Dear Daughters: A Letter to My Preemie Twins Turning 2

When you have premature twins, you really cherish every birthday. Now at age 2, my twins are turning into forces of nature. | instafather.com

When you have premature twins, you really cherish every birthday. Now at age 2, my twins are turning into forces of nature. | instafather.com

Dear Hannah and Quinn:

You hear all the time, "Soak up every moment, kids grow up too fast."

There's a reason they say that. You grew up too fast. 

You spent your first weeks of life with wires and air tubes and monitors all around. There was no way to mentally prepare for that. There is no newborn baby commercial where the baby is in plastic case and the parents are checking A's and B's. Newborn babies in commercials are 5 months old. Just like high schoolers in sitcoms are played by 30 year olds. Sorry, sore spot for dad.

Your mom and I were scared and nervous and thrilled and tired when you arrived. You were born all of a sudden and yet after a long wait because you tried to arrive at 27 weeks, which is like showing up to a house party 15 minutes before it start when the hosts are still frantically cleaning. Very rude of both of you.

Mom had been on bed rest, an oxymoron term that hospitals came up with to describe a state of unrest (would you feel like you are resting if you have people poking you nonstop and you have to page someone just to use the bathroom?). Your brother, who was about the same age you are now, would visit mom every day in the hospital. It felt like the craziest time of our lives even if, in the most literal sense, we were only waiting for something to happen. I will never, ever, forget that period of life. 

Then you two happened. Real hard.

Quinn, you came out first and ever since have wanted someone to hold your hand. Hannah, you came out second, feet first, which, yep, sums it up.

Your mom and I often say that whatever stage of life you two are in, that's our favorite stage. We loved having both of you sleep on our chest when we did skin-to-skin. We never loved holding two car seats at a time, but we did love watching both of get to know each other. And now, you are ridiculously adorable, so much so that you practically have a fan club. You have caused bystanders to stop mid-conversation and comment very loudly at how cute you are. I don't pretend to ignore it because I know I only get you at this stage for so long, and only so many people get to have twins. 

I don't even know where we go from here. This is uncharted territory for your dad. Every single day is uncharted territory. Taking you and your brother to Wegman's is what Game of Thrones writers used as the inspiration for the Battle of Castle Black episode. I'm not even going to mention the fact that a certain daughter likes to laugh and then run right toward the street all the time.

At two years old, you're entering an entirely new phase. I'd say the fact I just went through it with your brother has prepared me for this, but dealing with twins and dealing with one toddler is entirely different. It's like lifeguarding a kiddie pool vs. lifeguarding the beach.

I can't say I'm a better dad now than I was when you were born, because I feel like a work in progress. Sure, you're teaching me a lot. For example, you're teaching me that it is possible to strap in a baby into their car seat using only one hand because the other baby refuses to be put down.

But I'm also realizing my personal limits. You know dad has gone through some rough stretches. When there's two of you and one of dad, each minute can turn on its head, gliding between everyone giggling to everyone screaming like the pirate ship at an amusement park. From age 1 to age 2, dad gained a lot of gray hairs. That's the visible representation, but it doesn't really get to what it was really like. Which was... intense. Yeah, sometimes it's just intense as shit. I can always promise, though, that every day I am promising to do my best.

Quinn, you have turned into Exhibit A of why people love infants. You say "Hiiiiii!!!!" when we walk into your room in the morning after you slept through the night (which you do way more than anyone in the house). You laugh by scrunching your nose and putting your hands over your mouth. You love curling up on mommy or daddy's lap and watching Elmo the Musical. 

You also want held 37 hours a day and randomly decide you hate every single piece of food ever created. But, as your mom and I discussed two years ago, you get a pass. For a long time.

Hannah, you are a monsoon wrapped up in a tornado. It's like you were born to be the human manifestation of the law of conservation of energy - it can't be created or destroyed, just transformed from one bouncing session to the next. You are also really good at finding knives in the dishwasher. And you add a lot of syllables to words such as "No" and "Yes," like an actor really chewing the scenery. Mostly, you want to do everything your brother does. That's a good role model. And you make me smile on days I didn't think I would be able to.

I love you both so much that every time I see someone texting as they drive through an intersection, I want to pull them over and show them your photos and shout "HOW DARE YOU THREATEN THE LIVES OF TWO ANGELS!" (A better plan would be for cell phone companies to force the camera to take a selfie of a driver looking down anytime a text is sent when the phone senses it is moving at over 20 mph, and then send that to the police, but that's dad's million dollar idea that will pay for your college.)

I started writing Instafather waiting for you both to come out. Ever since then, you give me reminder after reminder of all the challenges dads face ... and why it's all worth it.

One day I will reach out my left hand and my right hand and the two of you won't reach back. Today isn't that day.

Happy birthday, Quinn. Happy birthday, Hannah. 

Love,

Dad