The fifth month

Dearest P.,

Oh, I am so torn right now. On the one hand, I’m so excited to watch you grow and discover and learn new things. It’s no secret that the teeny baby stage isn’t my favourite, and I can’t wait for you to become your own little person. And yet, there’s a part of me that desperately wants you to stay little just a tiny bit longer. You’re five months old already and I can’t figure out how that happened. Sometimes when I look at us in the mirror I’m caught off guard by the baby who is looking back at me. You’re so much bigger than I keep expecting.

There have been a lot of changes this month. You’re getting so much more dexterous with your hands. Not only can you now hold a toy in each hand, but you’ve also mastered the art of passing a toy from one hand to the next, or of holding a toy with one hand and exploring it with the other. And right from the beginning of the month you’ve been fascinated with grabbing and touching people’s faces. You love to try to pull Daddy’s glasses off of his face and see just how firmly attached my hair is to my head. When you’re nursing your little hand is in constant motion trying to grab and touch and pat and pinch any part of me you can reach. When you’re up on my shoulder getting ready to have a nap you are determined to stick your fingers inside my mouth or my ear. You also still like to suck on my jawbone, sometimes at the same time!

You’re also officially a baby on the move. Mid-month you realized that you could use your rolling abilities to go in a particular direction. Now making breakfast is much more complicated as I’m always having to stop to remove your hands from the cat food, or your foot from the water bowl, or make sure that you don’t roll off the little step between the kitchen and the living room. I’m constantly finding you under furniture if I leave you in the living room to go and boil the kettle. You’re also showing a keen interest in objects like power cables or tiny pieces of Lego left out by your brother, and you’ve tried very hard more than once to pull over onto your head your brother’s basket of readers. You’re so proud whenever you barrel roll off to somewhere you shouldn’t be.

We set the high chair up this month. We haven’t introduced any food yet (although you did lick my pear with great enthusiasm the other day), but you like to sit up in it during meals. You enjoy being at the same level as the rest of us and at the moment you’re not too upset that there’s no food in front of you. You do love to watch us eat, and we’re excited to start that journey next month. You’re still drooling and gumming on everything, so perhaps there will be a tooth or two by the time you’re ready to start solids (although you’ve been drooling and gumming on everything for months now). Your big brother just lost his first two teeth, and I expect I’ll have you getting your teeth at the same time as he’s losing his.

You still have a wide range of sounds, but the best one this month is laughter. I still haven’t managed to succeed in getting anything more than a few giggles out of you but your crazy Daddy can get the full belly laugh and so can your brother. There was one afternoon where we were picking up some groceries after a busy day and you weren’t very happy about still being out. You were crying in the checkout line and your brother hopped up onto the edge of the stroller and started making silly sounds at you. Right away you started laughing. I also like how you try to camouflage every yawn by immediately following it with a pterodactyl shriek. It’s like you think we won’t notice that you’re tired if you just keep making lots of noise. You love to suck on your bottom lip and make a smacking noise. You have lots of happy, contented noises too, both when you’re nursing and when you’re just enjoying being part of the family. I never get tired of hearing them.

You love to watch anything and everything going on around you. Your two favourites are your brother and the cat. If they’re around you will twist and crane your head at every angle to make sure you can see them (and grab them if they’re close enough to reach). Nursing is becoming a real challenge unless I take you up to the bedroom (and even then I run the risk of having the cat appear on the bed). You’re much less interested in snuggling and nursing and much more interested in engaging with your world. It makes me wonder if one of the reasons why you’re up so much in the night is because you’re making up for all the calories you’re too busy to take in during the day.

I’ve been trying to get you in the bath a bit more frequently during the day. There’s almost never time for a bath between when I eat dinner and when you need to go to sleep, so it isn’t a part of your usual bedtime routine. But it’s clear that you really enjoy them. I let you float in the big tub and you kick and flail and splash with big, wide, excited eyes. When I manage to get you in the tub with your brother you love when I sit you up so you can watch what he does. You also almost never get baby naked time. This was an essential part of the daily routine for your brother but you just don’t get fussy the same way at the end of the day. I’m sure it’s because you have your brother to watch- watching him sprint around the house and tumble on the couches must be much more interesting than rolling around on a towel! On the rare day where you’re in a terrible mood by the late afternoon I just put you in the carrier while I cook dinner.

One of the highlights this month was our visit to see your Grannie. We went for a week, just you and me. It was really special for me to get that much time with my own Mum without anyone else around, and your Grannie, of course, was thrilled to have us there. We went to see your Great-Grannie a couple of times, and she was very pleased to be able to show you off to her caregivers. You helpfully demonstrated how you can roll over and put your toes in your mouth. You also proved that you are very happy to fall asleep in a car as long as the driving is smooth and steady and not slower than 80 km/hour. We had a few drives home from picking up groceries in the late afternoon where we were trying to keep you awake (and then we went on an extended tour of the countryside around Grannie’s house when our efforts inevitably failed). You didn’t sleep on the airplane home, but you were happy and cheerful again throughout the entire flight.

Speaking of sleep, let’s start with the good news. At the very start of the month, while we were visiting your Grannie and I didn’t have to worry about your brother’s bedtime, we worked on you going to sleep at night by yourself. You’ve done so well with this. At first I would stay in the room while you rolled around in the crib and settled yourself. Sometimes you’d cry a little bit, and sometimes you’d start with your cry that told me I needed to pick you back up and give you another cuddle, but you very quickly figured it out. By the middle of the month I could nurse you, sing your lullabies, give you a kiss and put you in the crib wide awake and then just walk out the door. You like to sleep on your side, just like your brother did when he was a baby. Your bedtime has also pushed back to 7 p.m. (or 6 p.m. if you’ve refused to take a catnap in the late afternoon), so it means that I can say goodnight to you and then go get your brother ready for bed while your Daddy cleans up the kitchen. Our evenings are much less chaotic now. I’m very proud of you for doing this. I know it can be scary falling asleep alone.

You’ve also made big progress with your naps. I’ve been working on getting you into the crib drowsy but still a little bit awake and that’s made a difference in the length of your naps. You were still catnapping at the start of the month while at Grannie’s (ironically the one time you did start to have a longer nap I had to wake you up because we had an appointment at the bank!) but you were falling asleep in your crib and I was sure things would improve. By halfway through your month you were in a pattern where at least one nap every day was a long one (90 minutes or longer- your record is 140 minutes!) and that’s stayed true for almost every day since. On the rare day where you do just catnap I’m reminded of how exhausting that is for both of us, and I can’t believe we survived two full months with such terrible naps.

Your daytime routine has also consolidated. You have your first nap of the morning after we take your brother to school, so it starts around 9:15 or 9:30. If you’ve woken up really early you’re sometimes too tired by then to have a good nap, but there’s not much I can do. It’s one of the hazards of being the second child. I’ve spent many a morning rushing home from the school, stopping every few paces to talk to you or wiggle your nose or puff air on your face to make sure you don’t fall asleep in the carrier before I can get you into the crib! When we get home I bundle you into your sleepsack (you still wear your pjs on the morning school run), and then we sit on my bed and you nurse. When you’re done nursing, I sing your lullabies, and then I shush/pat until you’re really sleepy and then I put you in the crib. Sometimes you get too excited to fall asleep on your own and I have to take you back out again, but you’re getting better at going into the crib more awake and I’m confident that in the next couple of months we’ll reach the point where I can just put you in the crib wide awake and walk out the door like I do at bedtime.

You can manage a full two hours between naps these days (provided they were good naps), which means it’s a lot easier to get out of the house and run errands. We can usually fit in two naps before we have to go and get your brother from school. I haven’t yet had to wake you up to go and get him, because if you’ve had a big long first nap the second tends to be 45 minutes, so you’re nearly always up again by 2:45 p.m. I think we had one day out of the entire month where both naps were long ones. The third nap is only ever a catnap and it’s the most inconsistent. I try to get you down at some point when we’re back from picking up your brother, but it can be a real challenge. You won’t nap in the carrier (there’s too much going on), and you won’t go into the crib awake, so I end up holding you on my shoulder until I’m sure you’re in a deep enough sleep that I can put you down. If you’re not convinced you really want to have a catnap and you spend those minutes grabbing at my face, pulling my hair, and chewing on my jawbone, it can be a bit ridiculous. If you won’t catnap we just put you to bed before supper. It doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on your night sleep.

Night sleep is where we stop with the good news. You seem to have decided that the four-month sleep regression should last for your entire fourth month (and I’m just hoping you don’t think it should last for four months!). Many a night this month saw you waking up every two hours (or more frequently). It hit the point that your Daddy started sleeping in the basement. And I’ve had a few very rough mornings. A “good” night for you means you’re up twice to feed, usually somewhere between 10 and midnight, and then again around 3, and then you have your gassy wake up around 5 a.m. This is by far the worst part of the night. You’re just gassy enough that you can’t put yourself back to sleep (and sometimes you need a diaper change), and you really don’t want to go back into the crib. What you want is to cuddle and snuggle and nurse in bed from that point until it’s time to get up. If I go along with this, you go back to sleep, your Daddy stays asleep, and your brother doesn’t wake up in his room, but I’m awake. If I try to get you back into the crib, you often end up waking the entire household. I try to make sure you have a good burp at bedtime, and I know your tummy isn’t upset because of dairy or soy as I’m being really careful. I keep reminding myself that this won’t last forever. And if you wake up not too much before 6 it’s kind of nice to have the quiet snuggle time as we don’t get to have our nurse naps any more- once you wake up from a nap, you’re up.

I am enjoying our time together so very much. One of my favourite parts of the day is after we’ve come back from dropping your brother off at school. I get you into your sleepsack and then I sit on the bed and nurse you until you’re ready for your nap. It’s quiet and peaceful and I take a moment every day to remember how grateful I am that you’ve joined our family. My other favourite moment is when I go up to get you out of the crib after a big, long nap. You give me this huge, happy smile as soon as I come through the door. I get you out of your sleepsack and pick you up for a cuddle. Then we turn around to look at the baby and the Mummy in the mirror, and you give both of them a huge smile too.

You are a cheerful, contented little soul. You have brought so much joy to our lives, and we love you so very, very much.

Love,
Mummy

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1 Comment

Filed under Letters to P., P.- the first year

One response to “The fifth month

  1. nonsequiturchica

    I love reading your monthly recaps because my son is slightly younger (next week he will be 5 months) so it’s fun to see what both kids are doing at this age! Hopefully P starts to sleep a bit more. My son was sick right around the 4 month regression so I didn’t know whether to attribute the frequent wake-ups to illness or the regression, but either way I was glad when he got better and started sleeping through the night again!

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