Boy Talk

A few weeks ago I wrote about periods and puberty as it relates to girls and young women and several parents inquired as to what body books were recommended for pre-pubescent (and pre-pre-pre pubescent) boys.

I will be perfectly honest. I had no experience with books on puberty for boys, but I started to think, "Hmmmm... I should know this. I should know which books to recommend AND I should have some of these books at home probably. Maybe? Is it too late?"

I am not a books-as-resource person, usually, but after looking through Fable's American Girl Body Book I realized how important it is for children to have books and material THEY can study on their own time. Sometimes a kid doesn't want to talk to her mom about all of the things and that's perfectly okay. I'm never going to force a conversation with my kids. Consent works in all directions.

That said, there is a reason I wrote a "period piece" and not a testicle tale. I am a woman and I have no experience in a male body. And while some men/dads/male caretakers are really into sitting down and having all the talks with their sons, many are... not. Vulnerability is not something men were typically raised to be praised for back in the day, you know what I mean? P.S. Here is a GREAT guide re: talking to sons about sex/sexuality.

ED: Last night, I told Archer I was working on a post about puberty and boys and I asked him what he thought boys would prefer when it came time for their parents to have "the talk" with them:

1. To be given books to look at themselves and ask questions later.
2. To talk about puberty/sex stuff in a casual way with their parents/caretakers (which is what we do now)
3. To wait until the teacher brought it up during sex-ed.

His answer was 2.

I was surprised and then I wasn't... We have been talking about bodies and puberty and periods and semen and pubes and all of the things since he (and everyone else) was a toddler. When you raise children with open conversation as it pertains to body changes, sexuality et al, shame kind of goes out the window. (For now, anyway.)

And yet, for some parents its very difficult to go there. (I feel like this is one of those times where your upbringing plays a HUGE part in the way you raise your kids. I have several friends who were raised in super religious households where masturbation was a sin and nobody so much as SPOKE of sex as it pertained to anyone who wasn't married and I know how much of a struggle these conversations are for them.)

Which is why books written specifically for pre/pubescent boys can be super helpful when it comes to all this stuff. Because it's inevitable, folks. Your tiny baby will soon be a young man. And it will have been your job to equip him with the knowledge and resources to navigate his adolescence. Because if you don't? His friends at school, the movies he watches, porn he downloads, will. 

You can read my entire post, here... 


I wrote this in my Umbro shorts. Umbro shorts. I wrote this evening's blog post in my Umbro shorts.


This week was hysterically bad. Like, I CAN'T STOP LAUGHING TO KEEP FROM CRYING bad. I mean, we literally have a dead animal in our wall that is stinking up our entire house which is the least of this week's problems. And yet. SUCH A METAPHOR for this week, you guys. THE METAPHORIST of metaphors.

I just hope it decomposes soon, you know what I mean? Without doing any permanent damage to our nostrils.

(This week was a pile of shit for everyone I know so I feel like I'm not being totally presumptuous when I say GOOD RIDDANCE, WEEK! YOU MAY FUCK RIGHT OFF, YOU MAY!)

Luckily, things exist to make us laugh. Which is why as I ice my swollen ankle (caused by an incident with a broken flip flop and a steep hill) and type these words on a computer that has blitzed out on me twice this week, rendering hours of work lost forever,  I present: ACTIVE WEARThe only good thing that came out of the last few days.

Besides all the Pope stuff. GO, POPE STUFF!

And speaking of Activewear, which I don't really even own, where does one BUY "activewear" that isn't hundreds of dollars? I will never be able to justify dropping 50 bucks on a sports bra, let alone 80 or 165. I'd rather wear my old nursing bra tank top with the things on the straps and my old Umbro soccer shorts from 9th grade. (Which is what I've been doing. Every day.)

Hook me up, Activewearers! Because for the first time in my life, I actually NEED Activewear. I also need next week to be a little more pleasant for everyone, because, DUDE.

Let us pray. 


Life's a Trip... let

photo-1 Minna, Joe and Grandma Betty, 1929 photo Minna, Joe and Betty, 2013

Last month I posted some photos on social media that included my grandmother and her triplet sister and brother. Recently this article surfaced which named the oldest living triplets and I would venture to guess the Hocky trips are in the top five AT LEAST. (They're 88.)

Their story is pretty incredible, considering they were born in 1927. Their birth was such an anomaly that Ripley gave them a signed copy of his Believe it or Not book, with signatures from all of the New York personalities of the day.
"To the Hocky triplets..." it read, and as a kid we all used to fawn over the book like it was the greatest treasure in all the land. (We were all obsessed with Ripley's Believe it Or Not.)

Obviously, in those days there was no way to know you were having a multiple birth, so when my great grandmother went to the hospital to deliver her second child and THREE came out... I mean... can you even imagine? VAGINALLY, no less. HOT DAMN, SUPERWOMAN.

I often thought of Great-Grandma Belle whenever I felt overwhelmed with my twins -- grateful to have modern amenities and technological advancements. (When they were infants, my grandmother and her triplet siblings almost died of pneumonia but Grandma Belle stayed up all night, turned up the heat, and put wet cloths on all the radiators -- turning the apartment into a steam bath and clearing out all those little lungs. She also got up at every morning at 4am to prepare the bottles for the day and spent a good part of those first few years hand-washing 7868768787 diapers a day.)

My Grandma, Betty, and her sister, Minna are identical and they have a fraternal brother named Joe.
Every year on their birthdays, they get together and celebrate and my grandma and her identical twin sister regularly show up to the same event in matching clothes on accident.
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In my grandma's words:

I was the last of the triplets born. My brother Joseph arrived first followed by my sister Minna. We were each 3-4 pounds at birth and put in incubators. My parents had no idea they were having a multiple birth since there were no ultrasounds in those days. What a shock! They had a daughter who was 2 1/2 years old at our birth. From then on my mother always said "I liked the sample so I stocked up".

We moved to Far Rockaway after a few months where we had wonderful summers on the beach. Then we moved to the Bronx and on to mid- Manhattan to attend school . We had fun times growing up in a very normal, loving home. The three of us attended college in New York City. (Joseph is a lawyer, Minna was a travel agent, and I was an elementary school teacher.)

Although we do not live near each other we are in constant contact with our siblings and every year, on our birthday, we spend the week together in matching berets. (Not really.)

My mother, Belle, was an amazing woman. She lived to the ripe old age of 96 with all her faculties. Although she had very little formal education she had a great deal of common sense and an amazing talent at numbers. My father was a businessman and was very creative. Both instilled good values and a love for the arts, and commitment to family and friends. I was blessed to be surrounded by a large loving family. (Now I have six children which includes my two sons and one daughter and their spouses. My claim to fame is that I have identical twin grandsons and twin great granddaughters!)

- Gigi
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I'm on a bit of a family tour right now here on GGC.  I am a big fan of these people, if you haven't noticed, and I find every one of them far too fascinating to keep them to myself...  My brother's up next. YOU'RE UP NEXT, DAVID!

Happy Thursday almost Friday, all!
IMG_0191 GGC

Eat Well: Get a Shroom

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, Mom!

A friend of mine emailed me the other day to ask if I had a good recipe for veggie burgers. I gave her my garbanzo bean ball (or patty) recipe and also Kris Carr’s Black Bean and Roasted Sweet Potato recipe, but also told her that my go-to veggie “burger” isn’t a burger at all, but rather a marinated Portobello mushroom. I don’t know about you but when we bar-b-q, it’s most likely because it is either too hot to cook (it’s still HOT in Southern California) or I’m not in the mood. So the idea of spending a lot of time making the burger isn’t appealing to me and most veggie burger recipes are time consuming. It’s hard to find a really good packaged veggie burger (although I occasionally like the crunchiness of Qrunch quinoa burgers and the flavor of some of the Dr. Pragers burgers). That being said, nothing beats the flavor and texture of a marinated Portobello mushroom. In fact, when we have a bar-b-q, I have to make enough mushrooms for the meat eaters in our family, too, because everyone wants one!

In my opinion, the key to any good bar-b-q sandwich, meat or veggie, is providing lots of delicious toppers. My favorites are roasted peppers, caramelized onions, sliced avocado (or guacamole), fresh raw sauerkraut, heirloom tomatoes, pesto, and horseradish, but I always serve mayo, mustard, pickles, and ketchup for the traditionalists. Portobello mushrooms are amazing with caramelized onions and/or roasted peppers and a thick slice of ripe tomato and/or avocado. If you like cheese on your “burger,” you can add a slice of your favorite cheese at the end of grilling.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Peppers

4 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removed (save for another dish)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 T soy sauce (can use tamari or Braggs for gluten free option)
3 T olive oil
3-4 minced garlic cloves
2 large sweet onions
Roasted peppers (can use prepared jarred peppers)
Condiments of your choosing

Lay mushrooms flat in a shallow dish. Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic and pour over the mushrooms.
Marinate for 2 hours at room temperature, turning several times.

Meanwhile, slice onions and sauté on medium low heat in butter or oil until brown and caramelized.

Brush oil on pre-heated medium-high grill.

Add marinated mushrooms and grill for about 5 minutes on a side. They should be tender and a little shriveled looking. (If adding cheese, top during the last minute or so, or until melted.)

Serve on warmed or lightly toasted bun topped with onions, peppers, and other condiments of your choosing.


And for those looking to "get a shroom" with other kinds of mushrooms, here are three favorite recipes from years past: 
Orecchiette with Two Mushrooms and Rosemary
Big love to all!


PAL-lates: A love story

11406914_10153482089593755_2504076508017785536_n My PALate and me. photo via  Emily Wagner. 

This week on, I wrote about Pilates. I also wrote about PALates, which are pals you go to Pilates with, which, for me, has made ALL the difference. Behold: 

For the last ten years, whenever anyone has so much as mentioned working out or hitting the gym or joining a gym or taking a class or, you know, EXERCISE, I've responded with the same stock answer.

"There's just no time you guys. There just isn't any time."

It's always been true, of course. It still is true. But only because there will never be time for the things that are important to my well-being unless I commit to making them a priority. It is so easy to write that in a sentence on a computer, but this has been a daily struggle for me my whole life. I do not know how to put my physical well-being first or even second. Or third. Or fourth. Or fifth...

...It's so cliche, isn't it? The parent who shleps her kids to six extra-curricular activities a week but cannot find the time to commit to one class for herself. I have wanted to smack myself in the face for not DOING what I KNOW I should be doing on so many occasions.

And then, six weeks ago, everything changed...

....It takes a village to raise a family but it takes a friend to raise a woman from the depths of her own pile of excuses. It does for me, anyway.

When I think of SQUAD GOALS, I think of PARTNERS, not POSSES.

And Chelsea spoke to my SOUL when she asked me to join her as her plus one. Sometimes one needs to be invited into a new lifestyle in order to attend one. Or something.

"I'm in," I said, before ordering a full month of classes and setting my alarm for 5:30am the following morning.

I immediately regretted it, of course. Waking up in the pitch dark, cursing as I stepped into my Yoga pants. But then? I thought of Chels. Up at the same fucking bullshit hour. Cursing the alarm and her own shoe she could not find the match to.

We were in this thing together. And it felt really good.

That was fifteen classes ago. Not one of which we have missed. Three days a week, at the buttcrack of dawn, I show up at Chelsea's place, text "I'm here!" and away we go into the nightday...
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It has not been easy, of course. Waking up in the pitch dark. Barely being able to walk for the first two weeks. Getting yelled at by Glen who is quite possibly the scariest instructor of anything I have ever known. Not to mention the fact that our pilates studio is a magnet for West Hollywood's hottest supermodels, all of whom are in incredible shape and can do one-handed planks like it's nothing.

But fuck it, you know? We're in this thing together. Cursing and sweating and wearing the clothes we slept in the night before. We may be hot messes but we are hot messes AS A TEAM and that, for me, has made all the difference.

When you have a pal to whisper profanities to, anything is possible. When you feel like you might pass out and die, having someone you adore on the megaformer beside you makes it feel kind of worth it.
Solidarity. It's a powerful thing...
You can read my entire post, here... 


"How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?"

Redah, United States via Morocco

Bosba Panh and her little brother, Cambodia

Noam Nativ, Israel

Kabul Refugee Camp/Orphanage, Afghanistan

Satine and Coline, France

Jaiwant Nana, New Zealand

John Pan, Germany via China 

Apolline Magnet and Nicolas Meslin, Italy

"3 Magkaibigan", The Philippines 

Shota Adamashvili, Georgia 

Loten Namling, Switzerland via India 

PS22 Chorus, United States of America


247. Blowin' in the Wind, covered by the voices of the world

Paint Life Grand: A Guest Post by Nana

The following post was written by my Nana, Pat Welsh. Thank you, Nana!
One day on Pond Island after breakfast when I was ten years old, my father, Emerson Fisher-Smith, turned to me and asked, “How would you like to go painting with me?” The day before, he and three other men lined up their easels in front of the Big House and painted the same view in oils. I was pleased Dad chose me for a companion the next day, especially when he said he’d like us to paint a giant blue spruce on the edge of the trail to the lighthouse. Nearby was a fallen tree trunk where Dad and I could sit side-by-side and in front of us, between the tree and our fallen log was a small clearing where the ground rang hollow under foot. Older folks swore there was a treasure chest buried there, perhaps by pirates. Someday they meant to dig it up, but no one ever did.

Dad had brought watercolors for each of us in a blue denim bag stuffed with everything we needed.

“First, study the scene in front of you,” he said. “Put your fingers together like this and compose your picture.” He made a square with his fingers and peered through it with one eye. “Look at that tree on the left with its flat top, thick trunk and few big branches with blue sky between them. See the green grass at the bottom of the view, the clearing in the middle, the bushes and trail through the woods on the right.” He showed me how to put the tree above the foreground and on one side. “Now,” he said, “Draw it as well as you can.”

When I was done he said, “Good!” unscrewed the top of his old army canteen and poured water into a jar for me and another jar for him.

“What’s the lightest thing you see?” he asked.

“The sky?”

 “Correct!” said Dad, “So mix up a big puddle of blue on your palette and paint your sky first. With your left hand, hold your painting upside down and begin painting at the horizon and work your wet paint quickly all the way to the top of the picture, which is pointing down. That way the sky will always be lighter at the horizon and darker above, as it is in nature.” As Dad talked he demonstrated on his painting, but never touched mine. 

“Dry your brush on your paint rag and use it to wipe off the excess paint from the top of the sky. Then you can put your paper right side up again and lay it flat. Now don’t touch it again until it’s dry.”

“I’ll show you how to paint clouds another time,” he said. “Just remember with watercolors you leave bare paper where you want something to be white and you always paint from light to dark. Oil paints are the opposite. So, now, tell me? What’s your next lightest thing?”

“The grass!” I said.

“Yes,” said Dad, “so paint the light green foreground next since it doesn’t touch the sky. That way they won’t run together and spoil your painting. Always let each area dry before you allow another wet area to touch it.”

It took us most of the morning to finish our paintings. Dad showed me on his painting how to do each step. When all the areas looked finished and had dried, Dad said,  “Now point to your light source.” I pointed at the sun, straight up but a little to the left.  

“Okay,” said Dad, “So where are the shadows?”

“All over the place.”

Dad laughed. “You’re right but I’ll give you a little trick. If the sun is overhead, just choose the direction of the light when you began and paint your shadows on the opposite side. Mix Ultra Marine Blue with Burnt Sienna and you’ll get a beautiful gray. Paint that onto the right-hand side of your tree trunk and shrubs and under the branches and foliage and use it to make a patch of shadow on the ground under the tree but mostly on the right.”

When I’d finished I was excited. Dad took my painting and propped it against a bush so I could see it at a distance.

“That’s really good,” said Dad. “Now sign it down here on the right.” I carefully penciled “Pat Fisher-Smith”.

Dad told me to bring my painting to dinner that night and show it to the grown ups. They oohed and aahed. The cousin we kids called “Aunt Bess” pinned it on the wall, where it stayed all summer. Years later another cousin about my age said, “They made such a fuss over your painting, but I didn’t think it was all that good.” It probably wasn’t, but no one told me and that gave me courage to continue.

When I was a kid I had two dads encouraging me to paint. My other father figure was my eccentric stepfather Geoffrey Morris, fashion photographer and avid gardener. He gave me art supplies every year for Christmas. I put Geoff in one of my books. Geoff was far more fun to write about than to live with, but in more than one respect he had a positive influence on my life. When I was 13 Geoff said, “You can’t paint well without first learning to draw well. If you learn to draw the human figure, you can draw anything. “ For Christmas that year he gave me a book called “Anyone Can Draw,” by Arthur Zaidenberg

That book taught me to draw.
At ScrippsCollege I majored in English but studied watercolor with Millard Sheets and oilswith Henry Lee McFee. Then, six weeks before I graduated I went on a blind date and met a wonderful man, a Los Angeles lawyer called Louis M. Welsh. Before dinner that evening he engaged me in a one-hour conversation. At the end of it he proposed and I accepted. Six weeks later on my graduation day we were married. Soon I had a family, house and garden to care for. There was no time to paint. It wasn’t until we began taking vacations that I struck on a solution. While Lou took a nap or read a book after lunch, I had time to paint a watercolor. Lou loved my paintings even when I didn’t. After he died I forgot how to paint, but finally got it back.          
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These days I paint in oils in my garden with friends and family, but when traveling I stick to watercolors and pen and ink. I wear a photographer’s vest with pockets carrying a drawing pencil, pencil sharpener and eraser, a 3”X5” Moleskine™ notebook withwatercolor pages, and a Winsor Newton Professional Traveling Paint Kit with a paint rag wrapped around it secured with a rubber band. (Professional paint is more expensive than student grade, such as Cotman, but it’s worth it.)
I also carry 1 or 2 fine Pigma Micron Archival Black Ink pens. (The ink in this brand does not run when one paints over it.)  
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Instead of taking photos as I travel, I make quick sketches in pencil, improve them in ink, and paint them immediately if time permits, later if not.  I paint on the right hand pages and write notes facing them. These Moleskine™ sketchbooks are a lasting pleasure, a record of my travels, inspiration for oil paintings, and source of many friendships.
Archer & Nana sketching in Starksboro, Vermont
photo 3 (50)
People ask me where I get my equipment. They tell me they want to do the same or pass on the idea to a wife, child or friend. Watching me churn out these little pictures makes folks realize it’s not all that difficult.
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 So thank you, Dad, for spending that magical morning teaching me to paint. I still turn my watercolors upside down and paint the sky first. And thank you, Geoff and Lou, Millard Sheets, and Henry Lee McFee. All through the years my love of painting that began on Pond Island when I was ten years old has remained an integral part of my happiness and passion for life.
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Sugar and Spice and Everything Lice

This week on, I'm talking about lice, because in the last two weeks since school began, everyone and their mother has either found my blog by searching "FUCK! My kid has lice!" and/or emailed me about lice prevention for back-to-school.

And so! Without further ado:


When Fable first came home from Preschool with her/our first case of lice, back in 2012, I lost my mind. I was one of the parents in a mass email that went out notifying of a lice breakout at school and when one of the parents casually reply-alled saying, "Not to worry! My older daughter gets lice all the time. It's no big deal," I lost my mind, wrote a scathing email in response and promptly had a panic attack. I blamed absolutely everyone for the lice Fable, the twins, Archer and I HAD, assuming someone was out to get us.
Fable with Cetaphil hair, circa 2012
I took it personally.

Which was ridiculous, of course, but I was overwhelmed and upset and trying to find something/someone to blame. SOMEONE gave it to us, after all.

And yet, that is precisely the kind of logic that keeps a community from talking, helping and ridding their classrooms and children of head lice. Because, while SOMEONE gave lice to my kids. MY KIDS gave for sure gave it someone else. I mean, they had to of. THEY WERE INFESTED.

And I had no idea! I didn't even think to check until I read the email. just figured we all had dry scalps or something. Luckily, we were with my mother when the email came through and my mom knew what to look for and taught me how to remove nits and when the kids went back to school, I offered the knowledge my mom had passed down to me to fellow parents and teacher, volunteering my lice-searching services in the kids' classes to check for lice every now and then. (Our school nurse doesn't do that/we don't really have a school nurse/LAUSD ahem.) I also talked about lice prevention whenever possible. Even when nobody wanted to talk about it back.

Because here's the thing. Lice has become an epidemic that nobody wants to touch even though it touches ALL OF US. Repeatedly. Everywhere. Even in rich and famous circles, you guys. No one is safe.


And so. Today I have three lists of things that may be helpful for those of you who have never had lice, are currently dealing with lice, would like to focus on an offensive strategy to combat lice... And you can find all of those lists (and more) right over here. AKA, Let me take you on a licecapade. (Let's go!


#FBF: Bo and Revi's Birth Story

Bo and Revi turn four this weekend so today I'm reposting their birth story. All three acts of it. Goddamn, that went fast. And slow. And fast. And slow. But mostly fast... 

It was the broken water that first woke me. Not mine, but the sprinklers which at 1:36 am were still running. I wasn't paying attention to the time, only that the running water outside was taunting my bladder more than usual. I pulled myself out of my rented Orthopedic bed and made my way down the hall to the bathroom... except...
What the fuck?

I was... dripping something. My first thought "Oh, great. I'm peeing myself." I figured exhaustion had robbed me of all bladder control. I scampered waddled briskly toward the toilet to relieve myself like a proper adult. Except after I peed, I was still... peeing?

Five minutes later Hal knocked on the door. Apparently I'd been pacing, banging around and talking to myself. (Exhaustion robbing me of all sense, too.)

"Are you okay?"

"I'm not sure," I answered.

I pointed to the towel between my legs and mumbled something about water pouring out of my vagina but not to worry because I'm on WEB MD, ready to diagnose why I'm hugely pregnant AND leaking water.

This is going to sound totally crazy to you I'm sure, and trust me, it feels INSANE typing it, but I honestly hadn't the faintest clue I was in labor. I had never broken my water before. My last two labors consisted of doctors sticking long, sharp tools up inside me in order to "puncture my bags" because at five and six centimeters, my water refused to break on its own.

I assumed if my water were to ever break on its own it would be like in the movies where "pregnant actress in a business suit" steps onto the New York sidewalk and BAM! Cue: bucket-sized gush of water followed by "flagging of taxi," followed by entrance into taxi, followed by the line: "Mount Sinai and please step on it, sir!"

... This was not a gush. This was a trickle. A trickle that didn't intend to stop but also, maybe this was normal? What the fuck do I know? Nothing. So I sat on the edge of the bathtub and googled.

"You know you have an ACTUAL DOCTOR you can call, right? Instead of sitting on a towel on a toilet with WEB MD?"

This is the thing about me. I am a reverse-hypochondriac. I assume everything is fine and normal and hate bothering anyone with anything. Especially in the middle of the night.

"But it's 2 am!"




That's when my trickle turned into a stream and...


I straddled towel #2 and got on the phone, apologizing fourteen times before explaining to the doctor that I had soaked through two towels and yes, the fluid was clear and no, I didn't feel like I was in labor but I might be? Maybe? I don't know?

I was told to come to the hospital right away.

Hal was already packing his bag. He kept asking me what he should bring and I kept telling him "I don't know" and we both kept bumping into each other, rounding up various items we would never in a million years need.

Him: Four pairs of jeans and an electric shaver.
Me: Makeup

Hal and I had yet to put a plan in place in case of this kind of middle-of-the-night-have-to-go-to-hospital-but-kids-are-asleep situation. Luckily, my friend Danielle was awake when Hal called and was able to get from Silverlake to West Hollywood in a miraculous seven minutes.
very flattering photo via Dani's phone.

Hal and I woke the kids to tell them we'd BRB, gotta go have some babies, called my mom to tell her to come on down (up) and after pacing the house for twenty more minutes for no good reason, Hal grabbed our bags and we fled the scene.

Outside, the sprinklers were still on, a broken pipe was shooting a geyser into the air, and our entire yard was flooded. In our mad dash to the hospital, we barely noticed. I pressed the towel between my legs and waded through our swamp of a front yard on my way to the car.

By the time we got to the hospital I was on towel five and Hal was on the phone with the water company trying to figure out how to turn the fucking water off.

"This break is going to cost us a fortune!" he said.

I told him we'd bill the full moon...

The lights were bright in the OR and all I kept thinking was, "I'm going to leave this room with babies. The outside-of-my-body kind." I also kept thinking, "I never took a stool softener like I was told to do, I AM FUCKED," and also, holy shit. This is actually happening.

And it was. Shower cap secured haphazardly to my head, I climbed up on the operating table and parted my hospital gown for the RN.

The anesthesiologist looked like Mr. Miyagi and kept asking me if "this was my first baby."

"Third and fourth, actually," I said.

But he was so focused on making sure my spine was straight he didn't hear me and asked again. I told him I was having twins and that they were both girls and he asked me to lean to the right, told me I was favoring one side more than the other. That I needed to relax."

"You too tense. Must breathe."

So I breathed.

"Girl or boy?"

"Seriously? Oy."

I had assumed a spinal was the same thing as an epidural so when the amnesialogist asked if I'd ever had "one of these before," I said yes. 

But an epidural and a spinal for a C-section are completely different. The needle went in rather painlessly but the feeling of paralysis was not my friend. I panicked. And if that wasn't bad enough I started dry-heaving. In all those youtube C-section videos I watched, not one depicted a panic-stricken, pukazoid with an extreme case of the shakes.

And yet all forty-zillion people in the room kept telling me, "what you are going through is normal! Totally normal!"

They pulled the curtain up on my normal-person-puking-self. Mr. Miyagi put his hand on my shoulder. "Relax."

OBGYN Kenobi was reassuring as well. So many Zen masters in the room that by the time they pulled the curtain up and started cutting me open, I was able to heed their advice and chill.

Babies. Think of your babies.

Hal was filming the whole procedure which excited me because I figured, once I recovered from the whole panicky-shaky-pukes and had my babies in my arms, I'd want in on the action. Except, later, when I watched the footage, I saw that 99% of it was of the same blue sheet I sat staring at for twelve minutes. That and Hal's quaky voice reassuring me that all was kosh.

As hard as childbirth is on the women giving birth, I'm convinced it's just as difficult for the partners who love us. Because all they can do is pack three pairs of jeans, clutch their shaky video cameras and tell us, without knowing if it's true, that everything's going to be okay.

"I'm cutting through the fat!" OBGYN Kenobs told me.

I wanted to know what was happening but strangely, "cutting through fat" did not put me at ease.

"And now I'm cutting through muscle!"

I was surprised to hear I actually had abdominal muscles to cut through. Flattered even.

"... And now I'm opening up your uterus!"

"Okay, THAT'S ENOUGH! I'm good. No more want to know me what happening is."


"I can see Baby A!" And then...


The first scream. It was Boheme and she was LOUD. I strained to see her but could not. The doctor brought her over for a second before taking her away to pull out Reverie. Everything happened at warp speed. I puked and cried and cried and puked as they pinned bracelets to my wrists. I listened to the duet of screaming babies and the two dozen attendants buzzing and laughing and cleaning and beeping except all I could see was the fucking blue sheet.
I was told earlier in the morning that no matter what, the babies would be whisked off to the NICU. It was standard procedure for all babies born before 36 weeks but for whatever reason, I wasn't listening. I assumed if the babies were big enough, they'd call the whole "standard procedure" thing off and let them stay with me a while. Or at the very least, a few minutes.

They brought the babies to me one by one. Rubbed Boheme's nose against mine and then took her away. Rubbed Reverie's nose against mine and then took her, too. Hal went with the babies as the doctor sewed me up. I was empty and alone, paralyzed from the neck down, puking all over my neck and go figure, very sad. I was prepared for a different birth experience this time around but not for the detachment I felt in that moment.

I was promised that as soon as the doctors finished surgery, I'd be able to see them but when we arrived to the NICU, Rev was incubated and both babies were covered with wires and monitors.
The nurses wrapped them up and handed them to me.
I wasn't allowed to see them for the rest of the day. I cried, somehow found a way to continue puking and slowly felt less paralyzed. I spent the next four days going back and forth between my hospital room and then the following two weeks driving back and forth between home and the NICU, pretending like I was still pregnant, that these extra weeks were gestational, that the real birth would be bringing them home.
No matter how many times I cursed those drives downtown to Good Samaritan hospital, over bumpy roads with a pillow pressed to my belly, back and forth and forth and back in the passenger seat of my mom's Prius, it was the NICU room with its monitors blasting and white robes where I first held my babies. It was where I first fed them and changed them and loved them. It was where we first became six. (It was also where I experienced the wrath of C-section constipation which ended with the now infamous "broken toilet" incident which was the opposite of fabulous.)

I was sick that I couldn't be with them in the hours after their birth and sicker yet that I couldn't take them home with me when I was discharged from the hospital and yet, their two-week stay in the NICU wasn't the worst thing that could happen. I met some incredible women. The nursing staff at Good Sam became fast friends and confidantes. I was able to rest and heal, to prepare emotionally and physically for the task of all-nighters and the loneliness that comes during those intermissions, between feedings and wake-ups, when somehow everything is unexpectedly quiet even though life is suddenly screamingly loud.

By the time Boheme was released, I was able to drive myself to the hospital and when I went to fetch the car to pick her up at the front entrance, the NICU nurses were all there to see us off. It was completely unnecessary and exceptionally kind and I found myself sobbing hysterically like a crazy person all the way home.

When Fable was born I was struck by an overwhelming sense that we weren't "all here yet." That there was someone(s) else waiting in the wings. When I found out, at eight-weeks that I was carrying twins, it became abundantly clear why.
ten weeks
ten weeks
twelve weeks
twelve weeks
14 weeks
fourteen weeks
16 weeks
sixteen weeks
eighteen weeks
eighteen weeks
twenty weeks pregnant
twenty weeks
twenty-two weeks
twenty-two weeks
twenty-four weeks
twenty-four weeks
twenty-six weeks
thirty weeks
thirty weeks
thirty-three weeks
thirty three
thirty four
thirty-five weeks

All along, this was it. This was us. This is our team. All members present and accounted for.

As the nurse so astutely proclaimed in the following birth video, let chaos reign...

...And indeed it is reigning. In a wonderfully-badass totally-insane wouldn't-change-anything kind of way.
thirty-eight weeks
three-weeks old
Hi. I have four children. HOW IN THE WHAT!?