Our babies are four months old! You can check out how much they’ve grown on the Hattie and Joe page, which shows their latest monkey photo. Here’s their monkey photo shoot from another angle:
I thought that I’d start writing about what they’re actually up to – they’re at this great age now where their personalities are emerging, and having two of them means that their personal development is so obvious when compared with their sibling. It’s fascinating to watch as they learn new things each day.
Hattie is such a charming, engaging little girl. She has this way of watching people until she catches their eye, and then breaking out her beautiful smile. She does it with me when I’m feeding her, in particular: I’ll become aware that she’s stopped suckling, and when I look down she’ll be lying on the tandem feeding cushion, staring up at me with an intent look on her face. As soon as we make eye contact she beams at me, and then resumes feeding. It’s adorable, and it makes me want to grab her and give her an enormous squeeze. She’s also very chipper when she’s on the change table – she grins away at me, and squirms with glee.
It’s not all smiles with Hattie, though – she’s very happy, except for the times when she’s shrieking like a banshee. Essentially, Hattie wants what she wants, when she wants it, and she’ll scream her head off until her needs are met. This behaviour usually manifests itself concerning food. When she wakes from a nap she’ll give a squawk to let me know that she’s awake, and when I go to fetch her from her cot she’ll give me a huge smile. However, if it takes longer than a minute (literally one minute) for her feed to begin she was start making so much noise that you’d think she’d been starved for weeks. It’s quite unpleasant at times, particularly as I have to get Joe organised as well. In Hattie’s perfect world I’d have a chair right next to her cot, and she’d be plucked straight from her bed linen and put onto the boob. If this behaviour is indicative of her general personality then puberty could be an interesting time in our house.
Hattie also gets extremely grumpy if my milk let down is faster than she wants. She screams in fury at the offending boob, and then scowls at me as if I’ve done it on purpose. And if it happens a couple of times, she goes on strike – I then have to feed her separately afterwards. She is strong willed, to put it mildly.
And a sad Hattie is a heart rending sight: her bottom lip juts out and she wails in a seriously melodramatic manner. Fortunately, she can be cheered out of a sad moment fairly easily (it just doesn’t work when she wants to be fed, and is being delayed; then, there’s absolutely no stopping her).
Hattie responds really well when I sing to her, and seems to be oblivious to the significant limitations of my singing voice. Whenever I start singing to her and Joe (which happens a hundred times a day – I don’t know what it is about the two of them, but I’m constantly singing), she smiles back at me before I’ve belted out the first line of any song. She seems to be particularly fond on our customised version of ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm’ (‘Joe and Hattie Had a Farm’), and I seldom get beyond the bit about them having some sheep before she’s delighted. It’s always nice to have an appreciative audience.
During the past couple of weeks Hattie has started practising rolling around whenever she’s lying on her play mat. So far, she’s only managed to lift her legs up and roll onto her side, but she seems pretty determined, so I suspect that further rolling is not far away. She’s equally active when she’s in the bath, with her arms and legs going like windmills, and water going all over the room.
Hattie has very sweet tired signs – she rubs her eyes and looks knackered – and she tends to go to bed very easily. She lies in her cot, one arm around Betty, her bear, and watches her mobile (and smiles at me if she catches my eye), and when the music finishes, she snuggles down and goes to sleep. Occasionally, if she’s over-tired, she might need a bit of shushing and patting to help her on her way, but usually she can settle to sleep by herself. She sometimes struggles to stay asleep past one sleep cycle, but recently I’ve learned that it’s worth trying to resettle her – she can often get back to sleep if she’s had a bit of encouragement. Sometimes it seems like she actively wants to go to sleep – you’ll see her determinedly close her eyes, often when you look over at her to see if she’s nodding off.
Yesterday was a bit of a red letter day for Hattie: for the first time, she’s worn an entire outfit of 0 – 3 month sized clothing. Until now, she’s still been in newborn sizes. She’s quite long, but she’s so dainty – although she’s developed a fine pair of chubby cheeks in the past few weeks. She’s inherited my pale complexion, so sunscreen will play a bit part in her future. Her eye colour isn’t clear yet, although I think they’ll be green or hazel. A couple of people who know my family well have said that she reminds them of her Gogga, my mother, and a lot of people think that she looks like me – it’s the paleness, I think, and also the oval face shape. I also think that she might inherit my family’s tendency for red hair (from the paternal side), which would be brilliant as far as I’m concerned: I love red hair. Actually, I wonder if there’s a touch of my lovely Nanna in Hattie? Charming, sociable, somewhat volatile, fond of a drink, and with red hair…
Joe is a chilled out and very sweet little boy. He spends a lot of his time sitting there and gazing around him, taking everything in – he’s been like that since he was a newborn. He took a lot longer than Hattie to begin smiling, and he still reserves most of his smiles for me, but I am treated to them on a constant basis. It’s lovely: he has a gorgeous shy smile that starts slowly and then spreads across his entire face, and then he squirms with delight, as if his entire body is smiling as well. The rest of the world, Tristan included, doesn’t get to see as much of Joe’s smile at the moment, but I think it’s just because he tends to take a little longer to warm up to people (whereas Hattie wants the world to smile at her early on). I’d been told by many people that baby boys often develop incredibly strong relationships with their mothers, and it does seem to be true. Joe loves to be carried by me, and he snuggles in like a baby koala. In his perfect world he’d be an only child, I think.
Joe doesn’t really get upset very often, but when he does it’s quite comical: his face completely crumples, and turns bright red – we call it his squashed tomato face. Hattie’s hang-up is being hungry; Joe’s hang-up is being tired. Invariably his meltdowns occur when it’s been too long between naps, and can usually be remedied if he can be persuaded to go to sleep. He’s one of those babies that always has a bit of a grizzle before he nods off, and before we sussed this out and embarked on our sleep training, this was a bit of an issue: we’d try to get him calm and happy before going to bed, but everything we did would just tire him out even more and make matters worse. Now, we’ve accepted that he’ll start complaining when we swaddle him, and that his grumpy face will register his displeasure when we lie him down in the cot. He almost always needs at least a couple of minutes of shushing and patting, but once he settles down and goes to sleep, he tends to sleep very well. In the past couple of days I’ve experimented with separating him and Hattie for daytime sleeps (so I can properly resettle them if they wake up too early, without the other baby being disturbed), and Joe’s been in the portacot in my office. This is working out well because he’s napping in the bassinet attachment, which can be rocked – he seems to like it, and goes to sleep pretty quickly.
Joe’s always been an easy feeder, although he can’t handle my turbo boob, and even on my slower boob he often needs to be burped half-way through a meal. He’s also been quite spilly recently, although I’m hoping that this will settle down again as my dairy consumption is vastly reduced. At the end of a feed he gives me the loveliest smiles, for all the world like he’s saying thank you for such a tasty snack!
When I sing to the babies Joe gives me the most adorable smile of recognition with each new song, but he’s definitely more focussed on the visual elements of entertainment – he responds most strongly to songs with actions (like ‘Incy Wincy Spider’), or my facial expressions as I’m singing (he likes ‘Oranges and Lemons’ because I put on a different voice, and a corresponding silly face, for each bell). When I read the two of them stories he’s the one who really seems to be looking at each page, whereas Hattie’s gaze will wander around the room. He’s also obsessed with the TV, and if I want him to focus on anything else I have to turn it off, or else his eyes slide away from whatever we’re doing and check out the screen instead, even if it’s muted.
Joe’s relaxed nature currently extends to most activities. When I put him down on the play mat he’ll do a bit of half-hearted wriggling, but he’s nowhere near as motivated as Hattie (who will practise rolling onto her side over and over again). Similarly, when Joe’s in the bath he lies back and looks like he’s just waiting for somebody to bring him a snack.
Developmentally, he’s definitely got the jump on his sister when it comes to verbal skills. He’s been babbling away for at least a couple of weeks, and is positively chatty at times. I’m ruthlessly hot-housing him in this regard, and saying ‘mum-mum-mum-mum’ to him in a bid to influence his first word selection (but I bet it will end up being ‘da’, ‘Tui’, or ‘no’!)
Joe is significantly bigger than Hattie, and has been wearing 0 – 3 month clothing for quite a while. He’s such a cuddly baby, with lovely plump cheeks, chunky little arms and legs, and a nice round tummy. At the moment I’m envisaging him on the side of a scrum one day. He has the most beautiful olive skin, which he’s inherited from Tristan. He’s also got Tristan’s lips, and gorgeous big hazel eyes. I think that he’s likely to have blond hair, at least as a child – again, just like his Daddy. Although some people think that he resembles me, I think he’s much more like Tristan’s side of the family; we definitely see glimpses of his Nanna (Tristan’s mother, Pat) in him.
Enough maternal gushing!