Adventures in making and raising our test-tube babies

Saturday, August 15, 2009


It's been a while since I wrote. I think my excuse is that I have infant twins. I spend a lot of time tending to them, and I try to do other things around the house, like sew, wash the clothes, get out of bed, and sometimes eat. Blogging doesn't always fall in the top ten.

But James and I got a babysitter tonight and went out on the town. Specifically, to Fairfax, I think it was. Our friend Jolynn was having her babyshower BBQ and her mom was there. Gloria -- that's the mom's name -- is a self-described 75-year-old old lady and drunk (that's "drunk" the noun). She is James's favorite drinking partner. They flock to each other at parties and share a bottle of whisky or whatever is close at hand. Since we don't see Gloria all that often, I let James go wild and have fun with his little friend. It was the right thing to do today, because after I pried them apart from their goodbye hugs and plopped James in the passenger seat of the car, he told me what they talked about. Me. How great I was. So smart, and such a good writer. Awww. Go on...

"You've got to keep writing on your blog," Gloria had insisted to me before we left, more times than was necessary. I'm not sure she ever read my blog, but she was certainly in favor of the idea, which Jolynn had told her about. "Write about the thing today and the throw-up."

And so here we go.

I made Jolynn some larger than average swaddling blankets for her soon-to-be baby. That's my favorite gift to give expectant parents, because larger blankets are absolutely necessary, and they can't be bought in stores.

I also gave Jolynn two huge diaper boxes full of baby hand-me-downs, industrial-sized post-partum maxi pads, extra burp cloths, and various odds and ends we didn't need any more. Although Jolynn considered them baby presents as well, I considered them crap that someone needed to help me get rid of. And since Jolynn thought she wanted them, she got them. Without ceremony.

As I pulled two big toy arcs -- things the babies could lie under and look at from below -- out of the back seat in front of Jolynn's house, I noticed that one of the toys had spit-up on it. A small pool of dried spit-up. Maybe 1.5 inches in diameter. Slightly textured and of varying thicknesses because what had been spit up upon was a textured piece of plastic. Hunh. Well, it wasn't like it was wet or anything. And if the spit-up is dried on something, we don't really consider the thing dirty. If it were wet, that would be a little gross, though nothing we couldn't handle. And nothing we would necessarily clean up. But dry spit-up? Out of the question.

I brought the stuff in to Jolynn's party. "Here's some more crap you can have. It's got some spit-up on it."

That's what I said. That's what Gloria thought was so funny. "You have to write about the thing and the throw-up," she had said. "And embellish it a little."

So here is the embellishment: a discussion about spit-up.

The girls have been spitting up their whole lives. That's a true statement. When they were born, 7 weeks early, they spit up every time they were laid down horizontal. That's because their esophageal sphincters had not formed all the way, and there was nothing to keep the stuff that went into the stomach from coming right back out. They were like baby bottles without even the nipples on them to rein in the milk.

So up came the milk. Mixed with stomach acid. Our little babies took Zantac to neutralize that acid for several months. It didn't stop the liquid from coming back out their cute little mouths, but it did keep it from burning their little throats.

These days the esophageal sphincter seems to be doing fine, and they only spit up when overfed or squeezed. I should mention that they are always overfed. It's our system. We put in what they will take, and then they self-regulate by handing me back what they don't need. But without hands. See what I'm saying?

Elisa, who is nominally the smaller baby, had worse reflux in the early days. She used to spit up through her mouth and nose simultaneously. It was like getting water up her nose while swimming in a pool of hydrocloric acid. Poor little girl. Now she brings it on herself because she is a compulsive stomach swimmer. When we put her down on her back, she instantly flips onto her belly. She will be crawling any day, but she still needs to fine-tune her moves. What she does now is balance on the fulcrum of her full stomach, and lift her hips/legs and shoulders/head/arms in the air. Then she flails purposefully. Looks like the breast stroke. So in the midst of this 17 pounds of flailing pressure on her abdomen, well, there comes the spit-up. More than you might think necessary. More than you could keep track of once it was dry. More than you would even dream of cleaning up.

Amanda spits out some perfunctory spit-up every now and then to keep us on our toes, and to remind us that we need to take care of her too: she's still a little baby who needs her mama and daddy. First of all we don't believe that for a second. But sure, as long as she keeps the spit-up to a minimum, we'll be fine to go along with that charade. These girls are seven months and one day old, and it's about time to stop babying them.

I looked down at my desk as I was contemplating what to write next. You'll never guess what I saw just to the right of the keyboard: spit-up. A dry spot. Looks kind of like the profile of a fish with a large jaw. Some people interpret cloud shapes. We do spit-up.

My friend Paul told me once that the best baby present was a laminating machine because the word "secretions" best described the first few months of a baby's life. But until they find a way to laminate a wooden desk and toy arc, we're just going to have these nasty little reminders of our cute little babies around.

And that's fine with me. You can't say we didn't ask for it.

In the meantime, our babysitter's husband took some pictures of the girls while we were away. Here they are, to satisfy your curiosity. Reminder: Elisa is blonde with invisible eyebrows, and Amanda is brunette with eyebrows that look like mine.

1 comment:

Laughing4Heir said...

i love babies at that age. i think that's when they're cutest: between 6 and 8 months.

speaking of spit-up, i lovingly offered my own out the window and down the side of my husband's car Friday morning. seems i thought i had finally gotten used to the DHA pill of my PNVs. nope! not so much.