Two Months

DSC_9257-2-2 Dear sweet babies,

You are two months old! I can’t believe it. That sounds like such a big age, and in my head I still want you to be tiny little things, but you’re getting farther and farther from that. The last two months have been the longest two months in existence, and yet it’s also gone so fast. (I am quite sure I will have this sentiment every month and every year down the road. Bear with me, I’ve always been sentimental. Tough cookies. :D)

This month you lost your grip reflex, and we can see you moving your fingers individually. You do still grab onto our fingers, but less often and not automatic, and so it feels more deliberate. You still have your startle reflex, which I imagine you will lose soon.

We have no problem telling you apart–to us you look completely different. Emmett, your face is a little squarer, Malcolm, yours is a little rounder, and you both have such chubby cheeks! Of course people who just meet you think you’re identical. We do keep a toenail painted just in case, though. It helps us identify who’s who in photos too. You can each make faces that look exactly like the other, which is interesting.

You weigh over 10 pounds (a gain of three pounds in a month!) and are 21.5 and 22 inches long. You both went from the 5th percentile for weight to the 50th! Well done with all your growing! Your arms and legs used to be skinny, and now they’re pleasingly plump. Your bellies are still very round and kind of stick out to the side. You’re finally wearing 0-3 month clothes as of a couple weeks ago, but they are still quite big on you. I am glad you’re taking your time growing out of clothes–stay little! (Yes, this is in direct contrast with four sentences ago. I want you to be healthy and meet your milestones, but I don’t necessarily want you to change. What can I say, I’m complex.)

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We’ve just started letting you guys sleep after the 11-12pm-ish feeding, and you’re sleeping for about 6 hours! This is very exciting. You’re still sleeping in your Rock N Plays in our room. We moved the co-sleeper to the living room and let you nap in there occasionally so you can stretch out.

You eat about 4oz every 3.5 hours. Though with this new sleeping pattern, one or both of you often gets hungry sooner and needs ‘snacks’ between feedings. We need to adjust and figure out what to offer you so you stay sated longer.

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When you get hungry, both of you start rooting. Malcolm, you tend to root longer, while Emmett, you get frustrated pretty quick and start crying. Your little face turns red and you practically scream! But the second the bottle is in your mouth, you calm right down and drink happily.

This month you met your uncles and one aunt, and another set of grandparents, plus you got to see more of the grandparents you’d already met. Additionally, you met some friends of my family who knew me as a baby, and a few of my friends, and they were all so thrilled to meet you. I’ve said this before, but there are so many people who love you–you are so lucky!

We still get a lot of comments about your hair (that you have so much). And everyone who meets you still remarks on how beautiful you are, and how calm. We agree–you are SO CUTE, and you are generally really good babies. Obviously you are the best babies ever. 🙂

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You no longer fuss at the changing table. In fact, both of you like it now, because you can stretch out and kick your little legs. I find it super cute when you do that–something about the relative stubbiness of your legs compared to your torso. That kicking seems to help with gas, plus you just seem to have a grand old time. I like to lean down and smile and chat with you while you kick and relax. Seriously, it’s so cute.

(Here you are, staring at the fireplace and kicking up a storm)

Your eyebrows and eyelashes used to be tiny and kind of invisible, but this month your eyebrows have darkened and your real-size eyelashes have come in. They’re very long and they stick straight out, like mine.

When we hold you, you both love to hold your heads up and look around. Your heads kind of bob around and fall onto our shoulders because you aren’t totally there yet with neck strength. Your backs are getting stronger too–I can feel you using those muscles to stay upright. You also have figured out how to push up and ‘stand’ on your feet. (Apparently I did this a lot as a small baby too.) But you’re very social, you love to look around and stare at ceilings, lights, and people.

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Emmett, your cry has morphed again and often includes an adorable squeak. (I’d forgotten that for your first two weeks or so, you squeaked.) You both do this little whimper half-hearted cry that kind of sounds like “mmmmeh”. I can’t help laughing because it’s so cute and pitiful. Both of you have started to coo a little bit too. You’re still making a barnyard’s worth of grunting noises: sheep, horses, pigs.

Of course the best development this month has been smiles! You’re starting to react to us smiling at you by smiling back. It’s not every time, but it’s fairly regular. Malcolm, you smile quickly and easily, and Emmett, sometimes it takes you longer, but it starts in your eyes and then erupts over the rest of your face.

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(Malcolm)

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(Emmett)

Seeing either of you smile at us is magical, wonderful, amazing, beautiful–everything people say and more. It makes me realize anew how special it is to have you two, that you’re real and that you’re ours.

Hugs and kisses–we love you!

love,

mama

Hurdles

A few of our recent challenges, along with some semi-related photos/video.

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I think last week we got through the six-week growth spurt! I didn’t know about growth spurts and what they involved until reading about it on my friend Ask Moxie’s knowledgeable site and facebook community. Our growth spurt–or what I assumed was the growth spurt–involved a little more late night fussing, but mostly increased eating. At the 1.30/2am feeding, they would just want more and more. (What does that mean? They kept crying and fussing until we fed them more.) One night Malcolm ate 7 ounces! (Their current ‘normal’ feeding amount is 3.5 to 4 ounces.) This meant that they wouldn’t want to sleep until around 4am. And that ‘fortunately’ coincided with Andy going back to work, so he got hardly any sleep for most of the week. He was miserable.

There were three bad nights of this, and then CUE ANGELS SINGING they had a night of sleeping like they did a couple weeks ago. (They’re so young yet that I wasn’t sure if we should count anything as ‘normal’, but I’m cautiously optimistic about this. It’s been about a week and they’ve been consistent again. Phew!)

The only thing I don’t have any clarity on is whether or not to count the babies as real six-week-olds. See, when babies are born early, one is supposed to adjust for that when anticipating or achieving milestones. Since these two were born at 36 weeks, technically they are four weeks younger gestationally. So that growth spurt could have been the three-week growth spurt. The issue is that they are twins, and aren’t expected to go to the full 40 weeks–biologically I believe they are considered full-term and developed at either 37 or 38 weeks. So do I count them as two weeks younger gestationally? I have a hunch, though, that they’re right on target. Their smiles started around 6 weeks, their digestion changed right at 6 weeks, etc. It really doesn’t matter at this stage because they have growth spurts every 2-3 weeks anyway, and of course actual occurrence and length varies for every baby.

When a baby is hungry, they do this. It’s called rooting (as in searching around for food) and it’s adorable and hilarious.

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They are getting so big! But their feet are still tiny at least.

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Wednesday was my first real day with the babies alone. We have a nanny that comes over Mondays and Fridays. Andy goes to an office space on those days, and has worked at home the other days. That means he’s been able to help with some of the midday feedings when he’s here. But I do want him to be able to be out of the house as much as he can. Three days a week is a fantastic compromise (on his part). Since last week was so sleep-deprived, this was the first week he actually will be gone for three days.

It actually wasn’t too bad. The morning feeding went like it always does, and the noon feeding went pretty smoothly too. In the early afternoon, I wanted to go to the mama’s group meetup so I had the additional challenge of getting both babies ready and out the door on my own.

ME: Ok guys, I’m going upstairs for a minute. Stay here.

BABIES: {pause.} WAHH!

ME, UPSTAIRS: Sigh. {continues getting dressed for a minute. go back downstairs and pick one up. he calms down. after a minute, put that one down and pick the other one up, who calms down.} I’m here! You’re okay!

I put them in their car seats, which usually makes at least one of them annoyed/upset. But this time they stayed calm and quiet. And they both slept the whole time I was at the meetup!

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Yesterday we took the babies for their two month well-baby appointment. This involved the standard weight and height check, and a physical exam. They’ve both gained a good amount of weight and are within two ounces of each other–they’re both just over 10 pounds!

kicking up a storm in the exam room

Then of course came the shots. They’d gotten a couple shots before, so it wasn’t totally new for us. I think they got three pokes and then an oral vaccine too. I felt more emotional about their discomfort this time, which kind of surprised me. I think it’s that it seems like such a painful surprise for them–‘hey, what was that!?’ We held their little hands and shushed them, which helped calm them. They fell asleep in the car, of course, and slept for awhile longer.

In the evening, Emmett started fussing. Soon it escalated to full-on screaming-crying. Louder and more pained than I’d ever heard–his little voice was sort of cracking at the top of his register. Holding and shushing and the pacifier–all which normally quiet him–didn’t work; he kept screaming. I put him in the sling I have (which I’ve started using occasionally lately because I’d forgotten about it until now), and he snuggled up and fell asleep. Poor baby!

After awhile, since he was still fast asleep, I figured I could take him out and take a nap myself. Approximately thirty seconds after I lay down on the couch, he woke up and started screaming again. Sigh. Back in the sling.

He fell back asleep and wasn’t disturbed by me making a smoothie. When it was time to pump, I had to take him out of the sling again. He woke up and started screaming again, but Andy managed to swaddle him and calm him down and he dozed off.

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Serious hair. Emmett dares you to start any funny business.

Lately

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Last week Andy’s parents were here, being a huge help. They did feedings so one of us could nap or do something else. We also got to go on our first post-babies date! (above: cajun tots at the Kennedy School) It’s possible we are bad parents, because we didn’t worry or stress about being away the babies. We did spend time talking about them though.

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We’re starting to see some smiles! They aren’t very frequent, and more often than not are directed at the ceiling. But still. Their faces totally transform with huge smiles! It’s pretty darn wonderful. 🙂 That’s about the only thing I will like about them getting bigger/older.

Speaking of getting bigger:

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Left, December 8; Right, December 30. They grew an entire stripe! Look at the difference in how they fill out their newborn onesies. I should do another one this week–the newborn size was getting tighter so I moved them to 0-3 month clothes:

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A week ago we got them weighed: Malcolm was 8lbs 9oz and Emmett was 8lbs 10oz. They’re the size of large-ish regular newborns! And they seem so, so big to me.

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Once I got past the magical six-week-post-partum mark, I can start ‘exercising’ again. I’ve begun taking walks–once last week and four this week. I’ve gone on sunny afternoons, in the evening, and in a drizzle. Our neighborhood is almost all hills, which means I’ve got a real-life treadmill program outside the door. It feels like I woke up my leg muscles, and they’re hungry. Good stuff.

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It’s getting harder to meet the needs of two babies at once. The other night I just barely managed to get both of them on me for a cuddle. I realized that very soon I won’t be able to do that at all, and will only be able to cuddle one at a time. This saddens me. I loved getting both of their tiny selves all snuggled up against me. They always burrow in and fall asleep like sweet little things. I should have done it every day instead of every once in a while.

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Feeding twins: Our daily grind. Schedule update v1: (6 weeks)

While in the hospital, the baby nurses made sure that the babies ate every three hours. However, since we depended on someone else coming in, the schedule was pretty fluid, changing times every day.

When we first came home, that continued–every feeding every day was different. We were still figuring out how we wanted to do things. We both got up for every feeding, and set up a station in our bedroom for the overnight ones. (The babies were sleeping in our room in a co-sleeper, because we didn’t want to go back and forth all the way to their room if they needed anything.) It was exhausting, but we didn’t have the energy to figure out another way.

Starting in their second week, we finally got on a consistent three-hour schedule: 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm, 11pm, 1.30am, 4am, 8am. You’ve probably read that one of the biggest rules is never wake a sleeping baby….that idea is not applicable to twins. We often have to wake them to feed them. And that’s okay.

We also figured out a way to stagger the schedule a bit to get us some sleep and a bit more sanity. We usually go to bed after the 130 feeding (which ends up being 230-3am) and then Andy gets up for the 4am feeding on his own. I keep sleeping and then I do the 8am feeding by myself: babies on separate boppies and I sit between them, hooked up to the pump.

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(my view this morning)

Usually I can get everything done by 9am, and then I watch tv and/or take a nap for 1-2 hours. (Note that breakfast is not part of this plan. Sleep trumps food.) Andy then gets up for the 11am feeding and we do that one and the rest together. This way we each get about five hours of sleep in a row. It’s nowhere near enough, but it’s miles better than only two at a time.

During the regular feedings, we work together to get ready. One of us usually does diapers while the other gets bottles. (We use formula for the 130am and 4am feedings, so that we can keep a couple feedings ahead with pumped milk.) Each of us feeds one baby, and we like to switch off so we get time with both. I try to pump during the feedings–the baby I’m feeding sits in a boppy or on my lap. I’m usually able to burp the baby without disturbing the pump.

All of this has worked pretty well. But one major reason is that we have two adults doing these feedings–my husband has been on paid paternity leave. With the holidays and a few vacation days, he’ll have had seven weeks off to be with the babies. That’s pretty rare and it’s also pretty fantastic. As I said in an earlier post, it seems to me to be a necessity to have a second pair of hands with twins. I am so grateful that he works at such a great company that values families.

This week, after one extended late night feeding, it seemed like a good time to try going to feeding every four hours. We tried it for two days but it didn’t quite work. The babies suddenly woke up crying from naps because they were hungry–believe it or not, they’d never done that before. They were not happy. Though they were able to go four hours overnight no problem, and we figured that could be kept. So the third day we went to every three and a half hours, with a four-ish hour stretch overnight. It’s been three days and seems to be working. We’re trying to let them wake up on their own around 4 or 5am and 8 or 830am. Having that extra half hour between feedings feels like so much extra time! I feel like I can mentally relax a little more.

Soon I think we will be able to try stretching to four hours again. I am really excited about that–only six feedings a day! Three-plus hours in between–what luxury!

Year Out, Year In

For the past four years, I’ve made a list of goals for the year. Not resolutions, mind you–nothing so insipid as “Get in shape!”. I thought about what I wanted to do or achieve and tried to think of doable goals. Probably not a coincidence that since I was teaching at a charter school at the time, I subconsciously took the idea of SMART goals–specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound. Anyway, I like to write the goals in a small notebook and check things off or keep lists to keep myself motivated and accountable throughout the year. In general, it’s been helpful and pretty successful. I’ve never completed 100% of my goals, but I know that the goals have inspired me to do a lot of things I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

This year has been full of upheaval and change–most for the better–but it meant that a lot of my goals got pretty much forgotten or ignored. Considering the circumstances, I’m okay with that.

Some of the goals I did accomplish:

I drank more water (goal was at least 16oz a day). We visited several new places (in the US and abroad). I read (more than) 80 books. I visited my grandma one more time. I’ve worked on organizing and decluttering (though I still have a LOT of work to do). I incorporated my photography business. We visited a new restaurant every month. I took a photo of us together every month. We replaced our mattress. I knit a (tiny) sweater. We moved!

Some of the goals I did not accomplish:

I did not exercise twice a week the whole year, but I had a good excuse. 🙂 I volunteered only one time instead of two like I’d meant to. I didn’t fully fund my Roth IRA, due to job ups and downs. We didn’t make it to 5 new museums (I think we visited 2 or 3). We didn’t attend 6 cultural events, but we did do a couple, I think. We didn’t cook together once a month. We didn’t make it to a Yankees game before we left New York. We haven’t gotten some of our prints framed and hung (though we did make progress in the new house!).

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I didn’t spend much time in the waning days of 2012 thinking about goals for 2013. But here are a few I came up with after some careful thought about what I want to get out of this shiny new year:

Individual goals:
Do something active at least twice a week.

Keep up this blog–at least one post a week.

Continue taking a photo a day.

Read 40 books (I have no idea how my time will look, so I have no clue if this is even remotely feasible).

Rebuild/restart photography business

Go full-frame (camera)! (dependent on previous)

Family/couple goals:
Take daytrips to Mt Hood, the Oregon coast, and an orchard/farm.

Continue to visit one new restaurant a month (just us or with babies).

Attend some lessons as a family, like baby swimming or music lessons.

Do at least three family events (zoo, festivals, etc).

Take monthly baby on couch photos.

Take monthly couple and/or family photos.

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I feel such pressure to have some perfect beginnings for things like plans and photos ready on the first day of the year. Honestly, I’m always so scatterbrained that it just never happens. I’m a mess and I never know what day it is, so often I have to scramble to think of anything. A lifelong procrastinator, that’s me. This year is no exception–as you can tell by getting this up on January 3rd. (I wanted an extra day or two to come up with any more goal ideas.) Also, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that I haven’t done anything active yet, despite the past three gorgeous, sunny but frigid days. Sigh. Maybe tomorrow?

2012 Reading Roundup

I am a reading fiend. I love to read, and can often be found reading while doing other things, like walking, exercising, or waiting. I’ve been keeping a list of all the books I’ve read since 2002, and last year I read 112 books (tracked with the Goodreads challenge widget). This year I figured I wouldn’t want to push so hard, especially once I found out babies were on the way and that we would be moving, so I set a more reasonable goal of 80 books. I met that goal in the fall and am ending the year with 89 books. Not too shabby! 🙂

A few folks I know wrote up lists of their favorite or least favorite books read this year, and I was inspired to add a few books to my to-read list, as well as to summarize my own reading for the year. I am notorious (to myself) for being tough to please–I read so many books that my standards have gotten a lot higher. So bear in mind that I’m picky. 🙂

Fiction that I liked a lot (I read mostly Young Adult fiction this year [again]), with haiku summaries:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefveter

Horses from the sea

Island boy and girl ride, ride

Ocean gives and takes

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart —

Boys will be boys, but

What about the girls? Sidelined?

This one is sneaky! 

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock —

Shy farm girl athlete

Works hard, questions what she wants.

There’s a cute boy too

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta —

Boarding school, boys rule.

Girl feels lost, struggles.

Unlikely friendships can help.

Non-fiction that I really enjoyed, with prose reviews:

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton —

Partway through the book, I actually got a pencil and started underlining sentences and phrases. I loved this book. This book is a perfect kindred spirit for me. I love to travel, and I love to learn things, and this book completely satisfied those yearnings without ever leaving home.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot —

You’ve no doubt heard of this book if you haven’t actually read it already. It’s a fantastic read about science, but also about history, ethics, and people.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

As soon as I read about this book, I knew I wanted to read it and that I would love it. It didn’t disappoint. A story of travel, solo adventure at that, plus overcoming obstacles/adversity? I’m so there.

I’m giving myself a very conservative goal of reading 40 books for 2013. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to even do that with two babies, but I seriously can’t imagine going an entire year without reading much. This will no doubt be a very busy year, but I hope I can carve out some reading time for my own peace of mind.