September 30, 2013 by 8junebugs
Five months old! You are five months old! Daddy says, “This is the month when you calmed the fuck down.”
Which is mostly true.
You have learned and tried so many things this month, little monkey. You were slow to start rolling over, but you’ve done it a couple of times. You found your screechy voice, which thoroughly delights you, even though Daddy and I can’t always tell whether it’s a good screech or a bad screech until we see your face when you’re done. Grin = good screech (“I am full of joy and breastmilk!!!”). Pout = bad screech (“Please put me to bed! I am done now.”)
Your crumply-faced pout is pretty cute, though.
We’re starting to hear consonants in your babble, although it’s not a regular thing. You reach for us now, and now that you know what that will do, you’ve decided that bouncy seats and other baby containment devices are for suckers (or, you are clingy because you’re charging through Wonder Week Leap 5. Either way.). You are a little more ticklish than before and we’ve found a tickle spot that will make you giggle wildly…if you’re in the mood and not distracted by something else.
You are frequently distracted by something else. The world is so full of something elses!
You chew on your toes and scratch your belly and your head. Actually, you like scratching things, period. Scratching makes interesting sounds! You grab things and bang them together, and everything — EVERYTHING — goes into your mouth. (We still haven’t seen a tooth, but the drooling continues.) You grab our faces and hold our chins when we talk to you. You “help” with diaper changes — you’re able to undo at least one side of a disposable on your own — and when I have to give you gripe water because you’re a big ball of gas, you open your mouth, grab my hands, and pull them down as if you were ready to do it yourself. (Daddy is looking forward to the day you can hold your own bottles.)
This month, you went to Trader Joe’s and Target, respectively, for the first time. You had a wonderful time in each place — you looked at ALL THE THINGS and grinned at other shoppers and kicked your feet (we do these things with you facing out in the carrier — Mommy has learned her lesson). You went to a party for Auntie Bean’s baby girl (due late October), and that’s when you FINALLY met Auntie Shan, as well as lots of nice ladies who thought you were very well behaved for such a little guy. (Honestly? Not so much, but that was my fault. I should have let you get more settled before handing you over to Auntie Shan. My bad, buddy.)
You got to meet Auntie Alicia and Uncle Matt this month, too, which was a rare treat. With so many miles between us, I wasn’t sure when that would happen. Hooray for Auntie Alicia’s family living here — extra leverage! 🙂
You are very interested in food…which started a while ago, actually. You love watching us eat! You reach for my waffles and you “help” me drink my orange juice in the morning. We are still holding off on letting you try solids, partly because we suspect you will wean yourself cold turkey once you get a taste of banana, and mostly because we want you to get everything you possibly can out of breastfeeding before you decide you’re done. We’ll try solid food soon, buddy, I promise.
You are fascinated with dogs in general and Rodney in particular. You pet him whenever he lets you, and you will watch him run and play until he decides he’s done. We love watching the two of you get used to each other.
We hired a babysitter for the first time this month, Grayson, and boy, did you make her earn every penny. Thank goodness we found someone with the experience and patience to help you feel safe and secure until we got home, even though you were in an “I will not be set down to sleep” phase.
You are imperfect and wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging. —Brené Brown, researcher and storyteller, on what we should say to babies when they arrive. (Makes sense to me.)
Leaving you with a stranger was hard, but we picked a really good one. After we got home from the movie, after you gave her such a hard time about sleeping that she was still holding you (a sound-asleep you) in the glider when we walked in, your first sitter spent almost an hour talking with me about what she saw and what she thought about you. This lady works with hundreds of families every year, and her viewpoint was simple:
You are one wicked smart kid.
She doesn’t take jobs in our area very often (she lives quite far away, but works near here during the day), but she said she’d be up for watching you occasionally if we need her. She thinks it would be fun to see you grow up.
That was nice to hear.
You watch and you think and you learn and you manipulate…and it shows all over your face when you’re doing it. You were literally sleeping with one eye open when you were not in the mood to be alone, something your sitter experienced firsthand (sorry, sitter, but it’s nice to have someone else see it). She also figured out that you’d been too cold; we were so worried about overheating you — like me, you feel warm most of the time but have a low average temp — that it didn’t occur to us that you might prefer to be toasty warm while you sleep. So for a while, you slept swaddled AND wrapped in a fluffy blanket (monkeys or robots, depending on the day), and you started sleeping longer and better.
Then I got my first cold in several years. I most certainly got sick from being in the office more often, but I was unable to fight it off because I wasn’t getting any rest (you are very, very wiggly in your sleep). So we had three problems:
- First, we didn’t want you to get sick, or at least not as sick.
- Second, sleeping on Mommy’s chest was out.
- Third, it was getting so hard to put you to sleep that I found I was terrified of waking you up with my coughing and nose blowing.
Also, endless bouncing on a balance ball does not work with a head cold.
Just a few days ago, Daddy and I decided we were all finally ready to train you to sleep better for real. We’d been making it work, you see. We were letting you sleep for an hour or three on your own, then bringing you to bed with us, and that was okay for a while. I read pages and pages and pages of sleep training info online and off, and none of it felt right, even though “making it work” was working less and less well.
(Oh, and that habit you were developing of using nursing as a pacifier? NOT SUSTAINABLE.)
You’re also older and much more stable than when we first started wondering if we should try to address the sleep thing. The difference of just a few weeks is huge, buddy. We had no doubt that you would be really, really mad at us for changing it up, but we also knew you’d be okay. It’s been about a month since people, including your pediatrician, started insisting you’d be okay, but it really comes down to this — sleep “training” is different for every kid, for every family. It has to be. Honestly, some people were telling us to let you “cry it out” months ago, and we just could not see how that could possibly be a good thing for us. Our job is to meet your needs until you’re ready to meet them yourself. We all needed to be more sure of ourselves before we did anything that might shake your trust in us, even for a little bit.
And now we are.
It’s not the greatest time to do this — I’m sick, you will probably get sick, you’re in a Wonder Week, we’re just coming off a visit from Nana and Papa — but there was no more perfect time in sight (and plenty of even less perfect times). We bundled a few changes together: we moved you to your crib for all sleeping, we stopped bouncing you into as deep a sleep as possible before setting you down (actually, we’ve stopped bouncing you altogether), and we went with Dr. Ferber’s “progressive intervals” model to let you know we are still here when you need us, but that it’s time for you to manage falling asleep on your own. We do pick you up instead of just patting you or talking to you, though. But then we set you back down. We started at night instead of starting with naps, but so far…
This is day three, going into night four, and you, my darling boy, are a CHAMP. It is hard to let you yell, but not that hard; by now, we know you, and we know when you need something and when you are just pissed off. Most of the time, you go down with little fuss and sleep an appropriate amount of time. Last night, you were asleep in your crib by 7:30 without any fuss at all. You seem to have a new witching hour between long sleeps at night, but I think that’s related to feeding and will work itself out (you are used to snacking instead of feeding at night, but we’ve almost got that sorted).
Want to know a secret? Daddy says he misses bouncing you, even though it hurt his back a lot. You guys spent a lot of time together trying to get you to go to sleep, and now that you can do that part by yourself, the days are very different. I miss having you right next to me at night, too. I miss that special little smile that I only saw when you were passed out on my arm… But we all need you to sleep well, and that’s more important. We have lots of other time for tender moments, which are even lovelier when we aren’t all working on sleep cycles that probably fall under the Geneva Convention’s definition of torture.
Bottom line? You are growing into such a character, buddy. Getting to know you gets more fun every single day.
I love you,