Hello Baby Girl,
It is nearly 4pm right now and I am sitting on my bed with the keyboard in my lap and the laptop on a stack of books on the nightstand, while you are on your belly next to me, fighting to grab hold of the keyboard, or the phone, or the laptop, or the notebook, or anything you can get your hands on that I did not expressly give you. We are sitting on the bed because you are tired, but as usual are fighting a nap. Oftentimes, if we lay with you, but don’t pay too much attention, you will occupy yourself until you fall asleep. You just started crying loudly at your displeasure of not being able to grab hold of Mommy’s toys. I’d like to be more productive in your presence, but this is a fairly common response. You cry when I break out the electronics and don’t let you play with them. Alas, I tend not to use the laptop directly in front of you.
You’ve calmed down a bit after having some milky treats. Oh…jk…you’re trying to crawl to grab the keyboard off my lap.
I’m still hoping you’ll fall asleep, though if you don’t do so soon, I’ll just have to give up on your nap so that you’ll go to sleep at bedtime.
Oh my little dove, how I love thee.
At 3 months, you were holding your head up like a champion (been practicing since day one it seems). At 6 months, you were sitting up. At 7 months, you were rolling all over the floor. At 8 months, you are scooting along on your belly, pushing yourself forward with your feet. It won’t be long until you are crawling!
It is now 8:30pm and you have just fallen asleep. You normally wake up two hours or so after falling asleep for the night. Sometimes you wake up again, and sometimes (more recently) you don’t. Naturally, I prefer the nights when you don’t wake up a second time. Getting a solid 5-7 hours of sleep in a row is rather lovely.
Teresa moved out of the house around the end of January, beginning of February. We then set your room up where hers had been. You have a mattress on the floor, with a bookcase full of books (since you couldn’t yet get to them) and your dresser/changing table. You started sleeping in there through the night at 6 months old, though we did take it a bit slow (it may have been two weeks or so before I had you sleeping all night in your room). At seven months, I would walk in in the middle of the night, or even in the morning, to comfort your cries and would find you on the floor somewhere between the bed and the dresser! The first time this happened was on Sunday, April 5, 2020, at 9:03pm. You have always cried in the middle of the night, so your short fall off the mattress was not the cause, though I imagine it may have made you feel even more disoriented at first. Is that why you cry at night? Do you wake up frightened? Do you feel disoriented? Are you lonely?
I don’t like to let you cry. It pains me. If you’re crying, then it seems to me you need comfort, and that is the role I lovingly choose to take on. I’ve read much about how to get a baby to sleep through the night, and one of the many recommendations is the Cry It Out method, which is exactly what it sounds like – let your baby cry itself to sleep. I decided to try this with you. The first night (Thursday, April 2, 2020), you cried for an hour and ten minutes (from 0448 to 0556). The next night (Friday, April 3, 2020), you cried for 53 minutes (from 0313 to 0408). Of course, I was awake through all of this, and the second night I was alone (the first night Papa was awake with me, so I had moral support) and could not sleep after you had stopped crying. I lay awake in bed feeling terrible for having allowed you to cry for an hour, for ignoring your distress. You slept for an hour and then woke up and cried again, at which point I immediately went to the room to comfort you, and admittedly, myself.
In the Baby Tracker app, on April 3rd, I wrote:
“Cried for 53 minutes. I’m not sure I can do this – just lay here and listen to her cry for an hour. It doesn’t feel right to deliberately not comfort my daughter in her time of need. I’ve seen her wake up with a frightened face during the day…what if she is truly scared at night? She knows I’m nearby…on a deeper level she must know I’m ignoring her. She’s absorbing everything…is this really what I want to teach my daughter? That she can’t always trust me to be there in her time of need?”
I never let you cry it out again.
Would you like to know the most precious part of you (to me, at least)? Your hands. Oh my! How your hands can melt my heart! This was especially true when you were even younger than your 8 month self…oh your tiny hands! I absolutely adored seeing your tiny hands explore the air around you in the semi-dark of our bedroom (the neighbors often have their back porch light on and it lights up our room like a very strong nightlight, or like a full moon right outside the window) while you nursed. You still do it, and I still love it, but there was something about your tiny hands – knowing that you didn’t even realize they were yours yet, much less that you had any control over them – that absolutely touched my heart. Your hands flailing, or hitting my chest, was the epitome of your vulnerability to me. I would lay or sit there and watch your hands, almost silhouettes, and would not be able to help but feel emotional. Those moments were the most precious to me. You and me together, just the two of us, you nursing, falling asleep, your hand reaching up, gently touching my skin. Resting on my breast. God, it was beautiful! I already miss those moments the most.
Why is it not the same now? Well, you are much bigger, for one! Goodness, girl, you are getting chunky! You are adorable! You’re also getting longer. I no longer sit you on my thigh to feed you…you would have to bend over. Instead, I sit you next to me, with your legs facing the opposite direction of my legs, and let you nurse while holding yourself up in that position. Your hands are also no longer gentle. Oh no. You have nails and you like to grab and squeeze – with no mercy. No area of skin is off limits, either, no matter how tender. In fact, you seem to prefer the tender skin. My breasts, belly, and the underside of my arms appear to have been attacked by an angry kitten. And Papa is no safer. You like to grab his face…lips and ears especially, though we do have a picture of you going for his eyes while looking at the camera. You recently drew blood on my upper lip with your quick moves. You go for the neck, the chest, the lips, the arms, the legs, and, my little dove, even your own vagina is not safe from your merciless grasp. I now have to be sure I put something in your hands to distract you when I change your diaper or else your hands will automatically shoot down between your legs and earnestly attempt to grab whatever is down there so you can hold it up to your eyes and see what’s going on. You broke your own skin! And you didn’t even seem to notice! Not when you did it and never subsequently when I changed your diaper. It was like you couldn’t even feel it.
In other news: toys. I do not want to buy you many toys. I prefer that you use your imagination and the plenty of items we have around the house. Not to say that I don’t want you to have ANY toys; that’s definitely not the case! But, I want to be sure that your toys are as educational as they are fun. In an effort to get you started on the “right” foot in this toy journey, we have subscribed to LoveVery, which sends a box of toys every two months that are designed for your intellectual development as defined by the Montessori method. You got your first box on April 22 (your 8th month celebration!). It was the 7-8 month box. The toy I wanted you to have the most was the wooden box with a hole at the top and on the side, three wooden balls. The purpose is for you to place the ball in the top hole and watch it come out of the hole in the side. This will show you cause and effect, as well as help you to see that something can disappear from sight but not actually be gone. You haven’t quite warmed to this game yet. You seem to prefer the sensory cards. These are great and I wasn’t even aware of them before they arrived in your box! They are a stack of cardboard cutouts (like a board book) with pictures on both sides. One side of each board is just a picture (of a banana, flowers, etc.). The other side is another picture, but with a section of that picture that is a different material so that you can learn textures. Your favorite card seems to be the cat…it has fur in two spots on the card, and you like it very much. You also like the mirror card…you love looking at babies in pictures, videos, or the mirror! The game I like to play with you using the cards is to set them up around your room and then lay you on your belly at the far end of the room, under the window. It is an opportunity for you to practice crawling while being rewarded at several steps of the way by reaching the card you aimed for and getting to play with it. Sometimes you will get to it, then roll over onto your back and hold it up in front of your face. Or you will stay on your belly and touch the card, getting to the texture (the textures you have are a shoelace, a car, a leaf, a baby’s crocheted hat, a cat, a dog, a mirror, and I may be missing a few off the top of my head). It’s great because it gets you mobile! You move all over that room collecting texture-boards!
On to food…a topic you are a fan of! We have been feeding you more solids from our own plates lately. Of those solids, your first was actual peaches (Thursday, April 23, 2020), of which you had two bites. I have a video of it! I tried to give you more, but you didn’t seem interested, so I didn’t push the issue. That same night, you had five bites of a single piece of bowtie pasta from the dinner Papa made (your first pasta!). The next morning (Friday, April 24, 2020), you had your first homemade biscuit (you loved it!), still warm from the oven. You also had your first pinto beans from a can (Papa smashes them in the pan to make refried beans). Then on Sunday, April 26, you had smashed pinto beans and scrambled eggs with chorizo (though we made sure not to give you any chunks of meat). On Saturday, May 2, we walked to Grumpy’s after your Papa went for a run. We had to eat outside on a bench because the restaurant is still closed for in-dining due to COVID-19. While there, you had some of my buttered wheat toast. On Sunday, May 3, you had your first bites of corn tortilla!
I don’t always record when you eat solid foods, however. You’ve definitely had more scrambled eggs, a bite of a hard boiled yolk, flour tortillas, more beans and more peaches. If it’s your first time having something, I like to record it. Otherwise, I just intend to make it normal. I will likely continue tracking the times you nurse, but will be less inclined to track all of your food intake as time goes by.
It is fun to watch you eat! We gave you pinto beans tonight (Papa made burritos with beans, chorizo, and leftover green salsa from dining out). You were happy! You were laughing, smiling, jumping up and down with every bite! It was adorable! Also, no matter what food you are given, your immediate response face is one of disgust…like you cannot believe we just gave you whatever is in your mouth. You may follow it up by opening your mouth and leaning forward, to request more, but your first response is usually somewhere between shock and horror. It’ s rather entertaining! I have a few videos…
Your legs are also getting stronger! Sometimes I will hold you up and you will stand on your own two feet for several seconds! I feel like you’ve gotten to at least 20 seconds at one time, which is quite a lot! Whenever we are cooking or eating, we place you in your walker, so you have the opportunity to put all your weight on your legs. You’re starting to roam further in the walker. At first, you only went backwards, not seeming to realize that you were the cause of all your movements. Now it seems like you are starting to connect a few dots and are able to move forward as well when you are in pursuit of something. I imagine you’ll be pulling yourself up onto your feet very soon!
You seem to me to be a happy baby, overall. You giggle a lot, love to make noises, and are quite fond of anything I have in my hands. You often wake up and chill in your room for a little while before you begin to fuss. I don’t go in there until you start to fuss, just barely. I want you to realize that you are safe even when you are by yourself, and so I need to leave you alone when you are playing happily on your own. I don’t want you ever to feel like I am not there for you when you need me, however, nor do I want you to feel like the only time I will be there is if you cry. This is why I try to come as soon as I hear you get a little fussy. You’ve already spent a good amount of time playing on your own and now you want company (more likely you are hungry), so before you become distressed, I want to show you that I am there for you.