Well, your Monthly Newsletter’s a few days late this time because you’ve been sick. And wow, I didn’t know exhaustion until I knew Sick Baby! Your fussiness combined with your inability to sleep longer than 30 minutes made for very tired parents. But you seem okay now, and I expect you’ve either gained immunity to something or you’ve popped a tooth.
So, wow. This month. It’s been remarkable.
It was Halloween; you went as Oscar:
On the day of Halloween, we went to the park where you rode your first slide (whee!) and your first swing (waaaah!) while it was 80 degrees. Later that day, your dad and Uncle Josh let pasta-making get the best of them, and we all watched "The Walking Dead," a zombie show that has since prompted scores of mild freak-out-with-worry moments for Mom.
You went on what’s probably your last Smith Ladies Shopping Weekend, it being the last one during which you won’t remember gifts bought for you. You were pretty happy to hang out at the mall, which gave Morgan reason to call you the Happiest Baby Ever. I’m not sure about that, but you were cute crawling around on the floor and grinning at passers-by.
It also was Thanksgiving, and you fell asleep along with the best of us.
Last time I wrote, you couldn’t crawl. However, this month, in the span of a week, you went from your little crawl-scoot, to crawling “properly,” to pulling yourself up to standing, to cruising, ALL WITHIN A WEEK. I don’t know if Kuhn had infant development on the brain when he devised the idea of paradigm shifts, but WOW. Nowhere are these changes more apparent than our living room. Gone are the days of eating in the living room! No more do we have a semi-stylish IKEA rug as our floor! See ya later, coffee table! We now have foam-puzzly pads on the floor. Our coffee table is behind Oscar’s crate. We have to hide everything – remotes, cans of soda, magazines, our phones – from your sight. I thought crawling would be a big deal, but two days later, you quickly eschewed the horizontal vector in favor of the vertical. Climbing is your raison d’etre. (No, Mom doesn’t know French. Google helped. Except for mode d’emploi, which I know from US-Canadian packaging and manuals.) Crawling is only your means to climbing up. And once you’re up, you’re moving. This has resulted in copious contusions. But to hear your dad say it, “If he doesn’t have any scratches or bruises growing up, I’m not doing it right.”
Fortunately, along with your cruising skills, you’ve developed the ability to fall gracefully, or at least with minimal injury. This does not mean you get away abrasion-free; you just lose less blood now. I think the accomplishment of “I know I can actually try not to fall backwards” was huge. Flailing at least helps.
All this physical prowess doesn’t mean you’re without your mental development, too. Every day, you’re more clearly learning things. This is not without its pratfalls. I can’t use my iPhone or iPad around you anymore without intense interest. (Jealousy seems to have developed, too.) I turned to your dad one day and said, “Wasn’t it nice when our baby didn’t have a clue?” Every single day, you’ll do something that makes your dad and me look at each other and smile, sharing the wonder of your accomplishment or discovery. You’re beginning to figure things out that we haven’t shown to you. Wow.
And clues you have! Your visual acuity – or at least your perception of detail – has really become clear. You’ll immediately reach for anomalies in the wood floor, buttons on Grandpa Karl’s shirt, leaves on the deck, and, unfortunately, noses. You love grabbing noses, and I’ve talked myself into believing that’s how you show affection. I can hear your inner monologue: “Awww, aren’t you a cool mommy? I will now pinch your nose and scratch it with my neglected fingernails! Love you! Mean it!”
One day I showed you that the switch on the wall of your nursery could go “on” and “off,” and now you can’t leave a room without reaching toward the switch and glancing toward the light. Sometimes we’ll indulge you and let you play a while, and about one in ten of these sessions will result in an actual change in the light level. Have you discovered causality?!?
Here you are, enjoying some gravity:
And here's some fun with object permanence!
`` ` `q2 ` You typed that!!! Nice.
You’re also really, really vocal. What started with your attempts to be friends with Oscar has spread to people, too. You’re a huge fan of “Ooh!” and “Oh!” We’ve tried to train you to say, “Ho ho ho!” but that’s not worked. Yet. I’ll sing, and you’ll wail along with me. You particularly seem to like arpeggios for now. And “Itsy-Bitsy Spider.”
You’ve reached a place where you have the ability to get yards away from me, by choice. You’ve discovered your autonomy, and with that comes separation anxiety. You start to whine when Dad or I leave the room, even if one of us stays there, though this is mitigated by continued talking or singing as we leave. You know you’re independent, and this makes me proud and also kind of sad. Fortunately, though,this separation is balanced by a new closeness. You’ll grab my nose, smush your face into mine, or hold my neck while I hold you. You’ll even, on occasion, just sit in my lap, relaxed into me. You’re getting big enough that your days of sleeping on us and our ability to hug your whole body are numbered.
Probably the worst part of this month has been a disgusting regression in your sleep habits. I swear, you slept better during your first three weeks than you do now. I smugly put away The No-Cry Sleep Solution, thinking, “My baby doesn’t need this,” and now, I’m thinking, “Damn, crow tastes like chicken.” So, we’re getting paid back for our months and months of interruption-free sleep. Your immediate instinct when you wake up is to practice crawling, ‘cause hey, it’s new and fun! Right? Your dad and I are rising to the occasion, though, planning our nighttime Sagan shifts and implementing some of the baby sleep best practices.
The aforementioned fevery sickness, which made for a night of micro-naps, may result from a triumvirate of pain for you. A) You’re cutting a tooth up top. I think. B) Our furnace is working, so our house is dry, and your humidifier isn’t enough to keep you uncongested. Finally, C) Your head gets a new bruise approximately every 7 hours. Your late- or middle-of-the-night wakings mean that I roll out of bed, grab my silenced phone (hey, I’m entitled to a little bit of Marple as you fall back asleep), and see if I can lull you back to sleep without picking you up. If not, if you’re wailing, I attend to the basics (Hunger? Diaper? Stuffiness?) and then rock you in the glider. This usually does the trick. When you finally get back to sleep, I relish that feeling, that weight if your head on my shoulder and your feet in my lap. And then a curious chiasmus comes; I stop rocking to calm you, and I let the rhythm of your slow, measured breaths calm me. The back and forth of your chest on mine brings me peace in the middle of the night.
My newest favorite lullaby is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and the loveliest lines of the bridge stay in my mind’s ear when I go back to bed:
“Where troubles melt like lemon-drops Away above the chimney tops That’s where you’ll find me...”
I’ll always rock you, and I’ll always do everything within my power to melt your pain away.
SNAPSHOT: Dislikes: Going down for a nap, having the Apple TV Remote/iPhone/piece of paper/granola bar wrapper taken away from you, violin solos, lying still on the changing table, falling Likes: Crinkly objects (especially leaves), talking to the space heater, peek-a-boo, watching Oscar and Loki play Things You Can Do: Crawl across the room, transition from crawling to sitting and back, pull yourself up to standing, (more importantly) get into a seated position from standing, walk holding someone’s hands, hit toys against the floor