Sunday, March 16, 2008

Making strides

My eight-and-a-half-month-old (do I need all those dashes?!) daughter wants to walk.

She seems to feel that crawling is an unnecessary phase in achieving mobility. She's been turning in circles for about two months, pushing herself backwards for a month. In the last two weeks she's started launching herself forward with one foot to reach a toy that's not too far away. But apparently she finds pulling her knees up and sticking her butt in the air too much work for too little progress. Why stand on all fours rocking back and forth, not moving anywhere and unable to reach and grab a toy (or piece of fuzz)? Pointless. Better to stay on your belly and scoot in all directions. Hands are free and mobility, within about a five foot radius, is assured.

Until last weekend, when, while sitting on the floor in front of her daddy playing with the colorful wooden blocks, she reached out, grabbed the sleeves of his sweatshirt, and pulled herself up onto her feet. Then she smiled, as proud as any eight month old could be. (Daddy smiled pretty proudly, too.) Those first moments were very unstable, since balancing en pointe takes years of practice which she just hasn't had.

Meanwhile she's standing (usually) on her whole foot. The wobbling continues, as does the proud smiling. Frustration (not only for Chloe) is an issue because she can't stand herself but wants to do it all the time.

This morning standing in front of her, I reached down and grabbed her hands. She pulled herself up. I moved a step backwards. She took a step forwards. Wow! I said. Great! Take another step? I stepped back again. Four steps she took. Relying completely on my supporting hands, still the initiative, the steps and the pride and confidence were all her own.

Besides the literal strides, Chloe's also become quite dexterous. She picks things up with thumb and forefinger, and is interested in everything smaller than one square centimeter. She pushes tiny pieces of paper around the floor, grabs the string attached to the beach ball (and knows that in pulling the string the ball follows), and bangs any two objects together to make "music."

It's really funny to watch her in her high chair at the table, playing with the sippy cup lids: they aren't quite cylindrical, so they roll around randomly like weeble wobbles. This is fascinating but confusing. Now she expects everything to roll in all directions, so she pushes any given toy (say, a little plush giraffe) and looks surprised when it moves a couple of centimeters but then just lies there. She shoves it again; same thing happens. I have to laugh.

But sleeping is not one of her strong points. Or to express it optimistically, she's an outstanding non-sleeper. I call her a nano-napper: during the day, she generally takes two or three half-hour naps. Unless we go for a walk in the stroller, and then she might sleep for as long as an hour and a half. Nights, we are currently enjoying what, if it were a sport, would be called extreme sleeping. Gaetan gets her to sleep pretty well, around 8, and sometimes she sleeps until 11 or even 12. Then the fun begins. I nurse her, and she falls asleep right away. I fall asleep right away. I could sleep until 6 or 7 in the morning, Chloe might wake up again an hour later. I don't want to nurse her so soon, and when she realizes that there is no boob in the offering, she cries. So we go into the living room, where lately she's been falling asleep within a few minutes. Before (and, as it happens, last night) it was half an hour (or an hour) of Chloe crying, swinging her head from one side to the other like one of those crazy bears in the zoo, followed by sleep that could easily be interrupted by placing her back in her bed. By the time she slept again, I was wide awake and wouldn't get back to sleep before it all started again (in an hour). But, as I said, this seems to be getting better, and I tend to quickly fall asleep. When she wakes again, I nurse her, she falls asleep, we're all happy. When she cries again, I'm pissed off: at Chloe, for robbing me of my sleep and making nights a nightmare; at Gaetan, for not waking up; at myself, for supporting this. This goes on, every 2 hours if were lucky, every hour if we're not. Mornings, either she sleeps until 6:30 or 7, or Gaetan gets up at 5:30 or 6 with her (he has to get up for work anyway) and lets me sleep until 7. Thank goodness.

So those are a few of the latest infant developments. Don't get me wrong - she's a great baby and I couldn't be happier. Well, I'd probably be happier if I could sleep, but who needs sleep when there's so much life going on?

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