More firsts = more pictures

I wonder if I’ll continue to take as many pictures of my twins in future years as I do now. In the moment, I’m always thinking, “Oh! This is the first time they’ve ______, I need a picture!” But there will always be firsts – so I guess there will always be pictures. I don’t scrapbook, I don’t write letters to my kids (though I really should and would love to) – I take pictures. I have always enjoyed using a camera, even as a child making albums of nature pictures and trips to the zoo, and now I have these cute little subjects that live with me and spend all day with me, just tempting me to take their pictures. Most of them I keep away from the internet (surprising, with the number that still are put on the blog and facebook), but after I take them all (hundreds a month) either on my phone or my camera, I transfer them to my computer where I pick the best from them and add them to an “album” folder. In every group of 30 pictures I take of a situation, I try to pick the best 1 or 2. Then at the end of each month, I print out all of these keepers at Walgreens and put them into an album. For reference, I recently finished the album for 0-6 months, about 450 pictures. I’ve started the new album of the same size, 6-12 months. My recent trend seems to be between 80-100 “keeper” pictures a month that make the album. If I continue this pattern – well, by the time they’re 18, that’s a lot of albums.

This seems insane – thinking of it this way makes me feel a little nuts. I have ONE album of myself as a baby/toddler – I know I looked through it many, many times growing up, but are my babies going to want to browse through 837 albums of them eating peas, biting toys, sitting in the stroller, trying to roll over naked?

Probably not. But I can’t help myself. I feel compelled to TAKE the pictures, and then to keep them as I can’t bear to delete a memory I would otherwise forget, print them out, and look at them multiple times. I guess I’m crazy. My guess is that years from now, I’ll go back through these albums and take out pictures that right now seem essential to an album, but might not be later on. And when I go back to work in September (sniff) I won’t be around the babies all day and won’t see the cute things that make me whip out my camera (SO sad) and therefore – there will be fewer pictures. UGH. The thought of that – of missing something, doesn’t make me feel good. I wonder if my nanny can take pictures for me…

Anyway, this week proved there’s no stopping my camera adventures as the babies experienced more firsts, both good and bad.

B popped his first tooth finally, at 8 months old. It’s still small, a little spike, but it’s there and he’s making the weirdest faces and noises, trying to figure out what’s in his mouth. I was surprised by the lack of drool – I expected buckets to just pour out – but that never happened. He drooled a little, but barely even enough to warrant a bib. He didn’t seem to be in a ton of pain either – maybe a little fussier for a few days but that was it.

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I made this picture large; you can kind of see it on the bottom as B goes in for the kill on that plastic fork. No teeth for C still, but she’s definitely teething. I would expect her first to come out soon.

They both got their first “real” cold this week. At 3 months, they had a minor cold, with sneezing and more naps and just generally looking glazed over, but it lasted two days. They (thankfully) went all winter without being sick. Now that we’re out in the world more, seeing and touching more people, I’m not surprised they caught a cold. B has it worse – yucky gunk just pouring from his nose, down his throat and making him cough. C has some mucous but it’s very deep in her nose – I hear it when she breathes but nothing comes out. Lots of sneezing, glassy eyes…etc. A cold. I have the humidifier cranked up and I’m using the suction thingy on B’s nose. He absolutely hates it. But it does work, so it’s a necessary evil. (Sidebar – anyone use that suction hose thing that you put in your mouth to suck the gunk out? I’m COMPLETELY grossed out by that but it’s supposed to be all the rage.) He was super fussy a few days ago as this cold was coming on, but he was better today.

 

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No smiles for a few days, he didn’t feel good! But better now:

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My babies are finally showing some small signs that when I say certain things, they understand me. There might actually be some basic communication between us, and that’s a BIG first. It makes me realize that as they start to really understand what I’m saying, I’m really parenting. I’m not just taking care of two little dolls who poop and eat and cry. It’s cool and crazy all at once. B and C both demonstrate this, but C seems determined to make sense of what I’m saying. She watches everything I say and do like a hawk.

This week, she learned to give “kisses”. I know, not a big deal, but after many times of me kissing her and saying “kiss, kiss” while her mouth was open, she all of a sudden does it on command. If I ask for a kiss, she leans in, open-mouthed, like she’s going to bite my face but she doesn’t, she’s gentle. It’s SO cute.

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I don’t have a picture of that, so instead I’ll give you a picture of C getting kissed by the dogs. B gets kissed by the dogs, too.

DSC_0342I know..it’s kind of gross. I can’t completely prevent it, and I’ll allow it when it makes for a good picture :-p but then I’m there with the wipes…

C was very good this week and allowed me to play with my camera settings one afternoon while B was sleeping (which is what C should have been doing)…

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I’ve been using baby sign language for 2 months now. I kept it simple, being consistent only with “eat”, “more”, and “all done”. I’ve occasionally used “jump”, “diaper”, and “water” as well, but not enough for the babies to learn them. And no, they haven’t signed back yet – for the most part.

Yesterday and today, C wasn’t into her solids, and when I would ask if she wanted “more”, instead of opening her mouth excitedly she would clamp her lips shut. First of all, that tells me she might know what “more” means, which is exciting. I had a feeling the babies might be getting it a little, because when I first ask if they want to “eat”, they both move their lips like they’re chewing. But anyway, yesterday and today C suddenly threw her hands up and down. Like an excited baby, except she wasn’t excited to eat; she didn’t want to eat. I took it and ran with it yesterday, calling it “all done” – it was close enough to the sign, waving my hands side to side. Today she did the same thing, she threw her hands up and down and refused to eat anything else. I called it “all done” and took her food away. She MIGHT be signing “all done”. Or I might be completely insane, but I’m going with it.

My husband has been working crazy hours, both during the week and on weekends, so finally today we decided to go on a family date, which we really have never done. We had 2 “firsts” – we went on a walk through the woods and then out to eat, like at a restaurant. I know it sounds crazy to think I’ve not taken my babies to a restaurant yet but when you have two…it’s just too much. Too much work, too much crying, too many carseats to lug..etc. I’m sure many other twin moms have done it sooner and more power to you. The thought of it, up until now, just did not appeal to me. We chose a quieter place for their first time and plunked them in highchairs, and it went SO smoothly. They happily played with toys and never fussed. I definitely feel more confident to do this, though I’m not digging the idea of doing it alone. It’s a two-adult job for sure.

IMG_4176We ate pizza, they ate Sophie(s).

 

I have no doubt that next week will bring more “firsts” which of course means…..more pictures.

 

The last day of breastfeeding

When my twins were born 35 weeks ago today, at just about 35 weeks into my pregnancy, I told the lactation consultant that I wanted to breastfeed. I have always wanted to breastfeed. Honestly, it’s all a blur now but I know I pumped. I remember pumping in the hospital. I recall doing it in the middle of the night. But both babies were also automatically put on preemie formula as well, right away. I was so concerned with them being small, I didn’t care. And I still don’t.

I could never have counted on my hormone issues getting in the way of my milk production, or how exhausted I was that I did not pump around the clock like I was supposed to. I think I did – for a few weeks maybe, but I honestly cannot remember. When the babies were eating every few hours all night long – I don’t know if I pumped after that. I didn’t realize at the time that I wasn’t helping my milk supply out in the slightest. I think it would’ve been a battle anyway, as I never really got a normal supply. It never fully came.

Luckily, I had some milk. At its peak, I was able to provide the twins with about 1/3 of each meal in breastmilk and the rest in formula. I’m also very lucky that there wasn’t any nipple confusion – they both took to breast and bottle. C had some latch issues for a while, mostly related to sucking/swallowing. But she got the hang of it.

B has always been a great eater, and my trickle of milk wasn’t cutting it for him – he wanted lots of milk and he wanted it NOW. So at 6 months, after fighting with him at the beginning of every feed only for him to cry and turn away, I stopped breastfeeding him. I gave him my pumped milk, but that was not enough for much at all. I didn’t sweat it too much because he was growing at this rapid pace, and I still had C.

Well…C’s appetite has grown as well. I could always count on her to latch on, close her eyes and snuggle in – clearly comforted by me. THE BEST. I never got that with B, so I’m thankful to have experienced it with at least one baby. But the 1/3 of the meal turned into an ounce or two, which turned into me counting gulps (15-30), which turned into a few gulps, which turned into sips. The milk isn’t there, and C doesn’t need the comfort as often as she used to. She’s pulling away, smiling; nothing comes out.

As I’m the type of anal retentive person who likes to start new things on Mondays, or the 1st of the month, I like to end things on a rounded date too. So at 8 months old two days ago, I let breastfeeding C go. What I’ve done since is put her to breast if she’s calm, usually in the mornings, and give her the chance, just to hang out for a minute. But I’ve mentally let it go (I feel like I should be singing that “Frozen” song) -allowing myself to release the guilt if the rest of the day I don’t do it. If it seems like a good time, I will. But otherwise, we’re about done. It’s not even about the milk at this point, as she’s not getting any, but that experience that’s coming to an end.

So it’s sad. As someone who formula fed, who wanted to exclusively breastfeed, I’ve come to see that other side of things. People can be very critical of those who don’t breastfeed, but my babies are healthy. To date they’ve had one minor cold at 3 months (knocking on wood..). I keep them safe, comfortable, I show them new experiences,  I throw dance parties and sing lullabies, I couldn’t possibly love them anymore than I do. But I didn’t breastfeed like I wanted to, and now I’m just sort of…trying to let that go.

Probably what is sadder isn’t that we’re done breastfeeding (though I’ll always miss that snuggle session) – but that C and B are at an age where this is even a discussion. They’re BIG. Those with toddlers would look at my babies and note how tiny they are. But to me, they are giant creatures to be picked up using your knees and not your back. They lose parts of infancy, but gain new things too. It’s part of life – it’s just sad, sometimes.

We went to a playgroup for the first time, the day after the library meltdown from B. This group was quiet, with only 3 other (older) kids. It was calm and relaxing. The babies had a GREAT time, and I did too.

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But now I look back on these pictures and feel like these babies look like preschoolers. When did this all HAPPEN??

B has turned a few corners. He now sleeps on his stomach, and we’re officially done with the swing for naps. It was a tough transition into the pack n play (two babies both napping in the same room = disaster), but he’s got it down now. So cute!! If only he could remember how to roll BACK, that would be fabulous.

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And just today I felt the tiniest little spike and saw a small, sharp white line on his bottom gums – boy’s getting his first tooth! So precious! There’s not a lot of drool yet or anything so I’m sure we have a ways to go. But once it’s in – there will never be another picture of him without teeth, ever. Better enjoy that toothless grin now.

He wants to crawl so bad. He reaches for toys very well well, and does a floppy “fish out of water” thing but doesn’t go anywhere. In his sleep though, he manages to scoot all around the crib at night. We put him down in the bottom corner, and he ends up in the top, crying because he’s stuck. He’s turning very serious, but so excited to jump and jump and jump.

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C isn’t there yet with most of these physical milestones. She still hates tummy time for more than a few minutes and she doesn’t roll. She has rolled before onto her back, but never the other way around. She’s not physical like B is – she doesn’t want to jump or kick her legs like crazy. She really enjoys sitting. She is really good at picking things up, though. B’s hands still shake as he awkwardly grabs toys, but C uses individual fingers with careful precision. She’s great with smaller objects.

IMG_3819She is all smiles – such a very happy baby. Easy to make laugh, she’s constantly smiling and being so good-natured, which is funny, because it’s the exact opposite of how she was when she was a refluxy newborn. She’s social and good in new situations. And she’s FINALLY learned how to put the pacifier in her mouth by herself. Thank goodness.

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At 5 months we transitioned out of the swaddle and into the magic sleepsuit, and now we’re transitioning out of that into a normal fleece sack. It’s still a work in progress.

It’s just crazy how quickly that newborn period passes – and some terrible things go away, like the lack of sleep, but some amazing things go away too, like breastfeeding.