Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best Seats In The House

The boys enjoyed a visit from Mom's friends Jackie, Robin, Rowena, and Sheila this afternoon (affording Dad the opportunity to dash out for a matinee of "The Spirit") and witnessed their new admirers' gifts, attentions, and adorations from the cozy comfort of their own personal bouncy chairs (the infant equivalent of a barcalounger, I guess).
Nathaniel's about t-minus 1o seconds from a meltdown here (admittedly, those straps do inhibit his wiggling somewhat), while Carter seemed to respond to the vibro-action. But those chairs do block Maggie's access to her palm tree/scratching post (glimpsed partially at top of frame), which means if we don't reconsider the seating arrangements, she'll have no choice but to turn those claws loose on the furniture!

Monday, December 29, 2008

No--Don't Do It!!!

Nathaniel--pleeeez--Carter's finally sleeping...if you...NOOOOOOOO!

Xmas 2: More Fun N' Frolic w/ Grandma, Grandpa, and Auntie!

The boys are loving the attention and there's no way on this mortal earth that Lidia and I can possibly compensate between the two of us now that the visitors have gone home--Minnie and Maggie seem quite happy to sit this one out, thankyouverymuch...

Friday, December 26, 2008

First Contact

The boys got a special treat on Xmas Eve--their first encounter with their Grandpa and Grandma from Pembroke (my parents, for those completely asleep) and their aunt Wendy and cousins Stepheny and Thomas from nearby Bowmanville, who all drove a very long way through some truly horrid winter weather and brought some very cool gifts.

It was a great day for everyone--the boys were excited by the new voices and were suitably wiggly and wide-eyed, and everyone else fell immediately in love with these two little treasures.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Ying/Yang Of Twins...(as in, "They're Driving Me Out Of My--")

Chinese philosophy tells us that the concept of "yin and yang" means, among many things, that opposing forces are interconnected and complimentary within a greater whole. Yin and Yang arise together in a single movement from an initial emptiness, and continue moving together in tandem. If that sounds like I've watched too many "Kung Fu" repeats--you're not wrong...my solution to calming Carter to sleep these past few nights is to bring him downstairs when I put on one of the DVDs.

What's most significant here is not just that it's such a great photo of the boys together, and perfectly illustrative of their complimentary/opposing dynamic, but that I typed this entire posting with ONE hand! (while holding a sleeping Carter in my other...now it's time to go put on another episode from season four).

Bathing Beauty...

Nathaniel's take on his first "at home" bath session was fairly painless--although compared to Carter's reaction, what wouldn't be?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Favorite Photo Of Nathaniel (so far...)

My Favorite Photo Of Carter (so far...)

The Many Moods Of Carter And Nathaniel...

Actually, Carter has only two moods: shrieking, and non-shrieking...at least, that's the consensus so far (and how is little brother--by two minutes--can sleep is a modern medical miracle). Nathaniel, by contrast, is more serene and playful...if I could convert his wiggling and head-bobbing to power useage, I wouldn't have to pay Enbridge...

Two days without posts--some of you probably think that I've either lost it or am pinned under an avalanche of diapers and laundry. Despite the topsy-turvy sleep and feeding schedule, the situation is improving daily. The second crib has been built, and likely tomorrow, we'll be able to start decorating the room. I think I'll be sleeping in it before they will!

Friday, December 19, 2008

First Night At Home

Okay, can't resist: here are a few more shots of the boys. The little guys were a bit overwhelmed by the change of scenery, the bright lights, and the noise, so they were a little crankier than we'd expected, esp. Carter. But I carried them around the house, talking away, playing some cool music for them, and they relaxed and went to bed without a hitch. Maybe I've got a new career as a "Baby Whisperer"...

The Boys Are HOME!

Amazing--here they are and it all begins now. We weren't exactly sure when the dynamic duo would finally be freed from the hospital to their fashionable downtown domicile--Carter was taking to feeding quicker than Nathaniel and their staggered progress potentially had them arriving home on different dates (which would've been a logistical nightmare...but why quibble now?). Yesterday, Lidia was told that the boys were in great enough shape to go home, just in time for Xmas. They didn't even make us do the overnight test--in which parents' skills at feeding, changing, bathing, etc. are evaluated--since both Lidia and I never missed a day and had covered pretty much the entire range of responsibilities with flying colours.

The boys were submitted to something called a "car seat test", in which each was strapped into his own Graco special and monitored in what appeared to be a simulation of a 30 minute car ride with equipment left over from the 1930's "Flash Gordon" serials. Both boys passed with near perfect scores and after some paperwork and a few last minute items, we were on our way--just in time for Toronto rush hour!

More to come tomorrow--but here's a shot of the boys in their car seats, and being introduced to their big sisters Maggie and Minnie...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Poetry In Motion Pt. 2

More video (and plenty more where that came from...)

Here's Nathaniel in his usual inquisitive, and wiggly, mood as he gets dressed after a cranky bath...

Poetry In Motion Pt. 1

The stills I've been posting don't even begin to capture the many moods and unique personalities of our great little guys. So here's some full motion video, downconverted from my snazzy Sony HD camcorder, for your viewing pleasure.

Here's the always-serene Carter enjoying his mom's company as she readies him to be weighed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekend Warriors

An eventful weekend that officially served as our kiss-off to sleeping late and lazing through "Match Game" reruns: Mario helped me install the new microwave, Lidia's mom brought food (well-timed), I built a crib (one more to go!), and Lidia and I shopped for some new preemie clothes, bedding, and some way-cool "Where The Wild Things Are" plushies.

But best of all, we got to spend a lot of time with the boys in the Level 2 Nursery at St. Michael's Hospital. They were wide-eyed and full of fun, finally out of the incubators and clearly craving the interaction (if not exactly the whole bath business...). They're making daily progress and what's most important is that they keep gaining weight and keep feeding without the hose!

I took a ton of photos this weekend (I'm lovin' my Sony HD camcorder, which also takes superb 10 megapixel stills), and here are two of my favorites: Nathaniel and Carter, being weighed in like a couple of pint-sized prize fighters...

Remember the eye of the tiger, boys, eye of the tiger...

The Boys' First "Official" Portrait

Couldn't resist the urge to draw on the tabletop at Jack Astor's tonight while killing time between changes in the nurses' shift...here's a quickie portrait of the boys rendered to the best of my ability with Crayola crayon! The first of many, I promise...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nathaniel's Serious Sit-Down Time With Pops...

Tonight, it was time to wash Mt. Sinai right out of Nathaniel's hair--well, what's there, anyway. He didn't seem to mind his bath at first, but started to get cranky when it all dragged on a little too long (I know where you're coming from, meboy, I go through the same thing each and every morning).

As soon as he was patted down and bundled up like a little taco, it was time to hunker down with Pops for a bottle-feeding and another rambling monologue about nothing much in particular. I free-associated Toronto, the differences between Minnie and Maggie, the names of all the people in his family he was going to meet (you've all got a lot of hype to live up now, relatives!), and managed to work in a few dinosaurs, and what his ol' man did for a living.

When it was time to put him to bed and hook him back up to his network of confusing wires and electronics (does this stuff actually do anything, or is it just there for effect?), Nathaniel seemed very relaxed, like he was taking it all in.

I plan to start reading him some real stories soon--classics like "On The Day You Were Born", "Oh The Places You'll Go", and "Where The Wild Things Are"--but right now, I'm enjoying having an audience for my boring anecdotes that everyone else has heard a million times...together, he and I and Carter will create some new stories together...it's already been quite a tall tale!

Friday, December 12, 2008


Tonight's visit to the boys at St. Mike's offered two delightful surprises: 1) Carter, out of his incubator, sitting up with his mom after a feeding...

2)Nathaniel, clad in oversized jammies, completely free of his chamber and now confined to a bed!

It seems like forever that I've been viewing these guys from behind plexiglass, and this is definitely a good indicator of their rapid recovery, and eventual release. The nurses eventually kicked us out to do their thing, and while I was sad to have to leave after only 45 minutes, I felt excited knowing they'd eventually be home.

Nathaniel was the picture of serenity as he seemed to be shrinking into his jumper...

Carter was bright-eyed and laughing as I waved goodbye. They've obviously pulled a fast one on me--I left with my wallet and car keys, so it must've been something else...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snug Ride

After weeks of calling and getting nothing but voice mail, O.P.P. Traffic Services finally returned our messages on the day after Carter and Nathaniel were born. There are no shortage of PSA's and guilt trip advertisements stressing the importance of a properly installed infant car seat, but there sure is a dearth of professionals willing to provide the service, at least in my recent experience.

Unable to talk to anyone in law enforcement (I had also tried 52 Division near Mt. Sinai), I went online and found a local fellow who identifies himself as "The Car Seat Guy". His website features earnest testimonials and much pontificating on the subject of child safety, etc., but when I called him, Mr. TCSG showed complete indifference to my request for his services, griped about having to come downtown to meet me (he asked if I could drive to his place in North York, but I explained the small matter that we were in the hospital with newborns!), reluctantly took my number and said he'd get back to me if he was in the area, and eventually did, but a day after he said he would originally. This didn't exactly inspire confidence in his self-professed expertise, so I ducked this loser...

I somehow managed to set up an appointment with a constable at 11 Division on nearby Hannah Street, only to have her cancel it, and reschedule to this morning. When I showed up promptly at 8 am at the precinct, the surly desk clerk scowled that the appointment was supposed to be 7:30 am, but relented when I offered to call my voice mail and replay the message requesting that I arrive "sometime between 8 and 8:30"...

Turns out my contact had called in sick, but in her place was the very friendly Constable Steve Burns (who just happens to have the same name as my brother-in-law). He ushered me into the garage, and promptly got the business at hand.

He was somewhat amazed--justifiably--at the size of my vehicle: a compact 1993 Mazda Z23 that while roomier-than-expected and efficient, was no one's definition of a "family friendly" vehicle. I'd tried to install the seat bases on my own, but could never get them tight enough. "It is a two person job" he admitted, plus, the seat buckles in the back were loose and had no means of being secured. The solution? To twist each one until it was tight--a maximum of three turns allowed by the Ministry Of Transportation. That did the trick--the belts snapped in, secured with a locking clip, and Constable Burns gave me a few more pointers:

1) the car seat must be back far enough from the front driver and passenger seats to allow for one hand to slip between them.

2) the straps securing the infant should allow for only one finger space (not two, as most documentation would tell us). Also, it's important not to overdress the baby in cold weather--the car heats up, finicky Toronto weather changes daily, and the little ones can get too hot.

3) blankets can be stuffed into the seat around the infant to provide additional anchoring.

4) we should test the harness' security by buckling in the babies, and holding them over a mattress or pillow to ensure they don't fall out, esp. since they're preemies and prone to slipping through the straps.

5) we should seriously consider investing in a larger, four-door vehicle in the near future, as our current wheels are seriously limited in terms of speedy accessibility. He recommended the Mazda 3 and 5...

With that, I left to brave the caravan of doom that is morning King Street West traffic, vowing to never drive again, and walk the babies home from the hospital instead...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lidia's Home, The Boys Move To New Digs...

It's been exactly a week since this craziness began (although arguably, it began 9 months ago, for those counting), and Lidia finally came home today (although check out took about three hours!). Needless to say, the cats were thrilled, but the boys will spend a good part of December in hermetically-sealed recovery.

Today--amidst our protests--they were moved to the Level 2 nursery at St. Michael's Hospital.

Not that there's anything wrong with St. Mike's--it's a fine place, spacious, low-key, comparatively quiet, and only a few minutes' extra drive--but why not just have them stay where they were at Mt. Sinai with the staff who've known them since birth? Of course, we weren't given an answer, and, well...here we are. We visited the boys too briefly tonight--tomorrow, I might take part in the night-time feeding. With a bottle...obviously...

Nonetheless, the boys seemed unaware of their dramatic ambulance ride, and appeared to be having sweet dreams...that, or they're planning a break-out...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Pics From The Big Day

Two more favorite moments from our boys' epic debut (and there are several thousand, so come back often!!!):

Here's Carter--then still "Baby A"--yawning. He's a grand total of about 15 minutes old, and already, he's bored? I'm gonna have to work hard on keeping this one entertained...

And here's Nathaniel--still in his "Baby B" persona--announcing his presence upon the earth about two minutes after delivery with a big smile, a mighty wave of his arms and a high kick worthy of the Rockettes...maybe he's got a future in "Cirque Du Soleil"?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Boys Are One Day Old!

Lidia and I got a chance to hold the boys today in NICU at Mt. Sinai--although I actually beat her to it when I got to hold Baby "B" briefly after his birth before he was wisked away with his brother. In the first photo, taken in late afternoon, Baby "B" is sound asleep, although he awoke briefly to give his mom a dreamy acknowledgement.

We then went over to Baby "A"s station (unfortunately, they're not together due to overcrowding), where I got to change his diaper and take his temperature (Lidia got to do the same a few hours later) and capture this still (second photo) which really shows how distinct their personalities are at a mere one day old!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Presenting Baby "A" and Baby "B" ("They're here!!!")

Whew, what a day. Detailed chronicle to come (complete with illustrations!) but cut us some slack today, loyal readership. Neither of us has slept more than a few minutes in the past day-and-a-half, and with the babies resting comfortably in NICU each of us can grab some long-overdue shut eye. But since you're all pining to know--here they are (soon to be named, or the staff on 7th has threatened to christen the boys "Bert" and "Ernie").

Baby A arrived at 11:15 am on Dec. 3, 2oo8 and weighed 3 lbs, 11 oz.

Baby B arrived minutes later at 11:17am on Dec. 3, 20078 and weighed 4 lbs, 4 oz.

Adorable, yes? They're so wonderful that for the first time words fail me...

Team Ferrari, Sponsored By Magnesium Sulfide And Oxytocin

5:40 pm: back on seventh, Lidia had since been moved to Labour Room #5 and a team had been assigned (think of it as an alternate Ferrari Pit Crew). The new digs were more spacious, with a very nice bathroom, and for me, a good-sized comfy chair into which I could collapse and perhaps even capture a bit of shut-eye (fat chance with medical staff coming in on a revolving-door basis every other minute). Lidia was hooked up to a concoction of magnesium sulfide, to keep her blood pressure stable as the contractions were to eventually kick into gear.

(She'd already had her first of many hospital meals, so I slipped out into the evening's subzero temps for a quickie soup combo at the 24 hour Tim Hortons on University Avenue).

The rest of the evening played out like one of those baffling experimental films we were force fed in first year film studies, the type in which various bits of found footage were haphazardly spliced together. It was all a bit of a fog--or is that fugue?--alternating between limited television choices (only basic cable and no HD--how barbaric!!!) glimpsed between the steady traffic of doctors, nurses (among them, Jesse, Amy, Mary), students, and otherwise unidentified medical staff (all very friendly and informative, and all most all of them wearing crocs!) doting over mom-to-be while I tried to stay out of the way and doodled in my journal to keep sane (I'll post some of the entries here eventually), all set to a cacophony of pings, bleeps, and hushed jargon. Dr. Thomas stopped by once to tell Lidia: "I'm not done with you yet. See you in the morning, when you're a mom."

My chief duty was topping up Lidia's supply of ice chips, while I stayed overcaffeinated and thus spent less time in the comfy chair than I probably should have. I never did get to meet the fabulously named "Dr. Kingdom" whom we were told would stop by--"Kingdom", of course, being the name of the haunted hospital in the Lars Von Trier horror series and Stephen King remake.

Not even the foul-mouthed outbursts of Gordon Ramsey, the topical wit of David Letterman, Lou Dobbs' meltdown over some dumbass football player who shot himself in the leg, or hours of paid programming featuring the bizarre theories of some wingnut named Arthur P. Johnson could make the contractions come any faster (after all that, just a 1-2 cm contraction). According to Amy--who's been to my hometown of Pembroke-it'd been a "crazy night on the ward", not that I noticed during my frequent trips to the snack machines, where everything seemed fairly quiet. At 4:50 am, Lidia's oxytocin ("the hormone of love"!) doseage was increased to 52--the max--in one last attempt to kickstart the contractions. With all this drama unfolding, it was a surprise to learn that our babies were sleeping soundly throughout it, as if conserving their energies for tomorrow's debut.

Come morning, we'd not yet become parents, so at 5:20 am, we were told that in two hours, a decision would be made as to another tactic...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Sudden Change Of Plans...

You can rehearse for this stuff, but most of the developments that we feverishly and obsessively plan for rarely play out in the "real world" like they do in classroom simulations or Hallmark Hall Of Fame TV movies.

Lidia wasn't feeling well last night, with little change this morning, so Dr. T agreed to see her for an earlier appointment at the Bloomberg Clinic. I called work (who've been so gracious and accomodating during this ordeal) and told them that instead of having to leave earlier, I'd be coming in later...

Well--we never went home.

Upon measuring Lidia's near-critical blood pressure levels (a perfectly natural symptom, given the heavy double load she's been toting for 8+ months), Dr. T declared something akin to "we got you to 35 weeks and I'm happy--these suckers are coming out today" (well, not exactly, but damn, it reads well, doesn't it?) and ordered Lidia to report to Triage at Mt. Sinai pronto.

After taking care of all the important paperwork and financial matters with Admissions (and trying, in vain, to secure a private room), I returned to Triage on the seventh floor to find Lidia already in hospital attire and wired up to various baffling and intimidating devices to monitor her blood pressure and vitals in prep for inducing labour.

We'll be parents by morning, we're told, but it's going to be a long night getting there--affording me a bit of time to scoot home and collect the hospital survival kit (which was about the only thing we did have planned in advance and at-the-ready).

I left Minnie and Maggie plenty of food and water, cleaned the litterbox, set the alarm, and returned through the usual hellish afternoon traffic to the trusty Murray Street parking garage.

Hey ho--let's go...