Eight Month Minx and the Crawling Crib-Climbing Carnival of Carnage!

She was seven months. We survived. But now... I was ready for the "eight month sleep regression" but I don't recall being told about the "eight month moody toddler-tantruming mobile maniac" phase. The drooling darling hits eight months and is more than ready for action. 

Baby Diptheria? 

We've approached eight months with madcap abandon! After eight, then nine. Then a year. FIRST BIRTHDAY, yikes! An occasion for which apparently our enormous gala will need an appropriate theme as well as several thousand handcrafted digital multimedia homages to our first year on the Chaya beat. I'm thinking I'll just cover the event space with empty water bottles, huge boxes, chargers, paper bags, and newspapers for a "things Chaya actually plays with versus all those cute toys we got at her shower" theme.

Yeesh. Party? Theme? Raffle and babymoonlight cruise? Here I thought the only requisite was smash cake. I'm on that. I'm thinking would most symbolically be accomplished by giving baby the last frozen vestiges of our wedding cake to pummel). 

So eight months. A year. Two years. Then she's pushing twenty and either desperately trying to get as far away as possible or needing to crash in our basement after dropping out of school!

As the little one gets less and less little, I start to understand baby fever somewhat. I guess kids are like Pringles: once you pop you can't stop. Well you can. And maybe you have no strong choice in the matter. Chaya is likely to be an only child due to a myriad of factors. We're both pushing mid-thirties. I am likely going to have the same hormonal issues that required a very grueling amount of ART to manufacture our little beastie. And we were lucky that time out. No guarantees the next time. Doing any of that with any little one would be hard. Now imagine all the ultrasounds, blood draws, shots, and hormonal whirlwinds (let's not even get into the magic baby-making trigger happy window and the imperative to mate like bunnies with a little toddler nearby). 

Not likely.

And now add a willful, wild, madcap little pixie who is the very best kind of baby, but by no means the kind one would describe as "easy" She's not "hard" like some. Not a velcro baby. Not one plagued with medical issues. She wasn't even exactly colicky as a wee wee infant. But she's a handful. At eight months, her favorite activities are (1) finding exactly the least baby proofed area of the house and army crawling there at hyperspeed, (2) trying to climb the least stable and pointiest thing in that un-baby-proofed area, (3) falling not while trying to do any of that, but just while she's sitting quietly, (4) SOBBING because she fell; (5) or because I put her down when she was fussing to no longer be held, but apparently didn't want to be put down either, or because I offered her a pear instead of the egg she wanted, or because she doesn't like the feeling of having to poop these days, or because I don't want her to rip the ethernet cable out of the wall and/or leap across a room headfirst onto my computer keyboard, or because somebody tried to change her diaper, or because she dropped the toy she was flinging around over her head, or because the Dow Jones dropped ten points; (6) and of course turning all forms of parenting into an MMA experience.

I could really use a Go Pro for my breastfeeding experiences. For me, it's an extreme sport. Arms, claws, and legs flying. Nipples being ravaged with newly formed pincer grips. 

But not just the "nursing" (by which we mean "mommy will need a stay in the ER one of these days after a feed"). Really parenting this little one is an extreme sport. Forget running after her and discovering all the newly discovered non-baby proofed areas. Forget the raging tantrums when you might cross sweet Chaya by, say, removing the Pampers wet nap she's been imbibing for the last several minutes. Even and especially forget naptime, which can truly be a battle zone. Or don't we all get joy from little talon in the armpit with another hand pounding into the trachea while choking out a somewhat skittery lullaby

But it makes me sad to think this is it. And I'm a little jealous of those crazy women already adding siblings to their little family.

For me, it mostly isn't that I want "another baby." Sometimes I do. I think about the what-ifs. What if we had a mellower, easier (boring?) baby? A sleeper? What if we had a baby like Chaya but now I know how to handle so many of the little snags along the way. What would it be like to have a little boy?

But mostly it's this: I want all of Chaya all at once. I love who she is and what she is becoming. I'm not the slightest bit the sort who prefers little babies or thinks she's growing up too fast. There's a part of me so impatient to meet more and more of her and it is revealed through age. I'm so excited to be with her in her toddler years. Watch her learn to read her first books. Go to her first school concerts. Talk with her. Learn with her. See her returning from her first summer camp a new and more amazing girl. See her conquer her fears and go out forward on her own. Learn from her as she becomes a full fledged adult with ideas that far outpace my staid and rusty notions.

I want those moment. I want the moments I cherish now - playing, watching her figure out crawling, letting her linger on her nap as she babbles and thwacks my face unceremoniously. I love the beast. 

And I also want the moments already past. And there's the baby fever. I want the little piglet sleeping on my chest. Snuggled into the boba for hours on end with the angelic little repose. Watching tv upstairs with Andrew while nursing the little beast for half hours on end. I want holding an inconsolable purple crier in the kitchen, who can only suck on my thumb and hold on tight. The giddy butterflies inside of me when she was first kicking and dancing her way right out. Her first little laugh. That smell of newborn. The sense of seeing your very own soul vulnerable and panting right in front of you. 

But time doesn't let me have everything at once. Memories are fleeting; they're mostly stories fabricated from shred of truths. Reformed with each record. 

She may be trying to do me in and drive me made, but she is my all and everything. Nothing makes me relish and resent the relentless passing of time more than this sweetie. I know if I had another one, it would be a whole new ride and a whole new timeline of fleeting moments to crave and pine for. But some days, I wish I could pack them all into a single infinite moment and drown in it. 

Or maybe just in the drool. While I pick crusted prune and snot out of the hair she hasn't torn out yet. Parenting is a beautiful experience. Truly. 

A Few Tips to My Pre-Chaya Self: First Eight Months. 

Of course, no baby is the same and no parenting experience is alike. I wouldn't dream of giving advice to another parent. And certainly wouldn't expect any of the same to apply with another little one. But a little hindsight LASIK as I reflect back on the day of my daughter's eight month birthday. 

1. Those first two months or so? Seriously. It's called a lay-in period for a reason. Do not. I repeat, do not, confuse your pregnancy fitness with your postpartum fitness. Stay in bed. Let your husband make his own food. Tell him to make you your food. Eat A LOT. Leave the house a mess. And ignore visitors. You have no idea how taxing that was on your body. Just nurse and sleep. And work? You won't be able to do that and take care of your baby. Not really. For a while, maybe, but that will come at a major cost. Make your peace with that. Don't be afraid of being left home with the baby. You got this. It's gonna be tough, but you'll get it dialed.

2. The Medela PISA (pump in style) is a PIEZA SH*. Get yerself a better breastpump. Get the flanges to fit. And then relax.

3. Breastfeeding is "natural" and historically a part of the human mothering experience. So is mastitis, tongue ties, babies dying from inadequate nutrition, wet nursing, nursing strikes, babies so distractible that they will only nurse in a dark room with the sound down, supplementing with other milks and solids of varying qualities, and weaning. What's not natural is the culture in which mothers are meant to carry on and take on the world from day two or three after birth and do it all - a lady on the streets and an Earth Goddess mother in the co-sleeping bedroom. It's easy for some. It's cheap for some. It's convenient for some. But there's such a thing as lacktivism that paints an overly rosy picture. There is help and support available. Seek it out ASAP. Then do what feels right for you.

4. Lactating is actually kind of like getting addicted to heroin - it can devour your time, provide a major heavy-duty high, feel worth all kinds of money and mental energy spent, not make sense to those who aren't doing it, and boy oh boy are there withdrawal symptoms. Don't change anything too quickly. And be aware that the more you pump to build supply, the more you're going to have to keep pumping to avoid clogs and mastitis. Slowly cut back. Soooo, soooo slowly. Even just nursing at longer intervals is risky. And that's to say nothing of the hormonal emotional stuff that can happen.

5. Four months sleep regression is a real thing. A very real thing. Be prepared. Put the coffee on. Enjoy the "can sleep anywhere and on the go" months, but also maybe think about getting baby to sleep on her own in a crib or bassinet as soon as you can. It gets better. Then worse. Then better. Then worse... but a baseline better even then.

6. You don't need that fancy bassinest. It's an awesome little storage unit for pillows and blankies, but trust me on that. And co-sleeping is great, but be ready for when it's not anymore. Be ready.

7. You don't need that awesome sleep suit either. By the way, SIDS risk or no, baby will pretty well only sleep on her belly.

8. Batteries gone. Never, ever put batteries in a (baby) toy. Trust me.

9. It's not teething. Nope. Not this time. Not that time. Ok maybe... nope, not then either. You have a drooly, randomly irritable baby. Get used to it. Thank the powers that be that she doesn't have fangs yet. And love the crazy baby, because the things that make her harder are the things that also make her soooo much fun.

10. Post Partum Depression and Anxiety are huge things that don't get talked about enough. You probably aren't gonna get them, but keep an eye out. You're gonna feel so wrung out and overwhelmed and isolated sometimes, you need to have that support network there.

11. She's gonna cry. A lot. It will change in timbre and quality. There will be PURPLE crying. There will be mysterious sobbing jags. Gas. Overstimulation. Boredom. And then, she'll grow older and have a personality and tantrum like hell out of nowhere. I hear eventually she'll get stranger and separation anxiety. Sometimes she'll actually just want to cry herself down. Sometimes she'll need to be soothed. You'll figure it out. But it's not gonna be easy. Just remember, it probably isn't teething.

12. Notice how she fusses at a certain evening time every evening? That's because she needs an earlier bedtime. Seriously. And shorter waking intervals. Don't keep a three month old baby awake for three hours at a time. Daylight savings is the awesomest thing ever.

13. That napping thing, though? She's not gonna be a great napper. Not after four months. Short naps aren't as good as long ones, but they *do* count. Don't let anyone tell you differently. For your sanity as well as hers. Again, do everything you can to get her into a crib. You'll miss her, but You'll also miss yourself if you don't. 

14. You do not need several coolers worth of frozen breast milk. Did you know it's probably high lipase? And you shouldn't keep it that long? Donate. Cycle it out. Use it in the bath. Just don't buy a second cooler y'hear? Really.

15. Yeah, yeah, cherish every moment, but seriously. You're not going to. You're gonna hate parts of it. Parts of it are going to be dreadfully boring. Sometimes you'll actually flip your tantruming baby off behind her back. For all the talk of screen time and attention and being in the moment, sometimes... your phone will be your lifeline. Don't hate on the internet. It's going to keep you sane sometimes. Or slightly less deranged. But do know that every time she sees that pretty phone, she's one step closer to grabbing it and utterly destroying it. Invest in a good case and know when to turn it off/put it down.

And whatever else, remember it's not a race. Babies are what babies are and they learn and develop unique to their own inner schema. Some day she may be able to tell you what is wrong and what she wants, but words aren't always the sole truth either. Trust our instincts, but not doggedly. And laugh. A lot. Especially when you want to cry. Unless it's a medical emergency. Then laugh, but get yourself treated, because those talons may have some kind of poison on them, we don't know. And someday... ok somebody it really will be teething (gulp)

Happy Eight Months Miss Chaya.
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