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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Deaf American Prose: 1980–2010
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My food arrived. I asked for a refill on my coffee. My life wasn’t so bad, really. It was good, actually. So what was I doing here, escaping the babies and mad at Matt?

The previous day had been more stressful than usual. For the first time in the month since Matt had gone back to work after his paternity leave had ended, I had to take the babies out. To the doctor. For shots. Alone. Matt had been at the previous visit, but couldn’t afford to take the time off of work. He had burned all of his leave time when I was on bed rest.

I had spent the better part of a week figuring out how I would handle the babies and their stuff at their checkup. In addition to the usual diaper bag stocked with every possible thing the twins could need, I would also bring the notebook where I had been recording how often the twins ate, slept, peed, and pooped. It was the only way I could remember who did what. I had worried how to safely get both kids out of the car and into their stroller, but I figured all I needed was space on one side of the car to park the stroller where I could put its brake on, keep a foot on it and keep it out of traffic while I got the second twin out of the car. In the examining room, I would put the twin not getting checked out or stuck in the stroller. I didn’t like that I wouldn’t be able to comfort them both through the appointment, but what could I do?

The twins’ appointment wasn’t until 10:00, but I was up for good that morning at 6:00. No trying for a morning nap for me. I was burping the twins after the 6:00 feeding when Matt passed through the living room on his way to the kitchen for some breakfast.

“Want to burp Julianne?” I signed, briefly stopping the rhythmic patting of Patrick’s back.

“I want to get going before traffic gets bad.” Matt walked over and kissed each of us on our foreheads.

“How about my lips? I’m not your baby.”

“You haven’t brushed your teeth.”

“No kidding. Or showered. Or eaten breakfast.” I finished burping Patrick, put him down, and picked up his sister. Two pats and she burped up not only air, but a good bit of the milk she just drank. “Shit,” I said rather than signed.

“Don’t forget to tell Dr. McCune that the twins are still spitting up a lot.”

“Like I could forget.” It was rare to get through a feeding without one or the other—or both—spewing a geyser. Young Faithfuls. That made for a lot of clothing changes for them and me.

Matt stopped in the living room on his way out, while I was in the middle of changing diapers. He kissed me on the ear, Julianne on her toes, and Patrick on his nose. “I love you, goodbye,” he signed, and was gone. I couldn’t reply because one hand was holding Julianne’s legs out of the way and the other was cleaning off her poopy butt.

Once I finished changing both babies, I decided to strap them in their swings so I could shower. I worried that I overused the swings, but sometimes the swing would stop their fussing when nothing else worked.

The hot shower felt good, but I needed to make it fast since I had left the twins by themselves. I didn’t think anything could happen to them, but you never know. A part could snap and the swing fall over. (I never noticed how many product recalls there are until I started buying baby equipment.) I fret. So I washed my hair quickly, with the water on my back, and then turned around to wash my face and the rest of me. The warm water on my breasts triggered a milk letdown. I looked down and saw milk shoot out of my left breast. It was cool at first, but the novelty had worn off. Now my breasts were just a dairy farm, my nipples permanently sore. The lactation consultant said that they would toughen up. I was still waiting. As was Matt, who was increasingly frustrated that I didn’t want to be touched, much less have sex, even though my doctor had given me the go ahead weeks before.

As soon as I finished, I wrapped myself in a towel and rushed downstairs to check on the twins. They had both fallen asleep (breathing just fine) so I went back upstairs to my room to get dressed. I dried my hair and even put some makeup on, with periodic trips downstairs to check on the babies. It felt good to look something like my pre-baby self.

Once I was dressed, there was just about enough time for me to eat some breakfast, feed the twins, change diapers, and put them in cuter going-out clothes. They are my assembly-line babies. What would it be like to have time to just cuddle?

When we got to the well-child waiting room I sat down where I could see when the nurse came to call us. I figure if no one else gets up, it must be my turn. I could have requested an interpreter, but I had made it one of my criteria in selecting the pediatrician that she or he be reasonably easy for me to lipread, and comfortable with writing if that failed. A good interpreter would be easier, but I had had too many that either didn’t have the necessary skill level or were just strange.

There was only one other mother in the waiting room. Her daughter, who looked to be about three, was playing with a big yellow dump truck. The mother caught my eye.

“Are they twins?” she asked. Lip-reading is fairly easy for predictable, inane questions.

I nodded my head and managed not to roll my eyes by glancing down to check on the twins, who were both still asleep from the car ride, strapped into their car seats that in turn were strapped onto the stroller. When I looked back up, I saw the woman was saying something.

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