Friday, February 18, 2011

A Letter to My Daughter: Five Months Old

Dear Brennan,

This past week you turned five months old.

I know last month I waxed rhapsodic about your awesome nighttime sleeping. And then we hit a sleep regression, which is apparently somewhat common in the fourth month, perhaps due to some neurological developments taking place. So while I mentioned how we almost missed those recliner nights, we've certainly had our fill this past month. No longer do you sleep through the night; instead, you wake up anywhere from one to three times between the hours of 1 AM and 8 AM. While nowhere near as taxing as your first month when we never seemed to sleep more than two hours in a stretch, it's still been somewhat draining since we've been so spoiled with sleeping through the night again. I'm hoping we only have another week or so of this. These last few nights, especially, have seen us acting as zombies throughout the day, which is the primary reason I am writing this letter a few days late.

It didn't help that I put in a lot of extra hours of work from home last week, often choosing to do so in the evening hours while you slept. On at least two occasions, I was up until midnight (or a little later...) working away to help with final preparations for the annual recruitment weekend. The additional pay was nice, but it made for short nights when you'd want to eat at 3 or 4 AM.

I guess I haven't shared about my work arrangements. I work 12 hours a week (over three days), and when I'm gone, your daddy watches you. In the beginning it was a struggle to get you on a normal feeding schedule - you were pretty strong-willed and didn't want to take a full bottle feeding, instead just taking in the bare minimum required to sate the worst of your hunger. This meant that Dad needed to feed you a couple ounces about every hour, and I never knew when I'd be feeding you when I took over again. But you've happily settled into a routine, content to eat every three hours during the day, no matter the method. We're also starting to see patterns in your naps as well. You only do bouts of 30 minutes on average, and you're only awake about 90 minutes at a time; if it nears the 2 1/2 hour mark (or longer), you're pretty miserable.

In other news, you continue to grow like a weed, staying near the top of the percentile charts for both height and weight. At your last appointment, you were 16 pounds and 12 ounces, 26.5 inches long and sporting a cranium with a circumference of 17 inches. In your rear-facing carseat, your feet can touch the back seat, so while you could remain in the carseat until 22 pounds, your dad is wondering if we should transition you to the convertible carseat sooner rather than later.

It can be harder to get you to take naps while running errands or at our small group if you're not asleep when we arrive. Before you were blissfully unaware of people, but now you want to take in all the sights. If you are fighting naps with Mommy or Daddy at home or in Daddy's office, complete with screaming and pummeling, we just need to take you someplace where people are located, and you will happily cease your tears and smile at anyone who will make eye contact with you to the point that no one would believe you were utterly exhausted. This makes us fear that two introverts have somehow made an extrovert!

You reach out for toys now and will play with your fabric books, even picking them up again after they've been dropped within reach. Your favorite toys seem to be the sets of plastic keys. You grip them and shake them with all your might. The crinkly elephant teether and the small pooh blanket also hold a special place with you, though.

You love to have a good vantage point from which to take in everything around you. While you still spend some time laying on your tummy or back (and have the corresponding bald spot to prove it), you love more and more being upright in your exersaucer or being supported in a sitting position. In fact, your legs are pretty strong as well, and you will happily balance on them and gaze all around for longer and longer stretches of time.

To aid in your desire to sit up and participate, we bought a booster seat. At this size you would barely get opportunity to use a Bumbo (one of those foam seats for babies) since you'd outgrow it in a few pounds, but this booster seat will grow with you through your toddler years, and it's portable so it will allow us to take it along if we'll be out in a friend's home at mealtimes. We have a swing that converts to a highchair, but as we still use the swing feature, this gives us a little more time before we need to switch it. Now you sit in the seat at the kitchen table while I make dinner or while daddy is on his computer and you gladly play with your toys or watch the cats. We're holding off on food until you're six months, but this booster seat has two separate trays; one that you currently use to hold your toys and books, and another one with divisions for food that will snap on to the existing tray at snack and meal times.

While you did some rolling over in late December and early January, we haven't seen anymore on that front for a while; I suspect this next month might have it making a reappearance.

You still get attention everywhere we go; we've always been biased as to your cuteness, but it seems the general population agrees that you're quite adorable. You ham it up and beam your huge smile at them, further perpetuating their belief that you are just beautiful. Those instances where we see a pout, though, still make me smile - it's so pathetically adorable I can't help myself!

Your eyes are still blue, but the jury is out as to whether or not they will remain that way. I'm hoping you'll keep your daddy's eye color, but I know my brown eyes are dominant. In other physical attributes, most people see more of me in you than your father, but you certainly have his ears (notable because I have an earlobe and neither you or your daddy do).

You get really excited when we change your diaper; raspberries on your tummy will make you laugh and you love to kick wildly as you smile. In another development, instead of simply raising your legs, you use your hands to help hold them up during a diaper change. I'm always amused when you want to continue holding them aloft when we're trying to affix the new diaper - you haven't quite figured out when to lower them.

The last couple weeks have seen a marked difference in your chatting - you love to hold "conversations" with us, and now you've added squealing to your repertoire.

I have to be careful around your hands now. You will clasp a necklace, my hair, or my glasses if they come into contact with your fingers, and if my face is near, I might find your fingers inside my mouth or gripping forcefully at the skin under my chin. It can be a battle to free anything from your fierce grip, so I'm having to be a little more mindful with what crosses your path.

I'm still waiting for your first genuine contact with one of our cats, particularly if you get a good fistful of their hair or tail. They still both seem to give you due deference, although they're not frightened. Sometimes, though, Augustine has forgotten that you're still small. During some recliner sleeping sessions she has happened along and wanted to join trying to get onto your back. I keep pushing her off as she sets one paw tentatively down, but then she returns again and again. I only hope this means she and you will be good friends when you're a little older (she won't snuggle with just anyone). While she used to sleep alongside you on our chests when you were smaller, you take up too much space now for that to happen. Even Dante, who likes to be petted but rarely will crawl up on a lap, spent some time with us in the recliner last week. These are good signs.

Last weekend we traveled to Illinois to spend some time with Eric's family; they needed their baby fix (quite understandable). You wouldn't cooperate with any laughs for them, but you were in good spirits and traveled well. In honor of Valentine's Day, your paternal grandparents gave you an outdoor baby swing for our front tree, and while it's hard to believe you'll be old enough to use it this summer, June will be here before we know it, and I can't wait to see your excitement as we push you in it.

I suppose this is plenty of information on your last month. We're still tickled to be your parents, albeit a little more tired. It's okay if you decide to sleep through the night again - we'll still be there when you wake up, and we'll be even more ready to play!