Nine months old. At 39.5 weeks old, they’ve officially been outside of the womb only 1.5 weeks longer than they were in. When I think about how many changes and developmental stages the twins have already gone through, that makes the pregnancy seem like eternity. While technically still “infants,” they have certainly turned into their each little person, with their own preferences, dislikes, and opinions…and they certainly don’t hesitate to make that known!
Our 2-toother has gone from two teeth to four teeth this past month – the first two to come in (last month) were the lower central incisors, as expected. But the next two to come in (this month) have been the upper lateral incisors (instead of the upper central incisors). According to this tooth eruption chart I found online, there is quite a bit of overlap for when the upper central and lateral incisors are expected to come in. I’m not worried about it or anything, it was just surprising to see the lateral ones first and wasn’t expecting that adorable front toothless grin until at least first grade. And just yesterday our previously-toothless child cut her first one (lower central incisor). All of this teething hasn’t really affected sleeping all that much (yet), but it has impacted awake time. Gosh have they both been major grumposauruses, and I assume it is due to teething.
What else is new this month…oh, that’s right, food challenges! Since six months old, we’ve been feeding solid food in the form of various purees and baby cereal. Back in the Month 7 post, I wrote “Feeding them food is so much fun,” (original emphasis). Now I would say “Feeding them [pureed] food is so stressful and challenging,” current emphasis. We have a small but varied repertoire of finger foods we offer, maybe two choices at each of the three major meals of the day, and both have been hell-bent on feeding themselves the finger foods and pretty much want nothing to do with the pureed food. And in some ways that’s great – they’re learning to feed themselves, exerting their independence, etc. – but they don’t eat quite enough of the finger foods for it to be adequate nutrition (plus bottles, of course) so we need to get some kind of pureed food in them. Somehow. We’ve learned that without any finger food options on their trays (ie. try to do pureed food first, then offer finger foods), meal time is simply a crying, screaming, throwing fits experience (times two!), and that’s no fun for anyone. For now our strategy is to throw some finger foods on the trays, let them try to feed themselves during the entire meal, and basically dodge their hands with the spoon until they open wide enough to stick the spoon in. I really really didn’t want to get in the habit of simply pacifying them with food, but it’s a work in progress, as is everything.
They’re also starting to show definite preferences and will pick out which finger food they want from the mix on the tray. One concerning new development is that they used to be happy if any kind of finger food was on the tray, as if they just wanted to be, or feel, in control of the meal. But now, if one runs out of the one type of finger food she wants, she’ll throw a fit, even though she still has food on her tray, it’s just not the one she wants. Both Molly and I agree that our kids will be offered to eat whatever is on the menu for that night; in other words, we’re not going to make anyone a special meal just because they don’t like (or, rather, don’t want) what everyone else is having. That being said, we know the importance of having a back up go-to meal that is the only other option if you don’t want the main meal – and I guess that right now is Cheerios. I suppose if the only finger food one eats for a month is Cheerios, we’ll all survive.
Another interesting step we’ve taken (just recently, as in started a few days ago) is going down to one nap per day. Crazy! Everything I’ve read says to expect your 9-month old (and even up to 18-24 months) to take two naps per day. Over the past 1.5-2 months, we’ve been struggling with the second nap – first it became very short (as in maybe 20 minutes), which was fine because maybe that’s all they needed. We added in a small snack before afternoon nap to see if maybe it was becoming so short because they were waking up hungry, and that seemed to lengthen it to maybe 35-45 minutes. But over the past month, they simply have been staying awake so long in the morning and so long after morning nap (which we were already cutting off at 1.5 hours, because otherwise we’d end up with like 9:30-10pm bedtimes) that 5:30-6:00pm would roll around and they wouldn’t be tired at all for “afternoon” nap. We even tried just going ahead and putting them down earlier, even though they didn’t “seem” tired, but that went poorly. So, here we are: three days into one long mid-day nap, and so far so good. The only major challenge so far is that now lunch is happening before nap, instead of directly after morning nap, meaning they get very sleepy during the bottle portion of lunch. But as soon as I sit them up and get them out of their chairs, they’re ready to go again! Previously they’ve told us when it was naptime by showing signs of getting tired, and those times were consistent day-to-day, leading to a very predictable routine. But for the past three days, I’ve had to choose a time to start naptime and put them down regardless because after lunch, they act totally recharged! I’m quite surprised this has happened so soon so I’m fully aware it might not work; in that case, we’ll just reassess and readjust, I guess.
As of last week, I’ve also become a stay-at-home-dad five days a week. What a B-I-G job! I’m only a week and two days into it, and it has already been so rewarding to see how quickly they learn things. It’s also incredibly frustrating and anxiety-provoking when one (or, more likely, both) are yelling and screaming in each others’ faces as I’m hurriedly trying to make lunch or dinner for them. Last week was particularly stressful because I was trying to get work done on my masters thesis at the same time. We quickly figured out that the time for me to work on it would be after they go to bed (we do bedtime bottles between 7:30-8pm, meaning they are in their cribs by 8:15pm or so). It’s hard because I’m working all day (and yes, spending time with my kids is enjoyable, but by “work” I mean it takes a lot of energy!), and then after they go to bed, I get to go to “actual work.” While it doesn’t pay the bills, finishing my masters is definitely my job right now. Going right to working on my school work after they go to bed leaves very little time for Molly and me to spend together, something we’ve been very conscious of making sure happens even since the girls were born, because we believe a strong partnership is the foundation for a strong parenting team. When there actually is a “free” hour or two, this makes me feel like I have to “choose” between time with my partner, time with my family, and time for myself. I know all three are important, and I guess we all just have to find the right balance so no one feels burdened and everyone’s needs are being met. We’re having a new person over one night this week as a babysitting trial. Hopefully if she works out, Molly and I will be able to have at least a date night here or there.
It definitely would be less stressful if I didn’t have this thesis hanging over my head and the pressure to finish it. The hardest part is that I am so very close. Like if I had two straight weeks (with my advisers consistently available to answer my questions immediately), I’d be done. But things get in the way – advisers are unavailable, I need to go to the library (and when am I supposed to do that?), etc. that it’s not like I can put a number of hours on how long it will take to be done. I do know that giving myself permission to take a step back from it and take a little bit of time for myself – which over this past weekend ironically I spent that time writing a novel of an email to a friend about sleep training (fodder for a future post!) – I’ve been less stressed during the day and more able to focus on the current, in-the-moment needs of the girls. Yes, this will mean that my thesis isn’t done as soon as it might have otherwise been, but that’s the sacrifice. However, that could have an effect on my (immediate) future job applications, and the circular problem with this, of course, is that if that if I had a full-time job, that would give Molly the opportunity to spend more time with the girls. But I can’t very well apply to these types of jobs without first having finished my masters. But keeping busy with the kids during the day and balancing time with Molly and for myself leaves more limited time to work on my paper…and the cycle continues. In the long run, we’re working together to make decisions that we feel good about as a family, and that’s what is most important.