Dear Sullivan and Kalinda,
Eight months. Two-thirds of a year. That’s how long you have been on this earth, almost as long “on the outside” as you were in my tummy (we will cross that 36-week milestone next week!). It still feels surreal that I am the mom to twins. This role of “Twin Mom” continues to be one of the most challenging but also most rewarding experiences of my life—an incredible privilege that most days I feel unequipped to hold, but I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to be Mama to the two of you.
They say that “the days are long and the years are short,” and nowhere has that felt more true than during this time of quarantine. Some days I have no idea how we are going to make it to bedtime, yet it literally feels like just yesterday that I sat down to write your seven-month post, and here we are at eight months!
So what has changed for you in the past four weeks? Well, you are continuing to grow like crazy. We didn’t have a weight check this month so we don’t know exactly how much you’ve grown, but you are certainly getting bigger. You are still nursing several times each day, though you are capable of going for much longer stretches between feedings than you used to. (That’s not to say you always choose to wait to nurse, as it’s still your preferred form of comfort.)
Your solid-food journey is also going fantastic. You both eat WAY more than I thought babies could. I feed you two or three meals per day and try to include a good variety of grains (rolled oats are your favorite but you also eat quinoa, rice, grits, and cream of wheat), steamed vegetables (you are a big fan of butternut squash, peas, and carrots and are learning to like broccoli), mashed fruits (you still like bananas best), protein (scrambled eggs, mashed beans, and ground beef/turkey/chicken), dairy (plain yogurt and cottage cheese), and fats (I mix nut butters, butter, olive oil, flax seed, or chia seeds into your purees when I can). We’ve done some finger foods like pancakes, tortillas, and small pieces of fruits and vegetables; you both are interested in self-feeding but haven’t quite mastered the skill of getting the food from your hands into your mouths, instead clenching the food in your fists and looking to me to give you a spoonful of food.
We’ve had an interesting time with sleep this month. You’re still sleeping in sleep sacks in the playpen in my room at night time. For a couple of weeks you were having amazing nights, going down around 7 and not waking up until 5! That nice pattern seemed to have ended two weeks ago when you went back to waking up every 3 or 4 hours. Regardless of how well or poorly the night has gone, you rarely sleep past 6:30. That said, we had a night this week when you slept from 7 until 7. . . so who knows! Naptimes are in your crib in your room, with white noise and blackout curtains but no sleep sacks. While you don’t usually wake each other at night, you were keeping each other awake during nap times so we started putting a pillow between you two to divide the crib into separate beds, and that is working well. However, we can’t seem to nail down a good nap time schedule. We currently aim for naps at 9:30 and 1:30 and sometimes you nap for an hour or even two hours, but sometimes we are lucky if you nap for thirty minutes. We don’t do an official nap in the late afternoon, but the stretch between 3:00 and bedtime is ROUGH so we usually try to have you doze in your swings or in a baby carrier to help us all maintain some sanity during that VERY LONG witching “hour”.
The biggest change this month has been the introduction of real play time. You are both very interested in blocks—especially your stacking blocks—and enjoy moving them around and “chasing” them across the room. You love to explore, and it’s fun to set you on the floor and see where you go. You are in that sweet spot right now where you’re mobile enough to keep yourselves occupied, but not really able to get into much trouble. You seem to spot every rouge wire and cord, though, so we do have to keep an eye on those, and almost everything goes into your mouth. We haven’t been putting you in your play mat as much because you are now able to escape, but it is still getting occasional use. It has been such a joy for me to do more reading with you this month. You like looking at board books (and trying to put them in your mouths). I don’t know if you have any favorites just yet, but Brown Bear is always a big hit. You really like to play with your spinning toys that suction to your high chair trays, and you do well sitting in your Bumbos if there is something/somebody for you to watch.
Speaking of watching people: you are enamored with your Daddy, your big brother, and Arlo and your eyes light up any time one of them enters the room. All three of them get you to laugh and giggle. Because of quarantine, you hadn’t seen anybody other than our family for a couple of months, so we were interested in seeing how you would do with being re-introduced to family this month. True to character, Sully was pretty quick to warm up to everyone while Kali was much more fearful.
As you get older, your personalities become much more distinct and you are meeting milestones at different points. However, you are starting to look more alike (when Kali isn’t wearing a bow and in dimmed lighting, when I can’t see Kali’s darker coloring, I have a hard time telling you apart). Your cries have also grown very similar. It’s so fun to see you learn from each other, with one twin picking up on a skill and the other following suit. I also get the absolute biggest kick out of watching you play together. You can be pretty rough (hitting/grabbing each other, taking toys from one another, etc.), but so far you seem unfazed by this behavior, and the aggression almost always results in either zero reaction or laughter, and almost never tears, so I intervene as little as possible. You are becoming much more aware of each other and with the exception of when you are being worn in baby carriers, you seem to sleep, eat, and play better when you are together. I’ve never raised twins before, so I have no idea if this is a good or a bad thing (am I creating too much interdependence?), but I have been going with my gut, and it feels right to keep you tother as much as we can to continue to foster a good relationship between you two. Practically speaking, it’s also a lot easier to keep you on the same schedules and doing the same things as much as possible.
Seeing you together, and also with your big brother, continues to be one of the highlights of my life. You all have such unique dynamics and it’s fun to imagine what those will look like as you get older. This month we got to visit with your almost-two-year-old cousin Collin, and it was a delight to see you all together and imagine the fast friends you will soon become. I never had cousins or siblings close to my age, so this is all new and very exciting for me to witness!
Sully Bear, I feel like you really got back to your old self this month! After some time as my fussier child, I was happy to see you have such a great month. You are (currently) laid back, observant, and almost always happy. You are astoundingly curious and always eager to explore. You are an amazing army crawler, using your right foot and arm to propel yourself across the room at lightning speed. You’ve started getting up on your hands and knees and rocking like you’re getting ready to crawl like a big boy, but I think you know that army crawling is more efficient right now, so you give up on the rocking pretty quickly.
We are beginning to see a very stubborn streak in you that right now is adorable but could spell trouble in the future! When it’s time for a diaper or outfit change, you immediately roll over to your tummy on the changing table and refuse (playfully and with a smile) to be returned to your back. You also seem adamantly opposed to sitting up. This past week you finally started sitting for up to ten seconds on your own, but you would much rather be on your tummy so that you can crawl. When we try to get you to stand, you lift your feet as though there are hot coals beneath you; it’s pretty hilarious how opposed you are to sitting or standing. It all comes back to your desire to be on your tummy and MOVING!
When it comes to exploring new territory, you have definitely taken the lead. You’re always crawling ahead of Kali, with her cautiously trailing behind you. You seem fearless, but you do have your cautious side: whenever you crawl onto a new surface, you extend your hands in front of you and pat the ground below you before moving forward, as though you are testing to confirm that you are moving onto solid ground. I can’t help but laugh every time you do this.
You LOVE food, and will eat anything I give you. You have gotten great at a chewing and can manage chunkier purees and even bigger solid pieces really well. We have no idea how you are able to effectively chew (and quickly swallow) food so well without teeth! You are happy throughout mealtime and eagerly anticipate each bite, while also waiting patiently for me to feed bites to your sister. You seem to be very good at monitoring your own fullness cues, and stop (or get playful) when you are done eating—both solids, and nursing. I don’t pay much attention to which twin eats more, but your body seems to be more efficient with processing your food. (Interpretation: you poop far less than Kali, run hot—I think that means your metabolism may be faster?—and are doing more growing up rather than out.)
You have been such a chatty boy lately, babbling all day long, and your talking sounds very distinct. Some days I would swear you have said actual words, and you seem like you are attempting to engage in conversation when I talk to you.
Though you have your moments of moodiness, you are almost always my chatting, happy boy, with one exception: sleep time. You almost never fall asleep well at nap times and it takes quite a few tries of coming in to rock and soothe you before you eventually fall asleep. You sleep on your stomach, but fitfully, and you wake up screaming and eager to be held. In the past week, you have done better during nighttime wake-ups—chatting away in the playpen rather than screaming—so hopefully you will soon make peace with nap times as well. It does seem like you need less sleep than your sister overall, though. One unexpected bright side to your sleeping woes is that you wake up ready to snuggle. You are usually too curious and eager to be moving to snuggle into Mama, but when you’re tired you nuzzle into my chest and for a moment, all feels right in my world.
SULLY’S NICKNAMES: Sulls, Sully Bear, Bear, Sully Wully, Brother Bear
SULLY’S FAVORITES: bananas, pancakes, stacking blocks
SULLY’S DISLIKES: the sun in your eyes, going down for naps/waking up from naps
SULLY’S MILESTONES: distinct babbling
SULLY’S EYE COLOR: sometimes they look blue, sometimes they look brown, so maybe hazel?
SULLY’S HEIGHT AND WEIGHT: no exact measurements, but longer and heavier than Kali
SULLY’S CLOTHING SIZE: 3 months (but they’re getting small)
SULLY’S DIAPER SIZE: 2
SULLY’S TRADEMARK MOVES: army crawl pushing yourself with your right leg and arm, rolling over on the changing table, “tapping” the ground ahead of your before crawling forward, sticking out your tongue
Kali Joy, this was not your month. While Sully grew happier, you have been pretty moody—not to your previous grouchy levels, but not as mellow as you had been for a bit. You want to be held and nurse a lot more than your brother does, and you are proving to be quite the Mama’s Girl. While this can be frustrating when I’d like for someone else to be able to soothe you, I’ll admit to feeling special that you recognize me and that I’m able to comfort you when nobody else can.
Just after turning seven months, you crossed the huge milestone of being able to sit up on your own! It was only a couple of days between when you sat up for the first time and were able to sit for extended periods of time. You LOVE sitting and seem so proud of yourself when you sit to play, read books, hang out with me, or watch Sully crawl. However, you don’t know how to get out of the seated posture, so sometimes you get very frustrated when you would rather be lying down and don’t know how to get there. In addition to sitting, you like to be held in standing position and can even stand on your own for a few seconds at a time.
Since you’ve been busy sitting, you haven’t gotten as much crawling practice as Sully and aren’t very good at it. You spend a lot of time rocking on your hands and knees, and sometimes launch yourself forward in a frog-like hop; we say you are more focused on crawling form, while Sully is all about function. When you are especially motivated to reach for something or (more often) want to follow Sully, you are capable of army crawling, usually using your left foot and arm to move forward (the opposite of your brother, which I find very interesting).
You are a great sleeper, at least during the day. When you get sleepy, you rub your eyes and fuss, but as soon as we put you in the crib or playpen, you roll to your side and fall asleep. You will also fall asleep in the baby carrier or during playtime when you get especially tired. You usually wake up from naps in a great mood, and coo or play with your feet until we come to get you. This week you’ve started having a harder time at night; you don’t go down as well, and are the first to wake up during the night and in the mornings, fussing to be held.
While Sully’s vocabulary took off this month, you have become an expert grunter. You grunt when you are upset or when you want something, and if your needs aren’t met, the grunting escalates into screams. Your biggest struggle is at meal time. You like most foods (though you aren’t quite as adventurous of an eater as Sully) and grunt between every bite, wanting more before you have even swallowed the previous bite. You have trouble swallowing anything that isn’t pureed, as you haven’t figured out how to chew yet. You don’t seem to recognize your fullness cues and never show signs of wanting to stop eating, crying when all your food is gone. But you spit up (happily, thank goodness) after every meal and nursing session, so I have a feeling you are getting too much food—I’m just not sure what is the “right” amount when you don’t give me indication of when you are full.
Despite your challenges this month, you have had some amazingly sweet moments. You love when I blow raspberries or fly you in the air, and you beam every morning when I put your bow on and tell you that you look beautiful. You actually seem to love wearing dresses and tutus, and—I don’t think I’m imagining this—carry yourself like such a little lady when you are dressed up. A few days ago you started doing this funny thing where you close-mouthed pant while scrunching up your nose and flapping your arms in excitement. And you’ve developed the funniest sideways grin that you flash along with the nose scrunch; it makes my heart sing every time I see it.
KALI’S NICKNAMES: Kali Joy, Joy, Princess Kay, Lindy Lou, Sister
KALI’S FAVORITES: bananas, pancakes, stacking blocks, books, sucking on the nursing pillow buckles
KALI’S DISLIKES: hummus, cottage cheese, the sun in your eyes, waiting to eat, being held by people besides Mom and Dad, being in the car seat
KALI’S MILESTONES: sitting up
KALI’S EYE COLOR: brown
KALI’S HEIGHT AND WEIGHT: shorter and lighter (but chubbier) than Sully
KALI’S CLOTHING SIZE: 3 months
KALI’S DIAPER SIZE: 2
KALI’S TRADEMARK MOVES: spitting up after every feeding, grunting, fast/excited “panting”, scrunched up nose
Kali and Sully, it doesn’t seem possible that I love you more every month, but I do. This past month we celebrated Mother’s Day, and I felt like the luckiest woman in the world because I get to be mom to you and your big brother. I love the sweet newborns that you were, the adorable babies you are now, and the wonderful children and one-day adults you will become. Thank you for the honor and privilege of bringing you into and up in this world.