Musings of a Mum: 9 months old

March 30, 2013 Candace Morris 0 Comments



Little chicken,
Stop! You are making my uterus hurt.  Talk about a babymoon, sheesh.  I cannot believe you are my very own baby.  I get to cuddle and snuggle and chomp on your cheeks with kisses whenever I want to.  I get to smell your tasty skin and nuzzle into your baby neck. I get to swoon at you in sun hats and laugh at your jolly giggles. You also reach for us and bury your face into our skin, making me remember how my own mother's smell is still something I crave and am comforted by.  Divine, I say!  I feel the days passing away and I cannot contain my panic - for soon enough you will not let me kiss you and dress you and feed you broccoli.

A few things may have contributed to my being blissed-out on Baby +Bowie .  I will attempt to capture them here, for record keeping purposes, of course.

1.  You are sleeping through the night!  What victory is mine.  We started the sleep training the day after you turned 8 months old.  Despite me being prepared for a few days (even weeks) of crying nights, it took you ONE night!  It's now been a month of 13 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, and I am shaking my fist at myself (which is anatomically hard to do!) for not attempting this much, MUCH sooner. See 'Sleeping' section for more info.

2.  You have finally cut your first two teeth which has restored your pleasant, easy-going, (dare I say) patient personality.

3.  You seem to be on the tail-end of the separation anxiety and are content playing independently.

4. You are on the brink of crawling, but not yet!

All of these factors combine into one tasty pot of 'this isn't too hard' soup for Momma.  Every day, I realize this new normal will evaporate so quickly, but I am determined to enjoy it now.

So much has changed in a few short months.  You seem less and less baby and more and more Bowie.  One of my favorite things is to hold up a toy in each of my hands to see which you pick.  It's so interesting watching a human develop preferences.




PERSONALITY
Your sense of humor has taken off this month and you have so many expressions!! We will walk by your room as you are falling asleep and hear you giggling to yourself.  You love your kitty cat, though I can't say the feeling is mutual.  

Your view has seemed to broaden from just Momma to include Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, and several other of our friends who adore you.

Dad and I often remark on how sweet you are, what a good baby you are, how happy we are, how easy it is to be around you, and how remarkably patient you are - for a baby. 

You used to hate being in the baby carrier, but I clued into the fact that you disliked being so low.  I adjusted it so you could see over my shoulder as we take walks, and you now love it!  Where once your limit was a 15 minute walk, I can now traipse about the neighborhood for 45 min (which is my limit.  You aren't light!).  We go on 'noticing' walks where I point out various blooms and plants.  

Whenever you pick up something to play with it, you 'offer it to the toy gods' as Dad and I say.  You lift it up over your head with both hands, pause for a bit, then slam it down as hard as you can.  Perhaps you are testing the god's strength or your own or the toy's.  

You love it when anyone sings to you!  I like to sing Zou Bisou Bisou and make you do a little frenchy dance.  Oooh la la!  You laugh every time.

DEVELOPMENT
  • You have cut two teeth.  First was the bottom right, and a few days later, the bottom left.  
  • Your pincers are working wonderfully, and you are becoming more and more skilled at manipulating toys and objects to your will.
  • You are rocking back and forth on your sitting bones, eager to crawl, though not yet able to keep your torso on plane with your head.  (p.s. I am fine with this!)  Instead of crawling to move around, you are steam-rolling all over the floor.
  • You say 'th' and several vowel sounds, but consonants are not quite there.  I've been working on 'B.'
  • You love to eat your toes and hate being on the changing table.
  • You love, love, love the bathtub.
  • You are attentive with books, and right now your favorite is one about dinosaurs and one about Monet.  Atta' girl!
  • Your hair is growing in as a mohawk...and darker than I expected.
  • Your eyes, though still dominantly blue, seem to have more yellow specs forming.
  • You've started to grab hair and scratch skin, and we've been working on the word 'Gentle' and 'No.'  Your eyes tell me you understand completely.


FEEDING
You are our little baby bird!  You like almost everything we've given you now, and you will open your mouth wide in between bites, waiting for us to fill it.  You are usually silent in between those bites, but almost always once you have food in your mouth, you make a low moan, as if grunting will assist the newly-learned chew skills.  

We've been feeding you cheerios for a few weeks now.  Usually, you are able to pick them up, but weren't quite getting them into your mouth.  However, in the last few days have you seem to have mastered the skill, using almost exclusively your right hand. Whenever I used to help you get one by offering it to you from my own fingers, instead of taking the cheerio, you would take my entire hand and bring it to your mouth.  Smart.  Why the extra effort?  On the occasion that you are unable to grasp the cheerio, usually because they have become wet from you splashing water from your cup onto the tray, you complain swiftly and loudly.  I will enjoy the time when you can say, "Dear Mother, when you have a moment, will you please assist me?"  

You have taken to your sippy cup this month, gulping water with fortitude! When bottle fed, you hold it almost entirely on your own.  


We've added meat and grains to your diet.  You love entertaining yourself with rice cakes, though I am not sure you are getting any calories from it since it ends up on your hands, face, hair, clothes, and the floor more  often than not.

SLEEPING
Remember how just after last month's letter to you, I said that we were starting your sleep training that very night?  Well we did it and I am happy to report that you took to it like a fish to water.  I had always associated 'The Ferber Method' with 'The Evil Method' and so never gave his book a fair chance. When our naturopath said to do it, I decided to look it over.  It turns out that many women had this same impression of Ferber...that is, until it WORKED (even if you co-sleep, it works!).  

The first part was recognizing your sleep associations.  While you could put yourself to sleep, you began to rely on nursing or a bottle to get yourself back to sleep in the middle of your night wakings.  I knew this was the case for several months, but didn't have the courage to let you cry - even though I knew you didn't need the calories.  Because I allowed it to go on so long, I assumed the breaking of the habit would be arduous and drawn out.  

Not so.  Either you are a quick learner or the method should be called 'The Miracle Method.'  Whichever is true (I'm pulling for you), we are a happy, happy family sleeping through the night for almost a month now.  

The method involves a crying-it-out, but in small intervals.  For the first night, whenever you woke up, we would go in and comfort you every 5, then 10, then 15 minutes.  (We adjusted this to every 10, 15, then 20 minutes because our going in was more disruptive and would just get you worked up again.)  You woke five times that night, and it was really hard for us.  I had a few mantras running through my head for help and your Dad did the bulk of the comforting - since you wouldn't smell milk on him as you would with me.  We all suffered that night.  I was prepared to battle again the following night.

However, the next night, you woke only 3 times (as opposed to the previous night's 5 times), but each for not even 3 minutes.  You cried and then put yourself right back to sleep.  Night 3, you woke once for 1 minute.  By night 5, you were out cold until 6am.  Glory, glory, GLORY BE!

As it turns out, this training has also made you able to sleep better in foreign places as well.  You will cry for 1-5 minutes, work it out, then fall right asleep.

One of the many benefits of you getting 12+ hours of sleep per night is not only that you are happier and more resilient during the day, but also that I have gained a deeper sense of knowing you and your cries.  Since I have allowed you to cry, I can know immediately now if you are mad, hurt, hungry, dirty, or stuck in-between the grates of your crib.  Before, your cries were closer to guess work.

Now that we have nighttime pretty well down, I am hoping to create a more predictable nap schedule.  Right now, we are working toward a 1.5hr nap in the morning and a 1.5hr nap in the afternoon. 

OUTINGS AND EVENTS
In one month, you saw your first snow AND your first cherry blossoms.  Welcome to Seattle Spring - such a glorious time of year when the heavy clouds lift and we ache to spend our days outdoors sipping rosé.  

You have had the pleasure of spending several afternoons with Aunt Niki as I go and write.  You certainly get loved on when she's here!


Aunt Plume stopped by too.  Though you met her once already, she never had a chance to hold you since all you ever used to do was sleep.  This time, you two played and giggled and she fell in love with your cheeks.

We went to the library together for the first time, enjoying the beginning of warmer weather and sighting our first cherry blossom.

We have been going to Grandma's not only on Sundays, but also usually once midweek (for my sanity). You are quite happy there.  You touched grass with your feet for the first time on their property.

We had another appointment at the chiropractor that necessitated you coming with me, and you went right to 3 different ladies without a complaint! You even smiled for them.  I was so proud that you felt so safe.



This also marks 9 months since we have become a Mom and a Dad.  We often say to each other how content we are with you, each other as parents and spouses, and our new normal.  You are an easy addition, rock-star baby.  We see this time with our ancient eyes, teary with nostalgia.  It's just so good and gentle.

As we sat on a blanket in the sun this afternoon, I realized that for one of the first times I can ever remember, I am very much present in the moment.  You've put me into the now, grabbed my forward-wandering attention, and slammed me right back where I belong.  With you.  Right now.

I guess that's what happens when one encounters the most beautiful thing they have ever seen,


0 comments:

"Momentum, for the sake of Momentum"*

March 27, 2013 Candace Morris 1 Comments


I see the moss being ripped from the stones of my brain, the soil in reluctant acquiescence to the bounty and strength of my own internal, intellectual Spring.  Ideas, thoughts, dreams all begin to roll, to gain momentum where once they were still and cozy in their bed.

I underestimated the energy that this small writer's workshop would provide toward my own self-education.  I suddenly have a strong desire to methodize my work, to keep hours, to create a studio space and altar for writing, to submit rough drafts, t,o attend book readings, to read and read and read.  Even the people I want to read has changed drastically.  While I still have a great reverence for the literature of the great past, I have a new hunger to read these names I am encountering in the class.  It all started with Cheryl Strayed, but from there I have been devouring the brilliant poetry of Brenda Shaughnessy, the writing wisdom of Natalie Goldberg, the rhetoric of Jessica Valenti, the lyrical non-fiction of Lidia Yuknavich.

It's as if I just learned to read and I am hungry for more and more words.  A world has opened itself before my eyes and I am jumping into it.  Authors I never cared to know about, books that seemed too easy, too modern.

I am asking myself all kinds of questions, really hard questions...but I am also finally empowered enough to feel as though I can actually answer them for myself.  To define myself as writer based on MY principles and preferences and definition of success, and not what I assume it should be.  I hear this voice saying,"I can do this!" whereas I used to hear it question, "Wait, can I do this?". I have to tell you, it's impossibly thrilling!

Forsythia from Mom's

Even more Forsythia!

Forsythia in sunlight

Standing under the canopy of a very old cherry

Cherry Blossoms line our streets

I love the contrast of old to new growth

Driveways lined with Camilla flowers

Weeping Cherries are one of my very favorites

What a great house

Daphne!


In other movement, Spring has certainly sprung in Seattle.  In an effort to exercise more (and to get Bowie out of the house), the baby and I have been walking all around our lovely neighborhood on what I call 'noticing' walks.  I probably look crazy, since I am carrying Bowie on my back and people must think I am actually talking to myself, but I speak to her of all the trees and plants and birds that I happen to know.  We touch them and smell them and take photos of them.

In even more movement, I have decided to make Kombucha!  The first batch is brewing as we speak, so I am hoping beginner's luck will smile upon me.



And last, but never least, Bowie has also gained momentum in a few areas.  She cut her second tooth, has tried (and loved) rice cakes, is on the brink of crawling, and has decided to grow hair in the style of 80s punk rock.  I am proud.




*Neko Case

1 comments:

Baby's First Snow

March 22, 2013 Candace Morris 2 Comments



A very simple Spring flurry welcomed us to today in typical Seattle weather unpredictability. It did not stick, and it was barely noticeable, but it remained Bowie's first snow.  This morning, as we sat on my bed cozily looking out the window, she watched the snow pensively, as if she too knew it was somehow out of the ordinary.  The reverie ended quickly as she returned to her task of torturing the cat (Octavia is so glad she's not crawling yet).  We stepped outside later in the morning after I hastily put her large head into her tuque and for a few seconds, she stared in wonderment...the precisely perfect reaction to one's first snow. She's really quite smart you know.



2 comments:

What sort are you?

March 21, 2013 Candace Morris 2 Comments



We really are a cup-and-saucer kind of people in this abode.  As I stood before the great window overlooking the neighborhood, I wondered what a passerby might think of me sipping in such a manner.  Would the gesture seem odd?  I turned to my studious husband working on a final research paper and noticed his even more dainty tea cup.  How did this happen?  Why do I use the saucer?  As it turns out, I am terribly clumsy.  The saucer was meant to catch the dribbles of tea and to hold a biscuit.  I have adapted its use to coffee and a (half!) donut.  And just one second ago, I grabbed the cup without the saucer and dropped coffee on my shirt.  Damn it. Sidenote: Lest you think I always eat donuts, I would like to say I made a kick-ass oatmeal this morning complete with hot cinnamon apples, toasted coconut, raisins, and brown sugar.

Things have seemed soft lately, despite a rigorous social schedule.  Today is the first day I've not had a social event in an entire week, which is terribly straining for my introverted self.  Each activity was quite pleasurable, but it's often not until I am settled back into this solitary place that I realize how much I needed it.

As the baby despot sleeps on her throne, I ponder the new momentum in my life.  Yesterday's work was supremely productive! As I walked home from a writing lunch with a happy belly full of wine and Caesar salad, I noted how good it felt to be mentally exhausted again, to pour out thought after thought, inane and important, banal and profound onto the welcoming pages of my journal.

There really is nothing like the marriage of your passion and your work.

And speaking of passion, my mind has been swirling with brave thoughts of art.  I am reworking definitions for myself and what it means to be a 'writer' and am uncovering a lot of fear preventing me from taking myself more seriously and also realizing how much energy exists inside of me toward this work.  It's easy to write, it's easy to be around other writers.  Taking this small, informal workshop has breathed new life into my craft unlike any I expected.  It assigns me weekly readings (this week's was phenomenal!) and several timed free-writes from prompts.  Additionally, the teacher will accept voluntary submission of rough drafts of essays, and I am still working on my subject to see if I could indeed do this.  Since the topic is writing through inner change, I have several I could delve into (conversion to agnostic/atheism, my conversion to feminism, or the change of motherhood).  All seems like too much to bite and all very confusing!

I am wondering as well...

  • Is art art if it remains unshared?
  • I am any less an artist than my dear +Umber or +Jillian because I don't have shows or sell my work or spend as much time on it?  I believe they would certainly give a resounding NO, to legitimize me...but there is still something to putting your livelihood on the line.  There is a difference, but I am trying to unpack it truthfully (do I use my inability to do what they do as an excuse to keep from taking risks for what it is I do?)
  • Do I have to embrace the 'arty' lifestyle and mimic other's creative process and reside in their work-space or can I TRULY make it my very own? (Can I be more drawn to people than nature?  Can I take less than amazing photos and still hare them?  Can I be Type-A and highly-planned and crass?  Can I prefer the city to the country?  Can I own more books than plants? Can I love Twinkies instead of kale? Can I wear PJs all day instead of boots and skirts?  Can I have small humans instead of large canines?) Sidenote: this list not meant as any ridicule of their lifestyle, but just a comparison of how I have seen two of my intimates live as artists.
  • Why do I write?  What is my truest truth that I need to extract?
  • What if I hurt others by writing that truest truth?
  • Can I still write every day, delve into pieces and pour myself out on paper and still consider myself a writer even if I never publish a single thing?
  • If I do want the notoriety and publication, can I have them or am I too scared?


Just me, my cup-and-saucer, these quiet few minutes, the sound of the wind-chimes, the steady type of my husband's fingers, and the freedom of unanswered questions.



2 comments:

Friends with Art: Good Medicine

March 16, 2013 Candace Morris 2 Comments

I consider myself something of the unofficial photographer for UmberDove's art shows. "Good Medicine" opened on Thursday night at The Ghost Gallery here in the Capitol Hill district of Seattle, and runs all month if you are in the neighborhood.  Afterward, we do what we always do: drink.








I've been thinking a bit about personal deadlines and when to allow yourself rest and when to allow yourself work and when to allow the work to be enough and when to allow it to be deficient.  It's an inspiring life being surrounded by others who think on the same things.  Kelly works hard, terribly hard. There is no wishy-washy "Maybe I'll try my hand at art for a while to see if maybe I'm good enough."  She is head's down, buried in foliage and silver and paint most days.  I must say, I got to see her more when she wasn't so successful, so it doesn't really benefit my social life - but it is certainly motivating for me in my own craft.

Which brings me to my good medicine.  Today I began a writer's workshop with the subject of writing on Inner Change/Personal Transformation.  I sit around the table with eight other (rather magnificent!) ladies who are grappling with being a writer and being a human, and it has put a serious bee in my bonnet.  

So let it begin, I say...the flurry of an writing so much that I feel beautiful exhausted from the work of my soul. Just like she does.



2 comments:

the pain of attachment

March 08, 2013 Candace Morris 2 Comments

It not entirely abnormal for me to behave as such, it's just unfamiliar. The majority of my dating life was conducted in this manner.  I am (subconsciously, mind you) distant, detached, cautious, hard-to-get.  My introversion and clairvoyance can be a bit intimidating, and I am sure I have set this up as a coping mechanism somewhere in my psyche - for protection. However, after another person has persisted past my social boundary, the connection is then relatively easy to see and enjoy. The real struggle is the aftermath, the transition from connection to reciprocation and then finally to attachment.

If you are a mother or know one who has become so in the last 10 years, you are aware of the buzz surrounding the word attachment. Apparently, it's buzzing under my bonnet as well, since - quite unplanned- I found myself spending the whole of therapy last week discussing my attachment to Bowie.  I am perplexed by a continued barrage of questions.  Is my attachment healthy?  Should I try to remain more objective?  Can I even have the power to remain objective, and if not, how am I to trust myself to make the best decisions for her?  I have never made that great of choices when I relied solely on instinct and intuition in the past, so how do I balance this?

Of course, like always, no one can answer these questions for me.  Goodness, what I wouldn't give for a cheat sheet on the test "What are all the correct decisions regarding Bowie that will produce a healthy adult female human?".

When B was 2-months and then 4-months old, I wasn't overly bothered during her immunizations.  I wasn't thrilled at her demonstrations of pain and felt almost unbearable pity, but I remained objective, logical, clear, cool-headed.  Often unpleasantness, more likely pain, is required for personal betterment and survival.  You can therefore imagine my surprise when at her 6-month immunizations, I was nearly incapable of staying in the building, much less the room.  How strange this behavior was to myself! Joel told me to leave, that he could handle this.  But how could I ever grow the skin necessary to endure her negative emotions if I didn't have the practice?  

I made myself stay in the room.  Joel, in yet another situation where I envied his objective steadiness,  lovingly restrained her little body as she looked over at me with a grin...unknowing of the future...trusting me.  Then the prick.  She was shocked, and I felt my heart clawing its way from my rib-cage into my throat, gagging me.  I teared up and grasped my chest in an effort to return my heart to its original location.

In seconds we were both fine.  Bowie was happy and I was light-headed from relief, not realizing how much tension I was holding until the anxiety fled my system.  Unfortunately, I feel that same dread stirring and threatening when I think of her next round of shots.

I am attached to her.  It's quite obvious now.  I wasn't sure before, not having shared enough life together to test it, and never having felt the mother/offspring connection.  In her infancy, I could leave her with Grandma or Jess with a regular, manageable amount of concern, but be thankful I was getting a break and would often not think of her when I was out.  Now, when I go out, I feel my guts wrench, as if I left the house without my left leg attached.

This panic reminds me of childhood trips to Disneyland, waiting in the serpentine line for Space Mountain.  I knew I would hate it, and most likely begged not to have to go on it, but my Mom knew I would be fine, and that we could go on to Peter Pan right afterward.  She's right.  I lovehated it.  Most rewarding of all was the post-event empowerment, the thrill of intentionally choosing something antithetical to my nature and surviving!

I will never be able to travel to Paris or try a new restaurant or hang out with friends without thinking about Bowie. On dates or during my alone time, I finding it impossible to shake her. It's like my very heartbeat is dependent upon the bass drum she hits with her foot.  For being biologically written in my DNA, it sure feels unnatural.

I remember when Bowie was a few weeks old and Joel and I went out for Indian Food.  I was so exhausted and emotional, but glad to be doing what we used to do!  You know, back when we were fabulous.  As I sipped my chai, it dawned on me that Bowie was somehow still preoccupying my thoughts and body.  I had become used to her during pregnancy, but assumed I would regain my full physical independence once she was extracted.  Not so, not so.  She still and always will occupy a Bowie-shaped room in my gut. For a woman with a nasty case of caged-bird syndrome and who values independence more than chocolate, this attachment feels dangerous, suffocating.  But that's how she died, the previous version of me...the Candace v34.0.

Panic. Surely it means I am 'losing' myself - my ultimate fear surrounding motherhood.  I am sliding down a slippery slope of one-note conversations composed entirely of sleep theories and teething woes.   Turns out the average person doesn't really care if I wear Bowie in a sling or in the Ergo!  I see their eyes glaze over, and I wonder how I became so boring.  I want to be talking about my research in feminism,  my reading of a new book about introversion, my plans for a new hairstyle, my ambitions as a writer, blog gossip, anything else!  My friends are really tolerant, but enough is enough.

I'm sure it's not that bad, as most fears are only a shadow of the real battle. I am trying to preserve a woman who I won't even remember!  I like the new me, but the old me was great too and she's shrinking at alarming rates.

But that's what it means to become a mother.  Biology demands that you lay down your own identity  and hobbies and relationships and cocktails, as these become secondary to nurturing your young.  It makes you more vulnerable in the wild, as your previous care-free tree swinging is now slowed down, making you an easier target to predators.

But that's biology.  What about evolution?  What about our brains now having enough information to demand that we become MORE than just animals operating on instinct.  Evolution of self demands that I retain my personal happiness as a mother, biology doesn't give a fuck about my happiness, it will always sacrifice me for my child.

My personal evolution recognizes the danger to my emotional well-being in the instinctual attachment of myself to this creature whom I cannot control and with whom I won't live for the majority of my life.  I find myself putting the breaks on the attachment, wanting to keep her at arms length.

If I do this, then obviously it will hurt much less on her first day of kindergarten, or her graduation, or her wedding, or her death (god forbid I should still be on this planet for such an event.  No seriously, god.  FORBID it). Right?

Since I've not been dating for over 10 years now, I had forgotten one key thing about my self-preservation method. It absolutely fails every single time; it never works.  Loss of love hurts just as acutely when repressed as it does when allowed full demonstration, except for one additional blow - the question "Would it have ended had I really given it my all?"

Let me put it another way.

Love fucking hurts when you lose it.

My therapist gave me an apt visual image for any healthy relationship.  Imagine yourself surrounded by a personal membrane of sorts, a semi-permeable membrane.  It is open enough that we can see and act upon the needs of others, but still preserves our sense of self.  The work required to maintain our own membrane is exhausting and damn-near perilous, for it often means we can no longer sacrifice everything we are for someone else, which would be so easy to do.  It's just less complicated to give away everything than to sift through the treasures one by one.  It's much easier to live for someone else than to be painfully in tune with the daily, hourly, minute-by-minute management of our own negative/positive balance.  It's easier to walk on one side of the wall than to walk the tightrope that defines it.

My mind to your mind.
My thoughts to your thoughts.
My membrane to your membrane?

But as my friend clearly put it to me over a bottle of Malbec, "Candace, you are viscerally attached to Bowie, and supposed to be.  You cannot hold back your natural emotions."  He's right.  I cannot raise her solely based on logic, it's not a provision of reproduction for the mother to be objective.  It is for a mother to fight her own war, biology versus evolution, and find a way to wave the white flag of surrender to each side.



2 comments:

firsts

March 07, 2013 Candace Morris 0 Comments

 

The first cheerios.
The first tooth.
The first cherry-blossom sighting of Bowie's life, at the library no less.

There's just nothing like your first.


0 comments:

Musings of a Mum: 8 months old

March 02, 2013 Candace Morris 3 Comments





Little chicken,
I continue to whirl and balk at how quickly you change.  I adjust to something and just as I find a new rhythm, you go and become an seemingly entirely different baby. It triggers all my selfish buttons and reminds me what it means to open up my life to yours.  Though I want to walk the balance of motherhood, in truth, these years are rightfully yours.  Now is the time that you deserve attention and a smart, healthy mother who can learn and adapt quickly.  I daily aim to do right by you.

Your changes have been remarkable in the last few weeks.  Everyone says so.  First Dad then Grandma said that they are seeing your toddler self emerging. I can see it too.  You've become a master at holding yourself up, and any trace of newborn or infant is entirely vanished.   I am feeling panicked, nostalgic, and ecstatic at this. The first year of a human life is unlike any other, as our species is one of the only on this earth where offspring are so helpless.  Did you know that horses birth foals that can walk almost immediately after birth, and this is very common for most animals.  But in the first year of a human life, a baby changes from entirely helpless to walking upright and strong.  I just watched a documentary on it.  Will you like documentaries?  We watch TED talks together, so maybe it will be ingrained.  

The parental influence on the personality of a child is ever-present on my mind lately.  For instance, you seem to work like clock-work, but did I make you like this or would you have been a highly-structured person on your own?  There is no way to know, but the importance I hold in your development is something I take very seriously and also - it freaks me out.

Your personality is just so pleasant, as you have bouts of intense curiosity that keep you intently focused and serious.  You often like to sit and gaze at something for several minutes, again with such a serious, old-soul expression on your face.  Then instantly, someone will catch your attention (most likely Dad clearing his throat, which makes you jump- or the kitty, which makes you babble) and you will be all grins.  Easy to smile, so easy to laugh. I love this about you.  Jolly and intent.  Happy but aware.

You are all eyes for me right now, which is such an interesting feeling.  I am aware that it won't last forever, so my inclination is to convince myself that you don't really love me as much as you think you do.  You see, if I can keep myself from the intense attachment (that I don't really have the power to keep myself from, if we are being honest), then it will most definitely hurt less when I leave you at kindergarten, or when you walk across a podium with a degree, or when you pledge your life to someone and live with them instead of us.  Right?  So here I am, so very attached and so very scared to be so very attached. 

I was exercising my powers of independence this week and took myself writing.  Aunt Niki watched you, which you love.  For the first time since I birthed you, I found myself eager (not anxious, because I wasn't worried about you), very eager to return to you.  I had to figuratively glue my rear to the chair, reminding myself that we both need to develop relationships outside of the one we have with each other.

You know, motherhood is a bit unfair.  We spend our life trying to help you find wings, but that entire time our hearts are breaking every time you take a step away from home.  I am waking up to this sea of mothers, realizing that over half the population of women are walking around with utterly broken, bleeding hearts as they nurture their children with the very skills that will render their mothering obsolete.  And this is good parenting!  This is the goal!  How confusing.

But how very thrilling it must be to see your children as successful adults.  To see them being kind of their own accord, to see them choose a partner that is good to them, to see them discover passions outside of anything you introduced to them.  I cannot wait to see who you become.  Conversely, how unbearable it must be to see your adult children in pain or poverty or misery or unhappiness!  How guilty a mother must feel in that case.  I shudder to think.

And your father is becoming more and more attached as well.  This week he told me that he thinks he loves you now almost as much as he loves me.  He said that if he had to chose between which one of us to save if faced with such a horrifying decision, he would now have a harder choice and would most likely chose you instead of his previous decision, which was always me.  Besides, if he chose me, I'd be so mad at him!

But enough about us.  On to you.





PERSONALITY
With the mastery of sitting up unsupervised, you have been able to play independently for longer periods of time which makes you much less clingy. We are both happier with this.  You seem to be better capable at this in the mornings, and then become increasingly clingy as you tire throughout the day.

Your laugh continues to be a source of bliss for all who know you.  This last week, I was dusting a table.  You began to giggle, and it took me a bit to realize that with each sound of a dusting spray squirt, you were laughing with hilarity.  Of course, I did it some more.  And some more.  Jess was there as our witness.

You have begun to hold my face. You have begun to reach for us.  You have begun to bury yourself in my chest when you are tired.  It's all very wonderful - this feedback.





DEVELOPMENT
In just the last few days, you have at least 5 new sounds.  Your verbal skills are really coming along.  You say 'oooo' and are forming Ws.  You have also started making raspberry sounds and enjoy testing the volume of your yelling voice.  Additionally, you have begun to take in huge, squeaky gasps of air just to see what it sounds like.  It's comical to us all.  One of your funniest traits is how easy you are to startle.  You aren't scared and rarely cry when startled, but anytime anyone coughs or clears their throat, you JUMP.  Each time I clap, you blink wildly.  I wonder if you will be a sensitive thing, like your Mum.

Your hands have also become quite adroit!  In just the last four weeks, you have evolved from flailing toys about to intentionally seeing and seeking out one toy, and then playing with it as it was intended instead of using it to bonk your head.  Your pinching skills are improving, and heavy toys no longer seem a problem.  You can pass a toy back and forth between hands.  You seem to favor your left hand less than I have seen the last 8 months, but it is still dominant.

Everything, but EVERYTHING is going in your mouth these days.  Your shirt is soaked with drool as is anyone who holds you.  No teeth yet.

More and more hair is coming in, but mainly just down the center of your head.  I've condescended to those annoying headbands because it's just so cute.  It's not the first time you'll suffer for fashion, and what kind of Mum would I be if I didn't help you learn that lesson early?  You don't seem to really mind them, so maybe the bright red ring around your head after I take them off isn't too painful.

Your able to bear your body's weight on your legs, and still very much love your jump-a-roo.  I suspect you will begin crawling by scooting around while sitting, instead of on all fours.

You've always loved your Grandma Jean, but you seem especially enamored of Grandpa Jonathan recently as well.  You love being at their house and you seem to have taken notice of the dog Abbey for the first time.  You also love our cat, much to her chagrin.   




FEEDING
This month has brought a myriad of new flavors to your palate.  I'm also pleased to report that you are a fan of peas now, and I am eager to try more greens.  Previously, it was a no go.  But as with any food (as you will soon realize as a Morris) can be liked with multiple exposure.  Your dad says three bites or three sips will help someone learn to like something.  I cannot even count the number of foods I didn't like before I married your Pop (including beer!!), and now it's hard for me to name five that I don't like.  However, I do admit that despite trying fois gras at least a dozen times, it still isn't something I love. But I will keep trying!

For the most part, I make your food.  It's not a matter of principle for me; I am no woo-woo hippie, and lord knows I am not the best eater myself, but it just makes sense for me as a stay-at-home mom.  It's way cheaper, too! I just grab a squash, throw it in the oven to roast and then blend it up.  One squash (for $3) can yield up to 32oz of food!  And while I've also found an organic baby food brand I like, at $.99/jar, it just doesn't compare.

You love:
Carrots
Winter squash
Sweet potatoes
Butternut squash
Apples
Pears
Blueberries
Apricots
Raspberries
Peas
Beets
Bananas

You are very curious about whatever I am eating, so I will often give you tastes and tries.  So far, clementines are your favorite, but you've also mouthed cantaloupe, avocado, french fries (dad did it), and quesadillas.  I am not against you having dairy or meat, but I am unsure how to implement them.  Ground up baby food meat makes my stomach turn, so I'm gonna wait on that.

I've also begun to have you drink from our cups and hope to get you interested in your own sippy cup, but you aren't too curious yet.  I bought a really cute one!

You still nurse for the majority of feedings, but have formula at least 5-7 times per week.   I love how versatile you are and how this gives me the option of being out for the evening while Pop takes care of you.  I have begun nighttime weaning.  In fact, last night you had no feedings - with much protestations, but we all survived.




SLEEPING
 I've been doing a lot of research on this and discovered that you have a nursing/sleep association.  You don't need to nurse for naps and will put yourself to sleep, but for some reason you've not been able to put yourself back to sleep for nighttime wakings.  I initially thought they might eventually fade, but the wakings became more and more frequent and each time you would nurse or eat in order to get back to sleep.

Your schedule includes three 1-hour naps per day, a bedtime of 7pm, and wakings at 12am, 3am, and 6am. My goal is to work toward two 1.5 hour naps, a bedtime of 7pm, and zero night wakings.

So last night was our first night of a new program.  Although he gets a really bad rap in attachment circles, Dr. Ferber's book made the most sense to me, and in fact, many attached parents love it (and I have no doubt in my mind that you have a secure, healthy attachment). Instead of nursing you back to sleep, we are teaching you that you don't need us to comfort yourself.  For the first night, whenever you woke, we would go in every 15 minutes to comfort you (but not get you back to sleep or even stop you from crying) and let you know we were here and that you could do this!  You cried for an hour on and off for each waking, and it was worse when we went in to comfort you, so we stayed out longer and longer times...so it was pretty rough - but much less worse than I expected.  I suspect tonight's wakings will be even less in duration and I fully expect you to be sleeping through the night in a few days time.  I am keeping meticulous records, of course, so I'll let you know how it goes.

Don't misunderstand me.  Although I've allowed you to cry sometimes, it has never been for long periods of time.  I had such a hard time at various stages last night.  I wish I could have recorded my inner dialogue   I had to keep reminding myself that you were just annoyed, not traumatized...and that this would not be the first time you would cry at the boundaries I set for you throughout your childhood.  I knew the crying was just giving you the experience you needed to learn the skill of sleep.  And while the crying doesn't teach you anything per say, and is certainly NOT the goal,  it is simply the way you communicate.

As you learn these new skills that are hard on us all, I realize how I am also learning new skills.  I am becoming stronger, more capable at holding your needs objectively and your emotions with a healthy co-dependence.  It's impossibly hard to discern in the moment, how I feel apart from your expressed emotions and needs, but I can see myself growing just as you grow.  It's a fascinating journey.

OUTINGS AND EVENTS
We had your well-baby visit this month.  You are right on track!  You are now 18.75 pounds and 2'2.5" tall and your head is 17.72" around.  You had your scheduled immunizations with no noticeable reaction.  What a relief!

I've tried to be more conscious of getting you out of the house to slowly increase your stimulation.  I am not inclined to be busy, so it's an exercise for both of us.  I took you grocery shopping (for only the 2nd time), and you lasted just as long as the trip took me before you began to cry.  I also try to put you in the baby ergo or your stroller and walk a few blocks, but you have a low tolerance for being worn.  I suspect that if I had a devise that let you look forward, you might be more resilient.  We will keep trying, as the desire to be outside will increase with the onset of Spring.  I can't wait for you to see the Daphne and Cherry blossoms.

I don't usually take you to my weekly chiropractic appointments, but I had to this week.  All the ladies in the office LOVE you and for the first time, I took you into a place in my arms instead of in your car seat.  You seem to enjoy the barrier the car seat provides between you and excess stimulation, but I am having a hard time bearing that weight anymore.  It was really fascinating to see your attachment at work.  You let two women hold you, despite obvious nervousness at leaving my arms.  But once you settled, you were fine.  You eventually needed my arms back, but I felt very satisfied that you were attached enough to know I was your safe place, but secure and independent enough to allow yourself interaction with strangers.  All of this during your separation anxiety phase!

Raising you continues to reiterate to me that children are capable of meeting expectations set for them, if they are implemented with reality (obviously you are not going to become a rock-star at age 1) and consistency.

Having you as my daily companion in life is my cherished pleasure, little lady.


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