Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Hey! Watch out for those milestones!"

Sometimes I look at my giant, cooing baby and think, "How on earth did this happen?"  He's amazing.  Beyond his sheer size (weighing in at over one stone, for you measurement fans out there) Walter has gained so much these 2 months.  He's more adept with his hands and more coherently communicative every day.  The milestones are whizzing by and we barely have a chance to note them before we're on to the next big "first."

Holy roller!
This week we had a big one. On Tuesday morning I put Walter down on his activity mat for some tummy time and he immediately rolled over onto his back.  We blinked at each other for a few seconds, shocked. "That had to have been a fluke," I thought. "I must have given him a little push."  I picked him up and put him on his tummy again, grabbing a nearby camera to catch some of his impressive head-lifting.  And then he rolled over again!  This time there was no mistaking it: he'd gone from flat on his belly, to lifted up on his arms, to lifted up on one arm, a little push from that arm and ta daaaaa ... on his back.  Neither of us could believe it.  I gushed effusive congratulations; Walter smiled a bit, puckered his lips and said "Oh!"

I knew exactly what he meant. "OK!  Time to eat!" And it was.   Very effectively communicative, this boy.

Walter holding his own burp rag. Helpful!
On Wednesday morning I gazed at him expectantly, waiting for the next milestone to drop. "Mama?" I whispered hopefully. No doing. He wouldn't roll over again, either, preferring to crumple into a heap and wail every time he was put on his belly.  "Too much pressure!" he cried.  Very communicative, like I said. I put him down on his back in his play yard for a moment, hoping he'd doze off for a bit.  I put a burp rag down next to him, at the ready for pre-nap spitting.  Then I watched as he very deliberately grabbed the rag, brought it to his mouth, and spit up onto it.  "What a smart baby!" I said, very pleased.  Then he put the wet part of the rag into his mouth and started to suck on it. "What a ... good baby," I said, grossed out. "It must be time to eat!" And it was.  That's how all my stories end, I'm noticing.  You don't get to weigh one stone by sleeping through meals!

Oh, sleeping.  Speaking of milestones, Walter started sleeping 5-7 hours a night very early on, with a few bad nights here and there of constant waking and eating.  Now the bad nights have become the norm, maybe from not being swaddled anymore, or that cold he's still getting over, or maybe another growth spurt, or all of the above, or something else entirely.  He hasn't told us what's going on. All I know is that I'm glad today is my day off from work and I'm wondering how Sean is going to function at all at work today (my guess: sleepily.)

Tomorrow is Sean's last day at work before 6 weeks of paternity leave.  He'll be getting Walt's room ready (where Walt will sleep independently through the night very soon.  Yes, he will!) and gradually introducing the little guy to daycare.  That means more hours at the office for me.  I'm glad and looking forward to it--being a pastor is has become a big part of my identity, a part I missed dearly during maternity leave.  Our pediatrician is a fan of daycare, too: good for socialization, development, immunity, etc. In some ways, it's hard to think about having so few waking hours with Walt each day, and to know that Sean and I will miss many of his next "firsts."  But, just as I'm sure he will roll over again (or, you know, skip right to walking) I'm sure we'll make good and loving use of the time we have together, continuing to be amazed by our Scooter.

Pictures (lots of them, great ones) from Christmas are posted here. And now I'm off to put the baby on his tummy again!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, Walter!

Walt's first picture with Santa ... at church. =)
Dear Walter,

Today is your first Christmas. You are taking a snooze in your swing right now, holding onto one of your monkeys ("Minky") which is a new skill and helping you stay calm and cozy when you sleep.  This has been a wonderful day!

You didn't sleep very well last night ... your pediatrician says we can't swaddle you anymore because you're too strong and escape from your swaddler.  You have an excellent startle reflex that wakes you up, but holding onto a monkey (in this case, "Rumple") seems to help.  You're also getting over your first cold, which makes it hard for you to breathe sometimes.  Even though you've been sick this week you've been so good--giving us big smiles and singing Christmas songs with us (You do the backup singer "oooh" and "ahhh" parts.)

Walter and Minky
So, it was a busy night but not a bad night.  You ate every two hours but didn't do much fussing.  I think you were too excited to sleep for long, knowing that Christmas was coming.  I was too excited to sleep too--very energized by our Christmas Eve services at church.  You went to the 4:30 pm service with Daddy and Grandma Sue.  Grandma got to hold you and give you a bottle while we sang "Silent Night," which was a very special bonding moment for you and her.

Christmas morning started at 6 am with some momma milk and breakfast for the grownups (cereal and the leftover cinnamon buns from your 2 month birthday celebration.  Daddy revived the stale buns by frying them up with some butter.  Daddy knows how to do Christmas right!)

You were in a great mood all morning.  You slept on the way to church, woke up and got a bottle before the service started.  You seemed to really love the sound of the cello playing Christmas hymns. Your grandpa held you and you smiled at me during the service, which gave me the courage to give my first notes-free sermon (I dressed up as Mary and talked about the Christmas story from her point of view.  It was pretty fun and I felt like I could speak about birth with some more authority this year.)

When we got home you had a nice meal and fell asleep. The grownups ate a delicious lunch of creamed shrimp over pancakes (Daddy had his pancakes with butter and syrup instead.)  After a little nap for you and me it was time to open presents.  After a little snack you woke up bright eyed, alert, happy and very interested in everything going on. We got some great pictures, including pictures of us with pictures and looking at other pictures. You are already a very well-documented baby!

For Christmas this year you got two beautiful hats (big enough for your 90th percentile giant noggin!), books from Grandma and Grandpa Edison-Swift, new outfits (at two months old you are wearing 6 month old clothes!), some great furniture for your room from the Albrights, and toys for bath time and tummy time. You are very, very good at tummy time, lifting your head up high and rocking back and forth, trying to roll over.  You're also getting very good at grabbing things and putting them in your mouth.

2 month birthday (a sweet tradition!)
After some spittin' and fussin' (not too much of either, thankfully) you are taking a lovely Christmas snooze (let's make that an annual tradition!)  What a day!  What a week!  You celebrated your 2 month birthday on Thursday and got your first vaccines on Friday.  You were very brave for your shots and stopped crying as soon as Daddy picked you up and I nursed you. Your Grandpa Paul has been with us most of the week, helping us take care of you through your cold.  You love to put your head down on Grandpa's chest, listening to his voice and his heartbeat until you fall asleep.

We are very proud of you, Scooter.  We love watching you grow and change and take more and more delight and interest in the world around you.  Here are some of the things you love to do these days:
**Smile real smiles, absolutely beaming when you're happy
**Grabbing, especially with your right hand
**Spitting up your milk (ick! But it does make you smile. You smile very big when we clean your face with a soft burp rag.)
**Lifting your legs to help us on the changing table (very helpful!)
**Lifting your arms to be burped after meals
**Intentional snuggling, not just passing out after meals.  You get all cozy with us, especially with Grandpa Paul.

Merry Christmas, Walter Paul!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How many bodily functions can I mention in one blog post

As an early effort in my never-ending quest to embarrass my son, I give you this story:

I'm back at work in the afternoons, which is wonderful but means I have to wear clothes again and shower occasionally.  This morning I found myself alone with Walter and in need of a shower ... it was new and uncharted territory, but I decided I'd look for an opportunity and give it a try.

Walter fell asleep after eating, but I wasn't sure I should move/wake him, so we snuggled in the chair for an hour or so.  I'm pretty reluctant to wake him when he's sleeping.  Finally my need to use the restroom and his early signs of wakefulness convinced me: it was time to move him to the bassinet so Mom could have a bathroom break.  I was sure his eyes would fly open, and for a moment, they did ... and then he looked around, yawned, and went back to sleep.  I stared at him in disbelief, wasting precious bathroom break moments. I went to the bathroom, came back to the bassinet, and stared at him some more.  Still sleeping!  This was my opportunity: shower time was a go.

The downstairs bathroom is on the same floor as the bassinet but not within sight distance ... and yet I found myself keeping the lights off so I wouldn't wake the baby.  I also kept the door open so I could hear him, which would have required extra strong baby lungs indeed.  I showered faster than I've ever showered in my life, including the cold-bucket-of-rainwater shower I took in El Salvador.  Very speedy.  I threw on some undies, a clean bra and robe and ran (quietly) to the bassinet.

There was Walter, eyes open, staring happily at his mobile.  "Oh what a good baby!" I said. He gave me a big smile and said "Ooooh!" (Walter has a very advanced vocabulary of noises.  "Ooooh" is generally a content, chatty noise.  A British sounding "Ow" indicates desire (to play, to eat, etc.) "Eeeeeee" is either the sound of our teakettle boiling or Walter working his way into some serious anger.  "Ah" (as in apple) is indignant, "Eh" is frustrated, "Oh" is disappointment. Etc.)

We smiled at each other for moment before I scooped him up.  And at that moment, a fountain of spit up emerged from Walter's mouth while he simultaneously pooped with such force and volume that it exploded out of his diaper and up his back.  "Ohhhh," I said.  "Good baby."

We cheerfully made our way to the changing table.  I took off his diaper, which was Walt's cue to tinkle.  And then poop.  And then poop some more.  And then some more.  Seriously.  This went on for a long time.  At the end of it, Walter looked up at me with some concern.  I could tell he was looking for a reaction.  I smiled big: "What a good, good baby! Good job Walter!"  He smiled right back at me.  I glanced down at my bra.  Oh boy.  "And guess what time it is?  Lunch time!" Walter smiled.  "Ooooh!" he said.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What's the fuss?

It's funny the things babies are born knowing and what they have to learn. It's not what you'd expect. Number one and two on the list are, conveniently, #1 and #2 -- peeing and pooping. (Some of them even get a head start on these.) The ultrasound showed that Walt had a head start on sucking his thumb, although he's had some trouble adapting his technique ex utero.

There are the things that seem obvious: Nursing. Well, really, sucking & swallowing; nursing is a bit of a refinement of those concepts that can take some time and practice, as Annie and Walt will attest. Breathing and crying -- even these seemed to need a jump start in the delivery room. Walt has since taken to them like a fish to his/her bicycle.

Then, the surprises. Walt's precocious neck control. Delightful, unabashed smiles. A magician's understanding of misdirection.

You see, when Walt starts fussing, my go-to response (after the lullabye) is a diaper check. Invariably wet. Inevitably frustrated by his time on the changing table. So, we continue down the list... singing gives way to rocking, rocking gives way to walking, walking to bouncing, bouncing to swaddling, and just when I think I've exhausted my repertoire, I think, "Couldn't be the diaper, right?" But I check anyway... e voilĂ ! Delightful smile, enthusiastic applause.

As for swaddling, early on we had some real success with Happiest Baby on the Block, particularly that sort of cantilevered, wiggling side-hold. We'd swaddle Walt up, cradle his head, give a long shush and a gentle wiggle, and he'd be a zen master. But the change in his demeanor was spookily abrupt -- stop shushing to catch your breath and he'd pick right back up yowling where he left off. I often wondered if the "calming reflex" was only physical; if somewhere, locked into that little swaddled body, the real Walt was still silently raging against the 1%. At any rate, he seems to have outgrown the position, but we still swaddle to counteract his startle reflex, and he likes a modified side/colic-hold before bed to settle his stomach, so I feel like it's served all of us well.