Most parents are familiar with the classic developmental milestones, and we cheer our kids on as each objective is met. We know what to expect, yet we watch with wonder as they first lift their head during tummy time, when they roll over for the first time, when they sit on their own, when they get on all fours in preparation to crawl, when they actually crawl, when they stand for those first few wobbly seconds, and when they take their first steps. These milestones are not only exciting to witness, but are a huge part of successful development.
So what about those unofficial milestones? The ones that fly under the radar. They might go unnoticed by many, but they are real, they are glorious, and I have been quietly celebrating each one.
Parenting twins is hard work. Every little victory counts.
1. Your babies sleep a 5-6 hour stretch. Both babies. On the same night. The old “pre-baby” you would laugh at celebrating such a pathetic amount of sleep. The old you boasted about how you could not possibly function without 8 hours of solid beauty rest. However, the new sleep-deprived zombie-like you seizes every moment of sleep and devours it like sleep will never come again. Five hours of interrupted sleep is something to be treasured. Welcome to the land of feeling human again (sort of).
2. Your babies hold their own bottles. Hallelujah! After months and months of mastering the delicate task of feeding two babies at once, you are finally free of using your mouth/feet/face to prop up bottles for two (always) ravenous babies. After this liberating milestone is met, you go from wishing you had at least one other set of hands to wandering around the room aimlessly wondering what to do first. Freedom! (sort of).
3. They notice each other. Day after day your babies lay side by side. They feel each other, hear each other, and even accidentally suck on each other’s faces. What they don’t notice however, is that that face they are sucking on is not an extension of their own body – it in fact belongs to another being. The moment they truly see each other for the first time is a thrilling sneak peak of the special twin relationship that lies ahead. Hang in there parents, it gets even better from here on (I promise).
4. You figure out how to pick up and hold two babies at once. Trips back and forth from room to room have you feeling like a repetitive and tedious baby-carrying service. The moment you master the art of picking up and holding two babies at once, you feel like a super-hero (and you look like one too). The first time is a little wobbly, but it gets smoother and smoother. And the babies get bigger and bigger, which means your arms get stronger and stronger. Now that you’ve eliminated that extra trip from room to room, someone will have a dirty diaper and you will have to go back anyway. Then the other baby will need a diaper too (really).
5. You ditch the double stroller for a shopping cart. Hauling that Cadillac of a stroller around can be a workout in itself. Heaving it in and out of the car at each stop can be exhausting, and can even discourage you from going out altogether. When the babies are finally old enough (and strong enough) to sit safely in a shopping cart, things suddenly get lighter. Your co-dependent relationship with that double stroller suddenly loosens its grip, and you simply toss two babies and a diaper bag in a cart and go – just like everyone else! (sort of).
6. You ditch the infant car seats. This one comes with a little bit of nostalgia. Your little ones are heading out of the baby stage and sliding into toddlerhood. It’s a bittersweet moment, and you can’t easily transfer them from car seat to stroller, but you’ll be glad to see those carriers go. Each infant car seat weighs about 10 lbs (without the base). Add in the weight of each baby, and you could be lugging around 30-40 lbs on each arm. I’m no mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that means you’re dragging around up to 80 lbs when you’re out on your own with the babies. Unless you’re trying to build muscle, I would transition to convertible car seats as soon as the babies are ready (just do it).
7. They make each other laugh…hard. It’s really fun when you figure out some silly way to make your baby laugh, but when you witness one baby make another baby laugh – Oh. My. Gosh. Those belly laughs are so delicious. This is one of those “twin moments” you’ve been waiting for. Hold onto it and savor it, because when things get rough, you’re going to need it (really).
8. They feed themselves (and each other) real food. I’m not talking about spoonfuls of baby food here, I’m talking real food. You lay out a variety of food on their trays and let them go at it. Sure, things get messy – really messy – but this is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of two babies that are strapped in, confined to chairs, and preoccupied by food. Now’s your chance to strap on those dish gloves and get to work (hurry, the clock is ticking).
9. They start communicating with you in words. Incomprehensible words? Maybe. But you figure out pretty quickly that “dur-dey” means turkey - and that moment of clarity is astounding (for both you and your baby). You are well on your way to having meaningful two-word conversations with two little people. Like, “da baby” and “ma cheese.” Profound I know, but at least you’re no longer playing mind reading games (or are you?).
10. The first time they hold hands. This is a big moment. They may have accidentally held hands several times in the past, but the moment they hold hands with intention you will melt in your shoes. The sweetest of all milestones, this one will take your breath away with the sheer magnitude of watching your babies grow, with the promise of lifelong friendship, and with the extraordinary bond of twin love. Take a mental picture. Take a real picture. Take a moment to soak it up.
Before you know it, they’ll be on to the next milestone.
Blink your eyes and they’ll being off to college (for real).