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the mommyhood memos: hang on for the ride

Monday, June 7, 2010

hang on for the ride

Four-and-a-half months of babyhood. This has got to be the most fun age of infancy so far. But oh my goodness, what a time of contrasts. It’s also by far the toughest!

How can the highs be so high and the lows be so low? I remember a line out of the Steve Martin movie, Parenthood. It went something like this... Would you rather spend your life on a ferris wheel or a roller coaster? I always said I’d choose the roller coaster – though less predictable, it’s so much more fun! (I think it's been about 20 years since I saw the film... was it granny that said it??)

Well, my preference for roller coasters is certainly being put to the test right now. Let this serve as a reminder to myself to hang on for the ride!

The fun things we’ve experienced:
  • The screams of delight when playing peek-a-boo.
  • Being able to “toss” baby in the air a little.
  • Baby “singing along” to his favorites.
  • Toes in the mouth!
  • Splashing in the bath.
  • Discovering cause and effect.
  • More cuddles than ever before – laying his head on my chest and snuggling in even when he’s not tired. (SO sweet!)
  • Baby chatter in full effect! (Levi’s fave word at the moment is “bla, bla, bla, bla” and he almost always says it in fours. So cute!)
  • The baby chub is well and truly developing… love the little leg rolls!
  • Adorable longing looks at mommy and daddy as we drink out of cups and eat “big boy food”.
  • Mommy and daddy are the funniest people alive – especially when we’re dancing and making faces.
The tough things we’ve experienced:
  • EARLY TEETHING. (Really? Ahhh!)
  • Busting out of the swaddle and nighttime disturbances.
  • The 45-min short nap rears its ugly head... again.
  • GROWTH SPURT.
  • Fussier (due to teething? developmental spurt? growth spurt? all of the above?!)
  • Clingier and wants to be held far more.
  • Wants to be entertained more.
  • Can we say SLEEP PROBLEMS?!
  • Four month immunizations. Ouch.
  • Oh yeah, and let’s not forget TEETHING. I already listed that? Ok, how about a third time: TEETHING.
As much as these last few weeks have thrilled me, they have also frustrated me like never before! Just when I thought I was getting the hang of this whole thing, the child goes and changes it up on me! Schedule? Nailed it... Until four months that is.

At least I know I’m not alone. Two of my favorite baby resource sites – www.babywhisperer.com and www.babywisemom.com are absolutely filled with questions from mommies trying to navigate through the 4-5 month period. And honestly, if this period wasn’t so much fun (the giggles! the play! the slobbery kisses!) I’d just want to fast-forward through it.

Thank God I have a great husband who has been there not only to back me up, but to contribute proactively in so many ways. And thank God that he’s patiently letting me debrief each day and talk through the latest baby-rearing problems without rolling his eyes and saying, “here we go again.”

Another thing that is helping me to navigate this phase is a great resource on baby development that I found: a book called The Wonder Weeks (by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij). In it the authors describe the "eight predictable, age-linked leaps in your baby's mental development characterized by crying, cranky, clingy, a change... and the development of new skills." These eight pivotal weeks in babies’ development during their first year come at weeks 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, and 55 and are described as “magical leaps forward” in babies’ development, that also come with fussiness in the weeks which surround them.

And... so far, they’ve been right on track for our household!

Levi will be 19 weeks on Friday, and I just keep reminding myself that the challenges we’re having now are leading to some great new developments in his little world. I just need to be patient and help him through it.

The Wonder Weeks describe the fussy period, which is generally during weeks 14.5 to 19.5, with week 17 being the especially stormy week... and then the big developmental jump that happens during the 19th “wonder week.”

Here’s how the Wonder Weeks describe this period for baby:
  • He may have trouble sleeping. Check.
  • He may become shy with strangers. Not really.
  • He may demand more attention. Check.
  • He may always want to be with you. Check.
  • He may be moody. Check.
  • He may cry more often or be cranky. Check.
  • He may want more physical contact. Check.
  • He may lose his appetite. Don't think so... maybe sometimes?
  • He may have pronounced mood swings. Check.
  • He may want more physical contact during nursing. Check.
For us, that's eight out of ten!

And all of that makes for some hard parenting work! Oh yeah, and they also say that this fussy period lasts longer than most of the others, which is why mothers can often wonder what in the world is wrong with their babies or what’s gone wrong with their mothering. (*sigh*)

They also describe some common things that mommy may be feeling during this period:
  • Mom may (still) be exhausted.
  • Mom may feel trapped and confined by baby’s demands and feel as if baby is calling the shots, even when you’re trying hard to maintain parent-led care.
  • Mom may feel resentful and wonder why baby won’t respond to your care and attention.
  • Mom may begin to wonder what “spoiling” your baby means and if you can somehow teach your baby that mother has feelings too.
  • Mom may have little surges of aggression when baby won’t stop screaming (which are normal, but of course must not be acted upon).
Check. Check. Check. Check. And check.

The encouraging part of all of this is... that millions (billions?) of mommies throughout history have survived these little stormy periods... and so can we—so can I. In fact, I bet if most of us were to ask our own mothers, they wouldn’t even remember our four-month fussiness and it’s all just faded into the background leaving them with only memories of our sweet chubby checks, soft little bottoms, and adorable baby chatter.

But in the midst of it, those days can feel like weeks and the weeks feel like months! Thank God that in his wisdom he gave us the fun elements of this age to help balance things out. (Because really, babies are just SO FUN at this age too.)

And, it does help to know that all of this precedes a wonder week!

The Wonder Weeks describe what happens around this particular developmental leap:
  • Dramatic increase in babies’ brain waves and sudden increase in head circumferences.
  • Rolling over from tummy to back and back to tummy.
  • Raises himself as if to try and start crawling and slides around the floor.
  • Easily sits up straight when leaning against you and attempts to sit up straight by himself by leaning on his arms (succeeds briefly).
  • Enjoys moving his mouth – puckering, siticking his tongue out.
  • Transfers objects from one hand to another, even without looking.
  • Studies and touches your mouth when you speak.
  • Pulls a cloth from his face by himself.
  • Tries grabbing things out of his reach.
  • Stares in fascination at repetitive activities (brushing hair, slicing bread, etc.)
  • Searches for you and turns around to find you.
  • Holds a book in his hands and stares at pictures.
  • Responds to his own name.
  • Genuinely understands a few words.
  • Responds appropriately to scolding or approving voice/tone.
  • Makes new sounds and strings “words” together.
  • Stretches his arms out to be picked up.
  • Smacks lips when hungry.
  • Opens his mouth and moves his face toward food.
  • Pushes (or turns) away when he’s finished eating.
  • Gets grumpy when impatient.
  • Screams in frustration if he fails to do what he’s trying.
  • (And lots more, but this list is already long enough!)
Then, what we can do to help:
  • Let him explore objects.
  • Help him do things he’s attempting but not yet successful at (rolling over, sitting, etc).
  • Mix up the playthings – not only toys but every day household objects.
  • Give him time to examine things as long as he’s interested. Don’t rush to intervene.
  • Position your baby to observe you doing different things around the house.
  • Play games like peek-a-boo and read stories.
  • Spend time in front of the mirror.
  • Talk to your baby as often as possible.
  • Use short, repetitive sentences.
  • Find a variety of ways to incorporate music into your play.
The Wonder Weeks authors also exhort mommies to remember that as much as you think your baby is a handful, he probably thinks you are too. He doesn’t understand why you can’t understand him and finds this very frustrating! And... they say that if you can just hold on, around week 21 a period of relative calm usually emerges. (I can see the light!)

So, this is the latest and greatest in the world of baby development... phew.

As hard as these last two weeks have been in our household, they’ve also been so much fun! We’ve had big swings from lots of giggles and laughter and delight... to lots of crankiness, crying, and frustration. (And this goes for both baby and mommy!)

High highs and low lows.

But really, when you boil it all down... this little stormy period will be well worth it to see my sweet boy emerging with a whole new bag of tricks in the weeks to come. And, as the old expression goes – this too, shall pass. And—as difficult as it is—I don’t want to miss it!

My babe is growing FAST and I’m still trying to soak it all in – tears, giggles, and all.

Oh mommyhood, no one promised you would be easy... but you certainly are worth it. (*sigh*, again.)







P.S. It really is a wonder... Just this morning Levi sat up by himself and lasted nearly a minute before toppling over. (And then repeated this several times after being propped up again.) He certainly didn't do this trick yesterday. Last night must have been a BIG night in his little world!


[Material summarized from The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt, Ph.D. and Frans Plooij, Ph.D. © 1992, 2010, Kiddy World Promotions B.V.]


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5 Comments:

At June 7, 2010 at 11:00 AM , Blogger The Planet Pink said...

My favorite piece of advice to give to new mommies is to remember - just when you think you've got them figured out, they change the rules. LOL That will get you far my friend. Hang in there.

 
At June 7, 2010 at 12:51 PM , Blogger Mama Hen said...

Planet Pink got that right! There is always a new phase coming. This was a great post! It is so amazing how much babies change every day! With that comes so many changes for you. Enjoy everything as much as you can! I just wrote about Little Chick growing so quickly. It seems like she was just teething not too long ago. Anyway, hope all is well! Have a great week!

Mama Hen

 
At June 7, 2010 at 1:01 PM , Blogger Mommycrat said...

I hope the immunizations went okay for you. They were pretty painless (as far as we can tell) for our little one. And she's done well with the subsequent ones too. More traumatic for me than her.

As for teething. Yeah - she started drooling all over the place at about four months and then teeth finally appeared two days ago (one day shy of eight months). It was like she was teasing, not teething. But still, oodles o' drool. About two weeks ago, it started "en force" and we were like, oh, this is it! And, yup, teeth.

And, if your guy is exploring around on his tummy now - that's awesome. Mine, hated her tummy at this age. We had her in Bumbo's and Exersaucers, but tummy was still pretty evil for her until a bit over five months. So yay you guys!

Keep enjoying all the adventures!

 
At June 14, 2010 at 3:31 AM , Blogger Cameron said...

I love the babywise mom blog!! I've even posted some questions on there & she's really helped me out! Are you a member of the Babywise group on Babycenter? Those moms are SO helpful!! I've found that I can ask questions about all kinds of things - not just babywise - and I get a lot of really constructive advice. Nobody trying to shove their "right" opinion down my throat. They'll tell you things to try & they actually want you to follow up with how it worked! Check it out if you haven't already!! http://community.babycenter.com/groups/a480755/babywise_babies_0-12_months

 
At June 26, 2010 at 12:19 PM , OpenID Kathy said...

regressions suck - we're going through one right now + 2yr molars which really suck. But hey, what can we do, right? As they say, "this too shall pass". Here's a link to my post that details all the big regressions that most babies go through: http://www.dreamybabies.ca/dreamy-babies/2010/03/how-to-survive-sleep-regressions.html.html

If you want more information about baby sleep, please visit my site as I am passionate about healthy sleep habits and well, everything baby!
www.dreamybabies.ca

 

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