, can be exciting, and even I get a sense of enjoyment when I contribute to making someone else’s holiday/s great. What I particularly dislike, though, is the disregard with which one in our profession is often treated, a disregard that increases during the periods surrounding the various holidays.

I might as well be an Amazon page for all the consideration I get.

This is part and parcel of the service industry, and one typically becomes numb to or at least used to it. What I’ve never been able to reconcile, though, is the increased disregard and even contempt leveled at employees in various customer service jobs.

I’m sorry your family is stressing you out and that you forgot to order your turkey until it was too late and that your credit card bill is growing and that I have offended you with my inability to help you in these or any other matters. Truly.

As the years have passed, and my displeasure with what I do in general growing, I have lost more and more interest in, concern over, and enthusiasm for the holidays. They (all of them) have become just more work challenges to get through, no more fun or exciting than inventory or budget meetings or Weasel Stomping Day. Grab your bootstraps and get through it.

My real problem with this is that it’s really an area of work I can’t help but bring home. I deal with holiday stuff – music, food, etc. – at work all day. Coming home to more holiday music and food isn’t a lot of fun anymore. Placing my own holiday stress second to that of total strangers makes my stress that much tougher to tolerate. I largely dislike Christmas music anymore, or at least any of the common stuff. I look forward to Christmas morning and Halloween night like I look forward to doctor appointments. I’m too frazzled to pick good gifts for people, and although I always plan big holiday meals, I wind up regretting the choice about 30 seconds into taking food from the fridge.

For the first time in ever, I have something really, truly exciting to look forward to this Christmas: a couple of babies.

Last year, when K was pregnant, I actually had some serious optimism about this. I want these boys to renew my excitement in holidays. I need them to.

I know that’s a lot to dump on babies. Asking my children to restore my enjoyment of holidays? They are not real life Rankin/Bass characters.

I don’t care. This year might not make much of a difference, and even next year might be a little tepid.

At some point, though, I will watch these two little terrors start to actively enjoy Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, and the rest.

Fireworks?! Eggs?! Turkey?! PRESENTS?!” I want my babies to look forward to and enjoy holidays the way I used to, and I’m praying that they bring me back to at the very least optimism about them. I admit it; I plan on living vicariously through these guys. I’m not even sorry.

I think that at a certain age, you accept that the bulk of holiday fun is for kids. So you let the little ones have their fun. That, in itself, brings more than enough happiness to many adults, and I’m eagerly looking forward to being one of those adults.

I know pinning the enjoyment of holidays – especially Christmas – on our little boys seems a bit unfair. My justification is that they brighten up my regular days so much that I can only imagine what they’re going to on Christmas.

 

This is M's "official" first crawl. All it took was a singing, light-up novelty Christmas decoration from Hallmark.

This is M’s “official” first crawl. All it took was a singing, light-up novelty Christmas decoration from Hallmark.

Winter time!

Winter time!

OK, Santa didn't scare them; it was the three grumpy teen girls in elf costumes and the other two women helping shaking jingle bells and cajoling the boys to face the camera. Fun, but a bit intense. Oh well. It was free (at P.T.'s office building) and they got to keep those bears!

OK, Santa didn’t scare them; it was the three grumpy teen girls in elf costumes and the other two women helping shaking jingle bells and cajoling the boys to face the camera. Fun, but a bit intense. Oh well. It was free (at P.T.’s office building) and they got to keep those bears!

IMG_3785

Awesome Santa in Kent, WA.

 

Daddy needs Christmas cheer too.

Daddy needs Christmas cheer too.

2014-12-13 06.12.10

GQ pose!

GQ pose!

First Christmas, first pile of electrified strangulation hazard studded with gass.

First Christmas, first pile of electrified strangulation hazard studded with gass.

8 months old!

8 months old!

8 months!

8 months!

Job Sitch

In order to accommodate the two little bundles of inconvenience we brought into our home nearly four months ago, we are changing our respective work schedules. Kat will be working in town two days a week and will be off on alternating Wednesdays. I will be off the other Wednesdays and will also be taking Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays off. This way we’ll maximize our time with the boys as much as possible, “save” money on a nanny, and – in my case – gain a little more time to hunt for local jobs and work on writing and my transcription job.

Nothing much will change for Kat, but for me limiting my availability is a pretty big move. I’ll be stepping down from my current leadership role at some point and will be turning in paperwork stating that I am waiving my rights to seniority and that I understand that I am not guaranteed any number of hours and that they can force me to go back to the hours I agreed to when I was hired (full time, any shifts). I’ll probably also be looking at a pay decrease, which is swell.

That said, I have no idea how this will play out in the long run. There is a delicate pas de deux  between my employer and I: do I need them more, or do they need me more?

This question isn’t out of aggression towards them or arrogance towards me; I just know that I do a lot at my job and am a valuable team member, and I’ve been told that my pay (etc.) would be stretched out as long as possible until H.R. figured it out. The last time a situation regarding me and loss of benefits (due to budget reasons) occurred, it got stretched out more than a year before H.R. caught on, so we’ll see. That said, they know I can’t up and quit (utter employment disasters not withstanding), so I’m at their mercy as well.

One way or another, I’ll be taking a pay cut by working fewer days. Granted, we’ll save some money on daycare, and maybe it’ll balance out considering our commutes and my taxes. Either way, it means an end to reckless spending, which is good, but reckless spending has now changed to mean things like “wine” and “brand name anything”.

The belt-tightening has been more or less successful so far, but has room to improve. I’d say our hardest issue is food; it takes time to shop for ingredients and cook them into healthful meals at home, and time is something we don’t have a lot of these days. Again, me being home more often should help, but if the boys decide they want to be up all day and night playing or crying or otherwise deliberately sabotaging my efforts to be productive – which they totally do on purpose – we might find ourselves ordering pizza yet again.

The money stuff is pretty much panicking me, and I suppose Kat to a degree. I just see us in a few months loading our crap into a storage locker and moving into an apartment, only to realize that the two things combined cost more than rent at our current house, and finally needing to move in with relatives and oh my god how can this ever work??? I guess we’ll make it work…

Although the income might be minimal, especially at first, I will also be bringing in a few bucks with a new transcription job. Rev.com, the company I’ll be working for, hired me a while back but only recently squeezed me in to start taking jobs.

After checking out some of the transcription jobs (they’re emailed to me multiple times throughout the day), it seems like an interesting and fun way to earn a few dollars. As a rookie, I’ll earn a little less, but upon listening to some of the audio files available to transcribe, I think I’ll be good at this job and that it will keep me interested. You are allowed to preview each job, and I was listening to pieces that were interviews with Korean War vets. Very interesting, very clear (read: easy to transcribe) and at the rookie prices, I could make roughly $27.00/hour on average depending on my typing speed. All pieces won’t be as interesting, and I won’t be able to crank out as many as my “counting unhatched chickens” mind is imagining, but still; a paycheck is a paycheck. I have the added benefit of working a job I’ll enjoy, that offers hours based on my desires, that is centered around the English language, and – most importantly – isn’t in the retail/food industry. It’s a foot in the door of a bigger world, one where I can report to work and not expect to try to up-sell a customer by offering gravy.

We have no idea where we’ll land with regards to jobs and pay. What we do know is that we are making the best moves we can for our sons at this point in time. We are also fortunate enough to know that if it all really hits the fan (heaven forbid), we have friends and family that will make sure the four of us have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.

That’s more than some people have, and we’re thankful for it. This is sort of one of those situations that will work itself out; we’ll just need to have faith that it will work itself out for the best.

Because we’re awesome, we’ve paid our dues, and we deserve it.

 

A Quarter of a Year: Gone!

The 12th of July marked the three-month birthday of C & M, and what an insane three months they’ve been. From induction to c-section to homecoming to lactation consultants to families to jobs to pediatricians to nannies…it’s a lot of “real life” to cram into 13 weeks. Looking back, it’s a combination of feeling like things only happened a few days ago to feeling like we’ve been doing this forever.

One of our biggest milestones was reached last week; Kat went back to work, meaning that both of us are working full time and that the boys spent their first time since birth with someone other than family. Although we really like the nanny we hired, it was hard for both of us to leave the boys at home in someone else’s care. We survived the first week without too much heartache, but I think we’ll both be relieved when I work fewer hours and Kat begins working fewer, longer days and are both able to be with the twins more.

Our nanny will probably be leaving at the end of this month, as our new schedules won’t provide her with the hours she needs, so the hunt is on again for a very part-time sitter. I don’t mind saying I am entirely happy to let Kat man the helm on this task.

This first week of dual income earning also marked the first significant amount of time I spent as the solo caretaker of the boys, as I’m in charge from the time Kat leaves around 6:00 a.m. until the nanny gets in around 12:00 p.m. This typically involves me getting up to feed them around 8:30, changing and playing with them until 9:30 or so, and putting them back to bed for a nap while I attempt to shower, dress, eat, and do anything else I need to do before work. This part has only been partially successful; C, in particular, likes to get up earlier than he “should”, which sees me trying to get him back to sleep or entertain him until the nanny arrives. Still, we all survived, and I admit I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I’m looking forward to the upcoming weeks and months and years of care-giving.

Both boys continue to enjoy good health, and although we still haven’t made it off of the wait list to get an appointment with a physical therapist for M’s torticollis, his neck control and strength have been improving day by day. That said, he is still the first to smile, will probably be the first to laugh, and is working on mastering reaching for and grabbing onto specific objects. Today’s item of focus was daddy’s beard.

C is far ahead in the mobility department, lifting his head high and rolling over during tummy time and making the motions (if unsuccessfully) of crawling. He seems to be a bit ahead of the curve as far as three-month-old babies go, and we’ve been told that his knuckle-gnawing and sudden persistent drooling might even be signs of teething. It would be a bit early, but our kids are the beneficiaries of some awesome genes, so why not?

In case you missed it, Washington State is in the midst of its annual early summer heat wave, where temperatures usually reach the mid-nineties at most. In some parts of the country this isn’t that bad, but since we only get about a week of these temps, very few people have air conditioners, meaning our houses – designed to catch as much light as possible the rest of the year – can become sweltering boxes of misery. Our second floor hit the upper eighties the other day, and temperatures are expected to go higher. With twin babies needing their comfort level to stay somewhat steady, I spent time setting up an intricate network of fans to optimize airflow into and out of various areas as deemed appropriate. I even went so far as to tape aluminum foil over the “skylight” windows in certain rooms that let the sunlight come streaming in. I’m also in the final stages of a DIY “air conditioner”, the idea of which has become all the rage around here.

Our dilemmas on how to incorporate our desires (both personal and familial) and needs (both personal and familial) into our daily routine continue. New jobs for either or both of us would be a tremendous help, but who has time to apply? It helps my emotional well-being if I can get some writing/blogging in, but during the day when I have to choose between writing and errands/chores/baby care/meals/work/commuting/etc., the writing takes a back seat. Personally, I’d love to start working on getting healthier, but I don’t have time to work out and we both find that we run out of time to cook and prepare healthy foods, so we wind up with takeout or food from boxes or cans.

A quarter of the way through the boys’ first year. Wow.

Three months old!

Three months old!

Updates, Week 10-11.5

In some ways, I’m shocked by how little our babies have changed in 2+ months. They’re still small, they still communicate by crying, they still can’t read and astrophysics is just outside of their comprehension.

That said, I’m amazed at how much they’ve changed since birth. C has filled out, no longer looks perpetually pissed off, has grown a good swath of hair, and can hold his head up (for a bit) and roll over (once, as of today).

M (who, BTW, retained his glorious patch of spiked-up birth hair) is holding his head up for longer than ever (as of today), is cooing and beeping, reaches out for us (though he doesn’t seem to know what to do when he grabs us), and has a vice-like grip. C managed a roll-over at just past 10 weeks, can hold his head up for longer and longer increments, and is making a mockery of the ages listed inside his clothes.

Both boys are following us with their eyes and heads, kicking their legs, and – best of all – smiling. C is the quickest to smile, especially when mommy is singing him the Alphabet Song. M is a bit more reserved, saving smiles for when you least suspect it, but unleashing them with a genuine glee that blows me away each time. (I’ve also discovered that tousling his hair usually elicits a smile.) Either way, damned if those smiles aren’t cuter than a hamster climbing into a fleece mitten while wearing a little bunny costume and nibbling on a candy heart that says “Hmstr Luv”.

Where was I…?

Oh, right, updates. Aside from those above, we’ve had a few things going on since my last post. (Author’s note: I’ve been trying to get this post written for about two weeks now, but, you know, busy with babies.)

I’m almost definitely going to go part-time at my job. I’m still looking for another local and/or WAH job, but until then, I am stuck where I’m at. After crunching some numbers though, and considering the cost of child care and commuting, it looks like we can (barely) cover expenses with me working PT. I’m looking at working three days every other week and four days the other weeks. This is still unconfirmed (technicalities at work need to get hammered out), but it’s looking like I’ll be a stay-at-home dad (SAHD) three or four days a week.

On our two-month pediatrician appointment, the boys were both in pretty good shape. The only concerns were M’s reflux and constant head-tilting to the right. Rice cereal was suggested to increase the viscosity of his formula, but we’ve reached an impasse as to whether or not to use it. The Internet seems to be pretty much split down the middle when it comes to using cereal at this age, and we’re erring on the side of caution. As for his neck, he was diagnosed with Congenital Muscular Torticollis, known in laymen’s terms as “scrunched neck from being crowded in the womb”. We’ll be seeing a physical therapist soon to straighten him out before he looks like he’s perpetually shrugging.

Vaccines were given, and C had a slight fever afterwards. Some people have concerns about vaccines causing autism or other problems, but we felt pretty comfortable both in getting vaccinations and in broadly labeling anti-vaxxers as total mass-hysteria suckers.

The question I get most at work is “Are they sleeping through the night yet?”. The answer is “no,” but they’re doing better than they were. They’re getting up less frequently, and when they do, a quick diaper change and or short feeding at the breast is usually enough to get them back to sleep without much fuss. They barely wake up to eat (if at all), and don’t start getting truly fussy until five-ish in the morning. We’ll see how this goes when Kat goes back to work and has to feed them early and get them back to sleep until I get up to take over their care before leaving them to the sitter or staying home myself. We had a practice run this past week, and it went mostly smoothly. Kat is all about schedules, and I’m all about letting them eat when hungry and sleep when tired, since they seem to do what they want anyway.

Speaking of Kat going back to work, yesterday (Monday, June 30) was her first day back, sort of a practice run before returning full time next week. I was in charge of the boys for a whole day, and I’m happy to say we all survived unscathed, if off schedule. Our bachelors’ day out took us to the mall, a sandwich shop, and a park for a bit of fresh air before ending at home where we waited for mommy to arrive. Considering it was her first day away since the boys were born, I think she did pretty well. I’m proud, in fact, that she wasn’t panicky, texting or calling every half hour, or sending me constant reminders of how she’d do things.

Once she goes back to work, we’ll have a sitter/nanny who we found on Care.com, a site for finding…well…sitters and nannies. Kat interviewed a few women, and after the first pick was unable to meet our scheduling needs, we called our (close) second pick, and she was able to work with us…at first. This was about the time we decided that I would be going to part time at my job. Add to that K’s new schedule which will allow her a day off and two days working in town each week, and we didn’t have the hours she was looking for. She’ll be taking care of the boys for the next month or so, but when I switch to part time, we’ll need to renegotiate or find someone new.

Today (Tuesday, July 1), Kat took the boys to Poma Fertility, the fertility clinic where we had our successful IVF to show them what a success their painful intrusions into our nethers had netted. I’m mentioning this mainly as an opportunity to plug Poma; you won’t find a nicer, more caring, more dedicated team of outstanding fertility experts anywhere. We felt then and feel now like part of a family, and if you’re in the greater Seattle area (or anywhere else; what’s the cost of a plane ticket at this point?) I couldn’t recommend any place more.

This also brought the fam within a few miles of my work, so they dropped in, causing an hour-long cessation of any sort of productivity. In perfect stereotypical fashion, a few men came by and nodded approvingly and mentioning that C looks like me before wandering off again, and every woman available crowded around to behold the fruit of our loins.

To be filed under “cherish every moment”, I offer the first (almost) two months of our babies’ lives. We’ve been elated, exhausted, happy, angry, sad, optimistic, drained, and more. We’ve cooed over our boys one minute and sobbed when they wouldn’t stop crying the next. We’ve bonded tighter than ever but also had fights. I’ve been more focused from the stress and more discombobulated from lack of sleep (and also that same stress). In this short time, every single aspect of our lives has changed. Long story short: HOLY CRAP!!! OUR BOYS ARE ALMOST TWO MONTHS OLD ALREADY!!! WHERE DID THE TIME GO??? Kat is going back to work in a few days, and someone we found on the Internet will be taking care of them. We won’t be spending as much time with them, and suddenly the last several weeks seem gone just like that. A portion of this time loss can be blamed on lack of sleep and the flurry of doctors, family, and periods of adjustment, but the bottom line is the warnings were true: it goes by so fast.

The Good News Is…

When I launched this blog (and this Tumblr and this Twitter account), the goals were threefold:

  1. Keep family/friends updated on our lives
  2. Have a place for me to get some writing done, with family eagerly awaiting news as my motivation
  3. Help me connect with other parents, folks with ADD and depression, and possible leads on jobs

The good news is that I’ve actually managed to do some of each of these, and will continue to get posts in as I can.

The other good news is that due to the amount of time the twins demand, I can’t get as much writing done as I’d like. Yes, I think that’s actually good news; it means I’m spending lots of time with the boys, so much so that other activities have been neglected.

The bad news is that the overall point of having these accounts is to work towards a better life for the boys via my improved mood and new job. See how it’s cyclical? 

That said, the other other good news is that I have been hired by a transcription company. Before you send me the congratulations cards, the work is limited to what they have available and how quickly you can do it. The pay is by the audio minute (the length of whatever I’m transcribing), and obviously I’ll be slow in the beginning. The average for a “rookie”, says the welcome email I received is $40.00/month; not exactly a living wage. Ideally, I’ll get pretty fast and move up the ladder relatively quickly and start earning more money. I’ll get more into this when I get started, so stay tuned.

The good news in that is that I got hired. Specifically, I got hired for a WAH position based on the results of a test I took that required writing, listening, grammar, and paying attention. In other words I got hired based on skills I have that don’t involve putting potato salad into plastic tubs. This provided a big and much needed ego boost, low-paying job notwithstanding. It also opened up the idea of this type of work; I’ve found more companies that I’ll be applying to over the next few weeks. The ultimate goal is to work from home while earning enough to not need to work in a retail establishment for the first time in my life. I don’t know if transcription is going to do that, but it’s a step in the right direction.

One unexpected benefit of having twin babies is that I have been more focused, less distracted, and better able to organize and plan ahead. Please note that I’m not saying I’m great at any of these, but I’m better than I was a few months ago. I think that being on edge with regards to the boys’ needs keeps my brain on task better than it had been. Knowing that I have two hours before the babies need to eat keeps me focused on the task at hand. I’ve always been a “work better under pressure” person, and this is that. I just need to work on getting to bed earlier; I tend to get home, help with a feeding, do some work, and be ready to go to sleep just when the boys are waking up. Depending on my level of exhaustion this leads to anything from a shrug of mild annoyance to downright “Of COURSE they’d be hungry right when I’m ready for bed!” anger. I absolutely have to adjust my sleep patterns, but I’ve been going to bed at hit-a-wall o’clock for the better part of the last 20 years, so making a permanent change is daunting. I’ll get there, though, because Kat says I have to.

So the blogs aren’t being kept up like I was hoping, but there have been other benefits of this “father of baby twins” thing. Like I said earlier, this stuff was supposed to make me better, therefore making life better for the boys. Turns out they flipped that on me; they’re not letting me get to everything I want, but they’re improving me in their own way.

Evolution of the Cry

So I’ve been looking for information on babies’ cries, what they mean, how to tell them apart, and whether or not these “translations” are legitimate. The legitimacy question is up for some debate; the “study” most everyone who talks about this subject refers to Dunstan Baby Language, a theory stating that there are five cries which can tell us what the baby needs. This hasn’t been scientifically verified, however. An overwhelming majority of online articles about this subject are for it, even if the author hasn’t seen it in practice and hasn’t dug deeper for a more scientific study than an opera singer’s “photographic ear”.

While looking into this theory, I came across some theories on why we cry at all, both as adults and as babies. There are multiple schools of thought, from crying being used to generate empathy to plain old begging for attention as a means of survival. Some scientists even think babies cry more at night to prevent their parents from bringing siblings (read: competition) into the world. I also learned that the frequency of their cries and screams are likely evolved to make sure that their parents hear them. This is why it’s almost impossible to block out – or not be annoyed by – a baby’s cry.

I don’t really get it, I guess. Shrieking at a high frequency seems like the opposite of a survival tactic; it may let a mother know she needs to feed, but it also lets every carnivore around know that there is a screaming Hot Pocket in that cave over there. I would think silence would be a better option. 

If you really think about it, a baby’s cry back in the day (read: way, way back) would have been a signal to other animals that there was a small, weak primate youngling just begging to be devoured. The translation would have been something like “Attention predators and beasts of the plains and jungles! I am a human baby, naked and basically blind, screaming for food from my mother as I haven’t yet developed the wherewithal, let alone strength and coordination to feed myself. Yes, that’s right, I’m quite weak. I should also note that I have no teeth or claws with which to defend myself. Weapons? Fire? Forget it. My mother is exhausted from tending to me, so I imagine her alertness is pretty much gone. I wouldn’t make a large meal, but my bones are basically cartilage, so you should be able to gobble me up whole. If this piercing shriek in the night isn’t enough to find me, you should be able to find me by my scent, which is a mix of dried milk and surprisingly pungent poop. I’ll see you in a bit.” 

The end.