Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Once we found out we were pregnant with twins my husband and I pretty quickly settled on naming our children with names plucked from our family trees. We also agreed we didn't want to discuss the names publicly until the children were born - people are so opinionated with names if you reveal them before the babies are born. I can remember offending my brother with feedback on names before my nieces were born.
For our children, we announced the names on the date of their birth!
Our daughter, Susanna Aralou, is named in honor of my mother and my husband's mother/my husband's great-grandmother. Susanna is a minor variation of my mother's first name. For the middle name, my husband's grandmother Margie had given her second born daughter the same middle name as her mother, Lou, and after the tragic and untimely death of Margie, my husband's mother was raised by her namesake grandmother (my husband's great-grandmother) Ara Lou (two words). We liked the two names as one; hence Aralou.
Our son, John Randolph, is named in honor of my husband's family and my father. With very few exceptions the first born son in my husband's family tree all have the name John somewhere in the mix. It is my husband's middle name. It is my husband's grandfather's name. It's in his family tree all the way back to the 1600's. We like tradition. The name Randolph is the formal version of my father's first name. I like formal names.
Susanna Aralou and John Randolph: two sets of perfect names for two perfectly adorable tiny people!
Monday, March 21, 2016
My husband and I are extremely fortunate to live at this time on this spot on earth. I don't forget that truth, ever. We're two legally married gay men with two children. We are celebrated by our village of friends and family - not shunned. The arrival of the twins has brought such generosity and kindness and support to our front door. It is support that we greatly appreciate and very much require to fully engage in our newest and most important roles as fathers.
First, it all started before the twins were born where friends hosted showers which allowed more friends and family to prep us with baby gear - great loads of baby gear! Next, with the twins early arrival two weeks ago we've had more acts of love sent our way. We've received cards, clothes for the babies, food, flowers and handmade quilts.
Every such gift of kindness and support is uplifting in sleepy moments of getting two preemies to eat, sleep, grow, and getting two mid-thirty year olds educated on life with babies. I've learned so much in two weeks.
When the twins were in the hospital we bonded with the NICU nurses; one NICU nurse named Kara gave me some very profound advice at a late night feeding. I think I was almost in tears when Susanna spit up the bottle I just worked really hard to give to her. Kara told me I must have grace for myself and we must have grace for each other. I've thought about that advice when I get into unpleasant moments of taking care of two babies. I laugh at myself, learn from the situation, and move on!
With my new wisdom I will engage in a different way the next time someone else in my village gives birth - I will be dropping off hot food, stocking freezers with homemade meals, or sending cards and flowers. I will pay it forward by reminding new parents, like Kara reminded me, to have a little grace for yourself and your spouse.
Saturday, March 19, 2016
You get to watch a lot of movies when you have tiny humans that eat every three hours in your household. We're in a feeding, about to feed, or just fed nonstop cycle. Since the film Brooklyn received 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes I rented it a few nights ago, and it was the most delightful film. I don't want to over sell it, since it's really just a simple love story; however, you must see this film.
The actors performance is captivating; there are many sweet subtle moments in this film. I hope to see many more films with actors Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen in leading performances. Great talent always uplifts my spirits.
Here's a quote from the film, which made me weepy with a baby in my arms at 3:30 in the morning.
"You'll feel so homesick that you'll want to die, and there's nothing you can do about it apart from endure it. But you will, and it won't kill you... and one day the sun will come out and you'll realize that this is where your life is." - Eilis Lacey, Brooklyn
Friday, March 18, 2016
Sometimes, mostly late at night, I think to myself: holy shit we have two babies! Sometimes, usually in the middle of the day, I say my now familiar phrase that makes my husband laugh: Hey Honey, remember that one time when we brought two babies home?
We spent years saving, months planning, and it cost us a great deal over six figures of cash to get two babies under our roof, and now they are here under our roof. We are so lucky, so blessed. It's unbelievable and unfamiliar. Currently we are living in the sweet and sleepy haze of fatherhood.
We were planning to induce at 37 weeks and 2 days on Monday, March 21, but the twins arrived at 35 weeks and zero days. We lived an I Love Lucy version of the twins' arrival. It was such a ridiculous series of goofy events.
Around 2:30 AM on Saturday, March 5 my buzzing cell phone woke me up from my warm bed in Dallas, Texas. I reached over on the bedside table to grab my phone; as soon as I saw our surrogate's husband's name on the caller ID I immediately yelled the "F" word and set up in bed.
Our surrogate's husband was so causal and calm wishing me a good morning and other niceties when I heard our surrogate yell three words: "my water broke!" Our surrogate's husband encouraged us to get in the car and get to Austin very quickly.
The thing is...we weren't ready for the "my water broke" phone call. We were planning to spend the weekend getting the Go Bag and car seats ready. It took us an hour to get out the door. We were packing baby bags, we were packing our bags, we were running upstairs and down stairs and throwing all kinds of stuff into the car. In the crazy excitement Matt Damon emptied his bladder on the vintage rug - I had to at least clean that up...I'd never left a stain behind in my life. I was on autopilot. We were just running around upstairs, downstairs, into the garage. Chaos.
We stopped loading the car when we ran out of room in the car. We took off. But our car was sitting on empty. We had to stop and fill up. We took off again. Remember, we weren't ready. (Are you ever ready for babies?) Later, when I analyzed the contents of the car I found an opened box of fruit loops and an unopened large bag of tortilla chips. I told you it was chaos.
My husband zoomed to Austin, and when we were about thirty minutes out of town we got the text that our surrogate was headed to the OR. My husband zoomed faster - we were going 90 MPH with our flashers flashing and hoping we didn't have to explain our speeding self to a cop if we got pulled over. We didn't get pulled over. (They system works.) After we exited the freeway we ran stop lights and sent texts to our surrogate's husband at every intersection to report our play-by-play. He was excellent at managing us.
Our surrogate made everyone wait for us. She refused to push until we arrived, something I will forever cherish.
We ran into the hospital where two nurses were waiting for us; they helped us get dressed for the OR: overall body suit, cap, shoe covers, and face mask. We were running to the OR while putting on our masks, and we bust into the OR where a team of a dozen people were waiting for us. These strangers knew our names because our surrogate had been telling stories about us to help pass the time/delay the push. Two minutes after arriving into the OR my husband was cutting the umbilical cord for our daughter. As soon as they pulled her out, before they could weigh her, she peed everywhere. This made me laugh. Our son went breach, his sack had not broken, and he arrived all blue and gray 13 minutes after his sister. Nurses started asking me questions, but I could not speak. I literally could not make my mouth work. My speech was paralyzed, and it was terrifying. Luckily, my husband knows I don't speak when stressed and he answered the questions. Go team!
Tears were flowing. People were congratulating us. It was wonderful. We were fathers of two screaming babies. My husband went with our son to the NICU. I went with our daughter to a labour and delivery room. She breast fed, met our surrogate's children and husband, and then something happened (her body temperature was low, her breathing was heavy) and the nurses called to get her admitted to the NICU too. Up we went to join my son and husband. My husband's parents were there too.
Our children were born on a Saturday and checked out on Wednesday. Our surrogate knew how to grow healthy babies that were ready for this world at 35 weeks and zero days.
We have two babies!