My dear Ryland,
So mama is a little late on this one, because technically you turned seven months over a week ago, but forgive me my belatedness. You are SEVEN months old! Holy cow. I feel like you were 7 days old a blip ago, 7 weeks just yesterday.
Every day you get more and more fun, and your personality has grown in leaps and bounds (I hope you don't take offense at the suggestion that your personality was lacking earlier in your life, but let's face it, infants are not exactly fantastic dinner party guests).
To recap the basics:
Your nighttime sleep is usually pretty great, a fact of which I am still amazed, no matter how long it has been. You usually sleep through the night, and if you do wake up it's only for a minute or two (more last week when you were cutting two big teeth, but that's understandable). You go to bed like clockwork right around 6:30 every night, which is less my doing than yours. If we try to keep you up past 6:30 you start to get majorly cranky to the point where the smallest thing makes you wail and shriek to the high heavens (someone may have a flair for the dramatic), plus you almost comically rub your eyes and yawn over and over again, like you are pretty clearly trying to tell your human slaves to put you to bed. You love to sleep with your lamb lovey and clutch it in your arms or chew on it all night long.
As I mentioned you like to go to bed early and mama is grateful for this, because it gives her time to cook or eat or watch TV with a nice glass of wine, but you also are an early riser, for which mama is less grateful (although really I can't complain too much now that you're sleeping through the night, and that would make me one of those moms I got really angry with back when you were still waking up 5-6 times a night not that long ago). Sometimes you even wake up for the day as early as 5:30, which before the time change meant a solid 1.5 hours of darkness after you woke up, which meant your mom needed A LOT of coffee. But you wake up super happy, so I can't get too annoyed. You usually will call our or cry for a minute or two and then stop, tricking us into thinking you have fallen back asleep. But then, and this is one of your favorite tricks, we will hear the sound of loud thumping coming from the nursery and come in to find you kicking your crib rails with gusto. You think this is hilarious and will grin and shimmy when you see us, as if to say "aren't I clever?"
You still nap 3 times a day, and these naps are still unpredictable and less chunky than mom would like, but again, you're sleeping through the night, so I'm not going to complain about it, because the Liz of 2 months ago would travel through time to punch present Liz in the face. And because you also usually wake up pretty happy from naps. The other day I walked into your nursery and laughed at you, and you gave me the longest, silliest, stoner like chuckle while still lying in your crib. It was phenomenal.
You still nurse once a day, but get formula the rest of the time, which you love and adore more than anything. When you see us making you a bottle you start to grunt and flail and pretty much act like a fat kid about to get her own personal cake. You also eat solids usually 1-2 times a day. Your favorite food at the moment are pears, with apples, bananas, and prunes (yes prunes, for your constipation troubles like you are an 85 year old woman, sorry to embarrass you but it's true!) next in line. Mama has tried really hard to get you to like veggie purees, but when I've tried them you typically make a face like I am trying to feed you dog food. In fact the last time I tried to feed you green beans you literally gagged and vomited and I felt like a jerk. Luckily there is a brand of baby food that combines pears with kale, and you have gulped this down eagerly, so I can feel less guilty about only feeding you fruit.
You wear size 6-12 month clothing or 9 months in some brands, and you are a super chunk monster, and it's awesome. I routinely try to gobble your thighs and cannot stop kissing your cheeks. It's a problem.
I realize that I probably don't buy you "girly" enough clothing, because in public strangers still routinely tell me what an adorable little boy you are. To compensate I did buy you a headband and try to incorporate dresses more into our wardrobe mix, not that I really care if strangers think you are a boy, but just because I don't want you to be offended and develop some sort of complex that will require years of therapy down the road.
You can now go into high chairs and into the front seat of shopping carts, and these may not seem like big developments but they make life A LOT easier for mom and dad. It used to take some pretty complex logistical planning to get you in and out of a Kroger (do I put the carseat in the shopping cart? will that leave enough room for groceries? do I put you in a carrier? do I carry the carseat? will that be way too heavy?). Which meant I often gave up and ordered Amazon Now instead. But now I can throw you in the front of a shopping cart, and you love it and act like you are on a roller coaster ride (which because of your lack of core strength you kind of are).
The high chair thing is also pretty neat, especially because if we hold you in our laps, the entire restaurant table becomes a war zone, with forks and napkins and glasses of water flying in the air and mom and dad desperately trying to keep knives out of your mouth or bowls of food flung at the waiter.
Did I mention you are into everything? You are a grabby little mischief maker. Nothing is safe anymore. You will grab at us, at any object no matter the size or level of danger, at the dog, at dirt and grass. If I wear a necklace I am putting my life at risk, because you consistently try to strangle me like you are carrying out a mafia hit. It used to be okay, because your dexterity was...less than. You grabbed at things but usually just kind of lightly smacked them with the side of your hand. Now your fine motor coordination has advanced rapidly, and you can truly grab things, and you wield this skill like a villain in a comic book movie who has just discovered they have super powers. Forget the with great power comes great responsibility thing. You have abilities and you will use them TO DESTROY THE WORLD. Or at least any magazine within arms reach.
You also have an increased level of mobility, which combined with the grabbing means you really can get into everything. You can't crawl yet, but have mastered the art of rolling yourself around a room like a little armadillo. You can also propel yourself backward with your arms, although this tends to get you in jams.
Don't worry, after a brief pause to take a picture, I always rescue you. You also really like to do what I refer to as the "Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible" move, where you kick your arms and legs out at the same time and kind of wiggle on your tummy. It's really cute, but I think it frustrates you, because you expect this move to propel you somewhere. You'll figure it out eventually.
You also now have TWO TEETH. Two whoppers on the center of your bottom gum line. I know this was rough on you, but overall you handled it pretty well other than some increased drooling and middle of the night wakings. And you know what I learned about new baby teeth? They are super sharp, like little razor blades. You have yet to use your teeth during a breastfeeding session (thank GOD), but the first time you do will probably be the last time you nurse. So try not to bite mommy okay?
You do still chew on everything you can get your hands on, and prefer to chew on anything other than all of the teething toys we have bought you. It is a constant effort to find things to give you out in public that you can chew on and not break off a piece of or hurt yourself with.
You're sitting up better and better, but still tend to topple over. It's understandable, because I think your head still accounts for like 50% of your total body weight. We would all be a little wobbly under those conditions. But you are getting stronger and stronger by the day.
I can't tell if it's just a normal baby phase or a sign of your personality, but you are a little on the sensitive side. You have started to really dislike super loud noises or things that move or jump around (this includes toddler aged children) and you often burst into tears whenever anything startling is around you, especially if you're tired. You also frequently don't like when we take things away from you without your permission (like remotes or our phones or the dog's toys) and also now have a very distinct "I didn't get my way" cry. Lord help us, because I know it's just the beginning of this kind of parenting struggle.
But more often than not you LOVE being out and about (minus the car trips involved). You smile and flirt with total strangers, and people eat it up. You cackle and coo in grocery stores. You grin at servers in restaurants. You are fascinated by everything and everyone. There is so much exciting and strange in your world, and I can tell every day you see it more clearly and with more attentiveness.
So your mom's favorite change that has taken place in the last month is kind of a selfish choice, but you have started to legit snuggle with me. I mean eyes wide open, totally awake, your head resting on me snuggle time. Granted you usually only do this either right after you wake up or right before you go to sleep. Sometimes when we're out in public around new people and you're acting "shy."
It still doesn't happen frequently or for very long stretches, but when it does happen, oh my. Total parent crack. Like manna to the soul, little slice of paradise, just absolute heaven. Pure and unfiltered joy. I cannot overstate what these first true snuggles feel like, how glorious they are, how I would go to the ends of the earth to produce more of these snuggles. Last night after we read your books, I held you for a few minutes, and after a few seconds of looking around, you stopped and laid your head down on my chest, and then left it there for this glorious expanse of time (probably like 2 minutes but it felt like time stopped). Your eyes were open. You weren't asleep. You were just resting your head on me, your little hand on my arm, still and peaceful. Oh my sweet girl, I don't know if I will ever be able to tell you what these moments mean to me, how grateful I am for every drop of your love and affection, how much an honor it is to see you start to show me that you know me, that to you I'm not just another human blob in a blur of human blobs, but a distinct person in your life who makes you happy in a way no one else does.
The world has been a little topsy turvy lately. There was an election a couple of days ago that didn't turn out the way that your mom and dad and a lot of people wanted. I was really excited to take you to vote. They even gave you an "I Voted" sticker that I proudly stuck to your clothes for the rest of the day (thank goodness you didn't eat it) and saved. I just knew that one day I would tell you about the time I took you to vote for the first female president of the United States, how proud I was to share that moment with my daughter. After this election, I would always be able to tell you there were no limits for a woman in this world, that on the year of your birth everything changed.
I know you can't read a newspaper yet, so I'll break it to you gently. It didn't turn out that way. I'm sorry we didn't give you the future we had envisioned, the president your mom and dad wanted for you. But as I held you last night, even through my fears and worries, the warmth of your body and your sweet baby smell reminded me that it would be okay. The love I have for you knocks me off my feet, and I realize now how important it is to protect the world we will pass down to you, and to your children, and to your grandchildren and so on. And I know that anyone with a child or niece or nephew or godson feels that same way, no matter which way they voted on Tuesday. It's impossible to love your child and not want the best possible world for them. No one wants to burn things down and hand the future a wasteland, whether your are a Democrat or Republican or Libertarian. We want to give you everything, the best possible world, one that is full of love and promise.
And we will. It might take longer than we planned. There might be bumps. But we will give you a world that is intact and whole and still full of possibility, even if it is a little scarred and broken in places. I promise you my lovely daughter. And I will do everything in my power, today and 4 years from now and 8 years from now and for the rest of my days, to honor that promise and make this a world deserving of you.
I'm sorry your mom got off on a tangent. I know you're not really interested in the world right now, at least not the one outside of your bottles and toys and George and your parents. But one day you will read this and know how much hope we still had, even in our disappointment, and how much a part of that hope you were.
You are seven months old Ryland. The world is starting to come into focus. And it is a beautiful world. Through your little eyes I am reminded every day just how beautiful and full of hope it is.
I'm a thirty-something mom of two, wife, pediatric RN, and writer with a passion for the all the big and little things in life.