Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Walter Time

Yesterday was Walter's 7 month birthday. The story of our time with Walt between 5 pm on the 22nd and 8 am on the 23rd is a good one and quite representative of the whole Walter experience these days.

5:00pm: Mommy and Hank the Dog arrive at home. Mommy is very ready to nurse a baby. Any baby.
5:05pm: Mommy begins to pace and wonder where her baby is.
5:15pm: Daddy and Walter arrive at home. Mommy nearly faints with joy and relief.  Nursing commences.
5:30pm: All done. Walter is wide awake and ornery.
5:31pm: Birthday festivities begin with the presentation of a new toy: a drum that lights up, sings and counts.
5:32pm: JOY!
5:33pm: Walter makes his happy noise (throat clearing, eh eh eh eh) and inspects his drum very thoroughly, smiling and chortling with glee.
5:34pm: Walter has figured out the drum.
5:40pm: Walter continues playing, starts getting ornery again.
5:45pm: Walter discovers Mommy's shoes.  Decides to head over in that direction.  By crawling. New development: he is actually able to crawl forwards.  Mommy tries very hard not to move while Walter scratches her ankle, chews on her shoe, and attempts to pull himself into a standing position. He does not succeed, but makes serious headway. 
6:00pm: Birthday festivities continue.  What will we stick a candle in this month?  The obvious choice: a banana.  As a dear friend and colleague of Mommy's pointed out: "Nothing makes for a happy birthday like a burning banana!"
6:05pm: Traditional monthly flaming food item and birthday singing photo shoot.  Walter is super unimpressed. Most of our photos turn out like this:

6:06pm: Mommy has tickled Walter enough to get one good picture. Walt says: enough with the singing.  Make with the banana!  This is Walter's first taste of fruit.  He reacts to the banana much the same way he reacted to the sweet potatoes and peas that preceded it.

6:10pm: Mommy persists, and Walter decides banana is tolerable. But he doesn't eat very much, possibly because he hasn't pooped all day.  Walter is given toys and encouraged to play independently while Mommy and Daddy nuke up some dinner.
6:15pm: While playing, Walter makes a face that suggests he is working on something difficult and important.  The moment passes and he looks relieved and beings to play again with renewed vigor. Daddy quickly finishes his dinner and takes Walt to the changing table to investigate.
6:16pm: Daddy calls Mommy in to see the enormous big boy poopy.  Mommy finds that Daddy has not exaggerated. Walter is very pleased, and possibly about 5 pounds lighter. 
7:30pm: It takes about this long to get the boy cleaned up enough to get into the tub. Bath time!  Walter hears the water running and starts to get excited about the bath to come.  Rubber ducky is played with and chewed on. 
7:45pm: Daddy remarks that this is awfully early for bedtime.  However, the bedtime train has left the station and it has no brakes. 
8:00pm: After nursing sweetly with Mommy, rocking sweetly with Daddy, and going to bed as sweetly as can be, Walter settles in for a whole night long of sweet, sweet sleep.
8:15pm: The doorbell rings. Hank the Dog loses his tiny puppy mind. Walter wakes up screaming. Mommy goes to get the baby.  The doorbell rings AGAIN.  Daddy hastily throws on some clothes, restrains the dog, and opens the door.  The get out the vote volunteer asks if we will be voting on June 5.  Daddy, very reasonably, says, "Yes, we will" and shuts the door while Mommy screams "YOU WOKE OUR BABY!" at the top of her lungs, which does not do much to calm down the baby.  Mommy takes a deep breath and nurses the baby with all the milk she's managed to produce in the last fifteen minutes.  Daddy disconnects the doorbell. 
9:15pm: Mommy and Daddy are still trying to get Walter back to sleep.  It's a long hazy nightmare of crying, dry nursing, more crying, the baby crying, close calls, resting, rousing, lullabies and prayers. Also, some choice words concerning people who ring doorbells after 8 pm.
9:45pm: Daddy tries again to put Walter in the crib awake and walk away.  Walter falls asleep.  Daddy walks away, barely avoids walking into the wall. 
11:00pm: Walter is awake again.  Nurse, rock, repeat, sleep. 
5:30am: Walter wakes up, not quite as cheerful as he normally is in the morning.  Mommy nurses Walter and hopes he will go back to sleep for another hour or two.
6:30am: Mommy gives up, sings the good morning song, and starts getting Walter ready for day care. 
7:00am: Daddy takes over while Mommy showers and gets dressed. Fits of hysterical giggles (from Daddy and baby) can be heard from downstairs, interspersed with cranky pants crying (from the baby.)  
7:45am: Mommy notices that two more teeth emerged during the night.  Walter now has four teeth on top and two on the bottom.  Cranky pants: explained.  Daddy takes Walter to day care and goes to work; Mommy walks Hank the Dog and goes to work.  A tired-but-happy seven-month-old family embarks on another day.
We're bananas with love for Walter!

Monday, May 14, 2012


Baby Walter says: "Paper makes me smile!"
Is your baby teething? Moody? Inconsolable? Do you shower him with toys, affection and attention ... to no avail? He seems to be asking you for something ... but what is it?

Mothers and fathers, what your baby wants is PAPER. Crisp, clean, crunchy, Paper Brand paper. Hours of happy, wholesome, economical entertainment guaranteed.*  Make your baby grin and giggle with delight, just like Baby Walter.** Next time your baby reaches for a toy, let him reach out and grab some paper.  And remember: a piece of paper brings peace of mind!

*Not actually a guarantee. Paper Brand paper is not responsible for any paper cuts that may occur. Do not let your baby play with paper unattended.
**Baby Walter is the official spokesbaby of Paper Brand paper and has been paid in paper for his endorsement.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Furious Firsts

Yes, he's wearing blue.  That's my fault.
We got the proofs back of Walt's first "school photos" today.  The whole thing was very exciting ... dressing him up in a ridiculous outfit, dropping him off at day care, Walt looking all clean and put together and us wondering exactly how long that would last. My school photos always featured extra static-y hair and freshly scratched-open scabs on my face.  So, I was expecting something like that.  Instead, Walt's clothes, hair and face look great.  But they posed him with a toy tractor.  And, in another photo, a baseball, bat and glove.  Why?!  So distracting, so unnecessary, so nonsensical, so unimaginative, so ... presumptuous. We don't know what sport he likes or if he likes sports at all.  We can't assume he'll automatically be enamored with farm equipment and heavy machinery.  I was almost mad enough to write my first angry mom letter, warning against forcing my son into heteronormative stereotypes.

But then I took another look at the one with the tractor, and it's pretty cute.  We might get an 8 x 10 or two.

Fleeting fits of anger are the norm these days in our house.  Mostly on the part of Walter, whose sixth month milestone sheet from the pediatrician says this is a normal developmental stage.

This is Walter's worried face
Today, Walter had his first honest-to-goodness temper tantrum. When I picked him up from day care and put him in the car seat to go home, Walt did his normal little worried face and informative cry. He was informing me that I needed to get him on the boob, ASAP.  I was able to distract him with the ABC song. When we got home he seemed OK, so I thought I'd try to get some oatmeal into him before nursing.  The moment his bottom hit the highchair he wailed, and then stopped as soon as I picked him up again.  I still needed to take off my coat, so I tried to sit him down in our nursing chair for a moment.  He locked his legs to keep from sitting and then ...

...he stamped his feet!!

Angry foot stamping!  I couldn't believe it. I didn't hesitate for a moment--I got him to sit, took off the coat, removed all other barriers and got him nursing--but that little foot stamp flooded me with all kinds of thoughts and emotions.

This little guy has always had big feelings.  Even before he was born, I felt like he was trying to express himself. Maurice Sendak died today, so I'd already been thinking about kids and all those deep, big, sometimes scary feelings that wash over you and toss you around when you're little. I can remember shaking with rage, totally out of control with feelings that were too big for my body.

I'm not going to lie ... Walter stamping his foot and throwing a tiny baby tantrum was pretty adorable.  But it was also pretty amazing, and it gave me pause to think about all the tantrums and outbursts and door slamming to come.

It's alright to cry, little boy.  It's OK to stamp your feet sometimes, too.  Gotta get all that energy out somehow. Preferably not while nursing.  Ouch.

Why, Mom?  Why?
A week ago we were at church and I decided to get Walt out into the beautiful weather to play on the grass.   "This is going to be so fun!" I thought, also feeling guilty that we don't have good grass for Walter to lounge and play on at home.  I joined some congregation members outside, sat down, and very confidently sat Walter down in front of me, feeling proud that he's so good at sitting up on his own.  The mom next to me said, "Wow, that's great.  When I put my babies on the grass they usually ... did that!" She pointed and I saw Walter winding up a huge silent scream, preparing the way for a heartfelt wail.  I scooped him up, got a blanket under him, and he was fine, but wary.

Yesterday we tried again, a little wiser, a little more cautious. I sat him down on a blanket on the grass.  He sat up confidently and reached out to touch the grass with hands. He'd touch it, shudder, wipe his hands on his pants, and then reach out for the grass again and repeat.  Eventually, his curiosity regarding dandelions overcame his repulsion, and he set his hands down on the grass and kept them there awhile.

He still doesn't like it.  But he keeps trying.  And when a cool breeze blows through his hair, he smiles and sighs.  There's a whole lot of good in this wild, scary, infuriating world.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Another good sign

Walter slept for 7 hours straight last night, woke up, nursed, and went back to sleep for a couple hours more.  After he nursed, he made little groggy grouchy noises until I put him in his crib.  He passionately kissed his lullaby seahorse and cooed gently to it until he fell asleep with a sigh, lying on his belly.  Sleeping on his belly is a new luxury for Walter; he's allowed now that he can roll all the way over.  When I woke up again I watched him sleep for awhile.  He was turning his head from side to side, snuggling into the mattress and with his Minky, sighing contentedly in that light stage of sleep my dad calls "nerfy sleep." I got his clothes all ready and waited until the last possible moment to wake him up, leaning over his crib and singing his morning song.  He smiled, sighed, shimmied, raised his little butt up into the air, turned his head to me and opened his eyes.  Then he straightened his arms and lifted himself up into tummy time position, alert and awake and ready for the day.

And then I gave him amoxicillin.  But even with that, it was a good night and a good morning.