Tags

There’s nothing Edith loves so much as a tag. If I give her any kind of stuffed toy or pillow she is moderately interested until she finds the tag. Then she’s rabid for it. We do a lot of crawling around on blankets here, and the day the blanket’s tag is discovered is always the best day. Today Edith was flailing around in my lap (she is teething and so especially aggressionate, which is what I call her especially aggressive brand of affection) and she suddenly found a tag on my dress, and the earth stopped: she looked at the tag and the tag looked at her, and I got out of the way.

People get annoyed when you compare babies to puppies, but they’re really the same in so many ways, and this is yet another one. I’ve never met a baby mammal that didn’t wild out over a good tag. Say what you will about modernity but back before the mass production of textiles, there were millennia of baby animals of all kinds who didn’t even know the joy that was absent from their lives.

Current Sleep Status

I haven’t said much about my sleep situation in awhile and that is because — knock on wood! like, times a million, please do not punish me for saying this, universe! — Edith has been consistently sleeping for ten hours every single night.

Since this post, we’ve pretty much been in a groove: at about 7:00p.m., I pick Edith up and carry her toward the bedroom to begin our bedtime routine. Edith, knowing what is coming, IMMEDIATELY begins to scream all high holy hell like I’m pulling her fingernails out by the roots. In fact, if I take her into the bedroom any time after 5:00p.m. to change her diaper (because that’s where the changing station is), she screams her head off until I’m done because she thinks she’s going to bed.

At actual bedtime, I change her diaper and then I carry her to my bed and I put lotion on her scaly spots and put her into a night onesie and a sleep sack, talking calmingly and lovingly to her, all while she trumpets one solid long unbroken scream. Then, I cuddle her while I give her whatever last milk she wants. Sometimes she screams through this, and that usually means I missed the window. Other times, she pauses screaming briefly to have some milk, and that means I hit the window.

If she pauses her screaming while drinking milk, I attempt to read her a bedtime story. Usually we get one or two pages in before she remembers she’s going to bed and begins screaming again.

At this point, I carry her across the room, rocking and cooing, give her a big hug and kiss, and lower her into her bed and rub her tummy. At this point, something really strange happens — she grins and giggles at me. Every night! It seems for all the world like she is happy to be in her bed. But that can’t be so, because a moment later, when I turn on her noise machine and turn off the light, she resumes screaming.

I leave the room and she screams for either one second or 25 minutes or somewhere in between, depending, and then she falls asleep and doesn’t get up until 5:15a.m. when she starts politely squawking across the room at me until I turn the light on and get up.

I guess my question is…does everyone else’s baby do this screaming at the faintest approach of bedtime thing? The baby books don’t mention it, and it seems more like toddler behavior than infant behavior. I’d love to eventually be able to cuddle with her and read books before she goes to sleep, but this seems impossible at the moment since the bedroom is apparently a torture chamber any time after 5:00p.m.

Dinner, The Horror

I continue to be a colossal failure at dinner in every respect. It’s my least favorite time of day, and Edith is not into it at all. At first, it was diverting for her — playing with various sorts of mush in a little bowl with sticks in, a new sort of toy that she had to sit in a special chair to access, while also being face-level with the adults. A part of things!

But after a few nights of this, I could see her slowly begin to realize this was not a weird occasional game, but rather an ongoing obligation.

“Again?” she seemed to say, as I strapped her into the chair and presented her with various substances and textures.

Still, she gamely soldiered on.

Edith will not be fed, but she will occasionally condescend to feed herself. Not if it seems like I really want her to, though. If I so much as attempt to approach her mouth with the spoon, I get immediate full cheek. That’s just not happening, we aren’t doing that. But if I load the spoon with food and leave it somewhere on the tray, and then busy myself with my own dinner and pointedly ignore her, Edith will eventually pick up the spoon and suck on it. It’s never the business end of the spoon, but I have taken to loading up the handle with food as well, so that whatever her mode of attack, she is going to inevitably encounter sustenance of some sort. She would vastly prefer the spoon without the food, and I don’t mean to give the impression that she intentionally eats any of it, but she will at least mouth it if it happens to be on the way to something else she was doing.

She loves tomatoes and limes. She will happily suck on a tomato or lime wedge. Everything else has gone over like a lead balloon.

After dinner, I put her in the bath, and she crams the wet washrag into her mouth and sucks on it ravenously, like a baby who just crawled through the desert.

7 Months

Edith turned seven months today, and coincidentally reached a bunch of milestones this weekend: She finally tried a food she actually liked and ate with enthusiasm (tomato, naturally the messiest possible food). She crawled a little bit, using her arms (or, as I accidentally called them in my excitement, her front legs) in coordination with her legs, whereas before she had just sort of humped along on her face. I removed her bassinet and put her to sleep in the bottom of her pack ‘n play (she didn’t seem to notice the difference). And she learned to pronounce consonants! She is now saying mamamamamama and dadadadada pretty regularly, and I imagine if I were part of a couple, we might try to tell ourselves she understands the significance of what she is saying, but she very clearly does not.

Still, it’s all very exciting.

Pet Names

Here are some of the names I regularly call my baby:

  • Boo boo
  • Boo bear
  • Pooh bear
  • Baby boo
  • Baby poo
  • Little poo
  • Boo
  • Boo boo McGoo
  • Schmoo
  • Buddy
  • Fuzz head
  • Pumpkin
  • Punkin
  • Pumpkin butt
  • Peanut
  • Pickle
  • Piddles
  • Chicken
  • Little hen
  • Little bird
  • Little rabbit
  • Bunny
  • Bunnums
  • Lil bun
  • Kitten
  • Gizmo
  • Booger
  • Lil booger
  • Sweetie
  • Sweetie pie
  • Sweetheart
  • Baby cakes
  • Muffin
  • Cupcake
  • Little bean
  • Oh, honey!!! Little honey! (almost exclusively said cooingly in response to sudden, unexpected crying, as in “whats a matter, little hooooney, oh oh oh”)
  • Honey pie
  • Kidlet
  • Kiddo
  • Kidderoo
  • Kickapoo
  • Your highness
  • King baby
  • Dancing queen
  • Dancey pants
  • Sleepy Pete
  • Little monster
  • Edith
  • Thomasina
  • Whiner

Food

I have never been able to feed myself appropriately. I’m a relatively intelligent person, and in many ways, I ooze competence. I have never struggled with executive function. I’m organized, I’m systematic. And yet still somehow, feeding myself is completely beyond me.

I don’t cook, and while I’ve gone through periods of cooking, it always seems like an absolutely insane waste of time and energy and money and decision-making when pre-made food is so easy and widely available. Home cooking at this point seems like sewing your own clothes: you certainly can do it, if you enjoy that sort of thing, but it’s a full out hobby that’s going to consume no small portion of your life, so if that’s your thing, that’s your thing.

But yet somehow, for everyone else, cooking is merely a daily chore, like bathing or brushing teeth, a maintenance activity. I don’t understand that. For me, it’s a giant onerous obligation that sucks up like fully 3/4 of the scant free hours in a workday.

I am usually able to institute some sort of maintenance feeding of myself that is very fast and easy. Right now, for example, I eat a packet of this pre-made dal for dinner every night, along with a cup of microwave minute rice. The dal takes exactly 1:30 to heat up and the minute rice takes, well, 1:00, so my entire dinner is ready in 2:30 minutes. It takes probably 2 minutes to eat it, and there is no cleanup. Dinner is thus fully accomplished in under 5 minutes.

But now I have this baby.

I don’t know why I thought that when I had a baby, I would suddenly know how to deal with food. I am still as confounded by it as ever, with the additional wrinkle that there are only certain things a baby can eat. There’s a new bit of social pressure for women in my demographic around the idea that college-educated, upper-middle-class mothers do not give our babies baby food, or even homemade purees. Instead, we introduce a colorful variety of whole foods. Baby food — especially pre-made baby food — is for trashy people, or, as we all heavily imply but never say, poors.

Now, typically, beyond the classism, I find all this type of stuff thinly veiled feminist backlash, to re-convince women that they need to spend all their time on domestic duties that had previously been automated or pre-packaged somehow, so that they will be ineffective in other areas and not gain any real power or serious money (or organize and take to the streets in a bloody revolution). But somehow I fell for it in this case, and felt that I absolutely could not under any circumstances give Edith baby food.

In practice, this has mostly resulted in is my not feeding her solids at all, because I’m way too exhausted after a long day at work to make decisions about some sort of vegetable to steam for her till it’s mushy, let it cool, scoop it out for her, let her fling it everywhere, bathe her, clean the high chair, etc. etc. etc.

I’ve been agonizing about this for two weeks and trying to decide how I will build meal-planning, shopping, and food prep into my daily life as a single parent who works full-time. And then I suddenly realized there’s a really simple solution to this for the time being: fucking baby food.

Look, I just am not an especially healthy person when it comes to diet and I’m incredibly lazy. I once lived for three months eating nothing but Clif bars. I was a beta tester for Soylent. I eat conventional produce from Mexico. I spend an obscene amount of money on delivery just for myself that I could easily go pick up. I go through probably two jars of peanut butter a week. My roommate had to teach me that you’re supposed to heat the pan before you put the egg in when I was 30 years old. My idea of health food is an Amy’s frozen dinner. I drink wine out of a can.

I formula feed my baby and now I’m giving her jarred baby food, and it won’t kill her, and if you don’t like that, well, you can fucking bite me.

Sleep Training, Okay, But Like Really This Time

Regular readers will know that I have changed my mind approximately one thousand times about whether or not to sleep train my baby, and have been sort of pseudo-sleep training her, sometimes, -ish.

On Saturday night, I relented (again) and rocked Edith to sleep before putting her down, and she subsequently woke up THREE TIMES and did not actually fall asleep until well after nine, and only then because I finally just let her cry for 40 minutes.

So, I thought, ok, I have to sleep train.

But then I googled “sleep training — bad?” (for the billionth time) and read all these moms who say that you’re not actually training your baby to fall asleep on her own, but are actually just teaching her to give up because no one is coming.

“How could I have done this to Edith?” I thought. I shared my concern with my mother, and she said, “Well, yeah! That’s the point — you’re teaching her to give up and go to sleep!”

I asked the pediatrician what she thought and explained my previous attempts. “So…you have been lying right next to this baby while she screams every night for an hour?” the pediatrician asked.

I am very familiar with this sort of question, asked in this sort of tone. It means that something that I have been doing, which seemed normal and adaptive to me, is actually completely insane.

So, it seems that everyone is on the same page about this, and that I had lost perspective. So last night, I did the first night of the Ferber method. I moved Edith’s crib across the room, and then I put her in it. And then I left the room.

I checked on her at 3 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, and then 10 minutes. She screamed her head off for 28 minutes exactly, and was not remotely comforted by my coming in to rub her back. And then she fell asleep.

Then, I took a shower and went to bed and we both slept until 6:30 when she woke me up by babbling happily.

I can’t predict what will happen next, but it seems possible that what you have to do here is what every single person says you have to do and the results of doing it are exactly what every single person says they will be. Incredible.

Doctor

Edith had her six-month checkup today and I found out how much she’s grown in weight and height (a lot!). She also got her jabs, and handled them like an absolute pro — she wailed in outrage for exactly one second and then immediately accepted a small toy duck as a peace offering and dried up. She also demonstrated how good she is at kicking and sitting up and performing other feats of strength. No one asked her to do this, but she felt like showing off, I guess. Finally, she took the opportunity of being the center of attention to deliver a long, assertive lecture to her physician. She was more or less ignored, but she persevered until she had said everything she had to say (whatever that was).

I’m so proud of her. She’s so happy and confident and strong and outgoing. Before having a baby, I thought we were more or less unmolded clay coming into existence, but this is one thing that direct experience with watching a person grow has already changed my mind about. Edith is who she is, and she arrived here as herself. I won’t ever be able to claim credit for her, but I hope very much I can avoid getting in her way.

Clothes

When I find an item of clothing that works well, I buy 12 of them, because I’m only going to want to wear that one thing and I will want to have enough of it so that I don’t have to do laundry super frequently.

This philosophy, I am learning, makes no sense when applied to a baby. Edith keeps outgrowing her onesies. So I buy her 12 more onesies. But two weeks later, she has outgrown all of those. So I buy 12 more. It keeps somehow not sinking in that she is going to continue to grow in extremely rapid cycles, and that I do not need to stockpile clothes for her.

Or stockpile anything else for her, either! I find a bottle that she likes, so I buy ten of those bottles. But a week later, she is ready for a different kind of bottle. Soon, she won’t need bottles at all.

The thing behind all this is, I don’t like to shop. I always want to get all of my shopping done with all at once with the idea that maybe I will never have to do it ever again. I also feel deeply comforted by the idea of having just enough of something that I often use. I remember my Dad explaining to me one time that he was really excited because he had counted up all of his shirts and realized that, factoring in wear and tear, he had exactly enough shirts to last precisely up until the year he was most likely to die. He felt very satisfied by this. I take after him in this respect.

Those days are behind me, though! I had a child, and she’s going to need stuff forever! I am going to be shopping repeatedly for the rest of my life, and I just have to accept that.

Roomba Baby

Reading this post about a roomba‘s amazing ability to immediately run into a lamp and get stuck despite having a wide zone of open floor to clean, I was reminded of Edith in her walker.

My furniture is all still at my old house for staging, so currently, there’s a huge great room and a massive long hall, both entirely clear of obstacles. Edith has all the terrain she could possibly desire for running around in her walker. And yet, every time I put her in it, she immediately plows into the nearest wall and gets stuck there.

On Saturday, I experimented with this for some time. I placed her walker in a variety of different locations — at one end of the hall or the other, smack in the middle of the living room, in the entrance to the living room — but no matter where she started off, into the wall she went. I wouldn’t have believed it would be possible had I not been watching her.

It seems there must be some principle of physics at work that I don’t understand. Like the atoms of the walls exert some magnetism toward smaller things in motion. Something to do with vertical and horizontal planes? I don’t know, I’m just a humble idiot, but something has to explain this, because the experiment is infinitely reproducible: I consistently achieve the same results every time (or Edith does).

Try it yourself: put a baby in a walker and let them loose in an empty room. See what happens.