Friday, May 17, 2013


Every day is a surprise now. You just never know what she's going to do. All of a sudden, Michelle WALKED! On her own! Mind you, it was only a few steps but obviously she's getting the concept so hopefully (er..I mean frighteningly) it's probably only a matter of time before she can walk alone. On one hand I'm anxious for her to master walking so I don't have to bend over to help her along and don't have to run constantly to catch her from falling. Mind you then I'll have a whole new set of worries. The day she took her first fledgling steps she initially pulled up on the ottoman as usual but then suddenly she let go of it and stood there quite casually playing with a toy. Not holding onto anything. Then, without warning, she took a couple of steps over to the couch. I stared in awe, my hands out to catch her if she stumbled but she made it on her own.

Michelle is cruising. It almost makes me want to set up furniture at her level all over the house to give her a path to move from one piece to the next. I know that this is the first step in her walking on her own. She is still very wobbly and looks like an old man stumbling home from the bar but it's a start! She tends to lean forward a lot so if I wasn't there to grab her she'd fall flat on her face. She seems to like to walk on her tiptoes as well. I tried explaining to her that she'd have better balance on flat feet. Maybe she'll be a little ballerina. My Mom said I loved walking on my toes as a baby. (Incidentally I always wanted to take ballet but Mom said we couldn't afford it. When I was older I learned that it was too late. You pretty much have to start when you're 4 years old to be a dancer for real. If Michelle wants to dance I'll do everything in my power to make it happen.)


The first time I heard about "cruising" in the baby sense was months ago when we had gone to the public playtime and a 10 month old boy stumbled onto my lap. "Sorry" his Mom said "he's cruising. Making the rounds." He was making his way around the room moving from one object and person to another. I was just one of the signposts along his wobbly journey. I remember thinking how surreal it was that in a few months Michelle could be walking. I remember before she could sit up and I got so excited when she could finally sit without toppling over. Then in no time it was second nature to her. Babies change so fast at this stage. From one day to the next. So much to learn. So many milestones. They go from being a helpless lump unable to even hold their heads up to being a little individual with a unique personality talking, walking around, playing, laughing. That's why I couldn't miss this. Not for all the money in the world. (Even though financially things have been tight on maternity leave. To make matters worse recently my car failed the emission test and I had to have it repaired. I started to tear up a little when he told me it failed. The guy felt so bad for me he didn't charge me for the re-test where thankfully it passed. When you're trying to budget yourself so that you don't buy anything but necessities like groceries, unexpected expenses are a KILLER!)

Michelle has even started standing up in the middle of the floor sometimes. Pushing herself up without holding on to anything. She gets up on her feet and looks quite proud of herself but then she goes to move and falls forward. I'm always there to catch her. Sometimes she'll take off like she wants to run and I can barely keep up. I've gone from bending over and holding her tummy (which is MURDER on the back!) to having one finger in each of her little hands lightly as she runs along. She seems more confident and more stable all the time but I don't know when she'll actually be able to walk completely on her own. It could be any day now. I read that babies can start walking anywhere from 9 months to 12 months and are usually walking well by 15 months. Some babies are a little sooner and some a little later. Each child is different. In my family we were early but we had walkers back then as training. (And of course they were dangerous. My sister left the basement door open one day and I apparently landed face first at the bottom of the stairs in my walker. I'm not sure when they started banning them. I guess after one too many babies was seriously injured in them.)

Michelle seems to understand more and more all the time. Words, expressions. She mimics gestures. She tries to say more and more. "Mama" is still my favourite word. She even has her own made up language and laughs when I repeat her nonsense words like "fnew" and "etna." She knows how to manipulate Mommy and get what she wants. She knows how to placate Mommy when I'm at the end of my rope. She can make my heart melt. As soon as she knows she's in trouble (hitting or scratching Mama, knocking my glasses off my face etc) she will nuzzle her head into my neck and be my sweet girl. She has even started saying "Awww" because I go "awww" when she does something sweet. She'll even lean her head on her hand or hug her little stuffed monkey and go "Awww." A little actress already! Drama Queen like Mama. Great. I can't even imagine when she's a teenager.

Some days I'm so stressed out with everything going on that I don't know how I'll cope. My sister is always the best person to talk to -- the calm, nurturing, supportive voice of reason when I feel overwhelmed. She should have been a social worker or motivational speaker or something. She always helps me to put things in perspective. She reminds me -- one thing at a time. One day at a time. I'll start worrying about things months from now and that on top of my daily stresses just puts me over the edge.

Lately the weather has been beautiful again so I've been going out to get some fresh air with Michelle. It helps me to breathe and find my Zen again. Often Michelle will fall asleep in the afternoon in her stroller which is a bonus because then I can just bring the carseat in and get some things done while she naps for a while or keep her outside with me while I pull some weeds and do some gardening. She seems to like sleeping out in the fresh air. 

Recently we went for a walk through the park. No matter how hectic life can get, sometimes you really do have to stop and smell the flowers. Michelle wasn't too sure how she felt about the grass. She's not a big fan of sand either. She will get used to it of course the more time we spend outside. I'm hoping to spend a little time at the beach this summer at least. I got her a little pair of water shoes because I figured they'd be soft and pliable enough for her to walk in. At home she's barefoot but I wanted her to have some shoes for when we're outside (not that she can walk on her own yet but I thought she should get a little practice on different surfaces.)

I can't believe we're halfway through May already. I know I must sound like a broken record but time really is going by way too fast. I want to hold on. It's heartbreaking. I've been trying to wean Michelle gradually. I've gone from nursing her every two hours to three and now even increased it to four. I know that I will have to have her almost completely weaned by July when I return to work. I still can't imagine how I'm going to survive it. I don't want her to feel like I'm abandoning her. She's used to having me there 24-7. Soon I'll be gone all day. She's used to nursing all the time. Soon I'll be cutting her down to 1 or 2 feedings a day or none at all (I don't want to cut her off entirely. I know there are so many benefits to breast milk. I may even try to keep pumping milk even after she's completely weaned so she can still get the nutrients.) The doctor said I can start giving her whole milk in July. I may try to introduce cow's milk gradually as my Mom suggested, in cereal etc. I'll have to sleep train her in June so she's ready for when my Mom is watching her on the nights that I won't be there. It's overwhelming. I don't want to leave her. I'm afraid it will be hard on her and on my mother but it may be worst of all on me. As challenging as it is to care for her all the time on my own, I am so attached to her I can't imagine not being with her every second. It's tearing me apart.

I am grateful for the year that I've had with Michelle. It has been a blessing. I will always cherish it as the best, most beautiful (and sometimes most harrowing!) time of my life. I still have another month and a half at home with her. I have to enjoy the present rather than worrying about the future. Each day is a gift and an adventure. I can't wait to see what she does next.

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