The White Knuckle Grip

I knew I was going to be extra cautious driving the #BrunoBrothers home from the hospital. Yes, they finally came home!!!!! The nurse asked me how I was feeling that morning. Me with 2 empty car seat in hand, knowing they would be filled and a few pounds heavier in just a few hours said, I’m as giddy as dog in a biscuit factory.

The #BrunoBrothers ready for their 1st car ride.

The #BrunoBrothers ready for their 1st car ride.

As I carefully reinstalled, checked, and quadruple checked the car seats in the hospital parking lot, my lovely wife, Jenny was packing up our stuff upstairs. We said goodbye to the fountain where we spent just about every night since June 21st. (It’s a pretty spot at the hospital entrance). We said goodbye to some fantastic nurses that we were so grateful for. And we said goodbye to a chapter we were glad to finish.

I consider myself a very good driver (insert Rainman pun)… even though my lovely wife calls me the most distracted driver she’s ever driven with. I beg to differ. I’m usually well aware of the cars that are surrounding me. It was different this time. Yes, the white knuckle grip of death was surrounding my steering wheel. But as I was driving home, all my senses were fully alert. I could have recalled how many cars were on the road, their colors and model types. I’m exaggerating of course, but you know what I mean.

I’m guessing that’s my PDI – Protective Daddy Instinct, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time.

It’s also me, trying desperately to remember each moment. Like the blue sky over the fountain, the smell of the hospital hallways, the smile each person gave as we walked down to the car, the idiot in the red Buick who was on his phone on I-630. Walking around the living room with Lucas and showing him his new backyard. The look of wonder on our dog’s and cat’s faces.

Jack is pretty excited about his new playmates.

Jack is pretty excited about his new playmates.

The look of pure joy on our faces. And the complete worry we felt when Elijah was having some trouble eating. We kept our wits, however. Found the culprit and made some adjustments. But you can bet we were white knuckling it.

Elijah says to skip the fuss and order a pizza!

Elijah says to skip the fuss and order a pizza!

See, that white knuckle grip isn’t just on steering wheels. We use it on life as well, because shit gets real scary sometimes. Including bringing 2 newborns home from the hospital. The thing I try to remember is to loosen up and let the blood flow back to my fingers.

I love my wife!

I love my wife!

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It feels like forever… and a day.

Gerry, Lucas, & Elijah

 

That’s what it feels like. To have your newborn babies here, but not actually home. My friend and coworker Joyce Smith said, “it’s like getting to open all your Christmas presents but not be able to play with them.” So true.
It also feels like limbo because we don’t have an end date. The doctors can’t tell us when the boys will be home because there are so many variables. So it feels like forever… and a day.

But they are doing great. Learning to feed is the last step. Once they can feed naturally 8 times in 24 hours they’ll be able to come home. Jenny, my lovely wife, and I commented on how empty our house feels, even though they haven’t been there yet. It feels like they should be.

So, in the meantime, we make the best of it.
We sing, we read, we dance. We try to be normal.

I look into their faces and blur the edgesf to create a new background. It’s like using green screen on a tv or film set, only with my imagination and voice. Instead of seeing their faces surrounded by wires, beeping machines, and fluorescent lighting, I imagine the beach and tell the boys how the water will chase their little toes while they squeak with delight. I tell them all about zoo and let them hear the great sounds of an elephant. I paint the picture of a hike in the woods and tell them about the birds we’re going to see. Then I show them the sunset and we just sit and watch, feeling the warmth on our skin.

Soon this WILL be our normal. Until then, my imagination and storytelling skills are getting some much needed excercise.

Feel free to comment on ways you cope with stress or feel free to share this post with someone you think may need it.

I’m The Milkman

Let’s face in. When it comes to pregnancy and the first few months of a child’s life, your wife is the starting quarterback and us guys are the 3rd stringers, desperate to get in the game. At least some of us are. I’ll never understand fathers who want to be on the sidelines, content to watch from a far. Anyway, to get back to my point, women have to endure changes to their body, constant nausea, difficulty in breathing, and slew of other things that usually make pregnancy very difficult to endure. Same with a starting QB. He gets hit, tackled, stepped on, blindsided and just plain ol beat up. The 3rd stringers would LOVE to get a small piece of that. I can’t imagine what it’s like to grow a human inside me. I can only observe and to me it’s beautiful. Even now, I watch my lovely wife feed our boys and it leaves me in awe. But still, I want to get in the game. I want to do anything possible to help, or be a part of the experience. So I make deliveries. Since the #BrunoBrothers are still in the NICU, Jenny, my lovely wife, is pumping during the night. I can’t really help here but what I can do, is deliver the milk to the hospital every morning. Essentially, I’m the Milkman. And I love it. Every morning I get to see my smiling, beautiful boys and contribute in an ever so small way. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m changing diapers, soothing their cries, reading to them, and having my own bonding time, but being “The Milkman” makes me feel part of the magical experience of providing important nutrition for my boys. I know it’s nowhere near the experience a woman feels but it’s as close as I can get for now… At least until I’m able to give them a bottle. For now, I’ll gladly be “The Milkman.” 

Milkman

The Earth split… I fell in.

It’s impossible to communicate what it feels like when a doctor says there is something wrong with your new son. No matter what they say after that initial reveal, the earth splits open and you fall in.  The doctors told us that one of our boys, Lucas, has a small hole in his heart. That’s where the earth opened for me.  Never mind that he said It’s very common and happens to a lot of premature babies.  It’s called ventricular septal defect (VSD).  It will (hopefully) close up on its own after a few months… Still, the earth opened and I fell in.  It’s a feeling of helplessness. I can’t do anything to protect my new son and it’s awful.  It was exacerbated by walking in and seeing blue lights shinning down on his tiny little body.

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Another very common side effect of premie babies they refer to as Bilirubin.  Just the day before, as I walked through the NICU and saw blue lights spilling from room to room, I thought how grateful I was that my boys didn’t need that. Well, so much for stress free dad. I’ve since renamed the bililights as “Blue Lights of Hope”.

But after having the doctor explain the situation 3 more times, my unrelenting google searches, and leaving the hospital to get some air, I climbed back out of the hole. Leaving to get some air gave me time to let it all out, stop, take a breath, and asses the situation.  It sucks, yes. But both Lucas and Elijah are going to be fine. Every day the nurses tell us how great they’re doing.  I think the nurses all have crushes on my boys.  But who wouldn’t?  IMG_5094

Lucas                                     Elijah

Thankfully my lovely wife, Jenny was released from the hospital.  When we got home we found this.

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My neighbors created the most awesome signs EVER!

We brought this one over to the #BrunoBrothers lair at the hospital. It’s a big hit.

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I’m so grateful to all the people that have shared their love and support. I promise my boys will grow up knowing how they are loved by the social media family.

 

The force is strong with my little Padawans!

Waiting for the #BrunoBrothers

There’s no way to explain what it feels like to sit in a hospital room, waiting for the birth of your babies… Yes, we’re having twins. As my incredible wife tries to rest, I watch the baby heartbeats and her blood pressure numbers… Which at first were way too high and then too low and now looking good. I guess that’s how my emotions feel. I’m on a roller coaster and have been for 3 weeks now, since Jenny, my incredibly beautiful and talented wife who is going to make the most incredible mom, was checked into the hospital because one of the twin’s water broke. I usually try to stay calm all the time. I feel like, worrying over things you can’t control is like getting punched in the face by your own fist. Well, sometimes my fist finds its way to my face. I know things will be ok. I can truly feel it. Still my fist finds my face. When that happens, the center of my forehand feels like it’s getting hit with a baseball over and over, hence the fist to the face. But like I said, I usually try to stay calm, especially as I get older. I try to do this by first bringing myself back to the present moment, not thinking about what happened or what’s to happen. Just this moment, right now with a deep breath. Then I say to myself, no one is dying. This gives me perspective and helps make a better decision. It doesn’t always work, as the past 3 weeks have reminded me. But it does help. For those of you who know how hard it was for us to get to this point, you’ll understand what and why I’m feeling the way I am. For those that don’t, I’ll probably talk about it in another post but you can read a little bit about it in the Arkansas Times article that my good friend David Koon wrote. http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/baby-boom/Content?oid=3207782

And so, as I sit in the hospital, waiting for my babies to be born, my fist repeatedly finding my face, I’m writing this to remind myself to take a breath. To remind myself that I want to teach my boys to always take a breath. I know I’ll never be stress free but if I remind myself to take a breath I may be able to dodge the fist on every other punch.

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