Nine Months

Dear Baby Ike,

Today you are nine months old.  This weekend your paternal grandma came up to visit with us (well let’s be honest, she came to see you!), and I think she was quite blown away by how big you have gotten and how active you are now.  I am, too, frankly.  It is a little unfortunate that her visit seemed to coincide with your separation/stranger-anxiety phase, so you were a little shy with her and much preferred to have me or Daddy around while you hung out with her.  But she couldn’t stand to wait any longer to see you again, and you did have some very good playtime and peek-a-boo sessions with her, if not quite as many snuggles and hugs and kisses as I’m sure she hoped for. Next time will be better for all that, I’m sure.

According to the baby development emails that I get, this is your fortieth week of life.  I gave up counting weeks myself a while back – now I’m doing good if I can just believe the actual number of months that have passed since you were born, as they are still flying by way too fast for my taste – and I know this isn’t going to reverse itself. Given that you were born a week and a half before your due date and that you didn’t actually exist for the first two technical weeks of my pregnancy (period math – someday you may care, I think), you have now been around longer outside of me than you ever were inside me. While I know that my conflicting feelings are normal, and every mother feels this way, I am still astounded that I can be so excited over every tiny stride forward you make in your development and at the same time a little saddened that you are less and less teeny tiny every day. Of course I want you to continue growing big and strong, but at the same time I am always going to miss your newborn-baby-ness!

You are going to be crawling proper any day now, it seems.  You can go backward pretty easily, while forward is more of an army crawl-scoot hybrid at this point.  You do a lot of rocking back and forth on hands and knees, though, so I think it is going to surprise me any second now to see you motoring all around as if you’ve been doing it all your life.  You’re going to keep the dog on his toes, I can tell.

We haven’t added a whole lot to your diet in the past month, as getting you to slow down enough to drink a bottle or have a good nursing session is still a bit of a struggle what with ALL THE THINGS that need exploring and examining all the time, so we have been trying to focus on making sure you get plenty of milk.  I am very thankful that you are still nursing, even though it pretty much takes a dark-as-possible bedroom and lying down either before bedtime or naptime or right after you wake up.  Every once in a great while I actually get to cradle you while you nurse if I catch you awake but still sleepy enough, which I relish, but for the most part you will hardly tolerate it, preferring to have more space of your own for kicking and wiggling. And forget little snacks on the couch in the living room, or anywhere else – everything is just too much of a distraction for you.  But as far as new solids, carrots are going over well, as are peaches, though apples are still your favorite by far (if we don’t count Os, which is what I’ve been calling Cheer.ios).  I had lofty intentions of not giving you any grains until the one-year mark, but I failed to convey that to Grandma, and I think it would be a silly thing to be too strict about – the Os are definitely good for helping you develop your pincer grasp. Not too many of them make it to the floor anymore, much to Dexter’s dismay! But I think his day is coming, as you haven’t yet really taken much to finger foods, so you aren’t purposefully throwing things to the floor yet, either.  He’ll be really happy when you figure out how much fun that can be.

We have gotten a little bit better about a bedtime routine (about time, right?) in the past couple of months.  So long as you’re not already overtired, we now have storytime before sleepytime.  I am always amazed that, as easily distracted as you can be, you do seem to enjoy reading books.  Most nights we can get through at least two or three, depending on the length.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a favorite (of mine, anyway – I’m not sure if you’re really as into it as I am), and you are enthralled by the page of Goodnight Moon that has only the picture of the tiny mouse on it.  When we get to that page you usually rip the whole book out of my hands, flip it sideways, and try to eat the mouse.  I love it.  Makes me laugh every time.

Your language and communication continue to evolve.  We still get a lot of ‘ma…ma…muhhh…mehhh…MUHM!’ sounds, and the bbbbbbb motorboat sound has become a warning of sorts that you’re not too thrilled with whatever is going on at the moment – a precursor to true fussing or crying, it seems.  We are also hearing lots of Das and Nas, some Yas and Tas and Guhs (and those consonants followed by various other vowel sounds).  Lately you’ve been doing some head shaking, more of the No variety (side to side).  It doesn’t seem as though you associate it with the word no; I think it’s more just an interesting sensation for you.  You’ve also started doing this thing where you scrunch up your nose and sort of pant through it, like a tough guy face with huffing and puffing.  It’s hilarious, and you think it’s hilarious when we do it back to you, which I of course have to do every time I catch you doing it.  Grandma caught a picture of you doing it – it’s blurry but captures the expression pretty well:

IMG_0105

Last but definitely not least this month, we finally (not that I’ve been looking forward to it) have the beginnings of some TEETH!  Both your bottom middle two are peeking through.  They don’t seem to be bothering you too much, at least not constantly, but it seems like they still have a long way to go before we can say they’re fully in – and then more will quickly follow, I’m sure.  You will rarely let me put a finger in your mouth to check them out, but if you grin wide enough they are just barely visible.  Yet one more way that you are morphing right before my eyes from baby to little boy – no need to hurry on that, young man.

I can only imagine, and I do, all the fun that is right around the corner…but I am trying my hardest to stay where we are, and be present for the present, not getting too worried about what’s next. Wherever we are now is always where I want to be with you, Ike. Kisses and kisses and kisses, as I say to you while covering your still-chubby-for-now cheeks with them (good thing Mama hardly ever wears lipstick, right?).

Love,

Mama

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Seven Months

Dear Baby Ike,

I hardly know where to start this month.  You turned seven months old this past Friday, and while I know this letter won’t capture anywhere near all of the amazement I have in your development in the last month, I need to get it posted now or before I can blink you will be eight months already!  You are doing so many new things and there aren’t enough hours in the days for me to properly sop up all your deliciousness and also function as an adult human.  I gladly sacrifice the functioning part, frankly.  A lot of the time I know I am leaving a lot of quasi-important, household-y things completely undone, but for the most part I don’t care at all.  It’s quite difficult to convince myself that I should do anything at all instead of hanging out with you, feeding you, playing with you, or snuggling you.  This often means that I also neglect to do things like cut your fingernails and toenails, because I have such a hard time forcing myself to do something that I know will frustrate you and make you upset (and yet I’m also loathe to try doing it while you’re alseep, because I know you need that sleep and I don’t want to wake you up accidentally!)  Good thing Grandma is happy to help out on that task as well.  Otherwise you’d have talons probably literally inches long sometimes!

Going to work five days a week makes me feel like I am missing SO MUCH of your cuteness, which is getting dangerously cuter by the day.  Grandma got some awesome pictures of you in the bathtub at her house the other day, and I can’t wait until she sends them to me. I love it when she gets her camera out so I can feel like I get to catch up on at least a sliver of the fun you have with her all week. You really do keep her on her toes, and you’re not even actually mobile yet.  I know she loves being with you so often (but she could probably stand it if you gave her a break with a real nap now and then).

Speaking of sleep, we have been mostly cosleeping for a while now (three months?  I don’t even know anymore), as it seems most logical that neither of us has to really get up out of bed to have your dream feeds.  I know I should probably be working harder to get you used to sleeping in your crib, but again, it’s very hard to care right now.  It seems silly to put effort into putting you down for the night farther away from me than you need to be.  You will only be small for a short time, and this time of being a baby is getting shorter all the time, so I don’t think I will look back and regret being able to cuddle you close after you drift off to sleep.  Waking in the night with you can be exhausting, but I treasure it at the same time.  A couple of times now you have woken up in the morning and fussed for a bit without actually opening your eyes first, and then you eventually open them, continuing to fuss a little, not realizing that I am right there in the bed next to you.  When you do notice that I’m there, your face breaks into the biggest, most joyful smile I have ever seen, and my heart bursts into a million pieces right there on the spot.  It makes me long for the technology of a camera implanted right in my brain so I could simply blink and try to capture that feeling and never ever let it go.  I suppose I might get the same kind of smiles coming in to pick you up out of the crib in the mornings, but it’s so nice to be able to lay my face down right next to yours and just drink in the sweetness that is you.  I have never in my life been this close to being a morning person, but you really do give me endless things to look forward to, day after day.

You’ve now tasted several different solid foods:  avocado, sweet potato, green peas, and bananas (I feel like I may be forgetting one right now).  At first you didn’t seem to really be liking the tastes of these things, if the hilarious faces you make are any indication, but you do like the act of eating, grabbing the spoon and putting it in your own mouth.  I think you’re slowly starting to actually like the food itself, at least sometimes.  Next on the list to try are pears and apples, and who knows what else.  There are still many, many tastes that will be brand new to you; it is so exciting to me to think about seeing your face and reaction to new foods.  I am also relieved that you’re still nursing.  Now that you’re not exclusively breastfed, I will admit to living in a little fear of the day that you decide to wean.  As thrilling as it is to watch you grow and develop, I am nowhere near ready to be done with your babyhood.  Thankfully we still have a little ways to go!

You continue to add different sounds to your repertoire of baby babble.  Lately I hear a lot of “buh-wuh” and “bwuh” though I don’t think it means anything in particular yet.  Still lots of MEH and MUH, sometimes repeated so it gets awfully close to ‘Mama,’ which I of course love to hear.  The more I hear you making recognizable sounds, the easier it becomes to picture you actually talking, though that is still a ways off yet.  I can imagine your little voice singing songs and telling jokes and asking for things that you want and telling me what you think about all kinds of things, and I just can’t believe how lucky we are that we get to have you in our lives, doing all these normal things that to us will be clear strokes of genius, every time.

You’re not crawling yet, and I haven’t seen you roll from back to belly yet either, but in addition to rolling from tummy to back you now also scootch in circles when we put you down on your belly, so you’re definitely working hard on the pre-crawling skills.  It’s starting to become more concretely imaginable that we’ll be chasing you all over the house soon – we have a lot (read:  ALL) of babyproofing yet to do!

I love you so much, my little Sugar Butt.  I never thought I would be the kind of mother to make up ridiculously obnoxious nicknames for her kid like that, but you have really turned me into a different person, and I absolutely love being that goofy, baby-obsessed mother that I never thought I’d have a chance to be.  I’m definitely a great big silly fool for you, Isaac.

Love always,

Mama

Six Months

Dear Baby Ike,

Yesterday you turned six months old, and on Monday you had your six-month checkup with the pediatrician.  You now weigh a whole 17 lbs. and 9 oz., and you’re 25 and a half inches tall.  You’ve done so many new things this past month, I can hardly keep up!  You really love it when we make a zzzzipzzzipzzzzzzip sound as we zip up your sleepers (snaps are seriously inferior for getting-dressed entertainment).  You’re sitting up on your own now, which threw me for a loop because I expected you to roll over before you sat up – wrong, Mama!  You clearly do things on your own timeline, as all babies should.  Just the other day, Grandma said that you rolled over in stages, starting on your belly, then hanging out on your side for a bit playing with a toy, then eventually flipped the rest of the way over onto your back.  And this morning you did it without all the pauses between stages, twice in a row.  You tolerate a whole lot more tummy time before you get mad about it these days.  You’re almost mobile…which is a whole new world of parenting for your father and me.  I doubt we’re ready, but as always we’ll try to catch up quickly.

You’re babbling all kinds of sounds now, becoming quite the little conversationalist.  I’ve heard Gs and Bs and Ws and Ms and many more.  You still love doggies, and get so excited when Grandpa and Maggie do their little obstacle course in which he lies on the carpet and she runs around and jumps over him, and you don’t mind when Dexter tries to make you his popsicle.  Your squeals of delight are the best music my ears have ever had the privilege of hearing.  You love to stand on our laps and jump and jump and jump up and down, laughing and yelling.  I know there’s a Jumperoo in your future, thanks to your Grandma on Daddy’s side.  She and Grandpa are coming up from Alabama on Saturday, and I know they cannot wait to see you. Skype is great, but they don’t yet know the force of your current cuddles since you’ve gotten so much bigger than the last time they saw you.

For quite a while now you have shown keen interest in food when you see people eating, recently adding a sort of practice chew to your repertoire  but we held out and waited until yesterday to give you your first solids – starting with avocado.  I think that you did like it, because you kept eating it, but the faces you made were hilariously indicative of displeasure all the same, complete with an emphatic and perfectly-timed blehhhhh sound at one point that cracked everyone up. You are too hilarious right now, sometimes I can hardly stand it. This eating thing opens up a whole new world for you to explore, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to be one of the people who get to guide you through it.  I have so much fun with you; I still can’t get enough of your chubby little smiles and sweet little snuggles.  I’m sure I’m probably forgetting some milestones (oh!  passing toys from one hand to the other – I didn’t know that was kind of a big deal, but apparently it is) but suffice it to say that you continue to amaze me with every little thing you do.  I know that most people probably will not agree because they think the same of their own babies or the babies in their lives, but I’ll tell you a (not so) secret:  we think you’re the best. baby. evah.

Love,
Mama

Five Months

Dear Baby Ike,

Yesterday you turned five months old.  This week also brought your first case of the sniffles, which probably concerned your parents more than it did you.  A few snotty sneezes, a crusty nose here and there, and some serious booger action, but thankfully no fever or anything else.  You’ve maintained your fairly even keel through the whole thing. I’m sure you’ll make up for it in your coming months and years, but so far you have really taken it easy on us.  I have either blocked most of it out (possible, but doubtful), or I could count on perhaps one and a half hands how many times you’ve fussed for no eventually apparent reason or cried for any longer than seems reasonable.  Very cool of you, kiddo.  Please don’t think that it goes unnoticed or unappreciated that you are such a happy baby.

You continue to do cute baby things, which though expected and perfectly normal, somehow astound me nevertheless.  Such as, finding your feet.  AMAZING.  Ridiculous, right?   But I’m pretty sure that is exactly how it’s supposed to be, for us and for you.  You’re not rolling over on your own with any regularity yet, maybe once or twice mostly accidentally, but you love to be rolled from side to side, and there is perhaps nothing better than standing on one of our laps and bouncing and jumping.  Your squeals of delight are the best sound I could ever hope to have fill our home.  (I’m leaning on Grandma to look for a Jolly Jumper or the like on sale – pretty sure that’d be the best Christmas present evah in your book right now.)  You’re babbling more and more with us every day, or as Grandma puts it, singing us all songs.

If you don’t end up being a dog person, I’ll be mystified.  You’re fascinated by Dexter, as well as Maggie, Grandma and Grandma’s doggie.  She’s become your little weekday buddy, barking to welcome you every morning and giving you something cute and furry to keep your eye on all the time.  Thanksgiving will be great for you, as Aunt Susie and Uncle Chris will be bringing their crazy puppy, Piccadilly, as well as Uncle Mikey and Aunt Steph’s dog, Maynard.  DOG PARTY! Hopefully we’ll manage to get some video of you taking all that commotion in, because I’m willing to bet their antics will crack you up.

We’re getting ever closer to your half-year mark, which will open up the door to the great big world of food for you.  I am equally excited and apprehensive, but I expect you’ll pace yourself and make some adorably disgusting messes that will quickly ease my angst.  Daddy is super excited, as he’s all about cooking up some delicious things whenever he has the chance, and I know he can’t wait to share that enjoyment with you.  I don’t know yet if I’ll get talked into giving you a dab of mashed potatoes or anything else at Thanksgiving, but by Christmas you’ll probably have three or four things on your little mini-menu.  It’s going to be so much fun!

It goes without saying, but it seems silly not to say it anyway – we love you so much.

Love,

Mama

Catching Up

I ended up hearing from the pediatrician’s office on Friday after all. Diagnosis:  benign large head of infancy.  Chuckleworthy phrase, I say. I’m sure the bill won’t be so hilarious, but whatever.  I made Mike promise to come to his six-month checkup, because I do NOT want to have to do an MRI if his head circumference still measures too big for the medical establishment’s comfort.  Just, no.  I’m sure whatever they’d give him to knock him out would not be helpful to his liver’s irritation, which seems legit enough a reason to refuse.  Hopefully it won’t come to that, but we shall see come December, I suppose.

Trick or Treat in our neighborhood got postponed until Saturday due to the nasty weather Sandy brought.  We didn’t take Ike out or anything, but did take the opportunity to let him wear his two costumes.  (Note: I had to slice the panda hood up the back in order to get it over his giant noggin!  These are six-to-twelve month sizes!)

Tigger!

Panda!

Gorilla?

Let’s see…what else?  All in all it was a pretty great weekend.  I ate entirely too much cheap, crappy, Halloween candy.  I am certainly relieved to not be heading into the holidays trying to be dairy and soy free, but I must anticipate that I could very well end up looking like I’m pregnant again by the time the new year rolls around.  Things are delicious!  What is one to do?

(The answer is definitely not ‘Diet.’  Just FYI.)

Hepatology Update

Yesterday was exhausting, but overall went well.  I really liked the hepatologist, and the fellow that works with him seems thorough as well.  They did take more blood, which will be checking for potential anemia which could explain the slightly elevated bilirubin, and we have to repeat the tests in a month, but they believe that he may be part of the 10% or so of the population that just naturally has slightly elevated liver enzymes, and he’ll likely continue to outgrow it.  He was very reassuring, stating that Ike’s overall a very healthy baby, so just keep loving him and feeding him and enjoying him.  Very sweet; the sincere way he spoke about him makes me realize that he probably spends an awful lot of his time working with and treating very ill children, so I feel very lucky to not be dealing with more severe issues.

Bonus for Mama – he thinks that even the mucusy poo has nothing to do with my diet, so on our way home we stopped for a very late lunch and I had cheddar cheese soup, guilt-free.  Then later that night I snarfed to the two pieces of leftover pizza – one cold from the fridge, the other hot out of the toaster oven.  The roof of my mouth and my tongue still feel seared, and I could not be happier about it.  I’m apprehensive that allowing dairy back into my diet will have me gaining a bunch of weight back, but frankly right now I’m not going to obsess over it.  It’ll just be nice to have a few days where I don’t have to stress about what I can or cannot eat.  If in three or four days’ time we don’t see anything getting markedly worse with Ike, I think I can comfortably get back to my normal eating, be it better or worse for me and/or my weight in the long run.

More later, hopefully.  I need to try and focus on the piles and piles of work that are, um, piling up.

Digestive Drama, Continued

Ike’s repeat LFT still showed some elevated levels (AST & ALT above high normal, and bilirubin still slightly high), so this afternoon we are off to Cincinnati to see the hepatologist.  Boo.  I really hope they do not want to do anything more invasive than blood tests.  The finger sticks are hard enough to take; I don’t know how I’d handle anything more involved, honestly.  But of course I want to get this settled and figured out, if at all possible.  Will be asking about my diet, too.  Part of me wouldn’t hesitate at all if they said to go ahead and eliminate gluten and corn, too (or anything else), and part of me is dying for them to say, go ahead and eat dairy and soy again if you like.  Mike had to use a Groupon for Jet’s pizza before it expired last night, and I very nearly actually cried when I saw the boxes in the kitchen.

His four-month checkup at the regular pediatrician’s office went fairly well on Friday, though.  The vaccinations again seemed to make him sleepy for a day and a half or so, but he seems to generally take them well enough.  No fever that I noticed or that seemed to bother him, so that’s good.  He’s near the middle of the pack in height and weight, but his head circumference is nearly off the chart, so they want to order – get this – an ultrasound, to make sure that there is no fluid where there shouldn’t be any, or anything else of concern.  I am tempted to bring Mike into the office so they can see that it’s likely just familial big-headedness.  I don’t really know the scale for hat sizes, but Mike says he wears a seven and a half fitted hat, which I guess is big?  I again don’t feel like I can refuse the recommendation, like we should do it just to rule out anything of actual concern, but JESUS.  Enough with the ultrasounds already.  Given that he was scanned weekly from a six weeks’ gestation embryo through the first trimester, plus an NT scan, plus growth scans and plus BPPs, then the abdominal ultrasound, there better not be research coming out in the next few years that’ll show any real risk from the procedures.  Eek.

This also surely means that we’ll be meeting our ridiculous health insurance deductible again this year.  Perhaps I should make an appointment with a dermatologist, for shits and giggles.  And maybe Mike could get the MRI for his hip that had been recommended but declined due to cost a while back.  Le sigh.

Wish us luck, if you can, and I will try to update again this afternoon or this evening.

Actually happy during stomach minutes

Four Months