Well, wonders never do cease. It's amazing to me how my kids change every day and how the smallest variances in how I parent them can yield such dramatic results. My youngest son, Andrew, was a runt. I don't say that negatively, he was just the smallest of our litter, by a lot, weighing only 5 pounds and 2 ounces at birth. He and his twin sister Olivia were four weeks early, but she still outweighed him by a pound and a half. He was surprisingly healthy. The doctor told me that the smaller twin is always healthier. Something about how they have to 'work' harder in the womb. Both twins left the hospital with me when I was discharged. Andrew has always been smaller and grumpier than his cheery, happy twin. Peter has been know to privately refer to him as a 'malcontent.' He was always fussy, cranky, difficult. He never wanted to snuggle or be held close once he got out of the newborn stage. He would twist and arch his back whenever you tried to dress/change/hold him. He was a generally difficult kid, temperment-wise. Physically, he met all of his milestones right on time: he sat, crawled, and walked right on schedule and with surprising agility. He was extremely coordinated from an early age, being able to undo complicated clothing fasteners (overall hooks!?) and pick up Cheerios and stack them into a tower before he turned 1. But he wasn't talking. At all. By 18 months, I knew something was up, because all he could say was 'no' and 'dada.' Mealtimes became VERY difficult. How much grunting and pointing can I really understand anyway? He wasn't able to communicate his wants and I wasn't able to understand his cave-man-talk in a timely enough fashion to keep him from melting down at mealtime. It was getting frustrating. And loud. I decided it was time to consult the professionals. Speech therapy was on my radar and soon, we were getting regular visits from Ketha, a speech/language pathologist. Ketha was great, and understood that it might not just be Andrew's stubbornness that was keeping him from talking. She lent us some dvd's that are part of a series that teaches young children American Sign Language. She also sent Andrew and I to Kindermusik, a mommy-and-me type movement and music class.
The signing was the first big thing. My other children loved it and really picked up on the signs. The dvds were fun to watch with catchy songs and they would all watch them together. My older kids, especially Ian, can sign pretty fluently in some situations (we're still working our way through the series of dvd's... :-) One day at lunch, I asked Andrew if he would like more blueberries or more pretzels. He looked at me and signed 'berry.' I was so excited, I felt like singing! This was the first time he had every been able to express his wants to me before! I promptly praised him, and dumped a huge handful of blueberries (his favorite) on his high chair tray. When I did, it was almost like watching a lightbulb go on above his head, I could almost see the little wheels turning in his mind: "Things have names, and if I ask for it by name, I'll get it..." That was the start of a number of signs that he started using regularly. Over the next two weeks, he started saying 10 words! It was so thrilling for me, that I was texting his progress to Ketha almost daily to share my excitement. My boy could talk!
The next big change came with Kindermusik. I couldn't really see how this would help Andrew talk when Ketha first suggested we go. But, it was free, and I had never had the time to do this with any of my other kids when they were small, so I went. The first time, Andrew just ran around the room, exploring. Subsequent trips to the class have left me dumbfounded. The little boy who didn't want to be snuggled or held, parks himself on my lap for the entire time. He just laps up all the one-on-one attention he gets from me during those 45 minutes. The child who was once a malcontent, will now grab my face between his chubby hands, say 'kees!' and kiss me squarely on the lips.
When Peter and I decided to have "one more" child, we both knew that it would be our last. I decided right then that I was going to really try to savor every moment, to enjoy the pregnancy, birth and babyhood of the 'caboose' of our family. When we found out it was not one, but two, little ones who would be joining our family, I went into survival mode and stayed there until I was done breastfeeding. I think a lot of moms of multiples feel like I did: just making sure everyone is fed, diapered, clean, and dressed is such a monumental undertaking, that you just don't have the energy or brainpower for the little things like singing them to sleep, spending individual time with them, sitting and just enjoying them. Taking Andrew to Kindermusik and watching him become an entirely different child has really opened my eyes to how important taking time to do the little things is.
If I hadn't, I might have missed the 'keeses.'