Today you are eleven months old. This is the last letter I will write before your first birthday.
HOW is that possible?
I feel like each month flies by even faster than the previous month. You change before our eyes, every.single.day. I took a photo of you recently when you were in a rare contemplative moment looking out the window (and not, as per usual, frantically trying to grab the camera), and when I looked at the camera to see if it was a good photo, I cried. I couldn’t see the baby you used to be anywhere. You were all gorgeous little boy. In a month you’re going to be a toddler!
So many things changed this month. You’ve settled into a wonderful routine (which you will no doubt change tomorrow now that I’m writing about it). You wake up somewhere around 7 or 7:15 a.m. Daddy or I go in to get you up and dressed and then you play in the kitchen while we sort out breakfast. After breakfast you have some independent play while we clean up the kitchen (and sometimes sneak in a bit more of a read of the paper) before we put you down for your first nap at around 9:30/9:45. That nap has really stretched out, and now we sometimes have to wake you up if you’re still sleeping at 11:30! (You are never very impressed when we do this, nor when we wake you up in the morning if you’re still asleep at 7:30. Your Daddy and I figure that you’re wondering why we’ve spent all this time getting you to sleep only to wake you up! The few times we’ve let you sleep, however, the rest of the day has been a mess, so we’ve learned the hard way that you do best when kept to a fairly strict routine.) After that nap we’ll have a snack while playing (mixed puffs and breastmilk from your Rubbermaid cup with the flip-spout) and then we’ll go out for a walk if the weather is nice. Lunch is around 1, and you generally go down for your second nap at about 2.30 (again, we wake you up if you’re still sleeping at 4:00). In the late afternoon you need a sizeable snack, so we generally sit you down in your high chair while we do some dinner preparations. We all have dinner together at 6:00, and then it’s bath at 6:30 and into the crib by 7:00. You usually grizzle and chat to yourself for twenty minutes or half an hour before you finally fall asleep. I think you’re busy processing your day.
There were some big changes on the sleep front this month. You decided to push your bedtime back to 7 p.m. At first we thought this was just because of Daily Savings Time starting, but even after the rest of your day and night had switched over, you still wanted the later bedtime. It means you’re sleeping a bit later in the mornings (it is now very very rare for you to wake up before 7 a.m.), and it may have helped lengthen your naps out as well. The other change was that from the very start of the month you became an entirely independent sleeper. Now you put yourself down for naps and at night all by yourself. We just give you a kiss and a cuddle, put you in the crib, and leave you to it. Often you will babble or shriek or have a bit of a grizzle before you give up and admit that you’re tired (in the afternoon we sometimes hear you singing for thirty or forty minutes before you finally go quiet), but it is almost unheard of for you to get so upset that we have to intervene. I think we’ve had to help you get to sleep at night maybe twice all month, and not at all for naps. Your Daddy and I really appreciate the extra bit of time in our days to get things done while we listen to you settling yourself.
You sometimes drop the second night feed, or often it’s so late (after 6 a.m.) that I probably could get you up for the day, although I’m happy to let you have a bit more shut-eye, since it means I get to relax for a bit longer. I think you would drop the second feed entirely with just a tiny bit of encouragement, but right now I rush in to feed you the moment you make a peep, since at night is the only time you will nurse. I don’t know what changed, but about a week into the month you suddenly started refusing to nurse during the day. We went from three feeds per day, to two, to one, to zero in the span of about four days. When I tried to get you to nurse at all your usual times, you would respond by biting me, which made the whole situation very unpleasant. After a rough few days (during which a lot of tears were shed by your Mummy) we figured out a compromise solution. I started pumping twice a day (first thing in the morning, and then again mid-morning) and putting the milk into your Rubbermaid flip-spout cup. You thought this was the greatest idea ever- no longer did you have sit still and nurse. Now you could get your milk on the go. Generally you drink anywhere from 8 to 12 ounces over the course of the day, and your Daddy and I are much less worried about your fluid intake. You prefer to hold the cup yourself, and if I leave it on the coffee table you will crawl over, stand up and reach for it. I still miss our nursing sessions, especially the last one before bed, but I know you are healthy and happy and just doing what you want to do. And in the wee hours, when you are warm and snug and sleepy, I get to cuddle you close and kiss the top of your head, while you nurse and stroke my skin, just as you did when you were a tiny baby.
While the lactation consultants insisted that the day-weaning was related to a drop in my milk supply, your Daddy and I have come to the conclusion that we just did too good a job with the whole ‘baby-led weaning’ idea. We think you decided milk was boring. You have always loved your solid food, but this month brought another jump in your appetite. There are days when you eat a full adult-sized portion, especially if it is something you really love, like tuna pasta or pancakes. The other day you out-ate your Gramma at breakfast, polishing off a full slice of French toast loaded with berries. I’ve noticed you eat best when sitting at the table with us. On the couple of occasions where we’ve had to feed you dinner first (usually when we have relatives visiting and your Daddy decides to make a meal that is just too involved to get finished by 6 p.m.), you tend to pick at your food and play with it a lot more. I think this is because you sense your adoring public is watching you, and you don’t want to disappoint them. I often think your best meal of the day is breakfast, when your Daddy and I basically ignore you as we read the paper. On days when we start with oatmeal I’m now cooking you 1/3rd of a cup of rolled oats, where I used to only make 3 tablespoons. You still love broccoli, pears, peanut butter, hamburgers and polenta. It’s fascinating watching your tastes change and fluctuate. You’ll eat an entire banana three days in a row and then want nothing more to do with them for a week. You’re not remotely afraid of spicy food, although you don’t like having actual chili flakes on your pasta. You’ve started taking a pre-loaded spoon from my hand and putting it straight in your mouth (before this month you used to either turn it upside down immediately, drop it, bang it on the highchair’s tray, or stick the wrong end in your mouth- whatever you chose, not very much ended up in your mouth!). You are definitely a great eater. The other May baby Mums can’t get over how much you eat, and your Grannie and Grandpa just watched in awe the last time they came to visit. Your Grannie was especially thrilled with how many tastes and textures and flavours you embrace with gusto. I guess your Mummy and your aunties weren’t very adventurous eaters when we were little!
You’re signing ‘all done’ now, although it isn’t always clear what you mean, as sometimes you sign ‘all done’ when what you really mean is, “Mother, can’t you see I’ve eaten all the tuna on the tray? I need MORE TUNA!” And sometimes you seem to sign it just for kicks. You’ve also started signing for milk, and sometimes you sign ‘all done’ (hands up by your head) while also asking for milk (squeezing fists). You understand a lot of words now, and your babbling has started up again with a vengeance. You’ve got all sorts of vowel and consonant combinations. No clear words yet other than ‘mama’ but I definitely get the sense that sometimes you are trying to mimic what I’m saying (you had quite a clear ‘bana’ the other day when you were eating a banana, and we had a ‘yay’ at dinner a few nights ago).
This was the first month in quite a while where we didn’t have any teeth making an appearance. I feel like we got a chance to see your true personality shine through. You are SO happy, my son. You smile and giggle and chortle and shriek and laugh all.day.long. The only time you cry these days is if you’ve hurt yourself (which happens not infrequently given how mobile you are). And you very rarely fuss either, generally only if we’ve been too slow at getting a meal on the table, or if we do something that impinges on your well-developed sense of baby autonomy (like changing your diaper, washing your face, getting gunk out of your nose, cutting your nails, etc.) You can still be a bit fragile and shy when you first wake up from a nap, but otherwise you just love attention. The more people around to pay attention to you, the merrier! Just this past week we noticed a big difference in the way you react when we skype with your adoring grandparents and aunties. For a while now you’ve been interested in the screen, but this was the first time we felt that you recognized that in some way there was another person in the computer. You would tell your jokes, make your fake coughs, smile and laugh when they did something funny, and generally react just as you would if they were here in the room. The only problem now is you are obsessed with the laptop and when we’re skyping I keep having to find new places to put it so you don’t spend your entire time desperately trying to reach the keyboard.
You can reach a lot of things now. You have great balance when standing and you’ve figured out that standing on your tiptoes and stretching increases your reach significantly. We’re already having to look at another round of baby-proofing, and it won’t be long before you’re going to be able to reach the knobs on the stove. You go from sitting, to crawling, to cruising in the blink of an eye, and you’re gaining in confidence every day as you trundle around the living room holding on the furniture. You are unbelievably fast at crawling if you see an opportunity to do something that you know you’re not supposed to do (like get into the hall closet, or fall down the basement stairs, or play with the dishwasher). You’ve tried letting go while standing a couple of times, but you’re not yet ready to stand alone, and, to be honest, your Daddy and I are in no rush to have you walking!
You do really well with independent play. You’ll happily amuse yourself for thirty or forty-five minutes pulling your toys out of your toy box, pulling your books off of your shelves and reading them, or exploring the main floor. You’ve taken to crawling around holding a ball in each hand (the balls are from your Elephant stacking toy that you still love). If you don’t have balls in both hands, you’re probably crawling around holding on to your socks. We had a burst of warm weather in late March that let you spend most of the day barefoot and ever since you seem to have decided that you’re done with socks. You take them off as soon as they go on the morning, and then I’ll find them stashed in various places as the day progresses. You’re getting better at not putting everything you encounter instantly into your mouth (it’s clear now that you understand the concept of ‘no’, although you choose to ignore it more often than not). The other day I let you play with the glossy section of the newspaper and you spent a joyful thirty minutes pulling the sheets apart and waving them around, and then the moment your father appeared and asked whether you should be doing that, and I gleefully replied that you hadn’t once tried to eat it, you put a huge piece in your mouth. My favourite new feat of yours this month is the extreme sport you’ve invented that I call “peek-a-boo crawling”. You’ll put a blanket over your head like you’re playing peek-a-boo (another one of your favourite things to do this month), but then instead of taking it off you’ll start crawling around the living room at high speed until either the blanket falls off (at which point you stop to replace it) or you ricochet off of an item of furniture. You get so excited while you do it, and oh my goodness is it ever funny to watch.
You also love playing with us. If I sit on the floor with you you’ll spend ages crawling over my legs and then back again. You love roughhousing with your Daddy- both of you end up laughing hysterically. You’ll chase us around the couch and when we finally slow down and you catch us, if we collapse on to the carpet you shriek with laughter. You understand simple requests- if we ask you for something with a hand out, you will nearly always give it to us. You still love knocking over towers that we build, but you are getting better at waiting for us to stack them higher before you move in to destruction mode. You love to ‘help’ us cook dinner, often by standing behind us and holding on to our pants and your all-time, hands down, favourite part of the week is Saturday morning when you get to help me do the laundry. It doesn’t matter what stage the laundry is at- you’re ready to get involved. You can empty a dirty clothes basket in just a few minutes, and when the wash starts you love to stand with your nose pressed up against the glass window and shriek at the clothes and water as they tumble around. If I’m folding laundry you’re always willing to pull the neat piles off of the couch and spread them around the living room again. And, of course, you put nearly everything on to your head.
Your other big love this month was gravity. You LOVE dropping things. If I put you in your crib with your toys while I’m rinsing out one of your diapers, I’ll come back in to discover nearly all of the toys (and your socks if I have been so foolish as to put them on your feet) on the floor. The monkey who stays in your crib with you during naps and at night is a particular victim. On several occasions I’ve come in to discover you standing, holding Monkey over the edge, ready to drop, but you don’t let go until you see me and you can tell I’m paying attention. You’ve also continued to stash toys on top of chairs and couches, in containers, and under things. You’ve figured out how to crawl under the chairs to get toys when they roll out of your reach. And just recently you’ve started to take an interest in trying to fit the shapes into the slots of your shape sorter. Right now you do best with the circles, but you’re willing to fiddle with the other shapes as well. You are still obsessed with the cats, and one of them is not making things easier as she is a terrible tease: she’ll let you nearly grab her and then waltz away until JUST out of reach. Then she’ll sit down again, you’ll crawl over to grab her, and she’ll dance away again, repeat, repeat, repeat. You’ve come very close to really grabbing her a couple of times and I’m quite worried that she won’t react as well to having you maul her. The other cat heads for the hills as soon as she sees you coming and tends to reappear when you’re napping or down for the night.
When the weather was warm I took you to the park and let you crawl around in the grass for the first time. You had so much fun watching the other kids run around while the grass tickled your feet. I ended up really excited about the adventures we’ll have this summer. There are some wonderful parks in our neighbourhood and I can’t wait to explore them all with you. I can’t believe I’m thinking now about your first birthday. We’re having a small party just for close family on the 6th, and your Daddy and I are still deciding what the three of us are going to do on your actual birthday.
Every morning I look forward to going into your room and seeing you smile up at me from the crib. I love watching you get so excited about so many things in your world. I love the big toothy grins you give us when you’ve made us laugh. I love how deliberate you are when you eat, and how you make sure to pick up every last piece if it’s something you really like. I love how you’ll bounce up and down in your crib holding your Monkey in your mouth by his tail while I’m running your bath. I love that you help me turn the pages in the books we read at bedtime. I love that you’ll play peek-a-boo with me around the wall if I’m in the kitchen and you’re in the living room. Most of all, I love the little person you are, and the person you’re becoming.