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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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“What? I’m deaf.”

The woman’s eyes widened, and she spoke slower (and, I am willing to bet, louder). “Are they identical?”

“Julianne is a girl, and Patrick is a boy,” I said, indicating the baby in the pink play suit with embroidered flowers around the neckline, and the baby in the blue play suit decorated with a pocket shaped like a baseball. As if on cue, Patrick opened his eyes and squirmed a little. I reached over so he could hold onto one of my fingers, which he promptly guided to his mouth.

“Adorable. You know, you are lucky you can’t hear the crying. I used to wish I was deaf when she was a baby.” The woman indicated her daughter, who was now climbing onto the chair next to her mother, jumping off, and climbing back on.

I busied myself with the twins so I wouldn’t need to respond. How would it make sense to her that the babies’ crying is one of the few things that makes me want to hear? I worry the cry signaler will stop working and they’ll cry for me and I won’t know it. Never mind that the babies’ crying is stressful and gives me headaches. There is something about those little bodies shrieking (especially if I’m touching them).

The doctor’s visit itself went smoothly. They put us in the largest examining room, where there was space for the big double stroller. The nurse came in to weigh and measure the twins. Although their heads were the same size, Patrick was slightly longer than Julianne, but she had a full pound on him. My lactation consultant had said that girls are usually more vigorous eaters as babies. I don’t know if I buy that. More likely, Patrick got my body, and Julianne got Matt’s. I was a super-skinny kid, and Matt had been a starter on the football team at his mainstream high school.

“Hi Laura,” Dr. McCune spoke slowly and carefully. He was reasonably easy to lip read. “How are things going?”

I showed him the summary I had written in the notebook: Both twins had been eating nine times a day. Julianne spit up at almost every feeding. She pooped two or three times a day. Patrick spit up less, and pooped once a day or less. They had seven or eight wet diapers each a day. They were awake mostly for a few hours in the morning, and then again late afternoon, when they were also more likely to be fussy. “My concerns,” I told him, “are Julianne’s spitting up. It seems excessive. For Patrick, he seems to be constipated.”

“They seem fine. Julianne is gaining weight well and has plenty of wet and dirty diapers, so she’s getting enough in. You don’t need to be concerned about Patrick unless he goes several days without a dirty diaper. Now, who will I examine first?”

I got Julianne out of her carrier and put her on the examining table. She seemed completely unfazed by the whole thing. When he was done with her, I put her back in her carrier and got Patrick out. He looked concerned. He had come out of my body looking concerned. He started fussing on the exam table, but calmed down as soon as I picked him up.

“How are you holding up?” Dr. McCune asked.

“OK. I’m tired, but I guess that’s to be expected.”

“OK, we’ll see you back in two months for the next checkup. Email if you have any questions before then, and call if there are any problems. The nurse will be in shortly to give the shots.” He touched each baby’s head. “Bye Julianne. Bye Patrick.”

The nurse came in soon after with the shots. I had Julianne go first. She cried, but with a visible delay between when the first needle went in and when the cry started. I guessed she was telling us “How dare you!” She calmed down quickly once back in her safe carrier. Patrick had started crying when Julianne did, though the intensity picked up after the first needle hit. Poor boy. I got the twins completely dressed again and wheeled them out. Patrick was still crying, but I figured the best thing to do would be to get in the car and go home.

I fed the twins as soon as we got back and put them down to sleep in their crib. I could have some time to myself. I put some leftover lasagna in the microwave (we lived off meals friends brought over) and got my pager out to tell Matt how the doctor visit went. There were a bunch of messages from him.

“R U at doctor’s office? How r twins?”

“Have U seen doctor yet?”

“Why aren’t you answering?”

“RU OK?”

“R U home?”

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