Month 18

Dear Grayson –

Boy, you are on FIRE. I don’t even know where to start, kid, so let’s just bounce all over.

At 18 months old, you are all toddler, and your tantrums are usually short and sometimes hilarious.

14mos-CapeYou’re still pretty much always in motion. You can get up and down stairs on your own, but you will always take a hand if it’s offered…or grab one if it hasn’t been offered yet.

You’ve figured out that you can open the gate at the top of the stairs. This would be scarier, but this one time, you opened it, closed it behind you, and went downstairs to play. Silently. We thought about being terrified, but apparently your careful efforts re: the stairs have paid off. Baby snuck down stairs without falling = parenting WIN.

Also, you usually check in with us when you want to open the gate. Sort of.

Mostly, when it comes to the babyproofing, you’re a conscientious partner in managing your own safety. You don’t dig into the garbage can — you direct our attention to the unlatched lid and try to help us lock it back up. It is also your job to lock down the toilet lid if you follow us into the bathroom.

Hey, everybody’s got chores, kid.

At the same time, you typically have one speed, and that speed is FAST. Which means that you’ve already experienced skinned knees (boy, do you hate that Bactine bottle…) and more bumps and bruises than I like to think about. Just when we started working with you on watching where you’re going, you started walking backwards, just because you could. You remain utterly delighted with the whole experience. The other night, you started to go up the dog stairs BACKWARDS, standing upright.

Because why not?

You do show some pretty good judgment, though. When you can’t find a banister or something else to hold onto, you will back down stairs on your knees. I like to reward this decision with the same back-it-up beeping I do when you walk backwards. Making Mommy narrate your actions (or crack up) is one of your favorite cause-and-effect games.

…On the other hand, you have also been practicing stepping off the couch onto the floor when our backs are turned. You watch us (when you should be watching where you’re going) and glow with mischief when we catch you stepping over the edge.

For the record, you are not able to successfully step down to the floor from the couch. But you take the fall well.

16mos-climbingYou climb. I think you have always climbed. I honestly don’t know why you haven’t climbed out of your crib yet, but I’d be thrilled if you could continue to not do that. You can climb into your high chair, and you have generally heeded our advice about going up the front instead of the side…after trying the side route once and taking a pretty nasty fall. You attempt or pretend to attempt to climb up the appliances or cabinets when you’re pissed off at us for being in the kitchen when you want to be somewhere else (usually outside or in the living room). You used to climb up the futon-type sofa in the family room, but now you scale it with a running leap.

You love to move all the chairs around. (You get this from Nana, whose favorite pastime is rearranging furniture.)

You have a hard time being gentle, especially when you’re really excited, but you have a very tender side and will often give Rodney kisses unprompted. You also LOVE to share; you’ll offer toys to others (including Rodney — you know just which wooden blocks he likes to chew), and you love to feed people. I have no idea if your increasing toddlerness will override this; for now, we just encourage the hell out of it.

Lately, one of your favorite games is to act like a puppy. We’ll ask you what Rodney says, and you’ll throw yourself to your hands and knees and crawl around making growling sounds. This prompts you to try to play with Rodney the way puppies play, chasing and head-butting and rearing up. Sometimes he loves this and you guys play for a while; sometimes he’s grumpy and runs for shelter. Sometimes he doesn’t like it, but after you get pulled away against your will, he changes his mind and undermines our authority. And when you’re mad at us and looking for attention, you know that the fastest way into the tight embrace of a “Time In” is to try to kick Rodney.

17mos-backpackTo be fair, you’ve never tried to kick any other animal, or other kids. I think Rodney is your canine “home base” the way I’m your mommy home base. You’ve never tried to bite anyone other than me, either (that was a short but worrying phase).

Daddy and I started talking about and working on a form of discipline somewhat early. You’ve always been pretty headstrong — and body-strong — so evidence of the so-called Terrible Twos long in advance of your second birthday was not a surprise. It’s not your age so much as your stage. You understand SO MUCH and can say so few words…it must be very frustrating to be you. (I have started spelling out words. Telegraphing certain things before we’re ready to do them invariably causes a meltdown.) You jabber on and on, point, take us to where you want to go…and sometimes we still don’t get it.

Also, you’re on a constant mission to control your world and get really mad at us when you don’t get your way immediately.

Reasonable explanations work more often than I’d have expected. “Grayson, we’re going to get in the car and go get groceries, but first we need to change your diaper” will send you toddling into your room as often as not. Reinforcing it with “If you want to go get groceries, you need to have a clean diaper” helps, too, but we say it as an explanation (with a calm, sensible nod) rather than a threat of not going. (You love going grocery shopping. SO MANY THINGS TO SEE! AND GRAB! AND ALSO THEY HAVE BALLOONS THERE!) It seems bananas to say that we reason with you, but…sometimes we do. We’ve been narrating/explaining what we’re doing to you for a long, long time, and it does seem to sink in. Eventually.

17mos-Gville-watchfulAnd you’ve picked up that sensible nod, and use it with an air of gravitas:

Me: “Grayson, did you pee?”

You: **nods with deliberate certainty**

(You never nod about poop. You always, always say no about poop, and you are almost always lying.)

In the last six months, we’ve taken you to Vermont and Cape Cod, to the North Bay, and to Nana and Papa’s house in Nevada. Auntie Lilly took care of you while we rowed in Petaluma, and you had a great time playing with your cousins. Nana and Papa stayed with you for the second race of the fall, and Auntie Grace called dibs on the last one, which is coming up.

About New England – You had a blast, for the most part. You were a dream on the red-eye from SFO and a nightmare coming back from BOS (Daddy thinks some other kid on the plane woke you up). You did as well as we could possibly hope for a kid who thrives on routine; we did our best to keep mostly to our routine, but you were pretty overtired and DONE by the time we got down to the Cape.

Anyway, we played with all of your second cousins (once removed? whatever — mommy’s cousins’ kids) and you absolutely adored your cousin, Peyton. You met almost all of your great-aunts and -uncles, as well as the only great-grandparents you’ve got, and Grandpa was able to hang out with us for almost the whole week!

You and I went in Aunt Joy and Uncle Butch’s pool, and you were thrilled…until we had to get out for the thunderstorm. (Thunderstorms don’t bother you. You are clearly my child.) You really didn’t want to stop playing in the pool, though, so we decided to do a round of baby swim “lessons” when we got home. (Those were not nearly as fun.)

14mos-sailWe had a wonderful time with everyone, and I got the impression that you didn’t care about adults when there were other kids around. Honestly, you’ve never met a cousin you didn’t love right away. They get your best smiles.

Which is as it should be. (You did play peek-a-boo with your great-aunt Jane, though!)

You and Daddy both had your first sail on Shamrock, which put you straight to sleep…sitting up, in your little lifejacket. You stayed asleep on the beach and we left you in the capable hands of Aunt Marianne and Uncle Andy and took a walk by ourselves. You were pretty mommy-centric throughout the trip, so the walk was really, really welcome.

“Home base,” indeed.

Let’s see, what else? You understand boo boos enough that you kissed a band-aid I wore over a blister on my hand, and you know where the band-aids live. (You know where almost everything lives.) When you fall and I ask if you have a boo boo, though, you point to your knee, even if you’ve whacked your head. A skinned knee was the first boo boo we really discussed as such, so…points for trying, kiddo!

You eat new things every now and then, but only on your own terms. Meat that isn’t in nugget form is an absolute no. When we have our wits about us, we give you what we want you to eat first. You’re more likely to try something new if we’re in the car or eating out or at someone else’s house. You’re still growing out of all your clothes on the regular, though — mostly on smoothies made with yogurt, pouched baby goo, and milk — so we’re a lot less concerned than we we used to be.

Re: language — You work harder on words that are particularly important to you, like “ice,” or words that you seem to find amusing, like “eggs.” (You don’t want to eat eggs, but you do like the word.)

We think your first “sentence” was probably “No walk!” but these days you say, “I did it!” after you complete some task or figure something out. It seems a lot more intentional than the other. Sometimes, based on timing, I think you say, “Thank you.” But it sounds a lot like “I did it!” so it’s hard to tell.

You like to sing the E-I-E-I-O in “Old MacDonald…or the “Way-o, way-o” from “Walk Like an Egyptian.” We’re not always sure which, but it’s adorable either way.

18mos-in-pumpkinYou love to point out planes, buses, garbage trucks…all things that go. Cars and trucks go “VROOM VROOM,” but you keep your lips shut when you do it. You know the names of lots of body parts and you like to play “This Little Piggy.” We start with “This little piggy went to Trader Joe’s,” though, because “market” means nothing to you, but Trader Joe’s…that’s practically Mecca.

You love, love, love your stuffed lion…which is actually my stuffed lion — a gift from your Uncle Chris and the only stuffed animal left from the menagerie of my teens and 20s. Asking you to “snuggle lion” is often a good way to get you to calm down when you get squirrely before bed. You can also make a lionous roar…but, again, with your lips shut.

You have a few favorite toys, but really, nothing occupies your time more than reading. We read book after book, over and over. You’re pretty hard on your books, though…much like your clothes and certain toys (seriously, kid, those wooden puzzles are supposed to be indestructible). And we love your Pavlovian response to “Jamberry;” when we get “Strawberry ponies / strawberry lambs / dancing in meadows of strawberry jam!” you get up and do your little jig.

Every. Time.

You’re pretty good about sleeping. You get really upset when it’s time to stop playing and go to bed, but by the time you hit the changing table, you’re usually like, “Bring me mah blanky.” We have bad patches here and there, such as when you’re cutting teeth, but you typically sleep about 10-11 hours at night — sometimes 12! — and hover around 2 hours for your one daily nap. And you almost always wake up in a good mood, at least in the morning.

You’re a riot, little guy. I’m not gonna lie — you do wear us right out. But the truth is that we love you an awful lot and like you more and more as we get to know you, and as you get to know you, too.

And the books…buddy, you couldn’t have picked a more direct route straight through my heart.

Love,
Mommy

First race, first place

Hard work:

Wine-Country-Rowing-Classic-2014-womens-novice-8

Hardware:

Wine-Country-Rowing-Classic-2014-womens-novice-8-medals

Wine Country Rowing Classic
Petaluma River
5 October 2014
1st place
Net time: 20:43
Raw time: 21:20

I’m fourth from the left — 4 seat for this race. Graham thinks my sunglasses are goofy. I think they’re perfect for what I need on the water…and I brought home a medal, so phthphthbbththtt.

We beat the only other boat in our category by 1:28…and we passed them on the course, which was really fun (they started first). Our scores were low for the women’s masters 8s across the board, for which some have credited the tide; it was in our favor, although we rowed against it to get to the start.

I’ll take a little help from Mother Nature, but I won’t take any credit away from this crew. We had two rows together before the regatta, one of which was with the excellent cox we had for the race, and it was a strong, solid boat. We came through the chute at 30ish (and with a couple of hoots — sorry, race fever!), and stayed at or above 27-28 for the whole course with some sub-2:00 splits in there. Coach was expecting 26 with some bursts at 28.

Not bad for novices.

Next up:
Head of the American
Lake Natoma, Sacramento
October 25

Continue reading

#crewlife

I was supposed to be learning how to use the erg safely.

We have an erg, you see. We got it last year because land workouts at the boathouse on top of three practices a week are a lot to ask of a new dad who needs a ride to and from. Graham really likes rowing, though, and it helps his back more than anything except maybe vast quantities of gin, so it’s got my full support.

The erg also got the entirety of my 2013 fitness subsidy, which may have only covered the shipping cost. Que sera, etc. (Big hooray for tech companies that do fitness subsidies, though.)

So, cut to this year…

Rowing is outstanding exercise — everyone knows that, right? — and this still-new mama needs to build back some core strength in the worst way. (Our kid, powered by yogurt and watermelon, is growing. AGAIN.) Graham, still in his novice period, could show me some form basics, but thought I should learn from someone with more experience.

When National Learn to Row Day came around and East Bay Rowing Club did their thing, I signed up, showed up, and…

Well. This was not unforeseeable.

Credit: Allen Demorest, EBRC

(That’s me in the black tank top.) (It’s pretty much always me in the black tank top.)

After the event, there was a two-week trial. I had a lot of fun at the Learn To Row and I already knew it was a good club full of awesome people; I carry the dubious distinction of being the “wife” most likely to turn up at regattas (which, I’ve gotta tell you, feel a lot like band reviews).

And…I had this sneaky suspicion that this was A Thing I Could Do. Maybe even A Thing I Could Be Good At.

If you’ve been reading along since Junior made his appearance, it may have become apparent that I don’t do a lot in the way of leisure activity these days. We are indoor cats, as a general rule, and I have been very, very tired for a while. It’s been a long time since I had A Thing. Desperately needed pedicures don’t count.

“Sara’s coaching the trial,” Graham told me. “If you want to try this, now is the time. You should learn from Sara. Everyone should learn from Sara.”

He’s right. Sara coaches at Mills, but she’s a native New Englander with a lifetime of experience and a Yankee sensibility I can get behind. Someone as anxious as I about learning as much as possible asked about the consequences of missing practices for work or travel.

“People in masters rowing have lives,” Sara shrugged, very meh about the whole thing. “You drop the oar, push the water, repeat. You’ll pick stuff up at every practice, but it’s pretty simple, really.”

Good advice, that. And handy to keep in the back of my mind, because the first practice after our recent trip back east was the worst yet…after the last practice before vacation had been the BEST! EVER! We got to take out a 4! I got put in stroke seat! WE ROWED WITH ALL FOUR! AT ONCE! NO ONE DROWNED!

It was awesome. Then I came back after a break, stroked an 8, and flailed my face off.

But, next practice, I sat in stroke again and we had our best row yet. Power 10s and all. POWER 10S. It feels an awful lot like racing, or so we were told.

(I like stroke seat. It’s my kind of hard.)

SEE WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE? This shit’s addictive. (They do warn you…) I’ve been doing this less than two months, and what stands out most from the Learn To Row, now, is the member of the women’s team who said, “I wish I’d found this earlier.”

Yeah. I get that. This is beating the crap out of me without actually hurting me.

A little more context: Almost two years ago, a little bit pregnant, I stopped training for what I thought would be my first half marathon, the Healdsburg/Wine Country Half. I got up to double-digit mileage and my right hip quit on me — not a full-blown injury, but a persistent pain that made my OB/GYN tell me I was done training for anything. Boo…but it was sort of a blessing, though, because running was starting to feel like a drag.

For me, learning to row feels like nothing else so much as when I started color guard, when I sort of deliberately fell into an athletic thing that made me want to work my ass off. Running? Nah. I’m just in it for the endorphins and maybe the way my Running Butt looks in jeans…which I suppose is literally working my ass off. But I do not wish to run races or long distances, or with a group. (P.S. I’m running again. On my off days. 30 minutes max, plus some core work.) Knitting? Excellent means to several ends, but not, like, a thing I’ll get up before 5 a.m. to do.

In spandex, no less.

Honestly, the comparison to guard is the most apt I’ve got. It’s a team thing that feels more like art than sport. (Also, spandex.) If you don’t get to the boathouse, some of your teammates might wind up doing land workouts instead of getting on the water, and that’s just mean. There’s accountability beyond the point of “I paid for this and I’m damn well going to do it.” Eventually, anyone who’s not really into it seems to wash out.

Plus? It’s fun. It’s fun in the way that mastering hard things is fun, and fun in the way that shared misery can be fun. Being on the water is great! But the estuary is pretty gross. Having powerful legs is great! But, oh, my hands are getting tore up. Likewise, color guard was fun because I liked doing it, but also fun because hey, d’you guys remember how hard it rained in Victoria that one time when the parade route was uphill both ways? And dude, remember when the bus broke down in France?

Oh! And there’s this:

Credit:

Credit: Jordan Norberg, who’s coaching the EBRC novices until she goes back to coaching college dudes in New York

Not my boat, but it is my crew. I mean…you know? I’m up before 5 a.m. anyway. This beats the hell out of organizing Duplos.

And just like that, we’re both rowing. Once my current coach goes back to her college coaching gig (and oh, how we will miss her!), Sunday’s the only day no one will have practice. Right now, we have the weekends off and overlap on Fridays; I’ve gotten all the Friday practices because I’m learning, but this week I’m out. Graham’s new interim coach was our assistant coach during my two-week trial, and…well…let’s say my novice group has benefited from such excellent coaching that he’s excited to get schooled a bit. (Sustained coaching for his team has been a challenge this year.)

Anyway… Wine Country Rowing Classic in October. Petaluma. Graham’s last novice race, and my first (I hope).

Coach says we’ll be ready.

What’s next

So!

We made it through a year or so of parenting and a year of mommyblogging. I’m fully — FULLY — aware that I’ve posted about practically nothing but my kid for the last 12ish months. And hey, I’m pretty proud that I managed to do a post a month to track my little monkey’s milestones. It’s the closest he’ll get to a baby book, because baby? Mommy’s had a blog so long that her penmanship is painfully illegible and journaling triggers her stupid carpal tunnel/tendonitis/tennis elbow crap.

But now that Grayson is walking and jabbering and manifesting a deeply held commitment to his personal autonomy, what’s next? Does the “Goodness Grayson” category take over 8junebugs until the end of time?

Ennnhhh. I think not. I’ve planned on doing the monthly letter thing since Leta Armstong was a month old, but I also like the idea of stopping at a year. Even those letters, though addressed to my son, are a reflection of my growth as much as his, and I’ve still got plenty of growing to do.

There’s the house. I should capture somewhere what we’ve done with this place.

There’s my ongoing attempt to deal with the effects of aging. I had a date with radiology this week for a biopsy on a nodule of my thyroid — a big but almost certainly benign one. Still, facing this shit comes with Feelings, and this is where my feelings go.

There’s some professional stuff that I would have bounced to the blog on my nextJen Communications site, but that site is all but defunct these days. Even if I wanted to freelance right now, ain’t nobody (in this house) got time for that. But it turns out my knowledge appears to be somewhat useful to some folks, so I’d like to bung it down somewhere.

I’ve also hit the point at which my personal life and my professional life are essentially entwined online. We crossed that bridge years ago, really. At 22, I’d’ve died before attaching my personal journal to a resume, but I can’t lie — being myself online has resulted in work. Paid work and job offers/considerations. And when you do web content for a living, nothing shows your passion more than 2,000-word screeds riddled with profanity an after-hours portfolio.

There’s our Unique Situation. I’m deeply troubled by the lack of resources available online for sighted spouses. I don’t know yet what to do about that, but being open and honest about what our life looks like seems like a good start.

There are causes and issues I care about. The struggle I face with Cause/Issue Blogging is that the internet is much, much more full of brilliant people than it used to be. There once was a time when I wrote because I had something to say that I hadn’t seen said elsewhere. That doesn’t happen nearly as often anymore, and thank heaven for it. There are so many strong voices speaking up, speaking out. But that shouldn’t stop me from adding mine.

And there’s still Grayson, who is growing and learning so fast that it’s nearly impossible to keep up.

Onward, yes?

Month 12

Dear Grayson –

We made it! Hooray for us!

A year ago, we were meeting you for the first time after a very, very long few days. You were in no hurry to exit, even after 42+ weeks.

Truly, child, we couldn’t have asked for a better indicator of your personality. You are the stubbornest. But you are also smart and funny and loving and curious and adventurous and…oh, kiddo. You already know me too well.

Let’s talk about this month.

12-mos-post-sicknessWe spent most of this month sick. Boooooo! You and I are still getting over the cold, which is probably the same virus that Daddy had earlier this year…which would explain why he didn’t catch it from us.

He did get the stomach bug, though, and boy, was that one a doozy. I was just back on my feet from the onset of the cold; I was getting ready to go to work that Monday, and you…you didn’t want to get out of bed. (You ALWAYS want to get out of bed.) You weren’t just clingy — you were limp against my shoulder, and you threw up your morning bottle. It was a little weird, but we didn’t know then if you’d thrown up or spit up, and you didn’t have a fever.

Then, before naptime, Daddy was getting your bottle ready, and he turned around to find you lying face-down on the kitchen floor, motionless. When he said your name, you raised your head a little to look at him, then put it back down.

And that’s when we called the pediatrician and Mommy left the office. You are never motionless, buster. Never, ever. We’re so grateful that it was only a stomach bug, even if it did rip through the house.

Oh, but then you got your first ear infection, which came with amoxicillin and diarrhea (probiotics helped). Then we had our first Children’s Hospital ER experience when you toppled into the door jamb and put a dent in your forehead (you were fine, but they had us go in anyway). So many firsts! You were just wobbly on your feet for a while after being sick; it’s only in the last few days that you’ve started eating anywhere near your normal intake, kid.

We’d almost forgotten how much you eat…and by “eat,” we still mean “drink.”

11mos-with-bikeYou down at least 32 ounces of formula in a day. At least. You’ll nibble on peeled apples or Puffs or veggie sticks or crackers, but your true, unbridled anti-foodie joy is reserved for freeze-dried fruit yogurt bites, which we refer to as “melties” or “crack.” (Please, dear sweet baby Jesus, don’t let the wrong people overhear when your father says, “I gave him some puffs and crack at lunch.”) The other day, you ate a bit of waffle for the first time in months and I almost cried with relief.

You also like kettle corn, and you prefer red Pedialite to orange. You do not like Cheerios, you adorable alien baby.

We basically offer you whatever we’re eating as well as a few of the things we know you like…but you have no interest in what we’re eating, so it’s hit or miss. Your doctor was going to send us to occupational therapy at 1 year if we weren’t further along than this, but she has since decided that you’re just stubborn and will get around to eating solid food when you’re damn good and ready.

She’s probably right.

This week, you’ve been actually sleeping through the night, rather than sleeping through the night as defined by doctors (five hours at a clip is their rule, but what good is that when Mommy’s still up for the first three of those hours?). You’re in bed around 7 and we don’t hear from you again until at least 4:30…at which point you down 6-8 ounces and go back to sleep until 7ish. If you’ve chowed down during the day, you’re out cold until 7:15am or so, and HOLY GOD IS THAT AWESOME. Don’t get me wrong, buddy, I love spending time with you, but the middle-of-the-night stuff is rough, and you are so much happier in the morning if you get the extra couple of hours.

And a happy you is a very fun you.

12-mos-incognitoYou like to play peekaboo, but what you love most right now is to bring us book after book so we can read to you. You do not necessarily want the pages read in order and we can’t count on you to wait for one story to end before you move on to the next. Most of the time, if I ask you for your favorites by name — “Brown Bear,” “Click Clack Moo,” and “Dear Zoo” — you’ll go get them and bring them to me.

This is the best thing ever, even though Mommy has been hoarse and congested for three weeks.

Today, we gave you your birthday present — an activity table that does a frightening number of things. But it turns out you didn’t need a new toy. You’re old enough for the “I’m gonna get you!” version of “chase,” apparently, and NOTHING is more giggle-worthy than running up and down the basement hall, no matter how many times you fall over (laughing and running at the same time seems hard).

You’re learning the names of many things. You know where your head is, and when asked where hats go, you will press the hat against your head…okay, usually against your face, but it counts and is hilarious (for the last eight months or so, you have heard “Hats go on heads” from me pretty much every day). You also know where your feet are, and I think you know where your nose, ears, and eyes are, too, but you’re just messing with me so I’ll know you’re not my trained monkey.

Last week, when I was folding your diapers on the dining room table, I wanted to see what would happen if I handed you a diaper cover and asked you to put it away. You did it! You toddled into your room and put it on the proper shelf. Then I gave you another one, and you took it in your room and threw both of the covers on the floor, because “NOT A TRAINED MONKEY, MOMMY.”

See also: stubborn.

12-mos-san-diegoBefore (or, possibly, somewhat during) the Whirlwind of Sickness, we held our breath, packed the car, and drove down to San Diego so Daddy could row in the Crew Classic with his team. For a kid who has hated the car since day 1, you were a champ. You handled it all gracefully with the exception of the last 45-60 minutes of the drive in either direction.

It was an 8-9 hour drive on both ends, buddy. You were, as Daddy said, “entitled to a fucking meltdown” after that. Especially with an extremely full and disgusting diaper. The first night, you would only fall asleep in my arms, but after that, you settled right in and greatly enjoyed running in circles around the little condo we rented.

Pro tip, junior: When traveling with kids, try to rent an apartment or condo. How do people do this with one hotel room and kids who are pretty particular about bedtime?

(Also? It was nice to hold you while you slept again. I’ve missed that.)

You and I had lots of quality time together while Daddy was doing Rowing Stuff. We played on the swings and ran around on the grass and avoided napping. We picked up groceries (again, yay for condo rental!) and coffee and smiled at strong, beautiful girls who cooed over you. I got hit with a cookie thrown by one of those girls at a boy to whom she had previously refused to give a cookie as we were strolling past. The wind caught it, and it bounced off my head. I know I should’ve caught it and eaten it, but the best I could manage was shock that she couldn’t have seen that coming.

Seriously. Rowers should pay attention to wind.

We took you to Pacific Beach one morning, but you were not digging it; you were much happier at Fiesta Bay, where you stomped in the water and got mad at me when I wouldn’t let you wade in deeper.

The other thing about the San Diego trip is this: The best way to calm you when you started to get bored and fussy was to put in an old Stanford Harmonics CD. This is entirely my fault — it’s an easy sing-along CD and I used to drive a lot, so it’s lived in my car for over a decade and you’ve heard it pretty often. We listened to clever but questionably mixed covers of 80s and 90s pop music over and over and over again, and your father hasn’t quite recovered yet. (He much preferred Hookslide, but you didn’t.) He’ll still let out a disgruntled “…and gave me a Vegemite…sandWICH” from time to time.

Everyone told us to treasure this time, that it would go by fast and you would never be this little again. That last bit is true, but you know what, buddy? We’re okay with it. Our experience wasn’t that “It all went by so fast,” at least not for the first six months. I think it’s more that, as they say, the days are long and the years are short.

I’m not going to lie — this day last year was pretty long. But it was worth it. We’ve had one year to get to know you so far, and you crack us up every day.

newborn

2013

1yo-birthday-morning-walk

2014

I love you, little man. I love your laugh and your scrunchy face, your dirty little feet and your amazing little hands. I love your cuddles, and I love when you look at me and deliberately turn and run the other way because you’re not done doing whatever it is you’re doing that I’m about to make you stop doing. I love when you try to tickle me, I love how you cross your legs at the ankles when you eat, and I love how you’ve figured out that I will kiss blanky goodnight if you ask me to. I love how you play with Rodney, how you look at Daddy, and how you shriek when it’s time to go outside.

I love you through and through, buddy. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, too.

Mommy

Month 11

Dear Grayson –

Walking. You are walking walking  walking walking walking walking walking walking walking walking walking!

That settles it. You’re officially a toddler now. You wobbled about for a while, but then, one day, you had the opportunity to tackle the back staircase (with supervision). You climbed one step after another, in a straight line, until you got all the way to the top. First try, kiddo.

After that, walking wasn’t an “almost” anymore. It must have seemed like a piece of cake after scaling the stairs. You went from “I can maybe do this” to “I AM SO DOING THIS RIGHT NOW” without looking back. This has led to a whole series of new bonks and bruises, because you are pretty fearless when you’re running around the house.

11mos_with_rodney

 

Rodney is still the BEST.

 

Aside from the walking, everything else is pretty much status quo. You still prefer liquids to solids, but you do love your apples. (Not applesauce. That stuff is gross.) You had a cold. (That was also gross.)

11mos-full-of-itYou know what “No” means, and you DEFINITELY know when you are being naughty. You reach for things you know you’re not supposed to touch (cords or cables that couldn’t be moved when we babyproofed, mostly) and look at us to see if we’re paying attention, if we will say, “Ah ah ah!” or come right out and say “No.” (Or, “No, no, no, sir!” because we want you to stop but don’t want to sound mad at you.)

You’re really, really strong, and diaper changes are full-on wrestling matches when you’re feeling sassy. You have tremendous timing when it comes to wriggling. Still new to this, I struggle sometimes to restrain you on the changing table — because SAFETY — without hurting you as you try basically put all of weight on your head and use your neck as a lever.

I guess naughty was just your M.O. this month, buster. I’ll be honest — I prefer the running-in-the-other-direction version to the full-back-bend-on-the-changing-table version.

We’ve started using the stroller more and more, at least for longer walks. You weren’t sure about it at first, but then you discovered that there was a cup that could hold Puffs for you to eat at your leisure. Now, you stick your hand in the cup before you’re even locked in.

11mos-stroller-puffWe’ve had a playdate or two and we went to Habitot with our New Mom support group, also known as our Baby Buddies. We’re working on getting to know the kids in the neighborhood, too, but…child, that’s going to be way easier when you guys can just walk down the street, knock on the door, and start playing; coordinating adult schedules is sort of bananas. There’s one little girl down the street who just adores you, though, and always has pets for Rodney, too.

You have more patience in the car now, which is great, because we’ve got a big road trip coming up and we’re dreading the ride. For the most part, though, even though you are feisty and spend a lot of time testing boundaries, you’re not overly fussy unless you’re hungry.

Or bored. Boredom is something I worry about a little bit, because you’re basically confined to the upper floor of the house most days. You’ve explored every inch of it. You’ve looked in the unlocked drawers (and broken at least one), you’ve pinched your fingers in the garbage can, and you make a daily (/hourly) game of strewing your diaper covers around your room. You’re at the stage when playing outside would be awesome, but our yard is all cement and you’re not quite stable enough on your feet yet to run around out there. (And OPD is dealing with the big kids who are trying to claim the park down the street…but that play space is a little too old for you right now.) We’re working on the remaining babyproofs to let you explore downstairs a bit, but frankly, downstairs is sort of boring. We may just need to get better about scheduling some out-of-the-house activities. And, at some point, there will be more that you can do inside the house. Coloring, inside the lines or out, is a little out of reach for you at the moment.

Plus? You’ve got a birthday coming up. I have a feeling your toy collection is about to get upgraded…

I love you,

Mommy

L’allaitement est finis

In early February, Grayson kicked off what we hoped was a nursing strike.

It was just before 11pm on a Friday — his new witching hour. He was reverting to his extra-wake-ups routine just in time for the week Mommy had early meetings, high-level presentations, and deadlines. I knew he didn’t wake up from actual hunger but once a night, sometime between 2 and 3:30. But when he’s teething or Learning Something Big or not feeling well, there’s a wake up before midnight and another around 4:30 or so, just late enough that…

Yeah. Once, maybe twice? He was up FOR THE DAY at 4:45 because it was easier than letting him scream for at least half an hour. Because Grayson.

And things were going on. He was cutting a giant front tooth, and I’d thrown my back out and started physical therapy. There were maybe two days when I could hold him, but not lift him, and a few when I couldn’t get him in or out of the crib. So we tag-teamed night wakings the way we did when he was brand new and I was recovering from the c-section. Graham would go get him while I adjusted to a reclining position, Grayson would nurse in the bed, and Graham would take him back to the crib. (The crib wasn’t part of the new-new-newborn routine, but it took me time to get in position.)

Co-sleeping would’ve been ideal for this, but…nope. Not with this kid. Not until it’s a bit safer and he doesn’t go exploring before his eyes are even open yet. Besides, it was only a few nights and nursing was the most reliable way — the only way, really — to soothe him back to sleep.

But then…

That night, he just stopped.

No weaning. No warning. Just…done. I went in to nurse him back down and he wanted none of it. He’d start to latch, then stop and get really, really upset. This was one of the reasons we thought it was a strike, and probably a result of the incoming tooth. Another reason is that he still wasn’t into solids (and he still isn’t).

That first night was rough. He’d had baby Advil (teeth!), and he wouldn’t eat and refused any other comfort (blanky, skin-to-skin, snuggles…no, no, NO) so we eventually set him back down and tried to let him self-soothe, which was a disaster.

He eventually went back to sleep, but not for long. When he woke around 3 and still wouldn’t nurse, Graham made a bottle and I hooked myself up to the pump and began to fret.

The thing about being obsessed with nursing, annoying though it may seem, is that we knew what to do. (Fretting, however, is a thing you’re not supposed to do. Like that’s realistic.) Keep offering. Try different positions and locations. Get him when he’s groggy or asleep. Pump on his feeding schedule to keep up supply. Bottle feed and supplement as necessary, because, when you get right down to it, “Feed the baby” is the only rule that matters.

Nothing worked. Nothing for days. We wondered if missing me when I went in to the office on Monday would help. Nope. Would being topless and accessible take the pressure off? No way. Bait and switch? Oh, HELL NO. Within one day, he stopped even pretending to latch; within two, he was resisting before we even got to the glider, where we normally nursed. By that day, though, my instinct told me he was done. And having him push me away, over and over again, was killing me inside.

We still did all the things. I was pumping like crazy, trying to keep up. We worked out schedules and plans for solids, but we were supposed to do that anyway. I bought formula to have in the house in case the stress of keeping up with his bottles tanked my supply. And the following week, I had a conversation with the lactation consultant who was so helpful in our first weeks.

What she said surprised me…except that I already knew she was right.

“I think he’s telling you he’s done.”

“Wait, what? You’re supposed to be more gung-ho than I am. Why aren’t you pressuring me to get him back on the boob?” (I can be a little direct. I find it saves time.)

“I’m a lactation consultant, yes, but I’m also a nurse practitioner, and I think we have to honor babies’ needs and desires. Someone has to initiate the weaning process eventually, and I think he just did that.”

Graham maintains that quitting cold turkey should not be called weaning. I am inclined to agree.

Our LC was stunned that he wasn’t on solids at all, especially because he’s mobile and likes to chew on everything, and she told me there’s no way my supply could increase enough at this point to keep up with his caloric needs through pumping unless I was willing to pump in the middle of the night…which she didn’t recommend. I could pump and he could still get breastmilk and all of its amazingness, but we’re at the point where other sources of nutrition are more okay than before. (Which is not to say that formula isn’t okay, but we were at nine months, which means he’d gotten the vast majority of the benefits he could get from being exclusively breastfed.)

I was not ready for this. My spirit crashed. I was a wreck for most of the week, most of which I can blame on hormones and some of which was due to the difference in how Graham and I deal with wrinkles in our best laid plans. (I research the hell out of everything and construct contingency plans, and he takes more of a wait-and-see approach.) I was ready to be done with the pump, not with nursing! And before talking to the lactation consultant, I was pumping when Grayson was eating. I went from always feeding him when we were together to never feeding him, and I was NOT okay with it.

Once we worked out a plan, I had to ask Graham about his bottle-feeding routine. I’d never given my son a bottle. I’d also never had to think about taking him out for a few hours — I was always carrying his food with me. We had one boneheaded episode at Ikea when I realized we’d left right after his long nap and he was clearly getting hungry and we wouldn’t be home for at least another half hour…and I hadn’t thought to pack a bottle. The only thing that saved us was a half-empty snack pack of puffs I’d forgotten to take out of the diaper bag. /mommyfail

So.

I pump. I pump when I get up in the morning, once at midday, and once before bed. Fortunately, this has refilled the freezer stash and kept more than enough milk in stock for his daytime feedings, which are usually around 20-24 ounces. My supply is holding out and we do still want him to get breastmilk, but it’s a little bit less each week (thank goodness for our LC, though, whose pumping advice/schedule helped establish a good supply early). He gets a bottle of Vermont Organics formula before bed and finishes about six to eight ounces.

Solids are still a problem. We’re trying lots of things, but we’re also hoping that the impending time change will help with the scramble between when I get home from work and when he goes to bed; we’ve been having a makeshift dinnertime with him, but I get home at or after 5:30 and he’s out by 7 at the latest — the timing just doesn’t work, especially on bath nights or if my train is late… For a while after the time change, bedtime will be closer to 8 and we’ll have some wiggle room. (We also need to get better about meal planning so there’s something for Graham to start before I get home.)

We were so, so convinced Grayson would like Big People Food…ah, well. He’ll get there.

Grayson_allaitement

In the meantime, I still offer the breast occasionally, especially if he’s upset, but he wants none of it. I’m still a bit sad, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last 10 months, it’s that breastfeeding is hard and unpredictable, and the duration of it, for those of us who choose and are able to do it, just ain’t up to us. It’s so easy, with an infant, especially as new parents, to get into a groove that you think will last forever. It seems so silly, but this turned out to be the nudge I needed to realize that my son will always need me, even when what he needs from me changes.

Ah, well. Au revoir, nursling. Bienvenue, almost-toddler!

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