Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Eight months old

Dear Annika,

Today you are eight months old. We are in prime Peak of the Baby season, and it is glorious.

This month it feels like rather than any major breakthroughs, you've been working on building upon the skills you already have. You sit endlessly by now, and are happiest like that, playing. You've spent a lot of time this past month working on getting up on all fours--you can get up on your knees, though you don't usually hold the position for long, and you also do a lot of planking and downward dog. It seems like progress toward crawling, though I think that may still be a ways away. You're also starting to be very interested in standing, and can hold yourself up for quite some time if we put your hands on the furniture.


This month you've expanded your communication skills, too. You babble a lot and have started copying a bunch of our noises. You vocalize instead of crying frequently when you're upset, and if I didn't know better I might think you're saying the word "more"--every time you run out of food at a meal you wave your arms and repeat "meh, meh" until we give you more food. It's very consistent, but you also seem fond of that sound in general so unless I see more conclusive evidence, for now I'm chalking it up to a coincidence. You also know your name, and consistently respond to it. You're very interested in clapping, and get a huge smile on your face when we ask you to do it, and you've even managed to do it on request a few times, though not consistently.

You are as into toys as your brother was, and play with them constantly. You love to wave them around and bang them on the floor, and have recently started banging toys against one another to play. Your fine motor skills continue to be strong, and you're surprisingly good at picking up little things and maneuvering them how you want. You also continue to love peekaboo. You are really into going out and seeing new places, and will get fussy if we keep you cooped up at home for too long. This month has been the first month of summer vacation, so you've been spending many days at the pool with your brother, which you love--you splash and kick and don't even seem to mind when you get water in your face.

You remain very social, giving us huge smiles and squeals when you see us. You love other babies and mirrors, and light up with a giant smile whenever we take you near a mirror you know is coming, and reach out to pat your reflection as soon as we bring you close enough. You've also developed separation anxiety this month, and will cry if we hand you to anyone you don't know, though it passes fairly quickly after some time together.

You continue to love eating, and we still have not found a single food you don't like. You hoover up whatever we give you, most often items from our own meal, and squawk for more. You've also upped your formula consumption this month, to about 35 ounces a day, sometimes creeping up toward 40. You weigh just under 22 pounds, which puts you at the 97th percentile for weight, and I think you're about 29.5" long, which keeps your height off the charts. You're just starting to move into size 12-18 month clothes. You still have two teeth, the bottom middles, and I suspect one of the top teeth might make an appearance sometime in the next few weeks.


Your relationship with your brother remains the sweetest thing I've ever seen. You two just love each other so much, and it's so incredible to watch. You play together so much, and you're so interested in each other. There's a lot of hugging and even some roughhousing, which you don't seem to mind at all. Whenever Callum is in the room, you just light up, and gaze at him adoringly with a huge smile on your face. He can do no wrong in your eyes, and sometimes watching the two of you together, I get the briefest glimpse of the team you will become, and it's just the best thing ever.

You also continue to sleep great. You are still in your routine of sleeping about 11 hours, sometimes 12, straight at night, from about 8:30 to 7:30 or 8 most days, with one nap, usually 2-3 hours long, during the day. You ruptured your eardrum twice this month--the first time it was because of an ear infection we didn't know you had, and the second time was bad luck due to flying not long after the first rupture healed. You seem to have a high tolerance for pain--ruptured eardrums are supposed to be incredibly painful but both times you continued sleeping fine and acting normal, and we would never have known anything was wrong if we hadn't noticed the drainage from your ear. Your eyes are still blue, and your pediatrician commented that she thinks they may stay that way, as if anything, they seem to be getting lighter.

You remain the most delightful, cheerful, adorable little baby. You are just so chubby and happy and I just want to squeeze you and eat you right up because you are so deliciously amazing. We all feel the same way about you--you are just the perfect addition to our family, and you make everything just right.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Seven months old

Dear Annika,

Today you are seven months old. Closer to a year than to birth. Let's not discuss it.

It feels like a lot has changed this past month in terms of your skills, your disposition, and the way you spend your time. By now you are a master sitter and can sit unsupported indefinitely (though we still put a pillow behind you to accommodate the occasional crash). As a result, you spend most of your play time sitting or playing on your belly (you will often get yourself from sitting to prone-on-the-belly on purpose by leaning forward as far as you can and then kind of toppling off your butt). If we lay you on your back, you immediately flip to your belly and start thrashing. While you aren't mobile in any true sense of the word, you are working hard on getting up on your knees, and are getting closer every day, and you've nailed the roll/thrash/pivot combo that sometimes allows you wiggle toward items of interest, particularly phones and electronics. You continue to love toys of all types, and one of your very favorites is Sophie the Giraffe. I don't know what it is about what is essentially a $20 rubber dog toy, but you love that thing, and will grab it and bang it against another toy or a floor/table repeatedly to make it squeak.

This month it also feels like you've become a lot less sensitive to overstimulation. Until just after you turned six months, you would get cranky or cry if you were overstimulated, particularly when you were tired, when you very much wanted to be left alone. It was all normal baby stuff, but this month you've turned a corner and while you're still a generally sensitive little person, you're more easily able to roll with the punches and we don't worry about taking you out in the evenings, taking you to loud or crowded places, or people getting in your face too much the way we did before. It's very refreshing. You remain generally mellow and cheerful, though you've started indicating that you enjoy a change of pace--you don't want to just sit around the living room all day when you know that you could be out! And about! Seeing new things! And taking it all in.

You are not a specifically loud baby, but you have mastered the ability to vocalize quite a range of noises. We hear all sorts of consonant babble, squawks, and shrieks, particularly when you are displeased with something. You're also very interested in hand gestures, and you watch us very intently whenever we clap our hands or wave, though you haven't yet attempted to do those things on your own. You love peekaboo especially, and cannot get enough of it. You laugh easily and heartily, particularly when you're playing with your brother, whom you continue to adore. I am still amazed by how well the two of you play together already--there's so much more interaction than I was expecting at such a young age, and you both laugh hysterically when you play together, and clearly love each other so much already, which is basically the best thing ever.

This month you've also started eating FOOD! In earnest! And you LOVE it! We skipped cereal and purees entirely and started right in on table food, and you are in heaven. We have fed you everything from fruit and veggies to meat to cheese to peanut butter, and you love it all. We have literally not found a single food item that you don't like, but particular favorites seem to be eggs (scrambled or fried), broccoli, pickles, peanut butter, pasta, and fruit of all kinds. You just love to eat, and you're surprisingly good at it--I'm always amazed at how much you actually ingest when you feed yourself. The self-feeding has advanced your fine motor skills, too, and by now you're very good at grabbing and maneuvering small items. I also handed you a straw cup of water the other day, figuring you would enjoy playing with it but that it would be a few months before you figured out the mechanics--and two minutes later I heard slurping and saw your mouth (and shirt) full of water. You are just very motivated to get consumable items in your mouth, and it is fantastic. You've also gotten two teeth this month (the bottom middles), so that will only further your quest to consume as much solid food as possible. You had a couple fussy days with each tooth, but nothing too awful, so we are grateful for that.

In addition to solid foods, you continue to eat plenty of formula, usually 32-35 ounces in a day, give or take a few. You remain quite chunky, according to my home measurements, which put you at around 20.5 pounds and 29 inches long, which is 94th percentile for weight and off the charts for height. You are still in size 6-12 month clothing, and I think we have another couple months of that before you grow into size 12-18. You've also settled into a good sleeping routine that I wouldn't mind seeing continue for awhile--you generally sleep from about 8:30 p.m. to 7:30 or 8 a.m., then take about a three-hour nap in the middle of the day, with an awake chunk of about 4-5 hours before the nap and 5-6 hours after the nap. You've also learned how to turn on your mobile yourself (by banging your hand repeatedly against the base until you bump the button), so often when you wake up you will turn on your mobile and hang out peacefully in your crib, watching it. (This almost makes up for that one time when you turned it on at 3 a.m. and scared us half to death.)

Generally it's just starting to feel like you are more and more of a person, and not so much a newborn anymore. You do so many big girl things: sitting! Eating! Playing interactively! You just have such a personality, and it is so very delightful. It fits in so perfectly with our family dynamic, and you just fit in so perfectly with our family. We are so lucky to have you.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Six months old

Dear Annika,

Today you are six months old. It's your half birthday!

You continue to be the most delightful baby. You are mellow and happy basically all the time. You have a huge grin that you offer up constantly, and an adorable baby belly laugh, which your brother is especially good at producing. You have plumped up and have that classic-baby look of arm and leg rolls, cherubic face, big blue eyes, and gummy smile.

This month has been all about gross motor skills for you. You are now rolling very consistently from your back to your belly, and sometimes over again onto your back, though that direction is harder for you. The most you've achieved so far is three consecutive rolls in the same direction, making me wonder if you're going to follow in your brother's footsteps by learning to roll as a mode of transportation. When you're on your belly, you push your whole chest off the floor while flailing your legs in a manner that looks distinctly like pre-crawling. You're still a ways away from actually crawling, however, so I'll accept it. You've also learned how to sit up this month, and can do it unsupported for many minutes at a time, though you're still a little wobbly and jerky and therefore require spotting and/or soft pillows around you when you sit. You've also discovered your feet for real this month, and just last night managed to get your toes into your mouth, a trick you proceeded to repeat for the rest of the evening.

You continue to be very chatty, and make all sorts of coos and babbling noises. You make lots of consonant sounds by now, and you get very excited and wave your arms and legs while babbling when you catch sight of us. When you're angry or want something, you often yell or babble angrily instead of crying, which I consider a step in the right direction.

photo 3 (4)

Now that you're six months old, the solid foods can begin! We cheated by a couple days by handing you a couple of bread crusts and bagel chunks to gnaw on (this is the curse/delight of being the second child, compared to Callum where we developed a carefully curated program of organic whole grain cereal, followed by pureed veggies and then fruits), and you were delighted. Soon we will begin solid foods in earnest, and our plan is to skip the purees altogether. Somehow I suspect that you will be delighted, if your reaction to your first finger foods is anything to go on. You're still eating tons of formula--you actually bumped up your intake significantly this month, possibly during a growth spurt? You end up taking somewhere in the vicinity of about 34 ounces of formula most days.

Possibly related to this growth spurt, your size continues to be... well, large. You wear exclusively size 6-12 month clothing, and my extremely amateur at-home measurements put you somewhere around 28 inches long (99th percentile) and 19.5 pounds (94th percentile). Your baby chub is quite impressive by now.

You're still sleeping great. We weaned you off the swaddle this month with no issues, and now you often roll onto your belly to sleep, though not always. You've been futzing with your routine for awhile and you seem to have landed on something that works for all of us, at least for the time being. The exact schedule varies from day to day, but generally speaking you sleep for about 11 hours at night with no wakeups, from 9-8. You've scaled down to one nap daily, which is usually about 2-3 hours long, for total sleep of about 13-14 hours per day. I'm sure you'll totally change things up again soon, but in the meantime, we are liking this current schedule.

You've become really into toys this month, and seem to be developing a sense of object permanence, as one of your favorite games is to drop your toys and then peer down after them expectantly. This is where it's convenient that you have a brother, as he will stop whatever he's doing to come fish your toys up off the floor and hand them back to you. And speaking of your brother, you totally adore him--you clearly think that he hung the moon, which I wasn't expecting to occur so young, but it's delightful. I also wasn't expecting you two to actually play together so early, but there we have it--he crawls around on the floor with you, plays with toys with you, and bounces you in your jumperoo, all while you stare at him adoringly and chortle delightedly every time he moves.

You do seem to have a sensitive streak (which I can relate to so closely, I wonder why?), especially when you're tired. You can roll with pretty much everything when you're well-rested, but if you're getting close to needing sleep, you do not like strangers or unexpected loud noises. You also do not appreciate sensory overload when you're tired--you prefer not to be touched or looked at when you're trying to go to sleep. This is something that's exclusive to your tired moods--when you're rested you aren't picky about these things at all. You are also kind of a pukey baby--not spitty but legitimate barf, the kind that comes up with force and goes out your mouth AND your nose. You don't do it all the time; it seems to come in cycles where you do it a lot for many days in a row and then go many more days without doing it at all. I don't know if you just have a sensitive gag reflex or what, but since you're growing fine I assume it's basically fine, though I'll probably mention it to your pediatrician at your well-visit next week. Sadly you were in a barfy stage when we flew to North Carolina this week, making you three for three on flights featuring extended screaming followed by barfing all over yourself and me. Alas.

Barfing aside, however, you remain a positively adorable and delightful baby. Even though you're still so little, you're already such a companion for all of us. Your presence is so important to our family, and I couldn't imagine having it any other way.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Five months old

Dear Annika,

Today you are five months old. This is a prime chunky baby age, and it is delightful.

You have become an extremely vocal baby this month. You are figuring out your vocal cords in earnest, and the results have been... squawky. You light up and let out a string of delighted babbling when you catch sight of us. You "talk" back to us when we talk to you. When you hear voices or noises around you, you crane your neck to see what's going on. You shriek when you're displeased or when you're playing with toys, and you have become quite ear-piercing. You're also babbling and talking generally more, and the beginnings of a few consonant sounds, particularly "ma," have started to make occasional appearances in your repertoire.

Like your brother before you, you've taken a bit of a break from rolling over after doing it regularly for a couple months. Unlike your brother, however, you are very focused at this point on learning how to sit and on bearing weight on your legs as much as possible. You adore your jumperoo, and if we put you in a standing position holding on to a piece of furniture, you can support yourself without anyone's help for an impressively long time. You desperately want to sit up, but you haven't figured out the tripod sit yet and just lean further and further forward until you're basically folded in half when we try. By now your core is strong enough that you can be carried on our hips, and I love walking around with you like that, as you look all around while clinging to my arm with one pudgy hand.

You continue to sleep great at night, usually around 11 hours straight, but you've been futzing with your nap schedule this month. It seems that, again like your brother before you, you are trying to drop your second nap very early. This would be fine except that you don't always sleep as long as you need to during your first nap, and are then an exhausted wreck by the evening. You've been giving us very clear signals that you'd like to go to bed earlier, and we've been resisting because we're afraid of you waking up too early, but last night we gave in and put you to bed before 8 because you were so clearly exhausted and cranky, and--you slept 12.5 hours straight. Fine, then. We'll keep following your cues if that's going to be the result. And if you keep doing that, then maybe this one-nap thing will actually work out. You are still sleeping swaddled, and I'm starting to get the impression that you don't need to be anymore, but we're also transitioning you from napping in the swing to napping in the crib, and between that and your shift in nap schedules, I want to hold off on weaning you from the swaddle until the other sleep stuff has settled down.

You continue to grow right along your same curves. My at-home measurements from this morning put you at 17 pounds, 7 ounces (87th percentile) and 27 inches (98th percentile). You wear mostly size 6-12 month clothing, though I still occasionally stuff you in some of my favorites from your 3-6 month wardrobe. You are still eating about 30 ounces of formula daily, give or take a few ounces. We haven't started you on solid food yet, and I think we'll hold off another month. You aren't displaying a specific interest--you do watch while we eat, but you watch everything we do, so I don't think that's specific to a solid food interest so much as a general curiosity about what is going on around you.

You continue to adore your brother. You smile and laugh whenever you catch sight of him, and if he's near you, you refuse to take your eyes off him. You chortle gleefully whenever he comes close. It's amazing to me how quickly you seem to have figured out that he's your guy, your special person, the one who will share your childhood like nobody else.

You really like toys by now, and have gotten quite good at reaching out and picking things up, passing them back and forth between your hands, and stuffing them in your mouth. You are very drooly and you suck your thumb sometimes, but not regularly. Your brother got his first tooth shortly before six months old, so I'm wondering if you'll follow in his footsteps in the next month or so, but so far your gums are smooth and we've seen no signs of teething.

By now it feels like we're all in a great rhythm. Things are humming along, we are all feeling content, and as the weather gets warmer we're starting to enjoy lots more family walks and outings, which is lovely for everyone. It's amazing how seamlessly you fit into our lives. I already can't imagine life without you. And that's exactly the way I always hoped it would be.