"I'm finding it very hard to get things done," I said to the night nurse we hired the other day. My mother-in-law, who had held the babies for 20 hours a day, 21 days in a row, had gone home, and we thought we needed just a little more help before the babies got big enough to sleep longer stretches at a time.
"There is nothing that needs to get done," she said, a grandmother herself. "All you need to do is be with them. The babies are the most important thing, and they grow up in a flash. Think about it: one year from today they'll be walking and talking."
I couldn't picture it. And I didn't agree that nothing needed to be done. Sometimes I had to go to the bathroom, for example, and sometimes I needed to prepare their next feeding. It's not like I was trying to translate Romeo and Juliet into Portuguese. Just survival stuff.
By six o'clock the next morning, Grandpam, what Pam the nurse calls herself for the babies, had changed her tune. "If last night is any indication, you must be going crazy!"
Apparently, our babies have what they used to call colic, what they now call reflux. Every time they lie on their backs, which is always, they get stomach (hydrocloric) acid in the throat. Sometimes it comes in an impressive amount of spit-up, and sometimes it just reaches their esophagus and makes them cough and sputter. Sometimes it comes through their nose and they gasp for air and weep wet tears. In any case, it makes our babies cry more than most babies, and sleep less. It didn't happen for three weeks when my mother-in-law could hold them all the time, because they were more upright. But now that she was gone, we were all feeling it.
It could drive a mother mad. In both senses. It could make you want to act out the "Rock-a-bye Baby" lyrics for real. To the treetops, Alice!
Mothers who have experienced infertility are more prone to post-partum depression because caring for a crying baby is not as fun as they had imagined and wished for, for all that time. Mothers of multiples are more prone to post-partum depression because they have more work, and more screams to contend with, and a lower hand-to-baby ratio. Mothers who have had depression in the past are more prone to it because once depression gets into your system, it's hard to remove. And mothers with colicky babies are more prone to post-partum depression because their lives are filled with more crying than sleep.
But as Pam has told me no less than four times, "There's a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not the train." If I didn't like the content of that joke so much, I might not need to hear it as often. But I do like the thought. In the several days since she's come into our lives, she's told us to feed the babies a larger amount of formula, swaddle them tighter, lay them to sleep in an inclined position, and talk to our doctor about the reflux issue. And I see the light. In the confusion of this morning, we accidentally skipped a feeding, and the babies didn't let us know about it for two extra hours. Two hours, in twin time, is almost a whole day. Miraculous.
Thank God for Grandpam, for her medical knowledge and experience. Thank God for my mother-in-law, who was unquestionably put on this earth to be a grandmother, and whose baby care for three weeks was more herculean than Hercules himself could have pulled off. Thank God for my father-in-law, who likened his chest to a waterbed, soo good at lulling babies to sleep. Thank God for my own mother, who comes over in the afternoons to bring me chocolate milk and take the girls while I take a nap. Thank God for my dad, who took the night shift for a week when he was first here, and who will surely come back for more. Thank God for James, the sweetest of all fathers, who is currently shushing a baby downstairs, eating his pizza. His multi-tasking skills have come in so handy in our new life. And thank God for all my friends who have brought food, brought their babysitting and litterbox cleaning hands, and passed along to us their swings, bouncy seats, and other baby-quieting supplies. It takes a village to raise twins.
And thank God for those twins to bring together the village. And to be my sweet little babies. They can melt your heart in the blink of a little eye. And that's what keeps them out of the treetops.