Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Seventh Level of Hell

On my way home from the grocery store today I decided to blog about my trip. You see, this was no ordinary shopping trip. It was a trip to hell and back. Complete with heat and flames.

Before the babies were born I never took more than one of the kids shopping with me. It was our one-on-one time. Usually I brought either Matthew or Joshua with me. When the girls were babies I took both of them with me a few times but it was always pretty miserable so I preferred not to do it.

A trip with multiples means LOTS of attention and LOTS of questions. And of course the inevitable "You've got your hands full" comments. All of this makes the trip take longer which means that the babies are going to melt down at any second. I need to be in and out FAST so I like to go alone. Even a trip with Matthew and Joshua means I'll get asked if they are twins. ("No, but we have 2 sets at home!")

For the past 3 months (I can't believe it but the babies are 3 months today) I have had Jason drive me to the store and the babies wait in the van with him while I rush through the store like a madwoman. It works! I get done fast and get back out to the parking lot in time to feed them before they are hysterical.

With only 5 weeks left until Jason leaves I figure I need to get used to bringing the babies with me when I run errands. I'll have to find someone to watch the other kiddos while I'm gone but I'll bring the babies since they nurse so often. And besides, who would want to watch 6 kids that are 6 and under?

So today I set out on my mission. I only had to run into the post office and go get groceries.

I should have just headed home after the trip to the post office.

Nathan had been asleep and I woke him up to go inside. I put him in the Mei Tai and carried Ryan in my left arm, leaving my right arm free to carry the package I was picking up. While waiting in line Ryan started to wail. This upset Nathan who started to squirm and suddenly all eyes were on me. I finally get to the counter and wait for the clerk to retrieve my package. Only the package wasn't there. The carrier decided to redeliver it and so I left empty handed. Back into the van.

Fast forward to the grocery expedition. I circle the lot before finding a spot only 1/2 of a mile from the door. I put one baby in the Mei Tai again and grab a stray grocery cart. I put my hot pink camo cart cover in the cart and stuff my purse in the front. I cover the purse and cart cover with a blue blanket and set the other baby in the front of the cart. He was reclining against my purse and strapped in sideways. It works.

Upon entering the store I discover that they are apparently unaware of the fact that it is in the 60s today and very warm. The heat hits me like a brick wall as I walk in the doors. This is not good. I'm wearing a baby who happens to be wearing a blue fleece snowman outfit. We start to sweat. Not good at all.

I get down the first aisle before the fussing starts. First one baby, then the other. I start throwing things into my cart. Apples and bananas and broccoli hit the cart before we even stop walking. I am practically running as we turn down the next aisle. The babies whines have turned to cries. Meanwhile I've already been stopped by 6 people. They ask if the babies are twins. They ask their ages. They tell me I have my hands full. Must. Keep. Moving.

The middle of the store is a blur. There were a few groceries tossed in here and there. I pulled the other baby out of the cart and carried him in my left arm again. A lot of elderly veterans stop me to look at the babies. We shop at a commissary on an Army post so just about every veteran of every war in the history of the country is shopping in the middle of the day and they all love to chat. I try not to make eye contact but sometimes it is unavoidable.

I make it to the other end of the store in record time. By now I need to switch babies. The one in my arms has fallen asleep so I put him in the cart and try to quickly grab the last few items I need. Then I get stopped by a sweet old lady who asks if the babies are twins. She asks if they are boys. She asks their age. She asks if they are my first babies. She asks how many children I have. She asks their ages. And then I do it. I commit the cardinal sin that sends me spiraling to the depths of the seventh level of hell. I tell her that I have 2-year old twin daughters at home. A hush comes over the crowd of shoppers. Heads spin around and all eyes are on me again.

I turn bright red (remember, I'm already drenched in sweat because it is HOT like an inferno in that store) and I smile. I know it is too late. As soon as the words have escaped my lips I want to take them back. Now I am surrounded and more and more questions start. A sweet, old Army vet wants to hold one of my (screaming) babies. An employee tells me about an old neighbor who had 3 sets of twins. Someone asks if I "did fertility." People want to see pictures of the other kids. I politely oblige and the crowd grows larger. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were more than a dozen people surrounding me at one point. I said the babies were hot and hungry and we needed to go. I struggle to move through the crowded aisle as one baby begins turning blue from screaming so hard.

I rush to get in line to check out. I'm directed to Lane 5. Lane 5 today was staffed by the slowest clerk in the history of grocery checkout lanes. I spend 8 minutes waiting for her to scan my items. Finally, she is done. She looks up and notices that I am holding 2 babies. One is sleeping, one is crying. She hadn't even noticed until then. She has to call over a manager to help her ring up my apples. I feel like I'm on fire. Babies continue to scream incessantly.

Once my reusable shopping bags are filled we head outside. The bagger turns to me and asks "Are those twins by any chance?" I'm out of witty remarks and just smile and say "yes." We make it across the lot and the babies are calm now, out in the cooler air. As I unlock the van and climb inside both babies begin to scream again.

Defeated, I toss my purse, keys, sunglasses, newspaper, receipts, and wallet onto the front seat. I hand the bagger his tip. I clutch my hysterical babies and hoist myself up into my monstrous van. We are all drenched in sweat and flustered but then I lift my wet shirt and they start to nurse.

A calm comes over all 3 of us as we sit in the back of the van. The breeze from outside comes through the cracked door and we start to cool off. I sit quietly and contemplate our adventure.

And now I sit here wondering what on earth I will do when Jason leaves. How will I manage? How will I get by without any break? Will the constant needs of 6 children cause me to crack under the pressure?

All I know is that I am NOT going grocery shopping with the babies again until they are out of diapers.

They are cute though, aren't they?
Stay tuned for pictures of our trip home, updates on potty training breakthroughs, and a story about me and a Backstreet Boy. Trust me, you won't want to miss it!
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