I am able to go to work and function like something approximating a human being because of the efforts of my wife and mother-in-law. During weeknights my mother-in-law stays over at our place and wakes up every three hours or so with Lynnette to change, feed, burp, and put the kids back to sleep. Madison and I are locked away in the bedroom, afforded a full night’s sleep thanks to the insane care Lynnette and her mother provide for Cole and Avery. I am grateful that such support surrounds us, so when Friday night and Saturday night roll around and I replace my mom-in-law, I’m kind of excited to help out. It’s the least I can do, you know?
9:26 PM. This is the first of the nighttime feedings. Lynnette is a well-oiled, finely-tuned machine at this point, but on a Friday night I am fading fast. The diaper changing can never be fun, but the 10 minutes of speaking to my kids in an incredibly high-pitched voice 8 inches away from their faces is some of the best stuff I do all day. At the end of this feeding cycle I simply hope that they’ll sleep soundly through the next 3 hours or so.
12:25 AM. I can hear the babies crying through the monitor, but my body never moves. My mind and the rest of me simply hopes against hope that one or both of the twins making noise will find it in his or her or their heart(s) to stop. Lynnette, though, springs out of bed like she’s been sleeping for 16 hours. I know it’s real when she says something to me in that nurse-ishly authoritative voice. “Feeding time,” she’ll say. “Phil…” she’ll say. “Let’s go,” she’ll say. And I will go. But it’s only my body. I will get out of bed, zombie walk into the living room, recoil from the light, and stop at the playpen set up against the far wall of the living room. Once there, I will stand and allow my brain – which is still in the bedroom – to catch up with the rest of me. One night last week, I was standing at the playpen just staring down at Cole on the changing station. “So…are you going to change him?” Lynnette asked. “Oh, yeah, yeah,” I said.
4:19 AM. Incredibly, Abby accompanies Lynnette and me to the couch for every overnight feeding. I have no idea why she would do this, I certainly wouldn’t if I didn’t have to, but it does warm my heart to see her come around the corner of the hallway, pick up speed in her gait, and then pop up on the couch. She’s very good about not interrupting the feeding. In fact, all she does is find an acceptable plot of couch to plop down on. Then she curls up and falls asleep. I suppose she just wants to be around Lynnette and me, which is touching. Also, this is about the time of the morning when I am so thrilled I don’t have boobs. Well, boobs that produce milk, then, you jerks. If one or both of the twins is still fussy after the feeding, Lynnette breastfeeds them until they fall asleep. By then, I’ve already curled up next to her on the couch, just like Abby.
7:58 AM. When Madison was a baby I sang three songs to her while carrying her: “Ribbon in the Sky” and “Overjoyed” by Stevie Wonder, and “Never Going to Give You Up” by Rick Astley. I’ve been trying to come up with songs for the twins, but hadn’t succeeded until last night. Avery was fussy so i scooped her up and my mouth just started moving. INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” is what came out. That seemed to work. This morning while Avery was fidgeting I picked her up and the chorus of “Just Like Heaven” came out, so it looks like she’s covered. But what about Cole? I don’t know. I explained to him that his father is partial to love songs, but tries to hide them by selecting love songs by rock bands or obscure bands that don’t sound like love songs until you really listen to them. “So it’s going to hard to figure one out for you,” I concluded. He farted after my monologue, so. Madison is still performing admirably as Big Sister. She’s built up enough confidence to lift them from their rockers, carry them while standing and walking, and to look into the diaper while they’re being changed. I give her credit: those diapers – especially Cole’s – are the literal heart of darkness.