Sunday, January 07, 2007

Letter to Swee'pea: 11 months old

Dear Swee'pea,

Today you are 11 months old. I wasn't planning to write you a letter this month, since I just wrote the Christmas one. But lots has been going on, and I want to.

reclining in tie-dye
Don't worry, I won't ever take you out in public in head-to-toe tie-dye. But the woman who makes them gave me the pants and I just had to do it. Just for the photo shoot of course.

Since my last letter, the nights have been really rough. Between teething, nasty colds for all three of us, and the disruption to our semblance of a schedule caused by a week at Grandma and Grandpa's, you have been quite miserable at night, with frequent wakings and lots of crying. It felt like a flashback to the newborn days, but worse because you kick and roll and squirm.

Your difficulty sleeping has made me question our parenting choices. It seems to me that one of the first things a parent is supposed to do is get their kids to bed in a reasonable time, and we have clearly failed in this regard. I wonder if we are going to be those exhausted haggard parents completely overrun by a tyrannical child with no boundaries. I used to have such plans for my parenting, watching everyone else's mistakes before I was a parent. But now I see how easy it is to make mistakes. And how necessary it is to sometimes forget the big picture, forget the future consequences of our choices now, and focus on survival, on just getting through the day or the night. That said, I worry we are too bent on survival at the moment, and should sit back and consider the wider view.

The days haven't been so fantastic either, probably because you were exhausted (and so am/was I). You have recently started arching your back and screaming sometimes when I try to strap you into the carseat or stroller, and diaper changes are worse. Several times I've had to wipe your poopy bum as you present it to me at high speed in the other direction. When I capture you and put you back on the floor like some kind of pro wrestler you get most outraged until finally I figure you're clean enough and let you roam with a free willy.


The funny thing, though, is that your sense of humour really seemed to intensify during this time. So you could spend most of a day either weeping or laughing hysterically, with not much quiet awake time in between. Nothing is too mundane to make you laugh, whether it's your dad with his hood up, or tickling my lower back when I'm sitting at the computer. Many times, we still don't know what you're laughing at, but it makes us feel amazing, like superheroes, nonetheless.

toothy grin

I think things may be turning around in the sleep department. Yesterday you finally cut your sixth tooth, which I think has been responsible for at least some of your misery. You still won't let my finger in your mouth to confirm that it's actually cut through, but this photo seems pretty conclusive. Last night, you fell asleep around 8 pm, and after a couple of quick unhappy awakenings, I put a couple of my dirty shirts in the bed, and you slept with no parental interference or assistance until I came to bed at nearly 11. Even then, you didn't wake for a nurse until around 11:30. It was heaven. You still woke up a few times after that, but these wakings didn't involve much crying, just rooting and grunting for the boob.

I have read that babies usually have a bit of a teething break after their sixth tooth, which comes at a great time, since we're flying to the other side of the world next week. Let's just hope you and your teeth have read the same websites I have!

Speaking of the long arduous flight ahead of you, yesterday we went to our local independent toy store and picked up some items that we will bring out on the plane. I've heard it's a good thing to have brand new toys or toys you haven't seen for a while on a long flight. We bought a toy flashlight that lights up and doesn't make too many annoying noises, a soft version of your "First Tools," which you instantly discovered you can open and close like a book (your favourite activity these days is most certainly opening and closing things: books, cupboards, doors; if it opens and closes you wanna piece of it).

hours after gift opening
At Grandma and Grandpa's the excitement of new toys didn't last long and you went back to the thrill of opening the cereal cupboard and retrieving the boxes.

We also bought you a toy cell phone. If anyone had told me when I was pregnant that I was going to give my child a toy cell phone at the age of 11 months I would have laughed in their face. But... what can I say? You love pushing buttons on anything electronic (you've turned the computer off and changed obscure settings on the tv and vcr more than once). And the toy cell phone has a quiet setting that still makes enough noise to engage you but not enough to piss off the 500 other passengers crammed into the ship of steel somehow flying through the sky (and us, of course). And -- it's pink. Somehow if I'm contradicting gender stereotypes it's ok to buy my baby a toy cell phone.

You are a total speed demon on your hands and knees now. Sometimes you get so caught up with the speed, you put your head down and really kick it into high gear. I know this is what you're doing because I do it too. Sometimes when I'm belly dancing, especially in front of an audience, I really inhabit the movement. Unfortunately, I get so into it, I forget the choreography. Just this morning on the way to a greasy breakfast I was mesmerized by the bewitching combination of my red cords and new red shoes. Most of the time you look up just in time to avoid crashing head-on into something hard, but occasionally you get so caught up you just keep going faster and faster, head down for better aerodynamics, and you crash: the side of a doorway, the banister of the stairs, the stroller we park in the front hall. Happily, it never seems to bother you, so your dad and I can laugh without feeling bad.

new shoes

You have become more confident (i.e. reckless) in your movements. Not only do you just drop onto your hands from standing, now you also raise your hands and launch yourself forward onto them a bit like a pouncing cat when you go from sitting or kneeling to high-speed crawl.


My favourite thing these days is to watch you and your daddy play. I love seeing the looks of mutual adoration pass back and forth between. And despite all my doubts and fears, these are the moments when I feel the warmth of my little family, and the rightness of the big choices so far.

Maybe it's only obvious to me, but this guy is IN LOVE with that little ear (cut off by Blogger, sadly).

Love Mum


bubandpie said...

Really, I don't think there's any connection between how you handle sleeping and the way you handle discipline and boundary-setting. I'm tyrannical about sleep (because Bub trained me to be that way by flipping out every time his sleep schedule was messed with), but that doesn't translate into any kind of consistency with other areas of discipline.

And I'm sure the reverse is true - you can fly by the seat of your pants with regard to sleeping, as my day-care provider does with her son, to a certain extent, and yet be able to consistently and patiently reinforce boundaries (I've seen her do it, and been amazed).

bubandpie said...

That said, I hope you guys all get some more sleep soon! And cell phones are good - though my kids are not to be fooled by second-rate toy versions: they want the real thing. They are, however, fooled by the real phone that I pull out of the wall and give them to play with.

Beck said...

Aw. I think you're pretty fond of your little guy.

The sleeping thing is HARD. Unless you're bottle-feeding and unless you set a consistent nighttime routine from birth onwards, there's going to come some grim day when you have to deal with resetting bedtime. We certainly had to, and normally at about the 11-12 month mark. It IS worth doing, though - having The Baby go to bed at 7:30 means that I have four or five deliriously excellent babyfree hours to myself in the evening. There are TONS of excellent books on no-cry sleep methods and while they ARE time consuming. "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" was a big favorite among attachment parenting friends of mine.

cinnamon gurl said...

B&P, thanks for the good wishes... do fairies still sprinkle sleep dust? ;)

Beck, we have a copy of the No Cry Sleep Solution, which we tried around 4-5 months with no success. I'll take another look at it though. Did you get my email about your recommendation of a video? I'd be interested in having a look for it if you give me the title... Thanks.

ewe are here said...

Love the head-to-toe-tie-dye! So colorful. And he looks like such a happy little guy!

The sleep thing can be tough. Just when you think you've nailed it, everything changes. Sigh. As does the sudden struggle to not lie down on the changing table; or not sit nicely in the stroller.

Hang in there! ;-)

Beck said...

Oh, Cinnamon Girl - I never saw that comment, no. THe video I have was a small budget thing made in Utah, I believe, and mailed to us by an American friend seven years ago. So, if it's still being made, it's called "Sweet Dreams." And if it's not, I'd happily mail it to you.
By the way - I think it works by boring the baby to sleep. We're not talking actual entertainment value here, but it gave us a surefire method that's worked with all three kids and no crying.

Beck said...

Wait - the video is called "Sleep Tight" and it's by Jeffery W. Hull MD. It's magic! Very boring magic!

Mad Hatter said...

Ah, don't question your choices (she wrote knowing full well that you will b/c I do b/c all parents do).

What I really need to say is this. I love your love of colour. It's not the tie-dye that's the kicker. It's the tie-die on that couch with all its furnishings. Lurid, positively lurid in the best possible way. Oh and the shoes and red pants? To die for.

cinnamon gurl said...

Hee hee, Mad. Just this morning SD and I commented that Swee'pea will probably only wear black in rebellion when he grows up.

Aliki2006 said...

I honestly think some kids just don't settle down sleep-wise until after two. For my kids two was the magic age. Neither Liam nor Tessa slept well until that point and although I had once thought Liam was the worst little sleeper possible, his sister really put us through the wringer. I mean really.

Hang in there--by the way, I read the No Cry book with Tessa but it just didn't help. I still cried about sleep deprivation, all the time :)

Mimi said...

I hear a lot of love even in your frustration, but GOD IT"S HARD WHEN THEY WON'T SLEEP. And then the bad moods ... It always puts me in a frame of mind to berate my parenting choices. It's easy to feel like you're always shooting from the hip rather than enacting a Coherent Parenting Plan. You worry because you care.

Lucky, colourful Swee'pea to have you for a mom!