Monday, May 14, 2007

The it's-not-fair milestone

Up to this point, the babies have not been very fussy at all. The evening period was somewhat dicey for a few weeks in the beginning, but other than that, they are really very good babies. Lately, though, there has been a noticeable uptick in fussing.

I'm not sure what to chalk this up to, although I have several candidates. Teething is a perennial favorite, but I've been blaming anything and everything on teething for months, and the teeth have yet to appear. We have had some sleep disturbances lately, which I think were developmental and/or nutritional in nature; they hit a growth spurt and learned to crawl, and the situation improved after I added a second solid feeding and let a little time pass. Separation anxiety kicks in at about this age, and maybe that's a factor too -- certainly, my being out of eyesight is unpopular.

Lately, though, each baby has understood what it means when Sister gets picked up and she doesn't. If I put one of them in my lap, or feed one of them, the other one begins to whine in that special "pick me up!" frequency, and stretch out her arms to me. It's unmistakable that they realize they are being left out, and they do not like it, not at all. Claire is worse than Katherine about it, but as I write this, Katherine began to cry as soon as I put Claire in my lap to nurse.

This is the hard part about being a twin, I think, having to learn that you can't have Mama's undivided attention, and that sometimes you get left out. When they were tiny, it was a lot easier to meet both babies' needs at one time, whether with tandem nursing or just holding them both. Now, they are big enough to be a real lapful, and it's a struggle to keep them from pulling each other's hair or poking eyes. Practically speaking, I just can't be everything to them both at once any more.

I don't like the idea of cry-it-out, and I try to manage it somehow if they are really screaming, but if it's just crying and complaining, mostly I just have to let them deal with it. I can choose which baby is unhappy, but I can't make them both happy. People tell me it's good for them to learn patience, and that they can't always have everything they want, and I do suppose they have to learn those lessons sometime. Honestly, though, eight months seems a little young to me, and patience is asking a lot of people who haven't yet learned to wave goodbye.

I know moms of singletons experience this with their subsequent children, but I don't think it's quite the same. The first child is, by definition, at least 10 months older than the new baby. He has fewer really immediate needs, and he is more likely to be able to understand that he has to wait for a few minutes while the baby gets tended. Certainly, none of the singleton moms I know routinely leave their infants to cry for ten or fifteen minutes, five or six times a day, while they take care of the older child. Those people who counsel cry-it-out probably also don't realize exactly what's involved -- I don't see many of them saying to sit the baby in her Exersaucer right in front of you to watch you and sob.

I confess, too, that the crying can really grate on my nerves. Today, someone was crying for almost the entire time between 8 AM and 1 PM. I swapped off every so often to give the other one a chance, and there was a period where I had them both entertained on the sofa, but then Katherine pinched Claire, and we started back up. When I'm swapping again and again like that, they never really settle down and get relaxed even when it's their turn to be held, so they get instantly unhappy as soon as they're set down. In computing, when things are being swapped in and out and in and out of memory, we call it "thrashing". That's exactly what this morning was, and I felt pretty thrashed by the end of it, all right.

I can break the cycle by getting them in the stroller or in the car, but first I have to eke out the prerequisite shower, and juggle everyone's nursings and solids and naps, which can take until two or three o'clock on a bad day like yesterday. And yes, sometimes I manage that shower by letting them both cry. I feel guilty about it, yes, but when they're mostly doing that anyway, it's tempting to let them do it in parallel rather than serially and use the time wisely.

Honestly, I can't complain too much, because they are still lower-maintenance than plenty of singletons (for which I thank the stars above every single day). I am having so much fun with them in so many ways, as they grow and develop, and I guess not all growth can be the happy fun baby-kisses kind. Still, I hope this is a phase we're going through, and that I get my easy-going babies back soon.


allthisemmie said...

Oh, I remember how hard this was. It seemed like I went through 2 stages of grief about the twin thing - when they were newborns and later when they started to get obviously jealous. For us, it passed a bit after their 1st birthday, but well before that I did put some limits on nursing because nursing them in front of eachother just got too hard. I'd nurse them individually in bed wehn we all got up (DH taking care of the othr boy), and do the same thing when I got home from work. At night, I'd give them each 1/2 bottle of pumped milk and one boob, alternating who was first to breastfeed. They weaned themselves at 14 and 16 months, and that was very bittersweet, but now that they are 2, I also really see the great things about having twins. They entertain each other, they have a wonderful relationship, they go around holding hands and kissing..they're lucky to be twins. The jealousy and less attention are hard for all of you, but it is temporary, while their relationship is lifelong.
-Emmie (Better Make It A Double)

Eva said...

Sorry that they're going through such a hard stage. I hope it's very short lived. I know Sarah and Jordan in some ways are in a similar place, but because they're in daycare I'm usually nursing one while someone else holds the other, and often the caregiver can distract him/her. When they can't, and I'm nursing one and the other is crying in someone else's arms, I do feel really badly that they're cheated out of being a singleton and being nursed as soon as mom shows up. But I can't imagine being home alone with them both all day long and having to juggle them myself. So, kudos to you! And my fingers crossed that it's a very short phase.

Stacey said...

I don't have any constructive advice at all. I just saw where you said that an older sibling is at least 10 months older than a younger sibling, and thought of my friend who actually has two kids, 10 months apart. I think she broke the 6 week rule. Wowza. I seriously can't imagine having a 1 month old child right now. Kinda makes me wanna throw up a little.

My best friend in California had 3 kids in 2 and a half years. Damn fertile myrtles. said...

I hate to rock your world but my girls are still going through the "jealousy" stage whenever mommy or daddy is holding the other baby. Girls will be two next month! ha ha... I don't think they are going to grow out of this stage anytime soon......


nolan said...

I just discovered your blog, but it's nice to read that I'm not alone in this! I particularly identify with this statement: "I can break the cycle...but first I have to eke out the prerequisite shower, and juggle everyone's nursings and solids and naps, which can take until two or three o'clock on a bad day like yesterday."

We're not even on solids yet, so we can make it out of the house by 1pm on a bad day, LOL.

Thanks :)