Finally… found time to… type something!

If you had been following my blog posts last year, you probably noticed an abrupt cessation of activity on my site, right around the beginning of May. It is no coincidence that this change directly coincided with the arrival of our two lovely twin boys; Myles Kieve and Remington Tal!

Do you know that the only nights in which I’ve had a full eight hours of undisturbed sleep in the past 9 months were when I left home to visit my sick dad in Iowa for a week? (And Jessica is SOOOOO jealous of me for them, despite the unfortunate circumstances behind my vacation). And my lack of writing has not been wholly the result of having less free time; which while true, I am forced to admit that I could have made the time if I really really wanted to. But do you know what sleeping in 2-3 hour increments every day for nearly a year does to your wants? It makes you want things like 45 minute cat naps on the couch, and half-hour episodes of mind-numbing sitcoms that you can binge play on Netflix in the background while trying to stay awake to keep two rambunctious infants happy between their morning naps. I have gone through My Little Pony twice just since December. 90% of the time the mere thought of being productive is laughable.

But at long last, Milo and Remi are starting to grow into the toddler phase. This means ever expanding capabilities of independence. They no longer have to be held or nestled or buckled in all their waking hours in order to be comfortable. They are expanding into solid foods, allowing us some relief form the relentless demands of their nursing schedule. They can go relatively long stretches with minimal mental investment in a baby safe room full of toys, requiring only the occasional assistance when getting stuck or having bonked a head while crawling about. They are also sleeping in longer stretches through the night with greater regularity, though often this is done out of sync with one another. Very frustrating. But I feel myself slowly waking from my zombie routine and feeling my creative wheels squeaking back to life.

It will be some time still before I feel fully back in the game, but it feels good to at least get this far. I should be able to finish a handful of my incomplete drafts (yes, I have attempted to post something a time or two before) and get updated on where my life stands, over the course of the month. There, I said it. I hear that announcing a goal publicly drastically increases the odds of achieving it. On that note, I guess I’d better get to work!

“Baby, are you okay!?”

Before I jump into my experience being trained in Baby CPR and how that relates to Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal, let me give a quick update.

The twins, Myles and Remington, have been in the NICU for close to 2 weeks now. It’s something of a downer not having them home with us yet. It feels like they aren’t quite ours yet; like they’re on baby layaway or something. But it helps that we made a schedule where Jessica and I can come visit them twice every day, even though it’s a 30-40 minute drive to the hospital.

At this point I’ve begun to see the hidden blessings in what we originally saw as a trial. The greatest of which, we get to have something of a “practice run” at being parents, before diving into the whole thing. As previously stated, we’re on a schedule, but also we’re receiving professional training on baby care by the fantastic staff at the Kennestone Hospital.

  • When the baby is feeding, watch to make sure that he is remembering to take breaths after every few sucks. This was drilled into my head by a sweet-but-scary Asian nurse with a thick accent who zinged me a few times for getting distracted. “Don’t take eyes off baby!”
  • When changing diapers, have the new clean one open and ready beneath the dirty one. This is to catch the not infrequent pee-pee ambushes that little babies like to make when exposed to the open air.
  • You can actually slap a baby’s back surprisingly hard when trying to get them to burp. Apparently Jessica and I were being far too gentle, and the nurses demonstrated to us a few between-the-shoulder blows that would be nigh abusive to an adult! And to prove that this wasn’t just a misguided old-wives practice, the whole time I watched the baby monitors and saw them practically sleeping through the assault with steady heart beats and breathing patterns.
  • NICU nurses have a secret category for babies they like to call “Wimpy White Boys.” Apparently females develop faster than males, and of all the ethnicities Caucasian children develop the slowest. So it’s not uncommon for them to see a 4 lb white boy hooked up to an incubator while a 2 lb black girl is sitting in a crib sucking on a bottle.

To top off all of this gratuitous instruction on behalf of the excellent nursing staff, there are a few required videos parents have to watch before taking their babies home; one of which is Baby CPR.

I love CPR. I’ve been certified several times and have even been trained on resuscitation for infants before. But the DVD they had us watch came out of the early 90’s; you know, with a spunky lady host with layers of short, curly bangs and high-waisted bleached jeans. Two parts of the video really stuck with me.

The first; when you see a baby that appears unconscious or unresponsive, try to rouse it by tapping on its feet and shouting, “Are you okay? Are you okay?” I understand how loud noise and vigourous touching of the feet are good ways to disturb a sleeping baby, but do you really have to ask such a mature question? Really anything would do, given the right tone of voice. I suppose it’s in case you come across a random unresponsive baby that isn’t yours so that other people around you get some context of what you’re doing. It wouldn’t do if you wander into a park and start foot-slapping some stranger’s child while yelling “Turkey turkey turkey!”

The second part of the video that made a permanent impression was the practice session on the baby dummy. In order to help maintain the proper rhythm, a hip Jazzercise track played while the host demonstrated, pumping the doll’s sternum to the beat of the music. It was a much happier tune than one would expect while in a life-or-death situation, but I suppose that’s to either keep you in a calm, clear state of mind or just to make saving lives more fun!

On the drive home, these two aspects of the tutorial tape combined with a top hits radio station to give me a chance to ad-lib like Weird Al Yankovic to one of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits, Smooth Criminal.

Baby are you okay?
You’re not moving
You’re not breathing at all!
Did your heart stop beating
Are you choking
Did you have a bad fall?
Someone needs to help me,
You there mister!
Make a 911 call!
It’s time to start compressions
On the sternum
The brain damage to stall!

Baby are you okay?
Are you okay?
Are you okay, baby?

Baby are you okay?
Are you okay?
Are you okay, baby?

Baby are you okay?
Are you okay?
Are you okay, baby?

Your life vitals
Are too critical!

Maybe you have to see me sing it in person, but it made Jessica laugh until she cried. All I’m saying is the old videos are a little dated, and my idea for a remake is pretty much genius.

Buff, Manly Men coaching Little Girls in Gymnastics

Anyone else find this a little humorous? Because today it finally hit me. I was helping coach the Level 4-6 girl’s team with two other guys when I realized that here we were, three strapping young men demonstrating how to dance and do back-walkovers to a dozen little girls ranging age 8 to 13.

And the thing was, for the last several months I was utterly oblivious to my sidelined masculinity, blinded by my competition driven need to see straight knees and proper demi pliès. I was literally doing chasè split leaps while screaming “You need to be pretty like I am!”

This is not an isolated phenomenon, either to myself or even my gym. At the State meet last week, I got my first look at the famed Georgia Elite team from Athens Georgia. They’ve won like 3 of the last 5 State Championships in our division, and I was curious to see who their coach was. Turns out it’s a 6′ tall black guy with a shaved head and chiseled biceps, who probably had to have his T-shirt sewn on over his shoulders. Now that my eyes have been opened to this He-Man gymnastics coach phenomenon, I remember that guy and laugh at the thought of parents signing their daughters up for the team. I imagine him growling out in the voice of Mr. T, “I will teach her how to do beautiful cartwheels!”

And yet, I feel no shame. I love what I do. Plus, I figure I’ve got at least 4-5 years before my newborn sons are old enough to be embarrassed by me. Still, as I prepared myself this morning for another day on the job I held my razor in my hand, looked in the mirror, and thought maybe I should grow a beard, just in case…

So who are these guys?

At just over a day old, the Beardsley twins are already showing us a good bit of their budding personality.

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Myles Kieve

“Smiles” Myles:

Little Milo may be the smaller of the two, but he’s certainly the most eager to grow. Within his first few hours in the open air he began taking to his pacifier, mastering the suckling motions in only a few tries. Well, except sometimes he forgets to come up for air. Air is new. We’re still learning that it’s important.

When he cries he mostly just squeaks and coos. And what makes him most upset is when we have to take him away from Grandma Wallace, who he’s grown very attached to already. Besides sucking on his pacifier, he enjoys skin-to-skin snuggles and looking at his incubator light (which he no longer needs now that his temperature is self-stabilized).

Myles favors his left hand for exploration and thumb-sucking, though most of the time it misses his mouth and gets caught in a nostril.

 

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Remington Tal

“Rowdy” Remi:

Remington is affectionately referred to by the NICU staff as the “little bruiser.” Bigger and stronger than Myles, the nurses learned quick that you have to swaddle him extra tight, or else he would simply bust loose to splay his little limbs in the open air. His eyes are bright and full of curiosity and you can often catch him just looking around the room, trying to find out where the beeping sounds are coming from. Oh there it is; it’s just the SpO2 reader kicked loose… again.

Skin-to-skin time with mommy is great, but with daddy he keeps coming away with unwanted souvenirs in the form of stolen chest hairs attached to the tape on his leads. I mean, Jessica keeps telling me that its a good activity to help with bonding, but I just didn’t expect it to be adhesive in nature…

At this point in time, Remi definitely favors his right hand. Even before birth, he was often spotted with his right hand to his mouth during the ultrasounds. Sometimes he gets frustrated because of the IV line and all of the bandaging on his arm prevents him from sucking on his fingers, but he’s adapted and learned to just mouth the plastic instead. I can tell he’s inherited my upper lip, because he can already tweak it to one side Elvis Presley style just like I can.

Both babies are ticklish like me and act like their being murdered whenever they place a thermometer tip under their armpits (I’m so proud). And while I intend to train them to be ambidextrous when they’re older, I’d like to believe their Left and Right handedness is due to their respective positions in the womb. For most of the time ever since they turned head down, Remi’s right hand was to his brother and Milo’s left was to him. Whenever their respective limbs moved, there was always a friend there to respond.

Introducing…

Remington Tal and Myles Kieve Beardsley!

Myles: Born at 3:08 am, weighing 3 lbs 10 oz,       17″ long
Remington: Born at 3:09 am, weighing 4 lbs 15 oz,  18.25″ long

A C-Section was necessary, but both came out healthy and cried right away. The C-Section was little Remi’s fault, as he cut in line ahead of Milo (who was the original “Baby A”) and then insisted on staying “sunny-side-up” in the birth canal. But he learned a life lesson literally right out of the womb; budging is rude, messes up the system, and doesn’t get you anywhere in the end. Myles still came out first, and Remington got a nice little cone head pressure imprint as a consolation prize.

But truthfully, I think Remi did what he did for his brother. Milo was much smaller, and Remi probably wanted to stall and buy him as much time as he could so his brother could grow enough to be healthy when he was born. Mission accomplished.

So in the end the pregnancy and delivery didn’t go exactly as we planned, but the final results are still fantastic! At long last, Jessica gets to have a nice long victory nap. Me… I can hardly sleep! Gonna post this and then see if my baby boys are ready for a visit!

Bonus: I got lucky with the C-Section and weaseled out of having to cut the cords 🙂   I have a phobia-ish of blood vessels, and those things are basically giant veins.

Bonus #2: In the operating room I had a chance to confirm or dismiss a number of stereotypes I’d learned from TV and Movies; They are NOT all dark rooms with interrogation lights over the patients, and the doctors really DO listen to rock music while they operate!

-Picture Updates-

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Myles Kiev
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Remington Tal
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Remi didn’t want a pacifier. All he wanted was the plastic of his IV tubes
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Milo, despite his small size, behaved like a proper new baby, looking around and practicing sucking on a pacifier

Jessica’s Labor: Updates

Alright, because so many of you are in so much suspense, I’ll try to list off all the good highlights that have been going on.

April 16, 2016

  • I get home from my Gymnastics meet around 9:00 pm. At this time Jessica is having some rough contractions.
  • 10:00 pm, we call the doctor’s office and they tell us to go ahead and bring her in to monitor the babies.
  • 10:30 pm, she’s at 3.5 cm and 90% effaced. They decide to admit her.
  • 11:30 pm, we get a room and make ourselves comfortable. Her mom joins us and has remained with us this entire time.

April 17, 2016

  • We get some sleep. Around 4:00 am Jessica’s dad drops off our car and our luggage. He’s on duty to take care of the animals while we’re gone.
  • 6:45 am, Baby B’s water broke. No going back now.
  • 8:00 am they check her again. 5 cm, but it’s getting more painful. With the water broke they suggest starting the epidural now, just in case things progressed quickly. Ha…
  • Between 10:00 am and about 4:00 pm they try readjusting the epidural 3 times because it’s just not doing much for Jessica. In her words, “I could probably get up and dance a Samba if I wanted to.” Despite the failed epidurals, she manages to get a few more hours of sleep.
  • 5:00 pm, she’s up to 7 cm but her contractions are slowing down because she’s having trouble staying awake. They “threaten” to start her on pitocin, so she decides to sit up and make another go of it.
  • 7:00 pm, Jessica did a good job of working up some good stretches of 3 min contractions, but we decide to start pitocin after someone finally explains to us that it’s different than being induced, which we kinda thought it was.
  • 10:30 pm, She’s up to 9 cm and the contractions are right on target. All of the nurses and doctors are being really supportive!

April 18, 2016

  • 12:02 am, Jessica’s at 10 cm and the nurses have her try out some practice pushes for the first time! Going to give her 30 minutes in an upright position to get her ready.
  • 12:45 am, Jessica says she’s “ready.” Probably going to head to the O.R. soon. We have to, because it’s twins and they want to be ready for an emergency C-Section if it’s necessary.
  • 1:50 am, false alarm. There’s still a little bit of cervix at the edges of the baby’s head and they need to call in the doctor to consult. Baby’s are starting to show signs of stress during contractions.
  • 2:10 am, the doctor exam shows that both the cervix and baby are not cooperating. At this point it is recommended to move on to a C-Section. The concern, of course, is that the epidural has not been very effective, so they will possibly try a spinal block. Wish her luck.

You might think this post is about my State Meet,

If you’ve spoken to me at within the last month, you’ve probably heard me brag about my awesome gymnastics team that I coach, and how we were going to compete for the Georgia State title on April 16th. If you kept up with the live updates online during the meet, you would have seen how my little 10-12 year old girls were hitting personal best scores left and right, 9 total to be precise, and racked up their highest team score of 114.275 to place 2nd by only 0.175 points.

What this post is actually about is, IT’S BABY DAY!

Apparently my State Meet was too exciting, because when I came home Jessica was in the early stages of Labor. For REAL this time; not just the episodes of prodromal labor she’s been having for the last 2 weeks. She handled it quite well. Maybe it was because we were so tired from the night before, but Jessica took everything (the exams, the epidural, the contractions) in stride. Or at least that was MY perspective, given her quiet, pensive spells during through it all. My one clue that it might NOT be all peachy is that I’m not really allowed to talk. Even if it’s just a curious question for the doctors or a word of encouragement to Jessica. It appears that the very sound of my voice causes her angst. At least that’s ONE birthing stereotype that holds true.

Which is one reason why I’m sitting here, just updating my blog. Quietly. Time flies when you’re waiting for babies to come. I am certain there will be more updates soon!