As we cross into toddlerhood with the sisters, I thought I’d write a few posts to celebrate the ways we’ve survived & thrived over the last year. This series, A Year With Twins, will cover some of the basics of baby world. Feel free to give me additional suggestions, and as always… give me your feedback on the subjects as well!
I wasn’t exactly prepared for the potential sleep battles that awaited us when we learned we were having twins, but I tried my hardest to be. Overall, these girls have been angels when it comes to rest. I know full well that it could have been a lot harder than it was. They’ve been gracious and we’ve learned a lot. We aren’t co-sleepers, but we don’t support cry-it-out methods either. I am very much in favor of routines and schedules, but I try to pay attention to cues and stages of growth & development. Basically, we threw all of that in a pot, stirred it up, and survived the first year with the sisters – with minimal tears.
At the very beginning, the girls slept in a moses basket together. We kept the basket on Chris’ side of the bed, so that he had to wake up when they did. After a few weeks, they outgrew the basket and began sleeping together in one crib. Chris still retrieved them for nursing sessions. This forced the teamwork effect, and I’m so thankful we did it that way. My darkest moments during motherhood always seem to surface when I feel tired and alone. In case you didn’t already know, I am a huge advocate of both parents getting up in the middle of the night.
When I returned to work, the girls began sleeping separately. I remember feeling bummed because I imagined them sleeping together forever. Ames spent quite a few months in our room with us, and I wanted the girls to have each other in their nursery. Chris initiated the process during naptime on my first day back. It seemed to help him develop a routine, so I went with it.
For the most part, it took the girls a long time to sleep through the night – but I didn’t mind. I had been through this before, so it made everything easier. I tried to make myself alert enough to soak them up during nursing sessions. I remember repeating to myself, “Be intentional, Rachael. Be intentional!” They were well over six months before they dropped that after-midnight-but-before-five feeding.
Nowadays, the girls sleep almost twelve hours a time, in their own cribs. When we’re out of the house, they sleep in one pack-n-play together. From the very beginning, we woke both of them up if one stirred enough to need something. And if one sister isn’t ready for a nap, the other has to tough it out and stay awake until it is time. It’s helped get them into sync with each other, and now they have a sort of shared natural rhythm. It’s so sweet.
Honor is a much lighter sleeper than Isaiah Jane. On any given night, she fusses and cries out several times. Usually, it’s in her sleep. But sometimes she must be comforted, and IJ never makes a peep. She just snores right on through. We also love these sound machines.
Because it’s rather obvious from these photos and a few of you have asked: The girls have slept on their bellies since they were a few weeks old. We let Ames sleep on his tummy when we moved him from the moses basket to the crib, at three months. With the girls, we started with naps and eased into nighttime once they outgrew the moses basket. They sleep noticeably more comfortably and soundly that way.
Just like Ames, these girls aren’t huge cuddlers. Honor Rose snuggles me more than any other child I’ve had, but nobody prefers to fall asleep in our arms. Or on the bed or couch. Or even in a stroller or car seat. Most of the time, all of our children prefer to be in a pack-n-play or their own crib. They’ve also always gone down while awake. I’ve never had to rock any of my babies to sleep. I’m sure it gets tiring, but I don’t think I’d mind once in a while.
We still swaddle a bit, from the waist up in these muslins. Then we cover their backs with their sleep sacks, since they no longer fit in them. Isaiah Jane won’t move all night, but Honor will be out of her burrito set-up by morning. She also takes a pacifier, where IJ prefers her thumb. Neither one of them keeps those things in for long, though. They end up purse-lipped and open-mouthed, drooling from their relaxed cheeks into the sheets as they snore and whistle and dream.
I’ve gotten much less sleep with the twins than I did with Ames, but I feel far more rested. Maybe somewhere along the way, I learned to take advantage of the two-hour midnight breaks. Or maybe somewhere along the way, I learned what an honor it is to help these tiny creatures fight the night.