Category Archives: Twins blog

The end of their innocence

(April 15, 2013; 9:12 p.m.): About eight hours ago, the world changed for the worse again. It changed in the way the world changed on 9/11 or during Oklahoma City or during Columbine or during Sandy Hook. The two explosions that occurred more than four hours into the Boston Marathon were world-changers on a planet filled with world-changers. It was a domestic bombing, like 9/11 and Oklahoma City, that has scared and saddened us. The death of a child, like in Columbine and Sandy Hook, has made us weep for the future’s loss and the loss of their future.

Seven hours ago, my 3-year-old children went to bed for their daily nap. I kept the TV off when they were downstairs, but as soon as their bedroom door closed and their turtle night-light flickered to life, I immersed myself in the news coverage. And the anger. And the sadness. And the goddammit-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-this-world of it all.

I seethed and I teared up and I tweeted, and my children slept, blissfully unaware that the world outside our doors had changed once again.

They’re 3, and the world to them is infinitely good. They spend their days playing and learning in preschool and going for walks with mommy and daddy. They love Sesame Street and Toy Story and their baby dolls and looking at the pictures from our recent Disney cruise. They don’t know heartbreak or evil or the goddammit-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-this-world of life. Their sadness leaks out when a toy is lost. Nothing more and nothing less. I envy them for that.

Four hours ago, after my kids had emerged from their slumber (and the TV had been darkened), my daughter pulled out a pair of my wife’s brown shoes. She traipsed around the kitchen with her oversized footwear, pulled out her orange toy binoculars and declared, “I seeee you, Daddy.” I turned away from the sadness on Twitter and smiled.

Then, I helped her and her brother build a bear circus* out of Lego blocks.

*The other day, we built a caterpillar zoo. Today it was a bear circus. Somehow these things exist in my kids’ minds.

Every parent, I’m sure, ponders their children and the innocence that eventually will disappear forever. The country cries, and soon enough, the kids will cry along with it. But for now, they laugh and they drink their milk and they chase each other around the island in our kitchen.

Two hours ago, a buddy of mine tweeted to me that it was difficult having to explain what had happened in Boston to his 5-year-old son. What was his reaction? I asked. Did he understand?

“He was confused that an explosion could be real,” my buddy wrote.

The world probably changed today for his child, just like it did for all of us. Explosions are real. Evil does exist. A road race can lead to destruction and death.

Ten hours from now, when my kids wake up for a brand new day of sunshine and innocence, they won’t know any better. But they will soon enough, and that’s when our job as parents will change. We will have to be the ones to teach them people are good and that life can be beautiful. And that the loss of innocence can be a blessing. That it teaches us how to survive.

Their world, at some point, will change. Hopefully, we’ll teach them how it can be for the better.

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The next step

The letter below fills me with pride. And makes me a little sad. And makes me excited for the kids. And me. And my free time. But also a little lonely.

Yes, I have mixed emotions about the twins finally heading off to preschool.

Dear Children and Parents,

First of all….WELCOME! I can’t tell you how excited Ms. M and I are about our 2012-2013 class!!

We have been working very hard all week getting your child’s room ready and planning for an (sic) great year of fun and learning.

With the first day of school fast approaching don’t forget that this Friday morning from 8:30AM-10:30AM is “Meet the Teacher”.

Ms. M & I will be on hand, eager to meet you and your child as well as answer any questions you might have in regards to the upcoming school year.

Also, I have set up this e mail especially for the class and will be checking it frequently so please feel free to send us an e mail with any questions or concerns throughout the school year.

Can’t wait to meet everyone and we hope to see you all at “Meet the Teacher” on Friday!

Again, WELCOME! 🙂

Best,
Ms. R

Tuesdays and Thursdays around the ol’ homestead now will be just a little lonelier.

The twins are destined to crush us

Every day, my twins, Stella and Noah, make more and more conversation. Noah will say something like, “I’m sitting on the potty backwards,” and even though he’s not actually doing anything on said potty, Julie and I will look at each other in amazement. How did he learn how to say that? We, of course, don’t have the answer. We have no idea.

Or Stella will pull out the most heart-warming version of “thank you” on record, and we wonder, is there anything in this world that’s possibly cuter than those two words emanating from the mouth of our adorable toddler.

Stella has been smiling more lately, and during music class a few days ago, she started rocking out with sticks and a drum. Noah can almost have a near-conversation, and when I come in the room and he says, “Oh, hi, Dada,” it’s all I can do not to burst (with laughter, with pride, with everything).

This morning, when I was changing Stella’s diaper, she stuck her hand inside the decorative blanket on the wall and asked, “Where did my hand go?” After I expressed my puzzlement at this perplexing query, she yanked it out and said, “There it is.” Earlier, Noah dropped something out of his crib, and he said, “Oh no, it fell.”

Yesterday, Stella asked Julie out of nowhere, “What’s the matter?” Before that, when I asked Noah if he wanted some pancakes, he said, “Um ……… yes,” like he was deep in thought and really contemplating the matter.

It’s all cute. It’s all wonderful.

It’s also a little heart-crushing. Because my kids are growing up. People say all the time, “Oh, they grow up so fast.” I haven’t felt that yet. It feels like Stella and Noah have been here for almost 2 1/2 years exactly. It’s been a life-changing, fantastic 2 1/2 years. It’s also been a long 2 1/2 years.

But I have made an effort to live in the moment as much as I can. That’s why I go in for second good-nights (and second kisses) most every evening. Yes, I let the kids watch a little too much Sesame Street probably (is five hours a day REALLY too much, though?), but I also feel very present in their lives, moving with them in real time. When the kids start going to school, maybe I’ll feel different. Maybe I’ll feel their youth slipping away too quickly.

But that’s the thing: they’re growing up. Maybe that should thrill me to no end, but it doesn’t. It makes me (a little bit) sad. I remember when the twins began rolling over and, then, began readying themselves to crawl. During that time span, I almost dreaded the moment they’d begin to crawl forward (or, in Stella’s case, backward). It was just another step in their lives, a step closer out the door, leaving behind old mom and dad to relive the memories of their children’s youth.

I imagine that it’s a normal feeling for a parent to experience, but it also feels a little selfish. I wasn’t rooting against my kids, but I wasn’t completely sad when they failed at their task.

And now, they talk. And tomorrow, they’ll talk some more and learn new words. And the next day, they’ll amaze us once again. At some point, Noah will catch a baseball and Stella won’t need my help getting into a swing. Until, one day, they’ll be just little kids having a conversation with us as they get set to graduate high school and get their first job and high-tail it out of here for the rest of their lives.

Julie and I are so proud of all the kids’ accomplishments. Noah has been rocking the hell out of some rather difficult puzzles, and Stella is doing forward rolls. They are such lovely toddlers with sweet personalities and staggering intelligence. I just wish time would slow down a little. Not because it’s going too fast. It’s just so that I can savor every accomplishment just a little more. So Julie and I can laugh just a little longer when Stella hands Noah a toy and he says matter-of-factly, “Thank you, Stella,” like he’s been saying it for years.

So we can hold them closer to our hearts before, through no fault of their own and as is to be expected, they eventually break them.

Those who have it harder than me (triplets)

Whenever a friend or an acquaintance or, quite honestly, a stranger learns that my wife and I have twins, one of the first responses is usually something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know how you do it.” My answer usually is, “Well, I don’t have much choice in the matter,” or “Well, since these are my two first kids, this is completely normal to me.” These aren’t conversations that occur every so often. They’re weekly discussions, seems like.

Stella and Noah have been really good babies and toddlers, and much of the time, they make our lives relatively simple and pain-free. At this point, I can’t imagine not having twins. And I can think of other parents who have it much harder than us. These are the people who deserve the sympathetic remarks. These are the people who deserve medals. That’s why I started this occasional series – originally for manofthehouse.com – called “Those who have it harder than me.”

Today, we talk to Damon Hack, who covers golf for Sports Illustrated (you can find him on Twitter here). I’d met Damon a few times covering various sporting events, but I’d heard recently that his wife had given birth to triplets. When I ran into him at Super Bowl Media Day in Indianapolis in February, I talked with him for a few minutes so he could describe to me just what it’s like to raise three babies at the same time. At the end of our talk, I thought to myself, “I don’t know how he does it …”

Previous editions of Those Who Have it Harder than Me:

My baby has colic

After a stillborn birth

Josh Katzowitz: For us, having twins probably isn’t twice the work. It’s probably more like 1 ½ times the work. It’s not too bad. But my and wife I have talked about it: what about triplets? We’re like, ‘How do those parents possibly do it?’ because we know how hard raising two at the same time can be. Tell me about your life with triplets.

Damon Hack:
My wife’s pregnancy was really good. She went 34 weeks, which was amazing with triplets. The last week, she had bed-rest because she had mild preeclampsia, which is when the blood pressure kind of goes up and own. She gave birth on June 9, 2011, and she had a quick drop in blood pressure right after the deliveries, so they had to give her a couple IVs. I’m sitting there in the room with her, and I’m watching her numbers drop. I’m freaking out, and she’s half-asleep.

When I think about the changes to our lives, I think of the whole thing. I think of the pregnancy, giving her chocolate Ensure, the things I used to give my grandmother for bone density. It’s really important for the dad and husband to be involved. I wanted to be involved, and you want to go through the pregnancy with them. I just wanted to be a part of the process and be a real good support system for her.

Katzowitz:
For twins, when they wake up in the morning, you can literally grab them at the same time and walk downstairs with them together in both of your arms. Logistically, how do you do that with three babies?

Hack:
We’re lucky, because we have help. As you know, I’m a sports writer and I’m on the road a lot, and my wife has her own business. We actually have had baby nurse help since they were born. It’s been the only way we can function. We’ve had times where it’s just me and my wife, and you get through it. But one baby has to stay down. When we don’t have anybody helping us, you do it in order. You feed one baby, you feed the second baby, you feed the third. But you alternate it. You don’t have the same baby not eat first every night.

Katzowitz:
You make it fair.

Hack: Yes. And what we’re discovering now, is that you want to spend time with each child individually. My wife will take one child on a baby date. She’ll take James one day, Rhys one day and Miles one day. I’ll do the same thing. We have two dogs, so our house is a complete circus. When I walk the dogs, I’ll put on the Baby Bjorn and take one of my boys with me. It’s great bonding time and a chance for the boys to see what’s going on outside.

Katzowitz
: That is great. That individual time is something we strive to do, but it’s tough. You really have to work to make that happen, because it is important to get that one on one.

Hack: Absolutely. They’re going to be together a lot. They’re in the same room. Meal time is the same for them when we have our full complement of help. But we bathe them one at a time. We try to get them in a routine. That’s the thing. Everybody talks about it. You go to sleep at the same time. Bath time is at the same time. Nap time.

Katzowitz:
We were lucky because our kids are easy going, but one of the things we did early on was with sleep. It was one down, both down.

Hack: Exactly, you have to do it.

Katzowitz: You have to have a break at some point.

Hack:
It’s just for your sanity’s sake. You know, once a week, my wife and I go out on a date night. We have babysitting help, and you don’t want to completely lose yourself. Sometimes, you can’t help but lose yourself to the kids, and it’s important to do so. But sometimes you want to be an individual too and be romantic with your spouse and remind yourself how you got into this trouble in the first place.

But I’ve been tired for eight months. I’ve carried this fatigue with me for eight months. It’s hard to catch up and get back on top with your sleep. When I’m on the road – this week in the Super Bowl – I’ll get more sleep then I ever do.

Katzowitz:
When did you guys find out, and what was your reaction? It took me a long time to wrap my head around the idea of twins.

Hack: We first thought we were having twins. We had one of our ultrasounds, and they saw two. We went back two weeks later, and they saw the third one. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock. In some ways, I’m still in shock when I walk in the room and see three babies in there. We wanted to have a baby for so long, and it really is a blessing. But it’s a shock also. Most people have one baby, so that’s what you’re used to seeing. But now you see commercials for twins and triplets.

But once you’re there, it’s special. We’re “the triplet family” in our neighborhood. My wife’s family is in Queens, we live in the city, and we’ve had aunts come over. It’s a special, special designation to be a parent of multiples. It’s really awesome.

Katzowitz: I’m not trying to pry, but we get a lot of the, ‘Oh, do twins run in your family?’ question. Which is code for, ‘Oh, did you have reproductive help?”

Hack: I get that a lot.

Katzowitz: How do you handle that?

Hack: I’m honest. Maybe it’s because I’m being a journalist, but because we wanted kids for so long, we had to get help. For whatever reason, medically we couldn’t get pregnant, so we had to do in vitro fertilization. And it worked.

Katzowitz: It worked very well, apparently.

Hack: It worked too well, some would say. No, it worked perfectly well, as far as we’re concerned. But people do pry, because it’s a curiosity. Do triplets run in your family? I’ve gotten that question a hundred times.

Katzowitz: Do you feel like it’s code?

Hack: Yeah, I’ve had some people straight-up ask me if we’ve used in vitro.

Katzowitz: Oh, yeah. People have asked me that. To me, it’s rude.

Hack: It’s noisy and it can be rude. People don’t know what we’ve gone through. There are ups and downs. We didn’t get through on the first in vitro fertilization.

Katzowitz:
Oh my god, that’s a lot of money.

Hack: It’s a lot of money and stress. But thankfully, all’s well that ends well. I don’t mind telling people, because of those who are struggling and can afford it, at least it’s an option. I share it, because of how happy we are with the end result.

My first conversation with my son

May 16, 2012 (4:24 p.m.): Stella and Noah just woke up from their naps, and as I was changing Noah’s diaper, I noticed a wound on his left elbow. It looked red and angry, and obviously, it was fresh. I had worked today, so I wasn’t around for most of the morning.

It was certainly something new.

“What’s that on your elbow?” I asked.
“I hurt it,” he said.
“Does it hurt?”
“Yes,” he said with a definitive nod.
“What happened?”
“I fall off.”
“You fell off what?”
No answer.
“You fell off what?”
“I fall off.”
Silence.
Then, Noah: “Outside.”
“You were outside?”
“Take-a shoes off.”
“You were outside and you took your shoes off and you fell?”
“Yes, I fall off.”
“You fell off what?”
“Picture!” he squealed as he noticed me slipping my iPhone out of my pocket in attempt to record our chat.

And that was the conversation Noah and I just had. It was exhilarating, if not altogether enlightening. But the fact it was somewhat informative is, I don’t know, incredible. The fact he can string together six words in a sentence is, like I imagine it is for any first-time parent, a stunning marvel. The fact Stella is not far behind fills us with pride. The fact we can have some semblance of a conversation for the first time is a marvel.

We try not to be overly-complimentary with the kids as they develop with rapid speed in their day to day lives. We don’t praise the heavens every time they accomplish a new task or simply repeat the same ones they’ve done before. But man, sometimes it’s hard.

Sometimes, the words, “Great job,” escapes before you can bottle them behind your lips. I didn’t let Noah know I was blown away by our conversation, but I was.

I never did find out what he fell off (though we later surmised he probably tumbled to the concrete when he was playing in the backyard), and I guess I never will. I’m just stunned he gave me even the faintest idea of what happened.