Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ten months of Avery!

Doesn't it seem like these monthly updates are coming with increasing frequency? Avery turned ten months old on Thursday! In retrospect, the time does seem to have passed quickly, though there have been spans of time that dragged: it seemed like we would never get out of the newborn stage. I have celebrated each step towards independence and every milestone that brings Avery closer to operating independently in the world (as in, not needing ME to function every minute of every day). At the same time, I look ahead and feel her slipping away from me already and I want to freeze her right now and keep her as my little baby forever. I want to keep her safe from the world and everything in it. We are now in a wonderful place where she is able to play independently, and has fewer needs in general, but she is also still sweetly dependent on us for snuggles, guidance and care. This is the best stage so far!

Avery is such a joyful baby. She is smiling all the time. We are very lucky in that regard! She is so much fun to be around.

As you can see, her hair continues to grow and thicken. I don't want to cut bangs on her, and she won't let me put bows in it anymore, so it often just hangs in her eyes, which I don't like either, but I figure soon it will be long enough to put behind her ears or pull it back.

Yesterday we finally bought a safety gate for the stairs since it seemed every time we turned around she was climbing up them again. She is becoming quite the little explorer with her new found mobility and agility. She is now standing on her own for several seconds at a time! She hasn't figured out how to do it, really... she mostly just forgets to hold on to something and finds herself standing independently on accident, looking exhilarated before plopping down on her padded bum. She can walk behind her walker-wagon and holding on to our hands for balance. Everyone likes to say, just wait till she's walking then she'll be into everything and you'll spend your whole day chasing her! But I'm excited for her to begin walking so we can go to the water park, the beach and the playground.
She still doesn't eat much. She will eat bites off my plate... or not, depending on her mood. If she is not interested in eating, she will clamp her mouth shut or spit the food out. She hardly ever feeds herself. If I give her chunks of food on her tray she will smear them around, squish them in her chubby little hands, or throw them on the floor. This is yet another area where parenting in reality has been very different from what I imagined. I pictured her being enthusiastic about foods and eating regular "meals" by the time she was one. Now it seems far off still that she will be eating with any regularity. She still gets the majority of her calories by far from breastmilk. One of my friends is talking about weaning her baby, who is two months younger than Avery. There is no way I could wean Avery right now. I mean, not without significant emotional trauma to both her and me. It's ok - I had planned on breastfeeding for a couple of years anyway, but I thought it would be a much smaller part of the picture by now, and certainly by two years. Now I'm reconsidering that and wondering how long she will continue to turn her nose up at solid foods. Will she still be getting the majority of her nutrition from me a year from now?!
Annnnnnd sleep. Ah, sleep! I remember it fondly! I laugh at my pregnant self now - I had such quaint notions. I read Dr. Weissbluth's book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child while I was pregnant and it gave me such completely unrealistic expectations. Perhaps your experience was different from mine, and if so, please let me know in the comments because I'm really interested in what you did that worked, but I haven't learned anything useful from any of the sleep books I've read. After reading Weissbluth, I thought, ok, I can do this, just let the baby cry because she needs to learn how to soothe herself. Then I was presented with my actual baby and discovered I would go to the ends of the earth to prevent her any suffering or hardship whatsoever. You guys, baby tears. BABY TEARS! Unbearable. Maybe that's just me.

Anyway, now I'm appalled at some of his suggestions, including one that if your baby cries so hard she vomits, you should wait until later to clean it up because if you go in there you will set back your sleep training progress. WTF Weissbluth?! Just leave your baby crying in her own vomit! She must learn to self soothe! I kid you not; that is a suggestion in his book. AVOID.

So I've found with my actual real life baby (not the one in my pregnant person's imagination) that I can't or won't let her cry for a variety of reasons and not only because I'm a martyr or have a bleeding heart. Trust me, I'm not exactly a "baby person" so it's not out of enjoyment or goodness that I continue to minister to her every whimper in the small hours of the night. It's because she's a PERSON. Not a little doggie to be trained that no one is coming when you cry at night so you might as well go back to sleep, but a human being. If Adam or anyone else I loved was crying bitterly in the night for a hug or because he was thirsty and couldn't get himself a drink, or because he was scared, I wouldn't just ignore it. Nor do I expect her to be able to soothe herself. She can't do anything else for herself! She can't eat or drink or wipe her own bum! Why on earth would I expect her to know how to soothe herself? If I consider how the world looks to her, especially how it looks when she wakes up alone in the middle of the night - it's probably kind of scary. (I also believe there are some babies who benefit from working out a little emotional tension at night and if their parents recognize that and everyone's happy, that's great! But it's definitely not our baby or our situation.) Having said all that, I still sometimes wonder if I'm "doing it wrong". I second guess myself. I wonder if she will ever (EVER) sleep through the night or on her own.

It's the best of times... it's the worst of times. I mean the night. Sometimes when I'm cuddled up with her and Adam is breathing softly on the other side of the bed, I just think it's the best. So sweet and peaceful. Other times my skin is just crawling and I don't want her nursing on me anymore and I just want my space and some uninterrupted sleep! When I feel like that I try to remind myself how much I will miss these sweet sleepy snuggles in a few years. Avery rolls on her side and puts her baby hand on my chest and drifts back to sleep. I sigh and relish her babyness.

I hesitate to write it for fear of jinxing it, but last night she slept in her crib for four hours and this morning she took an 80 minute nap. I have hope.

Still cute. Still lighting up our lives. I remember this time last year - only 8 weeks till she's born! Now it's just 8 weeks till she's a year old! So much can happen in a year. A year ago we wouldn't have a baby for two more months and now we have a ten month old.

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