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.

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.

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.   

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:
Winter squash
Sweet potatoes
Butternut squash

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.

 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 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.

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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