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):
- Bye-Bye (often pronounced ba-bye)
- Book (often pronounced guk or duk)
- Cat (often pronounced dat)
- Banana (exclusively pronounced nana)
- Quack (often pronounced qwalk)
- Ruff ruff
- 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Earlier this month, Aaron, Nora and I took our first ever road trip as a family. Fittingly enough, we visited Laurel, her husband Adam, and their little hobbit Samwise. Nora has now left her home state and visited somewhere new.
It was totally spur of the moment, which may have been the only way we would have been able to do this. Over-planning would have killed us. And we learned… that it wasn’t that bad. We had moments of stress, for sure, but we also had moments of joy and fun. I learned a lot in this inaugural trip.
- It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. A five hour drive turned into a six and a half hour drive. I thought for sure we would spend ten hours for a five hour drive, so I feel like this is a win. Baby girl did a pretty good job with the long drive, as long as one of us was in the backseat, entertaining her with funny sounds, stories, and toys.
- It’s easy to over pack. Especially when one whole duffel bag contains cloth diapers.
- Another baby’s schedule may not sync up with your baby’s schedule. This was the hardest part about the trip. Nora is an early rising, late to bed type of baby. Samwise is a late rising, early to bed baby. They fed at different times. They napped at different times. At any point during the trip, one parent or the other was either feeding or sleeping a baby. Lucky enough, there was some time when Samwise and Nora got to actually interact, but it was relatively rare.
- Toys can be an everyday object. It was much harder to drive home than it was to drive to Laurel’s house, especially since we took an hour detour in the wrong direction to see another friend. (Crazy, but worth it.) Nora, on the way back, was not as excited about the car seat, even with the parent in the back. When we pulled over at a Subway for dinner, she had energy to burn. And she took it out on a closed bag of chips. There was something endlessly entertaining about the crinkly paper and the rattling contents inside. She shook that thing like a rag doll.
- Seeing friends in person is important. No matter how many emails, phone calls, and text messages you exchange with a friend (and there have been many these past few months), nothing beats seeing someone in the flesh. We got to hug each other’s babies, laugh, and chat in a way that was very important for me and Aaron. We were finally around people who knew what we were going through, because they were experiencing it themselves.
During the trip, we visited the Madison Children’s Museum, ate Indian food, visited rummage sales, and ate ridiculously good chocolate truffles. We watched baby-led weaning in action and got excited for our own (soon) experience with solid foods. We compared cloth diapers. Most importantly, we all relaxed around each other and I think, grew a little more centered in the process.
And now we know, we can leave the state and live to tell the tale.