Nieces 2005

October 7, 2005

This past weekend I saw my nieces for the first time. When they were born, I had a terrible cough that I did not want to give to the newborns, so it came to pass that I was the last of the family to see the twins.

I have heard a lot about the girls, but it is important to note the amount of work Bernard and Agnes have taking care of them. Instead of having a moment of respite that you might have with one child, having two means that there is very little time to breathe, much less relax. Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all work, the twins are wonderful and it is well worth every minute of sleep you don’t get to see the character and nuance of each of the girls.

They are very different people – and you can immediately tell them apart. Miranda likes to rub her face against your chest back and forth much like you would a pillow when you are stretching, it is remarkably endearing. Eleanor looks at you intently, like there is nothing else in the world.

Miranda has more hair, is chubbier and squirmy, though loves nothing more than being held. Eleanor has longer limbs and fingers and toes, she has stronger legs and moves her arms more while feeding. I got to feed both of them. Miranda sucks down milk in gulps so that you can hear the air rushing into the bottle. In the time it takes Miranda to finish a bottle, Eleanor drinks maybe half, more like a third. She sips and takes her time. It might explain why Miranda is more prone to spitting up – though both did while I was there – never on me: Miranda did once on Bernard, though she ended up covering most of her face doing so – like a porcelain mask. On the last day both Miranda and Eleanor spit up on Agnes! It was quite the day, they went through 5 or six clothes changes that day. Poor Agnes.

I am a terrible swaddler. When you swaddle you want to restrain their arms while they sleep. They say it calms them down, my mother says they will scare themselves with their arms because they don’t know they are there yet. The end result is the same, they are more calm, but I side with my mother on this one. Both Eleanor and Miranda got out of my swaddles, and you would find their hands in their faces while they woke and cried.

I changed my first diaper too, never a poopy one, Bern and Agnes can do those, but diaper changes are pretty easy compared to what they must have been before Pampers and Huggies – I have new found respect for my mom and dad for having three kids in four years.

The best is feeding the kids, you would think it would be playing with them, but they are really young and don’t understand playing yet. What they do understand is “I am hungry or uncomfortable,” “why aren’t you feeding me?” “ah, you are the one feeding me, thank you.” So being the hero with the bottle means you get content looks, smiles and direct contact of someone grateful that you are there. Can there be any better feeling?

I was going to talk about everything that happened while I was visiting, but instead I leave you with this: there is something about having kids that makes life make sense. Bern’s kids made me want a family.

I was glad to be able to do the uncle thing and get away – parents don’t get to get away, they fret and worry and take care of their kids through years of angst and worry. It gets harder, not easier, and when they go away years later, I can’t imagine the emptiness it brings. Take better care of your mother and father, they remember when you rubbed your face into their chest and looked at them with unconditional eyes, they remember bringing you what you needed and in an unabashed look of contentment, told them you were grateful. Tell your parents you love them, for a parent, can there be any better feeling?