State of the Nine-Month Old (mommydom) - Nursing and Napping Nonsense

State of the Babe: Nine Months and Counting... 



Chaya's made it outside longer than inside, and that means mommy (who is perpetually perplexed at the complex syntax involved with referring to "herself" with a third person title that occasionally ebbs and flows into first person conjugations) is/am also "making it." As Tim Gun says, "I'm making it work." I guess. Sort of. 

Anyways, I'm sure that a young mother's obsessions are lacking in lurid fascination for the laity of the world, but several battles have been waged and they continue. I figure that my baby-bearing omphaloskepsis has prolixity enough for a couple of posts

It seems fit to give an update on the many fronts. At the moment I can envision 

Napping, 

boobie battles, 

the unproven baby-proofing performances of a woman too afraid to conquer the baby gates just yet despite her child climbing the stairs in order to paw at the baby gates stashed behind them...

And self-care/identity preservation in a baby-centric universe. 

No doubt, additional battles remain that I've forgotten. 


But since Sleep Wars and Boobie Battles are the age old angstifier, let's start with those...

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUUUN - Sleep Sorties!



Naptime is basically like being caught in a continual computer game circa the early nineties. Like that one where the snake goes around eating apples, getting bigger and bigger until he eats himself (ouroborous) and ... game over. Or maybe Pacman. Even the windows pinball game that came standard on 90. It's fairly basic, but it's unending, the timing is deliriously delicate and mercy upon you if you happen to sneeze at just the wrong time.

There are rules. I think. But, because a baby is involved, the rules are often tacit.

Here's what you know: Sleep is a good thing. It makes your baby grumpy when she doesn't get sleep. And when she doesn't nap, she tends to sleep worse at night. She needs to sleep at night or she also doesn't sleep during the day.


  •  Rituals are good. Sacrificing chickens, however, is against several health codes. Better stick to essential oils. Which your child is probably allergic to. Fine, a sleep sack, a book, and a song. We're also pretty certain about dark spaces and sound machines.

  • Babies have "windows" (not 95)  during which they will (1) Actually take a nap, (2) nap for more than fifteen minutes, (3) level up into baby nap bonus round where you get to eat cherries and turn the ghosts blue. 

  • The result of missing the window is more or less the same on either side: difficulty falling asleep (maybe) and a thirty minute nap. So you don't technically know if your baby was over or undertired. 

  • When babies pass their nap window, they tend to get hyper. Sometimes happy hyper. Sometimes fussy. 

  • Why they reach the end of their window they might get fussy. But they are also babies. And they will get ragingly mad because they can't open the dishwasher and stand at the same time. Especially when they are trying to crawl. Or they have gas. Or they realized that there are stairs to climb that mommy won't let them get to.

You don't know a lot of other information that seems essential, but you don't even know what it is. You know that you can basically repeat the exact same thing one day and have drastically different results. But you don't quite know why. Babies are just that way.


Aaaaaaaaand...


  • Baby sleep patterns evolve.


Not only are conditions different from day to day in variable ways (sleep the night before, gas, constipation, cold, teething, overstimulation, understimulation, the conditions of the surrounding naps), they evolve as well. As is true of all things baby, baby sleep patterns have this amazing way of becoming undialed just after they get stabilized. Chaya's older. She's now working on walking. And that's gonna be a long slog. But it does mean some major cruising around the crib whenever possible. And a baby-brain that never shuts down.

Something seemed broken when she started fighting almost every nap with untold eons of crib-surfing for about a week straight. Good exercise, but it eventually led to fussing and crashing. Not fun. So, like I said, she's older. That's a good clue that it's time for things to change. I can only blame "developmental milestones" (bastards that they are) and "gas" for so many weeks.

And, well, she's kind of a tantrummey baby at nine months. Just because she's getting worked up, doesn't mean she's tired. Maybe she's tired. Maybe she's mad that I wouldn't let her eat the spider. Maybe she realized that she'll grow up in a world without David Bowie. Who can say?


Which makes it really challenging to predict how long she can be awake before becoming overtired. True sleepy cues remain elusive to me (having a baby has eternally shot any self-conceit about being a perceptive or intuitive person, holy crap); she often is blissfully awake right until she's totally crashed. Sometimes she wakes up yawning and fussing and gets happier the longer she's awake. If you wait too long, she's overtired and will not crash for nothin'. And while she's busily trying to conquer walking (of course - untold weeks angsting over crawling and then one day, she forgot about crawling in order to stand up, and now she's a master of crawling but could give two snips about it, being on to bigger and brighter things)

She can stay awake for longer stretches at a time. Some of the time. It's actually a moving target - one about as mobile as my terrifyingly mobile baby - but generally speaking she has an increasing length of wakefulness as the day goes on. 


Most nine month olds have already dropped their third nap. Some nine month olds can stay up for three to four hours at a time. Chaya's not quite there (though we kinda force it getting to bedtime sometimes), but part of that is that she continues to take shorter naps more often than not.

So far, the moving tally at nine months is:

1. Morning naps still tend to want to be around two hours after waking up. Sooner if she's had a restless morning. After a good sleep, we might go a little longer. But only through external interference do we get up to two and a half before a crash. I've been reading the Velveteen Rabbit to her every morning. The last several days, she's fallen asleep in my arms by the third-to-last page. This seems true no matter what kind of mood she is in when the story starts. Maybe the book is magic? Except it's a morning magic that decreases in potency through the day? Typically the morning nap is a little short. Between a half hour and forty-five minutes. Yesterday, she slept for an hour though. Who knows.

2. Second naps can vary a fair bit. I've been mostly taking her upstairs after she's been up for a little over 2 hours and putting her down around two and a half hours after she last woke up. We take a nice calming ten to fifteen minutes of changing, singing and reading. Recently, she's been falling asleep while I'm reading to her. Or when I am singing to her. And then waking up somewhere between thirty minutes and two hours afterwards. Again, nothing particularly different that Chaya's told me about. She keeps it close to her chest.

3. Third naps have been a crapshoot ever since the fourth crap-shoot nap officially went away. Theoretically these afternoon naps are the "optional" "bridge naps" to keep her from getting overtired before bedtime. In practice, they can turn into the longest nap of the day. Or the nap that baby refuses to take. Nobody can say. You can bet, though, that she will show no signs of being tired right up until she's passing out and/or screaming (then passing out) in my arms. Even while I'm reading to her, she'll be bubbly and awake and thoroughly energetic, rocking back and forth, shoving a hand in my mouth or nose, going "huhuhuhuhuhuhuh". I've been taking her up around three hours after her last nap. Too much longer or shorter and it's a really big battle for a short nap. Though that can vary by whether she's had good or bad sleep coming into them and whether she's been out and about. She stays awake through reading (usually, although not the last two times), but has mostly fallen asleep while I'm singing to her. Might take several choruses of Dream a Little Dream with a baby's finger in my mouth, though. If she doesn't quite zonk, it probably won't go well. As such, I hate the third nap. It runs a high risk of either being non-existent or too long. I don't mind the "too long" as much until...

4. Bedtime is ... what it is. It's probably ridiculous to keep a rigid bedtime when her naptimes can vary so much. And it probably shouldn't be right smack after dinner. It's completely unpredictable whether she'll be exhausted, grumpy, giddy, hitting a third wind... Sometimes she passes out immediately upon a final nursing. Sometimes she thwaps me in the face repeatedly for forty minutes, pops on and off, and still needs to be sung to sleep. Sometimes she's overtired from being awake too long and wakes up after an hour. Sometimes she sleeps until 4 a.m. There is no telling. And the way naps went during the day has an equally unpredictable impact.

There's a theme here... so much for "drowsy but awake." But hey singing or reading a baby to sleep? Mother's lullabies are a trope for a reason. And since I expect I won't be nursing for the rest of Chaya's life, it's probably just as well that we have some sleep crutches that can work for a while. Though holding and rocking her is a little challenging as she gets heavily and more mobile. Go Magic Velveteen Rabbit juju. Rah Rah.

5. Middle of the night, a feeding still happens. For a while, it looked like she was planning to drop it entirely. I have to admit, I woke up a few times with swollen bosom and a fear of Mastitis Andronicus: 2Clogged2Feverish. I admit to even "dream feeding her" at 4 a.m. (this is where you pretend that you can actually steal into a baby's room, pick her up, attach her to your teat, and sneak an extra feeding into her without disrupting her sleep; that incidentally works better if you don't struggle trying to draw her from the deep well of baby crib that is Chaya's current sleeping quarters - and seriously, wouldn't you wake up if somebody suddenly started squirting a milkshake into your mouth??)


Dream feeding fun aside, her middle of night feed has migrated back to a fairly consistent 2 a.m. waking and feeding. Most of the time she falls back asleep after nursing. Occasionally, she wakes up when I put her back in the crib and rolls around for lord knows how long. That typically predicts/correlates with a more restless and earlier morning. Which usually means earlier nap, shorter wake time in the morning, and the dueling possibilities of a long nap to make up for lost sleep, or several grumpy short naps!




I keep fantasizing about a consistent schedule emerging. Sometimes I think it would be so freeing to have Chaya take the two naps that "most average babies" take by their ninth month. Her short wake times, plus the need to be home while nursing, can make going out a little challenging. The uncertainty of the third nap can be aggravating. The ability to make anything approximating realizable plans more than a half our in advance. These are all very appealing. Then again,
I worry about her dropping that third nap. In theory, the best way to handle this is a temporary earlier bedtime, but it's been nice to have Andrew have dinner with us before bedtime. And I know "sleep begets sleep" but I just have a fear that it will just lead to her waking up even earlier than she does already!

And also, well, holding her in my arms, reading to her, and rocking her to sleep is one of those supremely affirming and momming experiences in a world where mobile maniacal baby doesn't stop for too long to pat me on the back and tell me I'm doing ok, here. Dropping a nap means dropping one of those sessions.And that rapid half hour flurry of "DINNER" making activity during her third nap is kind of a nice break for what is usually an evening of highly interactive baby. She gets less and less self-contained as the day winds down, so getting things done after about three p.m. is challenging.


Battle The Second: Boobie Battles





Speaking of thing that I both will and will not miss with equal plangency... 


The History of Adella's lactilulus

First six weeks: I basically nursed all the time and tried to continue being super-mom and wife. It was exhausting. I overdid it, holding baby to my bosom while running about making food, cleaning etc. etc. It's amazing the things I could do and did do while nursing. 

Second month: My milk evaporated. Likely due to the same hormonal issues that made it hard to conceive. But possibly weight related or due to stress. Whichever. I made my peace - after some really tough pumping/supplementing/bottle with saying adieu to the nursing relationship. Until I agreed to try domperidone, a stomach medication that also boosts prolactin.  I pumped all the time, and needed help. It was exhausting, but to my shock, we actually got to a point where I didn't need to supplement with formula. Chaya had gotten used to the flow of a bottle, though, so I was chained to an eight times a day (including three times in the middle of the night) pumping routine. It was kind of wretched. I'm glad I had help. And I'm glad...

Third month: Very gradually, Chaya took less and less (with my insistence and subject to quite a few "NO, she's NOT hungry, she's fussing because _____" with my husband, who shared my guilt about briefly starving her and viewed a brimming bottle as the ultimate panacea). Meanwhile, I was getting a small silo of frozen breastmilk, clogging up our regular freezer as well as the standalone. Finally, Chaya went a few days without taking a bottle. Then another few days... and at the very end of the month, we shelved the bottles.

Fourth month: Chaya hit her sleep regression like a bowl of mushy pasta against the wall. She woke every ninety minutes and nursed to sleep. I ditched the overnight pumps and my sanity. Until we sleep trained her and cut her down to three times a night again. I didn't resume my overnight pumps. She stopped napping on the go. I started "nap training" and became a stay-at-home mom. Still nursed her to sleep for naps and at least every two hours whether she requested or not. But over time, I realized nursing her to sleep wasn't working for her staying asleep. And so we stopped. And I got tired of pumping every single nap. So I dropped a couple. Chaya slept longer at a time. She gained weight. And...

Fifth month: Nursing was brutal. Chaya popped on and off, fully alert and aware of the world around her. She had razor sharp nails and liked to dig them into my bosom while nursing. I broke skin on both sides. Pumping made it worse. Neosporin made Chaya want to nurse less. Bandaids reduced pump suction and Chaya was put off. Clogs developed. The broken skin and the clogs intersected before I could pump anything free. Mastitis developed. And then I developed two abscesses on my right side. 

Sixth Month: Nearly a month of antibiotics, becoming chained yet again to the pump (even in the middle of the night), breast soaks, and actively scraping at the nipple (and that was the positive part). Chaya stopped nursing on the right side briefly. I had to get two ultrasounds. I had to get an abscess drained. My right breast swelled up to a thoroughly un-swell distortion of bosom. I was back to bottle feeding for a brief spell.

 Six months had been my original goal for breastfeeding. I was so ready to quit, but I couldn't even if I wanted to, since the cure for clogs is constant emptying of the breast. Besides, Chaya was only getting started on solids and didn't take other liquids. And then finally, on the third weekend of aggressive hand expression, oils, and massage, the dam burst. It took another couple of weeks for the red and swelling to subside, but Chaya nursed again. Things still hurt. I was still worried. But things mellowed. I donated most of my milk. The freezer had room again. Still I kept pumping to avoid another bout of mastitis. 

Seventh Month: I had made my peace with possibly transitioning from breastfeeding. Given there are some pretty hefty side effects to domperidone withdrawal, I began the very slow process of weaning. I felt like it was a matter of time before Chaya self-weaned. She'd not been particularly excited about nursing since she started trying to crawl back in the fourth or fifth month. She'd often pop off and complain about phantom issues, then be perfectly happy again a minute or two later. I couldn't nurse in public. Heck, I couldn't nurse with another person in the room. Or in a different room. It was frustrating. But I was mostly concerned that she'd stop and I'd be consigned to several weeks of still taking domperidone after she'd weaned. I gradually dropped down from 120 mg to 80 mg. Not much changed. Chaya took to solids, but she didn't take to liquids. She gained well, but would get constipated. I worried she wasn't nursing enough. We kept nursing. She dropped two overnight feeds in the course of a month. Sleep consolidated. It was... nice. But I worried.  And I wasn't ready to give up the little moments of peaceful nursing we shared at night and occasionally during the day.


Eight Month: The pattern persisted. We nursed a little less often, but not drastically less. She still didn't develop teeth. She still only sporadically drank liquids. She still didn't much like to sit still. But we fell into a pattern of nursing every three to four hours during the day and once at night. I still had to do it at home. If I tried nursing elsewhere, it was a battle. She would eventually become incredibly grumpy and hangry and crash when we finally made it home and she was able to nurse in peace. 





Ninth Month - So Far:

 I've dropped down to 70 mg of domperidone. And I do see a decrease in the little bit I pump. I'm not sure if that's my body regulating or the lower prolactin. Chaya continues to be an eensie bit less interested in nursing. I offer more than she demands. But she still nurses pretty enthusiastically. Sometimes violently even. A hand in my nose, then jammed in my mouth, kicking, pounding my chest like the bar after a shot of whiskey... it's not exactly the peaceful Edenic version of nursing they promise. 

My original goal of six months has expanded to one year. That's the benchmark where babies can transition to whole milk (or possibly other milks) according to the average pediatrician.  And it's a nice round figure.

Nursing is a complex thing. It's a continuation of once having her be part of me; the vestiges of a time where body intuitively and sustained her every need. It's something that only I (and any other lactating woman, but we don't do that here) can offer her. It's time that anchors me to her and her to me in a way little else does. Sure, it's nutrition. But it's also the skin-to-skin comfort in the middle of the night, etc.

Still, we're at nine months. She's always been distractible. That busyness is reaching a fever pitch. Not only is she squirmy and sometimes violent while nursing, she's also far too excited about moving to linger in my lap the way she once did. Often she'll break off hooting impatiently, immediately trying to crawl up over my shoulder towards the next deadly series of wires and electronics. 




 I hear this is common at this age. That it isn't "self-weaning," but more of a phase. That they'll come back. To keep going. But I'm not keen on taking domperidone for years to come. It's potent stuff. It messes with my hormones, when they were already messed up. It keeps me from getting the cycles back that would help my body build up my bones and otherwise keep me healthy. I figured I'd get to one year and start weaning from the drug in earnest. 

I don't want to, exactly. I don't want to end the relationship any sooner than Chaya is ready. But I fantasize about feeling free during the day. We're so close to the age where babies should be weaned from bottles, I don't want to use them again. I want to move her forward with sippie cups. Which means I do feel tied to our trusty "nursing spot" every three or so hours. And, again, letting go of the one thing in which I am singularly and unquestionably qualified to offer something Chaya cannot get elsewhere... that's hard to let go. The excuse to not quite wean myself from omnipresent mommy. I know when she's older (I've arbitrarily said first a year and then even more so at two years), I will strive to take more time "for myself." To be away from Chaya for more than an hour or two at a time. To have "my things" again. Not because I want to. I'm too tired really to want to be vibrant or exciting. But because it would be good for Chaya and in the long run I don't want to find at seven years down the road that I've "lost myself."



At the same time, I honestly feel more of a warm glow when she falls asleep in my arms as I'm reading to her. Or when I'm calming her after her fiftieth head bonk of the day. Sometimes, when it's been a tough day and she reaches for me. Not my breasts (beast no longer comfort nurses), but me. And I look forward to the day where I am no longer worried about nursing gone awry causing physical havoc (premature loss of supply or more mastitis). 

For instance, we're going on a weekend trip to San Francisco in a few weeks. I'm excited, but also constantly concerned that she will go on a nursing strike for the duration. I'm plotting out what that might mean. How to cope. What to do between a long car ride and a busy airport. Steeling myself for that tough transition. There's a BBQ at Andrew's work in Mukilteo and I'm mentally scoping out the possibly dark areas to nurse. Estimating whether we can fit it in a four hour session, which is also fine for her to go without nursing. It's just one more thing to fret over when I already have oh so many options. But because of how we've struggled and because it's such a personal issue, it's a particular item of fretting. I don't want to chose to end it, but I also look forward to letting go of the anxiety. 

I remain uncertain of how the transition will happen. And making my peace that eventually it will. Chaya may ideas of her own. Or those teeth (it's never teething, but seriously it will be someday) make a fairly strong decision on that part. In an ideal world, I could wean off the domperidone and continue nursing Chaya at night and in the mornings. Then she would be fine the rest of the day. It doesn't seem likely. I'll keep going slowly with the flow and following Chaya's lead as best I can. I'll mourn and be relieved when we finally transition and I understand it will be sooner than I'd originally intended, but far longer than my secondarily revised intentions. 

And one day she'll be living off of Red Bull and dorm-scraps, while sleeping in jags over long-break weekends. And all this will be a faint memory of a senile middle aged lady with small saggy bosoms, but hopefully a stronger abdominal wall again! But more about my future self... soon. 




A Letter to My Little Maniac on her Nine Month Birthday

Today my little beast is nine months old. She's been on the outside as long as she was on the inside! Somehow that feels momentous. Every day she moves a little more away from me and into herself. Every day she is a new Chaya, careening towards some perfect embodiment of Chaya that I can only guess at. I am full of wonder. I will miss being one with her, but it is so very worth it.





It struck me today that were I to die or be separated from Chaya today, she wouldn't really remember me when she grew up. There would be a certain concept hobbled together from vague hunches and the recollections of those around her (her father's sporadic memory and fascinatingly adjusted misinterpretations of little shreds of Mars/Venus misunderstandings of yore, her grandmother's overly effusive recollections, the simple "idea" of "mom" that could fill any additional legend, and a few overly cultivated photos I've shared with the world). But me. This time together. It would be a blank space to her fully realized self. In a sense that makes me glad to have a record of our life together. Some voice from me to her. For better or worse, she has come from me, and we all have a yearning to understand our origins.

And should I lose that future with her, I'd like to leave at least this much of a message to my crazy, silly, awe-inspiring little creature:

Dear daughter.

I wouldn't even be able to give you advice. I don't know you yet. I don't know who or what you will become. I don't know what lessons lay ahead for you. Despite that, we are more intimate than I could have ever imagined. Your blood was mine once. And more viscerally, I wade through your bodily fluids without a second thought. I feed on food that's dribbled from your mouth and catch drool in my eye when we play airplane. We are not the same person anymore - and every day grow less so - but we are as close as two people could be. This will mortify you when you're a teenager, no doubt. But what won't be mortifying then? 

I won't try to tell you who I am. That presumes even I know. But I hope to tell you some sliver of what you mean to me.
You are my world. Before you, the world was rich and full. As you drift into your own personhood, my life will remain full. But you are the embodiment of that - the azoth of this little flurry of fictions I call "my life." You are the joy, the agony, the beauty and the wonder. You are the humor. You are the deepest chasms of humanity and the transcendence of the anima lofted above. We shared a soul once and I knew what it meant for The Creator to love this Creation - blindly, but all knowing; unconsciously building and sustaining life that was the very core of me. You separated from me and every day grow further and further from my deepest id. But you are all that is inside me and all that surrounded me from earliest conception. A mirror to everything that I am, for better and for worse. Sometimes you destroy me with the faintest quiver. Sometimes you elate me, and make me more than I could have hoped to become. 


I love you. I'm not the most loving mother. I wish I could fill your world with reassuring comfort, delight and whimsy every minute of the day. Sometimes, I fail so very much to set my pecadillos aside. Sometimes I fail to revel in your sheer existence. Sometimes I lose the sapor of each fleeting second to succumb to the blinking light of my cell phone. Sometimes I am screamingly bored. Sometimes I am so wrung out and tired that all I can do is remove myself from your sight and scream quietly. 




I want to be the best self I can be for you. I don't always do that. But I love you. More than words or even actions can ever say. I don't care if you've missed every nap, screamed all day, destroyed every valuable in arm's reach, ripped out my hair and left marks on my beleaguered nipple. I don't care if I'm so sleep deprived that I'm the one crying. I love you so much, it takes my breath away. If I joke. If I laugh. If I deny that you are less than miraculous, it's because I am human. It's because nothing worth taking seriously should be free of laughter and doubt. And because you would be too boring for the depths of love I harbor for you if you were merely perfect. If you were simply pleasant. If you were always likable. 

And if I survive to grow up with you, we will clash. There may even be times I don't like you. But I will always love you until my heart is turned inside out and wrung to the last drop. 





I loved the life I had before you. I love who I was. Who I still am. And I'm confident in the who I will become again. I have given some of that up to make space for you. I miss it. I always will. But I never, ever, ever doubt that it was worth every lost delusion and delight. It baffles me that anyone would even hesitate to do the same. When your father tries to encourage me to do more things "for myself" or to take some "me" time to run/play/do all the things he loves to do himself, I can hardly understand. I wonder how can he miss that you are my "me" time. That you are so fleetingly mine. That soon I will have every moment to myself. Then I will have so much space to grow apart from you again, as you grow into yourself. I'm excited then to see the world through your eyes. And to show you what I see through mine. And to always share our mutual discoveries; at least until yours are so very much your own that you keep them to yourself. I'll still see the light in your eyes as one more piece clicks together and one more mistake yields a story not fit for mother's ears.







I only wish those parts of me I've set aside can linger on and reignite so that you may see them too and find some glimmer of familiarity therein. That they may color your world a few deeper shades. My love for music. My love for words. The spiritual sensuality of ariosa. The infinite second of a long embrace. The beauty I see in a subtle gesture. The expansive canons of western and eastern philosophy. The questions, the doubt, and the dry dry humor of those great minds who've challenged me and reinvented me in their images. I hope they give you at least more options as you embrace your own core essentials.




I'm sometimes a selfish mother. I'm impatient. I'm jealous. I'm protective. I want you all to myself when I know you are ready to embrace the world.. I'm uncertain. I stay in the house too often and don't always give you the challenges and the excitement to let you grow. Sometimes I don't treat your father with the love and respect I hope for you to always expect from your relationships. Sometimes I'm sorry you don't have a better mother, but I hope we can grow together. I know - if fate allows - you will learn to be the child to my mother. And I'll learn to be the mother to your child. And then to your evolving Chaya. And I will have to step aside as you continue to make your preferences known. You already have no trouble with that. Please - as much of a headache as it can be - don't lose that clear voice.


Please don't lose that wonder.




Please don't lose that adventure, and that little hint of feral fascination that forever impels you.

I would die for you in a heartbeat, but you've raised my instinct to live on exponentially. I cannot leave you satisfied, because there is so much to share and learn. I will follow you - first around the house, and then from the distant home as you expand ever further into the world. I feel shivers at what you will make of it!





But for now I will simply hold you, sleeping in my arms and sing one more round of "Dream a Little Dream." Because I am in love with the future I see with you. But I am not just quite ready to put you down. Not just yet.

Princess Papaya's Typical Day In and Out and All About: Eight Month Semi-Live Blog Edition

A day in the life of an Eight Month Old's Mom.

She's under a fortnight shy of nine months now, little beast... 

But before we graduate to the joys and confusions of 3/4 year, one might wonder what I do with my little 8 month old sprout all day. 









5:15 a.m. - Andrew's alarm goes off. I may or may not be awake before this point. I may or may not return to sleep after this point, but I'm definitely awake at this point. He turns it off, and remains in bed. Silence hovers over the room anxiously. The suspense kills me. Will it go off again? Will he forget to wake up and miss his carpool? No, around 5:30ish, he'll roll out of bed, jingle his belt buckle and rumble around in the dark until he's dressed.

5:45 a.m. - Baby makes crying noises. Oh hell no, baby. We wait until 7 to get her. In theory. More like 6:40, if she's been up the whole time. Wake up time is evolving towards 6:30. But she usually goes back to sleep if you leave her alone at 6. Still, I'm up. Some days, "up" begins at 4:30, when baby wakes up to feed. If I feed her before five, she has a shot of going back to sleep. If she wakes up at 5 a.m., it's going to be a long day. But 4:30 - even 4:45 a.m. - and she has a shot.. I don't. But I'll take the swap. If I feed her at 4:30, I get back to bed just in time for Andrew's alarm to go off. So... up.

6:00 - I'm dressed and downstairs. Andrew's just leaving. He kisses me goodbye, inevitably as I've just put something in my mouth. Load the coffee maker with decaf.

6:10- 6:20 - I make breakfast for me and baby. Eggs for me. Eggs for baby. Soft fruit for baby. Something extra for baby to try. And chocolate and coffee for me. Amidst the culinary chaos, I keep staring at the monitor as baby occasionally moans in her sleep. Maybe in her sleep. Who knows.

6:30 a.m. - Time to relax. I turn on the radio, draw the curtains, and kick back for a few seconds. Mostly pacing in between the computer, my crossword, and the baby monitor. Wonder where my coffee is. Realize I never turned it on. Press button.

6:35 a.m. - Coffee maker is making funny noises. Realize I never put the carafe in the maker. Rush madly to right this wrong.

6:38 a.m. - Baby is definitively up (the side of the crib, most likely) and tearing around... Quick stop at the bathroom on the way up. I put on the mommy mantle and get ready for the day.




6: 40 a.m. - Baby is bawling.

6:45 a.m. - Find baby crying in her crib. This is not my favorite way to start the day. Usually, she's up happily crawling around in her crib. Clearly, there is something awry. Clearly. I check for teeth trying to poke through delicate baby gums. There are none, of course. Ever. Feel her forehead. No fever. Go back to chalking it up to gas, random bad dream, or the ever popular Wonder Week as a running theory for the rest of the day.

6:50 a.m. - Barely survive a bawling baby's protests against having her diaper changed. Only do so by giving her several pairs of socks and baby leggings to play with. Onesie is soaked through with either drool or overnight diaper overflow. Struggle baby into a dress that is scandalously small on her. Consider changing clothes before baby starts sobbing and thrashing at the indignities of her morning thus far.

7:00 a.m. - Walking around the kitchen for a few minutes has calmed baby down. Give baby a dropperful of simethicone in case gas is bugging her. Fight with baby for several eternities to recover the dropper after she appropriates it, finally get it into her mouth, recover it again, get it back from the floor. Distract baby with a finger soaked in baby's probiotic drops. Baby is ready to play, but it's been about six hours since she last nursed. Sit down for the big morning nursing session.

7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m - Baby roots like a truffle pig as mommy struggles to get her top down. Baby flies headfirst toward a boob screaming what sounds an awful lot like "BONZAI" and nurses heavily, albeit with her usual breaks to jab mommy in the trachea with her talons, stare at fluff on the couch, suck her thumb, and kick her leg into mommy's pocket.

7:30 a.m. - Baby lays in mommy's lap, briefly the embodiment of sweet and cute. Baby lets out a few frat boy farts, occasionally wiggles angrily and occasionally giggles and makes hiss-coos while grabbing mommy's lip.

7:45 a.m. - Breakfast Part Two: The Solid Foodening. Baby screams when put in her high chair. Then starts grabbing at the table. She calms when food is placed on her tray. Baby scatters several pieces of bread, egg, and fruit onto the floor. She eats the egg (and only the egg) and demands more. Working in some spoon practice, mommy uses two baby spoons to offer her prune puree. Baby takes the first spoon by the handle and smears prune all over her outfit, the chair, her feet, the table, and possibly the ceiling. Baby sucks on the opposite end of the spoon as mommy loads the second spoon. Baby grabs the second spoon and gets the correct end in her mouth... mostly. Baby develops a prune goatee as mommy offers a reloaded spoon. Baby knocks spoons together before becoming hungry and dropping the empty spoon to ravage the full spoon. Repeat several times, until baby decides she'd prefer to wave one spoon around behind her head and attempt to dive from the chair.


8:00 a.m. - Baby is covered head to two in prune goo and flailing with both spoons like Keith Moon doing a drum solo. Mommy wets a few paper towels and approaches with caution. Baby grabs the paper towel and tries to eat it. Eventually some goo is wiped off, the paper towel dropped, and baby is again barking because she's dropped her sippie cup.

8:05 a.m. - Put baby on her play mat with a less drippy sippie cup. Mommy's due to pump, and thinks maybe she should try it on the play mat so she can intervene with her new highly mobile baby.

8: 06 a.m. - Set free, baby perks up, giggles, and barrels towards the rocking chair. Mommy cringes and waits for the inevitable injury.




8:07 a.m. - Baby almost manages to pull herself up on the swaying death machine. Then can't. Then she starts howling in protest. No injury. Just pure seething anger. Baby hits Hulk-Mode.




8: 08 a.m. - Mommy tries to distract Chaya while still hooked into her milking machine. Eventually she reaches a shoulder and wrests Chaya away from the chair. A snotty sobbing baby suddenly smiles and grabs for the pump tubes. Mommy tries to divert her and accidentally unplugs the pump. Chaya pulls harder and mommy turns her around to face three or four actual toys, while trying to extricate herself from the breast pump apparati. More howling ensues.

8:08 a.m. - Mommy unhooks and holds a fragile Chaya on one hip while putting away breakfast with the free hand. Chaya stops crying and sucks her thumb quietly. She howls when overtures are made to put her down in her chair. Mommy realizes that baby's been up for possibly a while. And that she looks pretty tired. Mommy takes a deep breath and heads up for naptime.

8:09 a.m. - Chaya protests at being brought into the room. Then snuggles into mommy. Then throws a snit fit as mommy extracts her from her teeny dress ("shirt") and into another onesie. Baby grabs a wet wipe and begins eating it as mommy adds leggings. Then protests at the sleep sack. Then tries to roll over and grab her bunny. Then sniffles.

8:15 a.m. - Mommy has been reading The Velveteen Rabbit, and Chaya has snuggled in cozily and quietly. As Mommy gets Madeline to read, Chaya starts to make hooting noises and do a little baby belly dance, before snuggling in again.

8:20 a.m. - Mommy sings to Chaya. Chaya protests a little but mostly lays there with one hand in mommy's pocket, playing with a twenty dollar bill that mommy foolishly left in there.

8:30 a.m. - Mommy puts Chaya down. Chaya pops up and looks at mommy defiantly and says (in baby talk) "care to play?" Shelving mommy mantle, I fling my hands up quietly and sneak downstairs.

8:35 a.m. -Watching the nap-jinx play out over the monitor. Chaya is sitting up in her crib a bit, but what can you do? It's time attack the disaster zone at and around the breakfast table. Bring out the broom, the sponges, the soap, and the hazmat suit. Fill the sink with dishes, scrub the floor, scrub the seat, scrub the table, sweep. I check the monitor again and at some point, Chaya has gone still. It doesn't look much like a position any baby could sleep in.

9:00 a.m. - Load the dishwasher. Start it. Find a dirty spoon in baby's highchair. Stop the dishwasher. Load the dishwasher. Start it. Find a dirty fork and a cup on the floor. Stop the dishwasher. Load the dishwasher. Start it.

9:05 a.m. - Sit down with some coffee and finally check the internet.


9:05 a.m. - Run back to the monitor because there was some kind of baby noise. No movement.

9:10 a.m. - Oh there must have been something. Baby starts crying again. I determine to wait it out and hope she actually falls asleep.

9:15 a.m. - Wipe down the countertops. Check the monitor. Baby is not crying, but is kind of up playing. Yawn.

9:30 a.m. - Baby has laid down then stirred about fifty times. I hear some fussing and run up to find her... sitting and giggling and just a little ball of sunshine! But not one to be messed with. I gradually convince her to hold herself up on the crib railing while I divest her of her sleep sack. Several additional coaxing rouses allow me to separate her from her bunny.

9:40 a.m. - Cart illogically happy baby around the kitchen as she randomly hisses, shrieks, giggles, and grabs at things. As her feet are bare, I fish out a pair of baby shoes. They never fit, but I figure maybe this time will be different. Load baby into the car, gently pushing her back into the seat as she leans out. Remove carseat strap from mouth. Distract with weird blue teething toy while snapping the buckle together. Then distract with third sippie cup to finish fastening. Sneak back inside, promising to be right back out. Momentarily entertain the temptation to stay inside and finish that half sipped coffee. Instead flounder about until I find my keys and a few bazillion shopping bags.

9:40 - 10:20 a.m. - Wander the harried aisles of Trader Joe's with a baby dazed and strapped in the boba. Thank a fourth stranger for returning a dropped shoe. Stick both shoes in my pocket and give up on them for another few months. Stagger into line with an overflowing basket of veggies. Check out with the least friendly TJs clerk you've ever encountered (I mean seriously, everybody has to say something nice about the cute baby!) Another dance to get baby back into carseat. Aaand just a minute shy of a baby breakdown, pull into the garage.

10:25 a.m. - Stagger to the kitchen with baby and two grotesquely laden shopping bags. Figure I can unpack the groceries later and set down to nurse the baby.

10:25 - 10:45 a.m. - Nurse the baby. Usually she's too distracted to nurse long the second feed of the day, but not today. She's closer to theoretical second nap time, maybe. Drag my phone from the pocket under under baby, and have a one-handed internet fest.

10:45: Fish out a silicon bacon shaped teething toy from my pocket (because who doesn't have one of those there) in order to distract Chaya from the fact that I'm yet again changing her diaper (the most loathesome of activities). Somehow keep her from actively rolling off the table or climbing up the walls while noting we are out of diapers downstairs. Quick trip upstairs with half dressed baby. More distracting with errant slippers and wet wipe packaging while the diapering resolves.

10:50 a.m. - Set baby in her kitchen baby seat to finally unpack the groceries. Baby is getting a second wind, of course. She's back to burbling a fountain of raspberries and hooting at whatever you unpack. Offer baby a pear slice. Baby waves it around like she's conducting the 1812 Overture before dropping it. Return the pear slice, allow it to return wildly to the ground, return, and finally give up and eat it myself.

11:00 a.m. - Baby is starting to get amped up and never did really take a good nap. But if she had, she'd be ready for another one... gulp. Pick baby up and wander indecisively around the kitchen, while baby idly grabs at things we pass by.

11:08 a.m. - Up we go again!

11:10 - 11:20 a.m. - Story time. Baby only somewhat yelled at being put back in her sleep sack. And she's deigning to sit in my lap while I read. Granted, she's also sucking on my free finger and trying to put the book in her mouth, but I snuggle her in close and bask in the baby cuteness.

11:20 a.m. - Song time. Baby suddenly writhes into SWAT team action. As I sing, she caterwauls a counterpoint, sucks on my clavicle, blows raspberries into my chest, and again fingers that twenty dollar bill in my pocket. Finally conclude the not-so-lulling lullaby and leave the room to a chorus of baby vowels. Resign myself to a napless day and find myself a little surprised at how much easier it is to accept this when I've gotten a little sleep the night before.

11:25 - 11:45 a.m. - Make lunch for myself and baby. Reorganize parts of the freezer. wipe down relevant surfaces. Over the monitor, I see that baby sits, laughs, climbs the crib, and then mysteriously is asleep at some point. Start the clock until a half hour from now.

12:00 p.m. - Finish up the hasty chores, and finally change shoes to slippers, and have my morning snack. Baby is still laying still. Finish a crossword.

12:20 p.m. - Baby tosses and makes a crying noise. I'm prepared to run up there and retrieve her for a short walk and then lunch. She's prepared to... go back to sleep. Ok then.

12:45 p.m. - Apparently baby has decided to take her optional one good nap now. Yesterday it was in the afternoon. The day before that it was non-existent. For three days before that, it was the morning nap (most likely because I had somewhere I wanted to be in the morning)

1:24 p.m. - Baby is still asleep. Every crossword has been done. Spits and spats of chores (cleaning, tidying, relocating the errant shoes, updating lists and budgets) have been done. I'm hungry. Chaya's due for a feed. I don't want to start anything new because Chaya will wake up any minute now. As she's been due to do for the past hour or so... But this is good. Sleep is good. Someday. Someday she'll start taking reliable naps. Two long naps like babies her age should? At which point she'll grow out of naps, discover Red Bull, all night internetting, cramming, and the like; then she'll only sleep when it's morning and she's supposed to be in school.

1:30 p.m. - OK, She is in fact awake. I'm sure after such a nice rest she'll be roses and sunsh... or a big sobbing mess. Why not. And now she's happy again. Until I try to change her diaper.

1:35 - 2:00 p.m. - Baby pops on and off the breast, grabs the open nipple with both talons, laughs, then cries, occasionally nurses with a finger up mommy's nose, And finally reaches a moment of satisfied googly eyes. Baby makes several new noises in call and repeat while chewing on mommy's drawstring. Baby puts drawstring in mommy's mouth and laughs hysterically before putting it back in her mouth.


2:01 p.m. - Suddenly baby pops off crying out as if in agony. Mommy stands her up and she begins looking around before attempting to fling herself over the top of the sofa. Obviously, it's lunch time.


2:05 p.m. - Throw my food in the microwave with one hand while still holding baby, then retrieve prepared baby lunch items from the fridge - beet, baby corn, pear, a little oatmeal banana "cookie," and... anything else? Oh yeah, avocado prune puree (which looks a little dodgy because of the spinach snuck in there but which tastes likeheaven and which mommy eats more than baby). Plop baby in her high chair and quickly attach the bib before she can grab it. Locate the little tray attachment and snap it on while baby reaches at table madly.





2:11 p.m. - Mommy sits down with her food. Baby has had a beet in her mouth for a while. She's leaning sideways out of her chair and banging on the side of the chair while looking deeply intent on her beet experience.


2:15 p.m. - Beet was a little dry. Baby is not making huge progress, though she's managed to swallow some small portion of it.


2:20 p.m. - Mommy removes the remaining beet sticking out of Chaya's consternated mouth. Chaya grabs a pear, waves it around and throws it on the floor. Pear is retrieved while Chaya repeats her serious consternation over the baby corn.


2:25 p.m. - Mommy offers a spoon. Chaya grabs it and pounds it repeatedly on the tray. Mommy takes a bite of the puree from the other spoon. Then another bite. Chaya experiments with percussion on several locations. She accompanies herself with a hybrid consonant that bridges the unknown gap between "l' and 'm' surprisingly well. Suddenly, like a predator leaping upon her quarry, baby jams the spoon of puree in her mouth. Mommy takes another bite for herself and then offers Chaya a second spoon. Chaya lofts this spoonful up into her ear, She continues chewing on the back end of the other spoon.


2:29 p.m. - Chaya takes three spoonfuls in rapid succession, dropping the empty spoon while grabbing for the full one. She has developed a puree goatee at this point, and is rocking a bit of puree mascara that makes her look like a mini-member of Kiss. Mommy has eaten roughly several pounds of avocado-prune(spinach-mango-squash-pear) puree.


2:50 p.m. - Commence the cleaning. Or not. Baby screams and thrashes at the mere suggestion of wet paper towel across her face. We don't use wet naps because baby eats them now. I figure at least chewing on a wet paper towel is mostly just a little extra hydration. Baby grabs the paper towel. Sometimes while chewing on it, she'll get some cleaning done. Break out a second wet paper towel. Baby thrashes and threatens to wail. Take baby - now armed with two wet paper towels - out of her high chair and shake her off. Try to make a game (sometimes works) of brushing her face with one of the paper towels while making funny noises. Baby does not approve. Give up and walk baby soothingly around the house while baby smooshes wet paper towel into my shirt. Distract baby with her homeopathic allergy drops (non-functional but "safe" for baby, as opposed to benedryl which is for "2 years +" and may make babies hyper). Now baby has two paper towels and an allergy dropper. She is content. Or not exactly content, but not actively protesting.


3:00 p.m. - Time for a walk. Gingerly place baby on the floor and retrieve her coat and shoes. Carefully work baby's coat around her dropper and paper towels, while she leans forward and tries to crawl. Get her securely in one arm, as the other trails behind her. Retrieve the dropped dropper and place it on the counter for future use. Corral the kiddo and sneakily snake her remaining arm through the other sleeve while slipping feet into my own slippers.


3:05 p.m. - Baby screams when she's placed in her stroller seat. Then begins gnawing on her paper towel. She is not interested in her sippie cup. But the buckle of her seat is thoroughly engrossing.


3:06 - 3:40 p.m. - Nice quiet walk, serenaded by baby's new hybrid L/M consonant and repeated choruses of "HUHUHUHU MAMALALA BAAA HUHHUUUUUUUUH GURRRRRGLE" We consider the swings, but they are occupied. Baby begins to bark and complain about give minutes from home, as is predictable. When the stroller is parked, she shakes off the cobwebs and smiles suspiciously at mommy. Who knew she'd been there all along??


3:45 p.m. - Sinking feeling sets in... naptime looms. She's taken a nice long nap. Not going to expect anything. Not going to... but man 1:30 to a 7:00 p.m. bedtime would be brutal. It happens, but then it impacts her night sleep. And she's just a crank. And ... but if I try to put her down for a nap, she probably would be too wired to take a little nap while nursing later. But a real nap would be better. And sometimes if she's cranky, she doesn't nurse well. Nap training is an illusion. Does she seem tired? Was she fussing in the stroller because she's sleepy or bored? Did she have enough stimulation? Will be bounce back into action as soon as we go crib? Will she sob? Will she spend the entire time standing at the edge of the crib?





3:50 p.m. - Unhooking baby and heading for a lap around the island before heading up. Baby is non-committal about her nap-window status.


3:55 p.m. - Enter the chamber of horrors... er... nursery. Chaya lets out a cursory sob as we pass through the doorway. Upon landing in her sleep sack, she quickly maneuvers into crawl position, thrashing the still-damp paper towel up against her bunny. Somehow wrest her back to her back (back being best, according to her sleep sack, which refuses to acknowledge that Chaya only sleeps on her belly) and string her hands through the armholes.


4:00 p.m. - Story time again, after pinning Chaya in a cuddle position with one hand looped behind myback and the other in her mouth. Finally steal the paper towel from her and place it to the side. Chaya stares vacantly at the dim light on the shelf. Then begins to cry. Then stops. Then tries to grab the book. Change books to a smaller one that is less tempting. Chaya begins rocking back and forth and making a "huhuhuhuhuhu" noise.


4:10 p.m. - Song means Chaya leaps into action, though it is a little less heated than usual. Several iterations of "Dream a Little Dream" as she leans her head out into the ether and attempts to swan dive to the floor. Head returns to my chest. She sighs and begins to moan.


4:15 p.m. - Baby is down. I'm not super committed to this nap. Really. I swear. But I had to give it a go.





4:16 p.m. - Baby is up, standing at the crib rail, howling at the duckling and swan mobile which remains her elusive quarry.


4:17 - 4: 35 p.m. - Set up dinner in the rice cooker, Make salads, Chop and steam veggies for Chaya, Scrub down the high chair again. Wash several dishes. Keep an eye on the monitor. Baby has yet to scale out or flip out.


4:36 p.m. - Turn around once more and see a baby heap sleeping in the middle of the crib. She was seriously awake and pummeling her bunny into oblivion a second ago.


4:36 p.m. - 5:06 p.m. - Scurry around the kitchen. Discover husband is on his way home. Check the google driving time (not fantastic). Start piling toys back into their various holding pins. Sweep the floor. Wipe down the counters. Wipe down the play mats. Research once again the various baby gates and despair that none of them are long enough to fit the entrance to the dining room. And the pet gates are not well reviewed as sturdy. Duct tape bubble wrap to more sharp corners. And occasionally answer a crossword clue, while suspiciously eyeing the monitor. Like clockwork, baby leaps into action after a half hour of "down time."


5:10 p.m. After a quick trip to the bathroom, retrieve a very happy burbling baby. Divest her of her sleep sack while she again stands at the edge of the crib and releases a Grand Coulee of baby drool.


5:15 p.m. - Baby still in arm, head to the bath tub. Lay down a towel, Lay out the toys. Check the water. Retrieve a clean diaper to station in the bedroom. Extract baby from onesie and dirty diaper with jaws of life... 


5:20 p.m. - Bathtime. Baby attempts to bash her head into the faucet roughly seventy times in two seconds. On the bright side, it is the only time she tilts her head in a way that I can pour water over her fuzzy baby head and not get water and shampoo coursing down her eyes. Baby grabs the measuring cup I've been using to pour water on her. Pick up the second one. Baby grabs this too. Go to the third one. Baby has an embarrassment of wealth between her little baby legs.






5:25 p.m. - Baby is now trying to pull herself up on the side of the tub. As she stands with mommy's help, baby releases a stream of urine into her little tub-tugboat. She's also due to feed anyways, so plop her on a towel, Distract her with a sock monkey, an extra towel and several noises.


5:30 - Baby is partially dressed. Nursing begins. Baby pops on and off. Gurgles. Takes some deep sips for a few minutes. Rinse repeat on the other side. Give up after baby grabs a handful of hair and starts tugging.


5:45 p.m. - Check Andrew's dinner. Check the rest of the house. Let baby crawl around for a few minutes until she bumps her head on a corner and begins to bawl.





5:50 p.m. - Locate the ergo and strap up with baby protesting about being pressed to my chest. Round up the overflowing recycling bins. Search several areas for keys and phone. Check to see if Andrew's given a traffic update. Head out.


6:00 p.m. - Loop around the neighborhood while baby rocks back and forth like a porpoise poised to leap. I can hear her murmuring "Attica Attica Attica" in the form of several raspberries and a strange tongue-flicking hybrid of L, M, and B. How is this sound possible?


6:09 p.m. - Get the mail at long last. There's a special offer for Andrew and several junk fliers. Stop by the recycling yet again.


6:15 p.m. - Andrew's likely near. Hopefully. We'll see. But Chaya takes several hours to eat, so with baby still perplexed and stuck in the ergo, lay out the table. Release baby into the chair, find the tray. Find the spoons. Realize that the dishwasher is still loaded. Open it up. Realize that the release door never opened and all the dishes have thus only been rinsed and not washed. Curse and start the dishwasher yet again.


6:20 p.m. - Begin dinner. Andrew gets home at some point between lots of egg and several spoonfuls of puree. Repeat rituals of earlier meals, except interrupted by long stares at daddy. Sudden onsets of absolute rapacious appetite in which baby consumed roughly five breakfast and lunch meals combined.


6:45 p.m. - And cleaning baby is a two parent job. She's smeared head to toe in quinoa, sauce, egg, puree, and I don't even want to know. And she does not want to be cleaned. Baby is wielding three paper towels, a dropper of allergy medicine, and a wet wipe.


6:50 p.m. - Daddy takes Chaya upstairs for bedtime, while I change into pajamas


6:55 p.m. - Baby's howls signify that somebody's diaper is getting changed. It's probably not Andrew's

7:05 p.m. - Daddy starts to croon out that classic old Lullaby "rose rose rose rose, will I ever see thee wed..." A classic Elizabethan ditty about death and arranged marriage in some mode I can't remember. That means it's time to hang on to one last sleep crutch and nurse the Chaya beast before sleepytimes. Or, really, to sleep.

7:07 p.m. - Chaya begins nursing like a little piggie at the trough. She's making huhuhuhhu noises, kicking the book shelf and thwapping me in the face with a wet paper towel...

7:20 p.m. - She's finally slowing down, but still nursing. I get the paper towel from her hand and throw it across the room towards the trash.

7:35 p.m. - Baby is done and not much protesting as I sing her one last round of Dream a Little Dream. Head down for a little bit of time before an 8:30 bedtime.

8:40 p.m. - actually make it into bed. Wake at 9:30 when husband comes to bed and can't find his t-shirt. Wake at 11 because I maybe heard something. Wake at 11:30 because maybe really I heard something... stay awake until about midnight mulling on nap schedules and baby gates. Wake at 1:30 p.m. to take my pills. Wake at 2:50 a.m. to feed the baby... take a while falling back to sleep...

and 5:10 a.m. - wake in anticipation of husband's alarm!

Let the day begin again!