Saturday, April 16, 2011

Our almost 'Irish twins'

My girls are now about 27 months (we just say 2) and almost 13 months. I must get asked at least once a day (if we go out) if they are twins. I don't see how they could be mistaken for being the same age but I suppose I know them too well to be objective.

When I was pregnant with #2, I had trouble finding anything to read about having kids so close together. I haven't had much luck since then either.

Co-sleeping was the first big question. The big one (relatively, although now looking at my little one I can't believe big sister was physically this size and only a bit older - so little!) wasn't sleeping in our bed but on a futon mattress on the floor next to our bed. She wasn't nursing anymore but she did wake up a few time each night needing water, her binky, or a pat on the back; and she usually fussed if it wasn't me that provided any of these things. Luckily for us, little sister slept through the night, or close to it for the first few weeks (we are far from being that lucky now!). Also, big sister started sleeping through the night for the most part and she started letting daddy attend to her, sometimes. We definitely had those nights where I would nurse the little one (lying down, half asleep - so much easier with baby #2!) and then jump over my husband to respond to the big one and jump back to snag a few zzz's before I was needed again. But somehow the big one was satisfied to stay in her bed (so we didn't have to worry about her climbing into bed with us - until morning - and squishing the baby). And somehow the girls never woke eachother up even though the big one used to be super sensitive to noises (she now sleeps like a rock)! So it worked. A number of the other families I know that co-sleep with two have the bigger one sleep with dad in one room while baby sleeps with mom in another room. It sounds like that works too but I'm glad we made it work staying together.

Naps didn't work out quite as well. The first month was fine since a newborn pretty much falls asleep easily anytime if clean and fed. After that though I have memories (and photos) of me with one little one on my front and one on my back, sometimes both crying. But we survived that phase too. Now the problem is that the little one really wants one morning nap and an afternoon nap but also doesn't really want to sleep while her sister is playing. And big sister doesn't want to nap if her little sister is playing. On days we go out in the morning and they fall asleep in the car on the way home, naptime is usually easy because I can carry them into bed asleep. But on other days, getting them both down can be a long and frustrating ordeal. That too though is getting better as the older one gets bigger and willing to lie quietly, sometimes reading books to herself, while I try to get the little one down.

Other than sleep, behavior and play are challenges with two so close in age. It seems that every time the little one transitions to a new phase in mobility (sitting, crawling, walking), the bigger one takes to pushing her down. Constantly. Often unprovoked. Little sister gets back. We seem to be at the tail end of a biting phase but moving into hair pulling. Ouch! They are both still at the parallel play level if course so they play on their own but of course whatever the other one has looks SO much better. And even if there are two of them, one must have both. Apparently second children take notes on everything big sister or brother does, including tantrum-ing. So we have two drama queens now. (Little one is still practicing so she throws herself around on the floor in slow motion - it's pretty funny to watch actually.)

And then there are the sibling moments that have nothing to do with being close in age. For the duration of a 20 minute drive last week they kept up a back and forth:
Little sister: "Ella Ella Ella" [the name of our dog that she loves]
Big sister: "DON'T SAY 'ELLA ELLA ELLA'!"
Little sister: brief pause.. "Ella Ella Ella"
Big sister: "DON'T SAY "ELLA ELLA ELLA'!"
And so on. For 20 minutes. I tried singing, putting on music, shouting and whispering. Nothing could stop them.

All that said, we are getting glimpses of good times to come. A few mornings ago the girls woke up before mommy and daddy were really awake and they came on the bed with us and were singing and playing 'ring around the rosie' and 'row row row your boat.' And they love to laugh together, often for no reason.

Sisters. Fun.

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