NOTE: Goodness, re-reading this the morning after, I sound like such a Negative Nellie. And how am I repaid for my annoyance toward my youngest love? It’s almost 9 AM and I’m at home, and EVERYONE is still sleeping. Shame on me, shame!
I just heard of Parkinson’s Law recently, and it’s this: Work expands to fill the time allotted. And I’ll bet you that no parent knows that like a preemie parent.
Back in March, when our little Gill came two months early, we knew we’d be in for a longer year than we expected. Coming two months early doesn’t mean your schedule bumps up two months; it just means you get two more months of babyhood. You deal with something called “adjusted age”: subtract the number of weeks your kid is early, and that’s her real age. Which is a little weird, especially until she reaches her due date, because you’re saying things like, “Six weeks. Well, really, negative two weeks.”
Granted, she’s perfectly healthy, adorable, yadda yadda yadda. She didn’t have to be on a ventilator like many preemies; she was the star of the NICU for three weeks, amazing all the doctors with her ability to breathe, eat, poop, and sleep like a baby who wasn’t born at 32 weeks gestation. Now, at six months old, she rolls over front to back, sits up in a Bumbo, is enchanted with her bird mobile and finds nose-rubbies hilarious. And her favorite thing to look at is, I think, her big sister.
But good lord, kid. Grow UP, already.
Contrary to the calendar, she’s not six months old. She’s four months old. A pretty well-developed four-month-old, I should add. Eliza didn’t sit up in the Bumbo so well at four months. But… I have pictures of Eliza on my phone at six months, and she’s sitting up on her own, smiling for the camera; she’s wearing a supercute little pinafore and shoes and a yellow sweater. She had two teeth and her favorite food was pureed spinach.
In other words: the girl was earning her keep.
I adore Gillian, of course. I love how she kicks wildly when she sees my face up close from the vantage point of the changing table. I love her giggles when David pokes his nose into her cheek, which is inexplicably ticklish. I love that everyone says she looks like me. I especially love how her face beams like a lighthouse when Eliza bends down to poke her in the nose. But we’re just getting tired of her infancy, that’s all.
The thing is, with Eliza, the timeline looked like this:
- Weeks 1-6: She doesn’t sleep much but she hardly cries. Thank god we don’t have a colicky baby.
- Weeks 6 – 9: OH MY GOD SHUT UP WHAT’S WRONG WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER AM I POISONING HER?
- Weeks 10 – Five months: God, I wish she’d just SLEEP.
- Five months on: We have the cutest baby in the whole wide world.
With Gillian, it’s been more:
- Weeks 1-3: Hospital NICU. Breeze.
- Weeks 4 – 12: She’s so mellow. She sleeps for four to five hours at a time. I wish she wouldn’t barf so much, though.
- Four months to five months: She rolled over EARLY for her age! Brilliant! I wish she wouldn’t barf so much, though.
- Six months: I really. Wish. She wouldn’t. Barf. So. Much.
I remember being on hospital bedrest, writing about how the first two days were kind of easy, just because we had to power through the first 48 hours. Get through two days, and her lungs will be perfecto! Problem was, of course, that I made it through the first 48 hours just fine, and then I lay there in limbo, waiting. And waiting. And not even waiting very long, but by the time they rolled me into the OR for my C-section, I was thanking the gods for the infection I’d gotten. Six days on bedrest and I was done. I’d have made a crappy spy.
I feel like that’s where we are now. Every parent goes through the awful hazing of the first three months, the sleeplessness, the exhaustion, the crying, the baby’s crying–all of it compounded, of course, by however many other kids live in your house. But at the end of that is the shining light of babyhood: at six months, you’ll get real kid clothes, solid foods and solid poop, sitting up and rolling around and working toward crawling.
I feel like we’ve been stuck at four months old for three months now. I’m starting to not want to pick up and cuddle my baby because I know it’s going to end in a trail of barf running down my arm and onto my pants. She’s strong–so strong!–strong enough to do a full cobra and then contract into near-downward dog, all at 5:14 AM while I’m begging her to please, please go to sleep. She’s still only 14 pounds, which makes her too small for night-weaning and, therefore, sleep training. We’re thinking about moving on to rice cereal, but then my mind plays games: is four months too young for rice cereal? Or is her belly more like five months? Or six? If I feed her rice cereal, will she keep it down better? Or will the barf just get really gross? She’s been so close to rolling over for weeks and weeks, and I keep thinking she’s going to do it, but she doesn’t, so does that mean she’s behind? Or ahead?
Every baby has an eight-week window of development; there’s a range of skills, because every infant develops differently. But her window is more like 20 weeks. She’s either a month ahead or a month behind. Eight weeks behind or just right. Thank god she’s a second kid, or we’d really be going bananas.
My sister-in-law had a barfy baby and assured us he grew out of it at six months. Great, I thought. She’ll be six months old when she’s eight months old. Right in time for the holidays. Please, Gillygirl: be six months old at eight months for mommy.