Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Breath of life

My favorite moments in videos we have of Walter is when we happen to capture him sighing or yawning.  Since he's been a little baby I've been very taken with his breath ... not just the comforting up and down of his breathing, but the actual feeling of it when he happens do a big dramatic exhale right into my face.  When he was a little little baby, his breath was kind of oddly cold and very sweet smelling.  It's warmer now, and it smells more like graham crackers, but it's still so sweet.  It fills my heart to the breaking point and takes my own breath right away.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Do the Slide

Walter likes to use whatever object is handy (books work well, and stacking rings) to slide his upper body forward while crawling with his knees.  It seems to be easier on his wrists and allow him to go faster.  It's pretty brilliant and it looks like fun. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

On to the 10th month!

Dear Walter,

You were pretty sick, but you liked your birthday peach.
You have another ear infection, or maybe it's the same ear infection you had before our big trip to Michigan. You are a sad beeba, but today after church you took a little nap, then climbed up all the stairs from the living room to the bedroom to the bathroom and asked to take a tub. After playing in the bath, you took another nap, and then woke up right in time for Simply Folk and a wonderful family dance party.  You were all smiles, and you danced and danced with me and Daddy.  You do this wonderful thing where you lean in and put your forehead against my forehead and lean in for kisses and to rub noses.

You are ten months old and even colds and ear infections don't seem to slow you down too much. (Don't get me wrong ... it's no fun to be sick.  But you are a trooper, little Scooter.)

These are some of the things you like:
**Corn on the cob, an (empty) ice cream cone, graham crackers ... any "grown up food" you can eat, too.  You also want to drink from grown up cups and eat or drink whatever we're having (and we do share with you, within reason.)
You love your Uncle Josh. 
**New friends and familiar faces.  You are a little shy with new people at first, but you warm up pretty quickly.
**Dancing.  You have a new dance where you do a little twist with your upper body (like a doozer.)
**Exploring, mostly by crawling and cruising, but you are taking a few little steps here and there.
**Swings. Feeling the wind in your hair.
**Opening and closing the garage door.
**Interesting noises, especially mechanical noises
**Shopping carts, walks, drives, outings
**Percussion.  The whole world is your drum!
**Fountains (also, going outside when it's raining a little bit.)
**Day care, especially your teachers and your best friend, H.
**Books, especially with Umma.  You're starting to have a little more patience for stories, now, and you do all the pages in Pat the Bunny.

Things you don't like:
**Lying down to get your diaper or clothes changed
**Being sick (also: having your nose wiped and nose drops)
**Getting redirected away from danger
**Fruit and other slimy foods

Things that make us so, so proud of you:
**Opening your mouth and enjoying it when we brush your teeth
**Cooperating so nicely when we give you medicine
**Taking your first steps
**Climbing up the stairs (with Mama or Dada spotting you.)
**Singing yourself to sleep
**Going to sleep on your own, and sleeping through the night
**Trying new things, exploring
**Being so good with people; spreading joy wherever you go
**Sharing (your food, your toys, everything)
**just being YOU

You are persistent, joyful, focused, brave, curious, strong, communicative, boisterous, brilliant, funny, and loving.

You are Walter Paul, you are 10 months old, and we love you so, so much.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oh, Ferber!

Oh! the Ferber method. I've been months trying the James Thurber method on the kid. His sleeping is terrible, but the daydreams are out of this world.

We hadn’t really planned on employing any of the “cry it out” strategies to get Walter to sleep.  Despite so many blasé, confident endorsements from friends, it just seemed a bit…cruel.  His clear sense of object permanence was no comfort – rather than leaving an amnesiac alone in a dark, barren world, we could now burden him with the memory of his abandonment as well. Besides, all the literature recommending the approach was very careful to leave those loopholes:  Not right for every family. Do what seems best for your baby.  Weren’t they obviously speaking to us? Who better than the Edison-Albrights to thread that needle?  Even if it took years of sleepless nights, rocking and singing and re-rocking and re-singing, we would be that loophole family!

We took another look at the Ferber method a couple weeks ago when the pediatrician suggested it was time we helped Walter learn to put himself to sleep. We’d never considered it that way before. Walter was (obviously, blatantly, assuredly) not born knowing how to do that, and teaching him was our job. “In the process,” Doc added, “he’ll be building skills to cope with stress.”

In retrospect, if we hadn’t been so sick and tired, we might not have bought that rationale, essentially “it’ll build character.”  That ranks right up there with “it’ll put hair on his chest.” (For the record, he’s already quite a character, and I can pretty much guarantee the hairy chest is only a matter of time.) He seemed ready, though: one of his recent developments was asking to be put in his crib when we’d rocked him longer than he wanted.  It felt like time to give it a try.

Plenty of character
So, the first night we followed his usual bedtime routine – tub, toiletries,  teat, uhm, too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral (that’s an Irish lullaby) – but stopped short of (t)rocking him to sleep. We laid him in his crib, covered him up with his blanket, wished him good night, covered him up with his blanket, gave him a kiss, covered him up with his blanket and left, closing the door behind him. “This is a fun game!” he called after us. Once he got the idea, though, things proceeded pretty quickly. The crying was… persuasive, but we stuck to the plan – gradually increasing periods of him alone in his crib, punctuated by short visits from us for comfort and reassurance.  I’m intellectually comfortable with the idea that crying, as his only means of voicing an objection, can sometimes give a false sense of urgency, but it really helped that he did a lot of happy talking to himself in between. He never went more than about 10 minutes without us, never crying for more than 5 at a time, and he was asleep, on his own, within half an hour. What’s more, he slept through the night, waking once at sunrise to nurse. All told, he did less crying and more sleeping that night of our callous, self-interested neglect than almost any night we’d spent rocking and shushing and cajoling. The nights that followed were just as successful, with even less intervention from us.

Week one seemed to be a rousing success sleeper hit. Obviously, we decided to take the show on the road. The first night of our road trip vacation, at Umma and Baba’s, we all slept in the same room and it was catastrophic. Up every two hours, wailing. “I can see you! You’re right there! Rock me, Amadeus!” Back to our old routine.  Eventually Annie had to decamp to the living room and I had to hide behind the bed until dawn. The rest of the trip, we made sure he had some privacy, either his own room or Annie’s cleverly erected partition, and all was well in slumberland.

That was what cemented it for me.  After all, what’s more natural than a kid’s parents cramping his style?

"Now I am a certified sleep expert."
This was one of those really tough parenting decisions.  The stakes seem so high, the arguments for both sides are so compelling, and the repercussions are completely unpredictable.  We made the right call this time; Walter’s instant success really convinced me.  But it was the right decision for our baby, and our family, and we made it together.  Your mileage may vary.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

He climbs!

Today, Walter learned how to climb stairs.  Seriously.

The video is a little dim, but you get the idea. 

My favorite part is where he sticks his little head out through the rails ... ohhhhh boy.  We definitely have to get that fixed, and soon!

Tonight Walter also cheerfully opened his mouth and took his Ibuprofen (I may have been a little premature in declaring tooth #8 trauma-free.)  We tried brushing his teeth for the first time and he was incredibly into it ... opening his mouth up wide, letting me brush his tops and bottoms ... he liked it!  He also put himself to sleep without crying for the first time.  

Our little boy is growing up!  And climbing.  But that's OK.  I'm going to call the carpenter tomorrow. =) 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Walter Walk Watch

Evidently Walter took a couple steps at day care on Friday! No steps at home, yet, but he seems pretty close to either taking off like a rocket or falling spectacularly and deciding to crawl from now on.  Hank has taken to very gently knocking Walter down when it looks like he's going to try walking.  Hank probably has the right idea, safety-wise, but I'm pretty excited to see this next developmental step! (And all the steps that follow!)

In other news, tooth #8 has emerged. We've had a couple nights of crankiness/extra wake up, but not nearly the drama and trauma we experienced with tooth #7.  But there's still a lot of gum to get through.  You can do it, Walter!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Hank Tail

We've been Ferberizing the baby (Sean is working on a post on the subject) and that means more crying from Walt and more consternation from Hank.  He worries about that baby.  When Walter cries, he comes to us and gives us a very clear "What are you DOING? Go comfort my baby!" kind of look.  Sometimes he goes to Walt's door and tries to get in and do it himself.

Tonight, I nursed Walt in his darkened room and could barely make out a dark, vaguely canine shape push the door open and come in.  The dark shape walked over to the crib, flattened itself in an impressively feline-like way, and gradually disappeared under the crib until only a wagging tail was visible and then, with a swish, also gone.  I called out to Sean to get him to come in and see it (or rather, not see it) for himself, but that alerted the puppy and he reappeared, leaving the room as quickly and quietly as he came.

I'm not sure exactly what he's planning, but I'm pretty sure it's not compatible with the Ferber method.  Sorry, Hank.