Earlier this month when we left for Ohio to visit our twin grandsons, there were just two cases of COVID-19 in Spokane – the remaining cruise ship passengers that had been sent to Sacred Heart Medical Center to recuperate. There were no reported cases in Ohio.
By the time we returned home, Ohio’s governor had closed schools, libraries and restaurants, as had Washington’s governor, and coronavirus cases in both states had skyrocketed.
A lot can change in a week.
But the change that happened to me over the course of the week had nothing to do with viruses and everything to do with love.
How to describe the feeling of holding your son’s son in your arms for the first time? The joy of discovering your child’s blue eyes peering at you from a new face or, in our case, faces.
Adam and Nicholas are identical twins and, in my completely unbiased opinion, worthy of #TheWorldsMostBeautifulBoys hashtag I created for them.
Born 7 1/2 weeks early on Nov. 23, they had a lengthy stay in the neonatal intensive care unit before coming home in January. Thankfully, they are healthy, and did I mention beautiful?
Derek and I rented a small Airbnb house near our son’s home, so we could watch the twins and their big sister, Farrah, 6, as often as Alex and Brooke were willing to part with them.
To our delight, we got to have them every day. We timed our arrival with Brooke’s birthday, and Alex surprised her by taking time off from work so he could ferry the boys back and forth for her.
We wanted her to be able to rest and enjoy some much needed self-care time. I remember well the exhausting days and endless nights of caring for infants who seemed to rarely sleep – and I only had one baby at a time.
After our first stint of babysitting, Derek and I sprawled on the sofa, exhausted.
“How does she do it?” he asked. “How does she do this every day? I mean, she’s by herself when Alex is at work. Look how worn out we are and there’s TWO of us!”
Two of us, whose only agenda was cuddling, feeding, burping and changing our adorable grandsons. Our only other objective was to be able to tell them apart by the time we left. More on that later.
When the boys napped I cooked meals for the family – another reason I’m so glad we chose an Airbnb over a hotel. But I didn’t have to clean, or tackle laundry, or do any of the myriad things Brooke has to do on a daily basis. We are simply in awe of her.
On our first full day in Ohio, we bundled up the boys and took them on their first walkabout in their double stroller.
It was a new adventure for them, and Adam was not a fan. Nick, however, took in the sights, sounds and smells with equanimity and wonder.
We slowly began to get a sense of their personalities. Alex and Brooke weren’t kidding when they told us their boys are very opinionated and not shy about making their preferences known. We thought it was mighty kind of Adam and Nick to let Nana and Papa know how they like to be held and fed, but the first time they both cried at the same time, we looked at each other, stricken.
Nick hollers, but Adam’s cry is more dramatic and heartbreaking. It quickly became clear my job was to calm any tears, and Derek’s job was to fall asleep with a baby in his arms.
Not much has changed in the 20 years since we had our last baby.
Initially, Brooke dressed them differently, so we knew who was who, but when Alex dropped them off wearing identical outfits, I panicked.
“Which one is which?” I asked.
“Hmm, I’m not sure,” he said.
Then he showed me his dad trick. He swiped his thumb across their foreheads.
“This is Nick,” he said. “He has drier skin.”
That was helpful, but Nana’s no dummy. I quickly popped their labeled pacifiers in their car seats.
The boys have their dad’s beautiful lips and when they smile, it’s like cuddling Alex all over again. They love to “talk,” and enjoy lying next to each other and kicking their legs like crazy.
Of course, I took oodles of photos and videos. Leaving them to come home was incredibly difficult because I know how much they’ll change before we see them again.
And we will see them again.
Coronavirus restrictions and protocols won’t last forever. We’ve already scheduled our next visit for the end of June. Grandparents are optimistic to a fault.
I understand our world has been forever altered by this pandemic, but not all change is bad. For instance, I’ve discovered my heart really can be in two places at once.