When we left the hospital with our first-born son, I recall seeing a
look of panic in my husband’s eyes when the nurse handed him the baby
carrier. We had previously taken about a half hour to secure the baby in
it, checking and double checking that we had every strap and buckle in
place. However, the thought of actually driving away with that precious,
vulnerable package in it was more than either of us had prepared ourselves for. I remember driving at a very slow speed with our flashers on. Three years later our first set of twins were tied in beside their older brother who took his job very seriously. He sat between them in the car on the way home, and poked them now and then to ensure that they were still alive.
Although we were hesitant to give our lad a baby to hold, he proved
to be cautious and competent. He was also the best help a mother could
have.The twins, for their part, were even better entertainment for their
older brother than TV. He was fascinated with every moving part of them.
One day, after watching a couple of chubby little arms swinging through
the air, he demanded:
“Why do babies wear elastics on their wrists?”
When, three years later the second set of twins arrived, Greg, looking
a bit frazzled, brought the other three to the hospital for a visit. They
were very pleased to find that the new borns had brought them gifts. I suppose it seemed logical, noting mom’s girth-before-birth, that there would also be presents in there along with the babes. The children peered into each little tightly wrapped bundle to have a good look at the two wee boys we’d named Stanley and Eddie.
Unlike many, I loved being in the hospital. What’s not to like?
You’re given three meals a day and snacks whenever you want them,
you can stay in bed and read all day, and well qualified personnel look
after the babies when you’re tired! Though I’d politely asked if I could stay a week, I was given the door after just a couple of days. Greg arrived looking even more shredded, but once we left the hospital doors, he’d perked up considerably and was actually humming as he plunked us all down in the car and whisked us home at a pace far, far different from the one set a mere five years ago.
Upon arrival I could see the three older siblings lined up at the window,
noses pressed to the glass. When we came in the door, there was a scurrying about as Jane and Charles plunked down on the couch, and looked up expectantly. When I bent to give one of the babies to Jane, she held up her hand and said “Who’s this?”
I peaked into the blanket to double check. “Eddie” I said.
“Nope. That’s his,” she said pointing to her twin brother.
Apparently the claims had already been struck.
The ensuing weeks and months – and years – were busy alright, but having two sets of twins does not make one’s life as crazy as one might think, for the first set is fascinated with the second. Each set entertains the other. And their older brother keeps busy with both. The fascination continued as the older siblings took turns checking the progress of the new additions. One day my daughter demanded,
“Why do babies have pink teef?”
The thought of a new tooth took me by surprise, so I bent over
and lifted a little lip. A set of pink of gums grinned back at me.
“Oh, babies don’t have teeth” I explained.
“What! No teef!” With a look of dismay, she ran off to advise her brother of the missing body part. The two of them returned moments later.
“Take ‘em back. They need teef!”
Apparently he was still thinking about those absent teeth, for a few days later Charles asked, “Mom, do babies have sharp gums?”
“Eddie won’t hurt me if he bites my leg, right?”
“Uh, right” I said.
A few minutes later Alex announced, in a disgusted voice
“Ugh, Mom! Eddie is sucking on Charles’s toes!”
It’s a wonder kids survive their childhood.
In five years you might say that our cautious behavior abated somewhat. I have a mathematical theory for this, which does not stand up well to scrutiny. However I developed it to keep a measure of sanity in my life.
Let’s say that there is a finite amount of caution and worry that a
person can have. If you have one child, you can really smother them in it. If you have five or six, then you have to spread that a little thinner, so that they all get a bit. One interesting side effect this thinly doled caution had was that our eldest son began to fill in when my concern seemed a wee bit lacking. For example, he might become a bit frazzled when set number two would have “car” races with set number one. The cars consisted of the bucket seats that we transported the babies in. Set number two would lap the house, lurching precariously around corners. The faster they went, the more the babies giggled. Of course there is only so much stress a seven year old can harbor, and after a time he would give up, and just join in the fray..
The cat hated this, particularly when they could trap him and push him around too, in
whatever mode of transport they could scrounge; usually it was the roasting pan. That way all three could race
A couple of years later, contrary to dire warnings from our doctor that there was something like a 75% chance that I would have multiples again, we decided that our lone daughter needed female companionship. I figured that I had a singleton once, so I could do it again. After all, when you’re wet, what’s another raindrop? When we announced that number six was on the way, we got a variety of reactions. The youngest set of twins just nodded as if to say, “Sure, sign ‘em up”.
The eldest set laughed. Great – more chaos! Our number one son slapped his forehead and groaned.
“Mom, Dad, please tell me you’re kidding.”
Perhaps my mathematical theory didn’t work for everyone. He seemed a bit stressed.Shortly thereafter, we brought home one little girl to make an even half dozen. When we arrived at the house, there were five very eager pairs of arms waiting to enfold her. The youngest two plunked themselves onto the couch, breathless. When I handed her to one of them, the other
looked at me blankly.
When we explained that there was only one this time, his twin brother said, “Well, go back and get another one!”
I’d been reasoning with three-year-old tykes for long enough to
understand their minds by now: perhaps you could get teef and babies
from the same place.
Unfortunately, that factory only manufactures by the half dozen.
It’s now closed for renovation.