Although we will be moving north to Sebastopol very soon, Pierre and I are making the most of our 3 room housey in the hood. The bedroom now doubles as the kiddos room & storage room, the office doubles as both our offices & the play room, and the kitchen is now the living room, the doggie bedroom & default everything else room.

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double dutch
double dutch

We learn to make the most of it all. Pierre comes up with the ultimate feeding machine to make late night feeds flow: Make head rests in the crib, and feed the kiddos at the same time with double bottle action. We save approximately 1 hour 30 minutes a day with this new-fangle method (click images for a better look).

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The family that sleeps together…
The family that sleeps together…

 
 
Even Kangaroo Care can be pruned to a one-chest hay ride.

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The streets provide an exercise in ease as Pierre shows how to handle two babies (and a dog & bag of groceries) at once. He becomes an amusement park ride, as the kids swing and sway to the beat of his to and fro.

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Even when we can’t physically hold them, our kiddos follow us everywhere, even inside the bathroom to watch Pierre get his hair cut. Pius is the most intrigued because he thinks that camera I’m holding is a chicken tendon snack. Yum.

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merritt-twin-hold-blog.jpgThere is one frontier I haven’t quite made it into in terms of doubling things up. That’s the tandem breast feed. Also known as “The football hold”, and you know how I hate sport references. It just feels too animal, too much like the body being a host for little larva. Its just.. too.. weird. I’m diggin’ everything else about the double-baby-momma experience though. Pierre & I often say to the other, “Thank you for ‘the babies’”. Our pride, meow.

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Lest one accuse us of neglecting the joys of bonding one on one with our kiddos, I give you Manu to set the record straight. She looks like a baby Mao, an enlightened Buddha, a leader of the people. I can almost hear her say it now, Power to the people!

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Happy Halloween to all!

Manu is my pumpkin pie
Manu is my pumpkin pie



Pierre and I went to CPMC’s yearly party so we could see the nurses once again. When we arrive, there are no nurses anywhere. There are however, piles and piles of kids.

It’s interesting that an experience as transformational and highly unique as making babies is also one of the most common. Common indeed as it happens 131,571,719 times every year. If you have working parts and you find another person with the other 50% of the recipe, then anyone can make a baby and it seems most do. But should anyone be able to make babies? Shouldn’t parents to-be be required to take rudimentary classes in parenting? They’re not. Just make the baby and off you go. When you wake up 13 years later and think, “Oh lord, little Jimmy is a mess, how do I fix him?” it’s a little late. People need to pass tests, obtain licenses and be approved for so many things. It’s ludicrous. I think about this whenever I’m waiting in line at the drivers bureau for my license, watching kids pulling on their mom’s hair, receiving slaps, and rolling around on the floor like an amoeba.

Whatever, back to the kiddy party…

We’re having fun, but growing hungry. I’m thinking that after paying $10,000 day per child while in the hospital, CPMC is surely going to kick it with some Starbuck’s coffee or thick crust Pizza Time. Instead, the only food is macaroni swamped in half melted cheeze wiz bubblin’ atop a bunson burner. There are also cheddar cheese cubes spread out on a table. I love how the kids touch 3 or 4 cubes before selecting the one they want. Eeeewwww! At least there was funked out fructose juice to wash all that cheesey concoction down with.

cheesier than cheese
cheesier than cheese

We then waited in a line to have this cheesier than the macaroni cheese picture taken. Its supposed to be of the kids but like, where are they? I drew arrows to help you find them. The photog’s lens, lighting and distance were all wrong wrong. But really, we did have a swell time. Max and Manu slept the entire afternoon, so we’ll have to fill them in on it later.




world-record-pumplin08.jpgIn other news, this year’s big fat ass pumpkin award goes to a 1,524-pound beauty. Looks fake doesnt it? No no no, and the $6 per pound the farmer received as prize wasn’t fake either. That pumpkin has more square footage than our apartment!




The best Halloween treat of all is how far Barack Obama has come in this election. If he does win, among other things, it will help heal the appalling relations our country now has with the international community. I think of my kiddos, and the possibilities for this country, and I haven’t felt this optimistic in years.

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CPMC neonatal unit delivers over 6000 babies a year (yeah, I’m still talking about the hospital). They are one of the best for high-risk pregnancy, so one can imaging how full their NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) must be!

Transmission of love
Transmission of love

In Max and Manu’s room there were many other preemies — which is essentially a baby who is developing its last stages outside the womb. It’s certainly unfortunate, but also fascinating to see. “You should still be on the inside of me,” I tell Max and Manu, clutching their tiny finger the size of a thermometer’s head

One day I’m walking around, checkin’ out other babies when a nurse tells me that I shouldn’t be peepin’ in on other parent’s wee ones - ESPECIALLY if parents are present.

It’s a touchy subject. Doesn’t it seem like it would be a supportive interaction? Instead, it has all the potential for the opposite. Parent’s feelings of self-blame and their fear of visitors judging their little preemie is raw.

beautiful in Brazil
beautiful in Brazil

Pierre and I never had these feelings, but the nurses tell us it’s the norm and thus, the hospital protects the parents from more distress. If say one mom overhears another mom being told how beautiful her baby is, she may sit alone wondering why no one tells her that her baby is beautiful. Or, imagine someone walking past a baby’s incubator while commenting how tiny she is — it could send a parent into greater anxiety that their baby must be in the worst shape of all. So everyone is kept in this kind of weird, Brazil, cubicle from one another.

So our friendships grow with the nurses, and who better to have as a story-teller for the curious and strange? Non-fiction - from where all good fiction comes!

24 weeks can last a lifetime.
24-weeks can last a lifetime.

I ask one nurse, “What is the earliest average that doctors can keep a pre- mature baby alive?” “24 weeks”, she says.
24 weeks! That’s not even 6 months! That’s 60% of a baby. I walk through the NICU, trying to sneak-a-peek to see such a baby, and one day I do. The feeding tube coming from her mouth is thin as a hair yet still seems suffocating to her. The diaper which is no more than a tissue, engulfs her. She breathes like a fallen baby bird, and I see each rib rising and falling at a breathtaking rate. She is bright red, from the blood vessels coursing against the surface of her skin. The face is barely formed. Should she live? Of course she should. But what of the parents who who learn their preemie will have life long disabilities. Some severe? Do they love her as much? Do they want to let her go, but are too afraid of guilt and of engaging in that thread of thought?

The age of reason.
The age of reason.

I ask the nurse if certain babies tend to recover and progress better than others. She smiles, “Oh yes, the girl babies always do better. We see it every day. And no doubt, black girl babies do better than the other babies.”
And who has the slowest recovery? “Caucasian white males. They recover the slowest of any race and gender.” The other nurses around agree.

This reminds me of my travels through Africa where the rationalizations ran deep and wide as to why women are weaker, more fragile, less intelligent, blah blah ad nauseum than men. But here in baby world we learn the truth, the strongest of all.

Validation of a star
Validation of a star

Oh the irony. When most cultures regard the two just the opposite. Socially the black woman must juggle the double minority and discrimination (Lord have mercy if she’s the obese, Wiccan, lesbian, handicapped, elderly type). Globally, she is less likely to have an equal education if one at all, widening the inequality, and thus is often left with the fewest crumbs of a stinking pie. The white male remains an ideal of entitlement and intellect. Yet at birth…

It reminds me of Ghandi commenting on the British after their colonization of India. He observed how the Indians were idealizing the whites, even though the British were apathetic laborers who fell ill at the drop of the hat, and who more than a few hours in the sun left them faint. The idealization perplexed him.

Ghandi can take the heat
Ghandi can take the heat
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