Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Letter to My Daughter Gretchen: Five Months Old

Note: this was originally drafted six months ago in September even though it's just now being posted, so I'm back-dating it. The delay was in hopes I would gather pictures, but that will have to happen sometime later. 


You’re now five months old. It’s been a busy last month.

For a couple weeks now you’ve been quite steady sitting on your own. Whereas I used to sit behind you to catch you as you would suddenly list to the side, I don’t hesitate to leave you playing on a blanket if I need to make your sister a quick lunch, aid her in play, etc.

Napping has improved insofar as location is concerned. I made a concerted effort to transition you to your bed instead of serving as your sleeping surface, and it was a clear success. Sometimes you’ll just coo yourself to sleep, other times I may be needed to rub your back for a couple minutes, but rarely do I have to take you down to the recliner. This has been HUGE for me. I was feeling constricted, limited by what I could do during the day since I was so often holding you and yet feeling overwhelmed by all that I couldn’t do while a baby was in my arms. Now that you nap in the crib, I can wash dishes, do laundry, clean litter, and – probably the biggest for me – get back into my loft. Yes, I am retreating to my loft again, after a very long hiatus, and I’m slowly ramping up production and inventory for my Etsy shop. All of these things combined help me to feel very settled.

A friend asked me last week how I was doing with two, and I honestly answered that it was great, that I didn’t feel overwhelmed. I think much of that has to do with more normalcy and routine to our days.

I remember, with your big sister, hearing how people recommended setting the child in the crib and rubbing their back. This never worked for her. I’ve long wondered if it worked on any babies. Turns out you are the sort of baby that responds to this.  So not only do you transfer relatively well once asleep, if you do come to and start to fuss, I can usually still leave your room baby-free after a couple minutes of rubbing your back.

Of course, all of this can be quite fluid. This week I’ve felt less awesome in the mothering department, seeming to just get by. I started the week with a couple days of illness. I suspect back-to-school germs, although I’ve been the only one to succumb. Then there is that fact that you haven’t napped more than thirty minutes in a stretch since Tuesday. You had been treating me to two long naps a day (around 1.5 - 2.5 hours each), along with a couple thirty-minute naps. Now you barely reach the thirty-minute mark. And instead of only waking once a night (sometimes not until five or six am, like the week previous), you were suddenly waking up to three times a night. I’m not exactly sure why the sudden change, although cognitive leaps and mastery of new skills can often impact sleep. I’m certainly hoping the end is in sight, as I’ve resembled a zombie more than I prefer these recent days.

Speaking of new skills, you are quite the accomplished baby. In addition to your awesome sitting skills, you’re starting to scoot onto your knees when on your belly (note: feel free to delay the whole crawling thing – trust me, it’s overrated. Plus, your big sister loves to feel useful). You are alert when awake and love to return smiles and giggles. This makes you quite popular with strangers, particularly the under-three crowd at school pickup. You are able to grab toys, often preferring to rank them on chewability and gnawability, as you now boast two teeth. You love to bounce in your jumperoo and swivel in your exersaucer.

I really appreciate how mellow you are. It is easy to have you tag along to events. Rarely do you cry, even when due for a nap, particularly if you are snuggled up in a wrap.  We had several new-semester events, and you could just sleep in the carrier whenever you needed to, and watch attentively otherwise.  You were usually riveted with all the people, making your naps much later than normal, but, again, this didn’t impact your happy demeanor.

The one exception has been a couple days we attended evening church. We tried you in the nursery, but you didn’t last long either time. You were nearly inconsolable when Mommy or Daddy retrieved you, so separation anxiety seems to have set in a little early.  We’ve had one babysitter, where you did fine, so I’m hoping it’s not a guarantee every time we need to be gone.

Again, this letter has sat dormant for six months, so I’ll end here and let you wait in anticipation as to all that has transpired since September.

Love you,

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