Status Report

So it’s been awhile. Let’s get you up to date.

Jimmy has taken his first shuffles as he learns to crawl.

He is also starting to wave goodbye, say Mama and Dada, and generally terrorize everything lower than three feet off the ground. His clinginess to me has been exacerbated lately (I’m guessing) by teething — he cut one bottom tooth and is working on pushing out it’s next-door neighbor. You can see his first tooth in the photo at right.

toothWe took him to his first baseball game — Orioles v. Tigers — and he had a blast watching all the people and chewing on the seats. Currently, his favorite things to do include playing with his stacking rings and cups, banging on daddy’s laptop, and grabbing the dogs’ faces.

He is not so excited about sleeping on his own or being more than six inches away from his mama. We are working on these things. I am ready, at this point, to lengthen the tether, especially because I can’t take a three-minute shower without him screaming bloody murder while trying to claw his way out of his play pen or away from his poor heartbroken daddy to get to me. First of all, my legs are getting really hairy. More importantly, it’s not good for Jimmy to unravel every time I walk out of the room.

The interesting part is that Jimmy does fabulously when I am not home. He is overwhelmingly happy and playful when I’m not around. But as soon as I walk in the door, both at home and at school, it’s tears and furious scrambling  — by all his limited means — toward me. I don’t know if I’ve somehow created this (admittedly very lovable) monster or if it’s just a phase. If it is a phase, I’m wondering if my attempts to ameliorate the behavior (distracting him with a toy rather than picking him up, comforting him in his crib rather than on my chest) are totally pointless or if we can still chalk them up as “character building.”

It all feels like a giant experiment. I just hope the all the parental fumbling I’m doing doesn’t err on the side of emotional scarring. As I write that I realize it sounds ridiculous and I’m probably doing alright.

Deductions

Have just returned from a lovely family vacation to the beach, via a packed-to-the-gills minivan rocking a turtle top. Lots of togetherness. Lots of sand. And lots of tears from Mr. James every time I walked out of the room. The most heartwrenching episode occurred the night we left him with his Granny up on the balcony to take a ten-minute walk on the beach; we could hear him screaming bloody murder even above the crashing of black waves and the roar of traffic on Coastal Highway. When we walked back in, he reached out his arms for me and, red and bleary and covered in snot, smiled.

I have come to believe that Jimmy is screaming for me, at least lately, not out of some overwhelming needy love but rather simply because he is hungry. Last night, he ate a remarkable seven times between his 5 p.m. school pick-up and 1 a.m., when he finally fell asleep for the night. As 5 p.m. approaches again, I am preparing myself for another long night pinned in a chair by a ravenous (and luckily still toothless) suckerfish.

My late bedtime transpired into an inordinate proportion of today being spent spacing out on Internet news, and it seems to me that some remarkable scientific developments have come to the foreground in the past day or so. First, they think they’ve found a way to activate the endurance gene, which has the potential to make svelteness a human standard — without the need for abhorrent exercise. If it weren’t for the fact that they’ll have to inject something into your brain that literally alters your genetic patterns, I’d be signing up for the clinical trials. Also, they discovered a crazy new pot-bellied dinosaur while excavating in Utah, are finding evidence linking nitrites in processed meats to Alzheimer’s, and have made amazing progress in the development of an actual cloak of invisibility.

All this, and Walmart has the front of their store stocked with school supplies already. Utter insanity.

Sleepless

We’ve been experiencing sleeping issues, which — by the looks of a quick Google search — appears to be one of the most angst inducing conditions in early parenthood. It’s not the getting up at 2 a.m. that bothers me. My eagerness to make Jimmy feel loved makes every one of our interactions oddly cheerful, no matter the hour. It’s the 3 p.m. slump that is getting to me. Heavy eyelids, a general sense of confusion at work, misguided ideas about dinner (don’t maraschino cherries count as a vegetable?).

Getting Jimmy to sleep is easy enough. Laying him in his crib is touch and go. Keeping him there for the duration of the night has become impossible. He wakes around 2, sometimes again around 5, and seems to want nothing more than to be held. He falls asleep almost instantly in my (and only my) arms, but maneuvering him back into his crib has become a painstaking process. If you could be cradled by a warm, familiar body while you slept, wouldn’t you prefer it to the cold solitude of an empty bed — a bed that, due to current safety practices, is devoid of any blankets or even stuffed animal  friends?

We tried letting Jimmy cry it out. He is persistent. He goes berserk. It seems clear that he does not have any self-calming skills. This is my fault, probably, as I’ve given him only small opportunities to learn them. He flips, he flails, he turns himself purple. We’ve learned that he can sustain this for at least an hour. An hour is too long.

At this point, I don’t know how to backtrack, and I’m torn as to whether I even need to. He’s a baby, and aren’t we just here as mothers to meet our baby’s needs, especially in the first year? I truly don’t believe you can really spoil a baby. A toddler maybe. But a baby? Can a baby’s habits really be classified as “bad”? I don’t believe so.

So I will continue to zombie through my days as long as it takes Jimmy to go through this new phase. I don’t feel it’s my right as a new mother to a decent night’s sleep, every night. Maybe once in a while, but not every night, or even every other night. This is exactly what I signed up for when I decided to have a child.