Today Claudia and Imogen turn 6 months. Half a year they have been in our lives and it has flown. Of course there have been some long days (and some long weeks!), but I can’t believe the girls are already 6 months old!
Happy 6 month birthday, beautiful girls!
It seems impossible to remember how tiny and fragile they were when I was first wheeled through to the recovery room after the birth (and my subsequent haemorrhage) and I finally met them properly.
Claudia and Imogen minutes after their birth
It’s amazing how much they have changed in the last six months, becoming strong and robust little creatures with different and yet equally amazing personalities that continue to grow and be shaped into who they will one day become.
They were skinny little creatures when they were first born, their weight dropping into the 0.4th centile, their scrawny little legs looking like twigs beneath their big bulky nappies. They are now solidly above the 9th centile, although Imogen’s weight has fluctuated between the 2nd and the 9th. At last weigh in, on 2nd January, Claudia weighed 13lb 11.5oz and Imogen weighed 13lb 6oz.
These are the outfits we brought them home from the hospital in – size ‘petit petit newborn’ from Mamas and Papas, for babies <5lbs!
That’s almost two stone of baby I carry around day to day, on my hips or in the sling, although of course mostly I only carry one at a time. Immie’s cute little hamster cheeks mean that everyone assumes at first glance that she is the bigger baby, but Claudia is longer as well as heavier.
As Claudie was born, the doctor and midwife delivering her told us she had hair. Once Imogen arrived, however, Claudia’s hair seemed non-existent. Immie has had a full head of hair consistently for the last six months. People prepared us for the possibility that it would fall out, but it never has – although she does have a thinner line around the back where her head rests on the floor or her mattress. It has grown into almost a mullet at the back (which L keeps threatening to trim) and her quiff at the front has grown too long and heavy to curl upwards and has developed into more of a side parting. Claudia, by comparison, has remained effectively bald, although we can finally see some growth and I don’t think it’ll be long before she has an obvious head of hair.
Their eyes, a deep, dark grey when they were born, are starting to turn brown. At the moment they have a sort of greenish hazel appearance, but I expect they will end up dark brown, like mine and the rest of my family’s.
As you probably know, Immie is more like my twin than Claudie’s.
Me, Imogen – spot the difference
However, weirdly, Claudie actually seems to be L’s twin, as proven by this photo her mum found when they were moving house.
My lovely wife, Claudia – separated at birth?
Everyone has always seen a resemblance between Claudia and L’s side of the family – in fact people have even asked if the embryos were made from an egg from each of us! But no, genetically the babies are both mine; I just think it’s wonderful that we really do have one that resembles each of us and I guess that’s testament to our instincts in choosing the donor!
They can both roll over – both front to back and back to front – although neither of them choose to do it very often. They can sit unsupported, although probably not for much longer than about 30 seconds before they keel over to one side or the other. We have to be pretty on the ball when we’re letting them sit up because they will try and reach for something and then just overbalance. We’ve had a couple of bumped heads.
They are so aware of things around them now. Before, they would reach for something we dangled above them, or something hanging from their baby gym or bouncers. Now, they will spot toys lying beside them on the floor and reach for them. Imogen’s motor skills here are very precise, whereas Claudie sometimes ends up pushing things further away in the process of reaching for them, which she finds very frustrating. Immie usually manages to get hold of whatever it is she’s after and will even flip over onto her tummy in order to reach something a little further away. I’ve even seen her use her foot to manoeuvre something closer to her hand on more than one occasion!
Of course, the fact that they are able to identify things they want means they are already having to learn about sharing! Often they will reach for something that is in their sister’s hand. Imogen usually wins these battles, possibly because she has a better grip rather than because she is more determined. Imogen is also determined to get her hands on my phone. If I am using it anywhere in her vicinity she will reach for it, often activating something on the touchscreen that is really quite inconvenient like skipping to the top of my Twitter feed. Of course, I’m also keen to avoid her grabbing hold of my phone because their other favourite thing to do at the moment is put things in their mouths: toys, teething rings, their hands, their feet… it all goes in. Imogen is rarely seen without a fist in her mouth and plenty of their soft toys are now really quite gross because part of them has been sucked and slobbered on. This is great really though, because it means they are ready for weaning and will taste their first solid food tomorrow!!
See, we’ll eat anything!
Both really recognise us and get excited when they see us or hear our voices. Claudia will smile at ANYTHING and laughs at the drop of a hat. She is ticklish and loves being kissed. She will often try to return the favour and grabs your face in both hands before bringing it to her (open) mouth. We call these “Claudie Kisses” and they are super cute albeit rather slobbery. If you’re not careful your nose or chin will end up in her mouth, but thankfully she still doesn’t have any teeth so you’ll just get a good gumming. Immie is always really pleased to see us after a nap. We will hear her babbling away to herself and go in to see her. She will kick her legs and throw her hands around with a big smile on her face – she also responds like this if you show her a toy she particularly likes or do something funny.
Immie was slower to smile than Claudie, but now her grins are almost as common. She is much harder to make laugh however, and we only really heard her laugh properly for the first time over Christmas, when her grandad tickled her tummy. She is more confident and independent that Claudia though. Imogen will happily entertain herself for 15 or 20 minutes, whereas Claudia needs some interaction and will object if you don’t pay her enough attention. Claudia is also the more likely of the two to need cuddles and seems to react more to changes like L going back to work – she became much more clingy and cuddly the first week after the Christmas holidays.
Claudia (Claudie, Claudelicious, LaClaude, Baldie Claudie, Queen of Sheba)
They both love to have nappy-free time – especially Imogen. They kick their legs around and Immie usually puts one or both feet in her mouth. Of course, having their nappies off is asking for trouble and I’ve lost count of the amount of “accidents” we’ve had, which range from a little wet patch on the changing mat to a puddle on the laminate and a baby splashing their feet in it!! We always put them on a changing mat when we take their nappies off but, although they aren’t crawling yet, they really are fairly mobile and Immie in particular will end up across the other side of the room from where she started if you’re not careful. Once I went in to get Imogen out of her cot after a nap and her feet were up the head end! She manages to manoeuvre herself by doing a sort of teddy-bear-roll. L is convinced we’ve got ourselves a little gymnast.
Imogen (Immie, Imogenius, Little Imp)
Both are very chatty. They like to babble to themselves or to their toys. Claudia has really found her voice recently and now likes to shriek – preferably whilst kicking her heels on the ground. Whilst this might sound like a tantrum, it’s actually a sign she’s happy or excited, although I’m never sure people appreciate that when we’re out and about and it sounds like I’ve got a banshee in the buggy!
Practising their sitting
They both love being sung to (I often finish the day with a dry, sore throat!) and, even if they’ve been crying, will often be grinning at me by the time I’ve finished the first line of a song. (My repertoire is mostly show tunes cos that’s just how I roll; L’s is made-up songs, mostly about poos and wees.) They have both figured out how to splash in the bath, although whether they do or not depends slightly on their mood. When they do though, you really know about it and the bathroom looks like it’s been hit by a tidal wave. As soon as they are a bit more confident sitting up, we will retire our baby bath and bathe them together in the big bath, which hopefully will minimise splashing the floor until they are a bit bigger. They both strongly object to having clothes put back on after their baths – especially sleeves. I’m not sure what it is about sleeves that bothers them so much, but that’s usually when the screaming starts and it doesn’t stop until they are fully dressed with a bottle in their mouths!
L’s Christmas present from the girls!
They are quite aware of each other. They like to look at one another and often respond in the same excited way they do when they see us. However, they don’t really understand that there is another baby beside them as they often poke and pinch one another. In fact, the other day I saw Imogen kick Claudie right in the face, just because Claudie happened to be in the path of Imogen’s wriggle trajectory.
It’s been an amazing six months, one that has taught us a lot too. We have learned patience and kindness with one another. I thought we were always patient and kind with each other – and we were – but add a bit of sleep deprivation into the mix and suddenly you need to be far more sensitive to one another’s feelings and far more forgiving. We’ve learned that no baby is the same – at least these two little monkeys aren’t – and that their little personalities are apparent from so early on. We’ve learned – and come to accept – that babies just don’t sleep through the night. Immie can, and is possibly (touch wood, fingers crossed) starting to do so again after around a month and a half of not, but Claudie really doesn’t and so we have accepted that she might just be in our bed until she’s three (or, god forbid, even six, like our Deputy Head’s son!). We have agreed that as long as she starts off in her own bed every night (which she does) then at least we do get some time together that’s just for us, then if she wakes up in the night and can’t be settled she can come into our bed (although we would both appreciate her not taking up half the bed as she is the smallest person in it!). L’s reasoning is that sooner or later she will make it through a whole night without waking – and that means she will stay in her own bed. We just need to give her time and let her do things at her own pace.
We have learned that these babies can bring you to your knees; that there is nothing more frustrating than a baby who won’t stop crying and you can’t figure out what’s wrong; that nothing can make your heart sink like it does when you’ve rocked a baby to sleep, gently placed them in their cot, crawled back to your own bed and laid your head down on your pillow only to hear the snuffling that you know precedes the tears. There are long days and even longer nights, when it’s hard to figure out if you’re doing the right thing – and it’s hard to be mad at a baby who really should be sleeping when they give you a wide awake and very cheeky grin.
We have learned that nothing can set your heart on fire like a cheeky smile or a delighted giggle from your baby; that when they are sad or hurt, it makes your heart shatter like a fragile vase dropped from a great height; that when they reach up with their tiny little hands and stroke your face, or curl an arm around your neck you feel such an amazing surge of love and protectiveness that it almost takes your breath away and you know that you would lay down your life a million times over for this incredible little person; that you can’t believe you could ever be this lucky.