Lynnette the Sheepdog

As mentioned in this space, I have an extremely difficulty time waking up in the middle of the night and early morning to assist in the feeding of the twins. Perhaps the decline of this ability is due to my college habits – bouts of procrastination and Vivarin-fueled all-nighters – and consequently, my body is no longer capable of reaching into that well of energy, if such a well still exists.

In the early days of the twins’ lives, Lynnette struggled to rouse me from bed. Again, the best way I can describe my stupor is that my body begins to move, but my mind is still 5 minutes behind. “You need to feed Avery,” Lynnette will say, and the best I can muster is a series of inarticulate sounds that bear no resemblance to any human language. This haze is best illustrated by that one time I stood over a crying child in the changing station. I stared, bleary-eyed, at this near-human until Lynnette pulled me back to reality. “What are you doing? Change her!” she said. “I nodded. Then I changed her.

Well, rather than grow upset and file for divorce, Lynnette has made the adjustment. This past weekend, Lynnette changed her strategies to help me help her with the twins. She basically sheepdogs me through the entire process until my brain reaches some low level of competence.

12Lynnette deployed these new tactics over the past weekend.

“You have to wake up and feed Avery,” she said. I mumbled something incoherent. “Avery is crying,” she said. This is the situation report.

I stumbled out of the bedroom and Lynnette was on the couch feeding Cole. “Avery is in the bedroom in her crib,” Lynnette said. Key Adjustment: specific directions. It should be said that I am most proud of Lynnette for this adjustment. My wife is famous for spouting off commands like “You need to put the stuff in the da kine”, to which Madison and I roll our eyes. At 3 in the morning, I need the details.

I emerged from the bedroom with Avery in my arms. “Change her now,” Lynnette said. Key Adjustment: sequencing. Is it the same sequence every single time? Yes. Am I aware of this at 3:01 in the morning? No.

As my hands fumble with legs and diapers and diaper wipes, Lynnette provides more information from the couch, “I didn’t make the bottle.” Now, this obviously implies I have to make the bottle, but she leaves nothing to interpretation, “You have to make the bottle.” Key Adjustment: literal commands and demands.”Okay,” I say. I walk to the island in the kitchen and stare at the bottle components and start putting them together. “No, I already filled a bottle with water. You just have to add the formula. My brain is still not working and I have no glasses on or contacts in. “How much?” I say. I have successfully strung two words together. The brain is warming up, baby. I know this is condescending as it’s happening but I can’t even be upset. I legitimately need the help.

When I finally shake the holy hell out of that bottle (as kind of a way to wake myself up that never, ever works), I return to retrieve Avery. I scoop her up and head toward the couch. “There’s her bib and her burp cloth,” she says while pointing. Key adjustment: visual cues. While I can’t read the numbers on the side of bottle yet, I am capable of turning my head in the direction of my wife’s slender and charming arm. I will then put the bib on and settle into the couch to feed my impatient daughter who will likely reject the formula, anyway.

At this point, Lynnette’s done her job. All that’s left is for my brain to start humming, and this usually happens within the first five minutes of feeding. I might stare blankly at my child staring blankly at me. Eventually, however, I will say something to her like “Hey you!” I am awake now. But, there’s a 50/50 chance that I will return to my sleep at some point during this feeding. It happened Saturday morning and it wasn’t Lynnette who woke me up; it was Avery. I think she had been cooing at me and I did not respond because I was unconscious. She screamed and kicked both legs and it scared the hell out of me. “Holy sh*t!” I said. I looked down to see my own smirk on my daughter’s face. “Sorrysorrysorrysorrysorry…”

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