Abigail was 11 months old on Thursday. Over the last month, she seems to have had a steep learning curve and become suddenly much easier to teach.
She can now wave and make a noise that sounds a bit like "hello!" (very teletubby), and can clap her hands. If you sing "This little light of mine" she holds her finger up, and since yesterday she's expanded her repertoire: she now also responds to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" by opening and shutting one hand, doing sparkles.
She can turn the pages of a book, mostly in the right direction, and if it's a very familiar book, at the right moment. She can lift the flaps in a flap book and chuckles when she finds something underneath. She can play peekaboo under her towel and if something is hidden underneath something else she can look for it. She can point at stuff in books and 'name' the pictures (if it's a cat, tiger, lion or similar creature, she makes a cat noise. Anything else furry is a bear. Anything non-furry gets the syllable "ba!" or "ah!") She babbles and points as if she's talking about the book.
If you're holding her and say 'cuddle' she leans in closer (unless she doesn't want a cuddle, anyway!)
She still isn't crawling, walking or pulling herself up, but she's not sitting still like a pudding either. She likes to stand supported, and once put there, she can cruise round the walls of her playpen. She's beginning to take a few steps towards someone holding her hands. She's able to stand up holding on with just one hand. Everyone is predicting that she will miss crawling entirely and just walk. I'm now hoping it won't be before Christmas, for the sake of the decorations...Every single other baby in her cohort from Antenatal classes, etc, can now either crawl or toddle, even the one 3 months younger!
And she sleeps for hours in the late morning/afternoon, hence my being able to post this update. She sleeps through the night too, for 11 hours at least. Quite why I'm feeling this tired is beyond me.
Just now, Abigail reached out, picked up a sultana between finger and thumb and put it into her mouth.
Who would have thought that such an everyday action could be so momentous?
My birthday is on Wednesday. It's a bit of a non-event this year. I'm not sure what, if anything, I expected of my first birthday-as-a-mum, but it turns out there's just too much going on to even remember that it's happening in time to do anything about it.
Now that it's six days away, this suddenly feels a bit dangerous, because I have a morbid fear/phobia of surprise parties. As in, I can't attend one (I always arrive after the actual surprise part) I can't watch one on TV (I cover my face and block my ears as if it's a horror movie) and I skip over descriptions of surprise parties in books. While at university, someone tried to give me a surprise party, and I came in, saw what was going on, ran straight out again and hid under an abandoned market stall for a couple of hours until I was sure that everyone had given up and gone home.
So whenever things are quiet around my birthday, I develop an irrational fear that someone is planning a surprise party, and feel the need to plan something myself to make sure that the fictitious plans are trumped. But this year, I haven't. So, instead, I'm announcing it as a non-event. There. I feel better.
Tiffer says that someone has asked for a birthday list. I don't have one, but I'll make one up now. Perhaps the Someone happens to read my blog. It's pretty simple:
- a see-through dome umbrella
- lots of chunky, baby-friendly long necklaces
- Easy knitting books that contain instructions as well as just patterns, like the super ones by Debbie Bliss
- Amazon or iTunes vouchers
- £40 to cover all the expensive make-up I just bought myself at a Bodyshop party before working out that I could have put it on my birthday list.
The heat has been making Abigail very drowsy, doubling the amount of napping she's doing during the day. Today, her afternoon 'nap' lasted right up until supper time, so although I have put her to bed, (half an hour later than usual) she is wide awake.
It's now getting on for two hours past her bedtime, and she's lying in her cot talking to her toy sheep. I can hear her through the monitor going "Bah bah...laaaah...nyah...arrrrrr!" I can also hear bangs, which are her feet against the cot. She can now roll over and turn herself round, so I keep going up there and finding her upside down, or with her feet halfway up the side of the cot.
Whenever I go in, she gives me such a guilty sideways glance that I can't help laughing. It's exactly the expression that she'll be giving me when she's three or four and knows that she should be asleep.
She's already such a little person!
Abigail has some shampoo for which the bottle is so narrow, and the typeface on the label so large, that it only fits one word per line. So it calls itself:
What is this stuff?! Is it conditioning shampoo for babies with sensitive scalps? Is it shampoo which conditions babies' scalps? Is it shampoo from the baby-sensitive range, which conditions scalps?
Silly. Keeps me amused every morning in the shower.
Both the above with cinnamon
Apple and carrot
She's been quite happy with all of them, although she found the cauliflower cheese a bit lumpy (I don't purée anything, just mash to a pulp with a fork). The avocado produced some quite impressively green and slimy vomit, so might not try that again in the near future.
Happy days :)
The test for when babies are ready for solid foods is supposed to be that they can sit up, reach out, take a piece of banana and put it into their mouths. They usually reach this developmental stage by 6 months, which is now the recommended time to begin weaning.
Well, Abigail is only 4 and a half months, but she has been sitting in her chair (not unsupported, admittedly), reaching out and grabbing toys, and putting them straight into her mouth for some time, so I thought there couldn't be any harm in trying the banana test to see what she would do.
The results so far:
Day 1: The experiment started on a whim with a cooked carrot stick. Abigail sat on my lap at the table in the restaurant looking at my plate, so I put a carrot stick within reach. She didn't take it. I tried to encourage the experiment along (OK, cheat) by putting the carrot into her hand, just to give her the idea; she looked at it, then leaned forward and (with extraordinary dexterity, considering that she usually just drops stuff she's not interested in) gently replaced it on the table.
Day 2: This morning at breakfast, I sat Abigail in her swing chair, which is upright and has a tray. I put a large chunk of banana on the tray. She ignored it entirely and instead, watched every mouthful that I put into my own mouth (also a good sign of when to wean) and then imitated me chewing, which was hilarious and very cute. But the banana remained untouched, even when I drew her attention to it by holding it out to her. When I touched her hand with it, she made an attempt to grab it, but mushed her hand right through it and then spread the mush around her clothes and chair. It never went anywhere near her mouth.
I've been finding it harder and harder to go back to sleep after Abigail's 4am feed. She goes back to sleep with no problem, but I lie awake thinking of everything I have to do tomorrow, mostly mundane things like hoovering. In fact, this morning I got up at 4.30 to put out the empty milk bottles and pay the milkman because I knew if I didn't, I'd probably still be awake when the milkman arrived, and then be annoyed with myself for not having done it.
It didn't work. I eventually got back to sleep about half an hour before Abigail needed feeding again at 7. After I'd fed her, I asked Tiffer to get her up and dressed while I tried to recover from my sleepless night.
I drifted back to sleep and had a truly dreadful series of dreams in which I was trapped inside a giant computer game of some sort, the kind where you have to keep doing repetitive tasks in order to stop things from going wrong - a bit like the Sims, I suppose, but nastier. In the dream, Abigail was always in the next room crying. I also had some maths homework to do for some reason, and my parents were there shouting at me to do it, but every time I tried to look at the questions something else would come up in the game, or someone would come in and tell me off for missing a reward in the game by not doing a task fast enough. Eventually, I told my parents that they would have to tell my teacher that the reason I hadn't done my homework was because no-one was helping me with Abigail, and I went to fetch her and give her a bath. Unfortunately, every room in the house was affected by this game, and I had to catch a shark in the bath before I could put Abigail in it, but every time I put her down to do it, she disappeared.
I woke up crying, and I'm still feeling all shaky.
Please give reactions in the following poll:
Ha ha! What a hilarious dream.
Sounds a very normal kind of dream for a new parent to have.
You probably shouldn't have persuaded your health visitor that you didn't have Post-Natal Depression.
Can I come and help you with some housework?
Other (please comment...)
Instructions on Abi Jane's new teething rings: "Wash with a damp cloth using soapy water. Do not immerse in water. Not suitable for the dishwasher."
And yet I'm still having to sterilise her bottles and feeding cups?
As I sat in the Good Friday service today - the first service in Holy Week that I have attended - I was feeling out of sorts and rather distant from what was going on. On closer inspection, I realised that this was because it's not just Holy Week that's passed me by - it's the whole of Lent. A combination of looking after Abigail and attending churches that I'm not used to has resulted in no ash on Ash Wednesday, no procession or communion on Palm Sunday, no communion, parish meal or vigil on Maundy Thursday, well under three hours of church on Good Friday - and of course I won't be able to attend a dawn Eucharist, although I might catch the dawn chorus while feeding Abi.
Added to that, breastfeeding/sleep deprivation/an unpredictable infant have all contributed to my not fasting, or giving anything up, or doing quiet times or following a Lent course or book. Those things, and yes, I'll admit it, general apathy.
I'm a bit concerned by my apparent need for all these church services and rituals. Why shouldn't I have managed to keep Lent in my own way, whether stuck at home with a baby or not? Why couldn't I have included the observances of Lent in my own prayer life?
The uncomfortable but fairly obvious truth is that my meagre prayer life is practically nonexistent without the fairly stringent traditions that I'm used to. Not my faith; my faith, happily, seems to have survived the liturgical desert; but my prayer life. The actual doing of this relationship with God that I have so much faith in. At the moment, apart from arrow prayers and occasional plunges into devotionals by Adrian Plass, it pretty much comes down to saying prayers with Abigail every night. And this is where all this introspection really begins to challenge me.
I've said all along that Abigail wouldn't need to be brainwashed or taught in order to be brought up as a Christian - that she ought to meet God quite naturally, like another member of the family, because of the amount that we talk to and about Him and the obvious part that He plays in our lives. But at the moment, that's not true, is it? I'm putting it on. I'm doing it for Abigail's benefit. And if I'm going to stick to my principles, I mustn't say prayers with her as part of her bedtime routine and then never say them at any other time.
I've reached the end of some kind of road, but I'm not sure what it is. I'm not against traditions and rituals; in the past they really have helped and informed my relationship with God and my seasonal worship; they have not been empty. I'm looking forward to involving Abigail in all of them as she grows up. Stripped of them, even temporarily, what must I do? And will doing it turn me into a different kind of Christian entirely? And if it does, will that be a good thing?