Saturday, January 30, 2010

Michael and Oregano

Michael and Oregano

* * * The twins are fine * * *

When Chiara went back to school after the Christmas break, she was SOOOOO ready for Show-and-Tell.  One of the nurses in the NICU had made her a little care package: a hospital band that reads “Big Sister,” a preemie diaper, a preemie shirt, a preemie pacifier and stickers of the boys’ footprints and she was ready to show them off.

“I have twoooo brudders!” she announced to her teachers.  “Mi-call anda Wag-ah-nah.”

The teachers were puzzled.  “Michael,” they understood.  But what was that second name?  Oregano? 

“No!  Ah Wag-ah-nah.”

It really sounded like “Oregano.”  A name like that, paired with the name “Michael” was an unlikely combination, the teachers thought, but they didn’t want to pass judgment.  After all, we do live in Berkeley, where half the parents get their names from The Silmarillion and the other half pretend that’s completely normal.

As open minded as the teachers are, they were quite relieved to hear that Baby B’s name was “Wagner,” Matt’s mother’s maiden name, and not some pizza topping.  (When Matt’s five-year old niece heard that one of the twins was named “Wagner” she gasped and exclaimed to her mother, “They named him after your computer password!”)

The twins’ full names are Michael George Ordonez Kovac and Wagner Lee Bryan Kovac.  “Michael George” is Matt’s dad.  “George” is also my stepdad’s given name, the father of my stepmom, Matt’s middle name, and Matt’s grandfather’s name.  “Ordonez” is my mother’s maiden name.  “Lee” is my dad’s middle name and “Bryan” is my maiden name.  Which means that we have completely exhausted our pool of family names.  If we have a fourth kid, we just might have to turn to the genealogy of Gimli.  So if you get a birth announcement four years from now for “Dothlorian Kovac,” don’t laugh and don’t judge.

* * * * *

Mikey & Wagner are a month old today (Saturday, Jan 30) but their age is still counted in gestational weeks.  Right now we are at the end of week 29.  I think of it as T minus 11.  So it’s funny for me to see that they have little personalities and peculiarities, since, under “normal” circumstances, they’d still be in the womb with nearly three more months to cook.

For your amusement, some Michael and Ore . . . uh, Wagner fun facts:

Michael was born at 1 pound, 12 ounces.  He is about two and a half pounds or about a kilo and some change.  Or, for those of you doing the conversion in methamphetamine, about $70,000 street value.  In other words, if Michael were all meth instead of all baby, he wouldn’t even come close to paying his hospital bills.

Wagner was a little scrappier, born at 1 pound, 9 ounces.  Now he is hovering right around two and a half pounds, depending on if he gets weighed before or after the diaper change.

Michael has an outie belly button; Wagner has an innie.

Sometimes I look at them and think, “Wow.  They look just like Kovacs.”

Today they both had the hiccups AT THE SAME TIME.

Michael likes to suck his thumb and when the nurse delivers “oral care” (a swab with a few drops of breast milk to clean out the mouth), he always opens his eyes.  They both like to suck on the swab.  (Michael and Wagner, not Michael and the nurse).

Wagner is often found with a hand down his diaper.

Both boys prefer to be on their bellies.  They get turned every few hours and their heads get turned, too—to prevent what the nurses call “Toaster Head .” 

Michael will often hold on to a finger or thumb when you “hold” him (compassionate touch holding).

Wagner will often put his arm over your hand.

Now that they have a new breathing system (nose pressure—SiPap for you NICU know-hows—rather than tubes down the throat) we can hear them cry a little bit.  They sound like that penguin from Toy Story who swallows his squeaker.

Yesterday Wagner had tears when he cried.  Actual tears.

They have strawberry blond hair.  And, sadly, a little bit of Toaster Head.

Both LOVE to be held and both hate diaper changes.

They are funny little guys.  The nurses like to tuck the babies’ arms and legs in when they are on their backs (the babies, not the nurses).  Then they (the nurses, not the babies) stuff little blankets to make sure they stay that way (the babies, not the nurses).  One day—and just this one day, as far as I know—the nurses would tuck the twins’ arms and legs in and two seconds later BOTH kids would have their arms and legs draped over their blanket bumpers like little old men in inner tubes, sunning themselves in their little isolettes.  The nurses would tuck the limbs back in and within seconds, both kids would be stretched out again.

The day nurses always say, “Wagner’s so fidgety.  Michael’s the calm one.”

The night nurses say, “Michael’s a feisty one!  Not like his brother.”

Sometimes I look at them and think, “Wow.  They look just like Dr. Zaius.”

On Monday I got to hold Wagner and Matt got to hold Michael for the first time.  Really hold them—skin to skin on our chests—not just one hand on the head and the other on the feet.  It’s a dramatic endeavor: the babies still have tubes and wires and IVs and it takes two nurses to take each baby out of his isolette.  But it’s so good for the babies.  And the parents.  True, I did cry on my son’s head.  But it was amazing.  We held them for over an hour.  (Michael cried when they put him back).  It was like being parents. 

Sleep tight, my little Toaster Head monkeys (the babies, not you blog readers).

© 2010 Janine Kovac 


  1. So good to hear! Great and humorous writing as well!

    Jimmy V

  2. Michael, Wagner, perhaps not Oregano, but certainly Gimli's lineage (which would never include the Elfen "Dothlorian" by the way) all passed this test:

    Pheww. It was actually never close (though bullseye with "Oregeno"). But the author of this comment (me) is now impaled on the geek punji stick trap you set. What normal person would care about dwarf association with elvan folk? Or the fact that oregano -- being a mediterranean herb -- would never figure in Middle Earth botany. Kind of like the (New World) cherry tomatoes in Minas Tirith that we're not supposed to notice. Ok, hanging upside down in Oregano-Tolkien snare trap. Ha ha.

  3. How wonderful for you and Matt to be able to hold them! Thanks for sharing your twins- the photos are great. Remember to take some time for yourself Janine. I can't imagine a more exhausting full-time job.

    "A mother who used to pump"