Sunday, November 30, 2014

Casper, 1 Year

Is it considered bad mommy practice to start a blog post with an expletive? Oh well. One Year! FUCKING ONE YEAR!

I feel like there is no way that one whole year could have passed since your birth and yet…. everything you’ve done, all of your changes, have happened in just this one year. Time is in fact relative.

You have grown from squishy blob to little man and this month has been a testament to you becoming a “you.” 

Your arms must be tired from all of the pointing and grunting you do everyday. “Take me to the pictures of the animals in my room.” “Take me to the books” “Take me to see your wedding photos,” you demand.

You have new nicknames after months of consistency. They honor the little boy that you are becoming. We call you Disast-a-roo. We call you Trouble Machine. We call you Big Walker.

You understand words now. You will clap on command. You know who your puppy is (a big red Clifford dog that you make out with most mornings). You know when I am saying “No,” I can tell because it makes you laugh and laugh and laugh. You squeal with glee when I mention a bath or puppies or milk (in that last case the squeals are often followed by somewhat embarrassing attempts by you to get the girls out ASAP).

You wake up with a plan. You need to check out everything. You need to take the toys out of the toy box. You need to bang the cupboards. You need to pull the leaves off of the plants and empty the diaper bag and take your books off of their shelf. You are everywhere. You are a very busy baby. Or, I guess, a very busy toddler.

Also: You toddle. Starting on October 29th you began taking a few quick drunk stumbles from your perch against the coffee table to my arms. You quickly took so many first falls that for weeks you refused to take any more steps. But by Thanksgiving your nerve was back and you were suddenly wobbling 5-10 steps back and forth between your dad and I. You’re still clinging to the furniture but, when properly motivated, you’ll chance a stroll.

You are easily excited and unable to contain your glee. When you see your baby doll or when I offer you a graham cracker you prance about on little dance-y feet, the joy taking over your legs.

You love books. Or, perhaps, you love turning pages. Your favorites are Moo, Where’s Spot and (a forever favorite) Carry Me. These are good stories... but they have become a bit tired around our house. Dad and I try to introduce you to new options with limited success.

You have become a big giver of kisses. I get a few. Dad occasionally gets one. But most of your smoochies are for the characters in your books. The kitties in Good Night Moon have been bathed in spit. The other babies in Carry Me are often greeted with a squeal and an open mouthed kiss (your dad thinks you have a thing for a certain brown little girl who appears being carried in a sling). I once caught you making out with the picture of a motorcycle.

You still don’t have any words to say beyond mama and dada but even without official words you are quite a talker. You argue and complain when you don’t get your way. You squeal and squeak when you spot doggies on our walks. You’ve started crying to show anger and frustration rather than just to express your needs. When I won’t let you climb stairs or if I refuse to sit down and read a book you scream and wail letting me know exactly how big of a jerk your mom is.

Two lesser milestones were also met this month. Firstly, you broke the screen on my iPhone. This is a marker in the lives of all modern Brooklyn babies and I like to brag on the playground that you managed it before one year. The other moms are jealous; I can tell. Slightly more embarrassing and much more hilarious, one night, naked before bed, you reached down between your legs, hunched your little back over as far as it would go and tried (over and over again) to put your penis in your mouth. No amount of tugging or contorting proved successful. Welcome to the disappointment of being male. Your dad shed a few tears for you (in between the guffaws).

Your birthday was bigger than we had planned. Both sets of grandparents and your Uncle Grant insisted on making the trip to celebrate with you. You surprised us all by being a quite delicate cake smasher -- poking at the frosting with one tentative finger and using your advanced pincher grasp (three cheers for Baby Led Weaning!) to sample tiny morsels of the chocolate cake that Gillian made for you. Later in the day you circled the room stealing cake from everyone’s plates.

This year has been so different than I imagined and better than I had hoped. You are an easy, happy, lovable guy; exactly the kind of baby who tricks you into having another (we shall not be fooled so easily!). Your dad and I love being three. We love having you as the center of our family. Happy birthday my little Casperoo.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Casper, Month 11

11 months is a weird little spot -- so overshadowed by the looming end of your first year. But this month has been its own little bundle of highs and lows. You're fast outgrowing baby-dom and it leaves me desperate to savor it. I often feel panicked that I have not captured enough of the baby you (though a quick glance at my gigs of pictures would indicate otherwise). I am torn between forgetting what my baby was like and excitement over meeting my little boy. I try to be in the moment. And so here is this moment, 11 months.

Back in month 7 we sleep trained you. Silly dad and I thought that was it -- you were trained, you went to bed, you slept, you woke up in the morning. It was bliss and we were so proud. So sure that we had cracked the baby sleep code. Such naive newbies. Some other mother wrote in her blog that she had thought that she had beaten the sleep training game and then was shocked to discover that she only passed the boss on world 1. We arrived at a new level this month and it is like one of those bullshit underwater levels in Super Mario. The ones where you have to flap Mario’s arms at just the right speed to keep him above the stupid fish floating near the bottom but below the dumb flying fish ready to gulp you up at the surface. And just when you think you’ve found that perfect balance you run into a column of those mystery bubble that push you upwards and slam you into a jellyfish -- then you’re fish food. Many nights this month I have felt like fish food.
As with most things baby I’m not exactly sure what was going on with you. It could have been teething, it could have been the discovery of object/mommy permanence, it could have been a bit of hunger since the world is often too interesting for you to focus on nursing during the day. But I think the main problem was that you have figured out how to pull up to standing in your crib. This makes sleep protests so much more dramatic. In addition you have really upped your screaming game. Gone are the infant mews and fusses. Now we have howls worthy of horror flicks. You don’t know how to talk yet but somehow you’ve managed to communicate expletives that would make a sailor blush. Many times at the beginning of the month we gave in and brought you into our bed where everyone could sleep -- me with a baby foot in my face but it (mostly) beat trying and failing over and over and over to put you down. Whatever the core issue eventually mom and dad brought the sleep training hammer back down on you and we cried it out together and now, again, we all sleep all night (separately).

Remember last month when I said that you loved me most of all? I had no idea. You love me more. Or, rather, you hate not being with me. Unfortunately, loving your mom the most does not mean you are always happy when you are with me or that you greet me with only snuggles and compliments about how thin I look. It means that you are a royal asshole whenever I go to the bathroom alone. It means I sometimes have to hold your hands while dad changes your diaper. It means I scream the words, “I’m RIGHT HERE.” from every corner of the apartment in a futile effort to stop the whines. I’m flattered, I guess. I love you too.

You started properly crawling at the beginning of the month. You prefer a lopsided creeping motion with one foot pushing off behind you and acting as motor. Between this and your brave cruising between the furniture, you are everywhere. There is a lot of falling. This is the month that you can look back on should you ever worry about childhood bumps to the head having caused permanent damage. To make matters worse you managed to make real your dream of diving head first off of mom and dad’s bed. No obvious damage is visible at this time but I will personally look back on that moment one day when, as a surly teen, you forget to take out the garbage for the fifth time in a row. It was cold comfort that you took this moment to whimper out a sad "mama" for the first time.

In the war of Casper vs the baby proofing you are losing.... but just barely. Despite vigorous tugging and banging all but one of the cupboard locks has held (you can now access the pots and pans, if we had to lose a lock that was arguably the least necessary one). You did end up victorious in the battle of the corner covers -- none remain on the coffee table or the entertainment center. There is something poetic about turning around to see you crawling towards me with something that we bought to protect you hanging out of your mouth like a chew toy.

You’re much more vocal this month. You’ve become a bit of a mimic -- willing to play little call and response games with your screams or lip smacks. You’re saying Dada with meaning. As mentioned above, you also, seem to be saying mama… but there is no glee in it. “Dada” is for laughs, for silly screams, for prideful babbling. “Mama” is only to be used when sobbing. Beyond actual words your nonverbal communication is blossoming. You can whine with intention to let us know when you want to walk, when you want a cracker, when you don’t want to be held. You've developed an impressive back arch to say, "I do not want to be in the stroller, I do not want to be held, I do not want." You've also become quite the little smoocher - offering wet kisses to me and dad and your reflection in the mirror and all of your stuffed animals.

You’re finally really into books. You’ll sit still through multiple stories and tolerate a diaper change if you can hold a book aloft in your two little fists gazing up the pages. You like to caress the faces of all of the characters, you like to help turn the pages.  

You remain a happy little guy. When we took you in to get a flu shot the nurse pronounced you jolly which seems especially apt given your ever growing Santa-like belly. You love bananas and can easily put away a whole one grabbing slice after slice and using both hands to shove it into your mouth. You love kicking balls, walking with your walker, animal noises, Grandpa’s dried pears, drinking water from a sippy cup, hiding under the blankets in my bed, when daddy gets your hinny, when I sing “Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, shake your bushy tail,” and when I steal your paci (this is, perhaps, the height of comedy).

Onward we go to even bigger milestones.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Casper, Month 10

You are still a baby but this month, for the first time, I see glimpses of a little boy and it is freaking me out. Maybe it’s that mess of hair that is fast growing over the tips of your ears. Maybe its your insistence on being upright as much as possible. I had my first and second cries over your growing up this month. Never has time moved so quickly. Never before has 1 year, 5 years, 18 years felt like not long enough.

November and your first birthday are painfully close. I find myself regularly wishing that you would stop growing, stop aging and then scolding myself because getting bigger and older is what healthy babies do.

It has been, once again, a month full of milestones. You started clapping on 8/24 -- I have never received so many rounds of applause for so little actual performance. The next day you surprised me by cruising from the ottoman to the entertainment center -- a leap of only 5 inches, but a leap all the same. 

On 9/2 your nanny, Kenesha, showed us that she has taught you to do an indian call which left me feeling super non-PC for the rest of the month as I tried to explain the trick without explicitly calling it an “Indian call” (“You make an “ahahahaha” noise by bouncing your hand on your lips? Do you know what I mean?”).

You’ve continued to put off traditional crawling and we worry that you’ll forgo it entirely in exchange for early walking. You are a pretty proficient army crawler -- swimming across our hardwood floors when motivated to chase a toy train or snack on some electrical cords. On 9/4 you started getting up onto hands and knees and revving your engine by rocking back and forth but you revert to the tummy crawl when you actually want to go anywhere.

By 9/6 you were pulling yourself up on the edge of the bathtub or onto the ottoman and on 9/8 I officially lost my happy sitter. Gone is the baby who would stay quietly on his blanket immobile and playing with toys. Suddenly, you are everywhere. Under the jumperoo. Sampling dead leaves off of the doormat. Pulling the power strip out from behind the armchair. I will never be able to sweep enough to keep the outside out of your insides. I have already, multiple times, considered the cliche of taping a swiffer pad to your belly to exploit the free cleaning opportunities that an army crawling infant presents.

You want, very badly, for someone (anyone, really) to let you hold their fingers so you can walk around all day long. Often when I move to set you down you lock your knees to try to force me into a walk-a-thon. If I do manage to detangle my fingers from yours and step away I must endure cries of outrage followed by rivers of baby tears.

This probably doesn't count as an actual milestone but you have also discovered my face this month and have taken a real conquistador approach to the exploration. You push my head to the side so you can fiddle with my ear. You force your little fingers between my lips to feel my teeth. In the morning when you're lying between your dad and I in our bed you seem to wait until one of us starts to drift off before shoving your pointer finger up into our nostrils. This is not my most favorite thing about you.

Despite the nose rape you've made morning my favorite time of day. Before you were born I slept until 8 and couldn't imagine enjoying a 6:30am wake up call. But you are so joyful after a good night of sleep. I can't help but look forward to your snuggles and giggles even if the sun has yet to rise. All three of us get a solid two hours of hanging out together before the day really begins and it feels like truly stolen moments. It's 7am. No one ever calls or texts. No one expects us to be anywhere but home. These found hours are just for you. I'm more tired at night than I used to be. I go to bed at 10pm and feel like kind of a loser for doing so but being lame is worth it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Casper, Month 9

Every month I am shocked again that, somehow, a whole month has passed. Here we are at time number 9 of feeling this exact same way. 9 month dude. 9.

You love eating and standing. You love when daddy comes home from work. You love looking at yourself in the mirror. You love to scream. You love the swings at the park. You love animal noises and tickles. You love peek-a-boo and hiding under a blanket. And you love your mom most of all. I’m flattered, if a little sick of the whining. If only I would carry you around all of the time life would be perfect and you would never have to sit alone on the floor surrounded by toys (THE. WORST.).

This month you grew a lot of hair -- a mass of straw. Just the type of hair we imagined that you would have. It seemed to appear suddenly over the course of a few hours. One day, I went to work, leaving my mostly bald baby with his nanny and I returned that evening to a child with a full head of blond hair.

You’ve developed a weird snorting hiss that you perform, paired with arm flailing and clasping hand
motions, when you get very excited. It’s both adorable and the nerdiest thing ever.

You remain stuck when it comes to crawling -- you push with your feet and snow plow your head into the floor then push yourself up with your arms, but alas, never at the same time. After two or three tries you collapse onto your belly frustrated. You’re adept at army crawling around in a circle and can drag your body forward across mom and dad’s bed -- usually to grasp dad’s iPhone (Aka “black rectangle”).

Early in the month I captured the following tale of woe for posterity...

It was morning -- 8am, but you’d been up since 6:20. You’d just enjoyed a breakfast/bath of pineapple and were sticky enough to warrant a shower with Dad. Sticky enough that I decided to strip you down in the bathroom rather than get pineapple juice all over your room. Off came the onesie, the diaper cover, the snappi -- Dad joked, “hope there’s no poop in this diaper!” -- obviously this jinxed everything. Poop. So much poop. A cloth diaper filled to the brim with orange mush speckled with undigested apricot skins. For a moment I was frozen, unsure how to proceed.

For those unfamiliar with the cloth diaper routine allow me to describe how a normal poop should go. Baby is on the changing table (aka, "the floor" because we live in a small NYC apartment and obviously don't have enough room for an actual changing table.) -- dirty diaper is folded up and moved to the side. Baby is re-diapered. Soiled diaper is taken into the bathroom and clipped to the Spray Pal then hosed down in the toilet with a diaper sprayer so all poop can be flushed. (Yes, we do this for every poop. Yes, I assume Mother Earth herself will greet me upon death and personally escort me to heaven as thanks for all of the non-biodegradable diapers that I did not deposit into a landfill.) Diaper is then squeezed out into the toilet (again with SprayPal on the assist) and deposited in diaper pail. The SprayPal step is, technically, optional -- you could hold the diaper while spraying but this causes poop water blowback to hit you and I prefer as little poop water on my person as possible. It’s also possible to forgo spraying and dunk the entire diaper into the toilet but then your hand is literally taking a swim in poop water. Dad and I are big fans of the SprayPal

Back to the story. Dad springs into action, removing the diaper full of poo from my hand (“oh god there is poop on my hand!”) and proclaiming that we will spray the baby's butt off directly into the toilet. This is… unconventional... and possibly dangerous. Baby butt, being an uneven surface and unpredictably wiggly; the spray back could be lethal. BUT! This it still sort of seems like a good idea. In fact, it *IS* a good idea.

You were not on board. I held your legs up and pointed your derriere down into the toilet bowl then dad started spraying your bottom side off while your tears sprayed your face (at least that was helping a bit with the pineapple juice?). After that it was into the shower with Dad -- something you only sort of tolerate on a day when you’re not already tearing up from your butt-only, pre-shower shower.

It was a tough morning for everyone involved. When you recount the details under therapist induced hypnosis 20 years from now try to remember that I had to touch poop.

You and I made another trip to California this month. You, once again, rocked your 4th roundtrip plane flight -- sleeping through half of it in both directions. Your cousins, Dalanie and Zayden, were much more impressed with 8 month old you than they had been with 2 month old you. You got many tickles and peek-a-boos. Grandpa Horst  called you “Little Putz” and carried around to meet their dog, Annie, who licked at your feet and Gino, one of Grandma’s horses who, somehow, didn’t freak out when you stuck your entire hand into his nostrils. Grandma Kay rented you a cabana at the pool in Vegas -- we all used it but it was decidedly for you. She has never even considered renting me a cabana.

We had a couple of playdates with my cousin Mallory’s daughter Rosalyn who is 3 weeks older than you. There was tandem chewing and frustrated failed attempts to crawl. Rosalyn made me much more aware of your personality. She is a serious little girl -- all scowls and resting bitch-face (the cutest possible resting bitch face). I had to work hard with silly faces and cootchi-coos for just one smile. This is never the case with my little golden retriever of a baby. You also tried so hard to get Roz to jabber and smile with you -- you did all of your best dadadas and screams. You bounced and squealed all to very little reaction. Seeing the two of your together reinforced that you are huge, huge goofball. Not because all babies are, but because you are.

I’ve set myself up over the last few months with expectations of a touching end to each of these posts. It’s not that I don’t have it in me this month -- I love you more and more and more. But I’ve nothing new to to say. Perhaps I’m getting used to things and can no longer be shocked by this overwhelming love.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Casper, Month 8

Hello my 8 month old boy! My Big Chompers. My Poop Machine.

I recently reviewed your newborn pictures and discovered something alarming. You were not that cute. You had baby acne and baby-patterned baldness. You didn’t know how to smile. This raises serious questions about my own objectivity since I distinctly remember wondering how my newborn got so adorable. I also remember your father commenting at 5 weeks the he was afraid you had peaked for cuteness. In retrospect, this is insane. So while I want to report that, at 8 months, you are the cutest and always getting cuter, I cannot honestly assess the situation. To my eyes you are dangerously good looking, but in reality you might be a troll.

Your nanny, Kenesha, says you are "very advanced at eating." I'm sure that's code for, "a little piglet." You love food. You devour sweet potatoes, grilled zucchini, bagels, blueberry pancakes, cherry tomatoes, cheese and avocado toast. In most cases you take the Cookie Monster approach to eating -- fistfuls of noms head toward your mouth, 10% consumed, 90% turned into directionless projectiles. Sometimes it seems that all we’ve done this month is eat and bathe.

We’ve been taking the baby led weaning approach to food (a poor name for “give your baby food and let them eat it” -- we are by no means weaning you off of breast milk) and I cannot recommend it highly enough. However, I am no longer able to quietly snack around you -- as soon as you spot anyone eating, you unleash a chorus of whines until all food is shared. What a little communist. On one occasion you dive bombed your dad’s hamburger. Another time you stared so hard at a stranger on the subway as he munched on peanuts that I felt I had to apologize for the death glares being sent his way.

Eating adult food is messy business so we prefer to feed you out on the patio clad only in a diaper and a bib. Our bib of choice includes a handy trough where the food that didn't make it into your tummy can commingle into a half chewed soup. At month's start you didn't know about the trough but by early July you had discovered this exciting repository of back up food. You are happy to reconsider all trough options from plum coated in avocado to pineapple basted pasta.

You are now capable of sitting in a highchair at restaurants which has opened up scads of brunch options for your dad and I (no longer restricted to the occasional NYC venue big enough to house your stroller). Your happy to accompany us for the small fee of a croissant here, a fried potato there.

You’re not talking yet but, perhaps in preparation, your mouth has become very active (even when not eating). You’ve learned to smack your lips to produce a satisfying popping noise. You move your little mouth around like a ventriloquist dummy -- all motion and no sound. You bababa and dadada.  No mamamas yet, which I hear is to be expected.

You’ve become a screamer -- gleefully screeching like a little baby car alarm. I constantly have to reassure others that you’re not upset, just loud. I worry that our neighbors are unamused.

When I come home from work you attack me with opened mouthed drool-y kisses. Your lips banging against my cheek, head shaking back and forth, “Ah! Ah! Ah!” you shout.

All of the kisses are for mom but the guffaws are all for dad. That dude cracks you up without even trying. In the morning while you’re nursing in bed you crane your head back to gaze at him and giggle till the milk dribbles out of the corner of your mouth.

You are full of motion. You, "throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care." You flap your arms about in glee. Your little fists playing open/shut them on repeat. Drool streaming down your chin and soaking the front of your shirt. You absolutely Do. Not. Care.

You like to hold the outsides of my palms while I clap. You LOVE when I grab your palms and help you clap. Everything is worthy of celebration.

You’re showing your first real interest in books beyond tasting the corners just in case books turn out to suddenly be edible. You reach out while we are reading to grab at the pictures and slap your palm at the characters faces. Your favorite book, by far, is Carry Me. Your dad and I joke that you view the 10 pages with pictures of babies being carried in different ways (in a pack, on your back, etc.) as more bible than story. A convenient list of suggestions for ways your parents might consider executing the sacrament of carrying. You reach your own arms up out of the jumperoo or your crib -- jazz hands screaming, “Carry me! Carry me! Carry ME!”

My constant lesson is to focus on appreciating you as the baby you are today rather than panicking that you won't ever be this little ever again. It’s difficult at times. I don’t quite understand moms who want their baby to meet his milestones early. Being an advanced crawler doesn’t seem worth rushing through babyhood. I am much more worried about not having time to savor your babiness than I am concerned about having a gifted child. As much as I loved you as a newborn I am consumed with you as a chubby bundle of baby. I want to eat you. I cannot kiss you enough. I whisper in your ear as you nurse, "You're my baby. Mama loves you. Mama loves Casper."

Friday, June 20, 2014

Casper, Month 7

Month 7 has been all smiles from both of us. I’ve finally eased into work (gone are the moment of panic when I think about leaving you) and motherhood. You continue to be a happy, flexible, easy to love baby. But the main difference between last month and this month -- the one thing that probably makes everything else seem great -- is that you are sleeping.

We had to force the issue -- after 2 months of frequent waking we felt we had no choice. Sleep training is controversial. Many parents think it’s cruel to let a baby cry all alone. I was worried about this as well. It’s tough to hear your baby cry, but just because something is hard doesn’t make it wrong. The key question is at what age is a baby assumed to ask for things that he does not need? Certainly most people acknowledge that 2 year olds are always demanding shit they don’t need (candy, permission to hit, etc) and most agree that a 1 week old never asks for anything save necessities (they need food, sleep, cuddles and diaper changes and ask for little else). I think that you, at 6 months old, were asking for food and cuddles at 3am, but you didn’t need them. What you needed (and what I needed) was sleep. Letting you cry it out helped you to learn to put yourself to sleep and that has been a most valuable lesson for both of us (and dad too!).

Truthfully, the sleep training wasn’t that hard. We moved your crib from our room to your nursery on the same night that we started sleep training (hoping that some of your sleep issues were due to smelling me across the room and thinking "Hey, mom is here! I would love a snack!"). We didn’t have a hard plan on night one -- we thought we might go in and comfort you at some point or we might leave you to cry on your own as advocated by our pediatrician. In the end, as tempting as we were to go in and rock you, I felt like having me comfort you would only make things worse -- so, we went cold turkey.

You didn’t cry anywhere near as much or as hard as I had expected. In my imagining, crying it out meant listening to you wail until you had no energy left and passed out. In reality, the cries had fits and starts, you would work up to wailing and then get distracted by your crib mirror or thump your legs and whine for a few minutes before rubbing your eyes and slowly drifting off. Having a video monitor was immensely helpful for my own peace of mind.
You often sleep through the night now. Sleep through as in: down at 7:30 and up at 6am with no wake ups in between (or at least none where you cry loudly enough to wake your parents, if you’re in there awake and playing by yourself that’s fine too). Often you doze back off for another hour or two in the morning (almost always in bed between dad and I, one hand on each of us).

There are, of course, exceptions. You’ve been teething and we did have to go in for midnight tylenol dosing a couple of times over the past 2 weeks. Last week you started sleep rolling onto your belly which often wakes you up -- you seem very angry that someone came into your room and rolled you over (“Who was that jerk!?!?!”). For some reason you won’t roll yourself onto your back choosing instead to scream for 30mins and then fall asleep exhausted with your face pressed straight down into the mattress which leaves your dad and I to stare at the back of your head via the video monitor, wondering if you’ve dropped dead.

Your dad’s paternity leave came to an end this month so we’ve replaced him with a nanny. We joke that we had to pay someone to be your friend since you’ve made zero effort to go out into the world and make friends of your own. Kenesha’s strong suit is telling us over and over how cute you are. She also seems adept at reading you books, taking you to the park, feeding you and wiping your behind; but it’s the never-ending baby praise that won us over. Smart nanny work. You’re always excited to see her walk through the door -- your face lights up with a grin and, as if the joy is too much to take, you turn your head and smash your face into my shoulder before peeking up at her again. It’s comforting to leave you with someone you so clearly like to be with -- I hope stranger anxiety doesn’t set in an ruin this good thing. I miss you while I’m at work and spend my time waiting for meetings to start checking the baby tracking app for updates from the nanny. Your dad and I text each other during the day to alert one another to any opportunity to spy on you via the video monitor when you’re asleep in your crib. On the subway I daydream about you -- you at the park, you making a huge mess while eating. It’s not unlike the way I used to daydream about your dad when we first met. I’m amazed that you exist out in the world without me.

And yet, I find myself really glad to be working. I feel freed and refreshed by getting out of the house, having challenges that are not baby related and seeing other people. Three days a week in the office feels like a perfect balance for us and I feel so lucky to have a flexible career that allows me to make tradeoffs between being a mom and being a breadwinner. 

Despite thighs that seem covered in rolls you remain a little guy -- only in the 15th percentile for weight and still rocking your 3-6 month onesies into month 7. You’re moving up in height though -- all the way to the 83%.

It has been a month of milestones.

You’re eating real people food -- pineapple, yogurt, sweet potatoes, kiwis, beets, avocados -- all of it has been used as paint, makeup and occasionally sustenance. It is a glorious mess. You’re a joy to watch, making breakfast and mid-afternoon snacks an occasion for uproarious laughter. The morning poops, on the other hand, are only for groans, gags and tears. So gross, Buddy. So. Gross.

The first of your teeth, your left bottom one in the middle, cut through your gums on 6/3 followed almost immediately by its neighbor on the right. You required a few doses of baby tylenol, many mesh feeders filled with frozen fruit and lots of cuddles to get through the pain. Now that both teeth are half up, jagged little sawtooths, your mouth is a danger zone. We’re banning chewing on mom’s fingers. You have recently starting to signal that you are done nursing with a hard chomp and my boobs are becoming Casper-shy.

You’ve started sitting up unassisted -- I wrote down 6/6 as the official milestone date but its been a slow progression over the last few weeks. People tell me that you are now in the ideal baby stage -- capable of being set down to play and yet incapable of going anywhere unassisted but I still find you too wobbly to leave unwatched on the floor for fear of head bumps.

Despite the stinky poop, the wails at 3am and the biting of my nipples your dad and I think we have gotten lucky with you. You’re such a happy baby. People comment on it constantly (when they aren’t telling us how pretty your eyes are). For us you are the baseline -- the only baby we have ever known. I often assume that all 6 month old babies are, if not just like you then, at least variations on the theme of golden retriever in human form -- all drool and dopiness, ready to be everyone’s friend. But folks tell me that not all babies are so affable and then I wonder if biology is trying to trick me into having a second child -- I’ll let my guard down thinking I’ll get another easy happy little ball of giggles and end up with that other type of baby -- whiney, angry, clingy.

I was prepared for motherhood to change me. Prepared for less me time. Prepared for (or at least resigned to) less sleep. I was not prepared to have my pop culture world rocked. For years I have harbored a lowbrow love for MTVs 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. The parade of train wrecks exactly the kind of accident that I could never look away from. Until now. I tried getting into the latest round of girls unexpectedly in the family way, but, this time around, reality TV felt too real. The moms too unprepared. The babies too helpless. The situation suddenly eliciting more watery eyes than eye rolls. You are turning me into a sentimental mess. I recall the day sometime in the mid nineties when I caught Grandma Kay tearing up over a Kleenex commercial and worry for my future.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Casper, Month 6 (HALF A YEAR!!!! OMG. WTF?!?!?!?)

Here you are, the baby I was looking forward to -- plump and goofy and ready to be friends with everyone. You are easy with the smiles. A lover of fake sneezes (ahh! ahh! ahh-choo!) and boogedy-boogedy-boos.

You’ve discovered your feet and found them to be delicious. I once caught you with both feet pulled up to your mouth, motor-boating your toes. You are finally able to consistently find your thumb and I foresee a day in the future when we have to smear that awful tasting goop all over your nails.

The nickname that seems to have stuck is, “Doodle”. “Doodle Bear Casperoo” (aka, “The DBC”) when we're feeling verbose. “Grosser,” still gets tossed around when appropriate, as does, “Lil’ Nakes” and “Nakerson”. We’re a family who loves nicknames so we’ll keep switching this up but I like that you have a standard now -- you are my little Doodle.

This month I actually found myself wondering if you might turn out to be too attractive and then I mentally slapped myself for falling under the influence of crazy mama hormones.That said, your dad and I have had actual conversations about our worries that you could grow up to be very attractive and we would have no idea how to deal with this. Nerdy awkward dork? We feel prepared for the challenges that plague that kind of kid. Popular and handsome? We’ve no tools for that.

You are still working hard on the back to belly roll. We know you can do it, having found you at least once in your crib on your belly, but I don’t think you know that you can do it. You spend a lot of time on your back twisting your hips and then looking up at us forlornly. On April 25th you rolled from back to belly while holding my finger and pulling for leverage. You do this a lot but your dad says that it doesn’t count as actually rolling over. That dad is a stickler.

On April 23rd you became mobile. Unfortunately the specific motion that you chose was leaping the 4 feet from the changing table to the floor. I had looked away for the cliched one second (to wash the poop off of your onesie, obviously) when I heard *BANG* *CRY* and I knew exactly what had happened. I ran into the bedroom expecting to find you at the base of the dresser, having finally mastered rolling from back to front. But there was no baby to be found there. After a millisecond of wondering where exactly you could have gone (rolled under the bed? under the dresser? jumped up and walked over the the liquor cabinet for a much deserved shot of bourbon?) I found you face down to the left of the dresser. (see my super awesome diagram below).

Only you will ever know how you managed to move in this direction. I’m pretty sure you didn’t stand up and belly flop off the edge of the dresser but I also don’t think you rolled over. After much discussion with Grandma Kay and Dad we think you torqued your hips and caught the side of the changing pad with a foot and then used that leverage to heave yourself over the edge. You were fine, by the way. Shockingly fine. I picked you up, you nursed for all of 2 mins and then you popped off all, “Hey! What’s up! That was crazy!” I checked and rechecked you for marks but there was nothing.

It would come as a huge shock to my pregnant self that this has been my most difficult month as a mom (and not just because of your suicide dive). I had built up a lot of dread around the newborn months, sure I would be a hormonal mess still recovering from major surgery with bleeding nipples and severe sleep deprivation. And then months 1-3 turned out to be mostly a joy -- not even the weeks on end of subfreezing weather could get me down! But just when I thought I was out of the woods and psyched to enjoy spring with an adorable baby you surprised me again.

From around 10 weeks through to 4.5 months of age you were a sleeping machine -- 6, 7, even 8 hour stretches of conked out sleepy baby would pass from 11pm onward. It was glorious. And, because I didn’t want to brag or jinx it, I said nothing to much of anyone. And then it stopped. So much for the power of not jinxing. You woke up twice a night. You woke up every 3 hours. Every 2 hours. Every 1 hour. You want the paci. You want the boob. You want to drive me to an early grave.

In one particularly irrational moment during a midnight crying jag (mine, not yours), I thought, "I should just stay up. I should not go back to sleep and thus avoid the awful moment when you wake me up again." This seemed like a good idea that was totally workable. I felt I had stumbled upon the answer: Just never sleep again.

Your remaining saving sleep graces are: 1) You can put yourself to sleep if we lay you down drowsy and 2)  You go back to sleep pretty easily after waking in the middle of the night. Pop in the boob, suck for 3mins, back to dreamland. I also go back to sleep pretty easily, so though being awoken multiple times a night to baby distress is… distressing... I’m still (in theory) getting a decent amount of sleep. Things have improved from the low point a few weeks ago but you’re still waking 2-3 times a night and your future may hold some crying it out. You have been warned.

I am lucky to have mom friends who tell me that it is ok if I do not love every moment of being a mom (despite all of the Facebook shares claiming otherwise, you are not legally obligated  to cherish every moment). I am doubly lucky to have truly enjoyed and cherished my time with you. Until this month. Casper, you are clearly going through some baby shit and, I get it, but I really need some sleep.

In light of the above Dad and I really needed a vacation, so we took you to Jamaica for a week (in fact I am writing this from our bungalow!). I can highly recommend traveling with an almost 6 month old. You discovered splashing and were all grins as we floated you around the pool. You tried your first food, a piece of pineapple, over the breakfast table one morning. You took many naps in the big bed, went for your first hammock ride and made friends with all of the hotel staff.

Half a year is unreal. Impossibly, it seems like I just brought you home and, at the same time, like you have always been in my life. Shortly after you were born Grandma Kay mentioned that being a mom was a love affair and she was right. My love for you often feels like a new discovery and I have to hold myself back from trying to explain it to others as if I'm the first mom to ever love her baby. I have to wonder occasionally if this love qualifies as an abusive relationship. Even after your worst nights when I'm teary and tired at 2am I look into your goofy face at 7am and all is forgiven. I let you get away with clawing my face until I bleed. I don't really mind when you pee on me. Babies are the ultimate deadbeats and mamas the most pathetic of victims.