Monday, May 24, 2010

Baby Opal Seven Month Letter

Little sweetie,
Every time I notice you doing something different, more advanced and note-worthy, I jot it down in a notebook, allowing some decent accumulation before consulting it at the end of the month. And, I tell you, the reflection is glorious because these bits and pieces could so easily slip into the everyday-that’s-just-what-she-does-ness of it all. These notes remind me that, no, you have not always been able to do it all. You are gathering skills in your cache that you have worked hard to develop. Nothing is to be taken for granted.

This month’s treasured list of bits, in relatively chronological order:

We spend a lot of time in play. No agenda. No beginning, middle or end. Just play. Some of our favorite playtime things to do are to bounce you in the swing, either in our bedroom doorway or out front dangling from the tree. Without fail, you shriek with glee, twirling in circles and balancing on tippy-toes before allowing gravity to take over your seat with grand elasticity.
You also enjoy the exercaucer, which is the same concept as the bouncy-swing--it also has a seat that you sit in, standing with feet on the ground with just enough room to push off,--but you are on a saucer so you can turn and slightly wobble but don’t go anywhere. A fabulous place for you to hang out for quick blips of time while mommy fixes breakfast and such.
And now, since you are a sitting-up-baby, you love love love to sit on the floor and play. You can entertain yourself for long stretches (preferring mom or dad to be right with you, if possible) with the rainbow-wooden-blocks-on-a-string or your alphabet-wooden-letter-blocks.
Noise. Anything that makes a ruckus is a hit. Wooden spoons on plastic bowls, drumming on cardboard boxes, board books, the high-chair tray. Banging hard toys against other hard toys (the plastic-clicky giraffe is oft an item that receives great abuse) is endless fun.

You also love to play gonna-getcha and peeka-boo and love to dance around the room with mommy and daddy.

Sitting up is your preferred position most of the time. In the bathtub, the high chair, on the floor, in laps. We give you belly-time to encourage your learning to flip from front to back (you are sooo close. I guarantee by 8 months, this will be a learned skill) but once you flip to your back, you usually bark lightly for help up to sitting. You are very sturdy in this position, except for the occasional reaching for a toy with too much gumption that inspires toppling.

You are developing an appreciation for snuggling. You have never been one to allow us to hold you in an embrace or wrap arms around you without squiggling to freedom. Even when you slept in our bed, you had your own special spot that did not want to interfere with ours. But now, you often hug your stuffed animals and relate to them like live, supportive beings. You let me read an entire book to you with your head on my chest and your tiny arms wrapped around your bunny, without struggling to sit up or reach to grab the book. (That was a milestone.) One night you wrapped your arms around my neck and played with my hair, which just about killed me.

You take a sippy cup now, which is heavenly because you hated the bottle. You now have a lengthy list of foods-tasted: Rice cereal, bananas, pears, carrots, sweet potatoes, avocados and peas, and seem to prefer the sweet things, pears and bananas. That’s my Ohio girl. Xo.
You have learned to communicate being finished with your food in a number of creative ways including, but not limited to, blowing in the food-filled-spoon, grabbing the food-filled spoon and staring at the food-filled spoon with pursed lips and crossed eyes. Needless to say, we have lost many a light-colored-cloth item to the vicious stain-power of carrots.

You breast feed much much less now. It took me a while to realize you were weaning yourself slightly because I just couldn’t believe you were needing so much less breast-milk than before. (You recently went from absolutely needing to eat every 3 hours to going 6 or 8 with no milk!) Many times when I thought you HAD to be hungry (because of so much time that had passed since last nursing), you squirmed and pushed away, and yet I still felt like you may not be getting enough. Just this morning I spoke with our on-call nurse and she said, point blank, TRUST YOUR BABY. Since you are gaining weight well, happy, healthy, content, you are clearly eating plenty.

Sleep is still pretty fabulous. You go down at 6pm and sleep until 6am. The main variable is how often you wake during the night, which can be anywhere from 1 to 3 times, depending on how much you ate during the day. Luckily, though, you only get up to nurse and ALWAYS go right back down afterwards.
You had a few weeks of suddenly having difficulty falling asleep—when you had had no problem for a few months— fussing and even crying for a long stint before going down. I even tried holding you and nursing you, when your upset was unbearable but that only exacerbated your irritation.
We never figured out the root of the problem, but started to use the “Twilight Turtle” (a sweet little turtle that projects colored stars on your ceiling in the dark) and since the turtle has joined your bedtime routine, you have gone back to falling to sleep pretty quickly. Thank goodness.

You ride in your stroller big-girl-facing-out-style, preferring to be propped up to seated with the dog prancing just off to the side, comrades on a stroll. We still go for many walks with you facing-out in the sling and you love to hold the dog’s leash while we do this. And you do a commendable job, holding on for dear life with pudgy blanched knuckles. I just have to keep an eye that it doesn’t go into your mouth because all things you are fond of eventually land in your mouth. Teething seems to have little to do with it, for you, tasting seems to be more an expression of appreciation or curiosity.

You are totally captivated by Things. You make a study of anything and everything within arm’s reach. You get lost in gaze, become enraptured by the tulips on the table, the overhead light fixture, the dog, the vine, a necklace. You take as much time as you need to consider and analyze the world around you in pieces.

You reach to be picked up AND to be put down now.

You have definite tastes in toys, you know what you like and you are drawn to it. Your preferences are clearly emerging.

This month, I have realized again and again that your instincts are a valuable as my own. This is how it went with your sleep; you told us when you were ready to move from our bed into your own room and now you are telling us that you don’t need to nurse as often as I seem to think you do.
I also have felt, as your mom, like one of my many roles is to be the Great Normalizer. That it is essentially up to me to assure you that things are ok and normal and that the world is ok and normal when you react to situations with aversion or upset. Often that normalization comes from distracting you, re-directing your energy, making you giggle or taking a deep breath for myself. I feel like there is something of upmost importance in grounding myself into the role of I-swear-honey-that-everything’s-gonna-be-aok.

When the basement flooded with sewage, I must admit, having you in our lives helped your daddy and I to keep things in perspective. Just the fact that you continued playing, continued napping, continued eating, as the basement was demolished and the machines were screaming and the insurance guys refused to call was a real reminder of life-goes-on. And I thank you for that. You were our Great Normalizer for that situation.

You recently started to squinch your face with glee as an extreme version of your baby-smile, as if a large thread pulled the fabric to pucker between your eyes and nose. This is a killer and turns your dad and I into pureed puddles.
You are becoming a master at prompting puddles.

I wonder if it’s possible to kiss a kid too much.

You are incredible.

Xo always, Mommy and Daddy.

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