Michelle is going through a phase where she's suddenly afraid of things that didn't used to bother her. She used to love the vacuum, now it terrifies her. She didn't used to pay much attention to my artwork, now she loves some of my paintings (she particularly likes my watercolour portrait of Leelee Sobieski. A lot of people have said it looks like me. Maybe that's why) and is afraid of others. Suddenly she was nervous of my watercolour of Tyson Beckford. I had to take it down because she was afraid to go up the stairs and pass him. It was one of my favourites but I admit he did look somewhat menacing. He was the only male portrait I had on display (I mostly do portraits of women.) Maybe Michelle figured there are no men in my life so there shouldn't be any on my walls! Anyway I replaced him with Nicole Kidman and Michelle was relieved. She still does a double take everytime we pass that spot, as if afraid Tyson will resurface. It is mostly at night when she's overtired that she starts making strange with things.
For a while she was scared of my shower curtain (it is a photograph of an ocean scene with tropical fish.) "Fine thing if she's afraid of fish when it's the theme of her nursery!" I thought. She likes her fish toys, books, nothing else seemed to bother her but the curtain. I was finally able to show her that it was OK. It's just a curtain. It's not actually the ocean in the bathroom! She touched it and realized it was just a picture on plastic. She's so aware of everything now. So fascinated by things. Maybe it's sensory overload in my house because I have so many things. I tried to Google it and see if other Moms had gone through any similar experiences with their babies exhibiting anxiety and fear over things suddenly. Any examples that I found were in toddlers, no one as young as Michelle. Apparently it's a stage in their development where they are discovering themselves as separate from the rest of the world and it can be scary for them. Could Michelle be going through that already? She certainly is very aware and very curious about everything. She likes looking at herself in the mirror but sometimes seems frightened, especially of shadows at night cast by night lights. A night owl who is afraid of the dark? Perfect.
Sometimes I worry that Michelle is too isolated spending most of her time with just me. I try to visit my Mom and sister often. I thought it would be good for her to interact with other babies so I went to our first public playtime. It went really well. She seemed to enjoy it. She played with another little 6 month old baby. I was relieved to talk to another Mom and find that her daughter was suddenly "making strange" with formerly innocuous objects like the vacuum as well. So I guess it's normal. Michelle certainly doesn't make strange with people at least. She was fascinated by all the new faces of Moms and infants and was smiling and squealing with delight. She enjoyed the song and rhyme time. She's used to me singing songs and reciting rhymes but these were new ones I hadn't heard before. One of them was "From Weebleton to Wobbleton is 15 miles." The lady hosting it took Michelle and had her bouncing from one knee to the other during the rhyme. I had pumped some breast milk to give her a bottle while we were there she Michelle didn't get hungry. I even managed to pop over to the bank and a store afterward. She slept well that night because she hadn't had much of a nap. I can never be sure how it will go though because sometimes when Michelle doesn't get an afternoon nap she becomes extremely cranky.
We made a trip to Wally World one day which was a success other than her starting to fuss at the check-out. I stocked up on everything I figured I would need. Unfortunately I didn't realize I was out of dishwasher detergent so I'll be washing by hand for a while (though honestly I usually washed everything by hand before loading the dishwasher because otherwise the food gets caked on and doesn't come off.)
We had a nice visit with my Mom and sister. I try to see them once a week or so except when the weather is bad and it stretches to a couple of weeks. Michelle was just fascinated by her cousin Shannon and kept staring at her. It was hard to get her to look at the camera. Michelle loves her Grandma so much. Even when she doesn't see her she hears her on the phone every day. I always have it on speaker phone so she can hear Grandma and Grandma can hear her. I told them how Michelle gets so excited at Mom's voice over the phone that she clenches her fists and shakes. May said that Reggie does the same thing when he's excited. Maybe it's a family trait. We are an excitable bunch. I managed to get a picture of the two of them demonstrating their excitement. Michelle also squeals with delight and bounces. I love seeing her happy. The challenge of course is when she's NOT happy. When she's tired and fussy, crying and screaming. Sometimes she's overtired because she doesn't sleep. She'll be rubbing her eyes like she's exhausted but then when I try to get her to sleep she's kicking her legs and wide awake. It can be so frustrating trying to settle her down. Sometimes it feels like she's just being difficult because she can! There are nights I'm so exhausted and my arms are breaking but I'll carry her around singing lullabies to get her to sleep. Finally she'll doze off and I'll go to lay her down only to have her wake up crying moments later. Sometimes it would really help to have an extra pair of arms...
Michelle has certainly changed everything in my life and in my world. Yes there are moments when it's tough but there are so many more moments where it is a sheer delight to watch her learn and grow and become more and more the amazing little girl that she is, with her own expressions, personality and quirks. There is certainly never a dull moment. She's anything but predictable. I just never know what she'll do. Each day is a new experience. A new adventure.