Monday, November 24, 2008

Dear Gwen: Month Seven

Dear Gwen,

Today you are seven months old. The first time I took you to Healthy Beginnings group, we met a baby there who was seven months old. This seemed impossibly old to me. And now here we are. You, my girl, are impossibly old! In fact, two days ago your dad was putting you in your high chair and he turned to me and asked, “What happened to our baby? How did we end up with this little girl, with a personality and everything?”

I think the past month has been my favourite so far. You have really changed a lot over that time. First of all, the personality your dad mentioned is definitely in full effect, and that personality is a charming one. You are very social and love to be in new environments and with new people (though you are not so crazy about being there without your mom). You are a very intent person as well, looking at things with such intense concentration as you work on figuring them out, or just fascinatedly gazing out the window at the patterns the light makes as it filters through the trees.

You are so closely bonded to me that it’s quite sobering. When we are out together and someone approaches you to tell you how cute you are, you immediately look to me to make sure I’m still there, and to gauge my response to the stranger. The other day, you rolled over and bumped your head on the laminate flooring, and looked at me to see what my reaction would be. I smiled gently at you, and you carried on playing. I feel certain that if I had winced or said “Ooh, a bump!” you would have started crying.

The most powerful example of your emotional bond with me happened yesterday, when I was angry about something that was nothing to do with you. You started crying and fussing, which your dad says was because you were picking up on my mood. He even thinks that you understood I was upset and angry, but *didn’t* understand that it wasn’t your fault. I felt awful. I will try harder to surround you with love and patience, not anger and exasperation.

You are working very hard these days to become mobile. You can now cross an entire room at quite a rapid pace. However, I hesitate to call it genuine mobility because your movement doesn’t seem connected to your intention – it looks to me like you would very much like to be moving forward, but continue to push yourself backward, which just ends up frustrating you as you wonder why you’re moving farther away from your intended goal. I know you’re going to have it all figured out pretty soon, though! I’ll be genuinely surprised if you’re not crawling by Christmas, and I think it’s likely to be even sooner than that.

The mobility does have its drawbacks, though. No longer do you rest peacefully in my lap. No, you spend your time there rolling, twisting, squirming, moving, arching, reaching, grabbing, pulling, jumping, wiggling, and bouncing. I’m not against any of these activities per se, but my lap is not the most convenient place for them! Still, you do insist on having your lap time. You’re busy enough to make that a challenge, but still dependent enough that you don’t want to give it up. This conflict makes me think you must be on the verge of a big breakthrough and change.

Another huge difference in your life is your sleep. For the first time in your life you have a set bedtime *and* set naptimes. This routine has brought a lot of consistency and predictability to our lives, which I think has been good for all of us. In addition, we now put you in your crib awake and rely on you to soothe yourself to sleep, rather than putting you to sleep in our laps and then transferring you to the crib. Yes, this meant that we’ve all endured a lot of crying, but we really believe you were ready for this, and the fact that some nights you go to sleep very peacefully, without any fuss at all, helps us feel confident in that belief. Nowadays you usually wake up only once at night, at which time I nurse you for five minutes, then sing a verse of our favourite lullaby, and put you back in your crib until morning. You are definitely getting more sleep now, and the thought that you now understand your own ability to self-soothe is very gratifying.

The sleep training has had some interesting side effects, in that I feel way more confident as your mom and way more in tune with what you are trying to communicate. I think the week or so of me watching you closely for sleepy signals just helped me be more observant of you and your needs. Also, the fact that your sleep is now more predictable means that you are in a better mood during your waking hours, and I am more available to you during those times, since I can plan other activities for when you’re asleep and ‘recharge’ myself. In all, it’s been an incredibly satisfying time.

You have now been eating solid foods for a month, and I have to admit this is an area that’s really challenging for me. So far, in addition to rice cereal, you have eaten mashed potato, green beans, squash, sweet potato, carrots, peas, bread, and banana. Without exception, you have enjoyed everything I’ve given you, so that part’s great! The challenge is that I don’t understand how to watch you for food reactions, which may indicate allergy or sensitivity. You got a diaper rash shortly after eating squash, so I thought you might be having a reaction to that, but even after a week of not giving you any more, your rash still remained. A few moms have suggested that babies’ bodies are just more sensitive during this time as they start getting nutrition from different sources – that it’s not the food in particular, but the change in general that’s causing a reaction. It’s awfully hard to tell the difference, though. I’m thinking of taking you to my naturopath to see if there are sensitivity tests they can do to help me nail it down for sure.

All in all, you continue to amaze us with your abilities and your wonderful, engaging personality. You are the joy of our lives, Gwen, and we can't wait to experience all these changes with you.


1 comment:

Amberism said...

The pic in the red dress is priceless! Love it!


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