What It Means to Have Two Babies at the Same Time

DSC_7951-18_WEBOnly one pregnancy but two babies!

One pregnancy but a lot more risk, worry, and monitoring.

Both mom and dad get to hold and hug a baby. No jealousy.

If multiple visitors come over, there are two babies to hold and snuggle. Babies all around!

Every time I give one baby a big hug, I feel the need to give the other baby a hug too, lest he feel left out. Same with saying I love you, cooing over cuteness, etc.

When one baby is making developments/meeting milestones, I worry about the other one if he’s not.

When I need to take them upstairs to nap and can only take one at a time, I have to think who I carried up first last time. I don’t want to always do one first and make the other one feel left out.

Same thing when they wake up from a nap–who to take first and make sure I’m alternating. (Our nanny has the same thoughts on this one, by the way.)

It is quite a feat to feed and burp two babies at once. Especially if you’re simultaneously pumping.

I worry about posting pictures unevenly, and as a corollary I often purposely alternate individual shots of them.

As another corollary, I’ll take similar shots of each and make a diptych so I’m not showing photographic favor of one over the other.

I don’t always like listing out their developments (even in my head) because inevitably one does something first and I don’t want the other one to feel bad. You know, in fifteen years when they’re reading internet antiques through their mind chips.

When they were itty bitty newborns, I could put both of them on my chest at once. Holding one baby on your chest is awesome. Two is exponentially more awesome.

I can’t pick up both of them at the same time (or at least not without hurting myself). So if they’re both crying, I can’t equally comfort them both.

I can sit down and hug them both. As they’ve gotten older, though, they’ve gotten not just bigger but also squirmier, so it’s tough to keep them both in my lap.

They will now try to comfort their upset brother: Hugs, gentle pats, fetching of lovey or bottle.

It’s a calculated risk to change one diaper because the other baby/toddler is now free to get into mischief.

They fight over toys. Even if they are both holding identical toys, each wants brother’s toy.

Every time you go to buy something, you have to decide if you should buy only one, or if you really need two.

The cost of most everything doubles. And/or, things last half as long.

Sometimes things come in sets of two already, which feels like a secret hat tip to twin parents.

Double strollers, though they can be great for what they are, will always be way more unwieldy than single strollers.

You can’t–well, I can’t–push a double stroller and a grocery cart at the same time. Therefore going shopping before they’re old enough to sit up in a cart is pretty much a no-go.

Once they are big enough for the cart, only one baby can sit in it, while the other baby has to be stuck in a carrier. (Except for Costco with their double carts!)

It’s really hard to take two babies to a class or solo outing. For one, you have to make sure that you can take one out of the stroller and leave the other one safely. Then, you have twice the work and twice the weight to carry/adjust.

They crawl and walk in opposite directions.

They entertain each other and themselves.

They will play by themselves, independently.

If they’re both into mischief, you can’t carry them both away. Once you move one, the other has gone back into the mischief, so you move that one, but the first made it back again…etc etc.

If one wakes up crying in the middle of the night, he might wake up the other one. If so, you can only pick up one at a time. Which then means a terrible cycle of pick one up and calm him, listen to the other cry. Put first one down, pick up and calm the second one, first one starts crying again. And so on.

If one makes some noise in the middle of the night, you may not know who it is unless they’re still actively crying.

They may not nap at the same time, or for the same amount of time. Which means that you can’t always bank on naptime for things like cleaning, reading, tv, or mama naptime.

If one is sick, both have to stay home from daycare.

The pediatrician co-pays really add up fast with two babies who rotate getting sick.

You don’t always have time or brainpower to use their names, and refer to them as ‘this one’ and ‘that one.’

When you pick up two babies from daycare, that means two sweet faces to light up, and two sets of little legs to crawl or toddle over, and two sets of little arms to hug you.

Nothing is ever easy with twins.

Life is never boring with twins!

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Things Right Now

I have mentioned the hugging in a couple other posts. But seriously. It is the best thing. Especially when I pick them up at daycare: when they see me, they get this big smile, walk over to me, and put their arms around me.

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Babies have started getting into our trash cans. They know how to open the flappy lid of the kitchen trash, and they like playing with the lever of the diaper pail. Also, they like to put things *in* the diaper pail (the hole in the top–we have a Diaper Champ).

They love yogurt. They will happily lick the Chobani lid, and try to lick the empty container.

Best of all, I once found Malcolm with a yogurt container that he’d just fished out of the trash. Nice.

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They’re walking all the time, no crawling for weeks now. And they’re climbing–up and down stairs; clinging onto the highchair; I saw Emmett climb up and onto a kitchen chair! I can’t believe that my little babies are legitimate toddlers now!IMG_3962_WEB

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They still don’t have any words. I’m not too stressed or worried, because they’re my only babies, so to me they’re normal. But as the months edge up and they still mostly grunt and babble, I will wonder. They do sort of repeat general noises/cadences. Malcolm makes an “uh oh” sound, kind of.

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They finally outgrew their 12 month clothes last month. I didn’t stock up at the fall resale because I had no idea how much they might grow. I quickly cobbled together a little 18-month wardrobe. But…those are already getting a little tight, especially on Malcolm. I go back and forth between “buy more clothes!!!” and “don’t buy anything!!”

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We’ve been trying to expand their food/meal options. So far Malcolm is pretty open to new things, and Emmett is pretty closed-off. But sometimes they hate everything new, which makes me feel all frantic–let’s try this, and this, and how about this? And of course, one day they’ll love something and the next day hate it. It’s pretty funny when they don’t like something–they make an “ewwww” face and then push the food back out of their mouth.  They love to spill things out of their bowls/containers, whether it’s applesauce or peas. Their spoon use is getting really good, but if they get excited or upset, they flap and fling the spoon so the food on it goes flying.

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By January, they were sleeping all the way through the night with zero wakeups. They’d been “sleeping through the night” since about three months old, but with very short crying wakeups for a lost pacifier or whatever. It has been REALLY nice to have quieter nights! Of course they do have wakeups and make more noise when they are sick and/or when we have visitors. Naturally.

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They love getting out of the house. Now that they’re walking, sometimes we let them go into our front yard. But it didn’t take them long to figure out that it extends around the side of the house and then to the street, and they love walking down the street. They most decidedly do NOT like being stopped from where they want to go. So we’ll have to figure out how to contain and corral them this summer. I can’t wait to be able to play in the front yard in the sunshine!

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Emmett loves grabbing the pens off my desk, and pretending to write with them and also chew on them.

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They go through these phases of book favorites, where they will pick up the same book and flip through it over and over, or just look at one page for a long time. So interesting. Generally I don’t think they notice differences between books in our book bin, they just pick one up and want to read it/want us to read it to them.

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They are getting so helpful and attentive! We can ask one of them for help getting something for brother, and he’ll toddle over, get it, and present it. So cute! They also like to do things we don’t like, like banging blocks on the window, or standing up (and doing a jig) on a closed bin. We tell them to stop or to get down, and they just smile. Frustrating!

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They really are figuring so many things out. Like unloading the dishwasher. This week I saw Malcolm ‘brushing’ his hair! (We only do that after baths–their hair is thick and not terribly obedient, so we just let it stay messy most of the time.) And he put my shoes ‘away’. Which we’ve never done obviously or consciously or even mentioned with words–I guess he just sees where the shoes normally hang out. It’s really fascinating and delightful to see their little brains learning things.

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.

Getting Ready for Christmas

December has been a busy month! DSC_3260-47

We got our tree on the 8th, put lights on it on the 10th, and finally got some ornaments (and living room lights) up on the 21st. Oops. (We also got some larger outdoor strands for the front of our house…those are still in their boxes.)

Pictures with Santa was on my list, but we kept putting it off and I was afraid we’d never actually get to it. But on Sunday morning before Christmas, we went downtown to the Macy’s Santaland. The line wasn’t long at all (and much better to wait indoors than outside for the Pioneer Santa, though I heard he was a great Santa), and there were several neat Christmas displays in the waiting area, like the animatronic reindeer.

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The Santa part was really quick and really easy. Santa himself was very nice–I realized that one baby was stinky right when it was time to put them on Santa’s lap! I told Santa and he didn’t mind. The babies did not scream and cry; they did their classic, slightly-nervous staredown like they do in all new places.

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In comparison, here is their first Santa photo from last year, when they were only a month old!

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There was more neat stuff past Santa–an old monorail car and this awesome train display:

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A quick photo of me with the babies, too:

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The last piece was our stockings! I grew up with two handmade, personalized stockings–my grandma knitted one for all of us on my dad’s side, and my mom sewed matching/coordinating ones for all of us when I was little. So I wanted to have a new set of stockings for this new family of my own that was also handmade. Last December I asked my mom if she would make some for the four of us. We bought fabrics but there was no time to do anything last year. But this year, my mom was ready to go! She was down here for a day to finish everything up. They turned out really nicely!

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Next year, we will figure out a place to hang them, and we’ll fill them with goodies!

First Birthday Party

At first we weren’t going to do anything for the twins’ first birthday.

See, we still don’t know that many people here, and their birthday falls near Thanksgiving, when a lot of people leave town, plus I didn’t want to plan a “thing” or even have an official “to-do.” Plus of course, the babies don’t know anything, a party wouldn’t mean anything to them.

But after going to a friend’s baby’s first birthday party (which was nicely put-together and well-attended), we thought about it and decided that we should mark the occasion with some kind of event.

So we decided on  the Sunday after their birthday, and invited all of our friends with babies. We found some decorations at Party City, and I looked up a few recipes to try for snacks, and I made a plan for cake. Just a casual get-together, really.

For decorations, I kept things really simple. No pinterest here–nothing chevron, no striped straws, no drinks in mason jars, no hand-lettered signs labeling the cheese and crackers. That is not my style, at least not for this kind of thing. (If that is your style, awesome!)

There was a banner, because a) it was a great backdrop and b) we can use it in the future:

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I made this fun streamer ‘curtain’! It was supposed to also serve as a fun photo backdrop, but I never got around to that.

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I printed out all of the babies’ monthly and holiday photos from this past year, and strung them up on a ribbon. (Here it is at the end of the night, on the floor.) It was neat to see them all together like that! I always like looking back and seeing how much they still look like themselves, only smaller and slightly less-fully-formed.

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Somewhere on a facebook page, I read about a recipe for Carrot Apple Cheddar Bites as a tasty toddler snack. They stunk horribly of egg while cooking, but got good reviews by all who tried them!

I decided not to deal with making a cake from scratch and got some box mixes and frosting. I made a batch of chocolate cupcakes and two chocolate cakes in loaf pans (one for each baby, of course), because I found this adorable first birthday cake idea from Betty Crocker:

No. 1 Cutout Cake

So cute and so perfect, right? Here’s what mine ended up as:

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Nailed it! Bahahaha!!!

I made the cakes that morning, and they were so light and fluffy! Cutting out the shape with the paper template actually worked pretty well. But I learned a good lesson: pay attention to the part that says refrigerate cake before frosting it! Should have made it the night before. Also, get extra frosting.

We only had a few people, and two other babies. Everyone played for awhile and then it was time for the celebrating!

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We put the cakes on their high chair trays and sang happy birthday to each of them. They were not sure what to think about any of it! They poked and stared at the cakes. Malcolm did figure out that he could eat it, but Emmett didn’t–I gave him a piece. Neither really wanted much, and neither really wanted to dig in their hands. Oh well. More cake for mama. 🙂

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I ended up being really glad that we did the little ‘party.’ First, because I wanted pictures of it, but also, it was nice to make it an event: to purposely think about and celebrate a whole year of these wonderful babies, and us as a family of four. Even better that we got to share with a couple other people – I hope that we continue to build a community here in Portland in the coming years. I can’t wait for these guys to be old enough to actually play with our other baby friends!