If you read Tuesday’s Captwin’s Log, you learned about my mutinous daughter’s escapades. It turns out that her behavior was not due to my own incompetence (Yay!)–it’s because she was teething and feverish (Boo!). Having figured this out, I scoured my memory for any folk wisdom relevant to the situation. I once heard that the only prescription for a fever is more cowbell, but I wasn’t so sure about that, so I decided to consult my pediatrician.
So, upon gratefully entrusting my son to his aunt’s capable hands, Wednesday morning I took my daughter to the doctor and the doctor said, “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” Which I thought was a rather odd (and brusque) response. It turned out that she was confusing my daughter with another patient, one of five quintuplets who took an unfortunate spill while jumping on a bed, cracking his cranium on impact. Having sorted out the monkey business, we moved on to my daughter.
We love our doctor. She has a constant smile and always appears to be in a fantastic mood, but not at all in an annoying way–you can tell it’s genuine. As first-(and-I-guess,-second)-time parents, we’re aware–but can’t help–that we come in with a certain unbridled rookie intensity, and our pediatrician takes that in stride, making a point to reassure us of the phenomenal job we’re doing.
“So what’s going on today?” she smiled. “I usually only see my twins for well visits, since you and Mom do such a great job.” See? Love it. ALL people in the service industry, take note.
She consulted my daughter’s charts as I gave an animated play-by-play of the past 24 hours, apologizing for the crudity of my props and set design, for I had not had optimal preparation time: We had noticed she was flush and uncharacteristically warm last night, with especially red ears. Earlier that morning her fever had spiked to 100.4° F before we bought her a round of Tylenol with a breast milk/formula cocktail to chase. Additionally, she (and her brother) have been exhibiting all the signs of teething: gushes of drool resembling transparent, wet gotees; the gnawing of any appendage, corner, toy, or Nook Color in a one-foot radius (Don’t worry–my Nook is okay. I know you were concerned.); and a particular preference for objects of the arctic persuasion, such as fridge-cooled teething rings, wet rags, ice sculptures, Coldplay, etc. Suddenly realizing I had painstakingly chronicled yesterday’s events already, I offered to read my previous blog entry aloud for her and even autograph a printout, but she respectfully declined in favor of actually examining the patient, which was probably a good call, backed by years of medical training.
Having inspected my daughter’s vitals and crevices, she looked up. “Well, I am a little concerned about the fever. Have you tried cowbell?”
“Yes! Yes, we have! That was the first thing we tried!”
She nodded. “Excellent! Great work, Dad! Okay, well, obviously, that didn’t solve the problem. So then, when that didn’t work, did you try more cowbell?”
“As a matter of fact, we did. We attempted both the initial cowbell and then more cowbell.”
“Good, good,” she nodded, scribbling notes on the chart.
“Well,” she continued, “She’s definitely teething, but it doesn’t look like she’s quite ready to cut a tooth.” I cringed–not because of the news itself, but because of the expression “cutting a tooth.” I’d heard it before, each utterance more excruciating than the last. It’s just ridiculous. It’s not the tooth that’s being cut–it’s the gums. Yet, everyone has agreed upon this atrocity. It’s right up there with “I could care less.” No, you mean you could NOT care less. I was appalled to hear a medical professional committing such a crime against linguistics–there must be something Latin to say instead. However, given the circumstances, I decided it was best to bite my tongue. (But not with teeth that have ever been “cut.” I’ll stand firm on at least that.)
“So the reason I wanted you to come in today is because when a fever spikes like this, without other noticeable symptoms, it could mean an infection. Usually it’s an ear infection, but her ears look okay.”
I cringed, this time actually, yes, because of the news. I was plagued with ear infection after ear infection as an infant, many of which were not even diagnosed, until my poor mother–a pharmacist–persisted that I’d been clawing my pudgy hands at my ears for days, shrieking in pain. Doctors later discovered they were not discovering the infections because I have unusually narrow Eustachian tubes–so narrow that they envelop infections in an Invisibility Cloak. To this day, I must still insist–especially with new doctors–to re-examine my history if I am ever to receive the antibiotics necessary for salvation from the vice clamped around my head. I am hoping to dodge this tiny bullet with my children and knew my daughter would first need to be a repeat ear-symptom offender before validating it.
Then the doctor said something I will share with you, O Loyal Reader, in case you encounter this situation with your own progeny, because I, like Kyle Broflovskli of South Park, learned something that day.
“Occasionally–especially with a little girl–it could mean she has a urinary tract infection (UTI)…”
Now, this is mainly for the guys since they don’t have the equipment of their own to maintain, but it’s very important when changing a diaper to apply the axiom “wipe front to back,” particularly in sanitizing feminine parts. (This principle actually applies well to people all ages and genders. You’re welcome.) Unfortunately, due to the nature of wearing excrement in a to-go bag, infection does still occasionally happen. Like most things, I insist with my wife how awe-inspiring I am upholding this guideline regardless of actual skill.
A suspenseful swell of foreboding violin strings crescendoed as the pediatrician continued. “…but her lady parts look just fine, too.”
“Score!” I fist-bumped my daughter.
“Nn-Gaaah?” she tittered.
With all that in mind, I was advised to monitor Our Princess’s temperature and continue with the Tylenol if it got high, cowbell at the ready. A few days’ vigil saw her temperature returning to normal and an resurgence of her ecstatic self.
Then, over the weekend came the snorting, coughing and projectile sneezing…
Will Our Little Princess emerge victorious from this biological battle? Will the affliction spread to other unfortunate members of the Pseudonymous bloodline, culminating in the full onslaught of a zombie apocalypse 28 days later? Has our family cowbell’s efficacy diminished due to faulty manufacturing and/or a long-past expiration date?
For the shocking revelations of these and countless other unanswered questions in the Twinfamy Saga, tune in for the next electrifying Twincident, same twinternet site, same (or entirely different) twin-time!
Additional Twinformation for New Parents
A 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature
Handy and/or Dandy Baby Fever Chart
|If you baby is…||Call your doctor when…|
|Less than 3 months old||temperature is 100.4° F (38° C) or higher|
|3 to 6 months old||temperature is 101° F (38.3° C) or higher|
|6 months or old||temperature is 103° F (39.4° C) or higher|
|a werewolf||it changes back to human form (easier to get into car seat)|
For most babies under 6 months, Tylenol is the pain reliever/fever reducer most doctors recommend. The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen. I’m telling you this because you can often save a few bucks by finding the generic version, which usually says “acetaminophen” in bigger letters than “compare to Tylenol.” You can use these few bucks to buy yourself a drink, which will taste really good once your sick child has fallen asleep and has finally stopped crying.
Fellow rookie parents: Consult your own physician for proper Tylenol dosage–it depends on your child’s weight.
Rebellious rookie parents: You are so undeniably cool! Teach me to be like you! BUT, while play by your own rules and live on the edge and whip your hair back and forth and whatnot, please don’t make your baby a wild child when it comes to medicine. The label says not to administer it more often than every 4-6 hours for a reason, so please follow the rules just this once. Don’t worry about your rep. I won’t tell anyone. I’m not even looking.
I slapped myself in the face repeatedly, forcing my dozing eyes open so as not to veer off the freeway, t-bone a concrete slab, and send my weary head through shards of broken windshield, thus widowing my poor wife and newborn fraternal twins, never to be able to tell my great grandchildren tales riddled with outrageous claims about how many New York Times bestsellers I wrote back in the day. When you’re a new parent, you suddenly grow an incredible appreciation for as many moments of sleep you can get, as well as beverages containing enough caffeine to wake the dead. Unfortunately, the Coke I’d drank during my last period class had gotten me through the lesson, but had conveniently tapered off just as I’d gotten on the road.
At the time, we were getting about three hours of sleep on a good night. It’s difficult enough to get rest when you have one newborn, as I’ve been told, anyway. I wouldn’t know because these are our first two, and I don’t have the experience of only one baby with which to compare it. I will say that it’s a rare, triumphant event during the first few weeks when both twins are asleep at the same time. They do not come with a synchronization feature, and tech support has stated that there are no current upgrades in the works.
This means that any time one wakes up, you are on red alert because any noise whatsoever from the first could wake the other. However, you are also faced with the possible decision of intentionally waking the other in an effort to create your own synchronization system. All the books suggest it, but was the chapter you fell asleep reading relevant in this exact situation? Maybe you and your spouse should just stand there, staring at each other, waiting for the other to make an executive decision. Maybe you can pretend you’re sleepwalking, so she’ll have to make the call. But wait, is she actually sleepwalking? The silent deliberation is then broken by the sound of your poor, as-of-late neglected canine, who insists on letting the thug with the thumping bass in his hot rod know that she can hear him and does not like it. She’s more of an indie rock fan.
And so twin number two is up, startle reflex triggered, causing what looks like a breakneck rendition of Swan Lake and culminating in an inventive new blood-curdling shriek, finding octaves you did not realize were in a newborn’s register. We need to get her a voice coach. I should write that down.
Then, amidst the chaos, one of the little people in question rests a tiny hand on your arm or shoots you a rare bashful smile, and you are reminded that this is all totally and completely worth it.
These were our nights.
A few more whacks to the face and I was good to go, with the added bonus of rosy cheeks. I had returned to my job as a middle school English teacher two weeks ago and this, paired with sleepless nights, made the drive home one of the day’s most daunting tasks. At the same time, it gave me a phenomenal excuse to roll every window down and crank obnoxious punk rock up to 11 as if I were still in high school, which is always great fun. I especially appreciate this as a new reason to justify the purchase of such sonic greatness to my wife, who finds snotty old-school hardcore to be a particularly challenging listen.
My attempt to cross the threshold of the Central Twintelligence Agency (my home) was thwarted. After a few attempts at opening the door (and a few WTFs), I realized the culprit: the open door of our front-loading dryer. This is a feature of our house that I will surely employ in the event of a zombie apocalypse. “Babe, I can’t get in again!”
“Okay, hold on! I need to put them both down!”
After wading through the pink-and-light-blue rubble and changing out of the clothes that had God-knows-what all over them from tween sneezes and coughs, I gave my hands a good scrub, and kissed my bleary-eyed wife, who was on the couch with my son and daughter in each arm. My children perked up and kicked with wide-eyed excitement at the sound of Daddy’s voice, and my dog, who was gated in the kitchen/dog lounge, performed the “welcome home” ritual I’ve come to expect, the old I’m-so-excited-you’re-home-that-if-you-don’t-get-me-outside-in-five-seconds-I-will-urinate-on-the-floor gag.
I finally plopped down on the couch with my son in my lap, and smiled at my wife, happy to be home again. “So, how was today?”
“Pretty good. So…I think you should quit your job and stay home with the kids starting in the fall.”
I laughed. “Yeah, okay. What do you want to do for dinner? I’m starving.”
“No, I’m serious. You should stay home with the kids. I thought about it and I think it’s a great idea. Plus, you could start taking classes again and finish your Ph.D. sooner.”
I was dumbstruck. And, of course, the only logical response was, “How about Taco Bell?”
Suffice it to say that after some processing time (and two Beefy Crunch Burritos), I realized my wife—as always—had an excellent point, and after further discussion, we decided that when the school year ended this May, I would start my brand new position: trophy husband.
Luckily, I was the only applicant.
And thus began preparations for a new chapter in my life, a date which will live in twinfamy.
This blog will chronicle my adventures as a new, stay-at-home father of twins. Since there are comparatively fewer stay-at-home dads and even fewer who have twins, I’m hoping that other dads in my situation will especially benefit from reading this. At the same time, it isn’t exclusively for them.
I’m a brand new parent, and I’ll never claim to be an expert, but I do plan on sharing what I’ve found to work well with my kids, as well as what hasn’t. Because my wife and I are experiencing boy and girl newborns simultaneously, we have the unique opportunity to offer—for lack of a better term—two different “case studies” to other new parents. Also, out of necessity, we’re constantly searching for new ways and products that make caring for two babies at the same time more efficient, and in that way, I feel all new parents—and especially new parents of multiples—will find it helpful.
When we get right down to it, though, this blog is really for anyone and everyone. As a soon-to-be-former middle school English teacher who has needed to hold uninterested young minds’ attention for a living, I believe learning is amplified and enhanced by things that are awesome. For that reason (and, admittedly, my own enjoyment) I’m going to make this as entertaining as I can. I’m going to tell stories instead of making lame, boring lists that sound like a robot crapped them out. So this is also going to be a sort of sitcom-y memoir, which could be enjoyed by anyone with amazing taste and who knows sheer genius when they see it. (That’s you!)
I don’t know exactly what to expect, but I do know it will be incredible because I’ll have the privilege of spending most of my time with my little boy and girl, who make life absolutely beautiful (along, of course, with my wife—love you, babe!).
I hope you stay tuned, and enjoy.