On a roll

For the longest time, when we put Maddi down, we could count on her to stay put. She would wake up in the same spot in which we laid her in her crib. If I left the room for 20 seconds to turn the bathtub faucet on, I could be certain she was still in her Gymini. At BabyTalk sessions, other babies propelled themselves about the room by crawling or rolling, but Maddi was content to stay in one spot, taking it all in quietly with her wide blue eyes.

Those days are now a thing of the past.

For the past week or so, Maddi’s been breakdancing around the crib on her back. At first, I thought she scooted around only occasionally. Sometimes I’d see her sleeping on her side or tummy, and sometimes she’d wake up having turned 180 degrees so that her head was at the foot of her crib, but most days she’d wake up in exactly the spot we’d laid her — or so I thought.

One night last week, I laid her down, feet facing north, as I do every night. A few hours later as I made my way to my own cozy bed, I peeked in on Maddi and noted that her feet were now facing south. The next morning, I awoke to find Maddi “in exactly the spot I’d laid her,” only I knew that she had been flipping around like a little fish all night and that — while it looked as if she hadn’t stirred — she had rotated a full 360 degrees over the course of the night. Maybe even 720 degrees. Nobody knows for sure, not even our slumbering spinner.

But her somnambulance got so out of hand that, after a second night in a row of somehow wriggling over to her mobile and frolicking amongst the dangling zoo animals, we finally were forced to lower her mattress this week.

For awhile, Maddi’s gymnastics were limited to her crib and her change-table, where she enjoyed playing lively games of Twist Away from the Diaper. But yesterday, she did something I never expected.

We spent the afternoon at the home of one of Chris’ business associates, who has a 20-month-old. Maddi was so enthralled with watching her new friend play with big-girl toys that she suddenly decided that now was a good time to use the skills she’s had for months and roll all around the living room.

Our little one — who just weeks ago was so reluctant to leave her back that she would stare woefully at toys placed just out of reach rather than roll onto her tummy — flipped onto her side, wiggled around until she was in a favorable position to begin her assault on a sofa leg and then flopped onto her tummy, onto her back, and then onto her side again, where she was perfectly positioned to gnaw on aforementioned furniture.

Why she chose to do this at someone else’s house rather than in her own territory will forever remain a mystery. She also decided to finally do some proper babbling in the car with Daddy (but without Mommy!) earlier in the day, regaling him with a peal of “Ga-ga-ga-ga”s rather than her usual rather odd “Moomoomoo”s and “Boobooboo”s. All in all, it was quite a day for our little girl.

Perhaps soon she will begin crawling — and not just in the bathtub, which is the only place she’s tried to do that so far (another strange baby mystery).

One thing is certain: from now on, when I’m starting the bathwater, Maddi will be in her playpen where she can’t roll around in search of things to gnaw.

Coming soon: pictures of our newly mobile 29-week-old.

Hungry, hungry hippo

Since the day she was born, we’ve known Maddi liked to eat. At the hospital, our legendary luncher astonished the nurses by eating twice as much as other babies in a given sitting and by being ready for her next meal in half the time. And by ready, I mean screaming as though we’d been starving her.

Her first month was spent eating for two hours, breaking for 30 minutes, and then eating for two more hours. She could be sleeping or she could be pooping — it didn’t matter. Maddi could do anything and eat. Even as she got older and grew more interested in her surroundings, her meals continued to last a good 45 minutes to an hour.

But, apparently, it was all practice for the big event. Now that Maddi has finally been permitted to sample solid food, she eats, sleeps and breathes solids. When she wakes up, she eats about three-quarters as long as she used to, as if she’s saving a bit of room for that first solid meal. A few hours (and a second very short feeding) later, once she’s in her high chair, the baby who was only vaguely interested in her old-fashioned breakfast squeals and smiles as I prepare her food. Like an anaconda, our voracious daughter unhinges her jaw and swallows tremendous amounts of food, and before I can dip the spoon into the bowl for more, she’s got her mouth open again and is squawking like a starving baby bird, flapping her legs wildly against the high chair.

Only twice has she ever had “enough” — once was the infamous Granny Smith meal (she ate only half a cup) and once was when she had green beans (she lost interest before the time she normally squawks for thirds).

Let us say that Chris and I, a half-hour after Maddi has eaten a full cup and a half of sweet potatoes (and finally been “cut off” forcibly), are enjoying a fine meal of chicken burgers and fries in front of our little piglet. Now, one would think that after having eaten an amount that — for a person my size — would approximate four good-size yams, the wee one would be satisfied. But no. As we savored our french fries yesterday, Chris and I felt a pair of little eyes burning through our skulls and glanced over to see our wide-eyed baby staring at our food with an expression of covetous reproach.

In a scene reminiscent of the sci-fi thriller “Alien,” her salivary glands kicked in big-time, and drool cascaded down her chin as her little jaw clenched in predatory anticipation of any food that might possibly come her way (it didn’t). I’m sure that, had she been endowed with a tiny telescopic set of choppers that could shoot out from her gaping maw and annihilate things that were just out of reach, my fries would have disappeared in a violent, ketchupy mist, much like the crew of an alien-infested space vessel.

Sadly, there is no going back. Instead of filling up with milk before a high chair feeding, Maddi fasts all day in hopes that she will be given solids. I’m lucky if a regular feeding lasts 10 minutes these days. Meanwhile, no matter when she’s last eaten, she can make two bowls of solid food disappear as quickly as I can spoon it out for her.

Despite all this eating — and her recent gain of a half-pound — she seems to be thinning out. One of the rolls in her thighs has mysteriously disappeared, and her cheeks seem a little less fluffy. It could be height, or it could be that her breastfed-baby fat is disappearing. Since her clothes are all tight — even the ones that are still too long in the leg — it’s not as though she’s starving.

But you’d never know that, to look at her in the high chair.

And here’s a picture of our little piggie at 28 weeks, tummy full and fast asleep in a brand-new position.

It’s about (tummy) time!!

As of exactly 27 weeks and one day after her birth, our darling wee princess has finally rolled from back to front and stayed there for more than 15 seconds — just a month or two behind “schedule.”

As regular perusers of Maddi’s baby blog well know, Maddi is no slouch at hitting milestones — just so long as they’re the milestones she has some sort of incentive to meet. She bestowed smiles early, gurgled out her very first “ah-goo” months ahead of when we were expecting to hear it, and surprised all of us by sitting unsupported before she was five months old. Apparently, her attempt to utter the word “cat” was not a fluke, as she has continued to bounce up and down and exclaim “kkk… hakkt!” whenever a feline enters the room (and yet, never has anything remotely resembling “mama” or “dada” escaped from her lips!).

But much to my frustration, ever since I incorporated “tummy time” when our dear little girl was but a month old, she has had absolutely no interest in being on her tummy — let alone rolling onto it! At the weekly “Baby Talk” sessions we attend at the nearby public health unit, other babies far younger than Maddi frolic about on their bellies, scooting laboriously in pursuit of toys or gleefully making like wee airplanes. Some have crawled, others are content to play with toys, but Maddi is the only “old-timer” who immediately flips onto her back when I set her down for some tummy time. Even the infant-development expert, who has quite the bag of tricks, was hard-pressed to coax our daughter to spend any time whatsoever on her front.

In a bid to at least get her to attempt crawling, I’ve tried that tested-and-true mom trick of placing all her toys out of reach so she will have to lunge for one (and, the theory goes, possibly discover that crawling makes life so much easier), but she will have none of it. She well knows that I am a sucker for an outstretched hand and that particular look that says “Darling mother, I would dearly love my shape sorter, but it seems to have wandered beyond my reach. Would you be a doll and fetch it for me so that my entire life will not be ruined?” (What can I say, she has very eloquent facial expressions!)

Paranoia queen that I am, I began harboring visions of Maddi scooting everywhere on her bottom rather than face the indignity of wriggling about on her belly like, well, like a baby. Of late, since she enjoys sitting so much and can do it for hours, tummy time sessions have gone from daily to weekly, so convinced was I that my sweet little bunny was determined to hop straight from sitting to walking (although Maddi has found pointing and “eh-eh-eh”ing to be so effective that I sometimes had my doubts she would bother with the latter, either).

Thankfully, Maddi did finally roll onto her tummy; however, as seems to be her wont, it was very much on her own terms.

As I do most nights, I peeked in on her in the wee hours of Saturday to see my little Maddi, hater of all things tummy-related, sleeping peacefully in her crib. But something was wrong. As usual, she had rotated 180 degrees so that her head was at the foot of the crib and her feet were within convenient pressing distance of the controls for her mobile. But where her little face should have been was a little bald occiput. Instead of little knees bending upward, I saw little knees bending downward. Instead of a tubby tummy facing skyward, a chubby bottom greeted my wondering eyes.

And she looked very comfortable indeed, sleeping like a tiny cherub with one arm curled beneath her chest.

Of her own volition, our little six-month-old finally decided (whether consciously or not) to roll onto her tummy and stay there happily. She was on her tummy at 1:30, and at 3, and when she woke me up at 5:30, she was still in the same position, only with her arms and chest off the mattress.

Of course, she still rebels with great enthusiasm when tummy time rolls around. But today, while I had her sitting on our bed, she lunged for the remote control and face-planted in the mattress, picked herself up, and, with the tiniest bit of pre-commando-crawling-type movement, managed to retrieve that shiny, button-y brass ring of Other People’s Toys (which, she has discovered, are the best kind).

This, of course, means that she probably will learn to crawl, after all, and my nightmares of a daughter who never learns to walk are probably completely unfounded. (Surprise!)

Now, if only she would start saying “mama” or “dada” — even indiscriminately! We don’t care!

And here are the long-awaited pictures of our wee one in her voluntary on-tummy photo debut! (Don’t worry, no babies watched any television in the making of this photo essay.)

Also, for your viewing pleasure, a short film titled “Hungry Little Sparrow,” in which Maddi tells us how much she loves her rice and apples.

Playing with the remote — hope it doesn’t escape!

Nooooooo, come back!

Half-y birthday!

As our wee daughter lies sleeping in her crib, with a peaceful expression on her sweet baby face, my mind goes back to the days when nobody in the house got any sleep.

Sunday marked six months from the day Maddi entered the world as a purple, wrinkled conehead who only slept while eating or being held. It is hard to believe it’s been six whole months, but at the same time, some days it feels so much longer.

A half-year ago, Maddi was swimming in tiny sleepers that now would be hard-pressed to accommodate even one of her chubby legs. She has gained 4 and a half inches in height and weighs nine pounds, three-and-a-half ounces more than she did on her first day here. No slouch in the eating department, Maddi quickly graduated from her first 2-ounce meal and now takes in at least 9 ounces at a sitting and started solids last week. In a mere two seasons, our darling daughter has outgrown all of her newborn clothes, all of her 0 to 3-month clothes, and 90 percent of her 3- to 6-month clothing — and can remove her own socks and shoes in a flash.

When we brought her home, Maddi could hold her head steady for a few seconds and make good eye contact. We thought this was marvelous. But now, her talents are seemingly infinite. She smiles, laughs, coos, squeals, shrieks, babbles and blows raspberries. She sits unsupported, spins on her tummy, rolls over, points, reaches, inserts her own pacifier (although only at bedtime and naptime now!), bangs toys on her high chair, and passes a ball from one hand to the other. A few days ago, while I was feeding her, Maddi even had the dexterity to snatch the spoon from my too-tenuous grip and hungrily shovel her applesauce into her own mouth. (Did I mention it’s impossible to feed the child quickly enough for her liking? And that she routinely eats thrice what one would expect of a normal baby despite having been fed prior? This is what pie-eating championships are made of!)

Not only has Maddi grown physiologically, her little intellect is blossoming as well. As a newborn, she gazed out at the world and had NO idea what was going on. But no longer!

Our young Galileo has discovered the joy of dropping things over the side of her high chair. If I happen to be in the way, she will simply move around me to conduct her experiments with gravity. She has not, as yet, figured out how to grab her slippery rubber duck, and spends countless minutes chasing it about the bathtub. Ditto for the Fisher-Price Roll-Arounds that are constantly gliding out of her chubby hands.

In addition to all her little noises, Maddi has discovered that she can communicate by reaching, pointing, and making sad little baby faces. Not a day goes by when she doesn’t see her beloved pacifier sitting on the ottoman, waiting for her bedtime story. Her eyes grow wide and she points frantically to her sucky, and then looks piteously into my eyes when I give her a toy instead.

But even more than she enjoys communicating with people, Maddi wants to be friends with the housecats. “Kittycat Theatre” in her playpen can entertain the baby for a good 20 minutes, and Maddi loves nothing better than, with extremely careful supervision, to run a hand over the soft fur of our long-haired domestics. Several times, we’ve been playing on the floor in her room when suddenly, the little one’s face lights up. Invariably, I will turn to see a cat lurking in the doorway, eyes fixed on Maddi as the baby smiles and quivers with delight. Of course, the subsequent flapping, banging and shrieking usually result in the alacritous departure of said cat, but I suppose it will be awhile before Maddux completely understands the concept of “cause and effect”.

However, the cats’ reluctance to come snuggle with our flapping, fur-grabbing fiend has not dissuaded her from trying to snuggle up to them. In addition to stretching out her arms for a furry embrace (needless to say, the cats don’t return the sentiment), Maddi has recently started making a “Kkkk” sound when a cat walks by. Earlier today, she spied Deva, then stared over at me wide-eyed, smiling from ear to ear, and jabbered “Kkk … kkk….” and then gleefuly shouted, “Hakkt!” Ridiculous as it may sound, I am thoroughly convinced that she was trying to say “cat.” Need I remind you, she doesn’t yet say “Mama” or “Dada” — even in a nonsensical, babbling context.

Yes, she’s definitely a much older, wiser baby than the one we brought home six months ago. With each day, she improves her skills in so many ways — eats a little more efficiently, sits more steadily, holds onto that troublesome bath duckie a second or two longer.

I saw a little three-month old in the mall last week, and I realized that it really hasn’t been so long at all since little Maddi was that young. And yet, just 13 weeks or so later, she’s a completely different baby.

“They” say to treasure your babies, because the time you are given with them is so short. I’ve been treasuring as hard as I can (quite possibly to an unhealthy degree!), and I still wonder where the time has gone. At night, I’m keenly aware that my sleeping baby is growing right under my nose, and often Chris and I will tiptoe into her room and watch our little one dream away.

There’s never enough time to cram in enough loving and cuddling and playing to last me through the teen-age years when she will doubtless be too cool for her mother to smother in kisses. Even though at times it feels it’s been a year or two or ten — rather than six months — since I had a minute in the day to breathe, it’s clear when I look at our growing girl that the weeks and months are all too fleeting.

In a scant six months — which will probably feel more like three — I will be writing Maddi’s one-year entry, an entry I can’t even imagine today since, as it is, I find it so difficult even to comprehend that she has somehow arrived halfway there.

Sweet dreams, little Maddi. Despite my fervent wishes, you won’t stay little for long!

And here’s our little six-month old:

Pucker up

Having a baby who eats solids has its benefits. Maddi has ceased her recently-developed habit of waking five times a night, and she now sits patiently in her high chair even without toys because she knows something good is coming.

Unfortunately, there is one pitfall I did not foresee. Since we are introducing one food a week, and this is Maddi’s first week as an eater of solid food, it is necessary to have that food on hand.

Maddi’s first food was apples, and boy does she love ’em. She greets each spoonful with flailing arms and grasping hands. So what’s a mom to do when, hungry baby in the high chair, she discovers that there are no Red Delicious anywhere in the house?

Well, a nice mom would have made sure there were enough Red Delicious for a week of baby food. A nice dad would have raced to the store and bought a sweet apple for his daughter while the neglectful mommy entertained the wee one in the high chair. Unfortunately, the nice daddy is in California this weekend and was unavailable for emergency baby errands.

Thus, circumstances forced me to either poke around the refrigerator for a suitable substitute or make an unscheduled rice-cereal introduction.

Fortunately for Maddi, we were not entirely out of apples. Unfortunately for Maddi, the apples remaining in the crisper were Granny Smiths.

I felt rather guilty as I prepared a nice big bowl of horrifically sour applesauce for our sweet, unsuspecting baby’s sixth meal ever, but at the same time, I didn’t think either of us could take another night of waking up every hour followed by a day of no napping. Maddi would have a full stomach even if it turned her off apples forever.

As the spoonful of freshly-made applesauce approached her mouth, Maddi flapped and gaped in drooling anticipation. She savored the food, rolling it around on her tongue. Our wee one’s eyes winked shut, her lips pursed and her tongue shot out of her grimacing face.

Then she opened her mouth for more.

Amazingly, while she had eaten just 90 minutes before and clearly thought the new applesauce tasted pretty funny, Maddi downed a good couple of ounces before turning her head aside. Either she’s a bit of a masochist, or she’s an incredible optimist. Perhaps she just really loves eating solids. After all, babies eat houseplants, drain cleaner and blood-pressure medication if given the opportunity, so why not sour apples?

As I write this, Maddi is sleeping peacefully with a tummy full of food. Better Granny Smith than nothing at all, and certainly better than introducing a new food before a week is up. My only regret is that Chris wasn’t here, since I know how difficult it was for him to accept that she is too young for lemons!

And here are some shots of our 26-week-old daughter enjoying (or not!) her Granny Smith applesauce: