Tag Archives: newborn

Time Machine

If it wasn’t for a clock’s ability to keep track of a relative path of time, I would never know where I’m standing in the universe.  Time is not like the sun’s movement in that it cannot be counted on.  Like a junkie with a speed addiction, Time seems to get the jitters and talk fast before crashing into a slow motion daydream for weeks on end.  It doesn’t move the way the sun moves.  It jerks and shakes in chaotic shifts and you never know what tide you’ll get trapped in or for how long.  Why does Time move so fast when I’m having fun?  It’s a horrible trick of existence – to make the wonderful times slide through our fingers like so much watered down gravy.

I look around me and realize everything is moving too fast.  I feel like I’m driving through the desert to Vegas and I’ve suddenly glanced down at the speedometer.  110 mph!  I wish life had a break pedal or at the very least, cops to pull me over and say, “Kids are turning three.  You done everything you need to, son?”  Everything is getting away from me.  Everyday is this intangible trinket that I can never touch or see again.  All I’m left with is a memory of what happened… or what I think happened… the way I remember it…

If Time truly does fly when you’re having fun, then I’ve been in a private jet since my two oldest kids (twins) were birthed into existence.  Two nights running I’ve broken down crying while saying prayers with them and I feel like a woman on a cheap Lifetime movie.  I just see these two children and they’re so… big.  They just look like little… I don’t know… children and this is both beautiful and sad.  They don’t look like babies… because they’re not babies.  Time, that witch, has stolen my infants.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s given me two beautiful children to replace them but… I don’t know… I want it all.  I want them both.  I want to hear Rory recite his entire bedtime prayers, ABCs, 123s, Itsy Bitsy Spider and color wheel out loud, all alone, without help… but I still want him to be a chubby baby that can’t sit up without assistance.

I want to carry him and hold him and he’s already getting to the age where I ask, “Can I hold you?” and he says, “No,” and even on those occasions where he does stretch his arms towards me, asking to be lifted up, I find that he’s nearly becoming too heavy to carry around for any reasonable length of time, his feet dangling down and kicking me in the dick while I carry him through Target.

I guess it wasn’t really so entirely noticeable until the third baby was born; Bryce has put everything into perspective; locked us all into a new view of ourselves.  Before, when it was just the twins, I had that memory, that intangible trinket; I had the memory and the rules and regulations were set by me.  I didn’t see them changing.  They just… they went to bed and they woke up and they were a little older and bigger and smarter but I never noticed a difference.

Bryce makes the intangible tangible.  She says, “This is how small they used to be.  This is how helpless.  Enjoy me while you can,” and then I’m on my knees trying to scrape those sand grains into my arms, trying to keep every moment from blowing away.  I don’t want it to leave me, I don’t want to sleep at night, I keep everyone up until the very last possible moment, knowing that sleep will rob another day from me.  I wish, momentarily, that there were Time Machines but, the truth is, Time is the Machine and it will never break and never stop, the most flawless watch to ever be created.

I want to shake Quinn and say, “Never leave!  Live with me forever!  I’ll build you a tree house in the backyard and it can all be yours!  No!  I’LL live in the tree house and you can have the front house; just never leave your Papa!”  I want to clip her wings so she can never fly but… I know that would be wrong…

My mother is in town right now, staying with us for several weeks to celebrate the birth of our new daughter, having arrived just on the coattails of my  mother-in-law, both of them from South Dakota.  I look at them and I wonder and I think and I try to imagine what it’s like to have your children living halfway across the country.  What is it like to only see them three or four times a year?  What is it like to applaud your children’s success and encourage them to chase their dreams even though you know it means breaking your own heart and sending them away into the wild where they’ll be out of reach, out of call, out of touch.

Maybe this sounds like so much hand-wringing to anyone without kids but… you’ve just got to trust me.  Children are the party that you never want to end.  They are the DJs of your life and the entertainment.  They are Fonzie.  They are your friend with the trampoline in the backyard.  They are Saturday morning cartoons and pancakes for dinner.  They are Hide-and-Go-Seek and Jim Henson and adventure and cheese quesadillas all rolled up into one.

There’s nothing we can do to stop time.  It’s not a tank we can stand in front of, it’s not a rope we can grab onto and it’s certainly not a vehicle we can drive.  Time is just a cannon we’ve been fired from and we have our arms outstretched and we’re watching the scenery pass by as sticks and bugs slap us in the face.  The trick is to not shut your eyes.  Open them wide and watch.  Watch everything as it rockets past you because this is the only trip you’re getting.  Touch the grass, smell the roses, whatever you need to do.  Just make it worthwhile because when the trip is over… when you hit the ground with a thud… that’s it.

Fly.

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Vignettes

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When you think of the word “life” or “parenting” or “family”, I wonder what images come to most people’s minds… I assume birthdays and graduations and weddings and Christmas mornings and Thanksgiving dinners and first steps and first words and, I believe that, obviously, these things are all large movements – the act breaks of life – but I don’t believe that it’s the broad sweeping strokes that make up our existence.

Like most things, the devil is in the details.

Two weeks ago, a good friend of ours, a young woman named Lacy, found herself in LA after a cross country road trip from New York and, as friends do, she contacted us to say, “I’m in town, I would love to see your family, let’s get together and chat and catch up and do that friend thing that we do,” so we do this thing and she shows up and she brings flowers and we all hug and she’s excited to see the kids and she says, “Oh my gosh, they’ve gotten so big and they talk and they’re like… I don’t even know… people, I guess,” and then she looks at the little baby and she says, “That’s a little baby!  That little baby is just, like, so small!  I don’t even know!  This is crazy!” and then she squeezes the baby and hugs it and says, “Rory, come here, I want to give you five!” and he looks at her with these complete dead, emotionless eyes and, instead of saying anything, he just blinks.

The silence caused by him goes on for so long that it becomes comical and I say, “I’m really glad you got to experience that Lacy.  That moment is parenting at it’s finest.  It’s like… all these little events that you can’t really tell anyone about because they have nothing to do with anything.  It’s just like these little gems or bread crumbs that the kids lay down for you and they’re just treasures that you get to enjoy and then they’re gone,” and then Quinn walks through the room with a box over her head, humming to herself.

Lacy and Jade laugh and I say, “This is it.”

And so, with that, I’ve decided to collect a few of these orphan moments into one collection and share them with you; these memories that don’t have homes or purpose anywhere else; things with no greater story arc than their pure and simple existence.  They are vignettes and I hope half of the weirdness from these moments comes across as you read and enjoy them…

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THE WOUND

Rory and I are lying on the floor, each of us taking turns pushing around a few trains on a track that we’ve built.  Rory says, “Choo!  Choo!” and I say, “Excuse me, got a load of coal coming through!” and Rory says, “Watch out, Daddy!” and I pretend that my train spirals out of control  and flips off the track and starts on fire and people are screaming and Rory is laughing and I say, “We’re going to need paramedics!  Quick!  Get the ambulance!” and Rory stands up and says, “Okay!  Where is it?” and I point and say, “There!” and he takes one step, puts his foot on top of a toy train, which slides out from underneath of him and he falls to the ground where another train gets crushed by his tail bone.

Ouch.

He reaches behind him, grabbing at his lower back and screams, “Owwww!!  Daddy!  Owww!” and he stands up and unbuttons his pants and pulls them down and quickly pulls down his underwear and turns around and begins backing into me and so I quickly sit up and say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, homeboy!  What’s up!?” and he says, “Kiss it!” and I say, “What’s that now?” and he says, “Kiss my owie, Daddy!” and I say, “Where, exactly, is it?” and he points and shows me and it’s just grazing his butt crack and I say, “That is  unlikely to happen, buddy,” and he shouts, “Daddy!  Kiss my butt!  Kiss my butt, Daddy!”

I kiss my fingertips and pat his butt and say, “There ya go!  All better!” and, like magic powder, he really is all better.  He pulls up his underwear, pulls up his pants, asks me to button them and then fetches the ambulance.

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SHARP TEETH

Jade and I are sitting on the couch together, me reading a book and Jade simultaneously playing Words with Friends on her phone and breast feeding Bryce sans cover.  Quinn approaches me  and says, “What are you doing?” and I say, “I’m reading a book.  What are you doing?” and she repeats my question back to me because I don’t think she understands, exactly, what it means.  “What you doin’?”

I pull her up onto my lap and she reaches out and says, “You readin’ a book?” and I say, “Yes,” and then I flip through the pages and say, “I’m sorry.  There are no pic–” and then Quinn’s arm shoots out, points at Jade and says, “BABY IS BITING MOMMY’S NIPPLE!!!”

This is Quinn’s introduction to breast feeding.

A few days later, Jade is at it again when Quinn wanders into the room, stops and stares.  She approaches the couch slowly and says, “Baby hungry?” and Jade says, “Yes.  Bryce is hungry,” and Quinn says, “Okay… Okay…” and then turns and exits.  When she reappears moments later she has her cabbage patch doll in tow, dangling it by one arm, it’s soft rubber body bouncing off of our wooden floor.

Quinn drops the doll, lifts up her shirt, tucking it under her chin, picks up the doll and shoves it face into her own tiny nipple.  She says, “I feeding baby.”

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SOCKS

Bryce is lying on the bed in nothing but a diaper while I dig through her drawers trying to find a suitable outfit for her.  It seems to me that all baby clothes are just one solid color or contain patterns so intense that looking at it might give you motion sickness.  I ultimately decide on a melon colored onesie and stretchie fat kid pants that are blue with tiny white stars… and then stumble upon this really crazy looking Eskimo hat that I simply can’t say no to and then these really bizarre socks that seem to be made really poorly.  I mean, I’m really struggling to get them on and they seem to barely fit but whatever, okay, they’re finally on and I guess they’ll keep her feet warm.

In the other room I sit down next to Jade and she says, “What a cute outfit!” and I pridefully say, “Hey, thanks!” and she says, “Why is she wearing mittens on her feet?”

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ARTIST’S RENDERING

Rory kneels on the floor over a loose sheaf of notebook paper, a red marker in his hand, his brow wrinkled.  I say, “What you drawin’?” and he says, “Hang on…” and then, a moment later, he lifts up his master work and says, “Look, Dad!” and I see a circular scribble that really closely resembles a circular scribble.  I say, “That’s incredible!  What is it?!” and he says, with a complete straight face, “It’s a red pig’s butt!”

I stare at the rendering and think to myself that, strangely, it actually does look a bit like a pig’s anus although I’ve no idea where he would actually have found one to base his illustration off of.  Wanting to support his passion, regardless of how bizarre, I say, “Really, really good pig anus!” and he says, “Thanks!” and then goes back to drawing.

A few moments later he lifts up the paper again and shows me another circular scribble that looks identical to the first one and I say, “Wow!  Another pig butt!?” and he looks at his drawing and says, “No… that’s you!”

Ah… a portrait.  Thank you.

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VOODOO

We’re all sitting at the dinner table and everyone is eating except for me.  My stomach has been acting up all day and I feel like any kind of food that I try to ingest is just going to make an encore appearance.  Rory takes a bite of his chicken and says, “You not going to eat, Daddy?” and I say, “No… Daddy doesn’t feel good,” and Quinn says, “You’re sick,” and I say, “Was that a question or a statement?” and Quinn says, “Dad.  You’re sick!” and I say, “Please stop saying that,” and then she points her spoon at me like a wand and says, “You’re sick!  You’re sick!  You’re sick!” and I say, “Why are you acting like a New Orleans Black Voodoo Priestess?” and Quinn cackles.  She doesn’t laugh.  She cackles and says, “Daddy, you are sick!  You are so sick!” and I say, “Are you a witch?  Are you putting a spell on me?” and she says, “I am a witch!  You are sick!  Hee-hee-haw-haw!  I am a witch!  I am a witch!” and I feel my stomach turn over and am pretty sure I’ve just been cursed.

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I suppose that there are a hundred million other moments like these that we’ve had with the children, both pleasant and bizarre; Quinn walking around the house with a guitar, playing it and shaking her hips, singing into a baseball tee for a microphone; Rory hopping off the toilet, asking me to wipe his butt, bending over and somehow getting his head stuck between the steps of a small stool, me having to fold his ears down to pull him to freedom; Bryce sitting in her electric lamb that plays music and lulls her to sleep, the batteries dying and making a horrific demonic noise, she waving her hands in the air looking as though she were conducting Hell’s orchestra; Quinn taking a nap in our room and then crawling into Bryce’s crib; Rory leaving his bedroom in the middle of the night and making a small bed for himself on the kitchen floor, pillow, blankets and all.

I love every minute of it and you’ve got to stay sharp.  The kids throw things at you so fast that you’ll miss them if you’re not paying attention.  The way they see the world and interact with the environment and people around them is incredible.

There are only 24 hours in a day and never enough time to document them all.

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The Best Recipes in Oz

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Darkness is shining in through both of my bedroom windows when I finally retire for the evening.  Bryce is already in her crib, sound asleep while my wife sits in the dark manually breast pumping.  I just hear a squish-squish-squish noise as a I navigate over mounds of laundry and sharp furniture.

I set my book down with a thud, I set my phone down with a tink and I set my clothes down with a sluff, my belt latch hitting the wood with a piercing ting!  I look up and Jade is staring at me – squish, squish, squish – and says, “Could you make any more noise?  And, with completely impeccable comedic timing, I fart.

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For reasons unknown to me, I’ve been nursing a Monster Energy Drink for the past two hours and now, preparing to lie down, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to sleep.  I’ve  been sitting on the couch for the past hour reading The Wizard of Oz, hoping to bring on The Drowsies but to no avail.  I crawl into bed… my head hits the pillow… who am I fooling?  I dream about things both vague and nonsensical; things that make no logical reason in the waking world.  People I know play new roles in my dreams; my boss is my cousin, ex-girlfriends are my boss, South Dakota is Los Angeles.  I accept it all without question.

A shriek pierces through the dream clouds and I look towards the sky… open my eyes… I’m in bed.  The baby is crying.  Panic shoots from my brain to my heart and out my limbs.  I throw the blankets back and sit up, completely positive that something horrible is happening but completely positive that I have no idea what it is or how to remedy it.  Everything is moving slow and stupid, myself included.  Instead of turning on the light I just sit in the dark and stare at my toes trying to decide what my next move should be.

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Jade says, “Are you going to get the baby?” and I say, with just a hair too much anger in my voice, “Yes.  Yes, of course I’m going to pick up the baby.  You think I’m just going to sit here and let it cry?”  and she says, “Let her cry.  She’s a girl,” and I look down at my hands, still unsure about just what is going on.  I’m stuck in that horrible, horrible, terrible place where I’m not asleep but not awake, where hallucinations are possible and everything feels like you’re floating along in a drug induced coma.

Jade says, “JOHN,” with just a hint too much anger in her voice and I say, “Lay off!  I have no idea what’s happening! and I sit up and pick up the baby, stand up, set her on the changing table.  I unwrap her swaddle, unbutton her pajamas, pull out her feet, prep the new diaper, prep the wipes and open the old diaper.  This is the part that’s always like the worst game show of all time for parents.  What’s behind door number two?!  It’s……. JUST A BUNCH OF PEE!

Not tonight.  Tonight is a smear of yellow dookie that looks like someone power sneezed it into a Kleenex.  I wipe, clean, dry, replace old diaper with new diaper, put the squirming legs back in the pajamas, button them up, set the baby in the swaddle, take the left side over the right and then the right side over the left, tying her up in some weird cloth burrito that seems to me to be a complete claustrophobic nightmare but the baby seems to love it.

I hand her to Jade, turn and head to the kitchen to throw away the diaper and then to the bathroom where I pee and wash my hands.

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Back in the room I’m sitting on the edge of the bed and Jade says, “She’s asleep.  Here.  Take her.  Be gentle.  Don’t wake her,” and so I take Bryce from her and, instead of placing her back in the crib, I just hold her in my arms and bounce her and stare at her and say, “Jade… it’s absolutely incredible that your recipes are so…” and the other words I’m about to say are, “widely used in the land of Oz,” but I stop myself because I realize that this is somehow wrong and ill-timed and not meant for this world and just what is happening in my brain?

Jade says, “What?” and, me, still convinced that the first half of that sentence is a fairly factual statement and, thinking I can somehow slide by the fact that I have no idea what is happening I say, “Your recipes, babe.  Your recipes.  It’s incredible that they’re so…” and she says, “What are you talking about?  Put the baby down.  Shut up.  Go to sleep,” and I set Bryce down in her crib and then suddenly, a darkness lifts from my vision and I can see the world around me.  I say, “Jade,” and she says, “Yes?” and I say, “I’m really sorry.  I’m really tired.  I have no idea what I’m saying right now,” and she says, “Why are you so tired?” and then I get panicky because maybe my brain is still screwed up.  I say, “Because… it’s 3am.  That’s normal, isn’t it?”

Isn’t it?

I just don’t know anymore.

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ABOVE: BRYCE IMITATES THE POPE.

The Baby is sleeping.  I lie on my back and pull the covers up to the bottoms of my eyeballs.  I turn on my side, then my other side, then my stomach and Jade says, “Can you make any more noise?” and then, with impeccable comedic timing, Bryce farts so wet and loud that she wakes herself up.  She farts again and I would bet that it’s really more of a shart.  She sharts again and that diaper is full.  I shut my eyes, but not to sleep.  It’s more in that resigned way that one might do after accidentally sending an email to a person who isn’t suppose to receive it because said email is full of insults you’ve written about them.  You know it’s too late.  You know it’s futile.  You know you have to deal with the consequences.

I turn on my light and say, “Bryce, stop picking on me.”

Jade begins to snore.

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Second Life

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For the last six days I’ve felt a bit like a con man existing with a dual identity.  The feeling was birthed on Monday, the same day my new daughter, Bryce Allison, was born.  It began as sort of this second life feeling that I was living in the hospital with my wife and daughter; the three of us quietly lying in a room, eating soup that tasted like dirty bath water and toasting our new addition over Diet Cokes.  It was this strange and private moment that existed just between the three of us; no grandparents, no siblings, no children.

Then sometime on Tuesday, my wife still in the hospital, I went home to watch my son and daughter so my mother-in-law could spend some quiet one on one time with The Baby at the hospital.  Back at home, while my kids napped I sat in front of my computer, working on a few projects, feeling like an impostor in my own home, like I were somehow hiding a piece of me from the children.

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Back in the hospital several hours later, I sit on the edge of the bed and stare at the sleeping baby in my arms and wonder how these two worlds will collide.  I’ve heard horror stories about older siblings not acclimating well to new and younger children; striking out and hitting them or covering them in pillows or trying to pull their eyes out.  Gasp, I hate to even consider it.

I spend hours thinking about it, hoping we’ve introduced them thus far properly; trying to decide how I can stitch these two existences together.  For anyone that’s never tried to integrate a new child into their family, the best way to describe it is to say that it’s like stitching a new limb onto an already completely functioning body.  You’re not sure how things are going to respond or work.

When we bring the baby home the children are both napping and so we take this opportunity to set up a large toy kitchen set (complete with food and utensils) as well as a wooden toy train set (complete with sliding doors) in our living room.  When they finally arise with blurry eyes and pillow creased faces, Jade and I say, “HI!  HELLO!  WE’RE BACK!  LOOK WHAT BABY BRYCE BROUGHT YOU!  LOOK WHAT BABY BRYCE GOT FOR YOU!  SHE KNOWS YOU LOVE TRAINS!  SHE KNOWS YOU LOVE TO COOK!  WASN’T THAT NICE OF HER?!” and we pause uncomfortably to see if the rabbits have taken the bait and, slowly, large (albeit shy) smiles spread across their seraph faces and they each go to work, Quinn making burgers and Rory wheeling in the beef.

Later that night Quinn is begging to hold the baby.  The next day Rory is clawing at my face, demanding his turn with Bryce.  I set the baby gently on his lap and prep myself for anything; the best, the worst.  He slowly bends down and, while I debate whether he’s going to gently kiss her or bite off her ear, he presses his lips against her forehead and says, “That’s my sister.  That’s Baby Bryce,” and then he smiles and I know everything will be okay.

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From 9am until 8:30pm I lead my first life; the life of a Father of Three.  I play with Rory and Quinn, pushing trains around on the floor and chasing them around the house, cradling a baby in one arm.  I growl and hiss like a monster, threatening to snare them in my grasps, the baby barreling along with me, bored and asleep, a piece of the game without even knowing it.

I take Roar & Quinnie to the park, I walk with Quinn to the grocery store, I read a book about shapes to Rory.  I change diapers and the children watch; Rory hands me wipes and Quinn hands me a diaper and they both ask, “What is thaaaat?” and point to Bryce’s shriveled up umbilical stem sticking out of her belly button like a dried root and… quite simply, it’s really difficult to describe what its purpose is, exactly, in a language a 2 year old will grasp.  I say, “That’s her… belly button… uh… umbilical cord.  It’s where she was getting food… she, uh… she ate out of it when… she was inside mommy’s tummy…”  I stop talking.  The whole thing sounds way too crazy to believe.  Both kids stare at me like I’m trying to address the Sasquatch mythos.  I try to change the subject by I telling Rory to pay attention because, “Someday you’ll be a Daddy and you’ll have to change diapers,” and he stares at me, looking kind of horrified but then lifts up a wipe and says, “I help you.”

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We dress the baby, which, by the way, is tantamount to dressing a kitten in a sweater, it’s small limbs pushing the exact opposite way you’re trying to manipulate them, contracting and stretching at just the wrong time.  We walk back out into the living room where Jade tells me that she and her mother are leaving me alone and I’m suddenly outnumbered three to one.  Knowing the odds are against me, I fire up He-Man and The Masters of the Universe and curl up on the couch with the oldies but goodies.  We watch He-Man save the day again and again, simply punching his way to success.  When evil has been thwarted and the likes of Skeletor, Beastman and Trap-Jaw have been sent running, he transforms back into boring old Prince Adam until next week when fate calls on him to unleash his secret identify – his Second Life.

Bryce wakes up during He-Man’s second adventure and I lift her up and put her on my lap and stick my pinky in her mouth because I don’t feel like picking up breast feeding this late in the game.  Quinn reaches over and pats Baby’s chest and says, “Shhhhh,” and Rory says, “Baby cryin'” and I say, “That’s alright.  That’s what babies say,” and Quinn says, “Stop crying, Baby,” and Bryce does… then she sneezes and Rory says, “Say excuse me, Bryce,” and I actually look down at her to see if she’s going to respond, leaving me with a tale so bizarre no one would ever believe.

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The episode ends and I walk into the children’s bedroom, find their pull-ups and their pajamas and say, “Okay… I need you two to really help out Daddy tonight,” and I look at their pull-ups and I look at the baby in my arms whose screams are only being subdued by my finger jammed in her gob.  I say, “Can you guys put on your underwear alone?” and they both say, “Nope,” and I say, “I KNOW YOU CAN!” and I try to pump them up, “LET’S SEE YOU DO IT!  JUST TRY!” and they both pick up toys and begin examining them.  Rory pulls off his pants and says, “Daddy, help.”

I put the baby down and she immediately starts to grunt and grumble and so I act as quickly as I can while the children act slowly and distractedly, more interested in the gurgling pink blob than in getting their jammies on.  “HEY!  PAY ATTENTION!  HEY!  RIGHT HERE!  FOOT IN HERE!  HEY!”

I get the two Walkers dressed and now we’re all prepared; the three of us ready to take on the night… if only I had a breast filled with leche… or if this baby were eating from a bottle yet…  I text Jade and say, “Baby freakin’ like a Mohican,”  She texts back and says, “On way!”  I sit in the living room with the three of them, my tribe, as we watch Prince Adam do what needs to be done in order to keep Eternia together.  I have my left arm around Quinn, my right arm around Rory, buckled back over his chest and my pinky stuck in Bryce’s mouth, my body bent and jarred at an odd angle to try and keep my own city peaceful.

Jade returns with her mother and we put Rory and Quinn to bed and this is The Moment wherein my life typically splits.  The first half of the day I am a noisy monster, a troll under a bridge, a hide-and-seek master and commander but then, from 9pm-8am, I have a second life wherein everything is quiet and calculated and meticulous and delicate.  I sit on the couch and I hold the baby and we stare at Bryce and listen to the house settling and distant traffic.  Everything is calm and reflective like a pond’s surface.

We go to bed and, while our children and any current guests sleep soundly in beds and on couches throughout the house, we fall asleep knowing we’ll be up in a few hours with the moon still hanging high in the Western sky..  I shut my eyes and dream about a forest.  Jade nudges me and says it’s time to change the baby.  I sit up and turn on the light, turn on my phone, turn on music.  Pearl Jam plays, Bush plays, Soundgarden plays.  I’m standing in my baby blue boxer briefs and a white t-shirt, singing Black Hole Sun to a six day old while I change a diaper.  This is what it looks like when Grunge Grows Up.

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The baby pees on the changing table and I clean it up, pat her butt, put her diaper on, put the onesie on, put the jammies on and then think to myself how strange it is that I am genuinely and unabashedly unashamed that I just used the word “jammies”.

I lie back down in bed and place the baby between us, fall back asleep, dream of forests and… my bedroom door opens and Quinn enters.  She’s completely naked save for a bib with a pouch on it that’s been filled with gold fish crackers.  She squeals and says, “MY BABY IS AWAKE!!” and lunges onto the bed.  “I WANT TO HOLD HER!!”

Slowly, slowly, my two lives are merging into one.  The limbs and the body are uniting.  Life is moving forward.  Everything is coming together.

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BABY BRYCE BIRTH… and other anecdotes

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Last night we made a large celebratory pasta dinner who’s sauce consisted of equal parts cheese, half and half, butter and bacon.  It was a gut bomb straight from Heaven; white clouds to white plate.  For desert we made pudding parfaits that are one part vanilla, one part chocolate, one part pie crust crumble and one part whip cream.  It was a meal that was easily, easily worthy of a Thanksgiving feast or some kind of last supper for a Death Row inmate (depending on how positive or negative you wanted to be with the analogy).

We tuck the children in and say their prayers and then curl up really close to them and say, “Okay, listen… Listen… tomorrow… the baby (and we point to Jade’s tummy) is going to be out here…” and then I point to Rory’s tummy because he’s lying down and I sort of just mean that he will be able to hold the baby but he takes it to mean that the baby will somehow transplant inside of his body and so he grabs the bottom of his shirt and yanks down and jerks his knees up and fearfully shouts, “NO!” and I say, “Uh, no – sorry.  Sorry.  Just, uhm… here… in your lap… and I pretend to set something on top of him.

We say, “Tomorrow the baby will be here.  When you wake up, Mommy and Daddy will be gone – we’ll be with the doctor – but Grandma will be here and you’ll eat breakfast with her and then you’ll come and see us with the baby, okay?  Okay?” and they both mumble noises of approval that sound something like, “Baaaay-beeee…”

We kiss them goodnight and turn on their pony music box and Quinn throws herself out of bed, screaming suddenly and incoherently and I walk out, closing the door behind me while saying, “Okay… I love you too… good… night…”

Hours later I’m sitting on the couch in my living room, knowing that I should be in bed since we’re scheduled to be checked in at the hospital at 8:00am but… I’m not tired.  I’m so excited!  My nerves are all on high alert.  The Baby is going to be here tomorrow!  I say, “Can you believe the baby is going to be here tomorrow?” and Jade touches her stomach and says, “No!  But I’m so excited I don’t think I can sleep!”

11:00 rolls around and we force ourselves to lie down, staring at the ceiling, staring at each other, staring at the belly, asking each other questions, talking about how bittersweet it is.  I reach out and touch The Baby and it shifts and moves and I say, “This is it.  Tomorrow The Bump will be gone,” and we share a quiet moment, both of us being equal parts happy and sad.  Jade says, “It’s kind of sad,” and I grunt in agreement and say, “It’s kind of happy.”

I say, “I’m so excited!  I can’t sleep!  I couldn’t sleep even if I wanted to!” but Jade reaches over and shuts off the light and moments later… I’m asleep… and then an alarm is blasting an obnoxious melody in my ear and I open my eyes and squint and try to curl back into bed but then remember that today we’re having a baby!  I throw my covers back, hop out of bed and throw on all of my clothes that I’ve laid out last night as though today were the first day of school and I were in second grade.  Bugle Boy jeans?  Check . Body Glove shirt?  Check.  Incredibly incredible Mario Brothers knapsack?  Check and check.

I make coffee and throw a few loose items into a bag, eat a slice of toast with the kids – who are awake after all – bid them all fare thee well and the two of us are out the door and on our way to the hospital and then when we get there, already a couple minutes late even though it’s only a mile up the road from our house, Jade realizes she’s forgotten her purse and hence her wallet and hence all of her hospital and insurance identification so we drive all the way back home where I find my son looming over my record player doing who-knows-what to the needle and I say to my mother-in-law, “He can play with that sort of but… just… let him push the button but nothing else,” and she says, “Okie-dokie!” and Rory says, “I’m playing music!” and he hits the start button and Peter, Paul and Mary’s Best of album begins to play and I hear someone sing, “Lemon tree is very pretty / and the lemon flower is sweet / but the fruit of the poor lemon / is impossible to eat” and then I’m out the door and back in the car and back at the hospital and we’re all checked in.

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They ask Jade to put on a gown and remove all her jewelry, necklace, wedding ring, belly button ring, etc. etc. and so she does.  They wrap belts around her that monitor the baby and attach her to machines that read out waves and numbers that look like they’re trying to detect seismographic activity instead of the minute movements of an infant.

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ABOVE:  JADE MODESTLY REMOVING HER BELLY BUTTON RING / PRETENDING TO BE INVISIBLE.

A nurse enters to give an IV and Jade says, “May I have a Novocaine shot first?” and the nurse says, “For the IV?” and Jade says, “Yes,” and the nurse says, “Uh… no.”  Her left hand gets stuck without incident.  Meanwhile, her right hand squeezes the life out of my thumb, threatening to snap the bone right in half like a pit bull with a chicken leg.

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Jade says, “Can I still get up to pee?” and the nurse says, “Yes.  If you need to, you may go to the bathroom and unload.”  I swear to you this is what she said.  “Unload”.  I felt like this elderly Latina woman was suddenly channeling her inner New Jersey frat boy.  Jade gets up to pee and, while she’s in the bathroom, our nurse, again, a woman of Hispanic descent, says to me, “Do you have any questions?” and I say, “Actually, yes… I do,” and she stares at me and blinks a few times and smiles.  I say, “I’ve started to learn to speak Spanish,” and she says, “Oh!  That’s wonderful!” in her softly poetic ethnic way, her consonants all softer and more flowery than I could ever hope to make them with my angular American tongue.

I say, “Yes, uh, thank you.  So, you speak Spanish?” and she says, “A little,” and I suppose that she’s just being coy because English is quite clearly and obviously not her primary language and so I say, “Uh, yeah, great!  So, I’m wondering about this word somos,” and then I stop and she looks at me and says, “Somos?” and I say, “Yeah.  Like nosotros somos.  I think it means like, “We are” but I’m not exactly sure when to use it,” and she says, “Sumo?” and I say, “No.  Somos,” and she says, “The only sumo I know is the one in Japan… I’m Japanese,” and I swear to you right now that I have never felt like a bigger, whiter, boxed off, Classic American Redneck, Racist, Psychopath in all of my entire life.

I say, “Konichiwa!” and quickly fall through a crack in the floor where I shrivel up and quietly die.

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Jade comes out and the Japanese woman leaves and I put on my scrubs and a second nurse comes in and says, “Oh, good, you have your scrubs on,” and I say, “Yeah.  I’m supposed to be completely naked under here, right?” and she says, “Uh…. no….” and I sort of awkwardly feel around my body and go, “Oh-kay…” and while I’m not actually naked, I enjoy watching the look of sympathy spread across her face as she tries to imagine what it’s like to be someone as stupid as me.

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ABOVE:  HAIR NET

The doctor is an hour late but when she finally shows up things move faster than a greased up toddler on a Slip ‘n’ Slide.  They wheel us to the O.R. and ask me to sit in the recovery room and wait for my wife to receive her epidural.  Across the hall and through the high set glass windows I can hear various chattering voices and Jade laughing.  Twenty minutes later a middle-aged-but-going-into-later-aged nurse invites me in and my heart starts pumping a little bit faster and I turn on the camera in my hand and hit record, just planning on paying almost no attention to it and sort of just blindly spiraling and pointing it wherever I’m looking.

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Jade is laid out flat on a surgical table, her arms splayed out in a crucified position, an oxygen mask placed over her mouth.  I sit down next to her and pull down my paper filtration mask and giver her a kiss and say, “Are you okay?” and she says, “Yes,” and I say, “How do you feel?” and she says, “I puked,” and I casually wipe my mouth and smile and say, “But you’re good?” and she says, “Yes.  They got the epidural on the first try.”

She mentions this because the last time we were here they assigned a student to give it to her who thought the rule was Three Strikes and You’re Out.

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I shift the camera around and take note of my surrounds; it’s the same room we were in almost three years ago.  Nothing has changed.  The anesthesiologist behind me, warmer with nursery helpers to my left, a giant blue curtain separating Jade’s face from Jade’s guts.

Burning.  The smell hits my nose like a tire thrown at the sun.  I crinkle my nostrils and say, “You smell that?” and Jade says, “Yeah,” and then, “What is that?  Is that burning?” and the anesthesiologist bends down and says, “That’s you.  They’re cauterizing the wound as they cut,” and Jade says, “Oooooohhhhhhh…..”

Next is the most intense slurping noise you’ve ever heard; imagine a vacuum cleaner shoved into a barrel of tomato soup and fired on.  Jade gets tugged and jerked around and says, “What’s that?  Is that a… a vaccuum?” and the anesthesiologist says, “It’s your blood,” and Jade says, “Ooooooohhhhhhh….”

I hear a noise that sounds like a cry; no, I hear A Cry and I stand up and I peak over the stupid curtain separating my processed, domestic brain from human experience and look over it and there is my daughter, covered in gray slime the texture of half dried paint.  I sit down and lean my face into Jade’s ear and I say, “Bryce Allison.  It’s Bryce Allison!” and she says, “It’s a girl?” and her eyes begin to fill with tears and I say, “Yeah!  Yes!” and then the doctor lifts Bryce over the curtain and says, “Mommy, here’s your baby,” and Jade gasps and says, “Ooooooohhhhhh….” and then the doctor says, “It’s a girl!” and then the baby is gone and Jade squeezes my hand.

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Bryce appears around the curtain, gets placed in the warmer and I follow a nurse over.  The Nursery Staff tests her, checks her, cleans her and lets me cut the long nub that remains of the umbilical cord.  I say, “I didn’t get to do that with my other two children,” and I look at the child’s hair and I point at it and I say, “What color do you think that is?” and the Older Nurse says, “I would say that’s a reddish color,” and The Man Nurse says, “Yeah… some kind of red or strawberry blonde,” and I turn around and say, “She has red hair!” and Jade says, “Oooooohhhhhh….” and then pukes into a basket.  The Older Nurse says, “It’s natural.  That happens when they shove everything back in.”

Bryce is perfect and healthy and, as far as I can tell, completely flawless.  I reach out and touch her skin and it’s soft like velvet covered in butter.  The anesthesiologist takes our first photos together and then I sit in the recovery room until they wheel in Jade on a gurney while carrying Baby Bryce.  She can’t move her legs at all.  I reach out and touch her and she says, “You absolutely must stop that because it’s freaking me out in the biggest way possible,” and I say, “Can you feel this?” and she says, “Are you touching me right now?” and I say, “Yes.  I’m pinching your toe,” and she says, “Stop.”

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I pick up the baby and sit down and begin sending out all of The Messages to friends and family.  “Baby is here, perfectly healthy!!!!!!!” and then my phone begins to smoke and then simply explode thanks to the enormous intake of text messages flowing into it.

Pop-fizzzzzzz.

I put my phone down and stare into Bryce’s eyes and say, “Who do you look like…” and just depending on which way I hold her, she looks like Quinn… and then Rory… and then both of them… a perfect little mixture of the two.  I look at Jade, who is staring at her toes and straining her focus and I say, “Ten days.  In ten days she won’t look anything like this,” and Jade goes to put her hands on her belly and then says, “AH!…. Oh yeah…. it’s gone…. I forgot.”  Her belly is flat.

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The Japanese nurse lifts up Jade’s gown and says, “I need to examine the staples,” and Jade looks at her stomach, where the bump used to be and pokes her belly, which now has the consistency of a sandwich bag filled with jello.  She pokes it again and it joggles and jostles and gyrates and Jade says, “EW!” and The Japanese nurse laughs and Jade pokes it again and again and again and then places her hand on it and does The Chunk Shuffle.

The Japanese Nurse giggles and giggles and then suddenly and without warning, reaches out herself and touches Jade’s tummy and wiggles it and giggles again.  She says, “You are funny.  You are a funny patient.  What is the baby’s name?” and Jade says, “Bryce Allison,” and I say, “Jade, are we spelling that B-R-Y-C-E?” and she says, “I think so, yeah,” and I say, “And are we spelling Allison A-L-I-S-O-N or A-L-L-I-S-O-N or with two Ls and two Ss or one L and two Ss or…” and she says, “I don’t really know,” and I say, “We don’t even know how to spell our kid’s name… we are so unprepared… I can’t believe they’re giving her to us!”

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Back in the room we stare at the baby and… you imagine those first few hours to be very frenetic and chaotic and full of emotions, ranging from panic to adoration but it’s truly more euphoric than that.  Everything is very quiet and calm and serene and surreal; a soft but lucid dream that you’re sure is about to end at any moment so you just look and listen and try to soak in as much as you can before it vanishes.

She opens her eyes and looks at me and I’m sure I look like a blurry ogre and not just because her vision is still developing but because in real life I actually look like a blurry ogre.

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I call Jade’s mom and I say, “Alright, we’re here; we’re ready; you can come down,” and I here her say, “Ooooohhhhh…” and then the phone clicks off and the three of us are alone again.  A few moments later my phone rings and June says, “We’re here!  We’re here!  I just parked!” and I tell her I’ll meet her at the front doors.  I bounce out of the hospital room and make my way through an overly lit labyrinthine maze of salmon colored walls decorated in pictures of flowers, butterflies and topless women feeding children.

I break into the late afternoon sun and the warmth feels good on my skin after being in various cold and sterile rooms all day.  In the distance, on the third floor, I see a mop of red hair bouncing along above a guardrail, running with such force that the two blonde children she has in tow are dangling behind her, feet in the air, their little bodies billowing in the breeze like surrender flags.  I watch as she furiously punches the elevator call button and I take off running.  I hit the stairs, leaping up them two at a time, two at a time, two at a time, then around a bend and up another half flight, and then I’m on the second floor and I crush my thumb into the call button and then casually position myself in the doorway so that, in my head, I resemble some iconic image of James Dean.

I hear the elevator descending and then bing and the doors slide open and both my kids are standing there, blank faced until they see my boots, my jeans, my shirt, my yellow hat and their eyes blow up like bombs and they say, “DAAAAAD-DDEEEE!” and I run inside the elevator and say, “Hey, there!” and I give them both hugs and say, “Are you ready to see BABY?” (being ever so careful to use a very generic noun and to stay away from he / she since June still doesn’t know and wants to find out in person).  Quinn says, “YEAH!” and Rory says, “Errrr….” and then there’s a bing and the doors open again and we’re on the ground level, walking in the sunshine, four wide; Quinn, June, Rory, me, each of us holding the hand on either side of us.

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We enter the hospital and get in another elevator and go to the third floor and I turn to June and I say, “Are you so very excited right now?” and she says, “I am so very excited right now, Johnny!” and outside the door I lift up the children and squirt anti-bacterial lotion into their hands and I use a little much because I know just how dirty they are and Quinn starts rubbing it and lathering it all the way up to her shoulder like she’s about to perform surgery and I have to help her clean it off and now they both smell like an emergency room.

I kneel down and gather them both close to me and I say, “Okay, I love you both so much.  Thank you for being so good.  Are you ready to go see The Baby?!” and Quinn says, “YEAH!” and Rory is still rubbing his hands together, trying to get clean.

I open the door and the kids walk in first and I hear Jade say, “Who is heee-yeeer?” and then, a moment later, “Oh!  Look who it is!” and when I walk around the corner, she is filming them entering the room to meet their sister for the first time.  Watching the video back later it’s easy to see that Quinn is cautiously optimistic, standing on her tip-toes to see just what the heck her mom has and then slowly creeping around the bed, slithering and sliding, she stands next to the bed and says, “That’s a baby,” and Jade says, “Yes!  That is a baby!” and Quinn says, “That’s Baby Sawyer,” (her new baby cousin) and Jade says, “Noooooo, that’s not Sawyer,” and Quinn says, “That’s…. Baby Beckett!” (our friend’s new baby) and Jade says, “Nooooo, that’s not Baby Becket!” and I say, “Rory, do you want to come see The Baby?” (still being sensitive to use gender neutral nouns; it / the) and he, at the end of the bed, poking various medical buttons marked only as “DO NOT PUSH” and “NEVER PUSH” and “MAKE SURE TO NEVER TOUCH THIS BUTTON”.  I say, “Roar, do you want to come see The Baby?” and he says, “No,” and I say, “Okay… do you want to come stand by Daddy?” and he says, “No,” and then I say, “Do you want Daddy to hold you?” and I bend down to pick him up but he lashes backwards and cries, “NO!” and I say, “It’s okay – it’s okay.  You don’t have to.”

Jade says, “Do you want to introduce them?” and I say, “June, do you want to come around and see?” and I say, “Quinn… this is… your new baby sister,” and June puts her hands over her mouth and says, “She’s a girl!  You have a sister!” and Quinn says, “Sisss-terrr,” and Rory says, “Where is iPhone?”

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I lift Quinn onto the bed and say, “Do you want to kiss the baby?” and she leans down and kisses her on the forehead and says, “AH-HAAA!” like the craziest mayor to ever run for election, skipping through the park, kissing strange infants, “AHHH-HAAA!!!”  June sits down on the bed and Rory sits in a chair on the other side of the room and so I sit down next to him and say, “Do you want to sit in Daddy’s lap?” and he stares at his toes and in a tiny voice says, “No,” and I say, “Do you want Daddy to sit in the chair with you?” and in the same tiny, rejected voice he says, “No,” and so I say, “Do you want to play with Daddy’s iPhone?” and he lights up like a firecracker and stands on the chair and points at the table and says, “Uh, yeah!  Yeah!  iPhone right there!  I show you.  I show you.  Right there!” and so I grab the gadget and sit down and watch my son push a collection of digital media through strange alien worlds and, ten feet away, I watch my daughter stare at her new sister sitting in this strange alien world.

I lean over to Rory and whisper in his ear, “I love you.  I missed you,” and he says, “I love you,” and I say, “Will you come sit with me?” and he stands up and crawls out of his chair and up into mine and there he stays for the next two hours while we try to navigate the dark and murky waters that is Introducing-Siblings-WIthout-Causing-Dismissive-and-Rejected-Feelings-Amongst-the-Two-Older-Ones.

I watch Quinn sit on the bed, staring at the baby which her Grandmother is holding and for just a moment I have a very Out-of-Body-Out-of-Time experience wherein I see three generations of women spread out before me and I see June as a young mother, holding a newborn Jade in some country hospital nearly 30 years ago and then I see an older woman holding a newborn June in someplace a little more dimly lit and then I see Quinn and she’s very old and she’s sitting on the edge of a bed with her daughter holding a new baby and I realize that this is just my turn at this cycle that happens over and over and over to each of us.  This is me standing at the very top of the slide, looking around at the world around me, everyone small, my perspective so much more dynamic than it is on the ground.

Quinn as a grandmother… me as a great grandfather… I think about the day wherein Rory and Quinn and Bryce are three old people, Jade and I both gone, the three of them sharing a long and healthy history together that’s seven decades deep and here I am, witnessing the very first day that they meet one of their most intimate friends.  Quinn, up close and personal and Rory, impassionately disconnected but it’s all the same.  It’s all The Moment.  It’s The Day.  The First Day that stretches out into the next 70 or 80 years.

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When the children leave a few hours later, Quinn kisses the baby on the feet and on the head and Rory says, “Bye, Mommy!” and they both walk out of the door with their Grandmother.  I turn to Jade and say, “Did we do that right?” and she shrugs and says, “I hope so,” and then a friend brings us burgers and then we Skype with my mother, which basically just entails me pointing the camera at a sleeping Bryce while we talk off screen.

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Nurses come and go and start shifts and end shifts and the world is moving around us, the sun soaring through the sky, the shadows lengthening out on the floor and then vanishing completely while I just hold my new daughter and stare at her and say, “I love you so much, Little Bryce Cake, Little Brucey, Little Bruce,” and the instant bond that I feel to this little human that so much resembles a bag of soggy potatoes is completely astounding.

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In the hallway I can hear other babies crying, other newborns, other people who’s journeys are beginning here and now; a small club of individuals who all enter into the world on October 7th together but will probably never meet.  I see men walking up and down the hallways talking to their mothers and fathers on the phone and giving them The Details (height / weight / sex) with huge smiles on their faces.  I see a few couples slowly meandering the white halls, the woman with a hand in the center of her back, still expecting, her husband pulling along her IV post and I want to run up to them and say, “This is it!  This is it!  I just had one!  I just had another one!  They’re so awesome!  Good luck!  Congratulations!  High Five!  Up high!  Down low!  Too slow!”

The sun dips behind the horizon and our room goes dark and, like a mole or possum or vampire, the baby wakes up to feed.  Midnight… 12:30…. 1:30… 2:30… the baby won’t sleep.  She eats, she nods off, she wakes up.  She doesn’t cry so much as she just gurgles and coos and bleats like a sheep… 3:30 and she’s still awake.

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4:30 rolls around and I’m holding her in one arm and staring at the pages of a book in the other, trying not to nod off and drop her on the floor when my words from the previous night come back to haunt me, looming in the air over my head, laughing at me.  I speak them out loud to Jade, “I’m so excited right now,” and she says, “Me too,” and I say, “I don’t think I could sleep… even if I wanted to…”

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The following two days are filled with friends and family and dirty diapers but are, for the most part, uneventful.  When we arrived back home today, my neighbor, an older gentleman from Cuba (or maybe Tokyo?) is standing in front of my house and a smile spreads across his face when he sees us.  “Boy or girl?!” he shouts in his thick accent and I shout back, “GIRL!” and he claps his hands together and says, “OH!  YES!”  I point at the sky, a blanket of gray rain clouds, a light drizzle misting down upon us and say, “Great weather for your first day outside, huh?” and, while I love rain, I meant it more in the “It’s so dreary,” type of way but he just claps his hands together joyfully and says, “YES!  RAIN!  It is a celebration of life!” and I smile, having never thought about it like that before.

I shake his hand and turn around and walk into my house, baby in hand, where the rest of my life waits.

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DEAR BABY 3

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Baby 3,

It’s currently 8:20 in the morning on a Sunday, exactly one day before you will be born into this universe.  Your mother lies next to me, still sleeping and me, feeling her belly, I seem to think that you are sleeping as well.

Two nights ago I laid my face on her tummy and hummed a song to you before lying my finger on her belly button, pressing, and saying, “BEEEP”.  You shifted quickly and some part of you bumped hard into my cheek.  Your mother said, “The baby just slapped you!”

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I kiss you and think, “You’re right there.  You’re right there.”  I lie my hand on you; your hand, your back, your head; and I wonder what you’ll look like; blonde hair, red hair, black hair; blues eyes, brown eyes, hazel?  Will you strongly resemble Rory and Quinn as they strongly resemble one another or will you stand out all on your own?

There is nothing in this world like the anticipation of a parent wanting to meet their child for the first time and these days just cannot seem to pass fast enough.  Tomorrow we see you.  Tomorrow we hold you.  Tomorrow we name you.

We don’t even know if you’re a boy or a girl!  It’s a big day for all three of us.  Listen, the very first thing you’re ever going to do when you enter this world, is change my life.  That’s your first act!

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I’ll be straight with ya, kid… we’ve got a really solid girl’s name picked out and we’ve got a couple options for boy’s names but no middle names paired up with them yet.  We’re sort of hoping that you’ll just let us know when you show up.  But, this is how it was with your brother and sister as well.  We knew we’d use Rory but Quinn was still up in the air between that and Harper.

It’s the night before Christmas, Disneyland, space travel!  Those are just three things that really excite me… the third a hopeful possibility for the near future… We’ve got a place all ready for you; a bed right by us, warm hearts and big arms.  Your brother and sister are excited for your arrival as well.  Last night, an hour after going to bed, Rory opened his bedroom door and said, “Dad?” and I said, “Yes, Rory?” and he said, “Baby’s comin’ soon,” and I said, “That’s right!  Are you excited?”  and he said, “Yes.  Excited,” and I said, “Good boy.  Go back to sleep,” and the door shut.

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Your Aunt Theresa texted me this morning and said I’d better not keep them waiting tomorrow.  She demands that I send out all information on you just when you arrive!  Your Grandma June is here now, patiently awaiting your stage call and your Grandma Kathy will be here in just a few short weeks to take second shift.

Baby Boy or Girl, I already love you with more tenacity than I could’ve thought possible.  Tomorrow morning, in a cold white room, I’ll hold you in my arms and kiss you on the cheek and say, “Welcome to the Universe,” and you will answer all of the long thought questions I’ve pondered over the last nine months.

I love you and will see you shortly,

Dad

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KID COUNTDOWN: DAY 1

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Lying in bed last night, Jade and I staring at her belly, we watched The Baby shift and move under her skin.  With only two days to go we’re in The Zone wherein her belly most resembles something out of a cheap sci-fi movie.  Her guts shift and move, maneuver with liquid ease.  The right side is solid with ridges and divots; running my palm over her stomach feels like she’s swallowed a handful of oddly shaped rocks.

In the other room Quinn screams.  I ignore it because… well, this is what Quinn does sometimes.  She doesn’t necessarily want or need anything… except to see if one of us will appear at her whim.  When Jade and I still owned Kaidance (our large Rhodesian Ridgeback for any first time readers) we could hear her bark and know what she wanted or needed.  If there was someone in our yard, coming through our gate, she had a very aggressive, violent sound.  If she wanted to go outside or eat, she had a very high-pitched yip.  If she was happy that we’d returned from a long day out, she would just have this very middle of the road bark, neither aggressive nor naggish.

Don’t be fooled.  Infants and toddlers are no different than your run of the mill domestic canine.  When they cry, they tell you exactly what they need and you either give it to them or you don’t.  And sometimes, in my opinion, what they need, is to be ignored.  If I go running in there in the middle of some fit they’re having, the only thing I’ve taught them is that if they cry long enough and loud enough that it is I, and not they, that will finally break.  No, thank you.  This is MY house!

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Now, I can already hear the rustling in the seats and the hands going up and the objections being raised.  Listen.  I’m by no means suggesting you fully ignore your child.  Children are small creatures who need our help to survive but… I’m just saying that we, as adults, should just make sure that they need our help before we go in and smother them in it.  Baby bird needs to learn to fly on its own.

In fact, even as I write this, Rory sleeps while Quinn sits in their room saying, “Dad!  Moo!  Dad!  Dad!  Dad!  Moooooooo!” and I can’t tell if she’s hoping to genuinely garner my attention or if she’s mocking my weight, hoping to lure me in with insults.  In any event she does not need me and if I ran to my children at the first fart they made, I’d spend all day chasing smoke.

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Quinn and Rory have been sleeping through the night since they were six months old and we have people approach us on a regular basis and say, “You guys are so blessed to have kids that were born such good sleepers,” and we just smile and nod but let me say this now…  These two kids showed up at my front door with a predisposition for screaming and full moon parties.  In fact, for the first few months we owned them, we were sure they were at least partly feral (and in most regards, they were).  Children are wild animals – I say this with complete sincerity.  They run on instinct alone and it is our job to train them, not the other way around.

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The Belly twitches and adjusts itself, sending ripples and waves over the surface.  I lean down and place my face on her stomach and kiss her taut skin.  I hum a song; just random notes that I think sound soothing.  I place my finger in her belly button and say, “BEEEEEP,” and something hits me on the cheek.  A fist?  A hand?  A foot?  An elbow?  A buttocks?  I have no idea.  The Baby just slapped me across the face with a tiny brick and Jade says, “You just got slapped!” and Iaughs.

Quinn screams again, louder, same tone.  I roll over onto my back and ask Jade if she thinks it’s a boy or a girl.  She says, “I don’t know.”  Quinn screams one more time and then nothing, silence.  A moment later I hear her little feet march back to bed, I hear springs squeak under her weight and then, truly, silence.

I say, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if it just had completely jet black hair?  Just totally left field from The Children of the Damned?”  Jade nods and The Baby shifts again.  I say, “AH!  I’m so flipping excited!  I just want to cut you open and take a look!” and she says, “Uh… don’t, though.”

She says, “Are you going to watch the C-Section?” and I say, “I hope so!  I want to!”  I say, “Let’s put a smile on that belly!”  Jade says, “Are you ready for this?” and I say, “It doesn’t matter, does it?”

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I pick up a book and Jade tinkers on the laptop for a bit and my eyes start to get drowsy, heavy, sleepy.  The words on the page start to blend together and I read and reread and reread the same paragraph two, three, four times.  Just get to the end of the chapter, I say to myself.  One… more… page…

Everything goes dark and then Quinn is screaming.  Screaming.  Not crying.  Her voice is in full tilt wailing, red faced, most likely.  The world comes back into focus and the blurry edges turn crisp and everything is sharp.  I hop out of bed, certain that someone has finally actually broken into my house to steal my children.  I open the bedroom door and jog down the hallway, reach out to push open the door and…

…Quinn is lying in bed, chest down, holding her head up and howling (again, picture a feral wolf) while Rory is dead asleep.  I stand in the doorway and say, “What are you doing?  What’s wrong?” and she says, “My leg!  My leg is stuck!  Dad!” and I imagine a coyote in a bear trap sounding not dissimilar.  I swing open the gate, saunter over to the bed and, assuming she’s somehow entangled her foot in the iron bars, I give her a tug but… no, she doesn’t move.  She truly is stuck.  Rory, still sprawled out on the bed, doesn’t even stir when I jostle the mattress getting up and down.

I lean back, grab the head board and pull once, hard.  The bed slides across the floor a few inches, scraping along the fake wood, and I reach down, grab her by the waistband on the back of her PJs and lift her into the air, free of danger.  I say, “Are you okay?” and she says, “Yeah,” and I say, “Good.  I love you.  Go to bed.”

Rory still sleeps.  Neither of them make another noise until morning.

I go back into our bedroom and lie down next to Jade.  I put my hand on her tummy and say, more to the baby than to my wife, “You see that?  Take note.  You’re next, little fella.”

I kiss the baby and go to sleep, thinking about the restless nights that await me later this week with midnight feedings.

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KID COUNTDOWN: DAY 2

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I put the kids in pull-ups and dress Quinn in her jammies before chasing Rory down, pinning him to the ground and wrestling him into his footies.  He screams and laughs and swats at me the entire time while I do impressions of Macho Man Randy Savage and say, “I’m gonna come at ya from the top rope!  And I’m gonna give you the elbow!  And I’m gonna drop you to the mat, see!  I’m gonna pin you down for the big ah-1-ah-2-and-ah-3-count!  The ref is going to ring that bell and I, NOT YOU, will be the reigning Heavy Weight Cham-peen of the World!” and Rory stands up, clothed in black and white stripes and points at me and says, “………..NO!” and then me, in my regular voice, I say, “Roar, you gotta work the crowd a little more.  They came for a show.”

Quinn jumps on my back and I spin her around my body like a swing dancer, dropping her onto the wood floor.  I grab her by the feet and say ONE-TWO-THREEEEE! and then I push her as hard as I can, sending her sliding across the room.  Rory shouts, “MY TURN!” and lies down.  I say ONE-TWO-THREEEEE!” and I slide him as hard as I can even though he only travels about half the distance since he weighs about twice as much.

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Quinn comes back, Rory comes back, Quinn comes back, Rory comes back, Quinn comes back, Rory lies down and points under the couch and says, “I put that there,” and I say, “What’s that?” and he says, “Look.  I put that there,” and I lie down on the floor and stare under the couch.  I see a bunch of dirt, a couple of toys, an old string cheese wrapper and a container of sour cream.

I say, “You, uh… which one did you put under there?” and he says, “Blue one,” which, of course, is referring to the sour cream and I say, “When did you do this?” and he says, “Don’t know.”  I shudder at the thought of what could be inside the container.  I grab the lid and pull it out, leaving a streak of wetness in its wake.  Jade gags and says, “Just throw it away,” but I say, “No… we should look.  We need to look.  We need…. to know… what’s in here,” and she says, “No.  No we don’t,” but I say, “Could still be good,” and then I rip the cap off and wish I hadn’t.

Rory says, “Is that gross?” and I say, “Yes.  Very,” and I throw it away.

When I come back Rory is playing with Clementine and I sit down and then briefly look away to watch Quinn when he suddenly screams and starts weeping with such force that I’m certain Clementine has finally bit him.  I look.  No blood.  Clementine slowly walks away (human emotions make her very uncomfortable).  I say, “What’s wrong?” and Rory says, “AAAAHHHH!” and I say, “Did you poke yourself in the eye?” and Rory says, “NOOOOOO!” and I say, “What happened?” and Rory says, “CLEMENTINE….. LICKED……MY EYE!” and sure enough, his eye is all red and irritated from the dog’s rough tongue.

I say, “It’s okay.  She was probably just trying to drink your tears.  They keep her young”.

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I push Rory across the floor again and I push Quinn across the floor again and then Rory lies down but says, “DON’T THROW ME IN THE FAN!” (referring to a box fan on the floor with no cover and spinning blades exposed) and I say, “Uh…. okay….” and I wind up to slide him but he twists his head at the last moment to look at the fan and then his whole body sort of follows suit and he just kind of rolls instead of rocketing out and I say, “You can’t turn your head when I’m doing this – you have to – you have to just stare at the ceiling,” and he says, “No…… no….. don’t throw me in the fan,” and I say, “Rory.  Why would I throw you in the fan?” and he says, “No…..” and I say, “Besides, even if I WANTED to throw you in the fan-” and Quinn lies down in front of me as I say, “I couldn’t.  Watch, I’ll even try to throw Quinn in the fan – I can’t push you guys that far,” and then Quinn is standing up and saying, “No!  No!  Dad, no!  Don’t push me into the fan!” and I say, “I’m… okay, I’m sorry I said that.  I’m not going to push you into the fan.  I was just making a point that if I wanted to, I probably couldn’t – or rather – couldn’t.  Watch.  Quinn, lie down.”

She does so and I say, “ONE!  TWO!  THR–” and she tilts her head to look at the fan and I stop because I’m just going to send her rolling head over heels if she does that and she says, “Dad?” and I say, “Yes, Quinn?” and she says, “Don’t throw me into the fan.”

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I stand up and say, “It’s bedtime.  Let’s get outta here,” and Rory runs into the kitchen and opens the fridge and says, “I want this,” and he holds out a bag of small peppers.  I open the bag and hand it to him, watching as he examines each color in turn, finally settling on a fat orange one.  “THIS one,” he squeals, handing me the bag back before running off.  Quinn enters the kitchen, stares at Rory with his pepper, stares at me holding the bag of peppers and I’m of course expecting her to ask for one so I sort of freeze but instead she just runs off.

I zip up the bag, open the fridge and put them back… just as she runs back in all alone and says, “Dad!  I want a pepper!” and so I pull the bag back out and open it up and hand it to her and she examines each color in turn before fixating on a specific red one and then vanishing into her bedroom where I follow closely behind.

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Inside, I tell them to get in bed and that we’re going to say our prayers and then read a book and they both get very excited about prayers when we’re going to read a book afterwards so they curl in very close to me and repeat everything I say with equal measures of earnest and enthusiasm.

After prayers are over I read a story about The Bernstein Bears trying to find a place to have a picnic while constantly being plagued by garbage trucks, school children, mosquitoes, rain, lightening and locomotives.  At the end, in case you were wondering, they have a picnic at their kitchen table.  Full circle.

I close the book and say, “THE” and both children in unison shout, “END!” and then I pick up Quinn’s cabbage patch doll and I cradle it in my arms and I say, “Shhh…. shhhh,” and I bounce it up and down and rock it back and forth and say, “Baby wants to sleep.  Are you both ready for the new baby?” and I say, “Rory, do you want to hold the baby?” and he says, “Yeah,” and so I hand it to him and he cradles it and says, “Shhh…” and then throws the baby at Quinn and I say, “We probably shouldn’t do that.”  Then, while I pick up the doll and begin to cradle it again, Rory strikes out at it and I wonder if this is going to be a recurring theme over the next few weeks.

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I hand the doll back to Quinn and I grab Rory and say, “I’ll cradle you!” but he’s not very happy about it and starts screaming and thrashing about so I just start chewing on his ear and he starts laughing and hides under his blankets.  I give Quinn eye kisses (left eye to left eye, right eye to right eye, butterfly kisses) nose kisses, (nose to nose, eskimo kisses) and then kiss kisses and then do the same to Rory before turning their music box on and saying goodnight and walking away.

For the next 30 minutes I sit in the living room, rubbing Jade’s back while we watch Parenthood and listen to the gentle noises of the children not sleeping.  Eventually, I stand up and walk back into their bedroom to find them both sitting on the floor playing with toys.  They both scurry under the covers like gophers but, instead of instructing them, I kick off my boots and lie down, curling them both close to me, Rory at my side, snuggled in the crook of my arm and Quinn on my chest, listening to my heart.

I rub their backs and I think, “This is it.  We’re in the final stretch now.”

And, like the finale of a great drama, it is the perfect way to end things.

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KID COUNTDOWN: DAY 13

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The four of us are sitting around the table, eating stew that my wife has made in the crock pot using mostly leftovers.  It contains taco meat, fiesta chicken, bits of pot roast, grilled elk and a bunch of fresh vegetables.  The word medley comes to mind but I know that it doesn’t quite do it justice.  I take a bite of what I identify as beef and say to my wife, “Listen…babe…” and she turns to me because that’s always my opener when I’m about to strike a bargain that weighs heavily in my favor.  “Listen…babe…” I say, “What if you clean up here,” and I wave my hand over the table and my bowl of Carnivore Delight, “and I’ll go put the kids into pajamas and put them to sleep.”

“SOLD!” she screams and we all stand up, parting ways.

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ABOVE: QUINN’S LATEST INVENTION.

In the bedroom I strip the kids out of their filthy, booger stained, food caked, dust-crusted clothes and begin to dress Quinn in her nighttime wares, which usually just consists of a pull-up since she refuses to keep her clothes on.  Rory, meanwhile, hides under a blanket and lies completely still.  I turn to him and say, “Where is Rory?  Quinn, where is Rory?  Here’s his blanket but I don’t see Rory,” and I hear a little giggle slide out from under the mound of softly undulating fabric.  “Well,” I continue, “I guess we’d better just start jumping up and down on his blanket and hope there’s nothing under there that will get crushed!”  There’s another soft giggle and then Quinn is hopping up and down on the bed, seemingly to “warm up” and I pause to wonder if she actually knows her brother is hiding under there.  I assume that she does and is simply excited to “get her crush on.”

I stand up and count to three and throw my entire body weight down onto the little blanket, hunching my back and forming a small enclave in my torso for him to – sort of – fit into.  I jump once, twice, again and again and again, and Rory is laughing and Quinn is pulling at my shirt because I think she wants me to move so she can have a turn to stomp on his body.

I pull the blanket back and I say, “What the H-E-C-K are YOU doing under there?!”  And he laughs and grabs his blanket and pulls it over his head and, always a sucker for the unexpected, instead of repeating the process I ever so quietly lie on the wooden floor and slide myself under their bed… waiting… waiting… waiting…

Eventually I hear Quinn giggle and I can see a shadow moving on the floor and so I let out a little growl and I hear her squeal and then Rory sits up and says, “Dad?” and I thrust my arm out from under the bed and curl it onto the top of the mattress with an enormous snarl and both kids scream and I grab Rory’s leg and begin pulling him off the bed.  His little hands grab for the bed frame but it’s useless because me, being a monster, am much stronger than a defenseless little boy.  I yank him off the mattress where he collides with the floor and laughs and I say, “Come to me, little boy, I am going to eat you!” and he screams and says, “Don’t eat me, Daddy!” and he kicks out of my hand and I try to grab him again but he’s gone too far and I don’t want to expose myself to the light (what with being a monster and all) so I go for the little lamb that’s wandering around at the back of the herd.  My arm curls back onto the top of the mattress and I hear Quinn scream and then, because there’s only about eight inches between the floor and the top / bottom of the bed where my nose is, I actually feel her jumping because the slats are mashed into my face but it stops quickly enough because ah-ha!  I’ve got her and I pull her off the bed and this little goat isn’t getting away.  I drag her under the bed kicking and screaming, her fingers pressing against the wooden floor until she’s been gobbled up like some little character in a fairy tale.

I shout, “Jade!  Come find Quinn!” and my wife comes meandering in, expecting to see me but only finds Rory on the floor, still in his dirty clothes saying, “Monster got Quinn!” and my wife says, “Uh… Quinn?” and I say, “Shhh!  Quiet!  Don’t say anything.  We’re hiding!” but Quinn says, “I’m right HERE, Mommy!” and, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but my children are really horrible at Hide-and-Go-Seek.  Quinn shrieks, “I want to hide ah-gain and Rory says, “I want to count!” and so he goes with my wife and I quickly pull the venetian blinds aside and make Quinn stand tip-toe on the very edge of the windowsill and hang on for dear life while I try to make the blinds look as natural and unlumpy as possible.  Ultimately, I end up just leaning casually in front of them like, “What?  These blinds?  Don’t mind them.”

Twenty seconds later Rory comes tearing back into the room with my wife close behind.  Rory says, “QUINN!  QUINN!  WHERE ARE YOU!?” and Quinn, she is, if I do say so myself, in a fantastic hiding spot.  Very unexpected and, as of last night, previously unused.  It’s very difficult to find new places to hide in an 8×8 box with one bed, a tent and a bookshelf in it.

I hear Quinn mumble something behind me and I say, “Shhh!” and Rory says, “QUINN, WHERE ARE YOU?” and then my wife says, “Quinnie, where aaarrreee you?” and my daughter just can’t take it anymore.  She leaps from the windowsill, out of the blinds, over my shoulder, onto the bed, pops up, throws her arms in the air and shouts, “I’M RIGHT HEEERRREEEE!” and Rory says, “Found you!” and I say, “Uh… sort of.”

Before I can say, “Okay, bedtime,” Quinn runs out of the room and says, “My turn to count!” and really, truly, it wouldn’t be fair otherwise.  The only problem is… where do I hide this kid?  In the closet behind old clothes?  Top of bookshelf?  Under pile of dirty laundry?  No… I’ll sneak him right out of the room!  I turn to grab him and his little feet are just sticking out from under the bed and I say, “Rory, get out here,” and he says, “Daddy, I’m hiding!” and I say, “We already hid there!  C’mon!  I got an idea!” and I grab him by the ankle and yank him out and, while he’s hanging upside down like a possum I silently tip-toe into the bathroom and set him down oh so carefully into the tub and I gently reach up and with the lightest fingers, I begin to slide the curtain to the right, in order to block us from — Rory grabs a clumsy handful of the shower curtain and yanks it — SWISH!  SWOSH!  CRUMPLE!

I hear Jade laugh in the other room and I know we’re busted.  Go team.  Quinn shouts, “–nineteen…twenty!  HERE I COME!” and then she runs past the bathroom and into the bedroom and I think, “At least we fooled the little one,” but before that thought is even out of my mouth Rory is shouting, “QUINN!  WE’RE IN HERE!  IN THE BATHROOM!  IN THE SHOWER!” and I’m trying to hush him but he’s laughing and wrapping himself up in the clear shower curtain and pressing his face into it.

Quinn runs into the bathroom and points at me and says, “FOUND YOU!” and I say, “Never choose a 2 year old to be on your team in the International Series of Hide-and-Go-Seek Olympics.

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ABOVE: “And thank you for Mommy and thank you for giraffe and thank you for diarrhea.  Amen.”  And that’s straight from the mouth of babes.

Properly worn out, we lie the kids down – Jade and I together, even though she cleaned up the dishes already – and we say our prayers and we shut off the lights and we give Quinn her baby and Rory his trains and we turn on the music box / pony that plays It’s a Small World and say, “Goodnight!” and, “We love you!” and, “See you in the morning!” and, “Sleep tight!” and, “Bye-Bye,” and, “We’ll leave the door open just a crack, okay?” and then the ritual and the routine is over and it’s just the two of us, my wife and I, and our family is one day closer to the arrival of the baby and I try to imagine how much fun it will be to play Hide-and-Seek with an extra person.

We turn and, instead of going into the living room, we slowly tip-toe into our bedroom and turn on the baby monitor and watch the kids go to sleep on the tiny black and white screen.

“Found you,” I whisper.

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KID COUNTDOWN, DAY 14

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In 14 days, my wife and I will be experiencing a major shift in our family.  A major shift.  Tectonic-Plates-Glacial-Sliding-Landslide type shift.

We’re having a child.

And not just A child, but our THIRD child, which means two things.  First and foremost, it means that we are socially irresponsible by having created more people than will replace us when we “pass“.  BUT… in my defense…you should see the “next generation” of kids growing up around my block.  Trust me when I say that my over population is nothing more than my most desperate and valiant effort to help the human race not dip into The Darkest Abyss.

Secondly, and more importantly, it means that my wife and I are now outnumbered in our own home.  The child-to-parent ratio is all screwed up and there could, for all intents and purposes, be some sort of uprising; an overthrow of government if you will; a Coup.  I’ve read Treasure Island, I’ve read Mutiny on the Bounty, I know how these things work!

I’ve got my eye on you Little Baby Boy or Girl… Papa will be watching you from Day 1…

Now, backstory out of the way, I’d like you to take a journey with me.  For the next 14 days, I’m going to document the final two weeks leading up to The Great Shift.  We are, as most parents are, eternally thankful for our Little Nugget and excited to see if she actually ends up being a she or if he ends up coming out male-wise.  In any event, there is an element of bittersweet aroma in the air because, as all parents know, there is a family dynamic that is in play and whenever you add something to it, the previous dynamic is lost forever and a new one takes its place.  We currently have a set of twins that are, obviously, the same age and we have routines and inside jokes with them (and about them) and we have those quiet, special family moments and those public outings and adventures and these things won’t be gone, but our dynamic, our Everyday that we’ve gotten used to over the last two years, will be transformed.

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ABOVE: RORY (LEFT) and QUINN (RIGHT).

I had this really fantastic couch in college.  I bought it at a Goodwill and paid eleven bucks for it.  I loved that couch and, often times I actually just slept on it.  I even named it.  Couchy.  It stayed with me in the dorms, into my first apartment and then into the duplex my wife and I eventually moved into and then into the first house we rented.  It was well worn and soft and I knew just what to expect.  But one day we had to buy a new couch and we took ‘ol Couchy and set it out on the curb and a garbage truck came and stuck two giant steel poles through it’s back, lifted it into the air and then slowly lowered it into a series of spinning blades that spit stray wood chips out into the street, leaving me behind with only my memories and tears and this awful final image.

The new baby is sort of like that… only without the spinning blades and steel spikes and tears.

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ABOVE: COUCHY BEFORE HE WAS TURNED INTO TOOTHPICKS, A YOUNGER VERSION OF BOTH JADE AND MYSELF AND A LIVING VERSION OF MY DOG.

Let’s get started, shall we?

DAY 14

This morning I was awakened by a loud banging on my bedroom door.  The handle jiggles and I blurt out some incoherent sentence about grapefruits that I’m sure made sense to whatever dream I was having.  The door knob wiggles again and I hear someone shout at me, “Hey!  Hey!  Door’s locked!” and I say, “I know.  I did that to keep people out,” and then I twist the knob and standing there is my son, Rory and my daughter Quinn, both of them holding onto their favorite blankets.  I don’t want to call them security blankets because, well, there’s really nothing secure about them; in the event of a fire, you can’t crawl under them.  In fact, they’re stuffed with cotton so they’d probably be the first thing to just go up like a magician’s flash paper.  POOF!

Quinn shouts, with an energy that should be outlawed at 7:15 in the morning, “I’m ah-WAAAKE!” and then Rory echoes her with, “Mornin’!”  He has this built in drawl that he throws into that word and that word alone so that he sounds like a legitimate cowboy of yesteryear.  I imagine him tipping his hat to me and rolling a piece of wheat in his teeth as I flop back into bed and cover myself up, hoping that they’ll just crawl in behind me and go back to sleep but instead Quinn puts her foot on my cheek and says, “Daddy, I want to snuggle,” and I understand that this is less of a request and more of a threat.

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ABOVE: WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T LOOK INTO HIS EYES…. I SAID DON’T DO IT!

I pull the blankets back and she crawls under the covers and I shut my eyes and think, “I’ve done it!” but then Quinn is poking my eyelids and laughing and saying, “Daaa-dee,” and I say, “Whaaaaat?” and she says, “Daaaa-deeee?” and I say, “I’m sleeeeeeping,” and she says, “No, you’re not.”

Rory begins jumping on the end of the bed and screaming and then he’s dropping onto his knees and landing on my shins and I’m saying to him, “Uck – ouch – eek – oh,” and he’s laughing and I’m wondering if anyone has ever considered building a sort of king sized coffin that adults can sleep in; something with a lid…

I roll over and grab my book from the nightstand, a copy of Big Sur by Jack Kerouac and try to read a few pages in order to transition into the day.  “Oh, we readin’?” Quinn asks me and takes a look inside my book.  No pictures.  She jumps off the bed, runs into the living room and returns with a small handful from her own private library, wherein she crawls next to me, props herself up on a pillow and begins to examine each page with such silent intensity that I’m positive that she is legitimately reading.  Time passes, pages turn, Jade makes a couple pig-ish snoring noises and Rory shoves a toy cow in my face and says, “THAT’S A PIG!” and I say, “That’s not a pig,” and he says, “THAT’S A COW!” and then he arranges each of his animals onto one corner of the night table and doesn’t touch them again.  He’s a very meticulous little boy, similar both to my sister Theresa and my brother-in-law, Jordan, a man who used to iron his money when he was younger.

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ABOVE: THE FORCE…. OF OCD… IS STRONG IN THIS ONE…

I grab my phone to check the time and realize… “Dang, it’s just after 10am.”  At some point in the last three hours when I thought I wasn’t sleeping, I must have dozed off and the kids just laid there (lied there??) and we all slept in until late and, now that I think about it, I do feel pretty refreshed.

Jade sits up and says, “Should we eat french toast for breakfast?” and my kids love french toast (who doesn’t?) and so they scream and say, “YES!  FRENCH TOAST!” and then they’re gone and then my wife is gone and I’m left lying in bed with my book, thinking about standing up.  I look over at the empty bassonet we have in the room and I realize that soon…..

…soon the idea of sleeping in until 10am will be a luxury reserved for bachelors, rich people and the homeless.

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