Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Parental Progress Report

In another week and a half, Jacob will be five months old. That seems nearly impossible to me, because that means that a month after that he'll be six months old, and that's half a year! Crazy. After nearly five months of parenthood, I've been thinking about how far we've come...and how far we have yet to go. There are some things I feel pretty good about, and some that I'm not as sure about. And even that stuff depends on the day. Some days you'd swear you're totally on the same wavelength, and then one bad day makes it feel like you don't know your child at all...which is usually when I sit there and worry about how much time he spends as day care. The past couple days Jacob has had some epic crying spells...and you just sit there and wonder. I think we diagnosed Sunday's as gas (it was on our way back from Buffalo--I ended up spending all but 10 minutes in the back seat with him. He cried for a good half hour and then fell asleep. When I tried to get into the front seat at the Pembroke rest area, he woke up and got fussy momentarily so we opted to just keep going with me in the back.) as gas, but beyond that, I'm just not sure. Even last night I had a moment of concern about something totally happy. When I walked into the daycare room he was standing up on the lap of his favorite caretaker, the one who's almost always there at the end of the day, and she had him laughing like crazy. I've gotten some good laughs out of him, but not consistently. I know that a lot of it depends on his mood, but I don't think I've ever seen him quite that giddy...and it's like, "What am I missing?" A lot of days when I pick him up and take him back from her, he'll just keep looking at her and smiling. Hmmm. But babies are fickle and tend to fixate on random things, so I'll just keep chalking it up to that for now. We just found out today that she's staying home with her baby once she has it, and her last day is in a couple weeks. Too bad, since Jacob really liked her and she seemed to enjoy spending time with him.

Anyhoo...it's been nice that some things have become quite routine. I've gotten pretty good at reading him (apart from those freakouts mentioned above). I know when he's tired or hungry, I know that nursing will almost always calm him down when I'm desperate, and I know his "poopy face"--the face he makes every time he goes #2. Diaper changes (which, of course, I had never done prior to Jacob) are still not fun, but I'm pretty matter of fact about them these days...even if they are stinky. I still get annoyed when he has a blowout, because stain removal isn't fun, particularly when it's stinky...but even still, I'm better than I thought I'd be! Breastfeeding is pretty routine these days, and pumping is as well. Jacob seems like a pretty happy baby, and that is a good feeling. He smiles a lot, seems pretty content most of the time, and is generally pretty flexible. While part of that is luck (or actually God knowing what he's doing, I suppose...not sure how I'd do with a really fussy baby), I'd like to think that we're providing a good environment for him that's led to his good nature.

On the not-so-good side, I still feel clumsy. I have a hard time toting Jacob around sometimes, and when I'm holding him and he's squirmy, I don't feel very coordinated. I live in constant fear of dropping him or losing my grip in one way or another. I remain completely petrified of when he gets more mobile and messy...though I can't wait for some other abilities that come with that time. I am scared to death of the day he learns how to disobey, or learns the word "no" at just the wrong time. Right now I just love that he's my sweet little boy. I'm sad when I leave him at day care each morning, but I am grateful to day care that it provides a different set of stimuli for him. I sometimes feel like I'm not doing enough for him, not varying the little ways that I play with him. My creativity is lacking. I feel like I don't read to him enough. Bedtime is tough because we have a very small "happy" window between the end of his feeding and when he starts to get cranky about going in his crib. I should find other time, but between trying to play with him in other ways, feeding him, and doing my nightly chores, sometimes it's tough to find the time. I'm probably not the best wife these days, either. Sometimes I'm a little too focused on making sure Jacob is taken care of, and I forget that Craig needs taking care of, too. Time and romance are tough to come by these days, though I think slowly but surely we'll adjust to that, too. We better, if we want Jacob to have a sibling someday! ;-)

I'll admit I still have a feeling of trepidation when I know I'll have Jacob by myself, whether it's for an evening or the whole day. I definitely want to spend time with him, but there's that unknown of how he'll be...and how it will start to affect me after a long day when I'm tired. Will he nap easily or will he want to be held all the time? Can we find enough things to do so he won't be bored? Will I be able to leave the house and not risk him freaking out? Regardless, I'm generally still pretty content just hanging out at home with him. I'm not sure if that's because I just want to spend time with him, or if I'm just too nervous to venture out for too long. That's part of the reason I haven't been clothes shopping in months. It's still definitely easier to do things without him, like grocery shopping, just because he's quite a load to cart around and I'm barely tall enough to see over him when he's in his car seat on a shopping cart! I'm almost to the point where quick trips into stores are easier with him in the Baby Bjorn carrier than in his car seat. But unlike when he was first born, at least I know I can do it if I have to...but most of the time I just choose not to.

Overall I think we're doing pretty good. We've learned a lot in the past 4-1/2 months, and we'll always continue to improve. And once we think we've got it figured out, it will all change anyway! All I know is that we love him like crazy and both wish we had more time to spend with him. In the meantime, he's still a wonderful little boy and we feel so fortunate to have him.

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