Are you getting into the Christmas spirit in your part of the world? Join in at Communal Global!
P.S. I can’t believe Christmas is just two weeks away. GAH!
I hardly know where to start, so much has happened in just the past couple of days. Today, Cy turned three months old, and he has been demanding changes in his life, most notably with sleep. He has a bouncy chair that I use to reliably get him down to sleep for naps. As of Sunday, he was no longer having it. After a long period of fussing and refusing to settle, I took him out of the bouncy chair and put him on the bed for just a minute, thinking I would carry him in the sling and wear him down to sleep. But I noticed he calmed down just the tiniest bit when I put him on the bed, instead of crying more, which is what he would normally have done. I had been dreading the day he would outgrow the bouncy chair, not knowing how I would convince him to move to his crib when he needed the bouncing movement to sleep well. But when I saw him settle just that bit, I got the idea to give the crib a shot and just see what would happen. So I carried him and sang to him until he got drowsy, and just before he fell asleep I lay him in his crib–and he fell asleep! He woke two minutes later, and I did it again–and then he slept for a half hour. I stood by the whole time, certain he would wake, but he didn’t.
Well I thought I would try it putting him in his crib, just once a day for at least a week to see if he would take to it. On Monday, it took just one try and he slept for a whole 45 minutes. I was astounded. I even got a catnap myself. I began to see how I might actually be able to have some time to myself. Little snatches of time just for me! What a novel concept. Meanwhile, he does not want to be in the bouncy chair anymore. He refuses to sleep in it now.
This should make me happy right? Well.
My boy is growing up and that’s exciting. Moreover, he is letting me know, under his own aegis, when he’s ready for a new stage. All I have to do is pay attention and help him a little bit. Which means I don’t have to fight him on it–also exciting.
But carrying all fifteen pounds of him in my arms until he drifts off to sleep is no joke. It can take up to half an hour to get him to drift off, even when he’s super tired. And he naps about 5 times a day. I wear him in the sling for 2 of those naps…the rest…well, let’s just say the bouncy chair was way easier than this.
However, I’m committed to giving this a shot for a week to ten days, and hope as he gets used to it, he’ll go down to sleep more easily. Ha! I say I’m committed. I don’t really have another option if he won’t take the bouncy chair anymore.
There’s something else I’ve discovered too. He’s been super fussy for the past few naps, until I figured out today that he no longer wants to be swaddled. More changes! I can barely keep up. I would be all for him shirking the swaddle too, except he still startles himself awake. I got him to sleep in the crib today, but it was only 15 minutes before he woke himself up again. And then, fuss, fuss, fuss.
Other changes in the past couple of days? He’s started to reach out to touch his toys (always an awkward moment for me when I’m playing with him in his activity gym… Want to touch your monkey, Cy? Here Cy, grab your monkey!) and even will hold on to his rattle for a bit. And suddenly his cradle cap is starting to flake off, which is nice, except that it’s taking his hair along with it. AND he grabs fistfuls of his lovely locks and yanks them all out (I’m guessing because it’s itchy?), which means he now has bald patches all over his head. He looks…mangy. I’m loathe to bring him out in public for fear everyone will think our child is diseased. Thankfully the cradle cap, once it decided to go, seems to be beating a hasty departure, so one can hope this will clear up in a day or two.
And last night, he laughed for the first time! All thanks to Dot licking his feet. It was such an ebullient laugh too.
So many changes, and with them comes major fussiness, so that his mood swings back and forth between a smiling, cooing, chatty Cy and a shrieking, inconsolable Cy, with just occasional moments where he’s trying really hard to cry but we’re so rudely making him smile despite himself. I was so proud of him on Sunday for sleeping in his crib, and when he laughed for the first time? I called my mom to share the news, I was so excited. But these amazing changes–so many in just a few days–exact their toll, too. With growth, comes growing pains, both for Cy and for me. I think all the changes must be hard on him, which is why he’s suddenly fussy every time we hit a growth spurt. As for me, it always takes a gear shift to figure out how to meet his needs anew as they continually change. I’ve learned not to count on anything with a baby. The minute you think you’ve figured something out, they grow up on you.
Still, the three month mark is a special one. He’s starting to fill out as a real person, with a real personality and a budding character. I still battle the baby blues (a topic I’ll probably discuss another time), and there was a day when I hadn’t gotten much sleep…I put him in the sling and started walking with him and the tears came. But then he looked up at my face and stared at me with such adoration, the tears that came were not of exhaustion, but of a heart overflowing.
I don’t know if babies really feel love at this young of an age. It could be he’s just fascinated by the details of my face, now that his eyesight is getting stronger. But it looked a lot like love.
I felt loved anyway, and maybe that’s the part that matters.
Thing I Love About Cy Today: When he’s fussing, I can totally make him smile instead if I blow raspberries on his cheek.
Someone recently drew my attention to this series of posts on the surprising aspects of parenting in various countries around the world. I was so fascinated I read all the posts on the tiny screen of my phone, snatching every moment I could when Cy was sleeping or nursing. Maybe one day, I’ll share the surprising things about parenting in Thailand, but if you’re itching for a sneak peek now, I’ll just mention a few things:
* On breastfeeding in public: I almost never see Thai women nursing in public (the only one I did see was in a designated breastfeeding room in the mall). I suspect this has partly to do with modesty, but mostly to do with the high prevalence of formula feeding here. While I might not see moms nursing, I do see them whipping out bottles all the time to feed their young ones. That being said, I don’t think anyone has ever looked twice at me for nursing in public.
On the other hand…
* On babywearing: We do get funny looks all the time for wearing our baby in a sling. I think this is because only very traditional, poor, rice farmer type women wear their babies in slings. Everybody else has fancy strollers and expensive carriers, so I think people get weirded out seeing well-off foreigners going “old school, rice farmer” style. Toby, of course, gets way more attention because men generally are not the ones carrying babies.
Though I must admit, he does cut quite a figure:
* On babies in public: While in the States, babies in public are often thought of as a nuisance (like to the other patrons in a fancy restaurant, for example), in Thailand, babies are just absolutely adored. Thai people LOVE babies. I had heard about this before, about how waitstaff in restaurants often will gladly take a baby and play with him while the parents eat their meal. But I didn’t know the extent of this deep love for wee ones. Everywhere we go, it’s like we’re suddenly local celebrities. Neighbors who never talked to us before are suddenly chatting us up like old friends. We can’t walk ten feet in a mall without people cooing over our child and quizzing us about his age, weight, and whether I breastfeed. And restaurant managers rush to help in whatever way (“Do you want a child seat?” “Would you prefer this table instead? Your baby might get too hot over there.” “Is the fan okay? Do you have a blanket so he’s not too cold?”) I always worry about bringing Cy to nice places, for fear he might fuss, so it’s nice to feel so welcomed.
In the meantime, Cy is turning three months old on Tuesday. We spend a lot of time playing in his activity gym. He doesn’t seem to care about holding or playing with the toys yet, but he is fascinated by the sounds they make and watching them bounce. He likes to lie on his mat and kick out with his legs until his left foot hits one of the bars on the gym, which then makes a toy bell ring out. He hits it so regularly and precisely, we’re starting to think he’s doing it on purpose, that maybe he has figured out that he can make the bell sound if he kicks the bar. I don’t know yet if he gets cause and effect, but it happens so regularly that it doesn’t seem to be entirely due to chance.
And he can do that for long stretches of time, sometimes up to fifteen or twenty minutes. I’ve noticed he tends to do what I call “getting stuck in a loop.” He sometimes gets so fascinated by something, he’ll just stare and stare and stare for ages, until you finally distract him. He does that in his little play gym, and he often does it as I put him to sleep in his bouncy chair. He’ll stare at the window or at me, and seem to get locked into that until I move and get him back to the business of falling asleep. It makes us wonder if he might turn out to be an intense little one when he gets a bit older; that he’ll be extraordinarily focused and earnest when he’s trying to figure something out.
Anyway, Christmas is in the air in our house. We haven’t put up any decorations…and I suspect this year might be the first one in which I don’t put any up (thankfully my parents will step in and dress up their new home). But we’re singing all our favorite carols to Cy, and Silent Night has turned out to be the new favorite lullaby to get him to sleep. The excitement this year for me isn’t gifts. It’s that it’s Cy’s first Christmas. I can’t wait to see his face when he sees his first Christmas tree.
Thing I Love About Cy Today: The way he furiously works his mouth and tongue when he’s deep in concentration.
Communal Global has switched to Wednesdays! So I’m sharing my Momma Chats with everyone at Communal Global. Feel free to join in, and link us up to what’s happening in your pocket of the world!
The other day we were at the mall, a big one that had just opened so it was loud and crowded; full of shoppers, marketers announcing promotions, and live shows blasted at full decibel. It’s a paradox, really, how Thais are individually such quiet, gentle people…but get them in a mall and they aim to blow your eardrums. Anyway, I digress. We brought Cy in the sling, and he stared in wide-eyed amazement at all the colors and lights and sounds, until he hit system overload and passed out. He woke over an hour later, hungry as the proverbial wolf, and we hightailed it to a breastfeeding room (There’s a breastfeeding room in the mall! Hallelujah!) He and I settled into the chair as he nursed, and when he was done, he pulled away and blinked up at me…and then let out the longest stream of the most excited babble I’ve ever seen come out of his mouth. What I wouldn’t give to know what he was trying to say.
You won’t believe what I saw, Mama!
The developmental changes are coming so fast I’m caught afresh by something new almost every day.
Our boy has never been much of a fan of tummy time. All the parenting articles and books tell me I’m supposed to give him his little workout every day so he can build strong muscles and eventually learn to do more things like sit up and crawl, but almost every time I flop him over, no matter how slowly or gently I try to go, he ends up freaked out and crying. He does have strong neck muscles–did from almost day one–and I’ve encouraged their workout in other ways, like having him hold up his head when I burp him, or having him sit up for at least an hour or so every day in the sling. And he can lift up his head for quite a long while, but the thing is, I think when I put him on his tummy, he hasn’t yet figured out that he should. He does a face-plant and scares himself.
But the other day, I was nursing him on a pillow in bed, and when he finished nursing, the light from my nightstand and all the various detritus that had collected there caught his eye. He rolled himself off the pillow to get a better look. Seeing this new development, I hastened to grab each object and introduce him.
This is Mama’s water glass. Isn’t it pretty?
This is Mama’s lip balm. What color is that? It’s peach!
This is Mama’s hair clip. Look how it catches the light! He really liked that hair clip.
Still staring at the light bouncing off the curtains and glass, he started pushing his feet against my legs, I shifted down to accommodate, and inch by inch, he scooted himself all the way up my torso.
Before having kids, you’d never think that something as small as scooting a few inches would be anything to write home about. But after weeks and weeks of seeing this tiny creature be only a receptacle (albeit a very cute one!) for love, attention, entertainment, comfort, security, and food, you want to sing from the rooftops when you see him do something so miraculous as to act of his own volition. It wasn’t fear or hurt that caused him to act. It was simple, beautiful curiosity. He didn’t need anything. He wanted to find out what all that light and color was all about. He didn’t just passively stare. He actively tried to get closer. Those little grunts and struggles to scoot himself a few measly inches was in essence an act of his own free will.
Seeing how powerful a motivator his curiosity is, I’m now looking for any opportunity to exploit it to encourage him to try things. My MIL was quite brilliant raising my husband. She told me that she figured out pretty early on that all Toby wanted was freedom. He was determined to strike out on his own and do things his way. Once she figured out what made him tick, it was just a matter of measuring out how much to give and how much to withhold to help him grow into his independence safely and securely.
I can’t wait to find out what makes Cy tick. Mostly because I can’t wait till the next time I see him so excited.
In the meantime, I can still nibble on his toes.
Thing I Love About Cy Today: When his bestepapa (grandfather) started talking to him in Zulu, he got the biggest grin on his face and started babbling back. I think we’ve found his native tongue!
This weekend was Loi Krathong and the Yi Peng Festival, when Thais celebrate by floating lanterns down the river and releasing lanterns up into the sky. We went to a friend’s rooftop party, where we could see lanterns released all over the city.
Toby took a bunch of pictures at the party, but I was carrying our baby so I didn’t take any photos this year…so I’m sharing a couple favorites from last year.
How did you spend your weekend?
Before I had Cy, I used to make a promise to myself that I wouldn’t lose myself in motherhood. I have been a part of the mommy blogger community long enough to know how easy it is for mothers to get so consumed by being a mother that they let all the other parts of their identity fall by the wayside. Then, as their kids slowly grew into independence, these mothers would be left without their sense of purpose–who they were before kids no longer fit, and as their primary function as mother no longer brought so many demands, they faced a crisis of identity.
Now that I’ve been a mother for two months, I can see more clearly how easy it is to let motherhood become one’s entire identity. I find myself giving over entirely to him. My previous interests fall into the background as I spend more time obsessing over his needs. Whatever time is left is dedicated to the basic requirements of survival and maintaining a functioning home. And I don’t really miss what came before.
Sometimes I do get impatient with the demands of raising an infant. Sometimes I long for him to grow more quickly so that I can catch a break. But when I try to formulate in my head what that “break” really means, what it is I’m longing for, the only things I find I really want is a decent cup of cappuccino, and for him to be able to play a little more independently for at least a few minutes at a stretch so I don’t have to be ON all. the. time.
I wonder if this state is a natural biological imperative, arising simply because his needs right now are so big and so much, and if as he grows in independence, I’ll start to want to reclaim mine. I wonder if I’ll be so attuned to him that, as he grows, I simply can’t let go, even if I might theoretically want to.
This week our mostly quiet, cheerful infant has suddenly become supremely fussy. I suspect it’s partly some minor gastrointestinal discomforts, which may or may not be related to a possible growth spurt. He’s suddenly growing a lot longer these days, so maybe there’s some growing pains thrown in the mix. Whatever it is, he’s been crying more often and longer, once or twice apparently inconsolably. I mean, he’s not colicky or anything. It’s just more crying than we’re used to, when before, I could probably count on one hand the number of full minutes he’d cry collectively in one day.
At first, I fought against this change in our son. Mentally and emotionally, I chafed against it, and the more upset he was, the less calm or patient I could be. Previously any crying was directly tied to a discoverable reason. Now sometimes there is no discernible reason. I fought it hard. But in the last few days, I’ve found myself surrendering to it. I just do my best and ride it out. Most times we figure it out. Sometimes we don’t. But either way it’s easier on me when I just go with it and stop expecting life to be different than what it is.
Yesterday had been a long, fussy day. In the early evening, however, he fell asleep while nursing on the first side, so I sat with him, not moving until he awoke, wanting to give him a chance to finally get a decent nap. He woke a half hour later, and I brought him to bed and lay down with him, nursing him down to sleep on the other side, allowing him to use me as a pacifier. I normally don’t do that, but he seemed to need it, and I needed the rest too. My friends, he slept for FIVE hours. It was amazing. And when he woke, all fussiness was gone. He giggled and cooed at us, making us smile and laugh for about an hour before signaling that he was ready to go back to sleep. We swaddled him up, and he slept again for another four hours.
In that time he was awake, I played with him, I wooed him with my songs. I snuggled right up to his face and he snuggled back. And that moment right there…it made up for the entire day.
(And today, he started to seem more like his usual self–gastrointestinally and behaviorally. Fingers crossed, we’re through the growth spurt–if that’s what’s to blame.)
Aside from growing longer, several other developmental changes have shown up this week. He found his fingers and has started sucking on his fist. He’ll catch your eye and hold a gaze for a long time. He’s starting to enjoy hanging out in his little activity gym; he likes the mirror best (little narcissist) and listening to the tinkle of little bells inside one of the toys that dangles from the bars. He’s not interested in the toys yet, but there’s a large orange circular piece that connects the bars, and he’ll stare at that, enrapt, for many long minutes. And his little vocalizations are getting louder and longer. I love his little voice. I can’t get enough of it. He’s hardly talking and already I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.
And I tell him, “Hey, little man, you and me. We’re a good team, aren’t we? You and me.”
Thing I Love About Cy Today: That even when he has a rough day, like on Monday, when he had to get two immunization shots, he still has the wherewithal to smile at us and coo.
Cy turned two months old on Sunday!How was your weekend? Join in at Communal Global!
If I invited you over to meet Cy today, you’d totally laugh because he’s been one serious fart machine all day long. Farting while eating, farting while diaper changing, farting while playing, farting while sleeping…waking up, farting, then going promptly back to sleep…he’s done it all. His dad is very proud. I’m wondering if it had anything to do with the green mango I ate for lunch yesterday. I looked up green mango online to see if it causes gassiness in breastfed babies and I came across a site that advocated variety in the breastfeeding mother’s diet, then listed all the things one should avoid eating, such as: spices, dairy, vegetables, citrus fruit, caffeine, and of course alcohol. I think meat and carbs were the only things not listed. Sounds like a fantastic diet to me.
Speaking of breastfeeding…I’ve developed a curious habit. Whenever I nurse Cy, I find myself picking at him: clearing out the shmuckus of cotton fibers that collect between his fingers, wiping away at any stray hairs, and cleaning any crusty bits that have accumulated. I think it’s probably some kind of primal, primate grooming instinct. Call me Mother Gorilla.
Another bit of weirdness: I have absolutely no trust in my ability to sense temperature any more. When I was pregnant, I became several degrees warmer, and felt hot all the time. When Cy was born, I seemed to go back to normal, at least, I thought so because I could suddenly get cold again. But now, I think it’s warm, others say it’s freezing. I’m cold; Toby says he’s roasting. Sometimes I feel warm, but my skin is cool to the touch. Crazy hormones, maybe? I blame them. Either way, I’m still usually hotter than I like, and I long to be somewhere that I can actually wear a sweater. Or socks.
Anyway, Cy just turned 8 weeks old, marking now what people say is the tail end of the crazy parental hazing period. Things are getting easier–though I can’t always tell because sometimes I do feel like I’m still recuperating from the earlier hard. Taking care of the little one is easier in the sense that he is sleeping longer at night (usually), we’re getting better at figuring out what he needs and getting his needs met, and we’re freaking out less about the little things that used to be a challenge. Things are also getting better because he’s more interactive. He and I share a lot of moments that I wish I could freeze frame and hold onto forever, like when I make a funny face or sound and he smiles like it’s the best thing in the world, and I love his how happy he looks, and feel sad at the same time for being the only person in the world who got to see that cheeky grin and look of surprised pleasure.
Now, the challenge is figuring out how to balance Cy’s needs with our needs and with the demands of regular life. The past few days, I’ve gotten a bug up my butt to knock off all the items on our to-do list that have been piling up or gone neglected while we’ve been barely treading water taking care of a newborn. It was a productive string of days, but it sure did catch up with me. I’ve been exhausted and feeling like I’m fighting the beginning of a cold. And with the lack of sleep comes also the hints of Crazy Town Jade again. So we’ve been real careful to make sure I’m getting rest again, and that has helped a lot. But it is oh so clear how easy it is to overdo things, and how quickly things can get out of whack. So. Balance. That’s the next bit to work out. I sense that’s probably going to be an ongoing challenge.
But it’s okay, really. I don’t expect to get it right. We’re finding normal again–a different kind of normal, but our new normal. It may be hard, but I’m actually looking forward to it.
How can I not, when I’ve got this little one to love on?
Thing I Love About Cy Today: He makes a little cry that sounds like “mmm….LEH!” and pouts so hard, I can’t take it seriously because it’s just too friggin’ cute.
Happy Wednesday! It’s a rainy one here…been raining for a while even though rainy season is supposed to be over. Of course, that makes it difficult to line dry our laundry, and with baby clothes and burp clothes piling up by the hour, the rain is very inconvenient. Luckily for us, my parents bought a dryer, so I went over on Monday and spent the whole day catching up on getting clean.
But you didn’t come here to hear me complain about laundry, I’m sure. Fascinating opener, such as it is.
Yesterday, Cy turned 7 weeks old, and we’re starting to feel the truth of what everyone says: that by 6-8 weeks, things get easier. Partly, it’s that he’s sleeping longer at night (YAY! MOAR SLEEP), and partly we’re getting better at figuring out what he needs. Partly, it’s that I’m not quite as terrified/anxious about the challenge of keeping this little critter alive. But mostly, I think it’s just that we’re getting stronger as parents, developing parenting muscles, so to speak, so that what was once a challenge is now quotidian.
Not to say there aren’t still challenges though. Towards the end of last week, he had been spitting up a lot more than usual, and I think it was starting to hurt his poor, developing esophagus. One night, he had a veritable screaming session–and this boy almost never cries, and definitely not more than for the few minutes it might take to get him what he needs. But one night, he was wailing for almost an hour, until we finally found a way to soothe him. After we figured out it was reflux, we were much more careful about positioning him during and after feeds, and the next day, I went to the doctor to see if we could get him some relief in case such a fit happened again.
Now, the pediatrician we have was one assigned to us at the hospital when Cy was born. I’m not a fan of this guy. From the beginning, he made a very big deal, trying to freak us out about Cy losing body weight and getting jaundice in those first two days. I was concerned, but not freaked out because I knew (from my excellent childbirth classes) that weight loss was to be expected in the first couple of days until my milk came in, but that babies would regain the weight within the first couple of weeks. But the doctor was sounding alarms. Turns out, my milk came in right on time, and by the next checkup, Cy was just fine. I just think about how stressed I would have been if I hadn’t known this situation was normal–and I hate how many mothers he must stress out unnecessarily by such an approach.
Anyway, we went to visit him again–haven’t had a chance to find another doctor we’d prefer–and told him about all Cy’s symptoms and got him checked out. And the doctor basically said, “Yeah, I think you’re right about the reflux. But I can’t do anything about it. You’ll have to see this other doctor, who won’t be in until Tuesday evening.” (This was Friday.) I was not impressed.
Thankfully, with just being more careful with positioning–and we figured out a trick to keep Cy calm if he does spit up a lot–we seem to have resolved the issue on our own.
Aside from that though, we’ve had a pretty good week. On Saturday, we had a really great day. We went out together as a family for a little tea date at a cute shop on the river, then strolled around the mall, enjoying being out of the house. Then, in the evening, we went to a restaurant in our neighborhood and Cy made friends with all the staff.
I just love how social he is. He was flirting with all the ladies, giving them big smiles and coos as they played with him and carried him. Best of all, they were so enamored with him, they took him into their arms for the entire duration of our meal, so Toby and I actually had an entire meal in peace. It was amazing.
You know what catches my breath most, sometimes? It’s moments like this one, when he’s taking in the world around him. What I wouldn’t give to be able to see the world from his eyes. What does he see? What does he make of this crazy thing called life? He gets such a soulful gaze sometimes, and I wish for all the world I could catch a glimpse of what he’s thinking.
I love this little man.
Thing I Love About Cy Today: The noises he makes during tummy time. Oh, the noises!