Just three years ago, Lauren and Keith were two little babies kicking around in my stomach. I used to call it "moving furniture." I don't know why, but I imagined their little bodies inside me doing all sorts of stretchy moves. Who would have ever imagined those two would come out in the end?
When I was pregnant I didn't have much in mind about what they were going to look like, but I sort of thought my son would look like me and my daughter would look like Justin. I was totally wrong on that, the first of many things.
The pregnancy was the most difficult things I'd done, but everyone told me having two newborns would be worse, that I should sleep as much as possible before they came. Which was an oxymoron, because all night starting about 9PM, the last month of the pregnancy, I was up with contractions. Once the babies came, I could sleep again. I could breathe, sit up and even eat! It was amazing and instantly happened once I delivered them. Letting almost 14 pounds of baby out of my body along with all the amniotic fluid and two placentas felt so freeing. I was getting more sleep than before, despite having two newborns who were up all hours of the night.
Everyone said I'd feel sad and empty that they weren't inside me anymore. But I don't remember feeling that way. The two of them were so magical from the minute we brought them home. The first nap, we'd set them down in the crib, a foot apart, only to find them later sleeping face to face, nose to nose. One rolled over, the other rolled over. They slept touching always, connected in a way that I would never feel with anyone else. They seemed like an old married couple, the way they moved. Like two souls who'd known each other forever, much longer than the 37 weeks I'd carried them.
I never wanted twins. I never wanted to be a twin. I thought it would be awful, that you wouldn't be treated as an individual, but instead, "the twins." Like a unit, like no one would know your name. Independence was perhaps my most valued character trait. I think I was wrong there too. It helps that my twins aren't identical, it gives them more separation.
I've watched Keith and Lauren, how they learn together, from each other. Most of their milestones are days apart. How they keep each other in check, how they play together. Even how they hit each other when one is acting up. Little spats, like a quick loud cat fight. They enter new places, new schools with ease, having each other to ease them into whatever new activity has come up.
It took me until they were two to see the virtue of having a twin. When we were growing up, Carrie and I often went on the church ski trip or trip to the Canadian-American Peace Gardens in North Dakota. My mom always had to fudge one of our ages so we could go together- they were in 2 year age segments, and I was three years older. I never minded lying a little so I could have my sister along. Actually, when she came on the bus with me, I loved it too, we always sat together and skied together. I think I would have loved having a twin. I didn't realize that til now, but I would have loved having Carrie with me more than I even had.
I've also gotten to see gender differences. Having had only sisters, when I found out I was having a boy, I quickly called my friend Lourdes and asked her, "How do I change his diaper?" and "How would I know if he had a penis infection or something? She said, "You'll know." and "It's easier to clean him up than a girl." I was relieved and figured I could handle a son. Her son was her easy child and her daughter was her more spirited one, so she convinced me that he would be easy. Turns out her daughter and my son are more alike and my daughter and her son, but it still helps to talk to her.
So three years ago, I was one hour from meeting Lauren and Keith. That day was filled with trepidation and excitement, hopefulness and wonder. I imagined a lot of things, but I underestimated how amazing it would be like to have children. Sure, we've spent days and months very stressed out and tired, but the small things add up. Keith doctoring his babies and putting his chickens to sleep, Lauren taking me on an elevator ride in the hallway and an airplane ride to Carolina on the couch. Reading thousands of books, walking to the store. The years are slipping by... first we went in a stroller and then with harnesses and now everyone walking on their own.
The air outside is hazy and thick with smoke, fires all around us, reminding me of my mortality and wondering if I should've brought children into this messed up world. At night, I think about what more can I do? Could I change careers? Could I make more of a difference? What will happen to this planet? Morning comes and I start my day again with the twins. They give me a reason to live, motivation to to better, and a hope for the future.
Three years old today. Cheers to many many more years, I hope.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
I'd signed out for August 2nd off, which gave us a five day weekend. Plenty of time to get out of town. Justin and I, having almost completely eschewed planning now since we were graced with two babies at the same time, hadn't had anything planned and the five day weekend had started.
Sitting in the living room in the evening after the babies were down, I said, "Should we try to go camping?"
"Yeah, why not?" Justin said.
Thinking of our new sign on the backdoor, that says: Replace Fear of the Unknown with Curiosity, I said, "Well even if it goes bad, it'll be a good story." I'm always in favor of a good story. This thought got me through many misadventures while traveling.
Our planning involved finding a regional park about forty minutes from home in case we needed to pack up and go home in the middle of the night. Oxbow Regional Park, situated on the Sandy River. No animals. No alcohol. Gates closed from sunset to sunrise. Sounded perfect.
A friend kindly dropped off a massive tent for us to try. I set it up in the backyard to air out. I hadn't been in a tent big enough to stand in for years. My mom and Chuck delivered the kids' Pack N Plays. We set everything outside. Justin loaded the car. The tent had a hole in one side, all of us were outside inspecting and decided we should apply a little duct tape to it before leaving. We took out the poles and packed them up.
Carrie came over and we loaded the twins into her car. I checked Justin's car to make sure we had everything. Seemed like we were ready.
We took off.
After arriving at the park, we looped around twice, looking for a site that was big enough to pitch a small two-man backpacking tent and one giant 6-8 person tent and yet appeared to be private enough.
We found one, settled in, pitched Carrie's little tent and set out for a walk. Just as we were about to leave, Justin pulled up. He started unpacking the trunk.
"Did you pack the tent?" He asked.
"You're kidding right?" I said.
"Oh shit! What are we going to do?"
We hmmed and hawed and decided that it wasn't worth driving back home in traffic to get the tent. It would be 1-2 hours round trip in traffic.
Justin would sleep in the back of the Suburu. Carrie would sleep under the day tent (essentially outside). "I've always wanted to sleep outside," she said. And the babies and I would pile into the little tent.
We blew up the air mattress thinking it would fit in the small tent. It blew itself right out the door.
Plan B: Pack N Play mattresses on the floor of the tent. Fit perfect (covered the top half where the babies would sleep).
We let the kids down to play in the campsite. Covered in black dirt from head to toe, the babies looked like they were homeless, but happy.
Carrie had brought all the food, and cooked at the campsite for us. Zucchini pancakes, leftover curry and salmon enchiladas. The babies had some food I'd made at home: coconut carrot soup, pumpkin pancakes and apple slices.
After dinner, Justin and I headed off for the free hot showers with the babies. Keith and Lauren loved the showers. I did one at a time and traded with daddy. We loaded them back up in the Twingo and he showered and returned to our site a few minutes later.
We tried to have them sleep in the Pack N Plays outside, which worked great for Lauren, not so much for Keith. I finally remembered that I could nurse him laying down so we crawled in the tent; he was asleep in minutes.
Carrie and Justin had built a fire while I was nursing. The three of us sat around it making s'mores and talking. All tired, we tucked ourselves in at about ten o'clock.
We were all worried about getting cold; it's been in the fifties overnight. I'd dressed the babies in a cotton pj, fleece pj and then a fleece sleep sack. All of us had extra blankets.
Everyone got hot. Except the babies. They had the right amount on. They slept all night- just a little nursing when I moved them around. I woke up several times to a numb arm, or to check to make sure they were breathing and in a safe place. Keith has a tendency to move a lot so I'd find him scooted up to the top edge of the tent. It's better to keep him next to me and Lauren on the far side. He's more stable when I'm nearby.
The night went amazing and at 7:30, both babies woke up smiling and excited. We played around inside the tent for a while. I didn't think anyone was up yet. I heard Carrie's sleeping bag rustle. Then some talking. Justin had gotten up at 7. There had been a fawn in our campsite and he'd taken pictures. She was right by our little tent. Maybe she knew there were babies inside too.
"Let's not get them dirty this morning." We declared, regarding Keith and Lauren.
A while later, Keith was riding the skateboard, Lauren pushing her walker through the dirt. Not much later, he was crawling around. Cleanliness is less important than having fun. Washing machines were made for this purpose.
Check out was by 1pm. We stayed until about noon.
Justin loaded up most of the stuff. We loaded the babies. We'd decided to stop in the outlet mall on the way home. Planning for a quick stop, we did great until we hit the Gap. We'd tried on a few things (I always get their tank tops and most of my had lost their elastic after five years of wear.) The kids in the handicapped stall worked great because the doors go to the floor. No escapees.
Carrie got a swimming suit.
On the way out of the dressing room, I saw "Sexy Bootcut Jeans, $16.99." "I wonder if those would fit me?" I asked.
Wearing both babies in the Twingo, I trudged back to the stall to try them on. I'd picked a size too big, and sized down. They seemed to fit. I decided I should have two pairs, since the last time I was shopping was before I was pregnant. At home I only had one pair of jeans that fit. And they were from 2011 and I was constantly pulling them up. Sweating and anxious, I just wanted to get out of there. I decided I needed to try them on without the kids on me. So I freed the little natives. It took about 30 seconds for them to escape out the bottom of the door, one by one. A twin gong show for sure.
"Careful: Baby Crossing!" A Russian lady declared. "Do you need some help" She asked.
"Thanks, but my sister is right there." I said, as Carrie approached.
I got what I needed and we checked out. All our goods stuffed in one bag. I'd gotten a few things for the kids for next summer. Almost all their clothes are hand-me-downs, but I'd found some cute soft things in orange and aqua and decided it was okay to buy them.
Carrie and I loaded the kids up and headed down I-84. Several miles down the road she said, "I hope she didn't give me the size medium top in that suit. Maybe you better check."
As soon as she said that, I thought, I don't recall seeing the bag in the back seat.
I started pulling things out behind me, "We left it in the parking lot!" Frantically thinking how I would not get another pair of jeans for at least another year. Thinking how I had never even bought the kids any new clothes hardly and now that I had I forgot the whole damn bag in the parking lot.
"Call the Pendelton store." Carrie said. "We parked right in front of them."
I rang them up. "Oh yep, we saw your bag. We were about to go out and get it but a man picked it up and took it to Carter's. I think it got run over."
I called Carter's and our bag was there. We turned around at the next exit which was about five miles away since we were on I-84, which has few exits. We got back, picked up our bag and went home.
Good people are everywhere.
|Nope, couldn't stuff it in there.|
|Keith loves Auntie|
|He's a fast baby!|
|Carrie was the official cook of the trip|
|Justin's fancy chair that a company sent him as a gift.|
|Vanna displays the campsite with only one tent.|
|Getting the babies to sleep|
|Carrie's outdoor bed. She's a trooper.|
|how we slept|
|better to keep keith next to me|
|This was before they started smiling a ton. They were so happy.|
|the little fawn in our campsite before we woke up|
|on our way out of the park|
|the ran over bag retrieved. ;)|