Big day!

The jazz stylings of the amazing MZ

MZ had a HUGE day today! She's been moving from a seated position to a kneel here and there, but not frequently. Today she did that over and over, and then turned around and pulled herself up on a chair! Just to her knees, but still, she has never before shown an inclination towards that and there she was, staring at the chair as if to say, "Yeah, so what's it to you [and now what do I do?]?"

She also started bopping to the music today. She just sort of bobs and rocks and it's definitely in response to music. Our baby has rhythm!

She also tried yogurt, which she did not like. Maybe I'll try again with something more mild than Greek yogurt. Although it's pretty cute the way she wrinkles her nose and spits it out...


Eight Months: Joining the Conversation

We're getting a passport!

Dear Miriam,

You would think there's less to say since I just wrote your seven month letter two weeks ago. But no, there's plenty, because every time I turn around you're changing again. Our favorite new development is repeating sounds. You started with Grandpa, he'd repeat whatever you said and you two would have a regular conversation with inflections and a lot of exclamations. Now you chat with all of us, and you seem very tickled when we immitate your newer noises. Bah bah bah has been joined by da da, pah pah, and just today, la la. You're also experimenting with various clicking sounds, and a plah noise that involves a lot of spittle.

You're still tremendously smiley, and constantly on the look-out for admirers. You will smile and engage with almost anyone who looks you right in the eye, and you seem genuinely surprised when some random lady on the corner doesn't look your way while we wait for the light to change.

You also love music. Grandma S. is learning all your nursery rhymes, which are always good for a smile. And you're getting quite giggly, too. Grandma G. is constantly on the look-out for ways makes you laugh, and honestly, you're totally unpredicable. Why does pushing a toy towards you and pulling it away make you laugh so hard? Most people would call that teasing, but not you. Which fits, because you continue to be a pretty laid-back kid. Those days of frustration with crawling are largely past us, you give it a try, but are pretty happy to sit and manhandle your toys. And if a toy is out of reach, more often than not, you'll settle for another one. If someone grabs a toy from you in playgroup, you practically shrug, and go for something else. It's not that you're not driven, because when you *really* want something, you go for it, especially our cell phones and glasses. But most often, you're chill. I think you are something of an old soul, and just being with you allows us to be "present in the moment" in a way that my off-again/on-again attempts at meditation never achieved.

I am really learning to be present in the moment as we experiment with sleep training. I apologize now if this process scars you in any way, but Muffin, you weren't napping! Your dad and I agree that we won't make you cry yourself to sleep, but that means I've spent an hour at a time sitting with you while you fight sleep. Nights are still easy, and usually you drop off to a nap within 10 minutes or so. But there have been a few epic battles against sleep, and I really can't say who is the victor in these.

On the food front, you are up to three "meals" a day, and you seem to like everything -- as long as it's pureed. You brush the puffed rice right off your tray, and the small chunks of watermelon we gave you didn't please you at all -- you swallowed the juice and gummed the pieces, then spit them out. But you love sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, green beans, cantaloupe and cauliflower! In the coming weeks, we'll add some herbs and spices here and there, as well as tofu, yogurt and probably cheese. You have the sweetest way of waiting for the next bite, opening your mouth expectantly like a baby bird. And you have the sippy cup down, you can gulp down the water for several swallows, then you rear back till we pull the cup away. You're still delegating spoon duty to us, which certainly makes mealtime easier, but I'm anticipating the day when you seize back the reins.

You're also enjoying experiments with object permanence. In addition to the reliably hilarious games of peek-a-boo, you enjoy dropping things, and are genuinely pleased when they re-appear in front of you. And you've discovered your power to bang and wave. So the Aquafina bottle (your current favorite toy) and the stuffed animals get quite a workout.

All in all, you continue to be a delightful companion,and I feel very very lucky to be able to spend my days with you. We can't wait for your next adventure.

Love you,


Oh, them

The Brothers Grim

The Kittiots, the Furry Ingrates, these are the pre-MZ nicknames that we now feel too guilty to use. How can we make fun of their needs when so few of them are being met these days? When we've introduced countless new soft surfaces where they are not allowed to sleep? When our laps are always occupied and we rarely have the energy for full body pets? When Moki has to actually crawl into the sink to remind us it's time for a bath -- he's so uncomfortably dirty he's actually asking for it?

All things considered, they've been very good. Rather than shredding the furniture or peeing all over the carpets, they've mostly retreated into themselves. Yudi continues to be dumb as a box of rocks (and nearly as heavy), and just as neurotic as ever. I mean that with love, and a fair dose of frustration, since he still runs under furniture whenever one of us approaches, even after 5 YEARS OF NOT EATING HIM.

He does however have an exceedingly annoying habit of meowing loudly at my feet when I'm nursing MZ, and of getting stuck in her room when I've put her down for a nap. You'd think you'd only need to get stuck in a room four, maybe five times before you'd learn to dash from your hiding place and out the door when you see it closing. But no, it seems to take many more times than that.

Moki went through a period of being absolutely morose, but seems to be emerging. He gets that he will receive lots of positive attention if he's nice to MZ, so he can often be found sprawling against one of us and permitting MZ to pet him in exchange for a brief massage. And he even rubs up on MZ occasionally, marking her as part of his domain.

MZ, for her part, is absolutely enthralled with both of them, although she's never gotten close to Yudi. She's too young to learn "Gentle," but she can and does immitate a flat-handed pet, which she does until she just can't stand it anymore and goes for a grab of cat hair. At which point Moki slithers away in disgust. But at least he'll try it again later.


Monster Mom

Well, I did it. I got MZ to sleep without nursing her down, or rocking her. "About time," you might say, "she's nearly eight months old!"

But every child is different, and every parent has a different threshold. MZ has been a great sleeper from the start. So don't fix what ain't broken. But in the last few weeks, her naps have gotten shorter and shorter, and while she doesn't get grumpy, she does get pretty amped by the end of the day. You might think she's a lot of fun, a real party girl, but as another mom with the same issue said, "they may be fun, but that doesn't mean they're happy. The party girls never are."

So... I put her down in her crib, and stayed in the room. When her wimpers turned to real cries, I lowered the crib rail and moved the ottoman over so I could pat her to let her know I was close by. She'd cry angrily for about 30 seconds, then suck her thumb fiercely, then cry some more. It took 15 minutes for her to fall asleep, which is a long time when measured in 30-second increments, but once she was asleep, holding her Piglet and sucking her thumb, I could breathe again.


Parts is parts

So MZ has started grabbing her junk while I'm changing her. I was taken by surprise at first, I turned for a wipe and when I looked back at her she had a hand full of parts and A&D-covered fingers. I was at playgroup, and two of the moms with slightly older babies said theirs are doing the same thing.

So here's the quandary: I don't want MZ's hands covered with, um, gunk, but I also don't want to teach her that she's dirty, or that her parts are dirty. So I will try to calmly protect her from grabbing herself until I have swiftly wiped her clean, I guess. Easier said than done.

Oh, yeah, she's gonna love me for this one someday.



MZ's first Cheerio!

Today at our neighborhood Not-so-teeny-anymore Baby gathering, the subject of highchairs came up. We're not sure what to do for MZ, we don't really want a big old bulky highchair, and we want to have her at the table. But I'm beginning to understand the convenience factor of having her surrounded by tray.

We really like the seat she's sitting in in the photo (which, it turns out, doesn't fit on our table), and while she was there we decided to offer her a Cheerio. I've been offering tiny things for a week or two, and she doesn't seem to notice them. But today she did, and weirdly, when she picked up the halved Cheerio, she didn't put it in her mouth! EVERYTHING goes in her mouth these days, but not the Cheerio. She just looked at it for bit, and then her Dad helped her get it to her mouth. She spit it out and did not go for another.

Oh well, we'll try again another day.



A friend recently had a "traumatic birth." She had badly wanted a home birth, and after 82 hours of labor, she was taken to the hospital for an emergency c-section. Now, after three weeks of trying, her milk isn't coming in, and she is opting to bottle feed. She's suffering from a sense of failure, and I can't imagine that the requisite sleep deprivation helps.

I wasn't familiar with the term "traumatic birth," and didn't get it at first (you have a baby, right?), but that's only because it took me a minute to recall how important our "birth stories" are in those first few weeks. Giving birth is without a doubt a major life event, and as such we tend to have a vision for it. In the Bay Area, an openness to more traditional modes of birth can lead to an inflexible glorification of the naturalness of the home birth, the power of the unmedicated hospital birth, the gorgeous perfection of breast feeding. There's an intimation that we can *will* this to occur perfectly, with our reading and meditations and birth plans and positive thought. As though we lack true Woman Power if we give in to anything less.

I remember in those weeks after MZ was born, when I first started attending moms' groups, the murmurs that followed my retelling of our planned c-section -- the implication being that I'd given in to the Medical Industrial Complex. People (yes, men, too) would tell me how sorry they were that I'd HAD to have a c-section, that doctors were no longer trained to deliver breech babies and c-sections were their easy way out. "That's not how it would happen on the Farm."

C'mon, people, MZ was sitting upright in my womb, looking out with her legs up around her ears like a yogi. One or both of us could have DIED on the farm for which that birthing center was so evocatively named. And my friend labored for over three days to achieve a strong and womanly birth. THREE DAYS! No breaks. Is she less of a woman because her beautiful son was ultimately born in a hospital via c-section? Did the medical establishment really fail her somehow?

We can't will everything, no matter how positive we are. The power of positive thought is awesome, but it is not magic. What we *can* will is the way we respond to these events, to the disappointments that can accompany a highly-planned birth. Positive thought can keep us from sinking into the abyss of disappointment that can lead to sorrow and gloom.

Let's all try to keep our eye on the prize here. In six months, when no one's asking for our birth stories, and we have a ridiculously happy baby (because they are so grinny and giggly at six months that we have to carry our melted hearts around in a sippy cup), we know we've succeeded beyond our wildest imaginings.


Seven Months: Sitting Pretty

In Tahoe

My head reels at the changes in the last few weeks, and also that I no longer seem to be able to find time to post. I used to blog while pumping at work, but now that I'm home full-time, I never find a chunk of time. Thus this incredibly tardy update. I've also decided to make this monthly report a letter to you, Miriam. I hesitated for a long while, feeling like I was copying the more famous Mommy Blogs, but in the end this stands for you, so the change begins...

My dear, delightful Miriam,

At seven-plus months, you are the most hilarious, cheerful, irresistable baby. You sleep well (although we're working on a better nap routine), and no doubt that helps you enjoy life. But there's something else, you seem to prefer to be happy. Even when you go to eleven, afterwards you're all smiles, and particularly with whoever was holding you at the time, as though you want us to know you don't hold a grudge.

You seem to enjoy all the activity in your world. Your grandparents each have you a day a week, and you light up like Fourth of July when they walk in. But those smiles are nothing compared to the ones you reserve for your Dad. He's the only one you will take a bottle from, lying in his arms. Everyone else is allowed to merely support you while you hold your bottle, but your Daddy can cuddle you, as he does almost every morning while I am strapped to my milking machine.

However, you do permit us to feed you. At first, you wanted to wield the spoon, but at some point a few weeks in, you started letting us do it. I'm convinced you're merely delegating until the time is right to take back the reins. And you like almost everything. You started with the requisite rice cereal, then butternut squash, which you burned out on and now will accept only combined with cereal. Then came green peas (yum), carrots, sweet potatoes (double yum), green beans, bananas, apples (which you accept somewhat grudgingly, like your dad and mom), and cantaloupe (also yum). Next up are summer squash, peaches, spinach and papaya.

We feed you in your Bumbo seat on the table, and you prefer to look out the window while you eat, still with the tree fascination. You're also fascinated with los gatos, especially Moki, who will allow you to pet him once or twice, until that turns into grabbing handfuls of hair, and then he slinks away slowly rather than darting off amidst hisses and claws. Your Dad thinks you two will be fast friends someday, and I'm beginning to agree, since Moki now shows real concern when you cry, and you shriek with delight when you see him.

Shrieking is also big, along with hollering. I think you want to make sure you can hear yourself, you'll holler when you're alone, when you're with us, when your mouth is full of toys. You explore the upper register with abandon, then throw yourself back to the death rattle. But our favorite is Bah, bah, bah, which you repeat often, in all tones of voice. There's the happy I'm up tone in the morning, and the annoyed, Make it stop, tone that has repleced your angry razzing. But my favorite is the almost-subconscious, very soft Bah bah bah you make when you are concentrating on something else. Your "mantra" makes me melt.

In the last few days, you've also been coughing up a storm, as though it were a word, and you are delighted when we cough back. Cough. Cough. Cough, cough. Cough, cough. and it goes on like this for minutes.

Speaking of coughing, we're weathering our first family cold, and you're much more cheerful about it than are we. At first I thought you might be teething, but no, the mocos got white and your whole face looked congested, and then we fell. We want nothing more than to nap and sip chicken soup, but while you are gooey and tired, you are not the least cranky. That's about normal these days, you are full of smiles for those you know and anyone who smiles at you.

And the laughter! You have everyone in your family addicted to those giggles, we'll do anything, beyond dignity, to hear you giggle. I repeat farm animal noises incessantly because sometimes it makes you laugh. And you love to have your body nibbled, it sends you into paroxysms of truly infectious laughter. Your Grandpa says you're going to extend his life by 10 years, what with the beneficial effects of all the laughing he does with you.

You started your seventh month obsessed with crawling, to the point of upsetting your sleep with noisy dreams -- I'd find you on your hands and knees, rocking and hollering in the middle of the night. But since you learned to sit unsupported, you've backed off crawling and will sit for 15 minutes at a time, playing with your various toys. Your favorite is an emptied-out Costco-size plastic candy container, filled with giant linking beads. You dump it, wave it, drum on it. You chew on the lid, and the beads themselves. You even reach into it sometimes to pull a bead out, thrilling me with your ownership of each developmental skill.

I no longer obsess about whether you roll from back to front (yes) or front to back (almost never), whether you'll walk or talk early or be small forever or fail to thrive in some key area. Sure, there are the occasional bouts of worry, but overall you are constantly moving forward, exploring your world and us with enthusiastic good nature.

Miriam, just when we think it can't get any more fun, or we'll explode with happiness, you delight us with something new. Happy seven months, sweetheart.



On vacation...

Water Baby