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According to various sources, I have one month left before my baby is officially a toddler. I can’t quite process that, since I am barely over the novelty of having a baby in the first place. Some folks seem to count it from the time the baby starts walking, actually literally toddling around, but unfortunately that isn’t going to help in my case. A few days before he officially hit eleven months, I got a note at daycare pickup letting me know my son took two independent steps. Since then he has taken one here and there, but surely it is only a matter of time before he takes off toddling. He cruises one-handed easily now, and when it is me he’s holding onto I can tell his touch is getting lighter and lighter as he gets better at it and strong enough to do it on his own. He loves to move in general, and has started climbing up on top of things such as the coffee table or the stairs.

He’s a funny little guy, easy going most of the time but with these moments of strong-headedness which make me fear for the terrible twos. Woe betide she who tells my son it is time to come inside, or won’t let him tear important papers in half. Don’t even get me started on the drama that ensues with nearly every diaper change. The tantrums are intense but thankfully short-lived at the moment, and once they pass he is back to being my cheerful, curious, cuddly little man. He is still a mama’s boy, preferring me above all others, but has been warming up to his dad this month (much to our relief). I love how much he loves me, but sometimes it is exhausting to be the only one who will do.

Bath time is more like swim time; he lunge-crawls from one end of the tub to the other, then stops to stand up until I tell him to sit please, at which point he goes back to doing laps. He is completely unfazed by water in his face, and I’m glad we had our baby swim lessons at this point. He is a fish, like I was at his age. I can’t wait to see what he does in the pool this summer.

My son eats everything and then a few more things and also can he please have what is on your plate because it’s better than what is on his, even if they are exactly the same. He is still fascinated by cups, and likes to drink from mine. When I get water from the fridge dispenser, I have two creatures who beg: first, the dog, who wants ice cubes because they are the best treat ever, and second, the baby, who needs to drink some from my glass immediately. Our son makes glorious messes out of pasta with sauce or mashed potatoes, and he loves dipping things in other things. I picked up a snack pack which comes with biscuits/cookies on one side and yogurt dip on the other and he is pretty sure they are the best thing EVER.

This month it has been amazing to watch him learn and explore. He loves to open things and close them, put things in and out, take them apart. He has figured out that door handles open doors and will reach up for them when he wants to go through. (Thankfully he cannot reach them yet.) He has also noticed that the toilet handle makes a very satisfying rushing water noise when pulled. He takes the top off of the squeezey baby food packets.

He is endlessly amused by animals and continues to say his version of “dog” pretty consistently, along with “mama” and up (“bub”). He woke up one Sunday and decided to communicate with us more effectively, first by signing “all done”, then by insisting on being put in his high chair and looking expectant until we brought him a snack. He points and babbles in adorably word-like sounds and tells us all about his world. He’s amazing, basically. (Not biased at all.)

This month we took him to get his first haircut, and my tiny baby suddenly looked like a big toddler. It was harder than I expected it to be. I love him and I love the little person he is becoming, but sometimes I wish this year had gone just a little more slowly. Next month I will officially have a toddler, somehow. Amazing indeed.


He comes home smelling like daycare, a cheerfully sanitary jumble of baby wipes and cleaning products with undertones of sour milk and another baby’s formula, another woman’s perfume. I bury my face in the top of his head, searching for where he is hidden under wispy-fine hair, seeking the scent of my son. It inspires a certain kinship with the working mothers of the wild, rumored to abandon their babies once strangers have handled them. As a child I believed the myth, worried over baby birds marked by human hands, smelling of other-ness as their mothers turned their backs. Now I know better, with a mother’s heart I know that like me they have the opposite impulse: to pull him in close and wrap him in arms or feathers or fur, resetting the olfactory signposts, and reclaim him nightly as my own.

Rescued from my email drafts folder, finally…

My son is not only nine months old, but has now passed 40 weeks and 2 days, which means he has officially been outside of me longer than he was in. In this as in all of his milestones, I am proud of him and yet I simply can’t get over how quickly he grows up. I hope it slows down a little at some point, but I have been warned it never does.

This month our baby started at a new daycare, which provided more than a little anxiety for his mother. Would he be okay, away from the provider who had been taking care of him one-on-one for months? I shouldn’t have worried. He has done beautifully. Within a week of starting, he had gone from his old standby army crawl (which he had been doing since December) and started a more traditional hands-and-knees crawl — I am certain this is because he watched other babies and picked it up from them. He moves even faster now, and between that and his cruising, nothing is safe in our house. He has decided that opening drawers and cabinet is fun, and likes to take things out of bags, baskets, boxes, and anything else he can get his hands on. We have taken a somewhat liberal approach to baby-proofing, and as a result he still has a wide range of cabinets, drawers, bags, boxes, baskets, and shelves which he has access to. I love watching him explore and find new things, and chasing him down is rapidly becoming an excellent form of exercise.

Within a week of starting his new day care, my son also came down with his first cold. He has had a runny nose and cough ever since then, and on the day he turned nine months he celebrated with his first very high fever. The verdict was an ear infection. Now there’s a milestone neither of us were all that excited about! Thankfully, he decided that both his baby ibuprofen and the antibiotic were tolerable, so we didn’t have to hold down a screaming infant and traumatize everyone involved with pink sticky medication going everywhere but in his belly. My sister had a lot of ear infections as a child, and I remember the pink sticky medication so clearly, along with screamingly traumatic administrations, so I am grateful that this time at least my baby was amenable. Hopefully that’s a trend that holds — actually, scratch that, hopefully we don’t have to repeat this often enough to call it a trend at all!

The teachers at daycare say they think of him lumped in with the older babies, the ones a few months older than he is. They say this because developmentally, he tends to hang with the big kids — he cruises, waves, eats table food, drinks out of a straw cup, and greets people (and cats, and toys, and most other things) with a big grin and a cheerful, “hi!”. That last one still gets me. He’s been saying hi for the better part of the last month, but I didn’t believe it was intentional until they confirmed it for me. Other parents have commented on it, too; I figure that is enough third-party confirmation to safely say yes, my baby’s first word is Hi. Funny story, so was his mother’s.

Aside from “hi”, our little boy has become very verbal in the last month. He babbles almost constantly. In the mornings and at naptimes, he will wake up and whisper to his lovie or to us. I ask him to tell me secrets and talk to me about his dreams and he burbles at me in nonsense words which sound very convincingly conversational. He says da-da-da-da-da and ma-ma-ma-ma-ma at semi-appropriate times, and we are suspicious that when he watches the dog and exclaims, “DOE!” that he is attempting another important word. I find myself very much looking forward to his linguistic development, because I see so much going on in his head and I want him to be able to share it. However, Father Time, do not take this as an excuse to hurry things along, thank you very much.

As I write that, it occurs to me that Father Time must indeed be male, because I am certain that if it were Mother Time, babies would never ever grow up at all, which I suppose would be inconvenient. I would still appreciate it if Father Time were a little less insistent on moving things forward in this house, though. I’d really like a few more weeks between now and the end of May, for example. This first year is just flying by way, way too fast.

While we were in New Orleans, we had to take our son to the emergency room. He’s fine, and was fine at the time, but he had bronchiolitis/RSV and was wheezing a lot. We called his pediatrician, who said it was probably not a big deal but since he’d never wheezed before we should have someone check him out. Due to insurance restrictions, we ended up in the ED. They declared him a “happy wheezer”, didn’t even think he needed a breathing treatment, and sent us on our merry way with an inhaler and mask gizmo, just in case.

When we checked in, I had to fill out an admissions form. This form had an extensive section for information on all three of us, more so than any form I’ve previously encountered. I was rolling right through the baby’s section — social security number, name, birthdate — when I hit a blank that gave me pause.

Religion: ___________________

Nobody had asked me this before. Mine and his father’s, yes, but I’ve never had to mark down baby J’s religion. I paused and looked at BWB, who shrugged. Just put both, he said. Oh, right, of course. So I filled it out: Christian/Jewish. I was proud of us, satisfied with that answer, and moved on.

The clerk at the desk, an older gentleman who had been telling me about his pre-Katrina job in real estate, looked apologetic. “I’m sorry, mama, but the system only lets me put one in.” I frowned, and started to explain that it wouldn’t be accurate. “Should I put down other?” Um. Okay? So my son got marked down as “other”, and he apologized again. He said he was Cajun, and they never had a good box to check for that, or for Creole either. I smiled and nodded, and we moved on.

But I haven’t moved on. My son is other? No. Other implies not belonging, lack of definition. My son is not other. My son is loved and accepted by two communities, has two sets of ladies at coffee hour and oneg who want to hold him. My son was blessed by a rabbi and a priest, he hears both Shalom Rav and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing sung to him as lullabies at bedtime. I reject your checkbox, fancy computer system.

Yet even as I write this, I know that this is only the beginning. We have a long road of other-ness ahead of us, and I am sure this will be far from the last time that we find ourselves in this position. We are still confident in our choice to “do both”, and still certain we will make this work. That doesn’t mean we’re not aware that it would have been easier to just pick one. Sometimes the right thing isn’t the easy thing, though.

Someday, my son will speak for himself. He might choose to identify as Jewish, or Christian. He might call himself Buddhist, or Muslim, or Wiccan. Maybe he will continue to claim all of his heritage and defy the checkboxes on his own. Until he gets old enough to make those choices, though, it falls on me to try and make the world accept his religious reality.

So no, not “other”. How about, All of the Above, Yes, or Both? It’s Complicated. More Than Meets the Eye. Answer Unclear, Ask Again Later. Clearly, the form needs to be updated.

In the meantime, we’ll keep doing our thing despite the boxes. My son and our family are many things, and we are okay with that. Even if sometimes we don’t fit neatly on a form.

Eight months. Wow.

I went back and read the last update, from six and a half months, and it’s amazing how much has changed. My son is now super mobile, crawling mostly army-style with his belly on the ground. For short distances, he will stay up on hands and knees, but he’s not fast enough that way and switches when he wants to go farther. Lately he has been pushing up into down-dog, and I wonder if he’s going to crawl hands-and-feet in the near future. He pulls up to standing with increasing confidence, and falls over often because he tries to grab all the things and forgets he can’t stand unsupported yet.

This morning he pulled up on a box, then the box began sliding across the floor. Instead of falling, though, he just moved his feet and basically walked along behind the moving box. Be still my heart, and stop changing so fast, little boy.

Little boy. More and more when he looks up at us, we see his soon-to-be toddler face, instead of the tiny baby we brought home eight months ago. I absolutely cannot believe how fast this is flying by. He is on the cusp of so many things — walking, talking, signing — and shows no sign of slowing down in growth or development. Not that I want him to! Maybe it would be nice if time slowed for a little while, though.

I love watching him explore his world and discover new things. Unfortunately, some of his absolute favorite things are cables and cords, plastic bags, and dog toys, so we spend a lot of time taking things away from him. He adores cups and has since October, but now he seems to be really getting the hang of using them properly. In the last week or so he has become very interested in things that go in and out of other things. Animals of all kinds, but especially dogs, make him shriek with delighted laughter. We started taking swimming lessons and, like his mother was at his age, he is a water-loving little fishy.

His first tooth arrived on Christmas Day, and the second one came on New Years Day. In the process of teething, he stopped sleeping through the night. Now I have a ridiculously distractible baby who nibbles all day but won’t eat a full meal because there is so! much! to! do! — as a result, we are back to nursing semi-constantly overnight. I am grateful we have the hang of sleep-nursing, because otherwise I would be a zombie. As it is, I am more than a little exhausted, and as much as I love baby cuddles, I hope he goes back to sleeping through the night (in his crib) again at some point.

He has gotten very mama-focused and clingy, especially in the evenings and when he is tired. I know it’s very frustrating to BWB, who feels like he can’t help or comfort his son. It’s not a picnic for me, either, as the demands to be held constantly can be very draining, as well as making it hard to fix dinner. I am sure this, too, shall pass, but in the meantime we’re all a little cranky.

My son loves food. He wants ALL THE FOOD, and gets very upset if we are eating something and don’t offer it to him. This has definitely affected my food choices, as I try to make sure there is always something baby-friendly on my plate. The list of food he has eaten is long, varied, and includes scrambled eggs, watermelon, peas, green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, king cake, croissants, mashed potatoes, grits, squash, rice, baguette, goat cheese, pizza crust, yogurt, goldfish crackers, rice crackers, Cheerios, oatmeal, gelato, broccoli, and pasta. He starts at a new day care Monday and they tell me they have to keep him on purée until he’s a year old, unless I get a note from his doctor. Given his impatience with food lacking texture, I think I will be talking to his doctor.

We’ve had a lot of firsts this six weeks: first Hanukkah, first Christmas, first train trip, first Mardi Gras parades. He loved opening presents, loved lighting candles, and charms his grandparents (again) at every opportunity. He was a champ at the parades, sleeping through some of them and giggling at others. He loved the music, of course. My little guy loves music of all kinds, and sings along often.

I love this baby so much. I could (and do) go on and on for hours about him. It kills me every time he outgrows something, or hits a new milestone, and I am torn between bursting with pride and wailing that he please slow down, stop growing up so fast. Too fast, it’s just going by too, too fast.

It seems as though many of the year-end posts I’ve seen on social media are glad to see 2012 go, but I can’t say I feel the same way. As much as it has held some dark moments for me, this year was the one which brought me my son and all of the amazing moments that come with him. I am a little sad to see it go, when it comes down to it. Still, time marches on, and now is the point in the year where we all tend to take stock of where we are.

I love being a mother more than anything in this world. I was made to do this, and I feel more whole and balanced in my life now than I ever have. I am amazed at where I am now, and I am so happy to be here. My goal in the new year is to stay focused on where my son is right now, of being present with him as much as I can, and treasuring his little moments as much as his big ones. I don’t think that one will be all that difficult, really. 2012 will always be the year that made me a mother, the year that made me James’s mama. Anything else is really just a side note, when you get down to it.

Of course, there’s the really big side note. For years, my driving (career) goal has been to become an OB/GYN. 2012 is the year that broke that dream into tiny little pieces. I keep looking down at all the little fragments and trying to figure out how to put them back together again, but it occurs to me that first I have to figure out what shape I want them in. It’s true that if I am still determined to deliver babies, I can (probably) make that happen for the summer of 2014, which then leads to the question of whether that’s actually what I want anymore. To be honest, I don’t know. There are so many emotions and complications around the whole issue now, among them that I am very, very burned out on fighting tooth and nail in my career. This year I will have to come to some resolution with all of this, or at least begin to make sense out of what I want to be when I grow up (again). For now, I am trying not to worry over it and instead giving God and the universe time to work on untangling and putting back together.

In the meantime, I have determined that this year I want to get my creativity back. My job has me working “normal-people” hours, albeit with an annoying commute thrown in for good measure, and I get TWO WHOLE DAYS off every single week. I hardly know what to do with myself. Our new(ish) house has a dedicated craft space, and this year one of my goals is to carve out time to journal, to write, to work on memory books (I am a huge fan of Project Life), to knit, and to quilt. I have so many I need to finish, and so many I want to start. I want this year to be the year I make time to make things again.

My other goals for 2013 are the typical ones: get fit, pass (and then improve on) my fitness test, run another half marathon and maybe tackle a full, continue to hammer down (and then improve on) our financial status. Win the lottery. You know, run of the mill New Year’s resolutions.

When I look at the overall picture of where I am right now, I’m really in pretty good shape. I’m happy, for all the foibles and pitfalls of the last year. I want to stay happy, and improve on it. At the same time, I feel that I am at a significant juncture in my life, stable but with many options about where I can go from here. It’s not a bad place to be, but I need to think hard about what the next step is. It seems as though I have the seeds of good things planted where I am right now, and this year is about nurturing them, letting them grow, and seeing what fruit comes of it.

Here’s to a fruitful 2013 for all of us.

You know, it helps if one publishes posts. If one wants anyone else to read them, anyway… I blame new-job brain. Or mommy brain. Or both. Ahem.

He rolls over. He sits up. He drinks from a cup. He grins when he sees us, responds to his name, and babbles. He likes to “sing” along with music. He is in constant motion.

But other than that, nothing big happened this month.

He was so close to rolling over in September, but then seemed to stop even trying for a little while. Instead, he decided that sitting up was the coolest thing ever and got very good at sitting very quickly. Then one day I set him down on his belly, looked away, then looked back to find him on his back. Two days later, he rolled the other way, and that was that. When he gets tired, he forgets he can roll belly to back and instead just starts fussing, but for the most part he is a rolling fool. He hasn’t started to use it for transportation yet, but I know that can’t be far off.

One day I was holding him while drinking from a glass and he reached out his hands to wrap around the cup and pull it towards him. It was only water, so I let him give it a try. More water ended up down his front than in his mouth, but he thought it was an absolute hoot. The next day I went and got him a straw cup (apparently sippy cups are out these days, who knew) and he went to town. He still drools out most of what he takes in, but he loves playing with it. He also wants to have some of anything we are drinking — I’m glad he is still easily diverted, because I don’t think I’m ready for morning tantrums when I won’t share my coffee!

Morning coffee is definitely a daily event these days. I have truly started back to work, so both of us are establishing and adapting to new routines. Our commute is long (45 minutes), and we have to get up very early. I’m usually up at 4:30, and I let him sleep until about 5:30 if he doesn’t wake up on his own. Usually, though, he wakes up and starts chattering at me cheerfully while I get ready for work. I am so grateful that he is cheery in the morning and can only hope that trend holds in the future.

The lady who keeps our son during the day is wonderful. Right now, he is the only child she is watching, other than her own daughter. He has one-on-one care in the morning, then has the attention of a 4-year-old all afternoon. The little girl loves him and wants to kiss him good-bye when we leave every day. She has informed other children at play groups that he is “her baby”, I am told, and is apparently very possessive of him. I tell her she is his very first friend, and she smiles. I hate to think of having to move him from such a wonderful situation, but eventually I will have to, as the available hours aren’t compatible with what my schedule will eventually be. For now though, it is wonderful, and I am trying not to worry about the future.

I miss him terribly while I am at work, but he is so happy with his sitter and that makes it easier.

I feel like I could write volumes about nursing and pumping and the intricacies of doing so at work, not to mention the mommy-guilt wrapped up in the topic. Right now, though, I will just say that I am grateful I have a supportive chain of command and work environment. My first day I walked in prepared to have to advocate for time and space to pump, but the second thing my new supervisor asked me (right after, “wait, who are you? you’re assigned here? are you sure?” — that’s a different post entirely though) was, “your baby is how old? Are you pumping?” She then made sure I knew where the breastfeeding room was located, and made it clear to the guys showing me around that they needed to give me time to pump. It was such a relief, and everyone has continued to be very supportive. Now, my son’s appetite is giving me a run for my money, but of all the problems to have, that is one I’ll take.

I still marvel every day at the changes he makes overnight. A week or so ago he suddenly decided that moving was AWESOME and now he is rarely still, even when he is cuddling with us. He will be in my lap and want to pull himself up and over my shoulder, climb through my arms, pull and chew on my shirt. Constant motion. I watch him making connections and trying out new skills and it just astounds me. To think that this time last year he was barely big enough to make much more than a blob on an ultrasound. It amazes me no less than it did the moment they put him on my chest, and frankly I don’t see that changing any time soon.

When the baby was first born, my parents came and immediately exclaimed about the cleft in his chin. Just like his grandfather (my dad), and his great-grandfather! Our family chin! Finally, after several rounds of excited discussion of the remarkable chin, my husband (who had been very patient) pointed out in a slightly injured tone, “I have a cleft chin.” OH. Of course! A cleft chin just like his father! Ahem. Cough.

It’s funny though, one of the first things that happens when people meet or hear about a baby is often to inquire who he looks like. It usually comes right after, “Is he a good baby?”, one of my all-time least favorite baby questions, and somewhere before a question designed to determine his developmental status, ie if he is rolling over yet, or if we have introduced solids. (No, and no.) I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about why it is so important to determine if he looks like one parent or another, especially to uninvolved parties. I can completely understand why my mother sees so much of me in him, and why BWB’s mother swears she has a picture of him at three months which is indistinguishable from our son’s, but why does it really matter to someone I just met? My theories range from it being just one of the standard conversational topics about a new baby to something more along the lines of ensuring the baby’s status as a member of the tribe. One way or another, it is one of those things which almost always comes up.

I wonder too sometimes if we read into it, as if his face is an array of tarot cards or tea leaves. Hmmm, he looks like his mother, clearly he will have a penchant for salty things and enjoy knitting. Aaah, he has his father’s chin, obviously he will put entirely too much sugar in his tea and excel in the martial arts at a young age. Of course it doesn’t work that way, but maybe that is what we are trying to see when we study our babies’ faces?

So, after all that, who does our baby look like? Sometimes I look at him and I see his daddy’s cheeks, or an expression that is totally BWB. I tell him, Baby, you have your BWB face on this morning! Other times, he screws up his little nose and I have to laugh, since I know how that expression feels from the inside of it. I think he has his father’s nose, and frankly the cleft chin could have come from either of us but we’ll call it BWB’s for the sake of paternal pride. Most people seem to think that overall he looks more like me, at least so far. My mother-in-law is, of course, a notable exception. I have not yet seen this photographic evidence that she says she has, but my husband insists our son looks nothing like he did as an infant. Among other things, BWB says he was an ugly baby. (No, I don’t believe him, either.) We do have a couple photos of the baby where he looks a great deal like the photos of me at his age. (Well, actually slightly older than his age, since I was a tiny baby and he is not. But you get the idea.) He has such an expressive little face that he can look quite different from one moment to the next — my mother calls him the little face-dancer because of it.

Sometimes I look into his eyes and it is disconcerting, because it is like looking into a mirror. I would say if nothing else, he definitely has my eyes. How very strange, to see so much of myself in someone else’s face. It takes my breath away.

In the end, though, I think the answer as to the question of who he looks like is pretty simple: He looks like himself. That’s all he ever needs to be.

Here we are again, another month down. Another month of waking up every morning to exclaim how big he’s gotten overnight. Another month of marveling at how very different he is now than he was (insert time frame here — yesterday, last week, last month). This month I celebrated the anniversary of the day I found out I was pregnant, and as a result we’ve entered a time frame where I remember where I was and where he was this time last year. I remember those feelings of wonder, pressing my hand against my still-flat(ter) stomach and thinking of the tiny life inside me, barely more than a bundle of cells dividing rapidly. I have all of his ultrasound photos up on the bulletin board still, and in a few short weeks we’ll be at the date of the first series. Baby, the label says, with a small arrow in case you missed the appropriate smudge. He was the size of a poppy seed, an apple seed, a peanut, and now he’s being referred to as my bruiser, the future linebacker, and mistaken for a six-month-old. What a crazy thing this life-building process is.

My parents were here this month, helping to take care of the baby while I went back to work. I thought for certain I would be ready to have my house back by the time they left, but instead I miss them more than I think I have since I watched my father leave me alone at boarding school 19 years ago. I have gotten used to peeking into their room (aka my craft room) in the morning and seeing them there, sharing coffee over breakfast, having them here when I come home. Some of my missing them is missing another set of adult humans to share baby-holding duties with, but more than that I miss them in particular. Watching my father with his grandson was a daily delight — the two of them have a special bond, that’s all I can say — and listening to my mother talk to him brought back memories of those sing-song tones being used with me and with my sister. The morning after they left, my mother called me on her way to work and I held the phone up for the baby. She said, “Hello my little pookienoo!” and his eyes got very wide; he looked at me as if to ask how did I get his grandmother in that tiny box? As I write this, he is having his morning nap, and all I can think is, he should be napping on my dad, this is their nap time. I miss them. It was a joy to have them here in a way I never imagined it would be, and I miss them terribly.

About two weeks ago, my mother spotted two little tooth buds in the baby’s mouth, lines of white on his lower gums. I had seen them earlier but thought I was misinterpreting what they were. With that information, his increased fussiness and the part where his sleep schedule has gone crazy make a lot more sense. We gave him Tylenol and he napped for three hours that afternoon, poor little guy. I’m trying not to use it too often, but it does seem to help. He hasn’t liked the cold teething rings, preferring instead to gnaw on cloth or rubber. I acquired the oh-so-trendy Sophie the giraffe and she has proven to be tasty. I keep hoping those little white lines will pop through and give us both some relief, but so far they are hanging out under the gum, content to give my poor baby fevers and discomfort.

Also new this month are the oh-so-close-to-rolling-over maneuvers the baby does on a regular basis. By the end of this week, he has flipped almost completely over, with his belly and hips flat on the ground, but that one arm still tucked under so it’s not all the way done yet. I was really hoping he’d get the hang of it before my parents left, but he hasn’t yet. I am told that he is supposed to go from belly to back first, since it is easier, but he shows absolutely no interest in doing so. I probably don’t give him enough tummy time, but when he is on his belly he’s either perfectly happy to just hang out or totally frustrated and over it, so rolling is not really on his agenda. I’m not worried; he’ll figure it out eventually.

I have to put toys on the table now while I am eating with him in my lap. It’s usually a little Eeyore with a mirror/rattle on the bottom that my mother got for him. I have to do this because he has decided that reaching for stuff on a table is the best thing ever, and as a result he will grab my plate, food, silverware, or anything else within grabbing distance. I am also discovering this means he wants to help mama type, or move the mouse. Busy baby is very busy!

A few days ago I was in the baby stuff store and saw an 8-day-old. It was startling to see him next to my baby and realize how much has changed in just four months. Our pile of outgrown clothes is getting big and now includes a stack of 3-month sized items, while the wardrobe he is actively wearing is increasingly made up of 6-month size clothes. It seems like every day I try to put him in something only to discover it doesn’t fit anymore, and I look at some of these outfits thinking how tiny they look, then remember they were big on him once upon a time. Given that his father and I were both in the less-than-25-percentiles growing up, I expected to have a small baby. Surprise! The growth charts continue to insist he is mostly average height and slightly above average weight, but he seems huge to me.

It’s so odd to write these little posts; I’m never sure what to include. Surely I will remember the big things, like rolling over and teething. So do I comment on minutiae, those little things which probably don’t mean anything to anyone other than me? He has developed incredibly thick earwax this month, gobs of bright orange stuff. My husband thought I had been scratched by the cat until he realized all those lines on my chest were courtesy of our son, whose fingernails remain talon-like even after being trimmed. He snores. He has a tiny patch of eczema over his right eye which is intermittently itchy. When he poos, wait for the second (or third) round before changing his diaper, because they never come alone. His stork bite gets very dark when he cries. His belly button still occasionally seems to ooze a bit.

One time this month, he was fussing in his pack-n-play and just as I leaned over and his eyes met mine, his sound of choice was “MAaaa.” I know it was pure coincidence, but my heart still skipped a beat. I know the day will come soon enough that he says it and means it “for real”, but I can wait. I’m learning the value of taking every minute for itself, this baby time is flying by so fast, and so I can definitely wait.

So many changes in one month!

Our big change this month is that we have moved out of the small house we loved so much into an enormous place in a much more rural area. In our old house, we could walk to the grocery store and often did so. I miss being able to do that very much, but on the other hand our new house is beautiful, and it is a neighborhood where children still run around without grownups constantly watching to make sure they don’t get run over or accosted by strangers. We have an enormous park nearby, a small playground down the block, and the closest small town has festivals, train rides, and a gorgeous library. It is a lovely place to raise a little boy, even if getting groceries is a little more of an expedition than it used to be.

Speaking of expeditions, this month we took a road trip to visit my family. My mother drove out to pick us up and my sister drove back with us, for which I am very grateful — I am definitely not up for a solo road trip with the baby. The time with family was lovely and involved a lot of visiting with many friends I don’t get to see nearly enough, including reconnecting with one of my best friends from college. I loved showing off the baby, but it was also nice to feel functional outside my house again.

Baby got the hang of smiling right before our road trip, and did a great job of charming everyone he came in contact with. His little giggles, chatting, and smiling just grew more and more over the course of the month, and I delight in watching his personality emerge. He is cautious in large groups or new environments, getting very quiet and taking everything in with his enormous blue eyes (we aren’t sure yet if they will stay that color, but they certainly are striking in the meantime), but with more secure surroundings he is ever eager to share his perspective on life.

After we got back from our trip and all our visitors were gone, BWB had a week of working nights. As I think I’ve mentioned before, when he is on nights I barely see him, and this week was no exception. He would get home around one or so, crash, and sleep until eight or nine, getting up right as I put the baby to bed. His shift started at midnight, so he’d leave after I went to bed, repeat the next day. Essentially, I was a single parent for the week, and goodness gracious did that suck. I love my son, I love spending time with him, I want to soak up every minute of his life, but I also like being able to eat, shower, or use the bathroom without the pressure of a tiny person needing me immediately. I don’t know how true single moms manage, I really don’t.

After this week of insanity, BWB had a day off, and the three of us plus dog went hiking. I had found a state park about 30 minutes from the house with some interesting-looking trails, and we headed over there to check it out. When I was growing up, my family used to go out to a state park to go hiking as a family, so this had some serious nostalgia factor for me. J slept through most of it in his carrier, but the rest of us had a great time. It was almost too hot, but we are hoping that when the weather cools off a bit more we’ll be able to get back out there as a family again. With BWB’s work schedule right now, managing to find any family time is remarkable, but that should get better in a few months. In any case, the hiking was a great hit and I am looking forward to more family hikes in the future.

We haven’t managed to make it to synagogue again yet, thanks mostly to BWB’s work schedule. I do take the baby to church with me most Sundays, and he is a big hit there. We sit in the back, for easy escape in case of meltdown, and our priest likes to take him into her arms while she is waiting for the final hymn to end. I say in case of meltdown, but most of the time he makes it through just fine. He loves to look at the lights through the stained glass, and seems to enjoy the music. Hopefully this fall we’ll make it up to temple more often — I find that I miss it, and I know that BWB does as well.

After church one day, at the very end of social hour, our priest and her partner, D, were sitting with us. D started to tickle the baby’s feet and make silly sounds and oh my goodness but did he laugh. He threw his head back and shrieked with laughter, he laughed with his whole body, he laughed and laughed and laughed. He hadn’t done anything like that before, and hasn’t quite been that amused since. It was hysterical, this little guy filling the whole hall with his peals, and of course we were laughing too. Pure joy.

I have seen reference to babies at the end of the third month “hatching”, suddenly becoming aware of their world and interacting in a way they hadn’t before, and I have definitely seen that this month. My mother has said in the past that it is sad that just as they start to get interesting, you have to go back to work. While I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever found my son uninteresting, per se, I understand what she means now. He is beginning to play with his toys, hands, and with me; I see him staring at objects and I know he’s working out in his head how he might be able to touch it. I love watching him discover the world. He is a delight, and is delighted with so many things.

Of course, with the close of three months my maternity leave is also ending. My anxiety about the end of maternity leave in the week leading up to starting back to work was intense. How much milk do I need to make sure he has? Will I be able to find time to pump? Will I be able to function without worrying every second I’m away from him? I know that he will be just fine, especially since I am leaving him with my parents this month. I am far more worried about myself.

Three months, and I can’t believe how big he’s gotten (even though he is still tiny) or how much he has changed since he was born (with so much growing left to do). How do I slow time down so I can catch up?

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