The Twins Update

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My babies are still babies. They will be so until they walk. Then I will call them toddlers. But the changes are slower and subtler than that, of course.

The thing I notice most right now is how much they understand. I can now tell Leo, “Daddy is going in the other room to get you more food,” and he’ll stop screaming (sometimes). I can ask Zoe, “What do you want?” and she’ll point and grunt instead of flailing about (sometimes). If you ask them to hand you something, they’ll usually do so, and they both definitely understand the phrase, “not in the mouth.”

They both point, wave, do some sign language, and even blow kisses. They love putting things “in” and “out” of other things, they love to hand things to you and to have them handed back. They love to crawl all over you both at once and flop over onto their backs and see your upside-down face and laugh.

Their personalities continue to develop, but not in any surprising ways. They’re both the same as they were when they were born. I feel like we had them each pegged from the start.

Zoe is observant, social, even-tempered (except when she is not), and goofy in a way that is not in-your-face, but is always there, beneath the surface. But most of the time, she is serious. Her natural expression is a frown, especially when she is studying a new person. People often think she is about to cry, or that she doesn’t like them. “Look, that one is sad,” I often hear from strangers, and I know which twin they are talking about. I know better. I know Zoe. When she was born I had more trouble bonding with her and she seemed so alien. But now it is the opposite – she is the child that I don’t have to struggle to understand. She looks into my eyes and it’s like I can read her mind. Sometimes I wonder if she is exceptionally intelligent, but there is nothing concrete I can point to to support that. It’s just in her eyes. She’s still the odd-duck of the family – she looks different, her temperament is different, hell, she’s even a morning person! She is the same as she’s always been, but I’ve finally tuned in to her vibe, and it’s a pleasure.

Leo is boisterous, demanding, physical, and fun-loving. When he enters a room, he could care less about who is in it – his eyes are on the objects to be grabbed and explored. Sometimes I worry that he is autistic because he doesn’t make eye contact the way Zoe does. But then I remember: he’s a boy. When there are no distractions, he looks at me with the awareness of my personhood, just like Zoe does. But a moment later, he’s reaching for a a ball or a speck of dust on the floor, grunting, and squirming out of my arms. Leo makes everyone around him into a comedian, because there is nothing better on earth than the sound of his laugh. I mean, all babies have cute laughs, and all three of my kids have the cutest laughs in the world, of course, but Leo’s laugh is divine. It’s chocolate covered Rachmaninoff. It’s skydiving through space. It’s impossibly great.

Leo seems to be developing an interest in animals. He growls at them. His favorite activity right now is walking with a push-toy. But he also likes music, water, tickle-wars, TV, eating, drinking, sleeping…he loves everything! It’s hard to say what is going to capture his interest more than anything else. He is sucking the marrow out of life. I think the only thing he doesn’t like is that he can’t get to all the shiny objects on the shelves.

I’m pleased to report that we’ve finally found something that Zoe really loves. She loves a moon bounce! It seems so totally out-of-character for Zoe: she is so cautious that I’d call her a fearful baby. She was afraid of water for a while, she doesn’t like some of the Halloween decorations, she cried at some of the animals at the zoo. But we blew up the moon bounce and put the twins in it, and Zoe immediately went crazy for it. No fear. Bouncing, crawling, sliding, playing – total rapture. Today, she got another chance, this time with a bunch of other, bigger kids at a fair, and she loved it again! It’s nice that we can finally give Zoe something that she loves so much.

Since I didn’t do a Sam Update for her sixth birthday, I’ll at least include her picture here. I can’t believe I get to be mommy to all three of these amazing people.

Yes, Leo and Zoe are one year old already. Both of them. Imagine that!

We are all so busy just trying to keep up with Zoe’s and Leo’s development. The whole house seems to need to be rearranged every few weeks. The rotation of stuff in and out of the house is astounding! We have to get rid of stuff quickly because new stuff has to come in all the time. We’ve installed baby gates and a few cabinet locks, replaced their high chairs with booster seats, sold off or given away tons of old things like bouncy seats, changing tables, clothing, mobiles, pillows, blankets, Bumbos, and more. We need a new dining room table – our current one only seats four and every meal is mad chaos with mix-matched chairs being slid all over the place. We had to rent a storage unit for our overflow because we’re using all the rooms in our house now. I had a bit of a break in the buying of new clothes for a while – they’ve been wearing their current set of clothing for about 3 months – but it’s about time again to clear out the closet, sort through the hand-me-downs, and visit the consignment store.  And I think the next big change will be that I’ll have to start buying shoes for them! I can’t write an integrated, thoughful post, but here are some bullet points about our babies:

  • My favorite thing about Leo right now is his laugh. My favorite thing about Zoe right now is how she mimics everything we do.
  • Zoe was bigger than Leo by a few ounces at last check. I suspect the difference will be even greater when they go in for their one-year check up. Did I schedule that yet? Yikes, I might not have.
  • Both Leo and Zoe are at about the same level of mobility. They both crawl and can go up and down a single step, although they still fall on their faces sometimes. They haven’t yet figured out how to go down backwards, even though I keep trying to teach them. Zoe is currently fascinated by stairs and has climbed halfway up the staircase with our au pair, Ale, right behind her. Leo stands up a lot more than Zoe. He cruises a bit, but mostly he just likes to stand, as he has since he was just a few months old. They can both balance for a second or two while standing, and they can both take steps while holding an adult’s hands. Leo is much better at it than Zoe, but I won’t guess who will walk first or when it will happen. It could be tomorrow or it could be months away for either of them.
  • Zoe has five teeth and Leo has three. Neither one seems overly bothered by teething. Zoe looks positively toothy when she smiles and it’s really cute. Leo still has a gummy smile and it’s hard to imagine what he’ll look like with teeth on top.

  • Leo loved to get into the pots and pans, but we had to put a lock on his favorite cabinet because there is a sharp screw sticking out of the wall in there. He also likes to move furniture, especially big furniture. If it’s big, he’ll try to move it, and he usually succeeds. So far, this is not a problem because we’ve rearranged the furniture for safety, but that could change as he gets stronger. It’s fun to watch him drag a heavy chair or table across the room. Zoe would rather sit in a chair. She loves sitting up in a chair like a big girl.

  • Both Zoe and Leo point, and I know Zoe waves but it’s hard to tell if Leo does because he’s always waving his hands around trying to tell us all kinds of things. But the pointing is thrilling for us and for him! He points to everything he wants to explore and we carry him to it if he can’t get to it himself. He loves pictures of people on the walls and all the knicknacks on the shelves. Zoe’s bye-bye wave is adorable.
  • Both Leo and Zoe have done some sign language, but they’re not really good enough with their hands to use it successfully. They are both pretty good at communicating, though, and they communicate in very different ways. Leo is a horrible whiner. I mean, he is really, really irritating. If he wants something and doesn’t get it immediately, he does this very loud whining cry. And he WANTS. Oh, that boy wants everything, all the time. Especially food. He can’t stand that other people have food on their plates that he is not allowed to eat. Mealtimes are not pleasant and it’s very hard to make Leo happy because there is always food on the table that he can’t grab, or a drink that he wants to try and that means that he whines whines whines. But along with that, we get strong expressions of pleasure and the huge hand movements and waving that help us understand him. Zoe is more subtle, but I seem to understand her most of the time. I’m not sure if that is true for Adam and Ale, but for me, Zoe is just a pleasure to communicate with. I feel like I can just ask her a question and I’ll get an answer in the form of a look or a little gesture or even a noise. In this way, Zoe is more like Sam than Leo is.
  • Both Leo and Zoe speak a bit, too. Leo definitely says two words: “no” and “banana.” They sound like “nuh” and “na-nuh,” but there is no doubt in my mind that he is using the words for the right concepts. Well, okay, he likes to say “no” when he means other things, but sometimes he means “no.” And he definitely asks for bananas, his favorite food. It’s all about values, people. Zoe doesn’t say any specific words regularly, but she mimics sounds that we make quite often. Yesterday, she clearly tried to say, “key” and “ten.” But mostly, both of them still just babble. Oh, and they scream. Sammy taught them how to do that really well.
  • They feed themselves their bottles!

  • Both Leo and Zoe have new nicknames. Zoe is “conejito,” for bunny, because she makes a wrinkly-nose face and sniffs like a bunny. Leo is “perrito,” for puppy, because I’ve always called him puppy. Conejito and perrito.
  • Zoe seems to need more cuddles than Leo. She will come over and crawl into my lap and I’ll just hug her for a minute, then she’ll happily go back to her play. Leo doesn’t do that. Leo is also militantly independent. He gets upset when he can’t do something himself and he does not like to be helped. In this way, Leo is more like Sam than Zoe is.
  • Leo and Zoe had their first bath together last week! They don’t need any special bathtub anymore and they can sit and scoot around well enough that it’s safe enough to let them both be in the water at the same time. I haven’t actually done this – Ale did it – she gives them most of their baths. But I watched, and two naked babies in a tub is almost too much cuteness to bear.
  • Both of them love being read to, but Zoe especially seems to love books. She gravitates to them and flips the pages more often, although Leo is actually better at flipping pages. He does it in the typical Leo way, though – he takes the page and flips it as fast and hard as he can.
  • Zoe and Leo have always been aware of each other, but in the past week or two, they’ve begun to play with each other. I’ve seen them hide from each other and do a kind of peekaboo game, I’ve seen them lean towards each other and butt heads (not sure what that’s about, but they both cried and then did it again), and I’ve seen Zoe do things to try to make Leo laugh. Once I sneezed and it made them both laugh, so I kept doing fake sneezes. Eventually, Zoe mimicked me: she made a little noise and threw her head forward. But when she looked up, she wasn’t looking at me for my reaction, she was looking at Leo for his. Awesome!
  • Zoe tries to mimic everything we do. If I put something on my head, she puts something on her head. If I make a face, she tries to make the same face. This is how I know she is saying words – because I’ll say something and she’ll say it right back. Leo does this too, just not as often as Zoe. I had forgotten how wonderful this mimicry was. There’s just nothing better than a one year old. Except two of them.

 

 

Since it has been two months since I last wrote an update, a lot has changed. My, oh my, how things have changed!

Zoe has finally caught up to Leo, essentially. They don’t do everything new at the same time, but she does some things first and it is not obvious that she is behind, like it used to be. That makes me so happy. Her personality has changed, too. She is less unflappable and more demanding and fussy than she ever was before. I still hope she will have a more calm personality and that this is just a phase, but it’s really hard to tell where she is headed right now.

Zoe learned to sit herself up before Leo did. In fact, I have never actually witnessed Leo get himself up into a sitting position, but I know he can do it because I’ve found him sitting up in his crib. Even more exciting was finding him standing up in his crib, just a few days ago! I haven’t had such a moment since the day Sammy first started to walk. It was just magical to see this formerly permanently-prone baby go so suddenly to the upright position. The human position. I’ve written before about how meaningful it was when Sammy began to walk and part of that is that she did it so suddenly and it transformed my perception of her in an instant. It was like that when I found Leo standing. I wonder what it would be like to have one of those babies that doesn’t speak until very late and then starts speaking in sentences. That would blow my mind.

I just re-read what I had written about all the feeding issues we were going through just two months ago. Unbelievable! Both Leo and Zoe will eat just about anything now, and we’re transitioning away from the baby-food mush into a lot of the same foods we eat, just cut up very small. They love their solid food so much that they resent their bottles and hardly eat much formula anymore, and they will not allow anyone to eat in front of them unless they get to eat, too. It doesn’t matter if they just ate and should be full – if someone has food, they want it too. Leo, especially, loves to eat. You can’t shovel food into his mouth fast enough, but of course, he prefers to feed himself anyway.

Zoe got her first tooth on Mother’s Day! Leo followed about a week or two later. I believe, at the moment, Zoe has three teeth and Leo has two, but I haven’t stuck my finger in there lately so there could be more. They don’t seem too bothered by teething, but of course that doesn’t stop us from blaming their fussiness on it. And they have been fussier – both of them. They whine and get frustrated and generally vocalize their displeasure much more often than they used to. We’re doing more sign language with them in hopes of facilitating their obvious need to communicate and both of them seem to have attempted a sign or two, but it’s so hard to tell. Maybe that will be the big achievement in the next update!

A few days ago, I threw away the Gymini. The Gymini was the playmat with dangling toys that the twins spent most of their infant days on. I think 80% of our early photos of them are on the Gymini. It was Sammy’s before it was theirs and it was old and faded enough that I knew it wouldn’t sell at the consignment shop, so I put it in the trash. I cried a little.

Leo still likes the jumper, but Zoe can’t stand the jumper or the exersaucer anymore. I keep trying, thinking it is just a phase, but it’s been a while. I think those things are headed for new homes soon, too. And the bouncy seats I got for free from another mother of twins – well, we still use them on rare occasions to give both babies a bottle at the same time, but they take up a lot of floor space so I might let them go at the same time. We don’t use the baby-bucket car seats much as carriers anymore either. We carry Leo and Zoe out and strap them in in the car, and we use the regular seats in the stroller now. What a relief not to have those huge car seats in the living room! We are freeing up a ton of space, which is really important when you only have 800 square feet on the main level of your house.

With all of that, I still haven’t mentioned the biggest change: both Leo and Zoe are “crawling.” I put it in scare quotes because it’s not really hand-and-knees crawling, but elbows and hips scooting, but the point is, they move. And they move fast! And now I’m realizing that it is going to be really difficult to provide enough space for them to crawl and walk and climb in this house. Besides being split up into three levels, the main level alone is all broken up with steps. There are three steps down from our living room to our foyer which is hard tile, and there is no way that I can figure out to block them off. Then there is the one step between the living and dining rooms. The only large area without steps is the kitchen/playroom/dining room, but we have the playroom blocked off with gates so that is not very useful either. Where will they use ride-on toys? Where will they even use push toys? I’m sure we’ll figure it out, but I don’t have any good ideas yet. I’ve already re-organized the whole house about three times since they were born. Constant change is here to stay.

For now, though, the playroom that I envisioned before they were born is working out very well. Adam installed a pull-up bar and mirror which is proving to be a lot of fun, and with the baby gates installed, it is a safe place for Zoe and Leo to explore.

I’ve been horrible about taking photos, but I’ve taken some video of the “crawling,” so if you have the patience, you can watch my two little humans here and here.

Now that Zoe and Leo are starting to get well after having been sick for so long, they are going through an enormous leap in their development. We have two sitter-uppers!

 

Zoe is catching up to Leo quite a bit, both in size and developmentally. He is just a tad bigger than she is, but most people think she is bigger because she is more chubby. Leo has completely stopped working on crawling. I’m not sure if that is due to the illness or because he’s just been so happy to sit, but it means that they are both doing most of the same things. They love to sit up, they love to stand with a bit of support, and they are crazy for their exersaucer and their hanging bouncer.

Zoe’s latest cuteness is that she loves banging things to make loud noises. Give her a hard surface and a hard object and she goes crazy.

Leo’s latest cuteness is his way of asking to be picked up. He opens and closes his hands and kind of twists his wrists at the same time.

Zoe virtually stopped eating solids for the past month because of the sickness. It’s been very stressful, because she started out so well. But just in the past few days, she is regaining an appetite. She likes chicken and ham. Leo has been eating through it all, and he is starting to look as chubby as Zoe. He likes beef and ham and, well, almost everything.

Spoon-feeding these two is proving to be very difficult. Until recently, they didn’t sit well enough to use any kind of chairs but the Bumbos, and I’d find myself using one hand to alternate spoonfuls of food between them, while using the other to kind of hold them in the seats, wipe up spills, and keep them from grabbing all the objects on the table. If Sam is home while I’m trying to do this alone, it’s insane: they want to look at her, so unless she stands right in front of them, they will twist around in their seats dangerously. Now they are finally able to sit in the high chair and it is so much easier, but I only have one. I hate to have two huge high chairs in our tiny house, but I don’t see any other way. They’re just not strong enough for the booster seats you strap on to chairs and I don’t want to continue with the Bumbo insanity. I’m heading to Amazon.com as soon as I’m finished with this post.

To my dismay, they are nowhere near ready for finger foods. I want to be done with the spoon feeding as soon as possible, but they are not interested in pieces of food on a tray. They won’t even look at it, let alone try to pick it up.

I’ve been using the jarred baby food almost exclusively because I’ve been too overwhelmed to cook at all, let alone make my own baby food. But I’ll probably get back into that over the next month. It will be good to give them some chunkier foods again, like I did right at the start.

We also tried sippy cups for the first time a few days ago. They each took one sip of formula successfully and then both told me the same thing: “Mommy, I CAN do it, but I definitely don’t WANT to. Now give me my damn bottle!” But I know that once they realize that they can hold the cup and feed themselves, they’ll change their minds.

And finally, finally, they are moving off of the 3-hour cycle. I can’t believe they’ve been on it for so long. I don’t remember it being this way with Sam for more than a few months. Some weeks ago, they gave up the nap after the penultimate feeding at 6pm, staying awake until bedtime around 8:30pm. And now they seem to be moving towards two long naps a day. What a relief! Now I can take them out so much more easily. Yesterday, they came with me to drop Sammy off at school, then we went to the grocery store, and in the afternoon they came with me to pick Sammy up and then for a quick trip to the playground. Poor Sammy has been stuck in the house with us all winter, except for when I’ve had help. I’ve had to say “no” to her so much that it hurts, especially when the sun is shining and we can see all the other kids playing outside. But the only way for a single person to transport two babies at the same time is to put them in a stroller, which is an arduous, ten-minute process on the front end and the back end. And when you can only stay somewhere for 20 minutes before you have to get home for a nap, it’s hard to get motivated. Longer, less frequent naps also means that my time is less fragmented. Maybe that will help my mind to become less fragmented as well.

I’ve still not been taking as many photos as I’d like, but the few that I have from this past month are great ones. Two completely different, but equally adorable babies:

 

Today, at 2:42 and 3pm, respectively, Leo and Zoe turned seven months old. Two days ago, our dog, Toby, turned seven years old. Two days before that, I turned a multiple of seven years old. (I’ll give you a hint: in dog years, Toby is older than I am.)

I haven’t taken a seven-month photograph and I probably won’t. Leo and Zoe are sick and have been almost continually since early February. I’m sick. Sam and Adam have been sick. I’m just not in the mood. In fact, I’ve hardly taken any photos at all in the past month.

But some friends came for dinner this weekend and took this great family shot, so we’ll just call this the seven-month photograph.

Because of all the sickness, I don’t think either Leo or Zoe has progressed as much as they would have while healthy. Leo can sit up a bit better, but if anything, Zoe seems weaker when attempting to sit. Zoe was just entering a vocal phase when this latest cold hit – she was doing these long, loud screams, just playing with her voice – but it didn’t really go anywhere. Leo hasn’t been babbling as much lately either, and he doesn’t try to crawl like he used to. We have less smiles, less giggles, less awake-time than we did a month ago. It’s depressing.

They are doing some new things, though. I think they are both trying to mimic us now. I’ve gotten Zoe to stick her tongue out at me a couple of times. When we play “clap your hands,” I can almost hear the gears whirring in Leo’s head as he tries to send the signals to his hands to bring them together.

They’ve been eating solids for most of the month. We’ve tried a lot of foods and they like most of them. Their favorite is banana and rice cereal mush, and neither of them like squash much. We’ve been feeding them a lot of beef, which I pureed and froze, but they’ve also eaten tiny bits of steak right from our plates. It’s really hard to spoon feed two babies. Leo wants to grab Zoe’s bites and Zoe keeps getting too tired to sit up straight, so a lot of the time I have to kind of hold them in their seats with one hand while spooning with the other. I’ll be happy when I can put a bunch of food on their trays and let them shovel it in. It is pretty funny how their eating reflects their personalities. Leo is all bluster, making his grunting “I WANT” noises, grabbing at the spoon, and grabbing at Zoe, but he gets so excited that ends up letting a lot of the food fall out of his mouth. Zoe is slow to get started. With each new food I think, “Oh, she doesn’t like this one.” But then after about five bites, she decides it is good and gets in a rhythm and ends up eating more than Leo.

They’ve both spent some time in the jumper thing that hangs in the doorway, but neither one has figured out how to really make it bounce yet. I remember Sam going nuts with that thing, so I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Zoe is getting really good at rolling. I have to watch her more closely than Leo because she’s the one who keeps ending up under the furniture. She can also get around by just kind of slithering, but most of the time she goes in the opposite direction of her intended target. And that’s another thing about Zoe: she is goal-directed in her movement, while Leo just wants to move for movement’s sake. Zoe sees something and tries to get to it (and often succeeds). Leo just moves and ends up in a new place, which seems to excite him. Leo also loves being jostled and moved around quickly – it makes him laugh. Zoe doesn’t care for that as much. It’s still easier to get a laugh out of Leo than from Zoe.

The one thing that does make Zoe laugh is Sammy. Zoe worships Sammy. It’s almost impossible to feed her if Sam is around because she is so focused on her. Sam does all kinds of wacky things to make Leo and Zoe laugh, and she gets more laughs out of Zoe than the rest of us combined.

Leo sleeps with his butt in the air and his thumb in his mouth, and it’s just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. He’s already mature enough that this sleeping pose makes me see him as vulnerable and babyish.

This upcoming month, Adam, Sammy, and I are going to Hawaii while my parents take care of the twins for a week. It’s a good time to try it – they aren’t fully mobile yet, but they have a solid routine and sleep through the night. It’s the calm before the storm.

I hope to have more to report next month, and lots more photos.

They’re going mobile!

It won’t be long now. Leo can get up on all fours like he’s about to crawl (check out the video!)

And Zoe is beginning to roll to wherever she wants to go (see how far she got!)

It’s going to be a whole new world around here soon. Time to rearrange the furniture again!

They’re both really interested in their own toes lately. And each other’s. (Another cute video.)

We can’t lie them down too close on a blanket without close supervision because they want to grab each other’s body parts and pinch and tug. Ears are a particular favorite, but I’ve seen both of them going for the other’s eyes before, too. I tend to allow them to poke and prod each other quite a bit, but I’m not ready for a trip to the ER.

Zoe’s favorite physical activity is pushing things with her feet. She’ll get both feet positioned against the arch on the Gymini and push it around to shake all the hanging toys. It looks like she is surfing. Her other big thing of the moment is touching faces. It’s so sweet how she will reach out towards my face with such curiosity. I’ve started pointing out body parts to her and she seems interested. In fact, both of them enjoy “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” and “Where is Thumbkin.” This month, Zoe has become more smiley. When I walk into the nursery, Zoe bangs her legs on the mattress and wiggles back and forth and it looks like her mouth is going to eat up the rest of her face, the smile is so huge! I really need to get that on video.

Leo can sit up on his own now! If he puts his hands on the floor in front of him, he can sit for about 30 seconds, and with no hands, he can balance for maybe 5 seconds before he topples. As I said, he continues to work on crawling. It’s amazing to me how determined he is. It’s like he knows what he needs to do, but just isn’t physically capable yet. Sam never worked so hard at anything, and Zoe works, but her ambitions are more in line her abilities so she succeeds before driving herself crazy. Leo drives himself crazy, but it does mean that he’s doing things sooner than either of my other children. Another great thing Leo does now is that he raises his arms when he wants to be picked up. It’s his first “word” in his own sign language. All babies use sign language, whether you teach them ASL or not, you know.

Speaking of sign language, I don’t know if I’ve written here that we are doing it with Leo and Zoe, just as we did with Sam. We’ve started with only the few, most important words: “sleep,” “food,” and “more.” And I’ve finally started reading to them. It’s ridiculous that it took me so long, but I couldn’t figure out how to read to them because I couldn’t figure out the physical positioning. I can’t hold them both and a book at the same time. And they still topple over on the couch. So I gave up trying to let them see the pictures and just stared reading to them while they’re lying in their cribs. They seem to love it, but it’s not too fun for me because there is no room for two cribs plus a chair in their room, so I either stand or sit on a little stool. Hopefully when they are sitting up well, we’ll do lots of reading on the couch.

Both Zoe and Leo love the exersaucer now. Their feet just reach the base so they can push off and make the whole thing shake and rattle. They love that. But it’s getting hard to just lie them or sit them somewhere and expect them to entertain themselves. They’re at that awkward stage where they are ready to do more exploring, but are not quite mobile yet. As soon as they can sit up, I can give them the magic box – a shoebox filled with a few household objects or small toys. That was my go-go activity for Sam for quite a while once she was sitting up. Opening the box, exploring each item, and then spreading them around was fun, but she’d also lose things behind her so she had to learn to turn around and reach and develop all those skills as well. I love the magic box. Another activity that will start soon is the jumper – you know, one of those things that hangs from the door-jamb on an elastic so the baby can jump. Sam loved that, too. Leo is probably ready now, but Zoe still needs more back strength. For now, I tend to move Leo and Zoe from place to place during their play-time so they don’t get overly frustrated, but of course, allowing them to feel the frustration and work to solve it is part of my parenting method. It just means I have to listen to a lot more whining and groaning now.

Both of them love going out, even if it’s just a ride in the car to pick Sam up from school. We do go out more and more, but it’s still exhausting for me, lugging around the car seats, getting them in the stroller, etc. With Sam, it was a huge relief when she learned to walk, instead of the endless chasing nightmare that most parents describe. It just meant I had to carry her less. She was happy to hold my hand and walk along with me. Sam walking marked the end of the difficult baby days and the beginning of the most wonderful toddler days. But with two, one of whom is Leo, I don’t know how it will be. I won’t rule out using one of those baby-leashes (or two) if it makes life easier on me. I think that would be better than sticking both of them in a stroller every time we go out. With Sam, we hardly ever used a stroller once she could walk, and I think it was good for her to get around on her own that way. The leashes look cruel, but they allow the child more freedom than a stroller does. And what’s worse: being constrained by a rope, or being constrained by a mommy picking you up every time you stray too far? I know which one is worse for me, and as always, I think our interests coincide!

Half a year. I set my expectations that the first year would be miserable, and so far it hasn’t been nearly as bad as I’d expected. Still, I feel relief that I’ve made it this far. And whenever I feel like these baby days are never going to end and that I’m doomed to a lifetime of menial labor, I have Sam to remind me of what is yet to come. The best.

Zoe and Leo are now two very different babies. Different than last month, and different than each other.

 

Leo is growing hair. It’s not as light as it used to be, and it looks pretty funny because it’s just a patch right over his forehead. It’s fun to give him a mohawk.

Zoe is no longer the frail, delicate baby she used to be. She’s positively chubby. We call her chipmunk because of those cheeks.

I was right about their eye colors. Leo’s are a nice blue and Zoe’s have finally morphed over to brown. I’m excited that we can finally sing “Brown Eyed Girl” to one of our children.

Both of them have become much more aware of the world this month. They are both easily distracted while eating, which can be annoying. When I take them out in the car it’s no longer a guaranteed nap – they both try their best to stay awake and observe everything. They are both more aware of people, but Zoe in particular is beginning to have preferences. As I wrote about earlier this month, she did not like our backup babysitter. But she seemed instantly taken with Sammy’s teacher. Leo will bestow his adorable smile upon anyone who pays attention to him.

Because of this awakening awareness, they are showing the first signs of getting bored, or whatever the baby equivalent of that is. I can no longer leave them happily lying on the floor for very long. They often need a change of scenery, and they seem to like it when we have guests or get out of the house. I have been getting them out a bit more, and it’s getting easier. As long as we can make it through the winter, I think we’ll be okay. I’ve been extremely lucky that this winter has been so mild. We haven’t even had to put the sleeping bag thingies on the car seats, let alone bundle up two babies for an outing in seriously cold weather.

We’ve entered the world of drool, especially with Leo. I wish that meant that we were done with spit up, but no such luck. Both Zoe and Leo can pick up rattles and small, soft toys, and put them in their mouths. They love to sit in their Bumbos because it leaves their hands free to put things in their mouths. Everything goes straight to the mouth now. I found a small piece of felt on their blanket yesterday and realized that it’s time to start being careful.

Sometimes I think all these new developments are making things harder, but if I ever need to remind myself of what the first months were like, all I have to do is look at the feeding charts. We stopped charting just a few days ago. I gathered up the papers yesterday to put in the baby box. We have 44 pages of recorded feedings, diaper changes, medications, and baths. In the first days and weeks, if you look at the times, it’s just crazy. Did they really eat at 10pm, 1am, 4am, and 7am? Both of them? For days on end? Yes, they did. Things are definitely easier now.

When it comes to development, Leo continues to be a superstar. He is now an expert at rolling onto his tummy and doing “push ups.” He actually likes being on his tummy and will even sleep that way, although sometimes he can’t get back onto his back and that drives him nuts. One time he rolled quite a ways off of the playmat – it looked like he was heading towards a ball that was on the ground. But he never made it, so he has changed his focus to crawling. He has started the “inchworm” move – while lying on his tummy, he’ll arch his back like a cat and then straighten out, pushing forward from the knees on the ground. He has managed to locomote forward a little bit this way. And he loves to stand up! If you give him just a bit of support and help with balance, he’ll stand for a minute at a time. It’s amazing. You can even get him to take steps if you move him like a marionette. I know that boy is going to be a handful in just a few months.

Poor Zoe is just slower than Leo, so her accomplishments don’t get as much attention. But she is progressing. She is much better at holding and picking up objects than she was last month. She just learned how to roll from her tummy to her back – her preferred position. She hates being on her tummy, but I’ve seen her working on the roll from back to tummy so I think that will happen soon. Her vocalizations have gone from learning new consonants to learning new tones and sounds. She practically sings. It’s adorable. She also seems to be learning to love dolls. Since she loves people and faces, this does not surprise me.

Leo laughs a lot. His joy is infectious and it is filling our house with goodness. But he also cries a lot. He’s entered some new phase where he cries when we leave him in his crib. Sometimes it seems like he is upset about having rolled onto his tummy. Sometimes I think he just wants to be back out where all the action is, or that he is lonely. And there is the possibility that he just needs more Zantac. We’ve even speculated that he might be teething, but it’s been a couple of weeks and nothing has broken through. It’s hard to tell with Leo. He’s very expressive – everything is big and loud and over the top, so subtleties are lost.

Zoe, on the other hand, seems so easy to read. I look into her eyes and I just know what is going on. When she is hungry or tired, she just tells me, and I take care of her. It’s all so simple and easy. The downside is that she does not smile or laugh as much as Leo. She’s not what you would call the life of the party. She is earnest, simple and sweet.

We let them join us for a little bit of The Lion King last weekend. I watched Zoe’s eyeballs flick around, taking in every visual detail, as Leo “sang” along with “Circle of Life,” unable to observe without participating. Meanwhile, Sammy talked and asked questions through the whole movie, as usual.

Three very different children.

Adam and I have done a great job not calling Leo and Zoe, “the twins” very often. They are individuals and deserve to be treated separately. But sometimes it just makes sense to refer to them together. When I wrote my first monthly update, I deliberately decided to do one update for both of them because otherwise I knew it would be too overwhelming and I’d drop it. They sleep in the same room, so are we seriously going to call it “Zoe and Leo’s room?” We feed them at the same time so are we seriously going to say, “Time to feed Leo and Zoe?” No. There is something to be said for efficiency in these matters. But because we had it in our heads not to call them “the twins,” in these moments we subconsciously searched for a nickname, and somehow they became “the Beasties.”

Wow – look how much more mature they are at four months! The way they are holding hands is typical. They grab at each other all the time, and if they’re hungry, they’ll suck on each other. I’ve caught Leo sucking on Zoe’s head a couple of times. She might be our Cylon baby, but he’s our zombie baby.

The biggest event in the Beasties’ life during their fourth month was their transition to their own cribs. (See, we’re promoting their independence!) There was really no reason we couldn’t have just started out with two cribs, but we were considering going to a floor bed after a few months so we just bought one crib to get started. That turned out to be a wonderful decision because it was so sweet to have them together in the same bed. But early in December, they got too big to lie them down crosswise, and they were starting to poke each other and scoot around too much. So now we have two cribs in their tiny bedroom. Adam managed to set it up so that they can see each other, we can reach everything we need, and the video monitor can cover them both. It was one of his best packing jobs, ever!

Speaking of cribs, both Leo and Zoe are still sleeping well. Sometimes we have to wake up and feed both of them in the middle of the night, and sometimes it’s just one of them. Once, both of them slept right through. We aren’t pushing them on this issue because they seem to be on board with the project, only having setbacks when they are ill or otherwise discombobulated. They remain on a three hour schedule during the day – Eat, Activity, Sleep, Repeat five times each day. I’ve given up worrying about when they will transition to naps. They seem content this way, and it works for me, too.

Sleeping is their number one job. Eating is number two. They’ve had some issues with eating this month. Both of them are more distractable now. Leo is tuned in to sounds and Zoe is tuned into visuals, but either way, it takes them away from the bottle. Zoe still breastfeeds well and Leo is still lazy, but we’ve kept at it, and I mostly enjoy it. They both went through a brief biting phase but that seems to be over, thank god! The best part is that they are big enough now that I can nurse them lying down. That’s a little bit of heaven, right there.

Their third and final job is play. They’ve been spending the majority of their awake time on their Gymini activity mat.

They lie on their backs and bat at the hanging toys or talk to each other or look in the mirror. But they are getting too big to share the Gymini, and I don’t think it’s worth buying a second one since they’ll be beyond it soon, developmentally. They’ve also been spending time in their bouncy seats (which they hated up until recently), their Bumbos (but only for a minute at a time), and on their tummies in the Boppies. They hate tummy time on the floor, but they seem to like the Boppies, which is nice because they both look especially gorgeous in that position.

I still don’t take them out much. The weather has been mild enough to go for walks, but it’s just too much trouble. But when we do take them out, they’ve been really easy to deal with. When we took the whole family to the mall to see Santa, Adam got his first real taste of what it’s like to be out in public with twins. People want to find out all about them and fuss over them. So far, we both enjoy the experience, but I’m sure it will get old.

 

Individually, Leo continues to be a bit more advanced than Zoe, but not by much. He is only about a half-pound bigger than she is, and because she’s a girl she is actually in a higher percentile on the growth chart. Leo grasps objects very well now. He can hold a rattle and shake it a little bit before he drops it, but he can’t yet pick something up off the floor. Both Leo and Zoe grab their hanging toys, and of course, try to put them in their mouths. Sometimes they succeed. Leo also is working on holding his own bottle, but that just means that he knocks it out of his mouth – but I swear, he wants to hold that thing. Both of them are putting weight on their feet, which is so cool. Leo is amazingly strong and seems to love standing up. That boy worries me, sometimes. I had a dream that he started walking at four months and he ran into the bathroom and slammed the door and wouldn’t let me in.

For a while, Zoe was the more verbal of the two, but Leo has caught up with her. They both make many consonant-vowel sound combinations like GA, BE, WA, and UNG. And everyone but me thinks that they are both laughing. I call it proto-laughter – a kind of repetitive grunting along with a smile. But they did it for a while and now don’t do it as much. I think real laughter is yet to come. I’ve always been amazed that laughter happens so early in human development. I wish I understood why.

We’ve noticed that Leo gets startled more easily than Zoe. If you come at him too fast or make a sudden noise, his arms and legs stick straight out and his eyes get wide and scared, but it’s never enough to make him cry. Zoe continues to be unflappable. But when something is really wrong, boy oh boy, you’ll know it.

While Leo works on physical skills, Zoe is still busy observing. She studies everything in her visual field with such focus. She likes all computer screens, and a row of brightly colored objects can hold her attention for many minutes. Her favorite thing is a face, so when she meets new people she really looks at them and I think, along with her amazing smile and big, expressive eyes, this instantly wins people over.  I swear, that girl is sweetness, personified. Unfortunately, her fascination with the camera means that I rarely get photos of her smiling and Leo seems like the bubbly one. They are both actually very happy, easy babies. When we come into their visual field, there is a brief delay while they try to figure out who it is, and as soon as they recognize us (Sam, Adam, our babysitter, or me), they break out into huge grins and wiggle around and kick their legs. It doesn’t get any better than that.

 

 

Constant change is here to stay…

Leo and Zoe have left infancy behind and are solidly on baby ground. I can’t believe we got through the first three months already! Unfortunately, things aren’t really getting easier at this point. It’s more of a mixed bag. Sure, they are cuter and more interesting now, feedings are shorter and less frequent, nighttime sleep is longer, and they aren’t so delicate, but the rapid rate of change is often leaving me confused. Should I keep them awake more? Is this a growth spurt or what? Can they handle a road trip? And what the heck do I do when there is no “they,” but when one has completely different needs than the other? When things change so quickly, having two babies becomes more than double the work. All the little facts that I need to keep in my head about each baby can be overwhelming.

Still, we love these two little beings. They are each so awesome in their own ways, and they are special as a pair as well. Here are some highlights from the last month.

We finally got Leo’s reflux under control and he is a much happier baby! Now we can see which parts of his personality were due to the pain he was in. He is still very physical, but he is not so squirmy anymore. In fact, Zoe might be the squirmy one at this point. He is also not always the first one to cry. Zoe is still the calmer of the two, but I wouldn’t call Leo a spitfire anymore. What a relief that he isn’t in constant pain! And what a relief that we can put him on his back to sleep again. No more car seat in the crib. That was a huge hassle. Also, how freaking cute is this?

Leo is also a happier guy now that he has found his thumb. I can’t believe how cute I find the thumbsucking. It was especially endearing to watch him struggle to get it. Here’s a video of him working on it right before he mastered the skill. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try to keep up with trimming his nails, he seems to cut up his nose and face while sucking his thumb.

Leo rolled over once, from his tummy to his back. Again, it was super-awesome to watch him struggle and succeed. I don’t know if he’ll be doing it regularly, though. He hasn’t been able to repeat it since. I remember Sam did the same thing – rolled over very early but then lost the skill for quite a while.

Zoe, on the other hand, seems almost ready to roll over from her back to her tummy. She likes to sleep on her side, so she can get into that position quite easily, and it’s not too much of a leap for her to keep going. Turning over onto the tummy is a more advanced skill than Leo’s way, but some babies do accomplish it first. It’s all about values!

Zoe’s “toaster head” seems to be diminishing. Her skull and face are a bit rounder instead of rectangular. This makes her a whole lot cuter. And I suppose I’m shallow, but the cuter she gets, the more I love her. Hey, they don’t do all that much yet so how they look is relatively more important than it will be later, right???

Both Zoe and Leo started out with the standard Caucasian baby dark blue eyes. But Leo’s are getting lighter and brighter, and Zoe’s are becoming a murky color which sometimes looks green. I’m sure Leo will end up with blue eyes and Zoe with brown. And their hair color seems to have stuck so far: Leo has a dark blond, and Zoe has a rich brown. Oh, they look nothing alike and I love it that way!

Both Zoe and Leo are working with their hands. Leo is a bit ahead, batting hanging objects around with abandon and occasionally grabbing them. Zoe can’t grab as well, and you can tell she is less interested in working on it. Her interest lies in the mirror. She can look at herself for an hour and be perfectly content, making her sweet cooing noises. She is also more interested than Leo in other people’s faces, and continues to have that searching, questioning gaze that she has had from birth. Only now she’ll punctuate her staring with smiles and coos, especially with Sam. Zoe is seriously in love with her big sister. Leo is working on his vision also, be he tends to like the patterns on his mobile more than faces. What do you know, I even have a photo to show the difference between them:

Maybe the most exciting development is that the twins became aware of each other this month! We can lie them down next to each other and sometimes they’ll look at each other and coo and make faces. Sometimes they try to touch each other. One time, they were lying this way and I gave Zoe a sucker. As she began to suck on it, Leo started making sucking noises, too. I tried to give him his sucker but he didn’t want it. He was just relating to Zoe! That right there makes having twins worth all the extra effort.

Both Leo and Zoe will put a bit of weight on their feet. Leo much more so than Zoe. But they both do it and it’s new to me. I don’t think Sam did this at all until she was about a year old. Maybe we won’t have late-walkers this time around, although I’m not sure that’s such a good thing. Sam’s way was very pleasant. But who knows, maybe Leo and Zoe will actually crawl. (Sam never crawled, but just scooted on her bottom.) I’d love to have crawlers.

Leo has slept through the night twice, and Zoe has done it once. And I’m not talking about the 5-6 hours that Babycenter.com thinks counts as sleeping through the night. Pshaw. My awesome kids have been doing that for weeks. I say it only counts if the adult goes to sleep and wakes up in the morning without having had fed the baby. To my dismay, Adam has reaped the rewards of all three instances – we trade off babies at night and it was his turn each time. I’m sure my time will come.

I continue to call Zoe “Zo-Zo” and it still fits. Adam calls her “ZZ-Top,” or just “Z.” Sammy made up the combined nickname of “ZZ-Top and Leo-Bop,” but otherwise we don’t have any real nicknames for Leo. Sometimes we call him our Lion, but that’s more of a term of endearment. And then there are the accidentals. Adam calls me Sam when he is angry at me (ha!). Sam mixes up Leo and Zoe occasionally. I’ve accidentally called Zoe both “Sammy” and “Chloe” (a friend of Sam’s). And Leo? For some reason, I have more than once accidentally called him “puppy.” It comes out of me just like Zo-Zo does for Zoe. I think I might just go with it, strange as it is.

Here they are, our emergent children:

 

Wow, the second month went much faster than the first! That whole NICU experience slowed time down to a crawl, but now that we’re settled in, time is flying by. We’ll take the 2-month photos soon so I’ll tide you over with these:

Mostly, life with twins has continued to be good. However, things have gotten more difficult in the past couple of weeks. Leo’s reflux got worse again. We’ve upped his dose of Zantac and we’ll see how it goes. Zoe has started spitting up more, which is not really that big of a deal, but it caused a problem the other night. She had spit up through her nose a couple of times and the milk and mucus got dried up in there and caused her to have trouble breathing. We ended up calling our pediatrician’s nurse line around midnight. (There is nothing more important in choosing a pediatrician than the availability of 24 hour advice and weekend appointments. I don’t care how good the doctor is.) Anyway, we just had to put some saline drops in her nose, but it made for a terrible night. And we’ve been having company and visitors over, which is wonderful, but ends up throwing us off our rhythm and putting me behind on jobs like laundry and paying bills. I think that no matter how boring the baby duties are, I need to limit my outings and visits so that I can maintain that discipline I wrote about earlier. Keeping the routine is the only thing that allows me to sleep, shower, and eat well enough so that I can feel like a human being.

Speaking of outings, I finally got Leo and Zoe out for a walk in the stroller last week. We’ve had fabulous weather lately and I’ve been wanting to take advantage of it, but for a long time I just didn’t feel ready to go through all that hassle. But I finally took the plunge and we all enjoyed the walk. My Baby Jogger stroller was well-worth the money.

On Friday I took Zoe and Leo to the doctor (by myself!) for their 2-month checkup. Zoe is 8 pounds and Leo is 9 pounds 8 ounces. They are on the growth chart now. For weight, Zoe is 2% and Leo is 7%. That sounds terrible, but that is compared to all two-month-olds, including full-term babies. Their adjusted age is just 3 weeks, and they are both around 50th percentile on the adjusted chart. They are growing exactly as they should be. Leo has one health issue besides the reflux which I’ll keep private, but which is not a big deal.  And Zoe has something which will resolve itself but is pretty funny right now. As Adam wrote on Facebook:

Yesterday, Zoe’s pediatrician told us that her narrow, square-shaped head is a preemie condition the doctors and nurses call, “toaster head.” Jeez, just our luck that one of our twins is a cylon!

We finally have the doctor’s permission to let them sleep longer at night. We had been doing it anyway, but now we’ll start to try to actively encourage longer stretches of sleep. Cluster feeding them at night seems to help a lot. They can go about 5 or 6 hours between feedings now, but that doesn’t happen consistently. We’re limited by the lowest common denominator – the baby who gets hungry first sets the schedule. And there’s always someone who is going through a growth spurt or not feeling well or whatever. It really keeps us on our toes.

Leo is just a monster – we can practically see him growing. And he feels so solid. I guess it’s a boy thing, because he feels about twice as heavy as Zoe. She feels delicate and almost hollow compared to him, but she’s really not that much smaller. In fact, in length she’s only half an inch smaller. But everything about her is dainty – her hands, her eyelids, even her tiny little butt. Leo is a football player, a bruiser, a solid mass of muscle, in short: a boy. And his butt is huge! It’s so wonderful to have a boy and girl at the same time; I love seeing the differences between them.

And are they different! They are becoming more and more different as they get older. When they were born, they looked somewhat similar. There is even one photo from the NICU which we can’t identify as of Leo or Zoe. But now it seems like they got exactly the opposite genes from each side. Leo seems to have Adam’s eyes but The Italian’s face shape. Zoe has Adam’s face shape but The Italian’s eyes. Their noses are different, their ears are different, their coloring is different, their body-shapes are different (even given the boy-girl differences), and their personalities are different. Overall, I think Zoe got more from The Italian and Leo got more from Adam. And maybe this is why I had trouble bonding with her early on, more so than because of the breastfeeding. From the start, she’s just been more alien to me. But now, I’m in love with her alien-ness. She is a mystery to me and I can’t wait to find out what she’ll be like when she is older. Of course, Leo is a mystery too, but he is so much more like Sammy that it feels familiar. Then again, he’s a boy, and that makes him exciting and new, too.

I can’t imagine any more perfect set of children than the three that we have. And of course, that is how every parent feels. Because once they arrive, they are yours and they are perfect and you can’t imagine life without them. Not just life without children, but life without your particular children.

Zoe and Leo are one month old! Actually, by the time I publish this, they’ll be well over that age. I don’t think we’re going to be able to keep up with the monthly photos as well as we did with Sam.

I’m actually enjoying my babies and all the things that go along with them. I had set in my mind that the first year would be hell and that it was an investment in the future. I didn’t enjoy Sam’s infancy much at all. It has nothing to do with my feelings for her – I just didn’t like the utter dependence of a baby. And with L&Z I still don’t like it, but I’m more accepting of it. I also know that it will end soon enough. So I’m focusing on the good parts, and I’m finding that there are enough good parts to make the whole baby experience somewhat pleasant.

Of course, we’ve had a lot of help this first month. My parents have been here almost every day, doing a lot of the household chores, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning, etc. My mom has also helped feed and change the babies quite a bit. We also have our “mommy’s helper,” I’ll call her T., who has been coming some afternoons and also helping Sam get to school when Adam teaches. My parents leave in a week, but we’ll still have T. I think I’ll wait until then to say whether this is easier than I had expected.

There’s not too much to report about Leo or Zoe themselves, beyond what I said in my earlier post. Leo continues to grow quickly. He is over seven pounds now. Zoe is still smaller at around six pounds, but she is growing steadily. They still mostly just eat and sleep. Occasionally I’ll give them a bath or put them on a blanket for some tummy time (video!), but most days we change diapers, feed them, and put them right back to bed with no activity at all. They usually pass out in bliss after eating and there’s no waking them.

We have Leo on Zantac now for his reflux, and he sleeps in his car seat in the crib since he simply can’t tolerate being horizontal. We only have the one crib so far, so Zoe is sleeping there next to the car seat. The car seat and the Zantac are helping somewhat, but Leo still cries in discomfort a lot, which is the most difficult thing for me to deal with. We try to comfort him, but there isn’t much we can do, so quite often we just have to listen to him cry. Zoe is still the “easy baby.” The worst thing she does is that she seems to like to poop during a diaper change. I actually find it quite funny. Sam got to see it happen the other day and it was hilarious to see her look of revulsion after all the poopy hell she has put me through over the years. I really should make her the official diaper-changer. Well, maybe not.