Development in Real Time

Tomorrow Bea will be 4 weeks old. I’ve read Your Baby’s First Year: Week by Week a couple of times now and the milestones are a little confusing. Although I know they’re merely suggestions and you can’t compare babies as they all develop differently, our little girl is doing things I thought weren’t going to happen for weeks, if not months.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like she’s talking or crawling or offered to go get a job. But for the past few days she’s been chortling and laughing when we tickle her. I’ve tried to get this on video several times, but she gets a little distracted when I shove a camera in her face. She’s been smiling since day one which, until the laughing, I assumed was gas or just muscles moving involuntarily. She has been tracking things with her eyes for a couple of weeks, even moving her head to follow the object, and was watching our Baby Einstein language DVD a little before three weeks. What catches her eye are the contrasting lines and circles, but I did notice her watching a train go across the screen.

She also holds her head up unassisted for several seconds at a time and has been doing this for a while, as well. I’ve noticed that she tries to be patient when we’re making her a bottle now; she recognizes the sound of the bottle opening, being rinsed out, scooping formula, and mixing it up. When we put a burp cloth or bib on her, she starts to get really excited and starts throwing her arms and legs out.

Of course, she still head-butts me in the chest all the time, trying to breastfeed, refuses to sleep anywhere but attached to our chests, and farts constantly. But it’s been amazing to watch her go from a glassy-eyed, vaguely conscious newborn, to an alert infant that’s engaging in play. She’s discovered our faces and, for the past week or so, has put her hand up to my mouth so I can pretend to eat it or blow on it or make funny sounds which seems to really entertain her. It’s really funny to watch her do the same thing to Charlie but, when she feels his goatee, her eyes open really wide and her mouth makes this shocked little “Oh!”

I honestly didn’t expect to see any of this activity for a while. I’ve taken a few classes on development in psychology, and this semester I chose to take child and adolescent development in an effort to learn some things I can apply now, both to her and to my minor.

We’re not on a really great sleeping schedule just yet, but have managed to transition her into sleeping more at night. She was awake almost all day yesterday, which was a little frustrating because every time I tried to put her down, she would get fussy and want to be held while I was trying to get some laundry done, eat a little food, or go to the bathroom for a second. Charlie and I have been taking shifts on nights he doesn’t have to work: he goes to bed early, like 8 or 9, then sleeps till 1 or 2 in the morning. We trade off and I go to bed until around 6 or 7, at which point he goes back to sleep. A few times I’ve managed to work in several decent naps at night, making it sometimes as much as six hours of total sleep, which is almost enough to give me the energy to make it through the rest of the day. But not quite. The worst is the nights he works because he naps during the day, then leaves around 7 or 8. He might not get home until 3:30-5:30, depending on the day of the week, at which point he goes back to bed. By the time he gets back up, I’m running on fumes and have had, maybe, three hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.

I’ve noticed in the past few days that Bea wants to eat only a little bit at a time. She’ll have an ounce or so, take a brief nap, then wake up wanting to eat again. It’s a viscious cycle. When she eats like this, and when she isn’t sleeping directly on one of us, she’s a restless sleeper. She squeaks, grunts, groans, moans, and squirms around. She also pees a lot more often. So, every time she eats and then naps, she pretty much has to be changed again. When she eats one large amount, like 4 ounces, she’ll sleep really hard, but we have to be careful to burp her or she barfs later on. She has projectile vomited a couple of times, and has barfed a few more, and it’s really scary. I don’t like it at all.

For the most part, she’s a really good baby. She cries when she wants to eat and, thus far, that has been the only time. She will get a little fussy when she wants to be held, but it’s usually not the kind of screaming that accompanies hunger.

If you’d asked me about all of this two weeks ago, I would have been hysterical, in tears, wondering why she wouldn’t leave my boobs alone. Switching to formula was actually a good decision for us; otherwise she would have been eating every half hour and my nipples probably would have fallen off by now due to the lack of open pores for milk to come out of. Even though it’s not the choice I would have made for my baby, it’s pretty much the only option we have, unless I don’t want to leave the house for the next 11 months.

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