lulu letters: month 7

Hello, my beautiful garbanzo bean.


This month held so much.


It was a vegetable cornucopia, and you are a greens queen.


You’ve gained more control over your body. You are so strong, so determined and focused, and less spastic overall. You mastered rolling from your tummy to your back, and you scooch 360-degrees, all around your playmat. You haven’t quite figured out how to scooch forward, which means that, after struggling to grab a toy just out of reach, you decide to focus on another toy instead.


Laundry seems just a bit more manageable these days. Your spit up has dissipated significantly – so much so that I don’t always feel a dire need to put a bib on you, and the last load of laundry only had one bib (versus 12). You also rarely wake up in the morning with a poop explosion that seeps through your diaper, pajamas, and even sleep sack.


We continued our nap journey, which finally – for real this time – seems to be taking a turn for the better. It would actually make quite an interesting chart. Each day these past five months or so a point, an overall upward trajectory, but like an EKG, all over the place.


Every month moves more quickly than the last. I can’t imagine how fast time will move years from now. I have a feeling I’ll be constantly trying to catch it, like a feather floating just out of reach.



4.17


You have so many small shifts. Between me, Papa, Mema, and Pops, we catch most of them. Like how you were much less focused on putting your ball in your mouth in your highchair last night – and much more focused on batting it around spastically.


Some things are more consistent. Like how you still get the biggest kick out of watching me brush my teeth. I save toothbrushing for you, because it brings the biggest smile to your face. Every single time.


The Itsy Bitsy Spider also remains a big hit. I played it on the piano for you yesterday, and you knew it was coming as soon as I sustained “The…” I said and played “itsy,” and you were beside yourself. Pops says it looked like you were mouthing the words along with me. I believe it.


p.s. Your naps so far today:

  1. 8:35 - 9:20 am (WHAT.)

  2. 11:15 am - 12:45 pm (WHAT.)



4.18


I don’t want to jinx it, but let’s just say thanks for the naps of late. They seem to be ever so slowly shifting for the better. You slept for nearly 2.5 hours for your late morning nap on the 15th and nearly 90 minutes yesterday. I don’t think you’ve taken such long naps in your crib since Month 1, and you’ve actually gone down for a few afternoon naps in your crib. Unheard of.


On the flip side, you’ve been waking up sleep-crying around 4 am the past few nights and, oddly, struggling to settle yourself down. We’ve resorted to putting you on the bed between us, where you and Papa drift back not slumber — and I lie mostly awake, having irrational fears of you suffocating in the blankets or rolling on you. Ah well.


Can’t have it all!



Your sense of humor is so stereotypically baby. Today I bounced a ball up and down, catching it on the way up, and you nearly fell over. You were so stinking tired, but it was like I Love to Laugh from Mary Poppins: You couldn’t stop.


Your laugh is still kind of a cackle cough with a twinge of giggle stirred into the mix. More often than not, you don’t quite break the sound barrier, landing on silent smiles with intermittent squeaks.



4.19


I can’t handle the myriad adorable aspects of you. The way you hold your arms out slightly away from your body, your hands open with fingers slightly curled, as if ready to reach or grab or gesticulate. Anticipating. And how, when you get excited, you flap your arms with your palms facing backward, like some kind of swim stroke.


You are a belly sleeper these days! Most naps and nights now, I find you facedown, sleeping away all cozy. I finally trust it.


You also have perpetually scratchy nails. No matter how often I cut and file those puppies (every other morning lately), they’re always somehow long enough for scritch-scratching everything – couch and chair and pillows, faces...I often read while you nurse in the morning, and you reach back to scritch-scratch the pages of the book. That said, your face rarely has scratches anymore!


Remember how you try to grab the feather images on the couch pillows? Two-dimensional images look frustrating lately. You try to grab the animals on your playmat and objects in books. Mema says it feels mean, so she eventually flips over the playmat to the patterned side, so you’re not tortured by the animals. Learning is hard. (Your Mama also isn’t a master of depth perception, so hopefully that’s not inhibiting you in any way.)


The big news today is that we had your sixth-month appointment this afternoon! I have to admit: I’m a little disappointed, little bean. You dropped down to the 75th percentile for height (26.5 inches), and you’re hovering in the same percentile for weight (17 lbs 9 oz). Your head, much to your Papa’s chagrin, is in the 33rd percentile – a few percentile points lower than a few months ago. Sure enough, he had to Google “babies with small heads.” I’m not worried.



4.20


Well, my little lady, last night was momentous indeed: We put you to bed in your crib for the first time!! The pediatrician said, “Now that she’s rolling over, it’s time.” So, we packed up the bassinet when we got home! Simple as that.


We weren’t sure how it would go, but we didn’t hear a peep all night long. Yup. You slept from 7:30 - 6:15, then chilled silently in your crib for another half an hour. We finally greeted you when you managed to grab the wooden spiral mobile that apparently hung too low in your crib. You gave us the biggest smiles imaginable.


I think I had, by far, the most restless sleep. I woke up about five times to look at the baby monitor, now by our bed. You, unsurprisingly, slept facedown, barely moving all night.


Your Papa and I enjoyed small luxuries that felt like the world handed to us on a silver platter. He talked in his regular voice, rather than whispering, and savored the ability to cough out loud instead of into a pillow. I read in bed and turned on the light this morning to read again.


Still, the absence of you struck me. It almost felt lonely. After all, I’d never spent a night in that room without you. You were with me, in my belly, when we moved into this apartment, and you’ve slept there since the day we came home from the hospital. Call me crazy, but it’s a reflection of cutting the umbilical cord. You were only about 30 feet away from me, but there were two doors (one open) and a vast ocean of space between us.



4.21


The dinosaur is back.


And she’s accompanied by an elephant.



4.22


You’re content on your playmat for a surprising amount of time every morning. You hang out there for about...half an hour?...while I make breakfast and putz around.


You have been a rolling fiend this morning! You rolled from your tummy to your back – and back again – at least three times!! Lesson learned: Stop trying so hard, Mama. Girl wants to be independent and do it on her own. Noted!



p.s. Your Papa is a baby whisperer. This morning, you refused to go down for a nap. You put up a fight! An impressive set of lungs, m’dear. I tried all the things, and you screamed like a banshee. I finally asked your Papa to help, as I think you sometimes just need a shift of energy or something. He had you asleep in five minutes.


“How did you do it?!” I laughed.


“Well, she obviously didn’t want to go down for a nap, and she knew you were going through the routine. When you walked out into the bright living room with her, she was fine. So, I kept the door open, and we just danced. I sang to her, we danced back and forth, and, little by little, I closed the door.”


Brilliant. I need to channel that creative intuition.



4.23


Okay, I tried Papa’s nap approach this morning, and you didn’t want anything to do with it. I passed you over to Papa, and he worked his magic again. I rock you and sing and smile, and you fuss. He rocks you and sings and smiles, and you gaze up at him with unadulterated adoration. Completely transfixed.


Perhaps, sometimes, you just want your Papa’s magic. Or maybe you’re afraid that you’ll fall through my skinny chicken-wing arms when I cradle you. Either way, Papa’s batting two for two!



4.24


Last night you slept soundly from 7:15 - 6:45 – sans sleep sack – only crying for about three seconds around 5 am.


Now, we’ve spent about 30 minutes already trying to get you down for your nap. You keep rolling over and not liking it.


Oy.



4.26


You wake up from naps with a jaw-dropping smile.


Your fingers – especially those on your right hand – are constantly opening and closing, scritch-scratching everything within reach.


You’re much more interested in the cardboard pages of your board books – touching them, trying to put them in your mouth sideways – than you are in the story. Still, I try.


You have been rolling from your tummy to your back every day, multiple times. I always “Huzzah!” to the umpteenth degree. The more confident you feel, the less you’ll get stuck on your belly when sleeping and need rescuing. That’s a gift for all of us!


Of all the vegetables you have tried so far – peas, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, avocado (okay, that’s a fruit) – you are least interested in sweet potatoes! I tried both Japanese sweet potato and regular, to see if you simply weren’t a fan of the former. Nope. How funny is that?! The sweetest vegetable and you’re like, “Meh.”


You hug your stuffed animals now.


You are the cutest patootie. None of us can stand it.



4.27


You’ve started reaching downward when I change you, beginning to explore down there, undoing your diaper. When your Papa changes you, he wipes your “Vanderbilt and Broadway.” I apologize in advance for both of us and all that you’ll have to put up with. Suffice it to say, it should always be interesting.


The darndest thing happened this morning. I was talking on the phone, you in my lap, in our nursing chair, and you fell sound asleep in my arms.



4.28


You are, more and more, our little Dutch girl – especially your eyes. I’ve come to terms with it and somehow love you even more because of it.



4.29


You love strings. Strings and tags. Fascinated by them. The surest ways to settle you when you start to get fussy:


  1. Sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider.

  2. Dangle a sweatshirt string in front of you.


Curly Sue was one of my favorite movies when I was young. I’ve started calling you Curly Lu because your hair is growing and the alfalfa on the top of your head has curled – especially after a bath. It’s too perfect for words.


That left leg is still going strong! On your back, on your belly, lounging like a queen...there it goes. Maybe you’ll be a soccer player? Neither of your parents has a real affinity for team sports, but who knows. Maybe it’s just getting ready to tap the beat while you play an instrument...


Venturing into the world of solids is a bit taxing on the nerves! I’ve resorted to mostly purees because I’m still not ready to hand you a piece of mushy food. I know that gagging is normal, and I’m ready with infant CPR, but it’s such an adventure! Getting brave this week and trying again with some avocado. The good news is that you seem to enjoy every vegetable so far.




You are a maniac before bed. You sit on the couch with us while we have dinner – on the green donut, between us – and I eat quickly so that I can hold you and love you up before bed. Tonight we blew raspberries together, and it was, by leaps and bounds, the highlight of my day. Around 6:45, you start giving me signals that “it’s time” by, for example, nuzzling your face into my shoulder. Some nights, you seem to be getting a second wind, but, often like clockwork, you know you’re ready to hit the hay.


When I lay you on the changing table, you go berserk. Arms by your sides, flapping back and forth like a fat little soldier, legs kicking wildly (especially that left one), eyes wild, breath loud and rapid like it just can’t wait any longer for a big reveal. Such anticipation of what you inevitably know is coming because we pretty much do the same routine every single night. One last hurrah before you crash.


Some bedtime rocking sessions are more restless than others. You used to fall asleep on the bottle every night. Now, it’s more hit or miss. Some nights, you’re out easily. Some nights, you can’t seem to settle yourself. Craning your neck around, scritch-scratching the chair...Last night, your head was on my shoulder, resting on the edge of sleep, and you popped it up to scritch scratch the pink fuzzy blanket on the back of the chair before plopping it back down dramatically. You did this no less than ten times.


“I’m so tired...Wait! What’s this?!...I’m so tired...Wait! What’s this?!” I had to laugh silently to avoid pulling you back to awake.


I need to spend more time lost in every something of you. Today I spent time with the tiny lines under your eyes. No circles, unless you’re VERY tired. Just delicate lines — one line with a tiny branch or two — under each eye. So quintessentially baby. What are those tiny etchings called? I shall call them...eyelinkas. For now.



4.30


Yet again, we were somewhere and someone remarked on how alert you are. Always so alert, eyes looking for the next thing, hands at the ready.



We have a rolling song. Really, it’s the theme from Rawhide. But so changed the words:


Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’

Emmylou is rollin’

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’

So strong!


I sing it throughout the day.



5.1


I’m your Mama!!!! I think about that sometimes, and it astounds me. This being in our house, who is simply a part of life now...I birthed her. I birthed you. We are inextricably linked forever.


What an unbelievable honor.



5.2


Plato said: “Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”


We have two morning songs.


The first is from Mama’s favorite movie, Singin’ in the Rain:


Good mornin’, good mornin’!

You slept the whole night through (*modified based on the morning)

Good mornin’, good mornin’ to you!


The second is a song of your Papa’s invention:


Good morning, good morning!

We love you, good morning!

It’s gonna be a wonderful day!


They’re more catchy when sung...



5.3


Your naps today:


9-10:30 am

1-2:40 pm


As your Papa would say, “NOIICCE!”



5.4


The rough patch on your right cheek and forehead is finally gone! It has been there since...month one? It has finally faded into more baby smooth.


Big mouth news!!

  1. You are blowing and spitting raspberries like it’s your job. Such a spitmeister.

  2. I can see two little teeth nibs! The bottom front two teeth under your gums, waiting to break through. You’ve been quite fussy lately, and “the most annoying sound” has re-emerged. Last night I gave you a boob at 1:30 am to calm you, the night before at 3:30 am. Other than that, you’ve been waking around 5 am for over a week now, needing a boob. You must be moving through something – and I’m sure the teeth are part of it! I can’t imagine that pain...Such a trooper.


By the way, you are still absolutely fascinated by tags. Though I always equip you with at least Billy the Badger during our walks, you spend most walks gnawing on the seatbelt straps. The way those straps capture your attention is mind-blowing.



5.5


We got you a foam playmat, as you clearly outgrew the small circular baby gym mat. This morning you shimmied, scooched, and rolled the circular mat off the new mat, and you were kind of wrapped around one of the gym “bars,” chewing on it like a monkey.



5.7


Right now, you look just like a Kewpie doll. It’s uncanny: the blue eyes, rosy cheeks, round face...and the HAIR. Your hair is growing longer, and it tends to stick straight up in a little curl. I got an email from Gerber saying that they’re looking for the next Gerber baby, and I was tempted to send a photo of you. However, you look just like the original Gerber baby – so much so that they would never go with it, as they seem to be evolving their branding. Ah well. Their loss!


We seem to have entered a new phase of gradually solidifying naps. Naps are usually longer, and some days you only have two! The 9 am-ish nap can last up to an hour and a half, as can the second nap of the day. We rarely have a 30-minute catnap these days.


You must be zonked after all the moving and grooving you do these days! You probably have at least three 30-minute sessions on your new playmat, happy as a clam, as I do what needs doing. You scooch 365-degrees now, and Papa had the brilliant idea of stuffing a tissue in the toe of your left sock. You kick that left leg constantly and, because you spend so much time on your belly now, your big toe is all red!


I’m also liking the whole lack of napping after around 3 pm. If you get two decent naps in before that (which you have recently), you can make it until bedtime, at which point you’re exhausted and pass out, fuss-free.


Remember when we had that long “witching hour”? In the early days, it lasted three or so hours in the evening. Then, with your earlier bedtime, it only lasted an hour at most. Now, we’re all pretty rosy in the evenings, and it’s freaking amazing. I love that second wind of happy/calm you get after your 5:30 bottle.


For now. Ha! I know how these things go. Still, I’m optimistic, because you have to be as a parent. Ride the waves, hope for the best, tell yourself that all is well, then try to laugh – or at least hang on – when everything changes.


Your night terrors seem to be dissipating! You rarely wake up screaming about an hour after we put you to bed, as you did for so long. We hear you fuss and cry during the night sometimes, but you usually put yourself back to sleep.


You always sleep on your belly now, sometimes with your butt in the air. And you continue to break my heart every single day.



5.8


These naps! You were in your bed, casually dozing in and out, for about two hours this morning. You woke up, had a bottle, played happily on your mat for about half an hour while I cooked, had some food, then went down for another nap – fuss-free.


This is the napping I’ve been waiting for since birth. We’ll see if it lasts more than a few days.



You adore your Mema and Pops. You greet Mema with hugs, wrapping your arm across her chest and snuggling into her neck, and it’s too much to bear.



5.9


Today is a very special day, my sweet little garbanzo bean. It’s our day. It’s a day to celebrate the heart-wrenching truth that you made me a mama. I’ve been waiting my whole life for today.



Side note: How ironic is it that, on Mother’s Day of all days, you poop all over the “Life is Beautiful” pillow?



5.10


Yesterday you were held by two new people – Chandra and Dylan. An honorary aunt and uncle. Chandra stood you up and only held you lightly as you thrillingly “walked” toward me. She kept saying, “I’m barely holding her!”


I can’t believe how much you’ve grown, big girl your size 4 diapers. Basically an adult.



5.11


This morning, I was cleaning some wax out of your left ear as you nursed. You were so calm and content, letting me swipe my finger quickly, trying to swab. I had a thought, looking at your perfect ear, your perfect face:


“I’m cleaning my baby daughter’s ear.”


It felt, at that moment, like the deepest realization I’d ever had.



5.12


Your hair is the fuzziest yet, sticking straight up all day long. It’s like you’ve been designed as the quintessential “Baby.”


I said to your Papa tonight, “She’s amazing.”

He said, “I know she’s amazing...but I don’t know if I know how amazing she is...”

I said, “I don’t think you do know. She’s that amazing.”



5.13


You slept 12 hours – 7:15 - 7:15 – with literally one peep around 6 am.


We’re going to try a daycare a few days a week! Probably two half-days. I just typed up notes about your feedings, eating, naps, and so forth, and it felt affirming to know that, as lost as I often feel (like I did an hour ago when it took you about 45 minutes to settle into a nap), I generally know your tendencies. It’s funny – I’m not sure if I could describe your “personality”...


  • You are headstrong, that’s for sure.

  • You already like to do things yourself, and you get frustrated when you can’t do them. A few days ago, Mema had to wipe off a ball, because your slobbery hand was too slippery to pick it up, and we could tell it irked you.

  • Sometimes you’re very easygoing, as long as you have adequate sleep during the day and aren’t teething. Sometimes you erupt for no understandable reason whatsoever. I call this “passionate.”

  • You need changes of scenery, new toys, shifts here and there, or you get restless (like your Papa).

  • You seem to find comfort in routines (like me).

  • You love going on adventures, and you love the car. No matter how cranky you are, you get excited when you realize it’s time for a ride.

  • You’re always ready for action, eyes wide, hands out at the ready.


I guess I could describe your personality.



5.14


On the menu today: chickpeas and beets! They’re no greens, I get it. But you kept spooning in my offerings for a good bit until you hit your limit. You were tired and, at one point, you went to rub your eyes just after you grabbed a spoon and smacked beets right between your eyebrows.



5.15


You are seven months old.


What. Is. Happening?


I’m currently reading a memoir by Dick Van Dyke called Keep Moving. It’s about aging (and staying full of life). When I first started reading it, I thought, “Maybe this isn’t really relevant…” However, one page in, I amended that thought. It is, in fact, the perfect book to be reading right now: life’s lessons learned over a lifespan to be embraced at the mere age of 37 and shared with you at the beginning of your life.


Here’s one that rings loudly:


I once heard someone say that if you can’t laugh at life, you’re missing the joke. As far I’m concerned, a sense of humor is the way we make sense out of nonsense.

True confessions: I’m not always great at this. But I usually do a pretty good job, and I want to get better. It’s so important, and I consider it high on our list of family values. Let’s always help each other keep this idea tucked in our pockets, okay?


Keep laughing, little bean.