henry adam: five months

“Where is he?” David asks as we stare at the baby monitor at 2AM. Quickly, we scan the cam from side to side. “Ah, there he is, all the way up in the corner,” I sigh, relieved. Henry might not be fully mobile but he is definitely not still any more! It might take him a long time to creep across the crib but if you miss the process (because you are catatonic between feedings) his positional change seems tremendous! This nightly movement has been dubbed “creeping to the corner.” Each night, we lay the wee one down in the center of his crib on his back. It is a textbook transition. But this little guy has his own agenda these days and patiently creeps and drags his squishy body up into the corner of his crib so his face is smushed up against the rail as though he were trying to smother himself. And of course, he flops onto his belly. In this dangerous pose he slumbers sweetly and sticks his bum up for good measure! This, combined with his new talent of re-binkying himself, has helped lengthen his sleep cycle. I cannot help but laugh in the middle of the night while I watch him search for his binky in the dark. His little hand glides over the sheet searching for it, finding it, and then through a process of trial and error he is able to get the binky into his mouth correctly! Hooray!

Since mobility is the theme of the month, awake-Henry is also actively scooting himself across the floor. He can now lock his arms and hold himself upright in a “crawling pose” and when on his belly he can do a fancy 360 spin. He rolls across his play mat and across the room, so turning your back on him to grab something or do something quickly is no longer an option. He is able to hold himself upright in a sitting pose for about 30 seconds and really wants to master this skill. Lying under the canopy of his play mat is frustrating for him as he would much rather sit up alongside his baby gym in an seated assist. He is our adorable, floppy gymnast as he tries out his new moves and we spot him throughout his day! This spotting includes watching him stand and hold onto various low items around the house. Henry likes to grab onto the coffee table, his bookcase, and the couches. But it will definitely be a little while before he can do this without a helping hand. Lastly, my latest favorite Henry move is the crunch out of the car seat. He clearly knows that when the buckle to his car seat is unclasped, it is time to come out. He immediately locks his arms and crunches forward with all his might in an attempt to bust out. I cannot help myself from laughing at this adorable attempt.

There have been so many firsts this month, including a whole lot of laughter. Henry finds yawning to be hilarious.  Do you want to snap a great shot of the little guy with a sweet smile? Then just start yawning at him. He literally cannot contain himself. He also laughs when he sneezes! When I sneeze, he cries but when the sneeze is self-generated he laughs and laughs and laughs.  If you nibble his belly while changing him, he bursts out laughing and cannot contain his delight as he flies about the house as an airplane in the arms of his dad! And then there is the owl puppet.  Henry loves this fury little toy. He watches it swoop and fly and dive bomb him for belly tickles. This is where we hear his heartiest laugh!

Did you know Henry eats? Well, sort of. We started noticing that when we ate in front of the little guy he started to fuss or stared at our food with his mouth agape. The signs were becoming clear. This boy was ready to start some solids. David assembled his high chair and we tried the first meal: peas. The green mush did not go over well. Henry batted our hands away and made those baby faces that all babies make with their first bite of solids. We were excited nonetheless, because at least he tried it and we would just have to introduce it again some other day. Bananas have been a recent hit!  He eats almost a sixth of a banana which is a lot for someone so small. No more batting the food away, he eagerly opens his mouth for a spoonful and even cried out for more! Watching Henry explore food is hilarious and awesome. I can already see this is going to be fun…and quite messy. I am hoping to start BLW (baby lead weaning) once he is about six months. A number of my mommy friends are doing it and they love the experience.

Lastly, every parenting article about sleep suggests establishing a sleep routine early and sticking to it. We followed this advice but it never seemed like Henry cared for it. Sometimes he would cry through a bath or fuss through a book. He seemed always to want just to nurse and sleep. Finally, this month it all clicked for him and you can tell he “gets it.” He splashes and plays in the tub and he squeals when we lay him down to put on his pajamas and halo sleep sack. As soon as we pull the books out, he gets quiet and focuses on each and every page. His favorite bedtime stories are Dear Zoo and the Going to Bed Book. It is amazing to see how he anticipates the different steps of his sleep routine. Then David kisses and cuddles him before it is time to nurse. With the lights out, the nightlight on and his tranquil turtle playing softly in the background, Henry and I rock on the glider together while he nurses. This is going to sound super sappy but sometimes in this setting with my drowsy little boy I cry a little because it is so overwhelmingly sweet and cozy. He holds my hand and looks up at me and I tell him how much I love him and how special he is to daddy and me and how we are so lucky to have him in our lives. Then prying myself away I lay him in his crib.

This month:

  • Snuggles are constant. Henry loves to snuggle. He can lay and cuddle in your arms all day. He loves to sneak into the nook of your neck and play with your hair and just be held nice and close. Gosh this is my ABSOLUTE favorite!
  • Coy smiles happen every day. He gets this light in his eyes and just cracks the sweetest smile at you even from behind his binky.
  • Mobility is growing. This kid is ready to be on the move.
  • Henry arches his back when you try to change him, because really diaper changes have been too easy these past four month, ha! And, he tries to roll and roll away from you.
  • He loves to scratch fabric in order to hear the sound it makes, he especially loves scratching the netting on the side of his pack n’ play and the arms of his glider while nursing.
  • Rolling is a skill we see practiced. You cannot lay him down without him rolling right over.
  • Art cards for babies from Wee Gallery are vastly entertaining these days.
  • Puppy pets are a must. He loves to get close to them and reach out his hand to touch their backs and heads. Who needs TV when you have four puppies to watch wrestle about the house? They entertain Henry for hours.
  • Henry tried some arts and crafts this month. During our mommy brunch, he made Christmas trees with his feet. Afterward, I tried to make turkey hands to send to our family and friends but this was a Pinterest fail.

lion man

I am not sure what Henry’s first Halloween will look like exactly. Since it falls on a Friday, David and I will both have to work during the day.  Once we get home, it might be either too late or too cold to take the lion man out. Of course, if these two concerns do not present themselves, then we are aiming to taking the little lion out on the town (for at least a few minutes) to “trick or treat.” It will be funny bringing him by our neighbors homes or bringing him over to close friend’s. If nothing else, he will don his little costume and we will observe the holiday through photographs! I am sure Henry is psyched about it!

Regardless of how we celebrate on October 31, Henry was able to spend a little afternoon with his friends recently at a pumpkin festival in costume!  It was adorable seeing his little buds dressed as a strawberry, cow, and astronaut. And, of course I loved seeing their parents as well. It is nice being a part of a little group of moms to share stories, insights, goofy moments, and, most importantly, to watch our babies grow up, thrive, and begin to reach out and “play” with one another. It is such a fun part of mommy-hood. To me, this was our Halloween celebration!

dogs & babies

It has been said that a dog is man’s best friend, and “a dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” In our house, this is incredibly true. Since welcoming Henry into our lives, we have not been the best puppy parents. Henry’s needs have constantly come before our own and before our pups. He has laid a fog over our eyes in which we see only his little self and his little needs. And despite this negligence, Buster and Bella have been unflappable in their love for their less then mindful pack leaders. They continue to be love and loyalty personified.

In the middle of night when Henry chirps and squawks, the dogs cock their heads to the sound, confirm that the little man is being addressed by one of the humans, and return to slumber as best as they can. Just like the humans, they have not had one restful night since July. Yet, they remain ever present. They come to bed each night and brace for the restlessness. They warm the bed on chilly nights and occasionally lick an exposed leg or hand to remind us that they are there and there they shall remain. In the wee hours of the night, when I am awake with my little owl, I know I am not alone since their half-watchful eyes and their always ready to secure selves remain close by.

When I am frustrated that they are crowding the bed while I try to nurse Henry, a short “move, move, move” and Bella lumbers over to the end of the bed in order to make space for this unapologetic newcomer and her sometimes distraught and disheveled adult human . During the day when we aren’t always able to take them for walks, they head out back and make do with the yard. They romp about and play with each and return to the house and maintain their quiet, watchful place. When Henry is on the floor flaunting an interesting toy, they don’t rush ahead for it, they lay beside him, sometimes steal of lick of his little hand or of his toy.  But, they know these are not their toys and instead wait for this little human to grow up into the boy who will chase them about the house. As a result of their condition, the dogs play a long waiting game. They wait for David and I to pet, cuddle, and play with them, they wait outside a lot longer these days while we wrangle the little man inside, they wait and wait for Henry to grow up.  They are truly beautiful, wonderful, amazing pups. They have proven that despite their world being turned upside down by this pint size new ruler of the home, that they are calm, loving, patient little beasts.

sausage, cauliflower, and kale “pot pie”

I left home this morning at 6:30AM and will sadly not return until 9:30PM. This extra long day of work loomed before me and has created an intense amount of stress for me: How would Henry do without me for all of this time? Will he have enough to eat at home? Will he have an effective sleep routine? Will my parents, who are home today, be all right? Will they have enough to eat? Will they need a break from caring for the baby? Will they be able to take care of the dogs? Will the dogs be all right?  Will the dogs go bananas without us for all those hours?

These are just a tiny fraction of the questions, hesitations, and concerns I have about today’s incredibly long day away from home. Every year we prepare and stay at school for Back to School Night. Every other year, this has been one of my favorite evenings. I stay after school and have dinner with friends and then get to meet the parents of my students in a casual setting as they mill about the building.  Tonight though is different. Now with Henry home I am a bundle of nerves and feeling very fragile about this long stay away. When I take a moment to really think about him home without me all day I feel like crying and  when I come home the little man will be asleep.  It hurts my heart to know I will have missed his whole day. But, alas it is the nature of the beast that is today.

Since I couldn’t physically be there with the little man and my parents today, I decided I could at least cook them a nutritious, belly-warming meal. Through dinner, I would be able to “be there for them.” And, in this case what is more comforting than a warm plate of pot pie? I hope that in lieu of my presence this meal will keep them “sustained” and will give me a small bit of peace of mind heading into my long night on campus. And really, it is just one night, right?

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed and meat broken into 3/4-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup garbanzo flour (a nice protein)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch kale, torn into bite-size pieces (about 10 cups)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 sheets puff pastry
Heat the oven to 400. In a large pot, cook the sausage with the tablespoon of olive oil. Remove sausage and place in glass casserole dish. Add the onions, cauliflower, rosemary to the pot and saute for 5-7 minutes. Add the flour and mix in, add the broth  and vinegar and cook simmering/boiling for 5-7 minutes until it thickens. Toss in the kale and let it wilt. Add this mixture to the casserole dish and mix everything together. Top the mixture with the puff pastry. I just rolled it out into one sheet and layered it on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is light and fluffy looking and the mixture is bubbling. Enjoy!

 

going back to school

Tomorrow I go back to school officially. Thankfully it is not a full day of school jammed with classes and new students and new lessons.  That will wait until Tuesday. Rather tomorrow is a day to set up my classroom briefly, meet with a few parents of my advisory, and leave Henry at home for the first time for more than just a Pure Barre Class. Family and friends have asked how am I feeling about this and to be honest I am incredibly conflicted.

Half of me is excited and ready to return. I love being a teacher. Each day the students challenge me to think, grow, and learn and in return I get to work closely with them as they question the world around them and discover history. My co-workers are inspiring men and women who are passionate about their careers, the students, and about having a good time too. It truly is a wonderful place to work and a wonderful place to return to each Fall. Having had my mother here this week, I have been able to prepare lessons, set up class websites, check e-mails, start class blogs, review faculty documents, review class lists, and generally feel “ready” for the first day of school. This has helped keep the typical back to school anxiety dreams away! Professionally, I feel fulfilled in my job which makes going back to it exciting.  I have also spent time tracking Henry’s sleep/wake time and feel good about the schedule I am leaving behind for Mema.  This was a major step is feeling ready to return. Whenever you look up baby schedules (even one that is baby led and flexible) it follows the typical work day of 9AM-5PM which is not the schedule of the working teacher. This new baby schedule for the teaching parent that we have created at least lets me feel as though when I leave Henry’s grandma will have a sense of when to expect certain cues from Henry in order to have as smooth a day as possible (and, I know this is ideal).

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At the same time, this year is so different. The other half of me is drawn inward to my home and family. Henry has turned out to be such a wonderful and amazing addition to our lives. I am afraid that if someone asks me “How are you doing?” on that first day, I will be too fragile to answer without bursting into tears. I know I want to return to work, but I also wish I could just stay home (at the same time!) and raise and love my son full-time. Two feelings I am most conflicted with about leaving Henry are: I don’t want to miss ANYTHING and I want Henry to be more than just okay when I am away. It is not healthy to be the only one to provide Henry with all of his needs, I know. It is important for him to meet others and be cared for by others.  But the idea of missing BIG chunks of his day hurts my heart so much. He grows and changes so much even in a day and I just feel like I am going to be missing out. Oddly, I also feel like I am going to be replaced. For the last 8 weeks, I have been there for everything even if I was just watching David parent, I was still physically there. Now I won’t be there AND someone else will be. What if I no longer can read my son or what if he prefers the care, cuddles, and love of my mom over me?  I am so lucky that my mom, Henry’s mema, will be with him but I still have this silly worry. As I write this, I can see the selfishness of these feelings but I cannot swipe them away. I selfishly want to be home with my baby boy and simultaneously want to be at school teaching and working. Part of me wonders if I had had more time and support in this dynamic if I would feel better prepared to return but our timing wasn’t perfect. And, part of me wonders if anyone would notice if I just tucked him in my backpack and brought him with me!

Tomorrow morning I will probably cry all the way to school but then will be so happy to see my co-workers who have for years shared some much of themselves with me. I feel more emotional now than I did any day of my pregnancy! I just hope that when I come home tomorrow, Henry will have had a good day home with Mema and David and the decision to return to work will feel more and more right as the hours turn into days, weeks, and months back at school.