Fourteen Months Old

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My dear sweet babies,

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Well, I think it’s official–you are toddlers! Or at least you’re acting like it. Your development has fairly exploded this month–there is SO much that you have learned to do! Almost all of it is really fun to see and experience.

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Neither of you can stand up without pulling up on something. But Malcolm, you walk all the time. You toddle across and around rooms constantly. Your little waddle is ADORABLE. Emmett, you haven’t shown much interest in walking quite yet. I’ve seen you take up to eight steps or so, but you still would rather crawl.


This was a tough month for your little gums–your molars came in! Emmett, you have two, and Malcolm, you have three!

Malcolm, you suddenly started fake-crying at us. You screw up your face and throw your head back and yell WAAAH. It’s kind of funny…but mostly annoying. 🙂  Emmett, this month you started using your pointer finger to point at things (you like to be carried around, pointer at the ready as you observe), and you started saying a sound like “at!” as in, “what’s that?” or “take me to see that!”. This has now evolved though as you’ve gotten to be impatient. Now you point and lean and whine this loud “EEHHHH” at everything and anything.

With this walking, you’ve been giving us more hugs lately. You toddle over to us, right into our arms for a hug. This happens especially at daycare dropoff/pickup. It is one of my favorite things right now. 🙂 You often hold out your arms to say, “Up!” or “Give me a hug!” You probably already know, but goodness, do I love hugs from my babies. 🙂

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Big communication growth this month: You started shaking your head “no”, mostly when you don’t want something at mealtime. It’s very emphatic! You also figured out how to sign “all done”, which is helpful.

Our nanny started playing high-five with you. And you love waving bye-bye! You know the word–if someone says wave, or says goodbye, you start waving. AND you started blowing kisses! Out of the blue–we don’t ever do that at home, so I guess you must have seen it at daycare? Anyway, Emmett, you move your hand from your face outward and make an “ah!” sound, while Malcolm, you just kind of lick your palm–you haven’t figured out that you’re supposed to move your hand away from your face. 🙂
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Another awesome skill: putting things away!

You’ve found some fun new games to play. Malcolm, you like to play with the walking push toys, but you don’t walk with them–you pick them up and walk around, holding them up! Silly baby. And as always, you both love playing hide and seek, and now you’ve started to use other objects to ‘hide’ your face behind, like bin lids, the kitchen bucket, the shape sorter lid, a blanket.

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Emmett, when we ask you, “Where’s your nose?” You grin and slap the side of your head. Then when we say, “No, THIS is your nose!” you start giggling.

Malcolm, you like to pull up on someone’s back (mostly Daddy) and ‘hide’ behind them. Daddy says, “Where is Malcolm?? Is he behind the bin? Is he on the couch?” Then you scoot over and lean your face over as if to say, “Here I am!” with a big old smile.

You both have started CLIMBING. Lately your fave is to climb on top of the closed book bin to play/look in the toy bin next to it. You’ll also climb into the space where the hamper goes, if it’s been moved.

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This month you got sick again. You both had fevers on and off for close to a week. Which meant that you stayed home from daycare several times and you did a LOT of snuggling. Poor babies! Malcolm, you ended up with a nasty double ear infection.

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We started trying to work more ‘real’ food into your meal rotations–you tried pulled pork, bagels, actual peas, bread, chunks of squash. But during the fever week, you both got very picky about food. You didn’t want your normal meat purees, or even all the veggies–mostly you wanted the jarred sweet potatoes. That is one of your favorite things! Eventually the pickiness subsided a bit and we got more variety again.

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Emmett, this month we noticed that you prefer to hold your spoon in your left hand, and Malcolm, you usually hold it in your right hand. Since both Daddy and I are lefties, we are very curious to see how your handedness develops!

Your grandparents sent you a baby couch. It is the CUTEST thing to see you sitting like a big person but on something sized just for you. You love climbing on it and sitting on it. ADORABLE.

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Again, you have been doing SO much new stuff this month! I just can’t believe how much you’re starting to figure out and put together, it’s so fascinating. I wonder what will be next??

love,

mama

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Our Favorite Toys for Babies, 6-12 month edition

 When I went to the big twins club re-sale last spring, I had a very specific list of items that I knew the babies would need in the short term. When I saw the huge area of big toys, I froze. I tried to think about the next 5-6 months and what the babies would do or learn or want or play with. And I had utterly no idea what, say, a 9 month old could use.

So I figure that as I go along, I’ll keep track of the toys we use in age-ranges of our babies, in hope that someday, another parent will find it useful! This isn’t an official review or sponsored post, it’s just what our babies have liked and used a lot.

(Previous gear lists: Pregnancy, New Babies part 1, New Babies part 2, New Babies part 3 Toys for 3-6 months)

Also, FYI: Baby Cheapskate does an annual roundup of “Toys that get played with” for all age ranges, based on reader polls/surveys. Here’s the 2013 list for 6-12 months. You should follow them on Facebook--they find and post tons of deals on baby gear every day!

I’m calling this 6-12 months because it’s a nice round number, but honestly, the babies are still playing with almost all of these toys at 14 months!  Also, they aren’t walking yet, so they’re not taking advantage of those kind of toys yet.

Also note that I got almost all of these things from craigslist or consignment sales. Baby stuff can get expensive, and secondhand gear is often just as good for the wee ones, but way better for your wallet! 

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Activity Table (ie, crack table) Man, did they love this! We called it the crack table because it was like a magnet–if we turned it on in an adjacent room, the babies would come crawling! And they would just keep playing with it, so when it was time to wind down at the end of the day, we’d have to move it to the kitchen to ‘hide’ it. I could see them practicing their gross and fine motor skills with all of the different ‘activities’, and I really think this helped them develop their standing stamina, too. Thankfully, the intensity of their love for this toy finally dimmed a bit. It’s still in our kitchen, and they still play with it a bit here and there. The Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker would be a good alternative to this–I’m not sure if both would be necessary.

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Riding toys: like our horsey that I found at a resale for eight bucks (newer version on Amazon) or a wagon. We have a vintage Fisher Price wagon (from a different resale), which I love for its simplicity.  Here’s their ‘new’ version, with lots more crap on it. These seem like they will continue to be played with for quite awhile.

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Anything to bang together (measuring cups, bottle caps, wooden spoons, plastic blocks, giant pasta shells)

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Musical toys: The babies seemed to love the music aspect of the kick n play piano mat, but I hated that there were only four keys and that you couldn’t just play a note. Any time you hit a key, it made a note but then also a jingle. I wanted some kind of musical toy/piano that is JUST MUSIC. Well, those pretty much don’t exist anymore. Everything sings and talks, plus does the ABCs, or talks in Spanish, or counts numbers. I just wanted them to push a key and hear a single note! Happily, I found one of these piano/xylophones and a teeny cheap little keyboard at the local Value Village for around ten bucks altogether. Some bleach and some qtips, and they were good to go! They don’t play with these a ton, but I like that they have the opportunity to “play” “music” with their own little hands, and I hope that they will keep playing with musical toys as they get older and more coordinated.

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Bins of things: (books, toys, linens). I like the 56-quart clear bins from Home Depot or Target. We keep the baby books in one of these bins, and it turned out to be a perfect size for climbing into and on top of. 🙂

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Exersaucer/Jumper: (to sit in or to stand on the outside of). We had one of each before they were six months, since there were two babies that needed activities to rotate through. One was borrowed and one was from craigslist–we could not have afforded both otherwise! The babies LOVED the jumper for a long time but kind of got over being in the exersaucer sooner. However, it’s on my list because we still have it in our living room–they still like going over to it and playing with a few of the toys, especially the one where you push a button for some music. They start bouncing their little legs and smile. 🙂

Rattles We like to put popcorn kernels in empty containers and let them shake shake shake.

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IKEA Foam blocks/wooden or plastic blocks: Self-explanatory, I’m sure.

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Stacking rings (plastic or wooden) and stacking cups from IKEA (see above re: banging things together): I always heard these were good toys for babies but they seemed so boring! I have been proven wrong–the cups in particular were an instant winner for our babies. They’ve gone through different stages of playing with them: first to eat, then to bang together, then nesting together, and attempting to stack them. I’m telling you, three bucks, endless fun and entertainment.

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Shape Sorter Bucket: The pieces can be used for chewing and banging together first, and then the babies will learn about dumping out and putting in again. Good times! It’s also an excellent hide and seek ‘mask’, according to Emmett.

Sharky brush: Teether/toothbrush that the babies love to chew on!

Foam playmat: We keep this on our living room rug to cushion falls and tumbles, and to prevent messes from getting to the carpet. It does trip them up sometimes when they’re pushing the riding toys.

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Bath letters:  Who doesn’t want fun bath toys to chew on and throw over the side?

Touch and feel books, lift-the-flap books. They love lifting the flaps so much that they rip them right off!

I’d love to hear your additions to this list–what do your 6-12 month olds love to play with?

Life and schedule update v9 (25 months)

The Sunday before their first birthday (late November), the babies dropped their morning nap. They stayed up until 12 or 1230 and then crashed. I was like, okay, they’re down to one nap a day now! It took a few weeks of being very cranky in the late afternoon, but only occasionally taking what we call a bonus nap, to get into the groove of being one-nap babies. (They’ll still take an extra nap sometimes, if they don’t sleep enough for the first one. But sometimes they’ll be super crabby and refuse to nap again.)

Their wakeup time has fluctuated just a bit, but is generally in the 7-30 range. This is pretty great, we think. I mean, we would rather not get up that early, but obviously it’s better than anything in the 6:00 hour!

Since that nap transition, we’ve also completely weaned then off formula and to (organic whole) cows’ milk! They go through a gallon every 3/4 days, which costs $6 at Trader Joe’s. In comparison, a can of formula used to last the same amount of time and cost $17. Slashed that budget by two-thirds!! They’ve also dropped a feeding/bottle, so now their schedule is the easiest yet: Bottle at wakeup, breakfast an hour later, lunch around 1130, two-hour-ish nap, bottle in mid-afternoon (between 2 and 3), dinner at 530, last bottle at 7, bedtime at 730. Additionally, we’ve been reducing the amounts in the bottles, so far to about six ounces each.

Yes, we still give them bottles, even though they’re over a year old. I know that they aren’t “supposed” to have bottles anymore, and “should” be using sippy cups or actual cups by now. I don’t even care. I don’t want to fight that battle, and I know plenty of people/babies who do bottles past one year old. We’ll get them to cups/sippies someday.

The babies have been going to daycare for a few months now. Except only sort of, because they keep getting sick and missing days. At daycare they’ve still been in the infant room, though the teachers started offering them the toddler lunch. It seems to be a crap shoot if they eat it, and sometimes only one wants any. The bigger issue at daycare is that they don’t really nap. For the first month or more, they only slept for like 20-40 minutes, instead of two hours. Ugh.

At home we’ve been a bit lazy about doing more “solid” solid food, so we still give them a lot of soft/runny foods (like applesauce and yogurt) and purees. We have started to work on giving them whole foods: small chunks of bread or bagel, actual peas, bites of pulled pork, chunk of cooked chicken, bits of fruit. So far we don’t have any big winners or foods that both babies will actually eat. Often they’ll eat a couple bites and then make a face and let the food dribble out of their mouth. Sigh. I’m trying not to fret too much that they aren’t eating all real-people food all the time yet. Last night we all went to an American restaurant and they ate most of a grilled cheese sandwich! I was pretty psyched about that. I do “know” that babies need several (or more than several) introductions/opportunities to try foods….I am just impatient and I want them to eat whatever we give them. 🙂 So like I said, we’re trying. We’ll get there eventually!

Sleep is definitely getting better in general. There aren’t many night wakeups. Lately since they’ve been sick, they get these big coughing fits randomly and sometimes they’ll wake themselves up. This tends to happen before we go to bed, though, and often they’ll be totally quiet the rest of the night. HOWEVER, there is supposed to be a 13-month sleep regression. The last two sleep regressions hit them about a month and a half late, which would put this one in February. That’s gonna be really hard after us all getting some good rest!

They’re really working on so many things–Malcolm is almost a walker, and they seem to be picking up a few signs, and they are into exploring everything. We’ve gotten to the point where we can’t eat or drink anything if we’re near them. Well, actually, I guess that’s been difficult for months now, but now they make all this noise (this kind of EEHHHHHH whine, like give it to me I want to tryyyy itttt) and dang, they can reach so far now! They like to play with utensils and food containers, they still like banging things together, and they still like opening and closing babygates and kitchen cupboards. They continue to aggressively love lift-the-flap books–they keep ripping off the flaps. Just this past week they suddenly figured out how to climb on and climb off their riding toys! So much going on in those little baby brains and bodies.

Goals and Hopes for the New Year

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Sigh. I have no idea.

I feel like January snuck up on me this year. (Though honestly, I think I feel that way every year.) The end of December was the four of us at home together again, so I wasn’t really in a mental space to start thinking about next year. As January started, I’ve been spending hours working on my photography business: working through the Amazing Biz Workbook, doing an e-course, and writing down other notes and ideas. This means that the process of developing my regular goals for my regular life have been left behind and forgotten.

I just right now looked at my goals I made for 2013. And holy crap, I accomplished almost all of them!

Not, obviously, blogging here once a week. I currently have more than two dozen drafts in varying stages of doneness, and I am hoping to whittle those down here in the new year.

I read 52 books last year, which was awesome. Almost all of them were YA (young adult) novels read on my kindle. [I am staunchly pro-physical-book…but dude, the convenience of the kindle cannot be overstated. Find a book on the internet (library) and then a few seconds later it’s right in front of you! Magic!! Magic *and* free books–what could possibly be better?] Anyway, a few of my favorites from the year were Code Name Verity, Something Like Normal, Stupid Fast, the Red Blazer Girls series.

I actually did a decent job of “doing something active”. I went for walks at least a couple times a week for most of the year (and upped that to just about every day near the end). I got a pedometer in November and that has helped me be more aware of my movement/activity.

I did continue/complete my Year In Pictures project for the year. I did upgrade my camera (from the Nikon D300 to the Nikon D600–IT IS AWESOME). We took monthly family photos and monthly couch photos for each ‘birthday’. We definitely did a couple events as a family, though we still haven’t gone to the zoo.

These are the paltry goals I’ve been able to cobble together so far:

-Read 60 books (four down already–woo!)

-Get Our Shit Together (TM)

-Do all the fun outings we did last year, again, but with bigger, more interactive babies this time. (See most of the things on the Summer Bucket List. Plus the tulip fields, apple picking, pumpkin patch.)

-New outings: the zoo, OMSI, the Children’s Museum

-Do an overnight trip away from the babies.

-Do an overnight trip to the coast with the babies.

-Generally find some time and effort to focus on being grown-ups–both as individuals and as a couple.

-Finish all twelve weeks of the MuTu system (a core strength/toning exercise program). I started it in mid-November and got through Week 4, then stalled and did the easy weeks for three weeks. Finally I got my act together and restarted Week 3…after Week 4 take 2, my knees started hurting, and I took most of the week off. So I’ll have to start again and see how I can better take care of my old-lady joints.

-Continue taking monthly family pictures, and twins-on-the-couch pictures. (Assuming that at some point they will be able to actually sit there for more than two seconds. It’s quite a circus to get the shots I do get. I really need a third adult. Or lots more pillows for the floor.)

-Work on getting to bed at a better time. For a few weeks, I was going to bed at 2/230am. For the past couple weeks, it’s been 130am. Because I am a nightowl and also an idiot.

-Be better at blogging. I have a hard time being articulate in the way that I want, so I tend to jot down some ideas and then leave it. I also have to sit on a post for at least a day because I always think of stuff to add and/or change.

This final paragraph from last year’s goals post still applies perfectly, except that this time it’s halfway through the damn month:

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.)

What are your goals this year?

Thirteen Months Old!

Dear sweet babies who are technically no longer babies,

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Thirteen months! More than a year! Ack.

That was the best ‘birthday’ photo I got of you guys because you do NOT want to just sit still, at least not on the couch. You’d rather crawl sideways or try to lean OFF the couch. Oh boy–soon you’ll be leaping off of all sorts of things and what will I do. :/

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You both are really growing and developing and changing–it is so neat and fun to watch! Well, it’s mostly fun. Malcolm, this month you learned to fake cry! You throw your head back and go WAAAH but there are no tears and once you get what you want you magically are happy again. We’re on to you, little buddy. 🙂

Emmett, you’ve started playing hide-and-seek with stuff. You had already been playing by hiding your whole self around a corner, but this month you started using other things to ‘hide’ your face–like the lid of your shape-sorter. You hold it up to your face, and we say, “Where’s Emmett? Where are you, Emmett?” and then you make us wait, then lower the object, all ta-da, with a giant grin. “There you are!”

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You both have started to “share” toys — you hold it out and then want it right back. However, you only do this with us, not with each other. With each other you just grab your brother’s toy and then your brother gets upset. Sigh.

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When you play with your shape-sorter, you have finally started figuring out how to pick up a block and put it back into the bucket!

You’ve both figured out how to use the spiral toy–Malcolm, you can put one of the little balls on the track so it will roll down. Emmett, you have learned to put the froggy in the little elevator thing and press the button to release it!

Your physical development is really coming along. You are little speed demons on the stairs lately (with supervision only, of course), and you’ve started to work on using spoons at meal time! You can grasp the spoon and we’re helping you practice ‘scooping’ food and then putting it in your mouth.  Someday (not terribly soon, but someday all the same) you’ll actually be able to eat by yourselves…

Speaking of food, you both get either hungry enough or you just know our schedule well enough that you get upset when you want to eat! “Give us food already!!”  We recently started giving you Cheerios, which you LOVE, and which act as a perfect appetizer as we finish getting everything else ready. You get meats and veggies at dinner still, but you get picky or ornery about the meat sometimes–you want those veggies! I know that won’t last…     2014-01-11_0007

AND–happy news for our wallets–this month we finished our last can of formula!! Now you have three bottles of organic whole milk throughout the day, in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Malcolm, you randomly learned about the word “dance.” And if we ask you to dance, you close your eyes and bop your head back and forth. It’s adorable and we have NO idea where that came from! Unfortunately, it only lasted a few days, and now you and Emmett  bounce your little baby legs when we asked you to dance. Still cute. 🙂 Here’s a tiny snippet:

Emmett, you started climbing into the book bin! On purpose. Repeatedly. Sometimes you get stuck but sometimes you just kind of hang out and play in there for awhile. Such a silly baby!

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You’ve been working on your walking! Malcolm, you’ll take like 7 or 8 steady steps and Emmett, you started taking a few steps here and there too. With both of you, we have you “practice” by sending you back and forth between two of us. What you really love, though, is walking with help–when we grab your hands, you take off! And of course, you still love walking the horsey and wagon back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

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You have been sick most of this month. It’s hard to see you having a tough time, especially since there isn’t much we can do. You had some colds and then you got pinkeye! Happily we got you some drops right away and it seemed to clear up quickly. We finally got a humidifier for your room, which seemed to help with the constant coughing. Malcolm, you got really clingy with Daddy this month–maybe related to feeling sick? Who cares, though–baby hugs are the best. 🙂 Emmett, you had a couple episodes of vomiting. We didn’t know what caused it, and you didn’t seem upset by it, thank goodness. It was sad, though, and yeah, a little gross. It must not have been too serious though, because it didn’t last.

We set up the double wagon you got as a first birthday gift and have taken you for a couple walks–you love it! You get to look around even more than in the stroller. And you’re extra cute in there too. 🙂

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We took you to a real pool for the first time this month! It was a party for the twins club, but we didn’t have much chance to talk to the other families. You both took awhile to just take in the big open space–looking around and not paying attention to the water. Emmett, you soon started splashing around happily. Malcolm, you were a little more hesitant, until I took you to where there was a little ledge of falling water–you really liked playing with that. I hope that in the next year we all take more family outings to a pool so you can play and enjoy yourselves.

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This month was technically your second Thanksgiving, but it felt like the first. You still had no idea about the holiday, but we sure are thankful to have such sweet, playful, adorable babies!!

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love,

mama

December Darkness

Hallelujah, we’ve made it to January–past the solstice! I am so relieved.

For months, I was dreading this December. Hoping it wouldn’t be anything like last December.

I should share that I have a mental image of the calendar year, as basically a single column of all the months (like this), so December is at the ‘bottom’ of the year. Kind of squished and desperate, trying to stay tacked on and relevant to the rest of the months. The dreary dregs. (The transition from December to January feels especially strange to me, as we suddenly move from the very bottom to the very top of a new year–it doesn’t feel very connected at all.) So when I think of ‘when’ we are, I also think of ‘where’ we are in the year column. My weird brain pictures are probably a factor in why Decembers in general can be odd for me, but last December specifically was really hard.

First, it took three weeks after my c-section to be pain-free, which was half of the entire month. (The babies were born on Nov 21.) Being unable to move freely, being physically unable to do much of the baby care, just being in pain was difficult. I didn’t like being so useless and helpless. I wanted to rest and to sleep, desperately, but I also hated the idea of being a burden, so I pushed myself a little and I shouldn’t have. I wanted to be stoic, and I did not want to be weak. But my body gave me no choice–the weakness was there whether I accepted it or not.

Second, I was definitely a little on edge and emotional. When I cried at my two-week OB appointment about why does everything still hurt (TWO WEEKS AFTER MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY HELLO WHAT WAS I THINKING) she kindly said, manage your pain and take those painkillers. Once the pain was gone, it did help to have one less thing bothering my physical self. My emotional self was still not totally stable though. I didn’t and don’t have any words or description for it either–I don’t think it was “blues” really, though there were certainly a lot of hidden tears. I didn’t feel ‘down’ or ‘depressed’ though, just emotional and overwhelmed. And frustrated at my body.

Third, I spent literally 20 hours a day on the couch. For several weeks it was because again, physically, I was unable to move much otherwise. But also, I was pumping every three hours, and we were feeding babies every three hours. Usually that schedule didn’t overlap. And I did try to hold the babies sometimes, and of course they would fall asleep, so then I would be stuck on the couch some more. Many times I had to decide–should I hold babies, or eat, or sleep, or go to the bathroom?

Fourth, because I was on the couch all the time, I couldn’t go anywhere (duh) which meant I didn’t have a support system. The internet was there, and I read every word of it that month, for something to do and for companionship. I didn’t know any other new parents, I didn’t have any friends, it was just the four of us and the freaking couch. Our house was an island of exhaustion and the world could have ended outside our door and we wouldn’t have known. (Well, unless someone else posted about it on Facebook.) What’s terrible is that even if I did have someone to talk to, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t actually know what to say or have anything at all to say. Which sounds kind of ridiculous, but really, are there appropriate words for the complete upheaval of your life that newborn twins brings?

And almost worse than the isolation, it was really dark. It felt like it was always night time. Part of that is that with two newborns in the house, there was no separation of ‘daytime’ and ‘nighttime’ – really, there weren’t even ‘days’, just cycles of three-hour feeding blocks. But of course most of it was just the December days being so short. Both things we had to just wait out and get through.

Obviously we went on a few outings that month–a couple trips to the pediatrician, I went to my OB once, we got a Christmas tree. So I did go outside a few times. But in general, my memories of the first weeks of life with our babies are of darkness, of overwhelmed and numb exhaustion.

And then, finally, it was January. We’d emerged from the first six-week scramble into new parenthood and I didn’t quite feel so overwhelmed anymore. Plus, our nanny started working with us. My biggest distinct memory of the month is going out for my first walk–in the sunshine. Moving my body, pain-free, just me, free, in the daylight. It felt so good to be out of the darkness. It really felt like a re-awakening. What a relief.

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Fortunately, this new January is not nearly such a new me–life is better, calmer, no longer so exhausting and strange. I am so glad that we all made it through the dark December days intact and ready for another year together.

Happy New Year, Happy Solstice, Happy New Beginnings, Happy Re-Awakening to you. 🙂