I will never forget the long night of April 2, 2005 when Adam drove me to the hospital for pregnancy complications. We checked into the hospital where I worked in Labor and Delivery. My doctor was on vacation but I felt as comfortable as a scared thirty week pregnant momma of twins could feel in the care of my coworkers and friends. At some point in the night I was transferred to a near-by hospital with a level three nursery and shortly after five o’clock in the morning on April third my twin sons were born, weighing 3 pounds 10 ounces and 3 pounds 5 ounces. While they were good sized boys for being nine and a half weeks early, they were so small. Their hands, fingers and all, were the size of quarters. When I turned them over in their isolettes I thought they would break in two. Every mom celebrates new skills and developmental milestones. Parents of premature babies celebrate a few extras that are often taken for granted: breathing for the first time independently, getting to wear clothes and be in a regular crib, the first feeding that isn’t through a tube, holding your baby for the first time without wires attached everywhere. After seven long weeks in the NICU we joyously brought them home and would revel in being able to just walk across the room to see them instead of driving to the hospital. Naturally we were protective of our fragile babies. We kept them out of the nursery at church so they wouldn’t get sick that first winter and after that for a while because we just didn’t want to leave them with anyone else. As they grew and started moving around I’d watch closely at the play ground to make sure the bigger kids didn’t run them over. They have stayed small for their age in spite of eating like teenagers and even as their younger brothers came after them I have kept them in my mind as little boys in need of my protection.
I had a revelation around Christmas when we went to the mall play area. As I looked around and watched them playing and heard myself saying to them, “Watch out for the younger kids,” it occurred to me that my little boys were not so little anymore. I continued to look around and saw other parents watching my boys to make sure they didn’t run over their children. This first year of homeschooling has let me deceive myself a little bit and still think of my oldest as preschoolers in a sense, but they are not. In less than a month Isaac and Stephen will turn six years old. They are getting tall. Their baby talk is gone (except when they imitate their brother). They use words like “cool” and have left Thomas the Tank Engine behind for Star Wars. They ask questions sometimes that I didn’t think about until I was in my twenties. The other day I let them help cut up the vegetables with a sharp knife for the first time. And while they are certainly exasperating at times, I am proud of the boys they have grown into.
My little babies are babies no longer and the time hasgone by quickly. Many nights as I tuck them in and they ask for repeated hugs and kisses and I love you’s I am tired and want them to go to sleep. Even tonight they have reappeared on several occasions for one reason or another and I have admonished them to go back to bed. But as I think on how quickly they have grown, I think I’ll go back down for another kiss. And tomorrow when I have five little boys hanging on me or arguing over who will sit next to me for the story, I will try to remember how quickly this time vanishes, and maybe read one more story so everyone can have a turn.