Friday, October 24, 2008

Dear Gwen: Month Six

Dear Gwen,

Yesterday was our last day at the 0-6 month drop-in, which we have been attending quite faithfully since you were about six weeks old. I remember our first day there as being quite overwhelming (in a good way). I remember looking at the older babies, the ones who were getting close to six months old, wondering at their size, their skills, their personalities ... and feeling completely amazed that the little lump on my lap would someday be one of the big kids.

And now here you are. Next week we start the "big kids" group for those who are 6-12 months old. And sure enough, you have grown in size, in skills, and in personality!

You can do so many things. You like to stand and play in your exersaucer, and are very competent with all the exciting toys (your dad swears that you are pushing the button for music with full intent, that you completely understand what you are doing). You can roll over from back to front, and somewhat infrequently from front to back. You can roll over in your sleep, and that's not just a glib expression. You can pick things up with your hands and are starting to understand what your opposable thumbs are for. Your favourite toy is Sophie the giraffe. You love people, especially other babies and kids.

This past week, we started feeding you rice cereal, which you seem to enjoy. Despite my feeling that you weren't going to be "ready", you have taken to this new way of eating fairly well. The next few weeks will be even more fun as we introduce more new foods and start encouraging you to feed yourself.

It's been a big month for social activities. First of all, you got baptized just before you turned five months old, and many friends and relatives came to be with you on that special day. Then a few weeks later, we travelled to Victoria so I could complete a half-marathon and we all had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with our close friends Mike, Jenn, and Zoe. Since you are becoming more and more social, both of these events were very enjoyable for you, and you brought a lot of joy to those around you. I know Mike and Zoe are very happy to be your Honourary Uncle and Cousin.

It's only been in the past two weeks that it finally began to feel "normal" that I was a mom. That is a nice feeling, exciting and yet peaceful at the same time. Finding our "new normal" means that I feel confident getting out and about more with you, and we are finding lots of great activities to do together: swimming, storytime at the library, and even Baby Boot Camp. You are just so social, and love being around people (provided they pay attention to you!) and exploring different environments. Your social calendar is getting quite busy, and I can't even imagine at this point having the time to go back to work. That's something I try to think about as little as possible.

You seem to be shifting from a two-nap pattern to a one-nap pattern: taking a long (2.5 to 3 hours) nap in the late morning or mid-afternoon. This isn't what The Experts say you should be doing, but it seems to work pretty well for you, and it does allow us to spend more time getting out to all those fun activities. You have also recently decided that the swing - once beloved and cherished - is now a torture device, and you will not deign to sleep there no matter what we do. That's all well and good, since you will be growing out of it soon anyway, and it's high time we made your nap routine more consistent with your bedtime routine. It does mean, however, that if all our "go to sleep" mojo seems to be failing, we can't just throw you in the swing with perfect faith that a nap will be forthcoming. There's no more Plan B, and that's a little scary sometimes.

Nighttime sleep has been kind of off the map lately. You tend to wake up 2-3 times a night (sometimes more), with the first wakeup being anywhere from 20 minutes to 6 hours after you go to bed. There was this one night you slept for 9 hours, but sadly, that has not been repeated. We are starting to work on encouraging you to fall asleep on your own, building your confidence in your own abilities to let you know that you don't actually need to be nursed, rocked, shhhed and so on back to sleep every time you wake in the night. This is a long and painful process, but I know we will get there, and we will all be happier (and better-rested!) when we do.

Your personality is fantastic: you make your dad and I laugh all the time, even in the same breath as we express our frustration with you. You have this new habit when we're nursing, where you blow into my nipple as if you were trying to blow bubbles through a straw. I'm not really sure what you hope to achieve with that, but it's pretty funny. You also hum and babble and squeak to yourself quite a lot, which is greatly amusing to those around you. And when you do get fussy or upset, we just make fun of you, so that's amusing too.

We love you so much, Gwen: you bring us so much joy and we just can't imagine our lives without you. We are so glad you chose us to be your parents.

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