Tuesday, December 21, 2010

in/out, 9 months, three weeks

I thought at this point I'd marvel at the symmetry of Charlotte's existince. Nine months on the inside followed by nine months out, punctuated in the middle with a miraculous dream-delivery. But I almost never think about my pregnancy now. Time with Charlotte is so precious and fun and memorable (even changing poopy diapers is memorable) that I spend all of my thoughts in the here-and-now or looking forward... to her first steps and clear words and friends and interests and songs and favorites. I haven't even calculated how many days she existed before birth, nor how many days she's been in my arms. I hardly remember life without her. Life has never been better.

Tomorrow, Charlotte will become nine months old. True-to-form, she developed a new talent yesterday and began clapping with two open palms. Previously, one hand was always closed in a fist and her clapping was essentially silent, but now she can make noise by slapping her palms together. She's delighted. Noise is fun. Banging things together is fun. Banging hands together to make noise is GREAT- even when she has nothing to play with, her hands are available to slap together.

On the food front, we graduated to one solid meal per day about 4 weeks ago at the suggestion of her daycare's owner. That went well, so we're beginning to transition to two solid meals each day now. Favorite foods include plain yogurt, prunes, Cheerios, bread, sweet potatoes, squash, bananas, cheese, and crackers. Peas still result in gagging and a full-body shudder, but she doesn't seem to mind anything else we've tried. I can tell the difference between tolerance and enthusiasm by whether or not she grabs the spoon- if she really likes something, she leaves the spoon alone so I can quickly shovel more into her open mouth. If she doesn't mind a food, but isn't crazy about it, she grabs the spoon and tries to feed herself. She drinks a couple of ounces of breast milk from a sippy cup with each meal.

Charlotte still eats 5 times each day, except for when she's super tired and goes to bed before her last meal. That happens about once each week, and sometimes she's down for the night before 5:00pm. Her norm is 6:45, though, and regardless of when she went to bed she wakes up around 6 each morning. She naps 2 or 3 times each day, depending on how much sleep she got the night before and how long each nap is. Naps are always in increments of 45 minutes, usually 90 minutes in the morning and another 90 after lunch, but she sometimes splits one or the other into two 45-minute cat-naps. In her final week of daycare, she finally settled in enough to take a nap comparable to what she'd take at home. That's one of a few reasons I'm thrilled to have her out of daycare- I don't want her sleep interrupted by other screaming babies. A well-rested Charlotte is a happy Charlotte.

Charlotte has two teeth now. The bottom left popped through on 12/1 and the bottom right on 12/13. She's working on more and chews on anything she can get her mouth around. My sleeves are a popular target, as are her toes.

Daycare ended last week. We had to give two full weeks' notice, and since we paid for those last few days, I was certainly going to use them. I would have given two weeks' notice if I'd decided to quit my job. It's too bad that courtesy didn't extend in the other direction. I can understand lay-offs, but I'm annoyed/bitter/pissed about the lack of notice. Is the company so arrogant that they thought I'd try to sabotage them somehow if I knew I was being let go? Anyhow, I've been out of work for three weeks. This is the first week that Charlotte and I are together full time.

Yesterday, we visited the breastfeeding support group that we frequented back in April. Because of a snowstorm, we were the only attendees so I got to talk privately with the nurse who runs the group. I asked her about weaning without ever having to use formula or compromise Charlotte's health, and she was very encouraging. We're aiming for 3 solid meals each day by the third week of January, with breastfeeding continuing until then as needed. By the beginning of February, if all is going well, I'll stop offering the breast but will nurse if Charlotte specifically asks for it (pulls up my shirt or tries to nurse through my shirt, for example). I curently have 280 four-ounce bags of frozen milk in the deep-freeze, and will continue my early-morning pumping for another 10 days (the end of the year). Charlotte has had defrosted milk by bottle before without any problems, even from me on a few occasions, so I expect that nursing will end completely by the end of February. Between now and then, I hope that AF will return so we can launch Project Sibling before my 43rd birthday at the end of March.

All plans are subject to change (I wrote that on my birth plan, too) in the interest of Charlotte's health and well-being.

More about Charlotte...
She's still army crawling, but gets up on her knees to do it now, instead of dragging her legs along behind her. She often rises to her hands and knees, but only while stationary. She has no trouble pulling herself up to her knees and then to her feet using my outstretched legs for balance, but hasn't pulled herself up on anything else yet.

We lowered the crib matress to the bottom position when I saw Charlotte reaching up to the top of the rail as if about to pull herself up. She hasn't figured out yet that the vertical slats make good handles too.

Charlotte loves to walk with someone holding her hands. She tries to let go with one hand, though, and then falls over (not really a "fall," we lower her to the floor gently with the remaining hand). She will stand unassisted beside the couch or her exersaucer, and has taken a couple of steps while holding on before losing her balance. Cruising is coming soon, I'm sure.

She loves to sing. We practice our duets daily until the perfection of the moment steals my breath and makes me teary and choked up.

She's the most amazing sleeper I've ever heard of. She makes it abundantly clear when she's tired- rubbing her eyes, laying her head on my shoulder or the floor, spinning around in my lap instead of sitting attentively to read a story. As long as we put her in her crib before tired becomes overtired, she simply smiles and babbles until we leave the room, then settles down to sleep. Sometimes, it takes her 20 or 30 minutes to actually fall asleep, but she happily scoots around the crib until she's ready to close her eyes.

When she's overtired, she wants to be held and rocked and sung to for about 10 minutes. Then, she tries to climb out of my arms and into her crib, signalling that she's ready to fall asleep now. Only rarely does she ask to be held until asleep, so we know something else is going on when that happens- a new tooth breaking through, gas pains, or something like that.

Size-wise, I don't really know how much Charlotte weighs or how tall she's become. Her 9-mo ped appointment is in 2 weeks, so I'll find out then where she lands on the growth chart. I'm not at all concerned. She's wearing 9- and 12-month clothes now that the 6-mo size has become a little short in the torso and snug in the shoulders. I'd guess she weighs about 17 pounds, and she's taller than her caterpillar now (I'll post some photos later).

We're now well into the second 45-minute interval of her afternoon nap, so I believe I have another 35 minutes or more before she wakes. That's my cue to take a shower and go shovel out the car. I'll post some photos before she turns 10 months old. Promise!

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