8 months old

I’m continually amazed at how much J looks like a little boy now. He’s grown up so much in the past few months, and every day he seems bigger and more mature. It’s so hard to believe that he used to be this tiny…

8 days:

baby boy, 8 days old8 months:

baby boy, 8 months old

J’s vocalizations continue to change almost week-by-week, but he’s still not “babbling” yet. He’s sticking primarily to vowel sounds, but he manages to “talk” in a way, with different grunts, volumes, tones, etc. I’m a little concerned about the fact that he’s not using consonants. (The way I understand it, babies at his age are typically saying “mamama,” etc. even though the words have no meaning yet.) But I’m confident that he’ll get there eventually. I know his hearing is fine — he responds to his name and kisses and hugs on command (as long as he’s in the mood to do it).

Speaking of kisses, there are times when J just loves giving kisses! He’ll kiss my face over and over (with his wide open mouth) when he’s really happy. It’s super sweet. And when I tell him what a sweet boy he is for kissing his momma, he looks at me and smiles as though he’s happy that I understood what he was doing.

As for movement, J is still immobile. I’m a little concerned about that, too, but he seems to be getting closer. I think he’s got such a laid back personality that he just doesn’t have the motivation yet to figure out how to crawl. If a ball rolls out of his reach, he’ll sit and look at it for a few seconds, as though he’s considering whether it’s worth it for him to try to get it… and then he turns and finds another toy to play with. He loves to be held (always has), and that may have something to do with it, too… He’s just not a super independent little baby, but he’s a big cuddle bug. Still, I’m expecting him to figure out the crawling thing any day now. He’s getting to where he can get his legs and arms up under him at the same time — it’s just that he doesn’t know how to move in that position yet. I suspect we’ll be babyproofing the house very soon…

baby boy, 8 months old

As you can see, everything within his reach goes directly into his mouth — even more than before, which is saying something. I couldn’t get him to sit still for a picture with his blocks without this happening every time I tried to snap a picture.

But at least now there’s a reason for everything going into his mouth — he’s teething! J got his first two teeth over the past week: his left, then right central incisors. I’ve tried to take pictures, but he hates it when we try to open his mouth. This is the only picture we have that shows both his little teeth! It looks way more violent than it actually was…

central incisors baby teeth

With the teething comes a bit of sleep trouble. He’s had a few rough nights (tonight being one of them) where it’s hard to get him to go to sleep (and stay asleep). I resorted to giving him baby Tylenol one night, and it helped tremendously, but I would rather not medicate him unless it’s really necessary.

We’re still working on solid foods, but he’s only eating them once a day. I introduced puffs last week, but he gets bored after a while of trying (unsuccessfully) to get them into his mouth. And when he succeeds, he looks confused by the fact that there’s a solid object in his mouth. He’s still enjoying his purees (usually). He’s even able to feed himself a puree pouch (and he’ll often eat a whole one in one sitting)!

  • Next doctor’s appointment: Next month!
  • Teeth: 2 (lower central incisors)
  • New foods: Sweet potato puffs, veggie/fruit combo pouches (all yummy, apparently)
  • Breastfeeding: 5 times a day
  • Clothing size: 9 to 12 months
  • Sleeping: 12 hours at night; 3 one- to two-hour naps during the day (about 16 hours total)
  • Favorite toy: stuffed Tigger; Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes
  • Likes: Having his tummy and toes kissed or “eaten”; being tickled (especially under the arms); being sung to; pattycake (especially when I clap his hands for him since he can’t do it on his own yet); being held (especially by me)
  • Dislikes: Having his mouth forcibly opened; dirty diapers
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(Almost) Crying Over Spoiled Milk

Tuesday morning, I woke up in a panic.

I realized that the day before, I had come home from picking up the baby at daycare, set my bags down, and went upstairs… without putting away my precious, precious cargo (other than the baby): two full 5-ounce bottles of freshly expressed milk.

I lay in bed on Tuesday morning, eyes wide, panicking. All that work for nothing — that’s 30-40 minutes’ worth of pumping and enough milk for one full day of daycare. But by this point, it was too late; the ice pack would surely be melted, the milk warm and spoiled.

Whoever said “Don’t cry over spilled milk” didn’t have to pump that milk from her own body.

BUT! When I went downstairs and opened the freezer, this is what I found:

frozen expressed breastmilk

All my worry was for naught, because I have an amazing husband who had the forethought to put the bottles in the freezer on my behalf when I got home on Monday while I was upstairs caring for the baby.

I sighed with relief. Close call.

And another big THANK YOU to my wonderful husband.

Luckily this time the story ended well, but it kills me every time I have to pour out spoiled milk. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I’ll have an extra ounce or two in the refrigerator that eventually goes bad before it ever gets to the freezer. It’s such a precious commodity — I can only produce so much at a time — I absolutely hate to let it go to waste. Have you ever had to toss out breastmilk?

Retro Post: Finding Out We Were Pregnant

Retro Posts: The baby is now a few months old, but there are several subjects that I want to be sure to record in this little blog. I’ll be posting ‘retro posts’ like this to make sure everything is covered.

We found out we were pregnant on May 2, 2011. The following is transcribed from my journal entry dated May 7, 2011.

“Five days ago, I found out that I am pregnant. I was pretty stunned… which explains (kind of) why I’m a little tardy in recording my thoughts. Here’s what happened:

“It had been a normal Monday. I teleworked but wasn’t feeling very well. I ate saltines & cheddar for lunch, but I figured it was probably cabin fever — I just needed to get out of the house. When D got home, we decided to go to dinner at a local pizza restaurant. I was feeling fine until suddenly, halfway through my slice of cheese and after a small Greek salad, I felt really awful. We picked up my car from our friends’ house (it was there after weekend festivities) and headed home. I asked D to stop at the grocery store for a couple of things, though — among them, pregnancy tests. I stopped taking birth control at the end of February, so I figured, ‘better safe than sorry.’

“As soon as D got home, I tried taking a test, but it didn’t seem to work, so I left it on the counter with the intention of trying again later when I needed to pee. [I figured I just hadn’t gotten enough pee on the stick.] D and I spent the evening playing a video game (Little Big Planet, for the record), and he got up to go to the bathroom after about an hour. The next thing I hear — ‘Sweetie…?!’ He emerged, test in hand — it was positive! I took another… definitely not a fluke. [D still gloats that he’s one of the few men who got to tell his wife she’s pregnant.]

positive pregnancy tests

“We were both stunned. We had talked about having kids in the (somewhat) near future, but we certainly hadn’t been trying (though we weren’t doing much to prevent it, either). I immediately called my parents and sister and D called his — everyone was absolutely thrilled.”

Side note: My mom still talks about how when I called her that first night, I just kept saying, “I don’t know what to do. What do I do?” I was seriously speechless and shocked. It took a few days to process it all…

“The next morning, I called the doctor and they drew my blood to confirm the pregnancy and to see how far along I was. After two days (my mom and I were going crazy), I heard from the doctor’s assistant — I was 8 weeks along. [This was actually incorrect — keep reading.] After work, we called grandparents, then told our close friends. No one else knows yet — still keeping things quiet until the first trimester is over. [Ha!]”

Here’s another journal entry, about my first prenatal exams. As I mentioned above, the original fetal age that they gave me was incorrect, as they found out…

“Wednesday, May 11 [9 days after that first pregnancy test, for those of you keeping track], Momma came up to go with me to my first ‘exam’ … though it was really just an ultrasound with a nurse practitioner. Nevertheless, it was pretty incredible — I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time! D tried to get there but was unable (and really bummed he missed it), but at least my mom was there to share it with me.

“The ultrasound ended up bringing more questions than answers, though. My last period was March 8 (I had been on b.c.), putting me at 9 weeks, technically. But the fetus was measured at just 1.11 cm & 130 bpm, both of which would be normal for 7.5 weeks — not 9! We set up another ultrasound for 2 weeks later to make sure things were on track and that I simply ovulated later than expected. They drew my blood (again — 2nd time [and certainly not the last]) and I got a call on Tuesday that the doctor wanted to see me Wednesday instead (moved up my appointment by a week). D was bummed again that he wouldn’t be able to be there, but the doctor let me record the ultrasound/heartbeat on my phone for him.

8 week old fetus

“Good news — the baby grew as expected this week — now 1.5 cm with heartbeat in the 170s! Amazing what can happen in a week… and she gave me an official due date: 12/28/11 [the baby ended up being 4 days early].

“Turns out I must have ovulated late after all — the doctor put me at 8 weeks on the dot this time.

“We had planned to wait until after the first trimester to go public, but now that I had a due date, I wanted to tell people! I posted the latest sonogram on Facebook and Twitter and was congratulated by tons of friends. 🙂 This baby is already very loved!

“As for symptoms, I’m having more good days than bad. I count myself very lucky! I’m not able to eat a ton at once, and I get tired super early (most nights)… and there are days that I feel nauseated from morning to night… but overall, very manageable!”

My symptoms early on were few, but I did experience a little nausea (but only got sick once — 5/10, at work. ugh!) and craved steak like crazy for the first few weeks, which is (or was) unusual for me. (My pregnancy cravings for sweets and meats have stuck… maybe they’ll disappear when I stop breastfeeding?) I was also extremely tired during the first trimester. I would be in bed by 9 (D insists it was 7) or earlier every night, and sitting on the couch usually turned into sleeping on the couch very quickly.

I am so grateful to have gotten pregnant so easily and also to have had such an easy pregnancy, including a quick and easy delivery.  I didn’t know it at the time, but J is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me!

7 Months Old

My baby is 7 months old today!

7 weeks:

7 weeks old

7 months:

7 months old

Look at all that hair! And he looks so much more like a little boy now — and less like an alien-esque baby. (But he was a beautiful alien-esque baby!)

No major milestones this month, other than our discovery that he does, in fact, know how to flip over, despite my concerns last month. I think now he’s working on the crawling thing… He’s starting to “swim” — he balances on his tummy (or gets stuck there) and kicks and waves his arms around, trying to move. Obviously, he’s been unsuccessful. But as soon as he figures out how to get his knees and hands under him at the same time, we’re in trouble. Still, there’s no way of knowing how soon that will be.

He’s definitely a great sitter at this point. He can’t pull himself to a sitting position on his own yet, but if you set him up, he’ll stay there indefinitely. So we’ve started using high chairs at restaurants and cart seats at the grocery store. It’s a huge help to not have to lug that heavy car seat around everywhere! And it’s fun having another dinner companion at the table when we eat out.

Sleeping is still going extremely well! I’m getting much better at reading his signals and predicting his sleep patterns. He goes to bed for the night usually around 7 or 8 p.m. and doesn’t wake up until 7 or 8 the next morning. We are so very lucky. (Sometimes he’ll wake up momentarily in the middle of the night, but pop the pacifier back in and he’s contented and falls back to sleep.) During the day, he takes 3 or 4 naps, each between 45 minutes and 2 hours long.

We’ve been working on introducing solid foods this month. So far, he’s a fan of sweet potatoes and squash… And I finally let him taste some fruits, and he likes them, too — though not as much as I feared he would. I’ve been giving him purees — some in the jar, others steamed and pureed by hand — but I’ve also let him try his hand at eating pieces of banana off his high chair. So far, no success — he is able to get the pieces into his fist, but can’t figure out how to get the pieces from inside his fist to inside his mouth. But we’ll keep on practicing! At least he doesn’t get frustrated — just bored after a while.

7 months in the high chair

Verbally, he’s stopped screaming all the time (though he still does from time to time…), and lately he’s been talking a bit like E.T. — it’s a weird, back-of-the-throat grunt that he uses all the time. Just another one of his vocalizations, I suppose.

J is displaying his personality more and more as he gets older. He’s not super smiley like a lot of babies seem to be — he rarely laughs (I mean big belly laughs, which only seem to occur when I kiss his tummy. Weird, huh?) and absolutely refuses (most of the time) to smile for the camera. He does smile, though, especially when he looks up and sees me sitting nearby. He definitely loves his momma, and those sweet, open-mouth, gummy smiles warm my heart every time!

When he plays, he looks like he is in deep thought, really studying his toys and what happens when he touches, grabs, shakes, or bangs them. Earlier today, for instance, I watched him shake a rattle vigorously, then stop and study it, then shake it again — he obviously understood that he was causing the noise. Then he repeated the experiment with another toy that made a different sound. He looked so proud of himself, too.

7 months looking at block

So contemplative.

I have to admit, though, I’m feeling a little worried lately. When I read the books, they say he should be saying “ma-ma-ma” or “ga-ga-ga,” and that he should be crawling and sprouting teeth. He’s not doing any of that. And shouldn’t he be smiling and laughing more often? To make matters worse, according to my mom’s diary, I was pulling up on furniture at 7 months (and walking at 9), and had 3 teeth, with another on the way. I know it’s wrong to compare babies — they are all unique and develop at different rates, even if they’re related. But I can’t help but think that my child is behind and that I’m doing something (or not doing something) that is causing him to develop more slowly than he should. My concerns are totally unfounded, I’m sure… but I think they’re also somewhat natural for a parent.

  • Next doctor visit: 9 months
  • Teeth: none
  • Favorite foods: peaches, sweet potatoes, squash, bananas, applesauce with blueberries. Oh, and his favorite — sucking on lemons at restaurants!
  • Least favorite foods: green beans (but I’m going to try again…), rice cereal, oatmeal cereal
  • Breastfeeds: 5 times a day
  • Sleeping: 16 hours a day
  • Favorite toy: teething ring, rattle
  • Clothing size: 9-12 months (long and lean!)
  • Sounds he makes: raspberries, E.T. grunts, occasional vowel/consonant mixes (it often sounds like he’s replying “Yeah” or “Hello” when we say something to him)
  • Likes: being held, getting kissed on the tummy, funny noises, being sung to (You Are My Sunshine is “our song”), playing pattycake (though he can’t clap yet, even assisted…), playing with toys
  • Dislikes: new foods (always accompanied by a yucky face), having his diaper changed when he’s hungry

J’s Sleep Habits (or… Secrets I Keep From My Pediatrician)

This is a post that I’ve been planning to do for a while — but part of me is hesitant for some reason. Perhaps because there’s a stigma attached to co-sleeping, tummy sleeping… all of the things that ended up working for us. I understand the risks that pediatricians’ recommendations seek to minimize, but one thing I’ve learned over the last six months (and even during my pregnancy) is that when it comes right down to it, sometimes you have to follow your baby’s cue.

A good example of this is our complete and utter disobedience to modern infant sleep guidelines.

Believe me, we definitely intended to obey the “back to sleep, tummy to play” rule. Before J was born, I read up on all of the reasons infants should sleep on their backs instead of their tummies, and I studied tummy time techniques to encourage physical development. (Side note: When I was a baby, the recommendation was the exact opposite. Reminds me of the points I made in my last post about Struwwelpeter!) We set up a bassinet next to our bed, and planned for the baby to sleep in our room for the first few weeks. Then, when we were all ready, he would transition to the crib in his own room.

J's nursery, pre-baby

J’s nursery in November, ready for baby

But as is often the case, the baby arrived, and we quickly discovered that our plan was not going to work.

For one thing, he absolutely could not sleep in the bassinet. I would lay him down on his back in the bassinet, swaddled in a blanket, and he sounded like he was suffocating. It was horrible. He would wheeze and cough and cry until I finally picked him up. We thought maybe it was the old bassinet (circa 1984 — it was the same one I slept in) or maybe spray paint fumes (though it had been months since it was painted).

I started doing some research on other options. He was perfectly able to fall asleep — but he could only sleep as long as I was holding him. What could we do to allow us both to get some shut-eye? I looked into co-sleeping, and I discovered Dr. Sears’s site, which is a great resource for reasons co-sleeping is beneficial to babies. But I was hesitant to let J sleep in the bed with us. The comforters and pillows that we adults require seemed (and, I suppose, are) an obvious hazard to a tiny baby. So as an alternative, we purchased a very nice Arm’s Reach co-sleeper bassinet, which Dr. Sears recommends. This seemed like it would solve our problems — J would be right next to me, without being in danger of being smothered by our bed covers or his father, and I would be able to easily reach him to comfort or breastfeed him during the night.

But unfortunately, he had the same exact response to the brand new bassinet — crying, wheezing… he just sounded like he couldn’t breathe when lying on his back. I then tried placing him on his tummy (unswaddled). No more breathing trouble — thank goodness! — but still no sleeping. He absolutely could not sleep in a bassinet.

I don’t really remember when it happened, but after several sleepless nights (and probably in a very desperate state after hours of the baby screaming), I rocked the baby to sleep and, instead of placing him in the bassinet, placed him by my side in the bed. I had him swaddled and lying on his back, with my arm wrapped snugly around him, and while he was positioned between us, there was plenty of room between him and his father. (There have been studies that show the mother is attuned to the baby’s sleep habits and heart rate when the two are lying next to each other — but this is not the case with dad.) I kept pillows and covers away from him as much as possible. (This often meant cranking up the heat since it was January…)

D was more nervous about co-sleeping than I. (He’s definitely the parent who is more likely to worry.) But I really felt very secure with my baby snuggled close against me. It also made breastfeeding much easier — there was no getting out of bed, and J would not even fully wake up; he would simply begin to whimper and root until I woke up and fed him. Then, we would fall right back to sleep after a meal.

father and baby sleeping on side

Like father, like son. Even at just two weeks old, J was sleeping like his daddy.

During the day, it was a different story. For the first few weeks, I held him while he napped, but this got very tiring very quickly — newborns sleep a lot! So I started placing him in his crib in his own room for naps. I found that as long as I placed him on his tummy, he would sleep soundly for hours at a time. I routinely went to check on him, and we eventually purchased a video monitor for extra security, but he napped beautifully in his crib. Unfortunately, he continued to detest the bassinet at night — believe me, I tried.

We continued in this way for two (or so) months. Then one night, just a few days before my maternity leave ended, we placed him on his tummy in his crib for the night… and he actually slept! It wasn’t all night from the beginning, but after just a couple of nights of sleeping in his own room, he was sleeping for 5 hour stretches. It’s amazing to me that this was only a few months ago — I can hardly remember those days when I would have to feed him during the night. On March 10 (at two and a half months old), he slept for six hours straight — and he’s been sleeping through the night ever since… last night, for instance, he slept for 12 hours without waking up. (He obviously takes after his mother.)

There have been some recent developments in his sleep habits, though, now that he’s becoming a little more mobile. For about a month now (and with increasing frequency), he’s been propping himself up and sleeping on his side (at least until he accidentally falls onto his back and wakes up). He’s also started putting himself to sleep! (Hooray!) Previously, I had to rock and bounce him until he fell asleep, then I would carefully — carefully — place him in the crib. Now, he will often wiggle until I finally put him down in the crib, and he lies still and falls asleep on his own. It’s heavenly.

J sleeping on his side in the crib

J sleeping on his side in the crib

Here are a few of the sleep aids we use:

  • Pacifier (Philips Avent is the only brand we’ve tried that works for him.)
  • Sleep Sheep (still use it every time — we like the ocean waves setting)
  • Aden + Anais blanket (for swaddling, cuddling, or a thin cover. The gauzy material makes me feel like it’s unlikely to suffocate him.)
  • Fuzzy lion blankie (This is a new addition to the crib. It’s very small and soft. He sometimes strokes it as he’s falling asleep.)

It’s probably a bad idea, but I’ve kept all of this from my pediatrician. During the routine questionnaires at each visit, when the nurse would ask if J slept on his back, I would sheepishly say “yes…” Little white lie, right? Look, I hate it… but I didn’t want to get a lecture from the doctor. I knew I was disobeying the guidelines, but I believe it’s my choice to either take the recommendation or not. Ultimately, I feel like I did the right thing for our individual child and family. Each baby is unique, and while pediatrician’s recommendations are important and helpful, they are just recommendations — not steadfast rules. As they say, babies don’t come with manuals — and there’s a reason for that. In my opinion, a big part of being a good parent (at least in my very limited experience) is following your baby’s lead and doing what you believe is best for your child.