My baby boy is half way to his first birthday! I can’t believe it.
I’m posting earlier than normal because I’m going to use this 6-month mark to transition out of trying to photograph and post on the same day every week. It hasn’t really been happening on schedule since I went back to work, anyway. I think I want to do at least a monthly picture with the bear and elephant, and other posts based on events or topics I want to write about rather than each week. I did weekly photos for about six months of my pregnancy, too, so it’s kind of like a year of weekly photos of Ari’s development. 🙂
This week we’ve had A.’s work retreat at a wonderful nearby spa resort, a couple of daycare/preschool tours (we’re getting on those waiting lists now!), and two swimming pool visits!
Here is Ari luxuriating in the hotel bed:
And sleeping next to his daddy:
And in the pool! The hotel pool was pretty warm, so we got some swim diapers and took him in it! He was kicking and splashing and grinning for quite a while!
We had so much fun in the pool we just took him to a local community center with a very cool, shallow family pool (with a water slide!). The whole process took forever, especially having to be in separate changing rooms so we couldn’t help each other with Ari. But we discovered afterwards they have a family changing room, so maybe next time will be easier! We signed up for a series of 10 baby swimming classes for 6- to 18-month-olds, yippee! I will have to miss some due to my work schedule, but A. should be able to take him every week.
Ari was up late our last night at the resort. Here is a picture of him chewing on celery while we ate dinner in the lobby/”living room” around 10pm. He cried every time he dropped it!
Ari is seeming like more and more of a real little person, so I want to write a summary of these first six months of his life, and my first six months of motherhood, as a letter to him.
You are six months old! We are really enjoying having you in our little family. It certainly is hard to imagine how much you will love your kid before you have one. I walk by your room and look at you when you’re sleeping and say to myself, “WOW, I really love that little guy!!” It’s still startling.
You did a lot in your first month. In your first week, I put you in the carrier (over my still-giant belly) and we walked to the clinic for your pediatric appointment. We took you to our neighborhood breakfast place in the stroller when you were 5 days old. We also took you (and Andrew) to the dog park! When you were 9 days old, we drove up to Vancouver B.C. for your uncle’s wedding, and your daddy’s family got to meet you. You were very good on the drive, in the hotels and restaurants, and at the wedding. You slept through everything and let everyone hold you, and everyone said what an amazing, easy baby you were. Your daddy strapped you on his chest and we walked around Vancouver and went out to eat in tiny, crowded restaurants, including at a sushi bar. We can’t do that anymore because now you wiggle around and try to grab everything on the table! The hardest part of that trip, for me, was that I had mastitis and you wouldn’t nurse on one side, so I had to pump every 2-3 hours, even in the car. But fortunately you took to a bottle easily and would drink the milk right away!
That trip is when I learned that if I let you cuddle with me in bed, we both got a full night’s sleep! You just didn’t want to sleep on your back in an empty crib with no blankets. But when people asked me how you were sleeping after that, I felt like I was cheating and your eight hours of sleep (with one sleepy nursing session halfway through) didn’t really count! I was just SO tired. When you were first born, in the hospital, I thought, well, I’ll just have to never sleep again, because I didn’t want to take my eyes off of you! I had to make sure you were okay and breathing every moment. If someone else was holding you, I had to make sure they didn’t fall asleep. If you were swaddled, I was afraid your face would somehow get covered by the blanket. But finally I decided that trying to stay awake and hold you when I hadn’t slept more than an hour at a time in three days wasn’t the safest thing to do, either, so I just got away from the edge of the bed, with a light cover just barely over us, and fell asleep with you on my chest. Hallelujah! After the first night of that, I felt a million times better and there was no going back.
You rode two gondolas in your first month – the first was up the mountain for the wedding and the second was the OHSU tram.
When you were 3 weeks old, we went to our family vacation house rental/family reunion on the Oregon Coast, and my extended family got to meet you. There was always someone to hold you! The nights were a little difficult; it was a small bed and I didn’t sleep very well with you on my chest (or in the bassinet, where you would sleep for short periods of time), but in the morning someone would take you and I would sleep in. The first night, I woke up and for some reason thought you were inside a pillowcase in the bed. I was frantically digging around in the pillowcases but I couldn’t get to you. I woke your dad up, saying, “Help! Ari’s in the pillowcase and I can’t get him out!” Your dad was so tired he actually tried to help me look for you before I thought to ask him if you were in the bassinet next to the bed – indeed, you were! That was a big relief!
In your second month, we had a lot of visitors and we enjoyed the summer weather. You started grabbing things if you felt them on your fingers, holding your pacifier in your mouth, and looking at black and white things. I went out without you for the first time, with a bike ride to a soccer game. I started holding you over the toilet and you would poop in it! You started smiling for real at about 7 weeks old, I think. Maybe earlier. And you were holding your head up pretty well for tummy time, but still crying after maybe 30 seconds.
I knew the first phase of babyhood was ending when a lactation consultant told me you were “lengthening out” and not a curled-up newborn anymore. This made me feel kind of shocked and sad!
In your first couple of months, I worried about whether I was giving you all the right kinds of stimulation and doing enough to support your development. I was reading about Montessori methods and panicking because I didn’t have the right mobiles for each 2-3–week stage. I dragged you around trying to buy materials to make an octahedron mobile. I knew I should be talking to you, but I wasn’t sure how because you didn’t respond much yet. I sang to you but I hated hearing myself singing off-key! I tried to take you out a lot – partly because we had places to go and visitors I wanted to go out with, but also because people said it would get a lot harder to go places with you later. And I really didn’t want to be overprotective and anxious and hide at home with you. However, my advice to other new moms would be this:
Go out once or twice so you know you can, but otherwise stay home as much as possible. Take advantage of this time when people expect you to be home-bound. Be a little cocoon with your baby and try to treasure and enjoy the closeness, because after the first couple of months your baby will already seem to be growing up. Cuddling, milk, and love, in whatever way you express it, are all your baby really needs now! What you can provide naturally is enough.
In your third month, you started moving around more. You rolled front to back at 10 weeks! You also started bringing objects to your mouth and you got better at putting your fingers in your mouth. You enjoyed standing (with support, of course) and sucking on pacifiers and Wubba-Nubs, and you tolerated tummy time more comfortably and for longer periods. I learned that you would take naps in your bassinet if I let you sleep on your tummy, but I did that with a lot of anxiety and Internet research because according to current recommendations we should only have been putting you on your back to sleep, and you couldn’t turn yourself onto your tummy yet. I checked on you constantly while you napped!
Sleep became the source of a lot of worry for me because I had to go back to work. I wanted to keep cosleeping and nursing you to sleep, but working night shifts wasn’t compatible with that. I hated trying to make you fall asleep in your bassinet, with you crying. It seemed like I had to do something bad for you because I had to go to work, and that made me feel guilty and angry. But your dad became very good at getting you to sleep!
Your fourth month was tough. You got a high fever and went to the emergency room by ambulance. They drew blood for blood cultures, catheterized you to collect urine to culture, and did a chest x-ray, a CT scan of your head, and a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). I left work to go down there just before the CT and the lumbar puncture. The lumbar puncture was horrible – you were screaming with two people holding you still and your heart rate in the high 200s, and I was crying and feeling like maybe a good mother would just scoop you up and run away with you. We stayed in the hospital for two nights with you getting IV antibiotics while we waited for the cultures to come back. Everything was negative and you didn’t have any more fevers.
I was already feeling guilty about going back to work, so the whole experience really made me wish I could stay home with you. It was very, very hard. But you were otherwise a healthy, happy baby. You started enjoying hanging out on your tummy more. You could roll from your back to your side. You would reach out for things and look at yourself in the mirror. You were eating and gaining weight. You started sucking your thumb. You smiled a lot and even giggled sometimes! And you had your first train trip, to Olympia.
In your fifth month, we had help from your Grandma on your dad’s side. I got to eat and sleep more, and you got some more attention! You started sitting up unassisted for short periods, and sitting in high chairs. You used your little potty frequently, too! I felt like I just worked all the time, but you continued growing and developing!
In the past month, you have seemed so much older! You started rolling back to front and then suddenly you were just rolling around like a pro! You also started eating some solid foods and reaching for and grabbing things on tables. You now sleep mostly through the night in your crib in your room, and it’s usually easy to set you down in there and you suck your thumb and fall asleep. You’ve been babbling a lot. Mostly you say, “da da da da” and your daddy says, “Yeah, DaDa, that’s me!!” You are a smiley, happy boy and we love you so much!
For me, it’s an interesting thing, this parenting. I feel stressed, tired, and burnt out – not necessarily more than in past stressful periods, but differently. I am much less worried about my own needs than I have been before – I feel like going to the dentist, eating, etc. can always wait, unless I’m worried about losing breast milk or something from not eating, drinking, or resting enough. I am also spending more time doing fun things like going to the pool, singing to you, sitting on the floor and playing with you, etc., than I would normally when I’m busy because I can put off other things I want to do but I can’t put off this time with you! You won’t be a baby for long, and I appreciate the sense of urgency to do fun things with you.
Here you are looking like a big boy in a new outfit from one of your great aunties!
And then looking sleepier…
Then daddy made you smile:
I have to add one more picture here, from tonight before bed. Ari has started to get into being read to!