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Take out the mono candle! It’s Max & Emmanuelle’s first Birthday today!!

They’re one year old. One year! and oh what a year it was….

Emmanuelle ma fille
Emmanuelle ma fille

A year ago today at 10am I was hearing the first cries of baby Max and Manu. As soon as they were delivered into this world, their high pitch mewls came in rapid succession like a baby bird fallen from her nest. Panicking. And me, lying on a hard bed with a side of spinal tap, listening to the scurry and the unruffled voices of doctors & pre-term specialists buzzing around me. Fear, joy, and clarity-disparity were all along for the ride and for a long moment I stared up to the ceiling, simultaneously feeling everything and feeling nothing. Thinking of the decisions that had brought me to this pinpoint moment.
 
 

Everyday is naked day!
Everyday is naked day!

A year later, as in right now, I’m sitting with Max, Manu & Frenchy-baby-daddy-Pierre opening presents and telling the kiddos they are no longer infants but bona fide toddlers. “You’re a little man, Max. You are my petite mademoiselle, Emmanuelle”. They laugh and caw looking at us, waving back to us with their little hands having no idea what it means, just that it connects us. Max is carefully turning everything in his hands and in between his fingers. Emmanuelle along side him, insisting all graspable matter around her bend to her will (or just make alot of noise).

They of course are less interested in presents than their wrapping and all the noise and mayhem they can generate. Shred all that paper, chew it up and spit it out. Pound the crap out of all things tangible. Oooo, those batteries taste scads better than the boring pacifier. You get the idea… Babies for bedlam, in a wonder world where entropy reigns.
 

Stand back mere mortal, this one is....
“Stand back mere mortal, this present is….”

 
I can barely remember what life felt like without them. Like they were always meant to be here, it just took awhile to get around to laying the gateway for their arrival. Prior there was always something I told myself I needed to do first - a list that can be never ending. I felt locked into a lifestyle whose universe centered around the “me”. I wanted to let go in order to step outside it, but that’s a hard sword to lay down…
 

Whats on the inside is
“OMG! We’re being attacked by a sheep head!”

 
Traveling for 3 years throughout the 3rd World was indeed getting out, but returning to life in the US was bittersweet. I experienced things I will never be able to convey and in re-entering the life I had left, I became more an observer than participant. But it was my solo travel to Thailand & India living in different monasteries for meditation practice that really brought me into the present. This changed several things - some of it very painful.
 

Wonder twin powers activate. Shape of a baby!
“Wonder twin powers activate. Shape of a baby!”

 
I realized I needed to end certain friendships due to their unhealthy and negative nature and evaluate assumed ways in my thinking that either no longer served purpose or no longer held truth. Dynamics within my family needed to shift as well.

Community and creating a family became important, but I think I was afraid of committing to growing kids until one day Pierre bluntly says, “You aren’t serious about having kids, and you are going to wake up one day and realize it’s too late. You need to get serious if you want kiddos.” That little phrase worked wonders because 2 moths later I was pregnant with twins.

All that to say it was quite a journey that brought me to my children and they to me. It’s always astounding how common childbirth is, but how unique, how mystical the experience can be to each human being.

Pierre and I, we made 2 amazing little people. I can’t believe our fortune on this one. Our kiddos laugh and smile sun up to sun down unless tired or hungry. They go to bed with little effort, they are healthy and beautiful and really full of such marked personality. I pull them into my arms, I smell their skin and melt when their little arms and hands clutch at my shoulders, their legs kicking with delight to be held. I burn this into my memory and into my flesh. It is so primal, so animal.

So Happy Birthday Max, Bon Anniversaire Emmanuelle. And thank you Pierre for helping stir, pour and mix the pot, er petri dish and bring the kiddos into our lives. You’re a fantastic father.

2
2 months: “I have never known life without you”
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Happy New Year to all the tall people!
Happy New Year to all the tall people!

 

Happy New Year to all the baby seals!
Happy New Year to all the baby seals!

 
 
Hello to you all, our friends and family!

It’s a New Year and finally we are poking our heads above ground. As a toast, we invite you to visit us in our new home - or on our blog for those who can’t make it: . We’ve added several new stories and images on our life with Max, Manu, Pius the teen pope, and all the other crazies.

I’m lovely too
I’m lovely too

Max & Manu are now 8 1/2 months old and are beginning to crawl. Best of all, their laughs are infectious and with all their babbling, our home sounds like a rainforest. In all our imagination, we couldn’t have dreamed up a daughter & son more lovely.

We decided to move out of San Francisco to Sebastopol, a small town of artists, academics, organic farmers, retirees, and a mish-mash of other miscellaneous folk. We weren’t sure how we’d feel leaving SF, but so far we love it. Why? SPACE, lush trees, animals about, bright constellations, and best of all, we can make all the noise we want, when we want! clang, clang!!

More friends come to visit us here than they did in the city. We plan to continue to lure you to see us and be part of Max & Manu’s world.

The Diapers Fund financed our trip to Poopy Land. Thank you all!
The “Baby Diapers Fund” financed our trip to Poopy Land.
Thank you all for your generous contributions!

 
Other plans for 2009?

Yes, we can!
Yes, we can!

Merritt finally gets to jump horses again (there are 2 top equestrian centers here) and she has an appointment with Chronicle Books to pitch an idea for our long overdue coffee table book chronicling 3 years traveling by motorcycle through Europe, Africa, Asia, and South & Central America. The most optimism of all though comes from the election of President Obama. After 8 long years, she feels fortunate to be Citizen US again.

During a videoconference on Inauguration Day, Nicolas, who lives in France, appears with the American flag in the background, shockingly visible from the outside through the window. Note that during all the years he lived in America, Nicolas never publicly displayed his French flag through the window. Brave but not dumb.
The French pull out Old Glory again

Pierre has not yet recovered from his recent celebrations and he’s still taken aback that the pleasant winds of Hope and Change blowing from Hawaii finally prevailed against the powerful forces of Fear and Continuity from Alaska. He’s now a strong proponent of the Global Warming Up, and he can’t wait to go back to France to tease his friends and family about the soggy climate over there.

Also in 2009, we’ll be updating our website more often: Videos, amusing news of the world, the hoonanigans of Max & Manu, and many images. Make sure to sign up for the “RSS feed” (located on the front page of our blog, bottom left) to receive notice when we update & post new pics.

In our latest installments many things are revealed! Learn how Pierre teaches infants to swim in the comfort of his own bed… Discover what Merritt learned from the Alabama prison system… Hear Max & Manu’s favorite Madness song… And see for yourself how the French eat hotdogs!

We hope the new year brings you new friendships, and deeper relations with the ones you have. Most of all, here is to your good health and to your brain pan staying finely tuned, because it is… isn’t it?

Happy New Year!
 

Say Cheese! Cheese… Cheese… Milk… Milk… Bone!
Say Cheese!
Cheese… Cheese… Milk… Milk… Bone!

 

Merritt and her baby cameleon
Merritt and her baby cameleon

 

Smells like happiness to me. Happy Happy to you too!
Smells like happiness to me.
Happy Happy to you too!

 
Voilà!

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Max & Manu se sont entraînés pendant 4 mois pour mon cadeau d’anniversaire. Merci les bambins !

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Voici ce qui se passe à la maison quand Merritt va en ville le samedi après-midi…

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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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pierre_double-baby-blog.jpg
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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waiting-for-bath-time.jpg
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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manu_buddha_blog.jpg

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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I still have a little catching up to do to save prosperity. This one tells of how Max and Manu made it into the world via a sharp knife, a slick doctor, and a spinal tapped, ultra frightened girl.

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Do Elephants howl?
Do Elephants howl?

Here at the hospital while on bed rest, Pierre and I press our ears against the walls — listening to the women in the other rooms as they go into labor and eventually give birth. We’re stiff with rapture, like kids seeing a full-frontal naked person for the first time, or a game show contestant freaking in anticipation over whats behind door #3. We are experiencing our own lives, our own pasts through the women. It’s how we all entered this world. Through the greatest canal… The grandest right-of-passage of all.

Portal from another World
Portal from another World

The primal, the very animal howl from the women is unlike any call or cry I have ever heard, and from the deepest, most primal space it triggers in me that ancestral attachment. It fails to temp me into a drug-free birth however — the vicarious ease drop is enough. It’s a beautiful sound.

I’ve loved my 18 days on bed rest and me & the twins are super at 27 1/2 weeks. The doctors are talking about releasing me this weekend, saying they see no reason why I cant spend the remainder of my pregnancy at home.

Pius the teenage pope
Pius the teenage pope

The problem is, I dont want to go!
Here, my pals come visit me, Pierre comes each and every night to visit with Pius, my Whippet. Yes, CPMC even allows your dog to come and stay with you while you’re locked up. I coax Pius in bed with me, but Pierre ends that immediately. “Dont take advantage of a hospital letting your dog in by letting him climb in the sheets with you”. No fun those French.

Other reasons I like it here: I dont have to do remedial labor like cooking or cleaning, and I like having people from all backgrounds of education, ethnicity and experience to talk to, and most of all, I like being cared for by people here because in the real world, it’s difficult for me to ask others for help. Here, it’s safe. So, a few days before I am set to leave for home, I get my wish to stay.

The following morning I have my first contraction, and within 2 hours it is all over, or rather, it all is just beginning…

I have my first contraction at 7:30am, then at 8:30 then 9:00, then every 20, 15, 10 minutes. The nurses, 2 doctors and the pre-term delivery team run around my bedside in cool pandemonium.

Erma Vep says,
Erma Vep says,”Give me drugs!”

The contractions send me to the roof. “What the hell was that!?” I shriek as they grow in pain.
A pain much more severe than when I fell over a cliff on my motorcycle, than when I hit a fence with my face while jumping horses, more so than when I intentionally lit my skin with red hot metal. None of these come close to the pain of a contraction. I’ve heard men tell that the passing of boulder size gall stones through their eurethra comes close. So they say…

I yell to everyone, that women who choose to go through hours of labor are crazy! One nurse humorously agrees with me. I’ve never felt anything like it. I grab the bedpost, bury my head and wail. Shit. Budda. Breathe. Finally Paulette, a favorite nurse has me by the shoulders saying firmly, “Look at me. Breathe. You’re okay. You are going to deliver 2 beautiful children. We will take care of you. I’m here for you, look at my face.”
That was it. A connection to someone and I broke down crying.

Meanwhile the doctor is trying to get me undressed. She grabs me, forces my clothing off, demanding I cooperate. Her grounded firmness tempers me, an animal under duress being commanded by it’s owner.

At 9:50am I’m on the gurney, rushing to the delivery room. When there I’m told my spinal tap will hurt alot. They plunge it in, and I say, “Is that it?” After them contractions nothing was painful.

Dr Huh, my OBY and woman delivering my twins, said to me before she cut my abdomen, “Its going to feel like I am sitting a heavy bag on your stomach, and that I am rooting around in it for something. I’ll talk you through it. Try and relax.”

It did feel just like that, and I imagined them peeling back all the muscle, searching for Baby A, then Baby B. Pulling them out through a tiny incision and handing them over to the special group of strangers in the corner in blue sterile suits. I must have been in shock. It all went so well. I knew the kiddos had left me. They were being attended to in the corner by the doctors. I could feel Dr Huh putting me back together and I asked at the end to watch her sew me up and damn, she let me! How cool is that? There was so much blood, and I was super bloated like that cat I found washed up on the beach a few years back.

The twins had flown the nest. I could hear their cries off to one side, so faint, so small as they took them off to the ER. No romantic interlude for us, no insta-bonding, no eye candy reward in my arms. Just their cries disappearing through the corridor.

A Spork
A Spork

I was able to see each one for a split second before they were rushed to the NICU (Neo-natal intens. care unit) but I felt nothing. I was numb. Where was Pierre? What just happened?? Actually, we’d agreed Pierre wouldn’t be in the room since he faints at blood. Also, I would have totally fed off his nervous anticipation and so I was glad to be alone with the experience.

Afterwards though, he was the only one I wanted to see! He was outside and we rested in a waiting area until the doctor came to take us to see our new family. Max and Emmanuelle. They were like tiny baby birds lying in an incubation nest. Breathing 1000 times per second, absolutely no fat on their bodies under a glaring bright yellow lamp.

I didnt think about if they’d live or not, or complications. We were just all together in the room, my family, and for that moment it’s all that mattered.

A most perfect pair
What gives life?


You’ll never be alone
You’ll never be alone

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Le week-end dernier, nous sommes allés à Babies’R'us. J’ai capturé pour la postérité cette photo que, je sais, une certaine Maman Grooms et un tas de copains ricaneurs n’auraient jamais cru voir un jour. Nous sommes arrivés au milieu de l’après-midi et repartis à 22 heures passées, de loin les derniers clients, et plus légers de 950 dollars.

Pour ceux d’entre vous qui ne vivent pas aux États-Unis, Babies’R'us est le supermarché où vous pouvez trouver tout ce dont vous avez besoin pour un bébé, sauf le bébé lui-même. Pour le bébé, c’est simple: suivez Brad et Angelina qui ont démarré la mode et allez vous servir au Vietnam. Ils en ont littéralement des tonnes là-bas à 25.000 dollars pièce (à peu près 4000 dollars la livre ou 5500 euros le kilo: c’est un business très profitable). Ça semble un peu raide à première vue mais au moins vous êtes assurés d’obtenir le modèle que vous voulez, en pleine santé et tout, pas comme la Fécondation In-Vitro à 15.000 dollars la passe et des taux de succès douteux.

Mais bon, ne laissons pas ces petites considérations gâcher notre plaisir: nous sommes revenus avec la voiture pleine à craquer de délices et nous sommes impatients d’avoir nos deux petites merveilles avec nous.

An Authentic Mother Hen
Une vraie mère poule
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Demain c’est la Fête des Pères, ma première Fête des Pères.

Visez un peu ce que m’ont apporté les cigognes il y a tout juste un mois.

Merritt a pris la photo mais quand elle l’a découverte sur son écran, elle en a immédiatement envoyé une copie à ma maman. C’est vrai: c’est tellement mignon que c’est difficile de savoir si j’ai posé pour la Fête des Pères ou pour la Fêtes des Mères.

I think the storks were drunk
Je crois que les cigognes étaient bourrées

 

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Obama a décroché la nomination aujourd’hui, j’en suis très heureux et je ne suis pas le seul. J’ai voté pour lui de la manière dont les gens votent aux Etats-Unis: si vous aimez quelqu’un, vous lui envoyez de l’argent et si suffisamment de gens l’aiment autant que vous l’aimez, il peut s’acheter une bonne campagne et il se fait élire (en supposant que les machines à voter ne sont pas pipées contre lui).

Je suis très heureux pour le pays aussi. Quelque chose me dit que si un noir est arrivé où il est, c’est parce que beaucoup de gens étaient vraiment fatigués de ces “stupides hommes blancs” qui ont mené la nation en guerre, récession et déficits records pendant les dernières 8 années. Il est grand temps de changer.

Je me sens en partie aussi joyeux et inspiré que Jesse Jackson Jr observant à travers les mots de Martin Luther King que “l’arc moral de l’univers” se “courbera vers la liberté et la justice pour tous” le 28 août, le jour où Obama acceptera officiellement la nomination, exactement 45 ans après le fameux discours “I Have A Dream” (”J’ai un rève”).

Mais une autre partie de moi note tristement avec Warren Buffet, l’homme le plus riche de la planète (que l’on ne peut que difficilement taxer d’interventionniste), qu’il n’y plus grand-chose que les gouvernements puissent encore faire. Parlant de l’économie mondiale la semaine dernière, il déclara: “C’est le problème. Vous ne pouvez plus la diriger, vous ne pouvez plus la réguler. On ne peut pas remettre le génie dans la bouteille”. En gros, nous avons tout vendu aux multinationales et nous l’avons fait de telle manière que nous ne pouvons plus le récupérer.

Sinon une pensée qui me vient à l’esprit en tant que Français expatrié aux Etats-Unis, c’est qu’il va m’être beaucoup plus facile d’expliquer aux copains et à la famille que si j’aime vivre ici, et surtout à San Francisco, c’est parce que pour tous les abus et les dysfonctionnements de la société américaine - la plupart hérités d’idéalisations naïves d’un passé extrêmement conservateur, religieux, raciste et violent - il y a une minorité fascinante et très progressive d’artistes, inventeurs, penseurs et leaders qui agit en contrepoids et continue à mener le pays de l’avant. Ce à quoi Obama contribuera…

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Courbe de poids
Courbe de poids

Floppée de bonnes nouvelles aujourd’hui.

Manu n’a eu aucune “brady” ces derniers jours (une brady, comme disent les infirmières, c’est un épisode de bradycardie, une chute du rythme cardiaque).

Max n’a plus ses tuyaux dans les narines pour respirer et il est bien pus heureux comme ca. Ses bradys reviennent de temps en temps mais il a eu son premier jour sans. Et le meilleur: on lui a donné le feu vert pour une ration par jour de lait maternel (ce qui est une bonne nouvelle pour Merrit aussi: elle produit tellement avec sa trayeuse que l’infirmière lui a demandé de ne plus en apporter parce que le congélateur est plein !).

Nous allons à l’hôpital une fois par jour (deux fois pour Merritt) pour une Session Kangourou et nous gardons les gamins sur nous pour de plus longues périodes, jusqu’à une heure et demi. Les deux gagnent du poids, sont plus costauds et commencent vraiment à ressembler et à se comporter comme de bons bébés. Ils sont plus intéressés à ce qui se passe; ils nous font savoir dans quelle position ils veulent être, en poussant ou en se roulant.

Ils ont même eu leur premier baiser aujourd’hui. À la fin du Kangourou, nous les avons placés tous les deux sur Merritt qui a eu droit à sa toute première brassée de bébés. “Allez ! Embrasse ton frère !” dit l’infirmière à Manu en la poussant contre Max. Mignon comme tout.
 

Manu
Manu la fille

 

Max
Max le garçon
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