Friday, January 18, 2008

First birthday pictures

In honor of Jonathan's and Matthew's first birthday, I have decided to break from the usual format and throw on some photos just for the fun of it. The wagon was their birthday gift from us. It is the Safari Wagon from Step 2 and was highly recommended on various review sites for multiples. Matthew is wearing the dark-colored shirt.

Today they are one

When I first discovered I was pregnant with twins, I was relieved to learn that my doctor was confident they were fraternal. I feared identical twins. I feared mixing them up. I feared others mixing them up. I feared that I would fail to nurture their individual personalities.
Today, on the anniversary of their birth, I have to laugh at myself.
Though I have mixed them up on occasion, I did so simply because I wasn't paying attention. Other people mix them up all the time, but they usually ask for clarification, which I happily provide. As for their personalities, they are, to me, nothing alike.
At their one-year, well-child check today, both babies were 32 inches tall. Their heads measured the same and Jonathan weighed a bit more than Matthew at 26 pounds (Matthew weighed more than Jonathan last time).
Yet they have their physical differences: Matthew has a narrow vein across the bridge of his nose while Jonathan's is thick. Jonathan has fuller cheeks than his twin. Today, Jonathan has two scratches on his face, both from Matthew's attempts to play ball with his head.
Their personality differences are less obvious to those who do not know them well, but clear to my husband, their older siblings and me.
Jonathan seeks independence when it come to feeding. He steals the spoon from our hands, he has insisted on feeding himself since about eight months old and he learned to hold a sippy cup almost the day we gave it to him.
Matthew is content to be fed. He eats finger foods, but he enjoys slurping banana pudding off a spoon that magically appears near his mouth. He just recently started holding his own sippy cup. He has found that it is much more fun, however, to throw the cup on the hardwood floor.
Matthew does not sit still. He pursues his brother relentlessly, using Jonathan's head and body to pull himself to a standing position. He likes to be cuddled, but only for a moment because he might miss something. He is the worst of the two when it comes to diaper changes. His back arches and his body contorts the instant we lay him down. He is strong. Changing him is more than a battle, it is a whole war over and over again.
Jonathan falls happily into our arms and likes to stay there for a while. He gets excited when his twin brother comes crawling toward him with that particular I'm-going-to-get-you laugh, naive to the punishment that is about to come. We can sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) distract Jonathan during a diaper change.
So on this day--their first birthday--I get a chuckle out of that huge, pregnant woman who feared having two babies who look alike. I am no expert in raising twins and certainly no expert in raising identical twins, but this is what having identical twins has come to mean for me so far:
It means that when I am having a bad day and I just need to know that people are generally good and that there are a lot of caring and loving people out there, I can dress the boys alike and take them to the mall. I rarely dress them alike, but when I do, they are showered with attention, good attention. Attention that helps me remember how blessed I am with all four of our children and how little all the nasty details of life really mean.

PS. Photos to come

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Damage control

They broke the TV guard.
That's all I want to know.
I found it hanging there. A Plexiglas shield, split across the face, sharp edges waiting for victims.
My other kids never broke a TV guard. Nor did they rip vent covers out of the floor or tear window sills off cheap frames.
Before I take them anywhere for a play date, I have got to get some kind of "destructive twin" insurance.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The birthday looms

In just 10 days, the boys will be one year old. With that pending milestone, comes a whole new slew of questions from friends, family, casual acquaintances and even strangers.
How are we going to celebrate?
My husband and I hadn't given it much thought. Cake, ice-cream and a few gifts with just the six of us. That was the plan. The more children you have, the more you realize that first birthday parties are for the parents and the siblings, not the child who is approaching toddlerhood.
Still, I was curious. Was there something different we should be doing?
So I started researching online. It so happens, the topic is hot on online bulletin boards for moms of infant twins. In the interest of promoting separate identities, many parents out there will be baking separate cakes, singing the birthday song to each child separately and, in one case, even sending out separate invitations.
Panic began to set in, but it was short-lived.
Separate cakes, I can understand.
But, separate birthday songs?
And forget about separate invitations.
This is the one day of the year that we should really celebrate the fact that Matthew and Jonathan are twins. Not just any twins, but identical twins. They share DNA, they shared my uterus and they share a birthday.
They have a bond that no parents can give siblings no matter how badly they might want to. Their status as twins, especially as identical twins, is a gift. It is a blessing and we still wonder why we were so fortunate.
We are too tired for a big celebration, so it will be just the six of us. It has been a wonderful, but exhausting year and I am sure the celebrations will grow as they age. Regardless, there are three things I know will not change:
Matthew and Jonathan will share a birthday cake, they will share the birthday song and their names will always appear on one invitation. We will do this because who they are together is vital to their identities as individuals.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Toward Walking

I lie on the floor and within a few seconds, Matthew is there. He places both hands on my tummy and gets into a squat position. Then he sticks his butt up in the air and his hands come off my body. Suddenly, he is standing above me, all 31 inches of him. His hands are in the air at first, but slowly, as he grows confident in his balance, they drop to his sides. He grins. I applaud. He falls onto his bottom and laughs.
Jonathan would never do that.
For two little boys who look alike, eat alike and laugh alike, their approaches to walking couldn't be more different. While Matthew is determined to stand unassisted, Jonathan simply giggles and buckles his knees when I try to encourage him to lock his legs with no other support. But he buckles them slowly, using his quad strength to lower himself gently to the floor.
Jonathan prefers to practice his balance while in motion. He focuses on bridging the gaps between the coffee table and the recliner and the coffee table and the sofa. Like our older children, he will

likely bridge that gap hands-free one day and the era of walking will begin.
Matthew is taking the harder path, but it doesn't matter. Whoever succeeds first will lead the other.
That's what they do, these brothers.

(I haven't learned how to do captions yet, but I'm getting there. In the meantime, I'm using the old fashioned technique here. Matthew is standing in the top photo. Jonathan is holding the recliner. I rarely dress them alike, but we have no plans to go anywhere today.)