Monday, January 28, 2008

Newsletter: Month 4

Dear JB,

Today you are 4 months old.

This month, we are basking in the glory of 5 and 6 hour stretches of sleep. A few times, you even slept from 9pm to 5:30 am. Though you are keeping us on our toes this week (slipping back to 3 and 4 hour naps at night,) in terms of maintaining parental mental stability, longer nighttime sleep cycles are huge. The major uncertainty related to regulating your schedule is we don't know how much you eat, (or how much you need to eat for that matter.) We don't know if you are waking up because you are hungry, because you are bored, or because your bones hurt due to the fact that you are growing like one of those foam animal capsules in water.

Side bar: You have your 4 month well-visit on Friday. We are curious about the vital stats because you seem so huge to us. We're pretty sure you can't have kept up the growth pace of your first 2 months, but we are nervous that they will want to take pictures for some medical text or circus guidebook for overgrown mammals; or they will tell me I've been overfeeding you...

Let's cut to the (newsletter) chase- developmental milestones:

1) This month you have gained some serious neck and head control. You tolerate "tummy time" for up to 10 minutes at a time and you bring your head and shoulders high off the ground/bed/blanket. Due to this newly earned "muscle strength" you even help out more with the breastfeeding...I mean, it's not all on me to hold your head in perfect alignment anymore.

In addition to your Giddy-up-and-go gym, your activities this month include sitting up in this cool baby chair called a Bumbo. The Bumbo is made of a polyurethane hard foam. It is designed to support you up high on your back and pinch your legs into front "holders". This is basically a free-standing gym for babies. When Mac was little, she would start sitting in the Bumbo, head up and giggling, but after a few minutes, she would be crying and slumped over.

You take the workout well, but usually throw up before we pull you out of there. Some runners run until they throw up too... (I'm telling you about this here because I doubt you will ever see me run or exercise until I throw up.)

Though the Bumbo is manufactured in South Africa, it was recalled this year along with about 1000 toys produced in China. We were worried because we love the Bumbo, but it turned out that the "recall" consisted of bringing the toy back to the store to get a sticker slapped on it which read: "WARNINGPrevent Falls; Never use on any elevated surface.” The company further advised "Consumers should use the Bumbo seat at ground level, but should never leave a child unattended." Apparently, parents were putting their kids in their Bumbos and leaving them on the top of refrigerators and such; then somehow blaming the company for their incredible stupidity. Soon we will have to have warning labels on dimes: Choking hazard; citizens should never give to children to teethe or suckle.

Anyway, the greatest part of the Bumbo is that it offers you the chance to play while sitting up on your own- to see the world from a different perspective. And we like getting to see you in a new, hip, upright position too.

2) You've found your hands. Watching you discover your hands was delicious (though soggy.) It took about 2 weeks. When you first started trying to bring your hand to your mouth, you would extend your arm straight up over your head, and drag the fist over your head and face until you found your mouth after excruciating effort. Your hand always remained closed because though you knew you had a hand, the knowledge of fingers still did not exist. You shoved that paw into your mouth and sometimes used paw number two to push paw number one in deeper. You were un-phased by the choking that followed this maneuver. Over a little time, though, you've started to spread your digits a little and suck your thumbs (at least as often as gnawing on your whole fist.) Your mama likes the fact that you have this self-soothing tendency, and i agree except there is so much drooling that we've started to put you in bibs.

3) You are well into your oral fixation and have started to actually bring toys and other things to your mouth. I know this sounds obvious, but until the last few days of this month, you didn't have the first idea how to reach out and grab for things, so how could you possibly get them to your mouth. I am really proud of the progress you've made in "grabbing" and "grasping" things. You are a real detective, troubleshooting this objective and you are just as likely to bring your head down the item you want to chow on as you are to realize that you can bring it up to your mouth.

We are still truly amazed at your temperament. At a few points this month, we noticed that you have started "whining" or "whimpering" either when you want something, are bored, or would like us to pay more attention to you. We have caught ourselves calling you "fussy" and then kind of chuckle because we think if parents with a real fussy baby heard us put you in that category, they would toss a brick at our skulls. You smile and laugh and coo and talk. If there are a lot of people around or you find yourself in a louder or busier atmosphere than normal, you get quiet, and really observe. When you startle, you are easily calmed, reassured, and eager to settle down.

I have started obsessively "eyeballing" you at night. I guess every parent does this, and it's not brand new to me either. But before when I was checking on you, it was always to "make sure you were breathing." When you were so new and little, it seemed impossible to trust the fact that you were really here and your little body was doing all that it needed to do to function. But now, seemingly for the first time, I want to go in and just look at you while you sleep not out of panic, but to offer a little rejuvenating "coffee break" to my heart. I'm not sure why at 4 months have i only now discovered this little pick me up. I guess I was too busy with logistics before and perhaps running on automatic pilot. Now, I just want to soak you in and eat you up (as we Italians are inclined to say.)

This month, we picked out a day care for you to start going to next month. Your mommies are lucky because waiting this long could have really blown up in our face. We were told a long time ago to pick the day care before you were born. We were advised that day care hunting for an "imaginary" child was possible, but once you were here, no daycare would be good enough. Alas, you were born 2 weeks early, and we weren't really on top of the day care scene before that. Then, time slipped away and the holidays came, and let's be honest, this was just a procrastinatory form of denial.

We made a slew of calls to see who had openings and what costs were involved and then went to see 4 day care centers in one day. The first visit was like my first visit to a nursing home. When I walked in, the sights and smells were so foreign to my brain that I thought I was going to throw up for about 10 minutes. Then over the next 20 or so minutes, I started to open up to the experience. The next center, we liked much better. I still don't know if they got a higher rating because of that sensory explosion I experienced at the first place, but experts say, "you've got to trust your instincts in these things." At the 3rds stop, I told your mom she could stay for the "tour" if she wanted, but I would meet her in the car. (Compared to #1 and #2, the place was a "Horra Show" [as one from RI might twang].)

After much discussion and weighing out of options, we made a trip to town-of-my-childhood where your cousins are in day care together, and where Mac has thrived for nearly 1.5 years. And this is where the "lucky" part comes in... We all hit the timing just right- there's a spot for you right next to Cam, and for now the one thing your mommies know is that we are not in it alone. We have your aunt and uncle who have been trying this place out and "watching" them watch your cousins... We have your grandparents as back up, if we should have emergencies at work... and instead of 2 sets of eyes and 2 hearts observing the effect of day care on you, there will be closer to 7 sets (and here I'm counting on Mac too- who will be there all day, every day... Aunties' little spy!)

The transition to day care is going to be difficult for us. Probably harder for us than for you. I know that I will miss you- pure and simple. We will have considerably less time together as a family. But there will be structure there that we cannot provide. And social opportunities that an only child could not experience without this arrangement. Even though we could never live the life we live and stay in this house if one of us gave up our salary, it is not a purely financial decision. Your mommies are trying to trust that there are things we can provide that no one else could (in terms of loving you, protecting you, and wanting what is best for you.) AND, to be fair, there are things (such as structured stimulation, some semblance of a schedule, and uninterrupted attention to your development and care) that experts might offer you better than your mommies can...

But did mention that we will miss you when you are not with us??? This is going to be some major separation anxiety!!!

I've been noticing your hands a lot lately. (Probably because I've been watching you notice them for the first time.) Above, I called them "paws" and they are sturdy and padded like a large dog's paws. Your dexterity is obviously clumsy, and you are not yet able to accurately direct the movements of your fingers and wrists. Still, your movements are intricate and fumbling and sweet. When you are excited, you roll one hand over the other rapidly. When you are hungry or crying or calming down you clench those fists tight, whitening your knuckles. When you are stressed, you bring a hand up to cover your eyes, or hold your head (which is insanely similar to the way I nervously rub the back of my head when I am upset.) When you are Zen or sleepy, you sweep an open hand over our skin or your toys. This sweet stroking motion makes me consider all of the things that we humans ask our hands to do: turn keys and tie shoes and dig holes and shovel snow; throw balls, thread needles, type stories, run speaker wire, pound nails, change channels, make art, play music, communicate subtleties, express empathy, demonstrate affection, actualize love.

When we look at you- the very personification of love in our lives- we can only hope that we set a good example and teach you how to use your hands for good: to be courageous in your tenderness toward others; to be generous and strong in the traditional sense but also in the ways that will be unique expressions of your personality.

We love you.
Your mommies

1 comment:

Dozer said...

These newsletters are so special! It will be so amazing someday for Jake to read them! :-)