“What’s this on the schedule for tomorrow at one?” Husband asked, scrolling through his phone.
The unusualness of our lives struck me again. Not everyone’s calendar had Pick up babies plugged into it on just any old Thursday.
“Yeah, I meant to tell you. We’re getting babies.” I swiveled the chair away from the computer to face him. “Six-month-old twin girls.”
“Huh.” He nodded a whaddayaknow? as if I had just said I put milk on the grocery list. “Sounds good. For how long?”
“A week?” I always punctuated our Safe Families placement timelines with a question mark. Life happens, after all, and sometimes the moms needed more days.
My mind spun back to the five-month-old twins we had hosted for one night in 2012. We had been raw from lack of sleep the next morning and foggy on who had gotten up in the night with whom and at what time. And that was just one night. But this placement might be different. Maybe these babies would sleep through the night. Or now that our own girls were older and it was still summer vacation, maybe they’d volunteer for a shift or two during the wee hours.
I announced our upcoming placement to Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka. Even at age twelve, Dicka squealed and clapped her hands over her mouth like I had given her a hundred bucks for no reason. The other two smiled and nodded at the mention of twins.
The next day, I picked up the babies. Their mom teared up when she talked of letting them go, but she needed to, she said. She had applications to fill out and lines to wait in that would be too difficult to tackle with “all the babies.” So, we signed the papers that granted us joint custody of the little ones while they were in our care, and she briefed me on their needs and habits.
The babies, Mitsy and Minnie, locked eyes with me, broke out in smiles, and pumped their chubby legs. Once I got them home, the girls scooped them from their car seats, commencing what would turn into a six-day holding fest.
The babies kicked off Thursday night—their first night in our home—with some squawks, but by midnight both were snoozing in separate pack-n-plays—something their mom had requested. “If they sleep together, they’ll just wake each other,” she had said. Minnie woke up once in the night, but Mitsy didn’t make a peep until six. This wouldn’t be so bad, I told myself as I smooched their cheeks on Friday morning and dressed them.
By Friday’s bedtime, however, the babies’ mewling showed me they preferred snuggling in my arms to sleeping alone. And as the hours passed, they seemed to decide some extra snacks in the night would be a fun idea too. But I could feed them until they dozed again and then transfer them to their beds while they slept. And since their schedules were staggered, I could handle them both without calling in reinforcements.
The next day, Dicka held Mitsy and kissed her repeatedly on the nose. “If their mom decides she doesn’t want them, could we adopt them?” she asked me between pecks.
“She does want them." I moved Minnie up to my shoulder and patted her bottom. “But okay, yeah. Of course we’d adopt them.”
While the rest of my family snored on Saturday night, I got up with one or the other of the babies every forty-five minutes. Husband would agree to help if I woke him, but what was the point? He could sleep through the crying, and I couldn’t. If I nudged him awake, I’d stay awake too, so the extra hands would accomplish nothing.
With the endless night hours stretched out in front of me, I reflected on our time with the babies: their kitchen sink baths that produced mini tsumanis, their smiles and wiggles when the girls reached for them, and Minnie’s relaxed nature contrasted with Mitsy’s spunky personality.
When I got off the night shift the next morning, I clambered for the coffee pot. After a few gulps of the fresh brew, I felt pretty good. I could do this thing for a week. The mother of the babies had kept up the grueling pace for six months. No doubt about it, she was Superwoman, and I intended to tell her so.
On our way out the door on Sunday, one of the little ones spit up on Husband’s white linen shirt. Since his arms were full of babies, I dashed for a clean rag and dabbed at the soaked fabric.
He bunched his lips to one side. “Maybe I should change.”
“You’re fine now,” I said when I had finished.
But I didn’t tell him that for the rest of the day he smelled like a pickle. Because he probably already knew it.
*The pictures below are posted with permission from the babies' mom.
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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.