Saturday, July 22, 2006

Word Up

So far, the child care arrangement we have has worked out pretty well - it's been challenging for both Smitty and I to get used our new roles, but the fact that Pi has spent his first 14 months (today - happy month-day, Pi!) of life under the care of a parent is invaluable to us. I feel very lucky that we even have this as an option.

I will admit, however, to feeling a bit of a pang when the arrangement first began. When I went back to work and Smitty started full-time child care, I imagined a time in the future when my heart would break because Pi would choose Daddy over me when he got hurt, or a big developmental event that I would miss because of work.

I have to say that so far, none of those fears have come to pass. When Pi gets hurt, he doesn't want to be comforted by ANYONE. He just wants to scream it out and find something else to do immediately. And thanks to the technological advances of the age, I get up-to-the-minute reports and video of all of Pi's adorableness during the day.

The one thing I hadn't counted on, however, is that we would get to 14 months without a "mama". He has never, not once, deliberately referred to me as Mama. Smitty walks in the room, or smiles at Pi, or clears his throat at the other end of the house, and Pi busts into choruses of "Dada! Dada!" Pi says "book", "cat", and something that kinda sounds like "bottle". He babbles non-stop, has good consonant sounds, and knows a couple of signs. But "mama" remains elusive, the Holy Grail of development, something that would make this WOTH mom feel a hell of a lot better about her choices.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Forty Winks

Few things have shaken me to my very core as the early months of parenting. Now that we're firmly entrenched in The Life of Pi, I cringe a bit at how completely rocked and rattled I was by every. little. thing, but what really threw me for the biggest loop was, of course, the sleeping.

A brief history of Pi's slumbering habits, and how ineptly I handled them:

The first few nights at home, he nursed from 1:00 am - 4:00 am, non-stop. The only way I could get him to sleep was by swaddling him, propping him in a Boppy (horrified gasp) on the couch (double horrified gasp) and sitting up next to him with my head lolled on my arm, jerking myself awake every five minutes. Bad scene.

For the first few months he slept, well, like a baby. Very unpredictable, sometimes napping for three hours, sometimes for 20 minutes, awake every two hours during the night. Why does the "sleeping like a baby" cliche mean exactly the opposite of reality? Aren't cliches supposed to evolve from universal truths? I read all the books about how much sleep he was supposed to be getting and freaked right out. Someone should have locked all my books in a strongbox and buried them under Lake Michigan until I was able to think rationally. Those stupid books made me doubt, even more, every little thing I was doing, and convinced me that I was scarring him for life if I allowed him to fall asleep nursing, or rocking, or bouncing, or within 60 feet of the sound of my voice.

We finally got into a sort of routine - he had two naps during the day, always on my chest, and would sleep for almost two hours at each nap. At three months, he slept 10 hours straight through the night, and this utter bliss continued for exactly three weeks, and didn't return until he was 11 months old.

When I went back to work and Smitty took over as primary caregiver, Pi learned how to take naps in his crib. We co-slept at night, but we would put him down in the crib for the first evening stretch, and then bring him into bed after his first wake-up. Between three and 11 months, he usually only woke up once or twice a night, except when he was teething or when the stars were misaligned.

Now, he has one nap during the day, usually two - three hours, goes to bed at around 9:30 and sleeps till about 7:30. He hardly ever goes down for naps or nighttime when he's drowsy - we rock him and sing to him until he's asleep, and then we put him in the crib.

I just had to get all of this out of the way, because, like it or not, this is the conversation I had most often as a new mom. How is he sleeping? What about the sleeping? Are you getting any sleep? Is he a good sleeper? I try so hard not to bombard new parents with any of these ridiculous questions, but our American high-achievement instant-gratification lives are so consumed with this topic - it's so ingrained. All we have to do is look around at all of our adult friends to realize that no one needs to be rocked to sleep in their mother's arms anymore, and they are all perfectly capable of deciding for themselves that they are tired and need to go to bed, but new parents manage to convince themselves (and let everyone else's judgments and assvice convince them) that this will never happen for their children because of all the "bad habits" they've encouraged. I bought all of it hook, line, and sinker, and let myself get way too frustrated with Pi when he wouldn't go to sleep. Every time my worry got to an absolute fever pitch, when I was convinced that things would never change and he would always be taking naps on my chest or waking up at 2:00 am, he made a transition and things got better. He showed me.

I just put him down for his nap, rocking and singing his naptime lullabies, and when he wiggles into his comfortable position, and Velcroes his head into the nook between my shoulder and breast, sucking his thumb and holding his blankie, there is absolutely nothing sweeter. His baby smell (which is already changing from that just-baked, heady aroma he had when he was newborn), his cute little sleepy smiles, his playing with my hair and lips as we rocked - it just moved me to tears this morning. I wished it all away in the early months, and now I know that one day it will be gone and I'll yearn for it back.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Librarian or Arctic Animal Research Specialist?

Pi has a favorite book called “Bathtime Peekaboo” – we used to read it every night, but it hasn’t been part of the regular bedtime rotation for about two months. Smitty (aka DH, aka Daddy) started reading it to him during the day this past week.

There’s a line in there about a cuddly penguin – “can you flap like the penguins do?” Today, after breakfast, Smitty said to Pi, “can you flap like the penguins do?”, and Pi went to his bookshelf, pulled out the Bathtime Peekaboo book, and opened directly to the page with the penguins.

Our son is a genius.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Pix of Pi

What a difference a year makes. I've just noticed, in Pi's newborn picture, how hard they must have scrubbed him during his first bath. He has really sensitive skin.

And Away We Go...

I've resisted the siren call of the blogosphere for a while. There are so many people who do this, and so many that do it better than I could ever hope to. But this is a completely selfish adventure. My son, Pi, is 13 months old and has no baby book. Well, he has one - a few, actually - I just can't get it together to write in any of them. These electronic ruminations will have to take the place of poring through lovingly organized mementos and excruciatingly detailed descriptions of his first word, first steps, first food he flung at us, etc. I've got to get something committed to writing before it all just flies right out of my head.

Because that lie that everyone tells you? That lie that you find completely impossible to believe in those first crazy months when your life is consumed by nursing, crying, trying unsuccessfully to get the baby to sleep, feed, stop that horrible noise already, watching the clock and counting the never-ending minutes till that guy who got you into this mess (hell, it could be any guy at that point, just so I can have two seconds to pee) gets the hell home? That completely bullshit story that "it all goes by so fast"? Turns out that lie, that bullshit story - it's all true.