Friday, January 23, 2009

Dear Gwen: Month Nine

Dear Gwen,
This month has been HUGE. The differences between eight-month-Gwen and nine-month-Gwen are, frankly, staggering. Let's have a look at the amazing things you can do these days.
- You can crawl, pull to standing, cruise (furniture-walk), and climb stairs (as well as anything else that gets in your path)
- You can finally, finally, finally sit: both on your bum, and in virasana or W-sit position
- You can clap and wave hello/goodbye
- You can mimic sounds, such as saying "ah ah ah" after you hear the dogs across the street barking, or screeching back at the noise box as it hoots and squeals
- You can comprehend a lot of our words: for example, sometimes I will ask you to clap (without demonstrating) and you will clap
- You can get into anything and everything, especially the most fragile and/or dangerous things, within seconds

These new developments are not without challenges. You seem to have difficulty distinguishing "mine" from "not mine" or "toys" from "deadly items". On your playmat surrounded by toys, you will still make a beeline for an unobtrusive piece of paper left lying on the couch, or the remote control on the shelf, or my book on the coffee table. Or you will shun the play area altogether and go entertain yourself in the entryway, a small enclosed area complete with a shelf to pull onto your head and a baseboard heater to burn your hands on. Another favourite spot for you is behind the door in your room, where we have one of these. I can remember being entertained by those at my Gran's house long ago, too, so I understand the appeal.

Another challenge this month has been your sleep. I think you are so very busy exploring and discovering your world that you have trouble winding down and relaxing to go to sleep. I'm like that, too, but I have the good graces not to spend my winding-down time screaming like a terrorized banshee. You might want to look into that. These days as soon as I put you down in your crib to sleep, you immediately stand up and start shrieking. Your dad seems to have the magic touch at getting you to relax and go to sleep, but he's not always home at naptime. Nighttime isn't getting any easier either. Sometimes after your night feeding you go back to sleep very easily; other times it takes nearly an hour. I am very, very ready for you to start sleeping through the night, but have no idea how to encourage you to do so.

One thing I will mention about your sleep is that we have entirely discontinued use of the Angelcare monitor. Originally we planned to use it until you were a year old, but after a full two weeks of really challenging sleep patterns that culminated in you being woken at 3am by yet another false alarm, I was done with it. It took us over 2 hours that night to get you back to sleep, and I was d*mn well not going to risk you waking up to the alarm again. So I didn't turn it on. And then ... we just continued not turning it on. It was much easier than I thought it would be, to stop using it. I guess now that I've seen you being so incredibly active and capable, it's just harder to imagine you passively ceasing to breathe.

Speaking of your activity level, whenever I take you to our Mother Goose classes or playdates or the Healthy Beginnings group or Strong Start, here is what happens. I put you down on the floor and take off your jacket. Then I take off my jacket. By the time I have done that, you are typically about 15 feet away. I crawl or walk over to where you are and make sure you are safe and not bothering anyone. Whoever is nearby will strike up a conversation with me, which I will give about 70% of my attention to for a maximum of 90 seconds, because by that time you are 15 feet away again in another direction. So off I go again. Yesterday at Strong Start I had about 25 different 90-second conversations with the other parents there. Inevitably, about half of these conversations include the other parent looking at me with a mixture of admiration, amazement, and pity, as they ask: "Is she always like this?" When I answer in the affirmative, their pity deepens and is joined by a slight hint of "thank God it's not me!". They don't usually know what to say, although I got a terrific response from our friend Carly yesterday, who said, "You're not having another one, are you?"

It must seem unbelievable to those who see you at these groups in this gigantic rooms that must! be! explored!, but when you are at home, you're a little bit clingy. I can't quite understand how you can quite happily tour the classroom for 60 minutes or more without any regard for whether I'm even there or not, but when we get back home, I can't take 30 seconds to prepare you a bottle without you whining and trying to climb the back of my legs. In any case, this passion for exploration - not only of the room and the toys but of the other adults, children, and babies - has me feeling that you are going to thrive in daycare.

With a fair bit of determination and effort on my part, you are eating more foods and more often. Feeding you is still not my favourite part of the day, but I'm doing it, and most of the time you seem to enjoy it. Your appetite is unpredictable: sometimes you will finish off nearly a whole cup of food, other times you will eat only a few bites and then lose interest. In any case, the habits are getting established, and I guess that's good. Best of all, despite Dr. Dave's predictions, you don't seem to have a problem with dairy. You have eaten yogurt and cheese without any adverse results, and next week we'll be trying cottage cheese. I'm quite relieved that I don't need to stress about how to raise a dairy-free child.

After watching how quickly you went from crawling (December 18th) to climbing (December 26th) to standing (January 1st), I have made the prediction that you will be walking by the end of February, when you will be just over 10 months old. This is a bold prediction as 10 months is pretty early for walking, but if you apply your usual attitude of determination and stubbornness, I know it will be no problem for you. Already in the past few days you have developed a new habit: you pull to standing at a piece of furniture, then delightedly let go. So far this has always resulted in you toppling over backwards like a tree (and so far, I've always been there to catch you, so you haven't gotten too annoyed about it). But you keep doing it. I am in awe at your perseverance.

I am happy to announce that at nine months old, you have finally doubled your birth weight and are just over 18 pounds. Supposedly, that little milestone was meant to happen around six months old. Oh well! I try not to get annoyed when strangers ask me, "Oh, how old is she? Five, six months?" Of course, we only get that question when you are in my arms or a stroller - if they saw you crawling and climbing and cruising, certainly they would re-evaluate their guesses. You are also still a very tall baby. We had you stand at the growth chart on the wall for the first time the other day. You are nearly 30 inches tall. In only five more inches, you will no longer be able to sleep in your crib, for your own safety. I refuse to think about what life will be like when you no longer sleep in baby jail, and am hoping it takes you a VERY long time to grow that next five inches.

So, that's what life is like for you these days, Gwen. Your personality is emerging, and it's one of passion and determination. Though that presents some challenges, I can respect it, because I am the same way. This is a really fun age, and you are a very delightful little girl. We are enjoying you a lot and are so glad to be your parents.


1 comment:

Surprised Suburban Wife said...

What a great letter! And you will get sick of this, but how amazingly similar our girls are! That mother goose thing, where the other mom comments about your kid's rather high activity level? While you're chasing your kid across the room? BEEN THERE TOO!!!


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