Friday, January 23, 2009

Christmas, and Christening

Gosh I'd love to write, but time is not on my side these days. I've started teaching again, so until I get my workload under control, blogging will be treated as a luxury (though it's really a pleasureful necessity for me).

In the meantime, here are some photos from our Christmas holiday in Mérida. The babies got to meet and spend high quality time with their paternal grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors,... the list goes on and on.

Click on the slideshow to see it, with captions, in a larger format.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Time Stolen

It's 1:30 p.m. and both babies are asleep. Both. And I haven't written in ages, so here I am, ready to blog my heart out for an unpredictable number of minutes.

When we're out in public with the twins, I get lots of questions from people who under normal circumstances wouldn't even make eye contact with me. (Put twins in the picture, and people suddenly realize they have a valid license to interact socially.)

What's interesting is that the questions have changed over time. When Sarah and Juan were newborns, strangers asked whether they were twins, whether they were identical, how much they weighed at birth. Now, since Sarah and Juan are obviously not identical and they're both chubby and thriving, the questions are mostly logistical: How do you feed them at the same time? What do you do when they're both crying? And my favorite: Are they on the same schedule?

It's 1:42, and they're both still asleep, though I occasionally hear someone touching a rattle every once in a while... shick-a-shick-a-shick. Then nothing. I hold my breath, then keep typing. Right now, at this very moment, they're on the same schedule. But truth be told, it's their schedule, not mine, and their schedule operates on a completely different time-dimension platform, largely undecipherable to me.

They're growing and changing. They work really hard during their awake hours, willing their little hands to reach toward and, yes!, make contact with the colorful things set within reach. They focus and ponder at the hanging things as they kick, kick, kick their core strength to a level they will eventually use to sit up.

Neither is much of a roller-over yet, but both are playing with and gnawing on their hands-- teeth will come soon. My linguist friend watches them gnawing and cooing simultaneously, and she tells me this is very good: the babies are using their hands to create sounds that their mouths can't produce alone yet. Which explains how it is that they really do, when overheard from the next room, seem to be talking sometimes.

Sarah is asleep in the Pack-n-Play, a hopped-up playpen with a changing table on top. This is new for her, for she is used to taking all of her daytime naps in the swing. Swing, swing, swinging for hours at a time since birth. I'm guessing she's grown tired of swinging, or maybe seasick, but whatever the reason, she's very suddenly able to take naps on her side lying still.

It's 1:50 and they're both still asleep. Now I don't want to stop writing, for fear that this keyboard is creating the white noise soundtrack of the perfect moment; for fear that if I stop, they will wake.

Juan is asleep in the bouncy chair, comatose after finishing a bottle. This, too, is new; I guess he got the memo from his sister that sleeping while motionless is now in fashion, while sleeping in the swing is so... yesterday.

All of this is good. We leave for Mexico in less than a month, and guess what? We'll have to live for two weeks without the swings. Granted, we'll have lots of loving hands to hold and cuddle our babies, but even the most loving hands eventually have to put them down.

It's 1:57 and I'm feeling nervous. Lately, Juanito has taken to screaming, especially upon waking up. And seeing as it's inevitable that he's going to wake up, it's just a matter of time before I hear his outraged scream. I know he's fine, but that scream... it's speaks of betrayal. And what have I done? With two babies, it's easy to criticize oneself, for it's an inescapable fact of logic that when you attend to one, you're not attending to the other.

That doesn't mean they can't both be happy at the same time, as indeed they often are. You just have to remember that behind the scenes, the Wheel Of Needs is spinning, and where it will stop is hardly a mystery: Hunger, Diaper Change, Sleepiness, or Mysterious Discomfort (including the need to burp). And if they're on the same schedule, crying ensues.

It's 2:08, and I'm no longer nervous, for however they wake up, they've been asleep for 38 minutes, both in motionless states, and both in the same room at the same time. This is pretty monumental. And so I keep writing so as to extend the magic of the moment, this perfect wave of quiet.

I'm hearing a sound. A waking-up sound. And the doorbell rings...

It's now 4:20, and for the last two hours, we've been hosting our semi-weekly mother-baby group. The timing was perfect. My kids were perfect. And why? Because Other People were here to bring out the best in them. When Other People are here, suddenly we're all superheros, and smiles are passed out liberally.

Today we were four mothers and five babies. The baby names on display today are both singularly and collectively lovely: Clementine (19 wks), Olivia (14 wks), Sarah (18 wks), Juan (18 wks) and Quinley (3 wks). They're too young to really interact at this point, but what's important is that their mothers like one another and find some sanity in coming together. After just two hours, I feel better about Juanito's angry cries, knowing now that Christy went through the same thing with her 3-year-old son.

It's 4:35, and Sarah and Juan are once again asleep, on the same schedule, and... in their swings.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Oh, Happy Day

This one will be short and unpolished, but suffice it to say I'm just plain happy with the results of our presidential election. I spent the morning listening, alternatively, to Obama's victory speech from last night and enjoying the "Yes We Can" video made by last year. You can view the latter here:

I then came across this very funny and light-hearted video posted by, I imagine, a gang of dancers with a sense of humor and a wicked good knowledge of video editing.

The first video sings a song of hope, and the second just makes me smile. And seeing me hope and smile, my kids seem to be doing the same on this quiet autumn day, cooing and flirting shamelessly with me.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Day

The year I spent in Merida (2006) coincided with the Mexican presidential election, and Juan's first year here coincides with the US elections. Hey, it's a theme to work with.

Here, Juan and baby Sarah pose with John McCain and Tina Fey... or is that Sarah Palin? Anyway, we came across this formidable duo in Union Station, and though they seemed a bit stiff, we agreed to taking a photo with them. (Juanito would have none of it-- apart from the fact that he was sound asleep in the stroller, he considers himself non-partisan and doesn't want any incriminating evidence that might come back to haunt him were he to run for office some day.)

So, you might be wondering what it's like here in DC, what with the tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue moving out soon and all. I, for one, can't wait to see what they put out on the curb when they move out; I've heard there's some really good furniture in there, and when you've got so many rooms and are inevitably moving to a place that has not so many rooms, you've got to dispose of all that excellent furniture somehow, don't you?

Well, don't ask me. I'm busy with babies, and what little attention I have left over is devoted to watching the entire first season of Gilmore Girls on DVD (hence the rapid-fire banter I'm having here with.. myself). So, while Obama and McCain are frantically fishing for critical votes, mine, already securely hooked, is anxiously watching to see whether Rory and Dean get back together. (And yes, they should.)

I think it's interesting that the Obama and Biden were dressed up in t-shirts and Mardi Gras beads-- like they're ready to celebrate or something. Not wanting to play favorites, we posed with them, too. As you can see, Biden looked a bit pale. I told him to go home and get some rest, but you know how these politicians can be-- he insisted on sticking around.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Longitudinal Look

Sarah and Juan are now three months old. This morning, Juanito woke up looking older than when he went to sleep last night. Sometimes we can almost see them growing before our very eyes. But for the most part, the changes are subtle and noticeable only through a longitudinal gaze, as shown here. (Click on each photo strip to see a bigger version if you wish.)

The twins' most recent development is that they now really engage with us, with friends, and, increasingly, with each other. Tonight they exchanged gazes and cooed at each other while holding hands. We parents played key roles of course, holding them up next to each other, but we still feel lucky just to have been there.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chef Juan

Move to a new country, get married, and have twins, and you just might discover the urge to bake.

After almost one year of life in el norte, Juan really misses the food of his homeland. It started with a simple yearning one morning: "I want real meringues", he said. "Meringue meringues." Apparently, we have no decent meringues here in the US, a logical conclusion if all you've found are those crunchy bite-sized meringues at Whole Foods that cost an arm and a leg.

You see, real meringues, which here means Yucatecan meringues, are delicately crispy on the outside and perfectly gooey on the inside. They neither cloy the palate nor stick to your teeth. Juan had hoped to find something like this here in the Latino wonderland of Langley Park, but alas: apparently, meringues are not that popular in El Salvador. And so it is that Juan's quest yielded a meringue-spackled kitchen, a pan of freshly baked meringues and, why of course!: a huge tres leches cake.

Appreciating how the simple inspiration to bake meringues prompted the large-scale production of baking a cake is something like understanding how hanging a picture on the wall in the living room inspires the addition of a new wing to the house. There's a connection, yes, but it involves a leap of some proportion.

Tres leches is well worth the leap. True to its name, it consists of three milk-based components: a custard-like filling, a sweet milky sauce in which the cake is soaked, and... well, I'll have to get back to you on the third "milk," but suffice it to say that this cake is not for the lactose intolerant among us.* Made Juan's way, the cake is ultimately frosted with meringue. Make more than enough meringue for the cake, and you've got yourself the makings for meringue meringues.

Put like that, Juan's tres leches journey is more akin to adding a new wing to the house as a means of finding a nail with which to hang that picture in the living room-- make tres leches, and you'll have left over meringue. No matter, all three iterations of the meringues and the cake have been deemed delicious by his focus group, which mainly consists of... me. Sigh. I of all people so don't need to have baked goods sitting around the house in need of a tester.

But now very much on a roll, Juan recently decided that a good cake deserved some equally good pork. (Naturally.) Another call home later, and he knew how to go about preparing what is traditionally a Monday dish in Yucatan, frijol con puerco. No stranger to frijol con puerco myself (see my earlier blog entries about this here and here), I'm thrilled that Juan's passion has taken a more substantial turn, something to balance the sugar rush of the meringues.

All of this makes for the good life that we have: two beautiful babies and a husband that keeps me fed, all with inspiration to spare.

*I've since learned that the three 'milks' are sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and plain old milk. These are included in both the custard type filling and the sweet milky syrup in which the cake is soaked. There's also an obscene number of eggs in a tres leches cake, but I imagine calling it a ocho huevos cake wouldn't go over as well as tres leches.)

Monday, October 06, 2008

10.5 weeks old and cooing

Both kids are now making the miraculous little sounds that endear them to our hearts and reward us for enduring the occasional crying and, yes, screaming that come with being alive.

It's time for a Developmental Update, since this blog may be the closest thing these kids will be getting to the satin beribboned how-much-she-weighed-and-when baby book cultivated by so many good mothers.

Sarah: Overall, she's a quiet, happy kid. Nothing seems to surprise her-- be it a loud sound or a sudden bump in the road. She smiles lovely closed-mouth smiles has been perfecting her tongue calisthenics routine (in - out - side - curl - again!). She continues to squeak ever so cutely, and we're thankful that the source is vocal and not, say, her elbows. Her cooing inventory includes close-lipped vowels, the "r" sound and an almost "b" sound. She loves doing baby yoga and hates getting into the car seat.

Juanito, meanwhile, is busy coordinating his lung capacity with his vocal range, focusing on the higher registers. In other words, he's something of a screamer. Lucky for us, he uses this skill only a lot (as opposed to always). He's got a killer smile (see previous post) and coos with sincerity. Juanito loves looking at himself in the mirror and hates being naked (unless it's while taking a bath-- or in front of a mirror). His an expert brow furrower, often giving him an air of pensiveness. He's a responder, opening his eyes and mouth in complete wonder when he hears a sudden noise.

Both kids are starting to hold on to things other than fingers, such as blanket edges, but neither holds on to (or even notices) toys yet. They track things with their eyes but are not yet turning to see what causes a given noise. Both are close to holding their heads steady, and both love to stretch out their limbs after a good night of sleep. And they're great sleepers, we're happy to report-- let's hope it stays that way.

Despite the good sleeping, waking up several times a night means that Papa Juan and I have become caretaker zombies-- filled with love and utterly void of rested thought. Thank god for the friends and family who visit often from near and far; each pair of hands helps exponentially both in terms of my sanity and baby happiness.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


There are moments when these little beings seem to know exactly what they want to do on this earth. They arrive inspired and need only collect the skills to act.
Juanito looks positively visionary here. When he's 80 years old and still being acknowledged for his good works, this is the photo they'll use when saying he was destined for great things.
In the meantime, he's destined for another diaper change and some 'tummy time' on the play mat, followed by a session in the swing set with the flying fish that he so loves to watch.

Friday, September 19, 2008

When they're not sleeping...

They're eating, eating, and eating. (And, yes, pooping, but we'll save that for another time.) I'm here today to give you a glimpse of the good, the bad, and the exhausted with respect to feeding.

The good: It's so easy to look like a good parent when you're awake and in public. Note the individualized attention I'm able to give Juanito here, the bottle tilted at just the right angle, the child held in the most comfortable position.

But look again. Do you see how fragile this scenario is? It all hinges, really, on Sarita. As long as she's quiet, the scenario is intact, but the moment she decides to scream her Wail of Hunger, I move into doubletime child care, and instead of one child being held, no child is being held, because the parent's hands are busy holding bottles for the two children lying on the blanket/the bed/what have you. (That's why you don't see single parents at the park with their twins-- this shot was taken by Juan during our visit to the Iwo Jima Memorial.)

One might suggest that I stagger the feeding times so that each child has his/her own turn. Nice idea, except that one feeding event can take up to an hour, and with feedings taking place every 3 hours or so,... well, you do the math.

The bad: That's when you're alone and the babies are both, suddenly, famished or otherwise unhappy. They scream like cats and cry unnegotiably. All of this is designed, physiologically, to break my heart.

Sometimes it's not really hunger that's at the root of discontent, but it takes a while to figure this out, bottles flying, spit-up flowing. When all else fails, I turn to the one sure thing that will calm them. I call it "My One Sure Thing," but it's really TWO sure things, if you get my drift. When we're at home, I whip out the EZ2-Nurse Double Breastfeeding Pillow, and voila! I feel like on of those Hopi Storyteller dolls, her children attached to her like Velcro, always wanting more. (If only there were such a Velcro... think of the many uses!)

Equipment aside, part of dealing with crying has been not to let it make me crazy. In the hospital, someone gave me a very useful piece of advice: when the babies cry, just imagine that they're singing to you-- and that crying is the only song they know. This works. When they cry in tandem, I listen for harmonies and try to add the third voice.

Even so, I do become a bit crazy on occasion-- just ask Juan. Luckily, he is able to board the runaway Crazy Train and slow it waaaaay down.

The exhausted: Here, Dad has fallen victim to what I call Baby Bottle Narcolepsy, whereby the feeder loses consciousness within seconds of inserting the bottle into the baby's mouth.

Notice the unfinished bottle in one hand, the TV remotes in the lap, the three-way sleepfest going on. This is our life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's not very often that I actually hold both babies at once. It's a safety thing. Papa Juan took this photo and then de-babied me after the love in. I adore Juanito's expression here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Family Time at Iwo Jima Memorial

I know, I know... going to the Iwo Jima Memorial is not foremost in the minds of most new parents, but after finishing our first infant massage class (more on this later), we found ourselves craving some monument time.

The plan was to find a parking spot near the Lincoln Memorial, but... Right turn here, left turn there, and surprise!-- we're on Memorial Bridge crossing the Potomac. Going with the flow, we found a nice parking spot close to the Iwo Jima Memorial instead. Enter the Double Snap-n-Go stroller, a miracle of engineering that allows us to make our two infant car seats function as a double stroller of sorts.

We happened to arrive as a tour group of WWII veterans were posing for a picture in front of the memorial. I struck up a conversation with one man and learned that they and their families get together in Arlington every year, coming from all over the country. I asked the man where he'd traveled from, and guess what? He's from my home town of Bakersfield, California. Suddenly, I was talking with his friends from Tehachapi and other friends from nearby. Small world.

Then we, the Caballero-Taylors, became the sight to see. Twins! A boy and a girl!

A pair of twins in the group, grown women in their 50's, were alerted to our presence, and suddenly we were having our picture taken with the twin ladies in their matching hats AND their mother (with whom I felt a special instant bond). Lovely.

The weather was lovely, so we took a rest in the shade under some nearby trees. Sarita and Juanito slept soundly on their blanket while their parents marveled at how simple it can be, if only for a matter of an hour or two: these two new people can really go places so long as you've got a well-equipped diaper bag.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Beauty and Progress

Baby Sarah was born at a healthy 6 lb 3 oz, but when we found her having lost more than 10% of her body weight within the first few days, we were advised (by doctor and lactation consultant alike) to try bottle feeding so that we could monitor exactly what she was taking in. It turns out her sucking reflex was weak, so for all of her work, she wasn't getting much at the breast.

Sarah quickly mastered bottles, and it shows! The picture on the left was taken at two weeks of age, and the one on the right at 4 weeks. I think she's gorgeous in both shots, of course, but the change from porcelain doll to thriving baby is striking. (Click on the picture to see a larger version of it-- notice her emerging chubby cheeks!)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Who's who? (Diaper checks are for sissies!)

There's something gratifying about being able to tell your children apart from one another. It helps, of course, that they're not identical and that they have different anatomies, but apart from what is revealed by a quick diaper check, they do resemble one another, don't you think?

Some of the first differences we noticed and still go by include Sarah's heart-shaped face vs. Juan's round face; Sarah's darker, more plentiful hair vs. Juan's lighter hair; Sarah's long, elegant fingers and toes vs. Juan's shorter, stockier deditos; Sarah's vertical frown line on her forehead vs. Juan's horizontal frown line on the bridge of his nose.

But Sarah and Juan are most mutually self-differentiating when they're in motion. Juanito's stock posture gives him an air of Captain Kirk on the control deck: hands out to his side, low and relaxed. He will be a confident, if skeptical leader.

Sarah, meanwhile, is more Adrian Monk (from the TV show, Monk, which I watched a lot of while pregnant), her hands and feet crossing slowly, flourishing and weaving as she takes in the scene before her. She might solve a crime! Swaddle Sarah as tightly as you can, and her escape-artist hands will free themselves-- and awaken their owner-- within the hour.

But what I love most these days are the things Sarah and Juan happen to have in common, due probably more to their developmental stage (remember: primitive creatures) than their personalities.

Rooting: Both kids are charming rooters; this is what they do when they're hungry. Like baby birds, they open their mouths, and with eyes closed (or, extra hungry, wide eyed and wild) they shake their heads back and forth as if saying "no" when in fact they're all about YES: feed me, feed me. The idea being that if they move their mouths back and forth, sooner or later they'll find something nourishing to latch on to. There's this wonderful moment when they find contact with the nipple, but they're still in the throes of "no" wagging, so that for a few seconds before the latch, they're furiously avoiding exactly what they're seeking. I'll miss this when they grow out of it, but I guess it's a good thing to grow out of, no? I mean, I can't really see an adult endearing himself to others with this wild-eyed, open-mouthed, wagging-head dance. Unless you're Mick Jagger.

Startle reflex: Stop a minute and listen to all of the noises that make up the white noise in your environment. Now, pick the most unlikely of the member noises, like clicking your mouse, and imagine being utterly surprised by that sound-- so surprised, in fact that you just have to throw out your arms and legs as if you were riding a big ol' Harley. That's the startle reflex, also called the Moro reflex. Both Juan and Sarah are masters of startle, resembling mad little orchestra conductors getting after the second violins for missing a cue. Be ready! Here we go! Now, PLAY!

Squeaking: Both kids do it, but Sarah's especially fond of squeaking. I think it goes with stretching, which both babies now do with gusto, as well as yawning. Oddly, none of the sounds generated by Juan or Sarah-- including outright screaming-- startles the other in the least. No, that would require a terrible sound, like the sound of a Post-it being removed from its dispenser in the next room.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blode to the Night Nurse

If I could write a poetic ode, I would, but a blog ode, or blode, will have to suffice: after weeks of sleep deprivation, we hired a night nurse to care for the babies so that we could sleep like them. With 7 hours of sleep behind me, I already feel more human, and the babies seem to have fared well. Nurse Brigge (pronounced like "Bridget") will become a recurring character in our new life sitcom, which for now we'll call The Beautiful Primitive Creatures of Lancaster Road.

Friday, August 15, 2008

3 Weeks Old

Our children, these lovely primitive creatures (as our pediatrician describes them at this stage) are twenty-one days old. The living room is Base Camp here at Casa Caballero-Taylor, and the Olympic Games are the backdrop to our own emerging world records: first time reaching out to touch daddy's face, most ounces consumed, weight gained, and the greatest number of poopy diapers produced in a day.

Will you be shocked to know that Mommy has *not* been writing down sweet little details for the creatures' baby books? Time is cruel that way... when we're not feeding one child or the other, we're changing said diapers, and I'm pumping and monitoring milk and formula supply, washing bottles and dishes from our hastily eaten meals, and doing paperwork (babies' social security cards arrived yesterday!). Email is a wonderful treat, and every friend who writes even the shortest message of encouragement and connection with the world beyond is much appreciated.

As I write this, things seem manageable. My lovely husband was up all night con la niña Sarita, who's been congested (docs say it's probably just vernix working its way out of the lungs, but wow can this girl snort and sneeze with the best of 'em). So Juan's now sleeping for a couple of hours by himself and I've got both kids, fed and changed. The niña is sleeping in a donut-shaped "boppy" pillow, the only way she'll sleep today unless she's on your chest, and el niño Juanito is swaddled on me in a sling, first time I've used it, and he seems to really like it. He's the more alert/active of the two at this stage, and I think he gets fussy after after a while of staring into middle space when he's not sleeping or eating. But being in the mommy sling listening to Macy Gray and Talking Heads and REM... I think that's more his style.

Today is the twins' thee-week birthday and, incidentally, the day Nature intended them to be born. Twenty one days since the c-section, and I'm dancing around the house a little bit each morning now; the doc did a good job, I'll say, despite my ongoing disappointment that the birth went such a surgical route. At least the healing has been speedy and most of all, thank goodness the babies are healthy despite their choreographed early arrival.

So here's the birth story, which I'm writing as a form of therapy in an effort to be somewhat done with it. From the start of the pregnancy, my docs insisted that the twins shouldn't stay in utero longer than 37 weeks (full term is 40 weeks), so when the time rolled around and I still hadn't given birth, they recommended induction. By this point, I was physically really miserable (gaining 70 pounds over 6 months will do that to you) and I'd been having heavy contractions for 3 nights in a row, feeling like I was going to go into labor on my own any moment, but also fearing that I wouldn't... that I was in for 3 more weeks of this... so I consented to the induction with the proviso that I'd have one of the docs that was really open to helping me give birth vaginally.

Little did I know that inductions can fail. After 9 hours on a pitocin IV drip (to induce contractions and, by extention, dilation of the cervix), I was contracting every 2 minutes yet had exactly Zero change in my cervix. Imagine. I'd been given an epidural (pain management installed in the spinal cavity) about four hours into the pitocin drip because the physical exams were so excruciating and my anxiety level so high... so by the time the induction was determined to have failed (what a word!), I had two choices: go home pregnant and try again another day (I'm not kidding... this was a stated option) or have a c-section. Well. I was in a state. But I just wasn't prepared to go home having already faced the pitocin and the epidural (the insertion procedure for which was truly hellish) and knowing that I'd face more nights of utter misery and contractions at home. I felt trapped. So there we were, with a c-section.

For the record, the procedure went without a hitch. Babies' heart rates were stellar throughout, as was mine. Juan had a view of the whole process: the layered incisions, the retrieval of Baby A (Sarah) followed by Baby B (Juan), and the methodical suturing, moving up layer by layer until all that showed was a 5-inch incision below my belly. I felt nothing and everything: the anesthesiologist works a kind of magic that lets you feel movement (e.g. someone pressing down on your abdomen) but not pain. Such medical advances remind me that we humans are very advanced creatures in some respects.

So why the long face? The delivery of my healthy babies is of course a gigantic consolation, but then again their health was never in question. So I'm grappling with anger about this medicalized chain of events that seemed so avoidable and yet so inevitable. I'd spent MONTHS working to avoid precisely this scenario, yet in the end, surgery was used to deliver two perfectly healthy babies who were showing no signs of stress, who were entirely capable of being delivered vaginally from a mother who also was fine (though freaked out). For my doctor, for the medical practice to which she belonged, and for the medical system of which they are a part, it was simply efficient and, from a risk management (read: insurance) perspective, low risk to move ahead with a c-section.

Well, let them try being on the receiving end. The birth experience left me reeling, especially for the first week when the incisions were painful enough to inspire taking heavy doses of oxycontin-- ooh, I could fly! The residual hormones floating around made me prone to crying jags. Husband, parents and friends have been sympathetic and understanding, lucky for me, but these thoughts are enduring enough that I feel the need to write them down.

Crying jags aside, I haven't suffered signs of postpartum depression. I'm enjoying my babies, even when they're screaming simultaneously... I just think of their wailing as their own special kind of singing, since wailing is all they can do, acoustically speaking. And maybe it *is* singing, for all we know. So I sing back at them and I dance. Fifty of those 70 pounds I gained have magically disappeared, allowing me to move like I haven't moved since last April (go breast feeding diet). And wonder of wonders, my hands are working again, the carpal-tunnel symptoms having retreated, which means I have almost full sensation in my fingertips.

That said, these fingers are ready to take a rest, so I'll stop here.