Saturday was Claire and Katherine's four-month birthday, and they are growing and changing so quickly -- it seems like they learn something new every day.
Two weeks ago, they figured out that people are supposed to smile and talk, so that's what they started doing. We go on a lot of excursions, and of course they get a lot of attention from random strangers, and right around Christmas they started cooing and smiling back at the people who talk to them. There's actually some pattern to it, too -- if you talk to them, they'll talk back, and you can carry on a little conversation of "aaaaahhh" and "meeeeh" and such. Claire even said "mama" the other day, though I must admit she said it to the wrought-iron headboard and not to me. I love love love having such responsive babies -- it's so nice to know that they recognize me and love me!
The personality differences are really emerging strongly, too. Claire is, I think, going to be extroverted; she requires a lot of interaction, but she gives as much as she gets. Katherine has consistently been more laid-back, but she has such a sweet happy smile and clearly loves to snuggle and cuddle. It's funny how they are mimicking each of us in personality as well as in looks.
Last week, they really discovered their hands. We've had uncoordinated batting for a while, but now it is purposeful reaching and grasping, and often pulling into the mouth. We've also passed the annoying musical toy milestone -- their bouncy seats have mobiles with little farm animals, and both babies will now reach out and pull the handle on the cow to play "Old MacDonald". The bouncy seats are out of tune with each other, and the babies don't play their cows in sync, and it makes an absolutely hellish noise. Needless to say, I encourage them to do it over and over, just to watch how they grin and squeal.
This week, Claire has officially rolled over from back to tummy, although she didn't much care for the experience -- she loves rolling onto her side, but gets ticked when she goes all the way over. Katherine has rolled from back to side a bare handful of times, and doesn't show much interest in it. However, both babies sit up in their Bumbo seats like little champs, and Katherine especially is starting to do little "crunches", as though she wants to sit. They also enjoy standing, and I think a Jumperoo is in our very near future.
They continue to sleep in their nursery, and I've even managed to clear out the second crib and separate them, so they're not kicking each other in the mornings any more. The wonderful, blessed, amazing nighttime sleeping still continues, although bedtime routine has somehow gotten out of whack with the holidays and can now happen anywhere between 7 and 10. We're still halfway between routine and not-routine, with mornings tending to organization and afternoons falling apart.
At their pediatrician visit on Thursday, Claire weighed 10 lbs 5 oz and was 23", and Katherine was 11 lbs 9 oz and 23 3/4". This is pretty tiny for four-month-olds, and it's still small even if you adjust it backwards a month -- Claire is in the 3rd percentile (10th adjusted) and Katherine is in the 10th percentile (25+ adjusted). They're not quite as far behind height-wise, at 10th and 25th percentiles actual age, but they are still definitely petite. However, they are consistently gaining weight, if slowly, and the pediatrician pronounced herself pleased with their growth.
Claire's head size is also being watched, as it is below the 3rd percentile, which can be indicative of microcephaly. Thankfully, she's got no other signs -- her fontanels are normal, and she's obviously very intelligent and is meeting milestones -- and teeny-tiny heads run in the family, but we'll continue to keep an eye out for skull development issues. Of course, you may be very sure that nobody ever calls her Zippy the Pinhead!
We are continuing to exclusively breastfeed, and that continues to go fantastically -- the first 10 weeks were absolute hell, eight or ten or twelve times a day, but now I'm enjoying it, and proud of my body's ability to do this one thing right. I have not started them on solids yet, and have no immediate plans to, since it doesn't seem to me that they're developmentally ready. I've given them tiny tastes of soft foods I am eating, and they have been pretty nonplussed by the experience, so we'll wait for a while.
I'm now at pre-pregnancy weight, and have started monitoring my intake a bit more closely to work on the 25-odd pounds of infertility weight. I had hoped to begin exercising, as the year-plus of inactivity has left me desperately weak and out-of-shape, but have been set back by two bouts of bronchitis and the ongoing knee troubles. My MRI last week revealed that I have a meniscal cyst, which is almost always the result of a degenerative meniscal tear; I don't have my follow-up consult for another week, but Google tells me that the doctor will almost certainly recommend arthroscopic surgery to repair or remove the damaged cartilage. I'm thinking that I'll have that done as soon as possible, while the girls are still easy to manage -- better now, while they can stay in cribs or on the bed with me all day, than when they are crawling or toddling. I'm not thrilled about the whole thing, but the knee is interfering with my daily life, and cartilage damage won't heal on its own. Yet another physical toll of twin pregnancy, I s'pose.
I'm loving life as a stay-at-home mom, although I am doing a little bit of consulting work during naps and after bedtime. I quit my job when my maternity leave ended in early November; we discussed the possibility of going very part-time, but the company really wanted to have someone in the position full-time, and I just wasn't willing to do that. I was sorry to leave -- I loved working there, really enjoyed the work and the people -- but I've never for a moment since felt like it was the wrong choice. I may do some consulting work for them in the future, to keep my foot in the door there; however I don't expect to go back to even a half-time job for at least the next few years, until the girls (and potential future children) are in preschool. Really, if we're being honest, I may not ever go back -- I did freelance work for five years, so it's not a problem for me to just keep doing that forever.
This does, however, markedly lessen my enthusiasm to finish up my master's (in computer science) and graduate this spring. With the direction my life has taken, it's hard to retroactively justify it, but I need to finish this last little bit so as not to make it a total waste of money and effort. I'm completely uninterested in doing so, but discipline is good for the soul, I guess.
Speaking of discipline, I do intend to get back to posting more, now that the holidays are complete. Coming soon: house-hunting, and I still owe y'all the birth story, don't I?