This post is ludicrously late (P. being over eight months already) but whatever. She’s a baby. When she’s old enough to want to read these letters it won’t matter this one took a while to get written down.
Dear little P.,
Seven months! I found with your brother that the second half of the first year went by much faster than the first, and I’m sure it’s going to be true with you as well. There are just so many big, exciting changes that happen in these six months. As much as I love all the tiny baby snuggles, I absolutely adore watching your personality unfold- you are such a character! You’ve been a member of the family since before you were born, but you’re really starting to stake your claim now and demand your fair share of attention.
When I look back at this month I’ll remember mostly eating and moving! You started army crawling towards the end of the month but all through the month it was obvious you were desperate to develop a more efficient form of locomotion than your previous tactic of rolling everywhere. You started trying to get your knees up under your tummy when I put you down on the floor- you didn’t want to just lie flat. As soon as you figured out your unconventional method of army crawling you were off! You crawled by pulling with your right hand, pushing with your right leg, and largely dragging the left arm- what the internet calls (or so my Googling tells me) the “wounded soldier” look.
This was the month we had to get serious about baby proofing. You have quite a long reach and we realized that you could pull things down from the coffee tables if they were overhanging, or reach up onto the second row of shelves where the toys are kept. You also continued to develop a very fine sense of where you were not supposed to be and what you were not supposed to touch. Every time we moved one temptation (cat food, water bowl, computer modem plus associated cables, etc.) you would find something else! You were even a bit sneaky! One day you quietly rolled over to where your brother’s Christmas train was set up under the tree, pulled it apart and started chewing on one of the boxcars. The entire time you did this you had a shape from your shape sorter in your other hand which you were shaking. The noise from the shape lulled me into thinking you were just quietly playing with your toys rather than wreaking havoc!
Now that we’ve moved things around you love exploring. Your favourite destination is the bottom shelf of the bookcase which has all your books on it. You love unpacking them and then selecting one to chew on. You also love the shelf in the kitchen and the cube shelves in the living room where your toys are stored. It didn’t take long at all for you to figure out what they were for and now when I put you on the floor you head over immediately, shrieking and gasping with excitement at the prospect of pulling everything out. You loved trying to get into the smallest closet space under the stairs where your brother’s Bruder trucks are parked, so we had to put the door on. It’s very clear that you would prefer to be playing with all of his things; you only explore your “baby” toys if there’s nothing more interesting within reach and you’re very quick to realize he’s forgotten to put something away. Luckily he’s very good about making sure his Lego never stays on the floor if you’re around. You’re so proud of yourself when you manage to crawl to where you were trying to go.
The other big adventure for you this month was food. We started out taking a baby-led weaning approach like we did with your brother but it hasn’t been an unqualified success. Soon we found ourselves sometimes feeding you purees and sometimes letting you feed yourself, and by the end of the month, after too many choking incidents that left you crying and unwilling to keep eating (and, frankly, traumatized your parents) we decided to scale right back on the finger foods and stick to spoon feeding until you got a bit older. I’m sure part of the issue is you aren’t sitting up yet. I think you just weren’t ready to chew and move things around properly in your month, even though we had days where you loved the finger food options (home-made garlic croutons, for example, or baby pancakes made with breast milk) and completely rejected the purees on offer (apple and blueberry or sweet potato with or without added baby oatmeal). You seem to manage soft foods on a spoon, like mashed potato or avocado (which is probably your favourite food at this point- you absolutely adore it, which is so funny since that was my main craving when I was pregnant with you!). And you very much enjoyed the french fry I gave you when we were out for a special “end of school holidays lunch” with your big brother. As your Grannie said when she saw the photo, “Second children get all the fun!”
All the excitement with food made nursing a bit more problematic for part of this month. As soon as you started eating more than just a bite here or there you tried to cut back on your nursing, which meant my supply dropped, which meant you got impatient waiting for the milk, which meant I got stressed, which meant the milk took even longer to start flowing. We had a rough week or so but I think we’ve settled back into a good pattern now where you’re still nursing seven or eight times in 24 hours but there’s room for solid food too.
The other challenge has been managing your eating with your brother’s reaction to it. Although E’s been very very excited that you’re now big enough to eat food, he’s found the reality of watching you eat to be not quite what he was expecting. We ended up moving the high chair to the spot at the table where it’s easiest for him to avoid looking at you, as he sometimes gets quite disgusted. It turns out he loves watching you eat unless you’re eating food that he personally thinks is disgusting (like avocado or squishy banana) so we’ve hit a happy medium where I try to save those foods for lunch as then he’s at school.
What I’ve found this month is the addition of solid food has meant it’s now very hard to get anything done in the day. We have a very clear routine. You wake up (often much too early, but sometimes you get past 6:15 a.m.) and nurse and then we go downstairs to make your brother’s lunch, empty the dishwasher and get breakfast ready. If you’ve woken up really early I put you in the crib while I shower before I wake up your brother. Then we all eat breakfast together (by which I mean E. eats breakfast while I feed you and try to eat my breakfast at the same time). We take E. to school and then we come home and you nurse again and then have your first nap. This is your best nap and it’s often 90 minutes or longer so by the time you wake up and nurse it’s usually close to lunchtime. After lunch there’s a bit of time to play before you nurse and go down for your second nap. Depending on what time this one starts and how long you sleep I sometimes have to wake you up to go get your brother from school (#secondchildproblems). When we get home again you usually nurse at some point in the late afternoon, when I’m not getting your brother a snack, listening to him read, setting him up with his after-school videos, or prepping dinner. Some nights you eat some solid food at dinner and others we just put you to bed early. I feel like our days are a whirlwind of nursing, naps, school runs, and solid food. Even getting out to the library or the grocery store, both of which are a ten minute walk away, seems like a major feat! I’m glad you’re so happy to play on the floor and explore but I do sometimes feel a bit guilty for not spending more time with you. I do try to make sure we read books most days and sing some songs. Reading books is a challenge at the moment as you like to pull the book I’m reading out of my hands so you can check to see how tasty it is. We often read three books at once and I just pick up the story where we last left off before you started eating it.
This month your Daddy and I became confident that you know your name. When we say it you look over at us and give us a huge smile. This was also the month where you started having lots to say yourself! Right at the beginning of the month you started babbling with a “ya ya ya” sound, and you quickly added such conversational gems as “gah”, “bah”, “blah”, “dah”, and “mah”. Nothing thus far is said in context but you are very chatty and you love to combine all your consonant sounds with your vowel shrieks. We’re not sure what you’re trying to tell us, but you understand the give and take of a conversation and will happily babble away as long as one of us is responding. (If it’s your Grandpa, he always likes to ask, “And what happened after the wheels fell off?”, which is what your Great-Gramps, his Daddy, says too!)
You like to bounce up and down if you’re standing on my lap and you love to roll (or crawl) towards block towers and knock them over. When you’re on the change table you love to wiggle your fingers in front of your face and watch your hands. And this was the month that you decided peek-a-boo was a great game- it’s an easy way to get huge gummy smiles every time. You like nursery rhymes and action songs, especially The Grand Ol’ Duke of York. Your two favourite things remain your big brother and the long-suffering cat. Our cat really isn’t very bright and it didn’t sink in this month just how mobile you’d become, which meant I spent a lot of time chasing after you and removing you from her vicinity before you started pulling her tail or grabbing her fur. You still watch everything your brother does and you get so excited when we pick him up from school every day.
This was a special month because it included your very first Christmas! We spent Christmas at home, as we’ve done every year since your brother was born. On Christmas morning we had to build a “baby jail” out of cushions to contain you as you didn’t want to play with any of your new things- you’d much rather take apart your brother’s new train or chew on his magnets. You sat up with us for Christmas lunch and approved most highly of the parsnip. You squished the sweet potato and tossed the carrot, potato, and beef over the side of the high chair. We were unwrapping presents for most of the day- partly because it turns out having two kids means you end up with a lot of presents from relatives but mostly because your brother likes to take a very leisurely approach to present opening where he plays/read/builds every present as it’s opened before moving on to the next one. This meant you had almost the entire day to try to eat the wrapping paper on the floor! You were so excited! I tried to get a good picture of you and your brother in your new Christmas pjs but I’m realizing just how difficult it is to get a good photo when you need two children to be both looking at the camera and sitting still enough to be in focus!
After Christmas we drove to go see your relatives. We stopped on the way and had lunch with your Great-Gramps and a few other family members. The original plan was to see both Grandpa and Grandma and Canadian Grannie but we ended up spending the entire trip in one place because your Grannie developed shingles and we felt (and your paediatrician agreed) that there was no reason for you to get chicken pox (even if there were lots of mothers online claiming that six months was a great age to get it since the babies weren’t coordinated enough to scratch yet). The trip was a success in that you and your brother brought a lot of joy to your Grandpa’s life, but it was really hard to manage both of you in the hospital and you ended up overtired most days from too-short car naps. You also took advantage of being in the same room as your parents again to wake up a truly ridiculous amount. Your record one night was eight wakings! I just fed you every time because I didn’t want you waking up the rest of the house. This meant that when we got home again we had one night with quite a lot of crying on your part before you accepted the closure of the all-night milk buffet. Most nights now you’re either up only once around 2 (and then you will sleep until 6 or a bit past) or you wake up around 11 and then again around 3.
The other family visiting we did this month was we drove out to meet your brand new cousin, Spud, who was born on New Year’s Day! Right now the six and a half months between you and Spud is this enormous yawning gulf, but I know in a few years it won’t make any difference at all, and I’m so excited that you’ll have a cousin close to your age to play with as you grow up.
Meeting Spud really drove home just how much you’ve grown and changed over the last seven months. He was so small, so helpless, so snuggly. You, on the other hand, are a baby of action, a baby with plans! I love watching you explore the house a little more each day. I love how you look to see what your brother is doing and then try to see if you can do it too. I love how even though your hair is slowly growing you’re still basically bald. I love how cute you look when I put on your winter hat. And I love how we get a chance to snuggle together when you’re nursing in the middle of the night or before you go down to sleep. I love how you like to make eye contact and smile at me, especially when I’m singing a silly song. I love how your arms wave around and how you love to hold on to the strings of my hoodie. I love how when I cuddle you in the rocking chair you nestle in close and we can steal a moment for just the two of us.
I love that you are growing up, but I also love that you’re still my baby.