Saturday, September 17, 2011


So far, one of the most awesome things about having twins (and there are many) is that we have a much better idea about what is common to all babies and what is unique to Zoe or Leo, and even in retrospect, what was unique to Sammy when she was a newborn. We know because we can compare two babies who are at the exact same developmental level at the same time. Their differences highlight their personalities, and tell us that these things are not "just the way all babies are." And when we see something that is common to all three of our children, we have to consider that maybe that is something more universal. We've already discovered things we thought were unique to Sam that turn out to be just common baby behaviors.

Now, we don't want to make the mistake of translating infant behavior into projections of adult, or even childhood personality traits. A fussy baby does not equate to a wild teenager. And we don't want to pigeonhole Leo or Zoe by "labeling" them, something my favorite parenting authors warn against. (I put that term in scare quotes because I'm not completely comfortable with it - I'm not sure it has a clear definition and I suspect it might be a package deal. I have to think about it more before I decide one way or another.) And yet, comparing them gives us such wonderful information about them!

Some things we've learned:

  • Leo loves pacifiers (we call them suckers). Zoe could care less about them. (Sammy never wanted a sucker but we weren't sure if it was her or if we just didn't push the idea hard enough. Now we know it was her.)

  • Leo almost always cries first. Zoe doesn't cry much at all, but when she does, you don't want your ear within 5 feet of her mouth or you'll go deaf. Still, we call Zoe "unflappable." Nothing seems to faze her. Neither Leo nor Sammy could be called "sensitive," but they certainly react more strongly, especially in negative ways. Zoe is just chill and I hope she remains that way. It would be nice to have one like that. (We used to think that Sammy was a fairly "easy" baby, but, at least for now, Zoe seems to be proving us wrong about that. So far, Zoe is the easy one.)

  • Leo seems to have reflux, or some kind of digestive system issue. Zoe doesn't. (Sammy did.) He arches his back and cries in a way that sounds like he is in pain and spits up much more than Zoe. Related to the previous point? Quite possibly.

  • All three of our children are great breastfeeders. Either that, or I'm good at it. Or a combination of the two.

  • Both Leo and Zoe can be calmed quite easily just by picking them up. (When Sammy would get herself wound up, there was really nothing we could do but let her work it out on her own.) I hope this is not something that changes when they get a bit older - I can't remember when it started with Sam.

  • Leo really, really needs to be swaddled. Zoe is happy in a swaddle or a loose blanket. (Sammy needed the swaddle.) Again, I wonder if this is related to reflux, or whatever the problem is.

  • Apparently, all babies make essentially the same faces when they have to poop. And they won't poop while they are eating. It's a whole big production which is fascinating to watch. (Leo is the cutest pooper because he makes these grunts that are absolutely adorable.)

  • Zoe and Leo can sleep through just about anything. Zoe sleeps through Leo's crying right in her ear all the time, and they both sleep through the dog barking, the vacuum, and Sammy's high-pitched happy squealing during tickle-time. Sam was awakened by any loud noise when she was a baby. Do you remember the scene in Marley and Me when Jennifer Anniston puts the kids down for a nap and lies on the bed and takes a huge, deep breath, and you see the tension just flowing out of her into the mattress and you know she's about to fall asleep in an instant but then she hears the beeping of a truck in reverse and she bolts upright and says, "Oh no, oh no," in absolute horror because the dog is about to go crazy barking and wake the kids and that is indeed what happens and she totally loses her freaking mind? Well, that was me when Sam was a baby. Toby is lucky to still be among us. Thank goodness for the NICU with all of its noise.

  • Physically, they are looking more and more different as they fill out. Leo has a triangular face with a pointy chin which I believe he got from The Italian (as I call our egg donor). His nose, so prominent when he was born, now seems just right for his face. Zoe has a rounder face and is kind of jowly. She also has much darker skin and hair than Leo which obviously comes from The Italian.

  • Leo's Big Thing - the thing that stands out the most about him - is that he is physical. He moves, he squirms, he uses his hands in amazing ways for a 4-week-old infant, and he is strong. Within a few days of his birth, he had a reputation in the NICU. We kept hearing how he would escape his swaddle and his diaper and then pull off his leads. We were told "He's all boy." When I asked what that meant, the nurse said that he was very physical. She warned us that he'd be climbing the refrigerator in a year. He was also called a "superstar" in the NICU because of his quick progress in becoming strong enough to go home. (Premature girls usually do better than boys so it was doubly impressive.) He can already hold his head up for quite long stretches. At his first pediatrician appointment, the doctor suggested that we put his mattress up at an angle to help with his reflux, since, "he can't really move around yet so you don't have to worry about him ending up upside-down." Well, we had already put the mattress at an angle, and he is perfectly capable of ending up upside-down, thankyouverymuch. Leo is The Mover. And I love that about him.

  • Zoe's Big Thing is her vision. She looks at everything. When she was first born, she'd open her eyes and her eyeballs would roll up in the back of her head because she couldn't control them yet, but she'd open those lids anyway. By Day 2 on this planet, this tiny little 4 pound baby had her eyes open all the time and was focusing on anything that was close enough. She keeps them open much more often that Leo does, and she looks at faces much more intently than he does. Her eyes are very prominent, and there is something about the way she uses them that is utterly captivating and endearing. Zoe is The Looker. And I love that about her.

  • I wish I could look back and compare Sammy as an infant to these two, to determine what her Big Thing was. But the details are gone now. I remember my own judgments about her - my conclusions - but not so much the facts that gave rise to them. What I do remember is that we always called Sammy "highly opinionated." From the beginning, she seemed willful, stubborn, and independent, and the term "highly opinionated" actually came from one of our midwives and was seconded by her pediatrician. But what particular behaviors made them and us see her that way, I don't recall. Still, I think we were right, because I can't imagine calling either Leo or Zoe "highly opinionated," but it still describes Sam to this day. Sammy is The Rebel. And I love that about her.


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