Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It Comes Before a Fall

The beginning of a recent Facebook chat:

"Hey. Did you and Debby have twins?"

"Hold on, let me check."
"Yeah, I think we did."


And so, here we are. I'm surrounded by three computers in my apartment sunroom/office, uploading pictures to Facebook, chatting with well-wishers demanding updates, and fielding multiple requests for a new post to the NeverTown. Meanwhile, Kristopher James Lemoine (the middle name is for my father, not me!) is nestled in a baby swing to my immediate left, undoubtedly confused by the blinking screens, furious typing, and cacophonic gothic rock emanating from my speakers. He's stirring a bit right now... stretching his arms and hands out as best he can from his nest within that Classic Winnie the Pooh blanket.

Wait, he's asleep again. Back to typing.

An old friend called Sherry Barker called me up today and we chatted about the twins for a while. She asked me a common question: "Aren't you proud?" She was the first person I answered honestly: "Not really, no." I feel great emotions these days, but I'm not sure pride is really one of them. I feel happiness and contentment, I feel excitement, I feel surprised (after all, they're my kids and yet they didn't emerge with an extra foot or tentacles or something), I feel tired. Pride? Not really in there. Why would I feel pride? Because I helped make them? Nah. My contribution was relatively small... wait, no, scratch that. That sounds bad. My contribution was relatively short... wait, no, that's not what I want to say either. My contribution was... ah... both manly and sizable (yeah, that's better!), but a relatively small part of the process, started a long time ago (although it was kind of fun).

It doesn't seem natural to feel proud. defines proud as feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself... which is not at all what I feel right now. 'Honorable or creditable to oneself'? This isn't about me. This is about them. And I'm very, very comfortable with that. So I'm not proud. Instead, my wife says I'm giddy. My mother-in-law says I'm doing well. My kids say I'm gurglejefnppooooot. That's good enough for me.

Kristopher and Debby have at last come home, and they both seem, to turn a phrase, very happy to be here. Kristopher has adjusted to his new non-fluorescent-lighted home quite well, and he remains a remarkably quiet baby. He has very curious, focused eyes. I didn't think newborns, especially pre-mature ones, were supposed to have those. It's kind of freaky. And cool.

And poor thing, he inherited my loud, consistent, repeating hiccups! Little guy looks so confused.

Meanwhile, Benjamin is still in the hospital. He should get to come home tomorrow. His breathing is much improved, and we haven't had any more scary incidents with his oxygen saturation or heartbeat. Like his brother, he's learned to focus his eyes now... and he's been studying me and Debby too. I asked him today what he thinks of Kenny Chesney, and he almost immediately farted. I think I like this kid.

I'm really looking forward to the reunion of the twins, which will hopefully be tomorrow evening. If their behavior is anything like it was in the womb, Benjamin (the older, bigger one) will reach out to embrace his baby brother, and at the exact same moment, Kristopher will slam his left foot into his big brother's face. I am SO going to have the camcorder function on my phone ready.

Aw, he just hiccupped again. That was cute.

Although we're somewhat divorced from the vast majority of them here in Atlanta, we're lucky to have a vast quantity of friends out there who've sent their love, congratulations, and (in some very happy cases) gifts to the family. And then there's Debby's mother, who arrived a couple of hours before the births and has been of immense, immense assistance. Today alone we received two packages: one from Jasmine containing Minnesota Vikings onesies and a huge pile of delicious home-baked cookies (as I've been saying to the twins quite a bit lately, "Nom-nom-nom!"), and another from Kristy and Chris containing Saints onesies, more clothes, socks, and a handy tube of Boudreaux's Butt Paste. And Kerry brought over some beautiful flowers for my wife that we got to bring home with us. It's been a good afternoon!

About fifteen hours or so after the kids were born, I was in Benjamin's room in the Intensive Care unit, holding him, rocking him to sleep, and watching his erratic breathing and heartbeat on the monitor. We talked then, for about an hour... I guess he really listened more than talked, but it didn't seem that way somehow. We talked about the Fratellis breaking up, which led us to talk about what a great movie the Goonies was, which led us to talk about Chunk's Truffle Shuffle, which led us to talk about truffles and other desserts, which led us to talk about the talking cake in the Swedish Chef's kitchen, which led us to talk about the Muppet Show, which led us to talk about organizations and organizing, which led us to talk about leadership, which led us to talk about character, which led us to talk about family (you see how my mind works now?). Somewhere in there, I told him how important it was for him to breathe slowly, with long and deep breaths. I told him it was important because his family was going to need him, but also because we had a place for him. A place where he could belong. For some reason my eyes got wet when I said that word. I stopped, I looked at him, and I thought about it. I never felt like I really belonged in my family when I was growing up, like I was part of a team, like we were greater together than we were separately. I felt that way with my high school friends, sure, and later in Phi Beta Lambda, and again at Cellular One, but never as a child at home with my parents. It's good to belong, and I think Benjamin and Kristopher will.

No, I'm not proud. But we're all happy to be here. Very happy.


  1. Your best blog yet. And it has nothing to do with my name in it. Nothing at all. You brought tears to my eyes. It is amazing, at least I think, how what you tell your child in the first few hours reflects on your own experience as a child and what you wish you'd known or had.

    And while I had absolutely nothing to do with your birth, that doesn't change the fact that I am proud of you! Maybe proud is the wrong word choice . . . but you know what I'm saying. Perhaps its the fifth definition. :) Recheck when you get bored. . .

  2. Agreed, this is your best blog yet.

    You are a remarkable gentleman. I am sure the home family environment you and Debby provide will be a wonderful place to belong for Kris and Ben.

    I am also a little afraid of just how incredibly smart these boys will be as they grow. They definitely won that genetic pool lottery.

    p.s., I am always proud of you

  3. Seconding everything Marissa said :)