The eighth month

Over a month late again! Sigh.

Dearest P.,

This has been a really big month! There’s been so much for you to do, so much for you to learn, so much for you to explore. In some ways you’re still the same happy baby you’ve always been and in other ways you’ve changed so much, often overnight! You’re now two-thirds of your way through your first year and the time is really flying.

This month you really got on the move in a big way. You spent the entire month doing your asymmetrical army crawl: you reach with your right arm and drag the left, and push with the right leg. It’s an unusual form of motion and that, coupled with your clearly dominant right hand when it comes to playing with toys, worried me enough that we took you in to see your paediatrician, who then referred you on to a neurologist. We had an anxious week or two, but in the end a head ultrasound and a physical examination ruled out any possibility of a stroke or something more sinister. The neurologist said that you were just very strongly right-hand dominant (and that I was very observant for even noticing the asymmetrical aspects of your development). You also had a follow up ultrasound to check your kidney (at the same time as the head ultrasound, which made for a very long morning) and received a second clean bill of health. We won’t have to check your kidney again until you’re 18 months old.

Your method of crawling is unconventional and a bit awkward to watch, but it clearly works for you as it got faster and more confident as the month progressed. From early in the month you could get your knees up under you or push off the ground with your hands, and you could briefly hold a low plank position. By about halfway through the month you’d mastered climbing up and down the little step into our kitchen, and your brother noticed that you hardly ever rolled anywhere anymore. By the end of the month you could climb over our thighs if we were sitting on the ground with our legs outstretched. You also finally learned how to sit! You’re not an independent sitter yet (in that I have to place you- you can’t get yourself into sitting from your tummy) but you were getting progressively more stable throughout the second half of the month. Sitting is a huge game changer- it makes such a difference in your ability to play with toys, interact with us, and just generally observe the world.

You very quickly realized that army crawling is far more precise than rolling. Since we’ve extensively babyproofed the main floor of the house you’ve spent many a happy hour crawling over to your shelves and pulling out your toys or unpacking all your books. But your favourite destinations are, of course, places where you’re not supposed to be. If we forget to put up the pressure gate near the front door you crawl over and try to eat the dirt and the road salt in the boot tray. If we forget to close the doors to the pantry you crawl over and try to eat the garlic skin or the onion bag. If your brother leaves anything on the floor, we can be sure you’ll find it (including the food that he drops on the floor under his chair). We often hear him repeating, “Not helpful, P.” as he runs over to rescue something you’ve discovered.

Eating has continued to pose some challenges. We sorted out the nursing issue- you nurse seven or eight times each day (including twice at night). As for solid food, by the end of the month you were up to a mix of self-feeding and purees. You have a pretty decent pincer grip now, although you do sometimes have trouble getting the food you’ve picked up into your mouth (you often use your other hand to help push it in). For most of the month we’ve managed to avoid any power struggles with purees by always using two spoons- you get to hold one, and I hold the other, and if you change your mind as to which spoon you want, we trade. You show enormous enthusiasm when it comes to your spoon, but most of the time you either fling it around so much that the food falls off, turn the spoon upside down, or stick the wrong end in your mouth. On the rare occasion when you do succeed at getting the spoon into your mouth when it still has food on it you look surprised!

This month we realized that you absolutely have to eat prunes on a daily basis to have any chance at all of keeping your system regular. We’ve started stewing them up ourselves, using our immersion blender, and then putting the resulting paste in the freezer in a ziploc bag. You seem to prefer them still partly frozen, so I’ve taken to advertising them as “Tasty tasty chocolatey frozen pruney bites!”. I don’t think this impresses you when you’re having a rough week and you see the prunes coming for the third time that day. They’re boring, I know, but they work (along as we keep your diet clear of apple, banana, and rice). You also absolutely loathe having your face washed after a meal (unless I’ve taken you directly up to the bath, in which case you don’t mind at all).

You’ve been learning about your own appetite. Some days you eat everything we offer you and other days you barely touch it. One memorable evening you ate an entire puree pouch at dinner (for the very first time) and then settled in for a giant milk feed right before bed. When you’d finished nursing I sat you up and I was just about to put you on my shoulder to rock you and sing your lullabies when you vomited up the entire milk feed and the entire puree pouch. It went everywhere. I had to call in Daddy to clean up the floor and the rocking chair while I changed every item of clothing I was wearing and gave you a full bath. It was spectacular, to say the least, and, given the puree pouch had been “pear and garden greens”, your Daddy and I kept making Exorcist jokes while we dealt with the mess.

In general, though, you’re pretty excited about food. When you’re eating something particularly delicious you will kick your legs and bang your head against the back of the high chair. You’ve also learned that eating is a social activity. One day I was eating an orange and you got very frustrated because you wanted some too! And, of course, eating has been helped enormously by the fact that you finally cut some teeth! You have your two bottom middle teeth now and you very quickly figured out that they can be quite useful when taking bites of peanut butter toast or pancake or strawberries. They both seemed to come through without much trouble, not even the nasty diapers that used to upset your brother so much, so I’m hopeful that this might prove to be a trend. I’m also relieved that the emergence of teeth hasn’t made any difference in the way you nurse.

You are such a cheerful little soul. Although I still get told all the time that you’re “very alert!”, probably the next most frequent statement I hear from the people you meet is “She’s so happy!”. It’s true that you have a smile for almost everyone and everything you encounter. When we take your brother to school each morning a couple of the other parents always come over to get their daily baby smile and you happily oblige. You’re always overjoyed to see your Daddy when he gets home from work, and your brother gets the biggest and brightest smile of all whenever you catch sight of him. It doesn’t matter how short your nap was or how many times you woke up at night, you greet me (and the rest of your day) with a big gummy grin. I can’t help but smile back.

You’ve always been an interactive baby but this month you really became your own little person who has a real role in any conversation. You can now stick out your tongue and blow raspberries (both of which I am quite certain you learned from your Daddy). You’ve also started waving, which is just plain adorable. When we were at the hospital the day of your ultrasounds you waved at everyone else in the waiting room and charmed them all. You babble endlessly and have a full range of vowel and consonant sounds. And you chortle and giggle all the time, especially when watching your brother who is still, without doubt, your favourite person in the whole world. When I’m in the shower he often climbs into the crib with you and I get out to find that he’s reading you one of your books or singing you silly songs that he’s made up. My favourite this month was one about whales to the tune of “Baby Beluga” which had a verse that started, “Deep in the ocean where the sun goes down,/ Where the blues and the killers and the sperms swim around”.

You still adore the (long-suffering and ever so patient) cat and this month you started giving her open handed pats (or smacks) rather than just grabbing fur and pulling her tail. You still have a ways to go before we can say that you’re being gentle with her, but I think it’s clear that you’re trying to imitate what we’ve been showing you.

Your routine hasn’t changed much this month as your day still revolves around your brother’s school schedule. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that you can sometimes stay up a bit longer between your two naps, and that often means that I have to wake you up from your second nap to go pick E up. I’ve mastered the stealth grab to get you out of the crib, out of your sleep sack, into your hat and your fleece bear suit, and into the carrier before you’ve really woken up enough to protest. You almost never go back to sleep again after all of that, but at least you don’t protest too much at being yanked so unceremoniously from your bed. This early wake up does make dinner a bit fraught as you’d really like to go to bed earlier than is possible if you’re eating dinner with the rest of us. We’re still figuring out the best way to manage this, and I’m sure we’ll find a good solution just in time for you to change your routine again! You get up for the day at some point after 6 a.m. (often only a very short time after 6 a.m.), and I’m still trundling down the hall to feed you twice a night (usually around 11:00 p.m. and then again around 2:30 or 3:00 a.m.). At some point we may have to think about encouraging you to drop those feeds, but we’re not ready yet, even if your Daddy is sleeping in the basement during the week.

Your two teeth have definitely changed your smile. Your hair is starting to grow in a little bit more, especially at the back, but you certainly won’t be needing a haircut any time soon! You’re so big and yet still so little. I’m so excited to see what you’re going to learn to do in the next few months, but I’m also in no rush for you to grow up. You’re so busy and curious now that it’s hard to get a cuddle. You always want to be carried facing out so you don’t miss anything, and even when you bump your head or scare yourself as soon as you’ve stopped crying you want to get back down and keep moving. So even though I am very tired and I’m making all sorts of silly mistakes because I’m so sleep deprived, I take a moment every time I feed you at night to hold you close and kiss your soft hair and feel the weight of your body as you cuddle up against me, safe, secure, and loved.

Love always,
Mummy

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1 Comment

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

One response to “The eighth month

  1. nonsequiturchica

    Oh P you need to drop those nighttime feedings! Let your mother get a full night of sleep already!

    Otherwise P sounds like she is doing great. The big gummy smiles are truly the best, aren’t they? 🙂

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