Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dear Gwen: Month Three

Dear Gwen,

Month Three has not been my favourite month. Your sleep schedule has been unpredictable, your moods have been erratic, and your demands have been nearly constant. I'll admit it, the comments about throwing you out the window have increased quite a bit this month, and your dad and I are not at all sad to say goodbye to Month Three. Although we both thought that things would be getting easier around this time, Month Three has so far been the hardest month of parenthood.

It all started on June 26th, the day of your two-month immunizations. We'd been coasting along, fully aware that you weren't ever going to be a big pudgy baby, but feeling fairly secure that you were gaining enough to be healthy. The nurses who weighed you before your shots were convinced otherwise, and persuaded me to start supplementing you after every feeding. This edict in turn transformed me into a crazy woman, determined to give you as much breastmilk as possible, by way of pumping 4-5 times a day in addition to our regular nursing sessions. It took nearly the whole month for this madness to wear off, for me to realize that formula is just fine, and that however much breastmilk you get is enough, dammit. You are finally gaining weight at a healthy pace, thanks to the formula.

This month also saw our first heatwave. When the temperatures climbed, I couldn't stand the thought of you being swaddled and overheating in your cradle, so we tried to teach you how to sleep unswaddled. This little experiment caused you to wake every 1-2 hours instead of your usual once-per-night, so I told your dad that no matter what we had to do to keep the house cool, you were going to sleep swaddled! I actually went back to the book that first advised us to swaddle, "The Happiest Baby on the Block", to see when to stop swaddling. Dr. Karp advises to test the waters by leaving one of baby's arms unswaddled - "if she sleeps just the same, she's ready to move on from swaddling; if she continues to cry, she's telling you she still needs the swaddle." You responded to your unwrapped arm by batting yourself in the head several times, so you're going to keep getting swaddled to sleep for a while yet.

There were some other really fun parts to this month, like when we thought you had a tooth (it's really just an Epstein pearl, and as of now it's still there), and when we thought you had a bladder infection (you didn't, and you took the catheter like an absolute trooper). And there was the time - which seemed like months, but was really only a week or so - when I gave up sugar for the health of your tiny, thrushy bottom. I'd have to say that the best part of Month Three was giving thrush the final goodbye. With the reintroduction of sugar being a close second.

There have been some other good times, too. Today as I watched you play on your blanket on the floor I was overcome with the wonder of you, and of your learning. While it may look to anyone else as if you are "just lying there", I knew that all those movements you were making were the result of concentrated effort, and that you were exploring the world fully through all your senses: feeling the fluffy blanket under your skin, looking at the light streaming through the windows, listening to the music from the radio, smelling the scents of our home, and tasting ... well, tasting milk, since that's all you ever get to have. And all the while learning about your body and your voice, which are your first tools to affect this world around you. You've been working hard on developing some important skills this month, for example:

- bringing your hands together
- raising your head while on your tummy
- rolling over from front to back (and very nearly from back to front)
- reaching for objects
- grasping objects (if helped)

It's only been the past two weeks or so that you've noticed your toys, but now that you have you are paying a LOT of attention. You haven't yet got the co-ordination to see something you want, reach for it, and pick it up, but it's coming, and it's fascinating to watch you focussing so intently on your efforts.

Another change this month is that you are truly in love with your mama. And while this is very flattering, and it fills my heart to bursting when you grin madly at the sight of me, there is a downside to this infatuation as well. For example, it doesn't make your dad feel very good if you cry whenever I hand you to him. And it makes getting out to have a bit of a break really hard, when you cry whenever I'm out of view. In fact, it's hard to even get a load of laundry done when that's your attitude. It seems awfully early for you to be 'making strange', and I hope this phase passes soon. Except for the smiles - you can keep it up with those, okay?

All in all, as I said, it's been a rough month for us, but I think we've made some really positive changes (like the arrangement where Dad puts you to bed every night) and I'm optimistic that next month will be better. But even when you're screaming and gassy and nothing we do is right and we joke about throwing you out the window, we love you to bits and are so glad that you're our daughter.


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