4 Months In

The boys are four months old now, so what’s new with them?

In the last week or so they’ve been better about grabbing things. They’ll sometimes put their pacis back in their mouths, if it’s not too far off. They can’t grab them and put them back in yet, and they’re as likely to pull them right back out because they don’t know to let go, but it’s something.

Fawkes is pretty good at rolling over onto his back if we put him on his tummy. Phoenix can do it some, but being on his tummy mostly just irritates him.

They’re both pretty vocal at times. Phoenix, in particular, was sitting on my stomach before we got out of bed this morning and just babbling away at me. He kept kind of dipping down towards me as though he were very excited about something and wanted to lean in and tell me all about it, even if it was just a lack of balance on his part.

They both smile a lot. It’s really cute to see when they first wake up and kind of focus on you and realize, “Oh, it’s you and I’m happy to see you!” I had Fawkes sort of laughing a bit last week and Phoenix seems on the verge of it sometimes, too with a big, open-mouth grin and some breathing, but no sound.

As of last weekend, both boys weighed the exact same at 12 pounds, two ounces. I think they’re both about the same length. They’re not too hard to tell apart though- Fawkes has a fatter head and a little red dot at the center top of his forehead.

They seem to have different emerging personalities with Fawkes tending to be a little more chill and Phoenix tending to be more somber and serious. Of course, he’s had this worried or concerned look since the day he arrived.

We were supposed to take some four-month pictures today, but we had a lot going on with a trip to Costco then picking Milly up for a ballet performance of Cinderella downtown at the Wilson Center, which was an early birthday present. And after that she went straight to a sleepover at Maggie’s for Maggie’s birthday. (Tristen and I realized she had outgrown the sleeping bag that folds up into a stuffed dog/pillow that she named Brown, so she also got a new sleeping bag as another early birthday present.)

The boys were in a good mood while I was watching them, so I got probably the best collection of pictures where they both look happy and engaged that I’ve ever had so far.

One thing I like to do from time to time is talk about how a day goes so it can be compared to future days. In the early days of having a baby (or babies) you try out so many things, and they change too, so it’s kind of fun to look back and say, “Oh yeah, that’s how we did things then.” So here’s a typical day right about now.

Typical Day

One or both boys wakes up between 3 and 5 AM. If it’s on the early side, Tristen and I will unofficially take turns going to their room to put their pacis back in their mouth. Sometimes one of us will curl up on the couch in their room for a while. Once it gets closer to around 5:00, we’ll bring one or both of them into our room to sleep in the bed for the next hour or so. We initially didn’t want to do that, but it’s just such a pain to keep getting up every few minutes to quiet them down again.

Once they’re in bed, sometimes they’re pretty still, but more often than not one will be fidgety while the other falls back asleep. A couple nights ago Tristen had Phoenix and he was just not settling down at all. She got a bit frustrated and switched with me, and of course he almost immediately settled down and fell asleep with me while Fawkes decided it would be a good time to stay awake.

Around 6:00 they’ll each get a 15-minute snack from Mom, though not at the same time. It’s too much trouble trying to keep them both latched on, so one will snack while I snuggle with the other, then we switch up. Tristen gets ready for work in about ten minutes and sometimes has time to change a diaper and put a onesie on one of the kids while I take my time a bit. I supplement their breakfast with three or four more ounces of breastmilk or formula (or a mixture), whatever we’ve got on-hand.

To feed them, I’ve been putting the boys in their car seats then put the car seats on the couch in the living room, but lately I’ve been doing what I do during the work day, which is to put the seats in the pack & play in our bonus/multipurpose room that we call The Woods. I’ll usually prop the bottles up with a pillow so they can feed themselves while I take care of the animals or check email or do whatever else I need to get started with.

They’re usually ready for a nap by 8:00, so I’ll put them down then get started on my day. I usually have to go into their room to reset a paci a few times. I’m all about letting them cry it out when possible, but the cries are usually frustration cries because they can’t get the paci back in their mouth. We’ve tried letting that go for a long time, but the crying doesn’t abate in those circumstances. At first, we were glad they liked their pacis so much, but we’ve come to view it as more of a curse. Anyway, when we go in for the pacis it’s usually a go in, fix it real quick and get on out thing.

They usually sleep an hour-and-a-half or two, then I get them up, change them, try to entertain them for a bit then feed them again at 11:00. They’re back down around noon then up again around 2, eat at 3, back down at 4.

Tristen gets home by 4 and then she’s on baby duty while I get to get a little uninterrupted focus on work. Of course, I try to get some work done while they’re napping too, but with them waking up periodically, it’s not easy. I’ll admit I get pretty frustrated at times. I’m the primary earner in our little (well, completely average-sized) family, and when I can’t get things done as quickly or as efficiently as I want, it can get to me. It’s not unusual for me to stay up until 2 or even 2:30 in the morning to get things done.

We start the bedtime routine around 6:00. Tristen or I will get in the shower and the other will give us one boy at a time. The showering person cleans the kid, hands them back to the other parent, then gets the other boy. One thing I’ll say about showering is that they’re really good about me putting them heads completely under the shower stream. They’ve never once fussed about it, and I put them under it just long enough to make sure their hair and full face get wet.

After the shower, they get diapered, put in their sleepsuits, and get fed. After that I’ll read something to them. (We’re currently going through Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them, not the screenplay, but the bestiary.) We kiss each boy on the head, tell them we love them, say goodnight then I usually get back to work and Tristen cleans bottles and watches TV. She’s usually in bed by 9:00.

For the late-night feeding, we wait for the boys to wake up, which is usually around 11:00 or 1:00 (though strangely not usually much in between). If they wake up earlier and Tristen is already in bed, I’ll usually get them to fall back asleep. When they do wake up at the right time I’ll quiet them down just so they’re not crying then get the bottles ready. Once I’ve done that I’ll go wake Tristen up.

A couple nights ago she actually fell back asleep. She didn’t remember me waking her up, even though I remember her telling me she felt like she was about to fall off the bed. I kind of figured after a couple minutes of me feeding whichever boy I fed first that she might have fallen back asleep, but the feedings went pretty fast so I didn’t bother going to get her. She did wake up when I finished and didn’t realize I was already done. She ended up staying up a little to clean bottles, make formula, and maybe pump.

All that said, Tristen’s sister Torrie, who lives just down the street from us, has been a huge help lately. She’s taken the boys for the better part of a few days, which helps me get more done. On those days I’ll take them down the street to her house and they’ll stay there usually until after the 3:00 feeding or until Tristen gets off work.

So that’s a typical day. Other tidbits:

Cloth Diapers

We use cloth diapers throughout the day unless we’re going somewhere. I use disposable diapers for the first change of the day because the diaper is usually saturated and they often poop during the first feeding, and I found out the hard way a few times that if they poop in a night-saturated diaper, it’ll often spill out. So because cloth diapers are a bit of a pain to clean poop out of (though we do have special liners that help a lot with that), disposables are on first-thing to try to catch the poo.

As far as the cloth diapers go, I figure out that we probably use six to eight of them every day (because twins). That’s 42-56 disposable diapers every week that we’re not putting into landfills. People like to point out that we have to do more laundry with cloth diapers, but we have to do more laundry anyway, and I’m pretty sure the economic and environmental impact of washing clothes more often is less than adding 200 diapers a month to the landfill.

Bottletime

Tristen bought a pitcher that had a built-in mixer to mix formula. We liked it so much that we bought a second one, since Fawkes gets regular formula and Phoenix gets soy. I drew a fox on the top of one and a phoenix on top of the other so we would make sure not to get them mixed up. When I mix them, I mix 22 ounces at a time, which, along with the breastmilk, will usually get us through a day.

Early on we had an actual bottle warmer, but we didn’t really like how it worked so we returned it and started using out Keurig. We have two coffee mugs with our zodiac signs on them. Since my sign is Pisces and Phoenix begins with the same letter, we always put Phoenix’s bottle in that one so we don’t get them mixed up. You put it on the smallest size setting, run the water, add the bottle and wait five minutes or so.

And that’s what life is like right now with four-month-old twins.