5 months old

Rory James,

This month has been a crazy one. Extreme highs and extreme lows, but it seems as though our lives are starting to balance out a bit more which is a huge relief.

Because you started rolling over last month, that meant that you started rolling in your crib. You'd never slept on your stomach before so we weren't sure what to do. We tried rolling up a few blankets and placing them by your sides but you'd roll right on top of them. We'd get up over and over and over every night to turn you onto your back because being on your stomach made you extremely upset, to say the least. We also had to wean you off your swaddle, which we'd always depended on to keep you asleep. You had just come off of your few weeks of teething as well.

I don't know that others will ever understand the desperation that comes with chronic exhaustion. You hardly smiled anymore. You would last barely 45 minutes between naps, and then those naps would never go longer than half an hour. My entire life was spent bouncing you to sleep while you cried and cried and cried. All day and all night. Andy would come home from school and I'd burst into tears and hand you over to him. Week after week after week of this. I finally talked to your pediatrician, who said that we needed to stop interfering and let you figure out how to put yourself to sleep. After multiple conversations with my mom, my aunt Lara, and Andy, we started trying the Weissbluth Method (Happy Sleep, Habits Happy Child).

We moved your crib out of our room and into your own. Andy couldn't figure out why that broke my heart. You're getting big, and you're no longer my newborn baby boy. You're suddenly old enough for your own room, your own space, and it makes me so sad. We hung up black out curtains and put in a loud fan for ambient noise. The first night you cried it out, we'd been bouncing you for over an hour. You were fed, you were clean, and you were overtired. There was nothing we could do to help you anymore, so we put you in your crib and shut the door. It was excruciating. You had flipped over onto your stomach, but we knew that you had to figure out how to fall asleep that way. It took 25 minutes, and then you were quiet. And you slept for a 3 hour stretch, which was longer than you'd slept in weeks.

I wish I could say that was it, and then you were an angel and slept perfectly from then on, but that's definitely not true. We made mistakes that confused you, and the next time we let you cry it out it'd be even longer. There was one day where you cried for over an hour, twice in a night. I can't even tell you how excruciatingly painful it was for me. I'd sob and sob. It was physically hurt to listen to you, I felt sick to my stomach, so I'd take the keys and go on a drive and call my mom and ask are we hurting him? am I awful? are we doing the right thing? but I knew we were. As hard as it was to let you cry, we were really honestly helping you and I believe that.

It's so much better now. The details of the past few weeks have been a blur, but it's all definitely easier. Not perfect, but easier. You've learned to fall asleep on your own. We can put you in your crib while you're still awake and you'll immediately roll to your side, yawn, and go to sleep. That is HUGE. We have climbed MOUNTAINS to get to this point. Your naps last for over an hour almost every time now. You'll stay awake 60-90 minutes before you're ready for your next nap. You take 3-4 naps every day, which is more than I'd like but I'll take it. You still nurse up to four times every night, which is our next hill to tackle. I'm not sure how to keep you from waking up so much at night, and when you wake up, I'm not sure how else to calm you down but to feed you. But we're all happy again, and I'm absolutely willing to sacrifice some of my sleep for us all to stay that way.

I kind of hate that this last month has basically been all about your sleep habits, but well, whatdoyado. These are still things I want to remember though, as hard as they were, like after you've been crying for a while you'll do that post-crying hiccup/gasp thing that is just gut wrenching. We can hear it on the monitor, and it makes me cry every time. Sometimes as I'm putting you to sleep you'll growl at me, just kind of a "ehhhh" sound, and you'll do it until the moment your eyes are closed and you're asleep. For a while, instead of a growl it was a gurgle. Literally, you'd be gurgling in the back of your throat. It was so annoying, but so funny. I can catch your tired signals way before your dad can. Your eyes get glassy and you start staring at things. If you get overtired you yell at us. You don't cry, you just talk louder and louder until you're yelling, and by that point we know it's going to take a lot longer to get you to fall asleep. After a nap you'll wake up with the most adorable tired eyes, and they look just like your dad's. I love that because it's showing me that you're getting a real deep sleep. There's a round light fixture in your bedroom that you stare at while your eyes are closing. You follow it with your eyes as we bounce around the room. We've centered on a lullaby that is yours now and I sing it every time I put you to sleep.

Your attention span is incredible. You can play with one toy for up to 30 minutes. But when I try and feed you you are distracted by everything. Seriously, if anybody says a word, POP! you're off and searching for the source of the sound. I used to watch tv while I nursed you but you get too interested in what's going on, I have to mute it.

At your last doctor's appointment you were 16lbs 6.5oz and 27.25 inches tall. 65th percentile in weight, 99th percentile in height. You are a giant. You got your second round of immunizations at your last appointment, and they barely affected you at all. You were smiling up at the doctor again by the end of your appointment, you goon. We've gone a size up in diapers and in clothes, so now you're in size 3 diapers and can wear anything from 3-9 months, depending on the brand.

You are getting super coordinated. You grab at everything. Grabbing books, grabbing hair, grabbing our food, grabbing grabbing grabbing. You make a claw-like motion with your fist, just open and closing it over and over. You're able to put your teething toys straight into your mouth now, though they don't entertain you for very long. Your favorite things to chew on are still your fingers, and occasionally you'll pull up your feet and suck on your big toe. Literally, you'll suck on it. It's adorable. I haven't noticed any teething for a while, though your gums are getting rather bumpy. I bet a tooth will pop through really soon.

Lately, our bedtime routine goes like this: every 3 days or so you'll get a bath, then we lotion up, daddy puts you in a clean diaper and fresh pajamas and he'll read you a story in the rocking chair, then I'll feed you one last time. After that, I'll sing you a few songs, rock you for a while, and put you in your crib even if you're still awake. You've figured out that it's bedtime and we're not coming back to get you for a while, so you'll turn over and go to sleep. As I'm rocking you though, you love to touch my face and smile and do everything you can to get me to laugh. I can't help it, I'll play with you for a while. You are just too gosh darn cute.

You roll over every single chance you get, but you still can't roll from your tummy to your back. I don't know what else to do but flip you over every few minutes. Moments after I flip you back, you'll roll over again. It's a tiring game we play. You're getting really strong and can look up at the ceiling from your stomach. Lately you've been doing everything you can to try and turn yourself back over but you just can't figure it out! You'll throw your butt up in the air and try to caterpillar your way around, you'll squirm and wriggle and do a superman pose, all to no avail. You can only roll to your left, so we have a certain spot in your crib where we'll place you specifically so you'll be able to roll over and not hit any bars. Still, I'll go in and check on you and you'll be completely perpendicular.

I sit you in your Bumbo on the table every time I make myself a meal and as I eat you watch me intently. You'll follow the spoon as it travels from my plate to my mouth, and sometimes you'll even make a chewing motion. I've been planning on holding off on solids for another month, but yesterday I was making banana bread and you were eyeing the applesauce like you NEEDED it, so I gave you a lick off my finger and you went nuts for it.  We don't have any baby spoons yet so I kept giving you bite after bite off of my finger and you were swallowing just like you should and kept grabbing at my hands to give him more. It's making me consider really 'officially' starting you on solids now!

You can sit up for a few seconds at a time and it's amazing! Sometimes when you start falling you right yourself and pull yourself back up. I can't wait for you to really be able to sit by yourself for a while. I know that will make bath time a lot easier. Whoever designed those baby bathtubs is an idiot, because we struggle with it every single time. You're finally not afraid of bath time anymore, though when I turn on the water to wash your hair you freak out every time, but daddy is usually there to calm you down.

Your hair is verging on ridiculous. You still have a bald spot on the back of your head, though some hair is growing back and it's getting prickly. Your hair on the top is so long and fuzzy it's starting to look like a toupee. You have a cowlick that always flies up on the back of your head no matter how much we wet it down.

Now that it's getting nice outside we take you on walks in the stroller. You never say a word, you just observe the world around you and are fascinated by it. The past few days have been extra nice and we've gone out and sat on a patch of grass and watched the cars go by. You love those cars. When the train whistle blows it startles you every time and you'll search and search for the noise. When the wind blows in your face your eyes scrunch up and you try and spit it back. It's hilarious.

You laugh now! You laugh multiple times every day! I think sometimes you even fake laugh to get a reaction out of us. You've been so happy lately. Things that make you laugh: Being thrown in the air by daddy - especially when you're naked or just in your diaper, tickle monster, when we eat your face and neck, when I hold you in my arms and squeeze you tight, whenever you are surprised, when we laugh back at you, when we make obnoxious noises or faces. Just today, I was squeezing you really tight and you were just laughing and laughing. I think that is the sweetest sound I'll ever hear.

I feel so optimistic now. Everything is getting so much better, and now that you seem to be caught up on sleep we are all so much happier and we are enjoying every day. I love you baby! You are my life, my best buddy, and I love being your mama so so much.

See other 'letters to Rory' here. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this letter to Rory! Your optimistic take on your experiences with motherhood is very infectious and refreshing! Just like the viral video about that job offer, which turned out to be the description of a full-time mom. Motherhood can be hard, but seeing that heavenly smile form your child more than makes up for everything, right?

    Julie Louly @ BabyPlus


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