A Year in the Life

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

Advertisements

Eleven Months

Dear Nora,

Two days ago, you turned eleven months old. We’ve almost made it to your first year. I can tell, from your behavior and your emerging personality, that toddler-hood is truly around the corner. You are doing a better job of making your needs known to us and you are just on the verge of movement. You’ve come so far in these eleven months, but this month, we’ve taken lots of leaps as a family.

Before I talk about our big move to Wisconsin, I wanted to tell you about the biggest development you’ve had so far. You are a talker! Daddy and I have tallied up your vocabulary and you know 16 words. They are (in no particular order):

  • Hi
  • Bye-Bye (often pronounced ba-bye)
  • Up
  • Book (often pronounced guk or duk)
  • Cat (often pronounced dat)
  • Banana (exclusively pronounced nana)
  • No!
  • Quack (often pronounced qwalk)
  • Uh-oh
  • Done
  • Ruff ruff
  • Toes
  • Mama
  • Dada
  • Wiggle (I think this is a babble, but Daddy wants to count it)
  • What (You say this when Daddy says it, but I don’ t know if you know what it means)

That’s a ton of words for an eleven month old. It’s exciting to hear you use these words to tell us what you want. Most of the time, you want a book, to be lifted up, or to be done with whatever we’re doing. But at least now we know!

You are also on the verge of moving. You can *almost* get to crawling position from sitting on your bottom, but can’t quite figure out what to do with one of your legs. You can pull up when we hold out our hands and help hoist you and then you barely hang on to our shoulders or hands when you stand. I’ve seen you try to take a step while holding on and then fall on your bottom. You’re bouncing on your feet when you stand and bending one knee or the other. Pretty soon, you’ll be taking steps for sure.

This month, our family took on our biggest change, after bringing you into the world, of course. We moved 6 hours from Minneapolis to Beloit, Wisconsin, so that I can start a new job. We’re renting a big, three bedroom house, which has a covered porch and a front and backyard.

This move has been so wonderful for us. First of all, you’re sleeping in your own crib, in your own room, for 80% of the night. This has changed your parents’ lives immensely! We’re getting up less in the middle of the night and it’s just wonderful. I think you’re getting better sleep too. Also, we’ve found a big group of families who all have play dates together. So suddenly, you have about 10 friends, many of them near your age. There are two babies that are less than a month away from you. You are at the point where you are craving interaction with others, (you say hi to everything with eyes, from people to animals to dolls) so this instant group of friends is fantastic.

When undertaking the move, we had lots of visits and special events. We had a goodbye party with all of our friends in Minnesota. We had visits from Grandma Carol, Grandma Jean, and Grandpa Marvin. You’ve seen Samwise, Laurel, and Adam twice already. And you’ve met tons of our friends from college.

Ten Months

Dear Nora,

Our lives are really hectic right now, more hectic than they’ve been since you’ve been born. But I wanted to take a moment out of the craziness to celebrate your ten month birthday! In your tenth month, you’ve really started to gain independence and express yourself in new ways. I am so proud of all the ways that you’ve grown.

Our lives are so crazy because we are planning a monumental change in our lives. Remember back in June, when I was away from you for a few days? I went to Wisconsin for a job interview at the college that Daddy and I graduated from. Well, in July they offered me the job and Daddy and I decided to move. It wasn’t always in our long term plans, but we are moving to southern Wisconsin.

A big factor in our decision was you and your quality of life. While we love Minneapolis and all it has to offer, we know that you are going to have an amazing childhood in our new home. You’ll live in a smaller city, with less crime and more green spaces. You’ll grow up near a beautiful college campus, surrounded by learning. I will have a job that doesn’t require weekends, which means I get to see you more often. And most importantly, we can afford to live in an actual home with a backyard.When you’re old enough to read this, I don’t know if you’ll approve of our decision or not. I can only hope that it will impact your life in wonderful ways.

In order to prepare for our move, we had to visit Wisconsin to pick out our new home this month. We visited Laurel, Adam,and Sam again, and it was so great to see you interact with Sam. You both will be such close friends, now that you have the opportunity to live closer to each other. My favorite part of the weekend was when we sat down you and Sam in separate high chairs for dinner. At the same time, you turned to each other and just started babbling the same exact words. It was like a real conversation!

Other preparations for our move include lots and lots of packing, cleaning, and fixing up our condo. We’re lucky that you are such an independent baby now, because you spend much of your time playing on your own while Daddy or I work. We’re so grateful that we can do this with you watching.

You’ve hit a lot of developmental milestones this month. Last month, you started to slowly mimic sounds. Now, you do it all the time. You say lots of babbles that sound exactly like words. I can’t quite tell when we should count your first real word. For example, you say “Hi” and wave to your reflection in the mirror, probably because every day Daddy and I hold you up to the mirror, say “Hi”, and wave. So, does that count as your first word? Or you say “No” a lot, sometimes in perfectly appropriate situations. For instance, I took something away from you tonight and you said, “No no no no no.” Is that a real word? Does that count? It’s giving me a glimpse to my future as the mom of a toddler who likes to talk and I am so looking forward to having conversations with you. Even if the most common word is “no”.

You are also just on the verge of crawling and pulling yourself up. You are actually starting to get really frustrated when you can’t crawl. You’ve become very good at scooting backwards and sideways on your butt and turning in circles. You haven’t quite mastered scooting forwards yet. You are trying to make the final leap to crawling, but you either can’t hoist your butt up over your knees or your wobble over. This means a lot of bumped heads and crying, which hasn’t been fun. But I know that we just have to let you figure this out on your own.

You also really love standing and holding on to things. You’ve gotten pretty adept at holding on with one hand and bending your legs. I think pretty soon you’ll be taking your first tentative steps with support. I’m honestly just hoping that you can wait until we’re in our new home and unpacked before you become a crawler and walker. We’ll have much more room for you to move and experiment.

Nora, I can’t wait to see what our lives hold next month. I’m sad in some ways, that you’ll never remember your ten months in Minnesota. But I am so excited for you to grow up in our new big home, in our new town. We’ll have so much fun together!

I love you!

Love,
Mama

Nine Months

Dear Nora,

As of Saturday, you are nine months old. Nine months! In fact, since you are now 39-1/2 weeks old, you have now lived longer on earth than when you were growing inside of me. I remember very distinctly on the moment that you were born, thinking to myself, “She is never going to be closer to me than she is right now. From now on, she will be growing away from me.” In some ways, this proved to be true. There’s a different kind of closeness that comes with living with an infant. There’s a complete obliteration of personal space. Even as “old” as you are, you crave closeness. You want to cuddle me, poke the inside of my mouth, pull on my skin. And yet, you also want to push away from me, spend time alone playing. So we dance back and forth between extreme closeness and subtle separation. And each day, you spend a little more time away from me.

That’s been especially true this month. For the first time ever, I spent two whole days away from you, on a trip to Wisconsin. It was really hard for me to go, because I missed you terribly. Plus, I was so worried about you and Daddy having enough breast milk to make it through two full days of feedings. I left on a Sunday afternoon and returned Tuesday afternoon. You and Daddy did great. You didn’t run out of food (thankfully) and you had a good time.

Also for the first time, you had a babysitter this month. Our friend Darci watched you for about 4 hours while I was at work and Daddy had a meeting. You guys had a great time together…you even took a good nap for her. Both Daddy and I were relieved that you handled the separation well.

This month, you’ve reached a few good developmental milestones. You are now confidently rolling back and forth between your back and front. There’s no cheating about it. You just roll and wiggle. It’s making diapering a bit more interesting, to say the least. You can also stand and hold onto something. Daddy’s been helping you practice with an ottoman. You can’t quite pull yourself up yet, but you can stand for a good minute or so on your own.

Your other two teeth made an appearance early this month, so you officially have four teeth. And then we had a nice long break from teething…until this weekend. Now you’re back to being miserable. Even today, you gnawed on your hand so much that you left little bite marks. I wish you liked the frozen teething rings a bit more.

You’re becoming a really social baby this month. Even though you’ve had your bouts of stranger danger and separation anxiety, you’ve been really interacting with other people. You’ve learned to wave, give high-fives, and shake hands. Waving is your favorite and you wave to pretty much everyone you see. You get really excited when they wave and you wave even more vigorously, with your mouth wide open. It’s pure joy for you to be seen and acknowledged by other people.

You’ve also been getting really good at mimicking sounds lately. You’ve been uttering things that are words, but that you clearly don’t know are words. You’ve repeated things like “No-no-no”, “Ma-ma-ma”, “da-da-da”, and “yuck.” Also, just this weekend, you repeated the word “toes” (or something very close to it), when Grandma Jean and I were saying it to you together. I’m pretty sure that you haven’t connected that these words mean something, though.

This month, you’ve been swimming in visits from your grandparents. In mid-June, your Grandpa Lolo came for a several day visit. During our visit, he played with you and took pictures. We went to Minnehaha Falls and hiked together. He actually visited on the week that you learned how to wave. Unfortunately, you seemed to wave at everyone but  him. He didn’t take it personally…I think.

Just this past week, you went on your second road trip to Lincoln, NE to visit Grandma Jean and Grandpa Marvin. Daddy and I learned that if we leave really early in the morning, you can handle the long car rides pretty well… which was a relief, since Lincoln is about eight hours away. Once we were there, you had a great time. You spent lots of time playing with Grandma Jean. You met your extended Nebraska family, including 3 week old Crosly. Throughout the whole trip, you met tons of people and seemed to really enjoy the extra attention. It was so nice to have two extra pairs of hands to share you with. Daddy and I even got to leave for a mini-date together while Grandma and Grandpa watched you.

Nora, it’s been such a wonderful month with you. Even in the hard times, the breaking teeth and the learning to separate, I feel so lucky that I get to be your mama. I am forever better because of it.

Love,

Mama

Eight Months

Dear Nora,

Last year, when I was pregnant with you (but barely showing) I attended the May Day Parade with my good friend Kate and your dad. At one point, Kate said to me, “Just think, next year, you can take the Spawn to this parade.” I immediately agreed and then realized that I would have a seven month old baby during the parade. It seemed unreal and so far away.

Well, this month, we went to the parade together. Back then, it felt like you were a figment of my imagination. You hadn’t made your presence known. Now, I live with your presence every day and carry you, either in my arms or in my thoughts. (Sometimes even both at the same time!) I’m still adjusting to the constancy of your presence.

This month, you’ve hit an important milestone. You’ve grown teeth! Right now, you have two teeth that are easy to see: your front left bottom and front left top tooth. They hang over each other, so you look kind of lopsided. Their neighbors, front right bottom and front right top, should break through this week. Even though you are still a wonderful baby to be around, teething has made you a little difficult. You are cranky, which is pretty rare for you. And you bite on everything: your hands and feet, any toy or object we put in front of you, and (unfortunately) me and Daddy. You bite when we hold you and you bite when you nurse. We know that you must be in a lot of pain and so we are patiently enduring your cranky biting behaviors. But Daddy and I cannot wait for a little respite from the teething fun.

Your second big milestone is related to your sleep. For the first six and a half months of your life, you slept in your daddy’s arms at night and in a baby carrier or car seat for naps. I am excited to say that you are now sleeping some of the night in a crib that we’ve attached to our bed *and* you are taking about two thirds of your naps in the same crib. While this may not seem like a big deal, it is huge for your Daddy and me. It means that we can lay you down to bed at night and then spend a little time together or a little time on chores before going to bed. During the day, Daddy can nap with you or get work done, which is important since he teaches until late at night. Now if only your teething wasn’t keeping you up…

Your last big milestone is that you are developing a sense of humor. You’ve been laughing for quite some time now, but it’s normally in relation to being tickled. But now, you can laugh at situations. I can make funny faces or sounds and you laugh! The other day,you were grumpy about being in the car seat, so you took your binky and threw it in a very grumpy manner. I took it from you, made a grumpy face, and pretended to throw it too. You started laughing hysterically. So, for the rest of the ride home, I did some grumpy throwing and we laughed together. You also laugh when we play peekaboo with my sheer scarves. Your sense of humor makes you seem so much like a older child and less like a baby, which is so much fun.

Our big event for the month is that Grandma Jean and Grandpa Marvin came up to visit you. This was the first time that you’ve seen Grandma Jean since the week you were born. It’s the very first time you met Grandpa Marvin. You had a lot of fun together! If I didn’t know better, I would think that you remembered Grandma Jean. You got along so well with her. You didn’t cry at all when she held you. Maybe you remembered her smell or her voice. Grandpa Marvin took lots of pictures of you to take back home to Nebraska.

That was our month, sweet pea. I wish it could go easier for you with the teething, but I know it’s a necessary part of growing. Even with the teething, I feel so lucky to be your mama. Just one of your laughs makes it all worth while.

Love,

Mama

Finding Self

I began drafting this post on Mother’s Day. As I searched for what I wanted to say about mothering on this first Mother’s Day for me, I kept coming back to the unexpected fact that very recently, I finally started to redefine or rediscover the edges of self. Ironically, the past few weeks have been the ones where I have finally seen and heard and inhabited someone who wasn’t just “mama.”

It started about two months ago, when I was offered a role in a local four-woman show about motherhood. The script was funny and also emotional, and part of me really wanted to accept. However, I dug in my heels. I didn’t want to miss bedtime with the hobbit or throw off his sleep schedule for evening rehearsal. I also didn’t want to miss his first stretch of sleep for rehearsal, as it has always been my own best shot at getting more than two hours of shut-eye at a time and thus my best chance at retaining the fragile shreds of my sanity. The concept of committing to anything during evenings (even as he approached the eight-month mark) felt like a nonstarter. The director said she understood…but she resurfaced within a week to inform me that the rest of the cast had agreed to weekend afternoon rehearsals, I could bring the baby if I needed, and would I please consider it?

I did. I knew that dress rehearsals and performances would throw a wrench in bedtime, but I also knew we’d only be looking at a handful of nights. It seemed like as good a time as any to start something my husband and I had been planning for some time: letting my husband take the reins on bedtime in order to start moving away from our hobbit always drifting to sleep while nursing (and thus needing me to get back to sleep throughout the night for each of many wakings). It also felt good to tackle a creative project. I said yes.

Then, two weeks ago, I went to a commercial casting call in a nearby city. It was a lark; each year, I determine to take on something new and uncharted, and significant enough to give me a sense of accomplishment for having tangled with it at all. Comfort zones get left behind. Boundaries get pushed. It’s the unofficial New Year’s resolution each year—I never know exactly what I’m going to do, but I’ve got my eyes peeled all year for something that feels right. This casting call included a variety of “types,” but the client was looking in part for moms with babies. I was a mom. I had a baby. So, without further ado, I made an appointment, printed off a head shot, and headed to the talent agency with my babe for the open casting call. The following day, we got a call asking us to return the following day to meet the client at an official callback. The day after that, I got an email confirming the two of us for a shoot to take place the next Tuesday and Wednesday. I had secured a lead role, and the hobbit was an extra, which really means he was on hold in case the principal baby in one of the scenes had a meltdown; he didn’t actually have any on-camera time. (When we retell the story, however, his dad and I may or may not say that the hobbit was the stunt baby.)

Suddenly, there I was, scheduling fittings with wardrobe, watching my pores vanish under a makeup artists’ brush, standing in on set for lighting adjustments, snacking at a craft table, and doing take after take chasing someone else’s walking baby. (The hobbit currently only scoots backward accidentally—not quite the look they were going for in the shot, sadly.) And I was getting paid for it.

Fast forward to this week and the opening of the four-woman show. Friday and Saturday sold out. The audiences were warm and vivid and incredibly fun. They laughed uproariously in all the right places. They cried at my closing monologue. They were generous with their praise after the show. We were even invited to take the show to a much bigger venue for a special event in the fall—one that would mean getting paid.

On the home front, my husband had absolutely no problem getting the hobbit to settle and sleep without me. In fact, when I came home after dress rehearsal and heard just how well it had gone in my absence, I cried. I was so glad that we’d done such a good job ensuring that our babe was securely attached to both of us, but it felt sharply like a clear step on the endless path of our child moving slowly and inexorably toward independence, toward not needing me. It was a bittersweet success, as I suspect much of parenting is. At the same time, I knew that this successful change would help me figure out how to start incorporating other parts of myself—parts other than “mama”—back into my life. Eight and a half months out, I’m ready to start emerging from the new baby haze that descended immediately after the birth of my son. He’s still the center of our family’s solar system, but I’m ready fill in the boundaries of our little star-filled galaxy with more points of light.

Something else crucial happened over these past few weeks. Being on that commercial set, performing in front of a live audience, expressing myself creatively, I was reaffirmed as a creative person, something which hasn’t happened in…well, a long time. And this is a Very Big Deal.

One of the reasons that my husband and I decided I would cut back on paid employment when the hobbit was born was to allow space for some creative pursuits I’ve been neglecting for years. New babies don’t allow oodles of time for…well, for much of anything, really, so I have been skating by these past several months without looking too closely at the dreams I’m supposed to be living right now. I’ve done a reasonably good job of living in the moment and learning to move at the pace of my babe. I’ve found new opportunities to do many things I enjoy: being outdoors with him on long daily walks, reading stacks of books as I lie down with him as he naps, just soaking in the world as he discovers it for the first time. I’ve been unambitious and present. I’ve gotten comfortable in a slower-paced, smaller world. And then I discovered that this slower, smaller world was still one in which I was able to make space to attend rehearsals and memorize lines. It was a world where my creative self could be positively affirmed. And that discovery has completely changed the game. I am ready to begin something new and slippery and terrifying.

My husband’s schedule is changing for the summer. We’ve agreed that part of that means I will carve out sacred time just for my creative pursuits when he will be on full-time hobbit duty. I cannot ever remember feeling so illuminated with energy for this project. I am thrilled by this feeling; it is exciting and terrifying at the same time, because I’ve never felt closer to actually committing to the dream, never felt so close to being willing to invest and perhaps to fail. And yes, I am doing this for my Self, but I am also doing it for my son. As my world has become more compact, more simple to allow me to be here and care for him during these early years, who I am has been very much on my mind. As my child starts to see me in sharper and sharper focus as he grows, I want him to see the person I have always wanted to be: someone soft and gentle in words and manners, thoughtful, funny, intelligent, generous, just, curious, consistent, compassionate, dependable. Someone with integrity and dreams and passion and the determination to reach and reinvent. Someone who he looks up to as a parent and as a person. Sometimes I feel almost overwhelmed by all the ways in which I want to be somehow “better” than I am now, for him. Yet today, sitting on this side of an unexpected and amazing few weeks, it all feels so attainable.

Like many new mothers, I have spent an awful lot of time over the past year feeling exhausted, inadequate, unprepared, and flawed. But right now, in this slice of time, it is as though I am living in a golden envelope of light. In so many ways, as I watch my son, love my partner, and learn to be still in myself even as I take bold steps down a poorly lighted path, this year is a miracle unfolding.

This is what it means to be blessed.

Bodily

Mothering an infant is physical. It’s primarily, almost exclusively, an effort of the body. I keep trying to make it an intellectual pursuit, buttressed by research and the right way to do things. But it’s my body that (necessarily) takes over.

It’s my body that bends to give her a bath. It’s my body that cradles her and gives her comfort. Of course, it’s my body that feeds her, day and night. Tonight, when helping her fall asleep, I fed her, held her, whispered to her, and finally rocked her to sleep as her hands lazily stroked my nose and mouth. This no longer fazes me.

When preparing to become a parent, I never imagined what it would be like to care for a pre-verbal human being. My life is rooted in language and I have never considered (consciously) how to communicate without using words.

Now, I know. I talk to her in touch and attention. I nuzzle, kiss, hug, cuddle, pat, and pet. All she wants from me is to be held, fed, loved, and seen. It’s all I need to do. Never has it been so hard and so easy to satisfy someone.

There are days when my verbal brain needs something other than holding and feeding. But there are other moments when I can simply sit and watch her play, caress her, and show her that she is seen and significant. The light in her eyes when I can do just that is worth more than I ever thought.

Seven Months

Dear Nora,

I cannot believe how quickly seven months can pass. Whenever I see a pregnant woman or a woman with a newborn, I remember so clearly how it felt. I can still feel the weight of carrying you in my body, the fear and joy of holding you when you were just born. But that was so long ago, seven whole months. In those seven months, you’ve transformed into a loving and joyful infant.

Our biggest milestone in the past month is that you started eating solid foods. We’ve decided to do baby-led weaning, which means that you get to start with softened finger foods, rather than pureed baby food. At first, you didn’t understand what this food thing was all about. Even though you were grabbing food off of our plates, once you got the food, you didn’t really know what to do with it. If any happened into your mouth, you would get a completely perplexed look on your face. Daddy and I got concerned that getting you to eat solid food was going to take a while. But then, we discovered red peppers. You love red peppers! Maybe it was the color, or maybe the flavor, but you loved to put them into your mouth. After you realized that red peppers were good, your palate quickly expanded to sweet potato, white potato, avocado, broccoli, asparagus, and black beans. You still aren’t sold on banana, but Daddy has found that if he feeds you banana by hand, that you like it. I cannot wait to introduce you to more and more foods each day.

Another big milestone that you’ve reached is rolling over…sort of. You’ve never liked your tummy, so it’s been difficult to encourage your rolling. But lately, when you’ve been sitting up, you fold yourself over with your head between your legs, and then roll over on your back. When you’re on the changing table, you roll side to side and reach for things, turning three-quarters to your tummy. Darn it, I’m calling that rolling over. It achieves the same purpose, after all.

Finally, you’ve just been growing more and more interesting (and interested) as you get older. You laugh more, smile more, and engage more in the world around you. You’re really into playing, especially with blocks that you can bang together and pretty much anything that makes a sound. It’s fun to watch you play!

Our big event of the month was that you got to meet your Uncle Alex and his girlfriend Sarah. I was so excited to see my brother and have him meet you! He had a good time trying to get you to growl, but you didn’t humor him. (It’s too bad, because you’ve been growling a lot in the past month.) We only got to spend a day and a half with Alex and Sarah, but it was still a lot of fun!

Nora, it was a wonderful month to share with you and Daddy. I cannot wait to share the next one with you. I love you!

Love,

Mama

Breastfeeding, Nearly 7 Months In

When I became pregnant,  I knew I would breastfeed. It was a given, for me. I knew it would be hard, but like any worthy pursuit, I thought I would be up to the task. I never envisioned the reality of breastfeeding: the constancy, the smell of slightly sour milk on my clothes, the drag of hunger and exhaustion on my body.  I never knew.

In the early days of establishing my milk supply, I had hints of how hard it would be. I struggled with learning how to position myself and my floppy newborn. I worried that we weren’t doing it right. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to sustain her, on my milk alone. Then, around week 3 or 4, it felt less arduous and insurmountable. I relaxed into my groove as a full-time breastfeeding mama.

When I started work, I had to learn a whole new skill set. I struggled with pumping, learning how to best use my machine, and how to say goodbye to the ease and bliss of feeding my daughter directly. I also struggled with the loneliness. Breastfeeding during my maternity leave was a communal experience, an event that I engaged in, again and again with my daughter. Breastfeeding while working is a mostly solitary experience. I spend most of “feeding” time in a room, hooked up to a noisy pump. But then, a few weeks into working, I fell into the groove of supply and demand. For months, I made more than enough milk and froze the excess.

Now, almost seven months in, I’ve had another struggle. Somehow in her sixth month, my daughter suddenly began eating much more than I was supplying. My supply dipped a little – rather than making 12 ounces over 4 work pumping sessions, I was making 8 to 10. She began consuming 15-20 during the day. My freezer stash began dwindling. As of this week, we were down to only half of a freezer bag.

My husband and I didn’t know what to do. We were accustomed to feeding her whatever she ate, knowing that I would be able to freeze the excess from the week. So, I added another mini-pumping at work and another pumping at home, after everyone went to bed. Coupled with the early morning pumping, I am now pumping seven times a day.

This mini-crisis came to a head this week when my pump gave out…again. I have gone through 4 pumps of the same brand. Each of the previous times, the company simply sent me a new pump, because I am under warranty. After this pump gave out, I asked for a refund. I was done with their crappy product. The phone rep gave me the refund so quickly that I wonder how often they are refunding their product.

Now, I’ve got a new pump that actually works and a commitment to build up my freezer stash over my long weekend. So, I’m pumping 2-3 times extra each day, in addition to breastfeeding for each feeding with my daughter. Once I return to work on Tuesday, we are going to do our best to ration the milk I make – the 15 or so ounces that I make each day will have to be the only milk we use, unless there is an emergency.

With all of this drama around milk supply, broken pumps, and the fear of not being able to feed my child, I had my first thoughts of weaning. Originally, I planned on breastfeeding well into my daughter’s second year. But now, I’m just praying to make it to one year. After that, I can evaluate what I want to do. I know this will pass and the breastfeeding relationship lasts only so long, but I just have to acknowledge how hard it can be to sustain it right now.

Six Months

Dear Nora,

Before I tell you about our whirlwind month (and it was a doozy), I have to take a moment to reflect on how much you’ve changed in just six months. You’ve grown from a tiny sleepy bundle to a mini-person. It is very clear to me this month that you have ideas hatching in that brain of yours. I can see the wheels turning, whether it’s when you’re figuring how to use a toy or when we are talking to you. You react now, to our sounds and actions. You’re no longer content to just rest in our arms. You want to see and do, much more than ever before.

This month, you’ve become much more physically independent. You have been sitting up like a boss since the beginning of the month. You no longer topple forward at all – you use your abdominal muscles to pull yourself up if you start to lean. You still fall backwards, but only if you’re very tired. Now that you can sit up, you are so much more interested in toys. You really like a little box that holds block shapes, because you can dump out the shapes and play with them. You also love anything that makes noise, especially a little red rattle and a Minnesota Roller Girls plastic hand clapper. The second one isn’t technically a baby toy, but you have figured out how to wave it around to make the hands slap against each other.

You’ve also figured out how to pick things up from a surface in front of you. This has good and bad repercussions. The good part is that you can reach for toys that you want. The bad part is that you can’t quite crawl or scoot, so if a toy is just out of your reach, it’s frustrating for you. Before long, I think you’re going to figure out how to wobble and reach for items near you. And then it’s all over. Daddy and I are already feeling behind on babyproofing, because you seem suddenly on the brink of grabbing things we don’t want you to grab.

Daddy has been teaching you this month how to pet the kitties, for instance. Weetzie is grumpy and wants nothing to do with you, but Said actually enjoys it. We just have to figure out how to stop you from trying to eat his fur, and then we’ll be all set. Now that you can pet the cats, you watch them whenever they are near you. I can see your little brain trying to categorize what they are and what you can do with them, while you watch them sleep or move.

The last fun thing you have learned how to do just happened this week. On Tuesday, I came home from work to find you and Daddy in the kitchen. You were in your high chair and Daddy was trying to put away the dishes. But he had stopped and he was growling at you, like a monster. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. But suddenly, you growled right back at him. It was hilarious! You both sat there, exchanging growls with each other. In between growls, you would laugh. So, I growled at you too. Sure enough, you growled and laughed at me too. Since then, you’ve been growling every day, hoping that we growl back at you. Most of the time we do.

We had a very exciting month of events. The biggest event was that you visited another state. As a family, we visited Madison, WI to visit Laurel, Samwise, and Adam. You handled the trip so well. You didn’t enjoy being trapped in your car seat, but you did have fun in Madison. It was so much fun for me to see you play and interact with Samwise. I am so hopeful that you two will have a good friendship together.

Another big event was that we went to a book reading with Daddy. He has a short story published in an anthology, so we got to listen to him read with a bunch of other authors. It was sort of late at night for you, so we were worried that you would be really grumpy. But, you were excellent! You even napped during the end of the reading, when it was close to your bed time. I hope that this is the type of event that you will get to participate in when you are older, so you can hear your Daddy’s work for yourself.

Our last big event was that Grandpa Lolo came to visit for just one day this week. He extended a layover in Minneapolis, just so that he could spend time with you. The last time you saw him, you were about three or four weeks old. He held you and fed you and changed your diaper, but there wasn’t much interaction. This time was much different. You played with his beard, honked his nose, and tried to take off his glasses. (Not all at the same time). Although it was a really short trip, it was fun to spend time with him.

Nora, I am frankly astounded that we have made it through a half-year of your life. It sounds cheesy, but this goes by so quickly! I still feel like you are a newborn and I am a new mom. But you are growing by leaps and bounds, every day. I am so honored that I get to watch you grow and learn. I love you!

Love,
Mama