To My Two Beautiful Blessings,
Happy half birthday, you two! This was such a big month for you both, with some exciting new changes for us. The biggest changes were in your personalities and behavior—you seem like totally new babies from who you were just a month ago! In the past few weeks you have become so much more interactive and mobile, *slightly* less needy, and more aware of each other and of others than ever before.
It’s been fun to see you both become more interested in your toys. You love hanging out in your play mat and you each have your favorite play mat toys so there’s no fighting over who plays with what. (When you do both settle on playing with the same toy, it’s pretty cute to see you tug toys away from each other. . . but I have a feeling that will seem less cute when you get older!) You have also started to shake rattles and snuggle with stuffed animals, and when you’re in your stroller, you entertain yourself playing with the edges of your blankets.
The screen love has started, and any time there is a computer or phone or television screen to look at, you easily become fixated. You are also easily distracted by anyone or anything that comes into view. I absolutely love how engaged you have become. Both of you make wonderful eye contact during our chats or when I sing to you, and you respond with coos and smiles.
While you can entertain yourselves for longer than in the past, you still don’t last very long without being held. Thankfully neither of you seems to have a favorite parent right now: you both are pretty content with either me or Daddy, which is good because we spend a good portion of our days wearing you in carriers, and it’s nice that we can change up who wears which baby. Both of you are usually content camped out on our chests—as long as we stand, bounce, and sway. I’ve had to switch to wearing you in the Ergo carrier, because you had gotten too squirmy for the woven Baby K’Tan, and you have both done well with the transition. You especially love facing forward.
While you seem to love Mom and Dad equally, I think that Charleston is your favorite person. He is able to entertain you and calm you with toys, books, and songs, and he is SO sweet with you. I can’t wait to see the three of you play together as you get older. It’s also been a delight to see your twin dynamic develop. Sometimes you seem oblivious to each other (propping legs and feet onto each other, rolling into one another, sucking on each other’s hands and feet as though they are your own; once I even caught you “making out” as you sucked each other’s mouths!). But more often, you seem to consciously be calming each other, touching each other’s faces and smiling at one another. You rarely cry at the same time and the calm twin will often stroke the upset twin (usually it’s Sully calming Kali) or grab the fussy baby’s hands. It absolutely melts me.
Perhaps the biggest development of the month was that we began sleep training! We never sleep trained your big brother, and though I don’t regret our decision (I still think our cosleeping/attachment parenting methods were what was best for him), that simply wasn’t sustainable with twins. Though you were good sleepers from about months two through four, the four-month sleep regression hit us hard and you never recovered, waking more and more throughout the night and napping less and less. You had been sleeping swaddled in your nursing pillow (propped on my bed) at night, and napping exclusively in your swings or while being worn during the day, but those methods were no longer working. A little over two weeks ago, you reached a new low: you were both awake for nearly twenty-four hours and nothing would calm you except nursing. You were grouchy and tired and I was utterly exhausted, so on a whim I decided that that would be the day our sleep training commenced.
Unlike most of my parenting decisions, I put very little research or thought into the decision or our methods because I didn’t want to overthink things too much. After skimming some articles (and with plenty of knowledge in the back of my mind from years of reading sleep books in attempts to help your big brother), we put our plan into place. The first change was to designate one sleeping spot for naps and night time: you now sleep on your backs (though you often roll to your tummies) in the playpen in my room. We put you down while you are awake but drowsy (no more nursing to sleep), and always at together. I talk and sing to you while I zip you into your sleep sacks and you almost always stay happy and calm while I’m putting you down (even if you were had previously been fussy). Then I turn on some white noise and leave the room, and you almost always fall asleep immediately. I was amazed that you adjusted to this new arrangement right away, and how consistently you have gone down well for naps and at bedtime. Even when you don’t fall right to sleep, you will chat with each other, hold hands, or roll around—but you don’t (usually) get upset. I can’t begin to express how relieving this has been for me!
I wish I could say that you actually stayed asleep through the night, but that hasn’t been the case. I put you down at 7:30 every night and you usually wake up between 10:30 and midnight, and every couple of hours after that. We’ve decided that I will continue to nurse you every four hours through the night, so if you wake up before the four-hour mark we let you cry for about ten minutes, then Daddy will come in and soothe you (because when I try to soothe you, you just get more upset since you want to nurse). Sometimes this works, other times it doesn’t; we’ve had nights where he is up with you for a couple of hours at night, and other nights where he hasn’t had to come in at all and I’ve actually been the one to wake you to feed because I’m leaking milk. Your morning wake time isn’t consistent yet, but I usually try to stretch you to 7:30 (when your brother wakes up), even if that means pulling you into bed with me for the last hour or two so I can get some extra sleep.
Naps have not been going as well as nights, mostly because we haven’t settled on a good naptime schedule. You usually don’t cry when I put you down for naps, but when you wake up fussy, we follow the same rule of letting you fuss it out for ten minutes before Daddy offers some comfort. (And if you’ve been asleep for more than thirty minutes, or don’t calm down after a few attempts, we call it.) Because we are homebound currently (due to the coronavirus “shelter in place” laws), we have been able to play around with the timing of your naps, but we have yet to find a schedule that works. When we first got started, I tried to stick to the clock with naps at regular intervals, but some days it was hard to keep you awake until the next nap, and other days you weren’t tired at all when the clock said it was time for a nap. This past week we’ve relied on your sleepiness levels: when one of you seems drowsy, regardless of the time of day, I put you both down for a nap. And when one of you wakes up (usually Sully), I try to get you both up, but that generally has backfired since you seem to have very different sleep needs. While you usually get one two-hour nap and a few shorter naps (sometimes in carriers or the stroller) each day, the length and timing is wildly unpredictable. Needless to say, this whole sleep training deal is all a work in progress, but I’m hopeful that we will one day get some more consistency. For now, I’m just glad that you are both getting more sleep than before, and you seem so much happier because of it. (I know I sure am!)
Another huge development is that we started solids with you this past week. This is another area where I have been way more laid back than I was with your big brother. So far we have only given you “real food” and will likely not do any rice cereal or purees, but instead of taking a strict baby-led-weaning approach like we did with him, we are mixing it up with some finger foods and some spoon feeding. With your doctor’s blessing, I haven’t been too concerned about spacing out the introduction of new foods and I haven’t put much thought into when you eat: if you’re awake at our meal times, we set you in your Bumbos on the table and you eat when we do. In the first week we’ve given you buttered brown rice, wheat tortillas, banana, yogurt, avocado, chicken, and beans. It has been a VERY messy endeavor, and a unique experience for each of you (more on that below), but despite the frustrations and chaos, it’s been fun to introduce you to new tastes and see your reactions.
Though we’ve started solids, I don’t intend to stop breastfeeding any time soon and my milk supply seems to have remained consistent. You both are still happiest camped out on the nursing pillow (you seem to prefer this to nursing individually), and though you are more distractible when you nurse these days, you really love your milkies and it’s the one thing that will ALWAYS soothe you. I love connecting with you both this way, and I love that it’s a time for the two of you to connect as you hold hands and frequently look over at each other while you feed. Those moments of bonding between the three of us are ones I will always treasure.
Kali Joy, this month you were our more high-needs twin. You needed to be held and soothed more, but although you can get pretty fussy, you easily calm down with a little attention. You love being worn in a carrier and being played with or read to. When you are upset, we often give you your toy unicorn, and sucking on his horn is your way of calming down.
Your development this month has been remarkable! You are close to being able to sit up on your own, you can hang in a chin-up position from Daddy’s hands, and you can stand well with support. You have also gotten very mobile, rolling and scooting your way around a room; you literally do laps around your brother when I set you both down on the floor for tummy time. You love being on your stomach and are nearly able to push yourself into a crawling position. You get so proud of yourself when you push up into a seal pose, looking around you as though hoping someone will acknowledge your achievement.
Because you are such a great nurser, I had assumed you would be excited to start solid foods as well, but that hasn’t been the case. You have not cared for any of the foods we’ve tried (though the faces you make have been pretty cute!). You also haven’t quite figured out how to self feed and get upset when you can’t get the food into your mouth, but when we try to help, you grab and swat at our hands. It makes me sad to see you get so frustrated.
You have a very unique cry. Unless you are extremely upset (which doesn’t happen too often), you sort of sputter and flap your arm (usually just your left arm, but sometimes both). You also do the arm flapping when you are excited or chatty, which is happening a lot more of lately. Sometimes we can’t quite tell if you are just talking or working yourself up to crying, because they sound remarkably similar. But I have to say, your squeals are pretty adorable. Your laugh is, too, but it comes out very infrequently (I think you’ve only chuckled for me three or four times).
You are a pretty good daytime sleeper and go down much more easily than your brother for naps. You also nap much longer than Sully. You are a night owl, though, and are usually the first one to wake up during the night.
Because you have generally been pretty moody, I love that we are getting more and more glimpses of Happy Kali. The other day Daddy was carrying you across the room and you caught my eyes and broke into a grin. In that smile I imagined the little girl you are growing into: strong, opinionated but shy, and eager to give and receive love. You have my heart, girl, and you always will.
KALI’S WEIGHT: 10 pounds, 2 ounces
KALI’S HEIGHT: 22.75 inches
KALI’S CLOTHING SIZE: 3 months (0-3 months still fits better, but I was ready to rotate the new size in)
KALI’S DIAPER SIZE: One
KALI’S EYE COLOR: brown
KALI’S MILESTONES: starting solids
KALI’S FIRST FOOD: buttered brown rice
KALI’S FAVORITES: puppet toy on the play mat, musical octopus, unicorn stuffed animal
KALI’S SIGNATURE MOVE: waving/flapping her left arm when she’s upset or happy
Sully Bear, this month you were back to being my happy, easy-going baby. (Although when you get upset, you escalate VERY quickly and can be difficult to soothe.) You smile readily and are quick to laugh. You haven’t been super chatty in the last couple of weeks, but when you do talk, you babble (rather than just coo or squeal) more than your sister. We joke that you don’t need to be mobile because you will just tell your sister what to get you!
Your physical development has been slower than Kali’s to the point of having us a little worried. Your pediatrician wants to give you another month, but if he doesn’t see more improvements we might need to look into starting some occupational therapy. You didn’t roll over until just this past weekend, but now that you can do it, you have been rolling to your tummy every chance you get.
I can’t help but wonder if your developmental “delays” can be attributed to your easy personality. You are completely content hanging out on your back, playing with your feet or sucking your hands (both of which you are totally obsessed with). You are also pretty obsessed with putting EVERYTHING in your mouth. And you do this adorable thing with your hands where you clasp them in front of your chest and pump them back and forth; we don’t know what it is, but it is simply too cute.
You aren’t growing as well as the doctor would like. We don’t know why because you nurse just as frequently and (seemingly) as vigorously as Kali and her growth has been consistent. Whatever the reason, in the past week we embarked on Operation: Gain Weight which involves giving you a bottle of formula-fortified breast milk in the evenings, in addition to nursing before bed. (Since you both are sleeping better at night, I haven’t had a problem pumping extra milk between feedings.) We’ll check back with the doctor next month to see if you’ve made any progress.
Our second weight-boosting tactic has been introducing solids, and I have been amazed at how well you have taken to eating real food. You can’t seem to get enough! You are better at self-feeding, and also happier to be spoon fed, than your sister. With the exception of avocado, you’ve loved every food we’ve given you, and in a single sitting have eaten half of a tortilla, a quarter cup of whole milk yogurt, and a quarter of a banana! (And that was just your second day of eating food!) Your enthusiasm warms my heart and it’s fun to see you get so excited about meal times.
While you aren’t as mobile as your sister, part of you is almost always moving—either your arms or your feet, or your head as you follow us around the room with your eyes. In the past this meant that you were less snuggly than Kali, but that is starting to change. Lately, whenever I hold you, you wrap your arms tightly around mine and nuzzle your face into my chest. It’s a precious gesture from my sweet, smiley, simply irresistible Sully Bear, whom I love so much.
SULLY’S WEIGHT: 9 pounds 10 ounces
SULLY’S HEIGHT: 23.5 inches
SULLY’S CLOTHING SIZE: 3 months (0-3 months still fits better, but I was ready to rotate the new size in)
SULLY’S DIAPER SIZE: One
SULLY’S EYE COLOR: blue
SULLY’S MILESTONES: rolling over, starting solids
SULLY’S FIRST FOOD: buttered brown rice
SULLY’S FAVORITES: monkey rattle, crinkly toy on the play mat, sucking his toes or hands, bananas, tortillas
SULLY’S SIGNATURE MOVE: clasping his hands in front of his chest and pumping them up and down
Kali and Sully, it’s been an interesting month to be alive. There is a lot of fear and sadness going around in the world, but the last few weeks have held many silver linings, one of the biggest being a deeper appreciation for our family and what a blessing you and your big brother are to me. While present circumstances are challenging and the future remains uncertain, I am eternally grateful for the three of you and the immense joy you bring to my life every day. I love you always and forever and look forward to what this second half of your first year will hold!
Love, Your Mama