Thursday, February 28, 2008

Newsletter: Month 5

Dear JB,

Today you are 5 months old.

This month you've changed so much but in such subtle ways that my mind is spinning trying to figure out how to write about it.

To begin with, you are getting bigger... When we change you we have to put you high up on the table because if we don't, when you kick you will hit your heels and feet and toes hard against the wood or plastic. When i see you kick like this, it reminds me of how you used to kick when you were inside of me. I felt the sensation, but while pregnant, couldn't really imagine what was doing that to me- an arm? a butt? a foot? It is like a donkey kick, you bring your knee up, throw your foot out, and slap your leg down with great force. I know all children kick in the womb, and perhaps there is uniformity in the way all kids kick, but I like that there is something (many things, really) that you do innately; that you either learned or instinctively knew on your own.

Many elements of your personality are emerging, things that you are or are discovering. This kicking that you do on the changing table, I recognize it as how you were kicking me when you were inside. It is something that you couldn't have learned from us, something that you brought out with you. I'll keep it in my fore-brain as a reminder that the learning is a two way street. We have as much to learn from you as you from us...

You started day care: 2 days last week, 3 days this week, and you will be full time next week. You were there for about 6 hours before your nose started running. But you are a trooper and that little cold seemed to resolve itself in a few days. You have handled the change with very little disruption to your happy personality. You nap for them for one and two hours at a time. You eat, burp, and make diaper waste without incident. You have charmed them and we are told daily you are the "cutest kid ever" (We're sure they say this to all the 'rents.)

Day care has reinforced the life lesson your moms have struggled to accept for years: that you can have anything you want, you just can' have everything you want. We want to work and maintain the lifestyle we've grown accustomed to and give you the opportunity to learn and socialize in a group play setting and we want to spend all our waking hours being your care takers... We can't have it all.

The night before you started day care (and a few subsequent nights since) we have stayed up late sewing on and ironing on labels to your clothes, linens, and other possessions. But there is a sharpie marker they use to write your name on everything anyway. I guess we'll have to name any subsequent children "JB" too so that they won't feel bad about the 6-9 month hand-me-downs.

Starting back to work, I've taken my cues from you. You are content while at day care and bring plenty of smiling energy home to us. (We should be so successful: to be content and productive at work and fully present at home.) I know you have no "object permanence", so we should not judge ourselves too harshly compared to your ability to enjoy the best of all experiences but we work toward your example none-the-less. I've done my best "zen" impression (fake it 'till you make it, right?) with the breast feeding and so far the pumping has worked out- there is enough food for you around the clock.

Speaking of eating, we have started you on some solid foods. Rice cereal, then sweet potatoes, and this week some peas. You're up to 3 tablespoons of cereal and 1/2 jar of food once a day. We feed you at night around 5 or 6pm and it starts your pm routine: eat, play, naked time, bath, massage, story time/ lullabies, bottle/boobie, and then bed. You do so well with this routine but we try not to congratulate ourselves too much. First of all, we know it could change on a dime (your tolerance and enjoyment of the routine). Also, we know that you practically created this schedule... when we bathed you, you settled down so thoroughly and so endearingly, it was a no-brainer to repeat your bath daily; when we undressed you for the bath, you got so verbal and giggly that we extended "naked time" for our own entertainment purposes; when we weren't sure what time to initiate the routine, your tired eyes told us clearly, "between 7 and 8."

This month, after coming so close for weeks, you rolled over from your back to your stomach. We missed it the first several times, looking up after you were in your new position. Once you started, it continued. You can spend 5-10 minutes on your stomach before you get frustrated about your inability to roll back. Now in your crib, you pretty much end up on your stomach every night. It suits you and you seem to sleep more soundly, though still not for more than 4-5 hours at a time. Sometimes you whimper in your sleep, and sometimes you laugh in your sleep. In both cases, your mommies run into your room to admire you and imagine what you might be thinking about.

In the last month, you have woken up to the possibilities of the toys that have been right in front of you all this time. You are much more aware and engaged. You have gotten so much better at using your hands. Grabbing for things constantly, you are starting to understand the purpose of fingers beyond the exploration of your own mouth. We're watching in delight as you figure out how to make toys spin and light up. You reach out and grab at and play with our faces and fingers.

Your exploring hands are tiny and fumbling. It looks like you are nervously and eagerly searching our flesh and skin for illusive "answers." We are amazed too at how vital it is for you to suck and "taste" everything that you come in contact with. It sometimes seems like you are sure if you can just get an item into your mouth, you will have attained some deeply sought-after knowledge.

We assembled a new piece of baby gear this month. It is called the "Rainforest Jumperoo."

It is the grandchild of the "walkers." Walkers were toys on wheels from the 1970's that babies could sit and play in, that allowed feet to touch the floor. They stopped making walkers when too many babies (left unattended) rolled themselves off of top floor landings. The Jumperoo lets your feet touch the floor, but it is stationary. Having springs instead of wheels, you can bounce up and down and play with all of the dials and spinning attachments. It looks like fun. And it makes you seem so much older now that you can support your torso and bounce a little in a vertical plane.

The other thing that has happened in our family this month is that we have been going to a lot of outings in support of marriage equality. Before you were even born, your two moms were taped for a film talking about why mommies should be allowed to marry mommies and daddies should be allowed to marry daddies and marriage should not just be a word reserved for mommies who love daddies. When they have screened the film, we have gone to those events to meet attendees and answer questions. Each time, you stole the show with your big blue eyes

and your tendency to smile

at anyone who smiles at you.

Having such a "well-behaved" and "portable" baby has made these evenings out possible. But you are the biggest reason why we are using precious time in this way. Now that we have you, we have to "set a good example" and "put our money where our mouth is" and teach you through our actions that sometimes you have to be willing to stand up and do your part to change the world... You can't just wish for change and hope that others will take care of it for you.

It is a pretty interesting time to live in this country. There is a presidential election coming up in November and many of us are hoping for a change in leadership. We won't put too much about politics in these letters, but your civics lessons might start on these pages... You should know how rare it is to live in a place like America. This is a country where it is normal for a president to serve and then when his/her term is up to walk out of the white house and become a "regular citizen" again. In most countries, shifts in leadership do not occur without violence. Though there are many problems with our governement, generally, any adult can participate whether by voting, or running for office. This election, is being labeled as "historic" because there will either be a black, multi-ethnic man or a woman on the ballot for POTUS. In either case, it will be the first time in our nation's history that these groups are represented in a presidential candidate. Many of us believe, this day and this type of diversity in candidates for the presidency is long overdue, but I'm glad that it is finally happening now. I'm glad you will grow up steeped in this new political normalcy.

You are our treasure!
We love you so much!
Your mommies

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