Saturday, April 15, 2006

Two for the Price of One !

Well ... maybe not for the "price" of one!

I've just been propelled into "unclehood" again, with the birth on Wednesday of Rodrigo and Eduardo (Rodrigo is the one in blue! and Eduardo is ... duh!). Proud mommy Tatiana will have her hands (and everything else!) full with these two bundles of joy. Contented daddy Celio (Cristina's brother) was one giant smile throughout the first day. He may be beginning to come back down to earth now, I think: two at once won't be a walk in the park!

Luckily for Tatiana (at least I think it is "luckily"!), Celio is showing signs of being quite a doting, attentive father (and husband). He dove right into diaper changing like a veteran. Good thing: they're going to have plenty of diapers to change!


At birth, this double-barreled diaper-filling machine weighed in at 4.5 Kg (10 pounds) -- that's 90.5 cm (35.4 in) of pure baby-flesh! (These are cumulative statistics... proportionally, Eduardo is half a cm shorter than Rodrigo, and 200 grams lighter!). To the satisfaction of all, they were born chock full of vim and vigor ... without necessity of an extended visit to the incubator!

I will admit right out that I'm intrigued and somewhat intimidated by the task that Celio and Tatiana are facing. I am by no means inexperienced when it comes to raising boys, but two infants at once? That seems somewhat daunting! At one "swell foop", they nearly caught up with us! On the other hand, I have no actual experience with twins to go by: this is a first among our various nieces and nephews -- the first twins in the family!

Usually when I think of twins, I think of the formidable challenges that may go along with the identity crisis that would surely happen being a kid and having a sibling identical in every respect to you. Rodrigo and Eduardo are not, however, identical twins. Now, after 10 years of fatherhood, a part of me is wondering if having two (or three!) at once wouldn't have been a great thing!

Sure ... there are some logistical challenges associated with raising two or more babies at once: two mouths to suckle, two babies to burp, two strollers to push around ... but these difficulties really only apply to the first year or so. Once they are no longer nursing and start getting around on their own, the difficulties will be the same as they are for anyone who has two toddlers at once.

This was our case, with James and Christian: Christian was born when James was only 18 months old. We ended up just spreading this whole "baby phase" out over several years, which in the end was probably more work than if we had just doubled up and got it over with all at once!

Unfortunately it is too late for this sudden spark of insight to benefit us in any way. When I look at Kevin and think that not until 7 years from now will he be in the same grade as James, it just seems forever! I can't believe what we have gone through, and will still have to go through before we can set them loose on the world! (hopefully, send them all off to college!).

It's just one arduous challenge after another. And of course, I wouldn't give it up for the world. How can one explain that? It is so utterly irrational!

But ask me if I would trade places with Celio and Tatiana right now (or even Mark and Cleia, my brother-in-law and Cristina's sister who have just embarked on the more traditional single-child adventure with daughter Isabella!) !?! I feel sorry for them all, but am consoled with the knowledge that they will soon become anesthetized to the suffering, now that they have been transformed into stuperous, glazed-eyed, drooling zombies (i.e. "parents"). There is also the so-called "memory effect" ... which results in our forgetting about virtually everything that happened during the first year-or-so of our children's lives. This is a fundamental evolutionary adaption for humans, without which, no one would ever have a second child intentionally!!!

Removing tongue from cheek for a moment: I'm sure Celio and Tati are up to the task. They are off to a good start, and we look forward to accompanying their successes as they embark on this perilous but rewarding adventure. This new batch of cousins comes at a propitious moment, since several of the older ones have ingressed into that crucial and precarious stage known as "adolescence", which means that it is very likely that they will soon all but disappear from the collective "family" life.


One final observation: the birth of Rodrigo and Eduardo raises my nephew / niece count to a total of 14 (8 nephews, 6 nieces)... unless I've left someone out (!). If I could get them all together in one place, that would make a total of 17 kids counting my three! Unfortunately, one of the disadvantages of being a "multinational" family -- with various relations spread (literally) about the planet (although most of us are in the same hemisphere -- western -- at least!), is that we don't always have close contact with all of the aunts, uncles, and cuz's.

This is something that I deeply regret ... although there isn't much that I can do about it. There is something about the relationship between cousins that is special, which I think is mostly because, unlike with friends, we generally share a common history and values that gives the relationship a headstart. Cousins are like brothers and sisters, without most of the "sibling rivalry" that can get in the way of friendship. Without question, my closest friendships while growing up (outside my nuclear family) were with my cousins. Being a generally apprehensive introvert when it came to socialization, the unconditional acceptance provided by the extended family -- aunts, uncles and cousins -- afforded a safe environment to relax and be myself. Still today, I'm sure that if weren't for the barriers imposed by geography, it would be a great pleasure to maintain far more frequent and intimate contact with them all (and I'm still trying to convince Greg to visit us down here ... so far to no avail, but I will keep trying!).

I see the same thing with our kids today. Their relationship with the only nephew and niece that live near to us -- Bruno and Mariana -- even with them being several years older, have enriched the lives of our children immensely (and vice-versa, I'm sure). They've also had a very close relationship with Juliana and Nicole, even though they live in the US, since they frequently spend a good deal of their vacation time here in Brazil. But the kids are all older now, and school and other responsabilities means that having time for family matters is getting harder and harder. We had feared somewhat that Kevin would miss out on having a close relationship with cousins; but having the twins around now may fill in the lacuna: he'll be the "older cousin" to them, teaching them how to get into all kinds of mischief!

The other new addition to the family is Isabella, who, living in New Jersey, is technically the "farthest away" cousin. Time will tell what their relationship with Isabella will be like; but I think there is every reason to believe that it will be as close as all of the other cousins has been. We are all looking forward to meeting her personally; but it increasingly appears that she will be toddling around by the time we have the chance!

We've gone up to a couple of years at a time without seeing the nephews and nieces from my side of the family (the Kansas branch!); and whenever we do, there is a little problem with the "language barrier" that complicates things between the kids. Even so, we were amazed and pleased at how well the "cousins" got along -- and how quickly they accepted each other -- last year during our visit around Christmas time. We look forward to increasing this contact in the future: I just hope it happens while they are still young enough to form the kind of memories that I have from my childhood.

Family is family, no matter where we find ourselves in the world. If the roots are deep enough, the branches can spread far and wide, but the tree will never fall. The kids know it... they feel it: it's acceptance. I can't help but think that, in some respects, the wide reaching branches that make up our family makes the world seem a smaller, warmer place for our kids. I know it does for me.

Now a couple more pics!


Daddy and Mommy ... all smiles

Meeting the cousins!

UPDATE! 12:27 AM, April 16

Hope everyone has a HAPPY EASTER!


At April 18, 2006 3:12 AM, Mark said...

We rolled the dice on the twins thing, because my wife was on a low dose of a mild fertility drug. The doctor said that anybody she had put on it had conceived twins. Not us, though. Whew!

At April 21, 2006 4:30 PM, Mark said...

Did you start using the "world is a comedy" header before or after my latest bumper sticker post? I'm thinking you already had it, but I did not notice it until I had seen it somewhere else. Oh well. Great quote, either on your blog or on a bumper sticker.



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