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September 30th, 2013


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03:30 pm - No one is ready for kids, but I have been preparing, anyway
Things I have learned, having a pregnant wife:

1) It is so rarely about you, or your family. Everyone wants to make it about them. "Have the child on my birthday," or "Don't have the kid on my birthday!" Concerns evolve around pet projects, and distrust builds. Listen for things like, "He won't have time for thing X anymore," which means, "I am concerned about how X will be, not about the person doing X." Otherwise, it would be, "Hey, let me know if you need help with anything."

2) Support comes in unexpected places. My office is awesome about it, my church less so, and my local congregation is also awesome. Some close friends fall away because they don't know what to do, and some distant ones really step up. Me, I find this more interesting than offensive, and (for example) know that those friends who become more distant will become close again in time. Let's be honest, pregnancy is a weird thing, and not everyone is comfortable with it (and that is okay).

I also know that my wife's pregnancy is hard for some people, but even though it is hard and those people may have trouble being around us, they are still rooting for us and happy for us, even if it is bittersweet for them for some reason. To them I say, "It is more than okay to feel that way: we have been there and we understand."

3) Unsolicited advice comes from weirder places. The jokes are some of the worst, and each is unoriginal. I have almost begun to believe in a collective unconsciousness, an Akashic Record of bad jokes that people draw upon when they see a pregnant woman. It is like these jokes are so wrapped up in who we are as humans that we cannot help but tell them each time we see a pregnant person, or discuss pregnancy with a father-to-be.

Older men, in particular, are fonts of deep knowledge and certain well-meaning-yet-horribly-misplaced guidance. The most common thing for my wife to hear these days is "I hope you don't have them here!" (wherever "here" is: a restaurant, a shoe store, a gas station, etc.). When I try to imagine the reason for this piece of advice, I am stuck with one very common image that must be at the root of this fear: I believe that they are universally afraid of getting their shoes wet by being too close to my wife when her water breaks. In their mind, it will create a deluge of biblical proportions, and there will be no ark to save their loafers. Who would not fear such a thing?

Here's the funny thing: the best advice seems to come from people who have no advice. "I got nothing, but I wish you luck," is probably the single best thing to say to me at this point. Kudos to those who recognize that my experience is likely to be different than anyone else's.

4) There is an incredibly strong notion that a "perfect family" is one girl child and one boy child, and that having twins that are one of each somehow magically makes your family perfectly complete. Often the revelation of the sexes is followed up with an expression of how perfect one boy and one girl is, along with an assurance that we can now stop trying for more.

I cannot tell you how pleased I am that I have their approval to stop having sex.

A funny side note: a whole lot of people ask, "Are they identical?" right after I say, "We're having a boy and a girl." I will let that sink in for a moment. . . Before mentioning that I now get people off the hook rather than letting them squirm by immediately following up with, "and you would be surprised at how many people ask if they are identical." I prefer to watch people get a joke, rather than be one.

Related, there is the deeply personal question that goes unspoken when someone asks, "Do twins run in your family?" This is actually a polite(~ish) way of asking, "So, were you on fertility treatments?" Some people actually follow up with that question, which is just too much information for me to provide. I have taken to responding with, "No, my wife just ate a lot of cheese." This mostly serves to adequately confuse.

Also, were you aware that twins are "such a blessing?" And that having a boy and a girl requires that phrase to be repeated with more emphasis? Indeed, that is the case, I hear. A lot. 

I am so glad I didn't get a substandard matched set of one sex now.

5) I am so unprepared that words fail to describe a single way in which I am unprepared, but I should know that I am unprepared and that I am just going to be unprepared. Also, my life is definitely going to change.

Typically, this sort of thing is mentioned to me as if I am not aware that rearing children is likely to be surprising and to involve change. Let me just say right now how thankful I am to receive such specific, targeted knowledge.

Things I have done to prepare myself:

So, since I am not prepared and cannot be prepared, clearly I have spent my time doing nothing, right? Just because that is the logical thing to do when someone tells you that there is no use in trying, it is not what I have done. In the hopes that someone else may find my unorthodox training methods useful, I wish to outline them in brief:

A) I have memorized Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky"

No, really. It was the start of something important, and I have moved on to other favorites of mine, like "Kubla Khan," "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish," "The Highwayman," "The Lambton Worm," "Gilgamesh," "The Lady of Shallott," and many more. I need lyrical things to speak to them, and to read to them as well. Language is tricksy, so they should hear well-made nonsense and epic works. Sure, things die in most of those stories, but they gotta learn that life isn't all skittles and beer somewhere, right?

Some Selected Recordings
Jaberwocky (Mp3)
The Lambton Worm (Mp3)
Gilgamesh (Mp3)


B) I have researched changelings extensively, and put measures against them in place.

I am a firm believer in teaching our children about the unseen allies out there who aid us, but I don't care to paint a purely rosy picture of that unseen world (and certainly the lore is full of perils we can only glimpse from the corners of our eyes). If I ask my children to grow up with a knowledge of that world, I must also take it seriously. So, I have made two little icons for the nursery, each of which will serve as a home for a house spirit, and each of which is armed with iron, just in case someone wants to trade our kids out.



That black iron is a hand-cut hobnail. The two figures (I am calling them "changeling-bane" for now) are specially charged with keeping my kids from being spirited away until they are old enough to take care of themselves.

C) I bought a blue canary nightlight



Problem: the outlet by the lightswitch is behind a dresser.

Solution: Maggie has asked me to re-wire the current switch to put an outlet on the same plate. In progress. She is also looking for a picture of a lighthouse for the opposite wall.

Don't get it? Watch this:



D) I have started setting up their college funds.

This is mundane, but I want them to leave their college with as little debt as possible (none, if it can be done in 20 years). Making this a priority is vital, and it will be a priority for me for the next two decades.

E) I have been carrying around a 15 pound weight when not doing anything else.

Babies are tiny, but I figure I should get a head start. After all, even before they weigh 15 lbs, I will bet their squirming makes it seem like they are more. It isn't the weight, it's the flailing, right?

F) I went on a bear hunt. No, really: check out my entry on it!

But if you have been reading, you know that already.

G) I did all that other crap already.

By this I mean I set up the cribs, did all the laundry on all the baby stuff, assembled dressers, packed my bags for the hospital, kept up the dishes and kept my wife fed, painted the nursery and refinished the floors, preregistered our admittance to the hospital, wrote "thank you" cards to (we think) everyone, and got our car seats in. In other words, I got us to the point where we can bring the kids home (I.E., they will let us leave the hospital with them and we can put them somewhere when they arrive).

There: I have done all I can. Now, it's just waiting.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: "I Don't Know (Spicoli's Theme)", -JB

(37 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:tanrinia
Date:September 30th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
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I would love for us to be 'learning' some of the things you are grudgingly 'learning.'

I mostly can't wait to baby sit. Post-potty training :)
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From:chronarchy
Date:September 30th, 2013 11:54 pm (UTC)
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skylark913 and I are going to put a Jabberwocky ritual together. As a godmother, you must participate ;)
(Deleted comment)
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From:chronarchy
Date:September 30th, 2013 11:56 pm (UTC)
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Ha :) I expect to be festivaling again by Trillium, so our intersections will remain as regular as ever :)
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From:chronarchy
Date:September 30th, 2013 11:57 pm (UTC)
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Thank you. We are in good hands, both spiritually and medically ;)
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From:hearthstone
Date:September 30th, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC)
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I love the changeling-bane icons!

Only advice I'd have is listen to the babies, they may not know words yet but they will tell you what they need.
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From:chronarchy
Date:September 30th, 2013 11:58 pm (UTC)
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I want to do more little spirit icons. These guys were hard because of the nails: I didn't know they would be so much work. But I sorta love the style, myself. :)
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From:zylch
Date:September 30th, 2013 09:05 pm (UTC)
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I got nuthin'. Good luck! (Also, the changeling banes are excellent!)
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 1st, 2013 12:00 am (UTC)
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Thank you. ;) I will let you know whe I get them ready to climb Olympus. You can come along again :)
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From:Linda Costello
Date:September 30th, 2013 09:23 pm (UTC)
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You guys are pregnant? How cool! You know your life is about to change drastically, right? A boy and a girl? How perfect! Blah blah blah.... Congratulations :).

AND, those kids are darn lucky to have you two as parents :)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:October 1st, 2013 12:01 am (UTC)
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We will do our best for them :)
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From:rhiannon76
Date:September 30th, 2013 09:33 pm (UTC)
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Those changeling-banes are adorable. Do they have individual names, or would that be too specific? Also, the blue canary & lighthouse idea is delightful!

Smart thinking on the training up for baby-holding. My favorite biomechanist has been blogging a lot in the last few years about developing upper body strength for natural day-to-day movement, particularly for baby-holding (and even baby-upper-body-strength, which is fascinating), spurred by her own experiences as a new parent with two little ones. (Her suggestions are aimed more at women, so you've already got an advantage in the upper body arena, what with all the manliness.)

I can't remember when you said the due date is-- sounds like it's soon? Good luck and smooth journeys across the threshold for all!
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 1st, 2013 12:02 am (UTC)
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Official due date is Oct 28. Right now, the figures do not have their own names. That is likely to happen soon.
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From:fionnabhar
Date:September 30th, 2013 10:25 pm (UTC)
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What an adventure!
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 1st, 2013 12:04 am (UTC)
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I know, right?
(Deleted comment)
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 1st, 2013 12:04 am (UTC)
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I am wondering if they will let me keep the figures with them all the time in the hospital. I am going to ask.

If something unseelie is going to happen, I think it is more likely to happen there...
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From:nontacitare
Date:October 1st, 2013 02:32 am (UTC)
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I loved the readings. And the changling-banes are brilliant. May Maggie's delivery be easy and uneventful, and your children happy and healthy.
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 1st, 2013 02:43 am (UTC)
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Thanks :) I have also recorded Lovecraft's the Cats of Ulthar (complete with my own cat meowing on cue a couple of times) and the beginning of the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, because every kid needs a good Lovecraftian trance induction to go to sleep to, right?
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From:khep
Date:October 1st, 2013 02:57 am (UTC)
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I am so excited for you! I think you're handling things really well. I like your preparation. Not to be one of those weird places from which stray advice seeps--but baby thermometers that just have to touch your child's temple to give you a digital reading are SO WORTH IT. Love to you both!

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From:chronarchy
Date:October 1st, 2013 03:01 am (UTC)
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I do believe we already have one. Then again, we appear to have six of just about everything at this point, though I'm positive that we will not have one of something we need desperately. . . Or we won't be able to find it under five duplicates of something we won't need until they're 18 months old.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 1st, 2013 03:12 am (UTC)
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Good gods in the heavens above and elsewhere, I love both you and Maggie to tears, but I got nothin' for ya, being the most definitively old-maidenly aunt y'all are likely to ever have. I'm not good with babies at all, or pregnancies, or twins, or anything, but if you don't know by now that you can and should call and ask me for anything I can help with, you just haven't been paying attention. Being the old-maidenly aunt type, I just ask for lots and lots and lots of pictures, and if you ever present me with an infant to hold in my arms, I'll probably faint dead away. I pray for you both (erm, all four of you), early and often. Guess all I got is "Good luck." And lots of love and hugs. And delightedly, excited, giggly, vicarioius anticipation. If you want more poetry, try Edward Lear. Much fun. :)

Hope to see you soon and pass along many, many hugs.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:October 1st, 2013 11:11 am (UTC)
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Will certainly pass along the hugs, romandruid :)
[User Picture]
From:bodlon
Date:October 1st, 2013 04:16 am (UTC)
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If you're still looking for a lighthouse, I could paint one for you. Just let me know what you've got in mind.
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 1st, 2013 11:14 am (UTC)
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I'll let you know what Maggie says: I have a feeling that she's got a really specific idea. But if she decides on a photograph, I might just sneak some paint onto it to make little tiny men in an old trireme dying upon the rocks.
[User Picture]
From:avngrdnpriestes
Date:October 1st, 2013 11:23 am (UTC)
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Honestly, when I found out a few months ago that you guys were expecting children I was this: > < close to posting some wonderful piece of fantastic advice. When I saw you in the store I almost made a comment. I almost mailed Maggie a card several times. It has been a struggle not to extend well meaning wishes and such but I remembered that both you and Maggie are extremely private people when it comes to personal matters. I have not said anything for this very reason. Of course I wish you both well. Of course I have tons of little tidbits that I would be happy to share. When you ask me.

I am one of the people who is having difficulties lately. Anyone who is getting married or pregnant is hard for me to be around. I spiral into depression every time. This is no ones fault and I stay away to keep from putting that on anyone. Yes, it hurts me but that doesn't mean I am not so very happy for you or them.

I do wish you luck. I like the changeling-banes. I had a gargoyle in Aiden's hospital bed. Yes they will allow it if it is for religious purposes and it doesn't interfere with any of their equipment. I think Maggie is fantastic and beautiful. I think you are doing a fine job just as you are.

My unsolicited advice? Just have fun.
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From:chronarchy
Date:October 1st, 2013 11:36 am (UTC)
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And that is fine: we know just how difficult it is for some people, and we know that just because it is difficult that doesn't mean that those same people are not happy and joyful and rooting us on. It is perfectly okay, and we understand very well.
From:wordcandlemage
Date:October 2nd, 2013 12:59 am (UTC)
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Item "C" alone shows that as parents you and your wife might be giants.

I'm glad to see someone else doing that. I had long ago decided that if I were to ever adopt a child, I would do the exact things you're doing with the nightlight and the picture of the lighthouse.

The changeling banes are a great idea, too.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:October 2nd, 2013 02:12 am (UTC)
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And really, what are we going to do unless we are? ;)

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