Friday, March 15, 2013

Baby steps

There's a saying "You have to learn to walk before you can run" but Michelle doesn't care about that. She takes off like a shot out of a gun. Yes she's walking -- make that RUNNING -- with help. A lot of help. I basically have to bend over and hold her chest while she takes off dragging me along. It's murder on my back but she loves it and squeals in delight as she makes it from one end of my house to the other in a couple of seconds. It started with her standing, leaning onto the ottoman. She's gotten really good at that and can stand by herself (leaning on her friend Otto-man) for a few minutes. Of course my hands are ready at her sides to grab her if she teeters. Then it graduated to her taking a few awkward tenuous steps while I held her. At first she looked like John Cleese from the Ministry of Silly Walks. She would take one giant over-exaggerated step with her left leg and then a tiny one with her right. She got a lot of practice walking at my sister's place which has a lot more room to move. She sure has the hang of it now. One foot in front of the other at lightning speed. I can barely keep up and I may have to seek out a chiropractor. If she had a walker she'd be running around in it. Of course they've been banned for years. I fell down the basement stairs in one as a baby (my sister left the door open and down I went) and still have a scar on my chin. They didn't worry about safety back in those days. You didn't even need a child safety seat, you could carry your baby loose on your lap in the car. You could smoke in front of them too. So when my Mom says things like "In MY day you only fed your baby every 4 hours. In MY day you left your baby to cry." I retort that they didn't know any better back in her day and it's a miracle any of us survived. These days they're so careful. I heard you can even get jail time if you try to sell or order a walker on the black market. It's a shame actually because as long as you're responsible and careful to keep doors closed, babies would have a lot of fun in it. And it would save my aching back!

Sometimes I worry if I'll be able to keep up with her. I hate when my Mom brings up my age as though that's why I have so little energy. The truth is I'm stronger and have more energy now than I did in my 20s but it's still difficult. There is still so much to change around the house, to childproof it -- install baby gates, move breakables, move toxic chemicals (cleaning supplies etc) from the bottom cupboard in the kitchen to the top cupboard above the stove -- before she can walk on her own. Once she's fully mobile, all bets are off. She's a ball of energy and there's no stopping her. Sometimes, particularly when I haven't had enough sleep (which is often!) I feel so weak and sore. I wonder how on Earth I'm going to manage. She's so fast and so strong already. It's harder to carry her because she twists around and kicks her legs in excitement and of course she's getting heavier all the time. My left wrist aches so bad sometimes it feels like it's going to break (I had carpal tunnel while I was pregnant. Carrying a heavy and constantly squirming baby doesn't help.) She won't keep still. On the change table she keeps trying to twist and turn over. I'm afraid she'll roll off. I have to hold her down with one hand the whole time. There's a strap on the table as well but she hates it. She always hated to be restrained. Some babies liked being swaddled when they're newborn. Not her. She probably thought it was a straightjacket. She can't stand being buckled into her carseat. She wants to be wild and free, arms flailing, legs kicking, running amok.

She doesn't quite crawl but she squirms along the floor like a caterpillar. I put her on the blanket with her toys and in less than a second she's off the blanket, on the carpet. No matter how big a blanket I put down, she moves to the edge. She loved running around my sister's place (May's house is twice the size of mine.) I can imagine her when she's older running along the beach, running through a field, running in the mall. I will have to stay in shape so that I can catch her! I was a fast runner back in the day but I don't have the speed or stamina I used to. I really do have to work out again.

Life with Michelle is always an adventure. Always a surprise. You never know what she'll do next. I was pleased that she was sleeping so much better now that she's on solid foods. She was normally settling down around 9-10 PM and then only waking up to nurse and go back to sleep until 5-6 AM. Awesome! But just when you think you're safe, she's back to her old tricks. Suddenly she fell asleep at 8:30 PM, woke up at 10 PM and was WIDE AWAKE as though it was morning and wouldn't settle down until after 2 AM. So you can never really be sure how it's going to go. You try to use logic to figure her out (OK, well she didn't have a nap at all today so she'll definitely be tired) but she'll just make a fool of you because it's never quite what you expect. All you can do is hope for the best and roll with it.

I have been keeping notes on new things she does month to month. One milestone this month is that she can sit up by herself now from a laying position. She understands so many words too. She knows "pears" now. It's her favourite food and when I say it, her face lights up and she kicks her legs in excitement. She gobbles them up like it was ice cream. (They are good. I always taste the spoon after I dish some out for her.) If you caught my post "Trial and Error" then you know she had a really ugly and horrifying bout of nausea. I was blaming myself for overfeeding her but the truth is I don't think I'll ever know what it was. Other people were suggesting it was food poisoning or a virus. I didn't think a flu would come on that suddenly and end so quickly (after one night) but I've since heard of other people having projectile vomiting for just one night and then it goes away. My Mom said she heard on the news that even the Queen was sick with the flu. So there you go. It must be going around if even the Queen caught it!

She's got her mother's nose. Literally!
If I had to pick one word to describe Michelle at 7 months it would be mischievous or curious. She loves grabbing things, especially my glasses off my face and laughs her head off because she knows she's not supposed to. She loves playing with the nipple shield now and nearly takes my nipple with it when she grabs it off. I'll tell her not to do something and she'll deliberately do it and then smile at me defiantly. The things that she used to be nervous of (like my tropical fish shower curtain and a monkey made out of a coconut from the Dominican Republic) she is now intensely curious about and grabs at. She's becoming fearless.

I keep hoping Michelle will say "Mama" but it hasn't happened yet. I know that she understands "Mama" but she still doesn't say it. Sometimes when she cries it almost sounds like she's saying it but I know that's a fluke because even when she was first born it sounded like she said Mama when she cried (even my Mom heard it.) My sister said that her kids were saying Mama at 7 months. I guess she still has a couple of weeks to go. It's hard not to have expectations. I know that all babies do things at their own pace. She's still saying Dada a lot but I don't take it personally. (To mothers out there who are hurt when their babies say "Dada" before "Mama" this is proof that it doesn't mean anything. Even with no Dada in the picture -- her father has been absent since I was 4 months pregnant -- and never hearing the word, she's saying it all the time.) It doesn't mean anything. It's just a sound. The easiest sound to make unfortunately. Sometimes I let Michelle see videos of other babies on Youtube. She seems to get a kick out of other kids speaking her language. One of the videos that made her smile was the one of the twin boys talking (it's one of those viral videos with millions of hits). They have an entire conversation with inflections and everything saying nothing but "Dada" the entire time. Here's the video if you missed it:

I think it's important for her to be exposed to other babies so I took her to the public playtime again, this time on a different day because she's in a different age bracket. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a fiasco. She hadn't had a nap and was cranky. On top of that it was so crowded they had to start turning Moms away because they were at capacity. With an older group of babies (7-12 months) it was a lot rowdier. There were babies crawling and walking all over the place. One 10 month old boy tried to sit on my knee. I didn't even know where his mother was. There were babies everywhere crying, screaming, rolling, wiggling, walking, running, grabbing. It was anarchy. Michelle had been used to a room of relatively docile 6 month old and younger babies sitting quietly and playing at the old playtime. This was too much for her. I felt a bit overwhelmed myself. When a kid suddenly threw up on a xylophone inches from my foot I took the cue and beelined us out of there. Michelle was so exhausted she fell asleep in the car instantly so I took advantage of the rare opportunity and checked out the new Target store that just opened. (The last time I was in a Target was in the U.S. several years and I loved it.) It was nice but shopping just isn't as fun when you don't have money to spend. I got a couple of jars of baby food for 67 cents. (I guess Walmart is competing because they recently lowered their baby food price to 66 cents. Competition is definitely good for the consumer.)
Michelle has some new little quirks. She does something that I call "jazz hands" where she waves her hands around a lot. It's not that she's waving "hi" or "bye" it's just a constant gesture. I mimick her and exclaim "Jazz hands!" and she laughs. She sometimes does a new laugh where she snorts and screws up her face. She's also started doing this strange gasping sound for fun. She scares me sometimes because she'll even do it while she's eating and I'm afraid she'll choke. As soon as she discovers something new that she can do -- a new sound she can make or a new gesture, she'll keep doing it until it gets old and then she never does it again. She's started chewing her toes a lot. The timing couldn't be worse since she's now walking around so much. I have to try to keep the floors clean since she's basically putting the floor in her mouth. I used to be such a germophobe but I'm having to let things go somewhat because you just can't possibly sterilize everything on the planet. Besides, exposure to germs helps them to develop immunity. You can't keep your baby in a bubble (as much as you may want to sometimes to protect them!) She likes having "free feet" (it was an expression my sister used and it seems appropriate). She doesn't like socks and tries to pull them off. I guess it's more organic for her and easier to walk with bare feet. I'm usually barefoot myself so I can't blame her.
I can't believe we're halfway through March already. Time is flying by. It still blows my mind that one day soon she'll be able to walk (RUN!) on her own, that she'll be able to say Mama and many other things, that she'll be eating regular food. I had myself so stressed out for a while there (if you read my post "A taxing time" you know that money is a huge source of anxiety on top of all the other worries that come with being a new Mom, a single Mom at that) but now I'm trying to take it easier. I was so busy worrying about the future that I couldn't enjoy the present. I have to relax. I know that everything will be OK. I don't always know how but I have faith that things will work out. All I can do is my best, from where I am, with what I have. Like Michelle, I have to learn to just put one foot in front of the other and take things one baby step at a time. The important thing is to cherish these precious days with Michelle because they will go by so fast.  


  1. I was at the new Target today!! I was less than impressed, Walmart has better prices & the US Target had better brands that just aren't available in Canada.

    About the walker, a friend gave us a Fisher Price ride along push toy thing...they are perfectly legal & could save your back!! Elena loved hers but has out grown are welcome to ours if you want it. There is a picture of Elena with it on my blog it's the November picture...let me know if you want would give us a great excuse to finally get together!

    1. Yes that would be great thank you! And I'd love to get together. Email me at
      Ann Marie