Anna is six months old, and she is all chub and drool and baby smiles. She is delightful, cuddly, ticklish, and almost always happy. People stop me all the time to tell me she looks like the Gerber baby, a Cabbage Patch doll (I actually agree with that one), or to comment on her rolls — her endless, squishy, adorable rolls. She has rolls on her thighs, her belly, her forearms. Just this past week we lost Tom’s keys, a Bumbo seat, and a friend from college in her left leg.
They are irresistible. Even her pediatrician asked, “How do you do anything all day besides squeeze these thighs?”
Look at that happy face and tell me, do you remember the first three months of Anna’s life when she screamed for a good portion of every day? When she fussed all the way from Christmas to Valentine’s Day? When I spent most of my time holding her until she cried herself to sleep, shushing her while scolding my big kids, “LEAVE ME ALONE CAN’T YOU SEE THAT WE’RE UPSET!?”
No? You don’t?
Neither does Tom. He’s completely blocked it out and replaced those memories with elbow dimples and baby giggles.
Up until this month Anna was certifiably addicted to the Merlin Magic Sleep Suit. It was such a strong sleep cue for her that we were in the middle of pitching an adult version to Shark Tank. Then she rolled over in it and I began an unnecessary Merlin Magic Mourning Period. I say unnecessary because she transitioned out of it with no problem at all. There was no learning curve, and now she’s officially sleeping free of suits, swaddles or sacks.
Before I mislead you, when I say “sleeping” I don’t mean sleeping through the night. That’s not happening, not even close, thank you for asking. I’m ok with it, though, I really am. By now I have really, really low standards for baby sleep, and the fact that Anna wakes up, eats, and goes back to sleep works for me.
But if you happen to have a baby that’s sleeping through the night already, you don’t have to tell me about it. Because what am I supposed to do with that? I truly never know how to respond. Should I congratulate you? Ask for advice? Admit that you’re a better mom than me? Or have a better baby? OR, by telling me how much sleep you’re getting, maybe you’re offering to do some of the critical thinking I need to do to get through my day. If it takes us 5 minutes to walk to the bus stop, 10 minutes to nurse Anna, 1 minute to change a diaper, 45 minutes to get everyone into the stroller, 2 hours to dress Thomas, 4 hours to locate all of Mary Virginia’s stuffed animals, and 30 seconds of deep breathing to gear up for the expedition, what time do I need to start getting ready?
What Anna lacks at night she makes up for during the day; she’s a great napper. Phenomenal, even. Maybe even better than your baby!
Anna is not yet crawling, but she’s starting to wiggle forward, to lift her trunk off the floor, and pivot in all directions. Watching her get stronger and more coordinated feels like watching the climax of a horror movie because WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WHEN SHE STARTS CRAWLING. My house is filled to the brim with things babies aren’t supposed to play with.
Brigham and I watch her wriggling, testing the weight of her body on a straightened arm. With our hearts racing we look at each other and I scoop her off the floor, saying, “I think that’s enough tummy time for today.”
Anna’s favorite past time is her jumper. I’ve had this thing for all four babies, but no one has loved it even a fraction of as much as Anna does. As of this month, she’s clocked so much time jumping that the seat will be claiming her as a dependent on its 2018 taxes.
It’s actually hard to put her in it because, when you lower her into the seat, she starts kicking her feet in excitement so it’s nearly impossible to get her feet into the leg holes. She’s so happy jumping. And not to brag or anything, but for a 6-month old she’s got a decent vertical.
We’ve started solids, sort of. I tend to do mostly Baby Led Weaning, so I’ve given her chunks of sweet potato, banana, and the crowd favorite — a chicken bone. The chicken bone is the only thing that’s really held her attention.
I meant to be more prepared, to refresh my memory on introducing solids and get things going, but then we got derailed with another mega cold and a double ear infection. She had her first fever, second round of antibiotics, 10 days of an upset stomach, and a few sleepless nights. Now we’re mostly on the other side of that, and I’m looking forward to summer of no germs, and lots of sweet potatoes smashed on my deck.
Anna spends her days nursing, napping, blowing raspberries, playing with her feet, and being adored by her siblings. She is a happy recipient of all that adoration. She loves when her siblings are directly in her face, dangling toys, and seeing if she has the dexterity to pull their hair (she does).
“Give her some space! Be careful! Get your hair out of her mouth! Leave her alone!” I scold all day long while they giggle, all four of them. This is, perhaps, forging the beginnings of little pack of four, conspiring against Mama’s best intentions, giggling all the way.
A common topic among moms is establishing the hardest phase of parenting. This phase is certainly difficult — caring for a baby is all-consuming and physically demanding — but it is for sure the least complicated. As in, you wear what I put on you and you stay where I put you. And I get to watch you change and grow and all the while adore you.
Last weekend you were laying across my legs, squirming and blowing raspberries on my thigh, and you took a deep breath and rested your head in my lap. It’s not something you do much anymore; you’re too busy playing and exploring to lay still, even for a moment.
But there you were, relaxed in my lap. I stroked your head and you stayed there. I breathed the moment in, and whispered, “Stay.”
Stay just like this forever. You will grow, but never change. Stay sweet, fun, happy, welcoming and bright, my beautiful baby girl.