Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hitting pause for just a minute

This child. You are the light of my life and the joy of my heart, I whisper to him at least once a day. His father and I both dote on him absurdly. There are no words to describe the love and the happiness he brings us.

He turned five months old last Friday, and his latest nicknames are "Energizer Frankie" (bestowed by one of my mom friends after she witnessed him bouncing and kicking in great good humor until nearly 11 p.m. at an ND game watch) and "Tigger" (we sing him the Tigger song a lot, subbing in "The wonderful thing about Frankies..."). He is a high-energy baby, that's for sure. Everyone who sees him comments on it—that, and how big he is. Random elderly gentlemen at church or Sox games will ask his age and then say, "He's going to play linebacker for the Bears some day!" Yes, he's a big little guy, we know. Even though I clearly had nothing to do with his size, I can't help but beam with pride when people comment on it. One of my mom friends who also struggled to get started with breastfeeding said the other day, "I can't help but feel so proud when people comment on how big and strong my baby is—I almost feel like Almanzo Wilder exhibiting his prize pumpkin that he worked so hard to grow!" That cracked me up, since I must admit I sometimes feel the same way!

Here are some of my favorite things about my boy at five months:

He is very grabby these days, and curious about everything, so we have to make sure that our plates and glasses are far out of his reach when we're holding him at the table—but when I give him his own little glass, or hold up my water glass to his lips, all he wants to do is gnaw on the rim.

We've got a nice little bedtime routine going for him—Frank reads him some bedtime stories, and then I come in when he's good and tired to nurse him to sleep. While nursing in bed, he is constantly moving the arm he's not lying on—waving it in the air, grabbing onto my shirt, stroking my arm. It makes me laugh to see him, almost completely asleep, waving that little arm in the air. When he grabs my arm or face, as he likes to do, I melt.

He gets very bored during diaper changes and spends the whole time trying to roll over or twist backwards to examine whatever is near his head. We try to distract him with toys (like his pacifier, which he doesn't suck on but regards as a fascinating artifact, carefully examining it and then gnawing on the handle), but that lasts about 5 seconds before he is back to trying to roll over again.

I try to memorize his darling, perfect little body—his unbelievably soft and warm little fingers, his comically long toes and comically large thumbs, the fine fair hair on his little head. Every inch of him is unutterably precious.

His very favorite thing to do is, with our help, to stand up—on our laps, on the bed, on the table, on the floor—and he will support himself on his legs for an incredibly long time, occasionally bouncing up and down (hence "Tigger") or doing "squats". He loves standing so much that, when he's disgruntled, I ask him, "Do you need to stand it out?" and then I let him stand for a while and he gets happy again.

He is so close to sitting up. We can see it. He loves when he's lying on his back and we let him grab onto our thumbs so he can pull himself up to a sitting and then a standing position. He has great head control and lately has been trying so hard to sit up on his own, lifting his head and neck in a mini-crunch, but he's not quite there yet. His fine motor skills are getting better and it's interesting to watch him carefully manipulate his toys with his fingers, when just a few weeks ago he could only bat at them.

Yesterday I heard him waking up from his nap, so I went in to get him and found him enthusiastically trying to latch onto a pillow. I started laughing at the sight of him, whereupon he turned to look at me and, on seeing me laugh, started laughing loudly too. We stood there laughing at each other for a good 30 seconds. He always likes to be "in on the joke" and anytime the people around him laugh, he will laugh loudly as well, grinning up at our faces as though he knows exactly what's so funny. This child makes me laugh countless times a day.

He has "discovered his feet", as the baby books say. Starting about two weeks ago, he would stare at his feet constantly and try to grab them. He progressed to holding them all the time in a perfect "happy baby pose" (from yoga), and now he likes to stick them in his mouth. We laugh to see him munching happily on his feet every chance he gets. Yesterday he figured out how to pull off one of his socks for the first time—yikes.

He doesn't care much to be held by men, who are often loud and scary to him, but is generally completely content with women—the obvious exception being his father, who is absolutely his favorite person in the entire world, no question. Even the ladies at church will come up to us and comment, "That baby lights up around his father like he does around no one else!" It's true. Frankie becomes giddy with glee when Frank gets home and holds him, and if they are outside too (Frankie's favorite place)? Game over—that baby will smile without stopping, clutching his father's shoulder as he looks all around him and occasionally lets out little shrieks of glee. I love to see them together—"Big Frank" and "Little Frank", as the nurses at the hospital called them—the baby such a perfect carbon copy of his father. They crack each other up, playing, and sometimes I feel so happy when I look at them that it hurts and I have to look away.

Not that everything is perfect, of course. The little man was a truly dismal sleeper for his entire fourth month of life—as bad as the newborn stage, if not worse. After being miserable about it for a few weeks, I finally just accepted that this was the new normal. I need to work on being more quickly adaptable! But the night before he turned five months, he slept a five-and-a-half hour stretch again! That was so exciting, and since then his sleep has been getting better and better. I'm optimistic that we've turned a corner there. Oh, and also... he doesn't have teeth yet, but last week he decided it would be a really fun idea to start biting when he's supposed to be nursing. NOT okay. I'm not quite sure how to handle this, except to stop nursing when he does it, so any suggestions would be appreciated! Also, he has figured out how to pull off his cloth diapers with velcro tabs. Big problem. Why didn't I ever think of that when I was buying diapers?

Overall, though five months is so great. He is so much fun and makes friends everywhere he goes with his enormous smile. I wouldn't mind pausing time right now, at this very fun and adorable stage.


  1. What an adorable bundle of baby!!!!!! Frankie is much much bigger than our tiny Pio :) Pio is 6 months and still in about the 5th % for weight :) Heehee.... Can't wait until they can play together!

  2. He is so delicious... Will has bitten me THREE times today! Maddening! And he has two little sharp teeth. The worst. Our little men seem to have very similar personalities (i.e., busy bodies), but I think Will likes men more than women. Weird. Ah, and seems like you turned the corner on the four month sleep regression. I hope things continue to improve!!!

  3. This is so sweet! I laughed at the pillow latching hahaha. Also, in regards to the biting I would unlatch Gabriel with my finger any time he did that...but I would then immediately offer to let him continue nursing so he would try again. One time he cried when I winced and unlatched him - he thought I was refusing to feed him and I felt sooooo bad! But he relatched after some coaxing and was fine. That's all I did to discourage biting and it worked for us. :)

  4. Beautifully written! You made me remember so many moments from back when my babies were actual babies :)

  5. on the biting - is he biting because he's impatient for letdown? or because he's tired and falling asleep? or because he's just horsing around? If either of the first two, you can maybe see it coming and detach him first. Otherwise, what worked for me was detaching with my finger, telling them 'no biting, it hurts mummy,' then trying again, but always being very careful the latch is good, no lazy hanging on with their teeth!

    Another technique is is to bring their head more closely into you - or you more closely into them - as this will make them relax their jaw and adjust their nose to keep breathing more easily. I didn't really like doing this tho and it didn't really work for me, the only thing that worked was to keep detaching and remind 'no biting' and eventually it passed.

    Re the velcro - duct tape over the velcro!