On growing up: I think I forgot to say last time how much fun the Squid is now. I mean, yes, still lots of work. Yes, we're still short on sleep. Yes, still adjusting. But with his ever-growing alertness and autonomy it feels like I'm interacting with a person - someone who's got real conscious processes going on behind those bright brown eyes. I love that, and though I'm not always up for exciting interaction and play, I enjoy his company in a way I really wasn't able to for the first three months. I think this can go down as the month that I really fell in love with him. I've loved him blindly and dutifully since he was born, but this is the month where it started to feel sad to drop him off at daycare, when I started to miss him when he wasn't around, when I started to look forward to his waking up from naps so I could spend time with him. His smile is just about the best thing in the world.
On healing: It is also, not coincidentally, the first month where I have really truly felt like myself again. I've never had a Big Thing like pregnancy and childbirth happen to me before. I've never broken a bone, had major surgery, etc. etc. So the idea that it would take five full months to be back to normal didn't really even occur to me. I healed physically and then expected that I would be operating as normal, and each time I got broadsided by hormones or sleep deprivation or dehydration or a body that still wasn't up to what I was asking it to do, it was a surprise. Almost half a year later, though, I feel (mentally, emotionally, physically, ecumenically, whathaveyou) like the person I've always been. I didn't even know I was gone, but I missed me! Hi! Welcome back! I'm so glad to be you! Most days, anyway. Last year around this time, I was in the middle of my second trimester and in a pretty ugly depression; all I could do was read about Katrina and cry and worry and I wasn't getting anything done at work and I didn't know how I would ever be a decent mother since I was barely managing to feed and dress myself. I am so, so glad to be where I am right now, and the contrast with last year only makes that more evident to me.
On borrowing trouble: I have a big box in the garage of clothes and stuffed toys marked simply, "#2". (I halved all the stuffed animals, heirloom and new, so that #2 would have lots of his/her own things for special, and I'm saving all the Squid's clothing for re-use). And since I like to borrow trouble, I'm already worrying about what life with two will be like and how I will give them both enough attention and still find time for me and for Himself and for a social life and and and.
When we started trying to conceive I worried about my fertility and was already formulating backup plans in case we ran into issues. Then, when that wasn't a problem, I worried about my pregnancy, then about childbirth, then about how having a baby would change our marriage and our lives. Now I'm worrying about #2. I think I need to get a little Zen about things and focus on the Now, eh?
On developmental whatever: We have baby babble! He wakes up talking to himself, mostly long strings of vowels, "Aooo. Aay! Aa-ai. Ai," but sometimes with a "b" or "g" or "d" thrown in. He will carry on "conversations" with us - talk, and then wait for us to talk, and then talk again. I love this stage. Verbal expression is so key to how I relate to people that being able to chat with him like this, and knowing that he is developing language skills, has been a very bonding thing for me.
Also, we are no longer swaddling him. He is now sleeping in jammies, and a bejammied young lad is enough to make my small heart grow three sizes, he is so damn adorable. I don't know what it is - something about the feet, or the fit, or something, but seriously. Death By Cute. He's also in a big-boy crib in his own room now, not the co-sleeper or the baby swing. I'm hoping this will help encourage his mobility, since his idea of a good time mostly involves either standing on my lap or lying flat on his back, and he still shows no inclination to roll, scoot, or crawl.
His neck is starting to re-emerge from the baby chin fat, and he kicks his legs enthusiastically when he is happy and smiles and grabs for toys and hair and his bottle and my food and whatever else takes his fancy. He's so engaged with the world that I am constantly delighted. Okay, less delighted when he is chortling wide-eyed to himself about the joys of his musical horse at 3 a.m. instead of sleeping, but most of the time. He will entertain himself for up to an hour (twenty minutes is more average) on his activity mat, and he giggles and shrieks with delight at the toys as he plays.
On anxiety: Since he was born, I've had a hallucinatory soundtrack of him crying in my head - I think I hear him whimpering when I am alone in my car, or howling in the living room when he is in the bedroom right next to me. It's very disconcerting. It was worse when he was a newborn, but it still happens sometimes, especially when I'm tired or trying to sleep. And even sleep isn't safe from worry - about once a week, I dream that I have thoughtlessly, carelessly eaten cereal with milk or some other massive portion of obvious dairy, and then I realize that I can't feed the baby (he has milk protein allergies) and he is hungry and crying. I wake up in a sweat from those.
In keeping with last week's post on breastfeeding, being someone's food source is really nerve-wracking sometimes.I try so hard, and even so, I sometimes don't make enough for him to eat, or I taint his food supply, and the amount of attendant guilt and frustration is - I'm not sure it's comparable to anything else I've known before. On the thirteenth, I had a tantrum, after I'd eaten something wrong and the baby had been screaming in pain for hours. Grown woman, here, in full-on shrieking and sobbing meltdown; I felt like I'd poisoned the baby with my body. Himself points out that that sort of rhetoric is totally out of proportion to the actuality of things, but that's how it felt. This is no picnic, this breastfeeding stuff.
On naps: He's developing a routine. This is both awesome (no second-guessing whether this is a ten-minute or two-hour nap, knowing approximately when he'll be hungry and how much he'll eat, etc.) and inconvenient (he's not nearly as portable/flexible as he was when he just slept like a lump everywhere we went). It also held some serious surprises for us.
We thought, if he usually goes down at 2:30, and you're out about town and he starts acting tired at 2:15, well. You get him home a little late, but it's no problem, right? He's just more tired so he crashes right out! Only, wrong. Way, waaaay wrong. There's this tiny window, 15 minutes or less, from the first glimmer of fuss or rub of an eye, in which the baby will go to sleep easily. Miss it, and you are so fucked. Hours of grumpy, crabby, overtired child who desperately needs to nap and stubbornly refuses to do any such thing...or anything else, for that matter.
Live and learn. We spent a few miserable weekends with screwed-up sleep schedules before we figured this one out, but we're doing better now. He provides strong incentives to do so. Proper napping=happy, playful, alert baby! Missed naps=snarly, whiny, pissy fussypants! You can push it, but then you pay, and you pay, and you pay. Best not.
Mostly, though, this is an easy stage. As easy as parenthood seems to get, which is, you know, still not a picnic in the park - but he's partially self-entertaining, fairly interactive, somewhat consistent, portable but not mobile, and fairly readable in terms of his wants and needs. In my usual optimistic style, I fully expect it all to go to hell any day now. I'll keep you posted.