All growed up

As the mother of preemie twins — one of whom is developmentally delayed — the question I get asked most frequently is also the one without a very good answer: "How old are they?"

Before I had children, I would marvel at parents who could quickly rattle off numbers like "27 months" while I spent five minutes trying to figure out what that actually meant in years. Now that I do have kids, I know that every month you haven't killed them — either intentionally or unintentionally — is a major milestone worth bragging about.

But I still don't have a ready answer about their age and find myself paying less and less attention to the 26th as it passes by on the calendar. You see, they were born June 26, but they were due Sept. 6. But twins almost never make it to their due date, so even if they had been "on time," they likely still would have been August babies. (Indeed, they came home from the NICU on Aug. 12, which just so happens to be my birthday.) On top of that, because they were so premature, Jaden is just a little slower to do some things than other babies. And, of course, the big fat cherry on top is that Malachi has the motor control of maybe a 5-month-old.

So when people ask me how old they are, what I want to reply is: "Pick a number between 5 and 13 months. ... You're right!"

(What I actually say is "a year," which I think throws them for a loop since they are expecting me to reply with a more precise calculation like most parents of under-3-year-olds.)

This week, however, I have noticed a huge shift in both of them. They can't walk or talk yet, but they suddenly seem like kids, not babies. The biggest difference is that I feel like I can finally communicate with them. They imitate me in a way that I can recognize. I blow raspberries, and they blow raspberries. I say "nah nah nah," and they say "nah nah nah." I clap my hands and... well... Jaden claps his hands. Malachi waves them in the general direction of each other.

Not only that, after months and months and months of using baby sign language, I'm pretty sure I saw Jaden sign "milk" right next to a bottle the other day. He also has been grabbing onto my legs and offering me food or toys, none of which had happened even a few days ago. And my favorite new development happened today: at the beginning of lunch they both turned to each other at the same time and laughed the same laugh. It said: "Dude! We're eating yogurt! I LOVE YOGURT!"

But here's the biggest milestone this week: Jaden is now mobile enough to get to things I can't put away. This means that for the first time, I've had to tell him "Jaden, no" and needed him to know what it means. I was frankly shocked when he froze and sort of nervously edged away from the forbidden item.

...only to edge back over a few minutes later. But still! Progress!

This is sooo exciting! It means they have finally crossed over from the realm of animal-like creatures to human beings I might one day have a conversation with!

So I still don't know how old they are, but I've decided it doesn't really matter.

As their grandparents' generation says: Age is a state of mind.

Jaden and Malachi at their 1st birthday party.


  1. Shasta - this post makes me smile - a smile that mothers everywhere should understand. The struggles of parenthood are unique to the children you are raising - yet universal in parenting. I love reading your blog - sometimes I want to laugh, sometimes I want to cry and mostly I want to hug you. Jaden and Malachi are the luckiest boys to have you and Matt as parents. Their blue eyes shine with appreciation of your love. We, as parents, can't see some of the gifts our kids bring until time has past. This doesn't mean we don't appreciate and love the "joy" of parenthood - only that we often are involved in the details and logistics of our situations - we need to be reminded to take a breath. Enjoy those moments such as the one you described of the boys laughing in unison - where is my spell check! I, also, love that my daughter Meredith is an auntie to your precious sons. The gift of friendship and love is a circle that continues to grow. sue

  2. Thanks Sue! I also love that Meredith is their auntie and therefore that you all are their extended family.
    I'm going to cash in that hug raincheck the next time I see you!

  3. I used to get that question about age all the time when Sarah Kate was a baby. She was so tiny that I think people were a little freaked out that a newborn-sized child would be so alert and engaged. Later, when she wasn't able to walk/crawl/sit, people freaked a little for different reasons.

    Malachi is lucky to have Jaden - he will push him in ways that a therapist can't. Motivation is half the battle.

  4. Thanks Andi. I sure hope so. I have sort of a running "pros cons" list in my mind of the various advantages and disadvantages a disabled person of having a twin. On the one hand, they don't get near as much focused attention, but hey, maybe that's a good thing that they are left alone once in a while!

  5. Anonymous2:39 AM

    I tend to say my son has two birthdays. The calendar one when he was born and the day he became mine and left the hospital.

    Those "ah ha" moments are so precious, when you see those new joys the boy share with each other and with you. Enjoy every one!

  6. Anonymous7:21 PM

    Applause to you for using "no" at one year! That was the age we selected also. In fact, a family rule became - anything you want for the first year. Meaning we changed the world around our firstborn and didn't scold him before he could understand. You joy in this milestone is deserved.


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