How is it possible that it is almost November? That Jackson is five months old? This past month has been a like a blink. I don’t even know where it went.
It’s been an exciting month for our little boy, though. At his four-month well visit, he weighed in at 18lbs 1.5oz (92%) and 27.5 in. long (97%). For comparison, at NINE MONTHS, his big sister was 17lbs 10.5 oz and 28 in. long! At four months, I think she weighed only 14lbs and some change. For the time being, this kid is a tank. I feel bad for him, though, because his growth is outpacing his development somewhat. He’s too big for me to carry him in the car seat anymore (and I’m pretty close to installing the toddler seat, I think—he’s about maxed out the infant seat), but he’s also not quite old and coordinated enough to know that he needs to hold onto my shoulder when I’m carrying him on my hip. Which made for a scary moment or two early on when he would arch backward before I realized he wasn’t holding on. He can throw his weight over easily to roll onto his tummy from his back, but for some reason, he still hasn’t figured out that he can roll back the other way (even though he was doing this pretty reliably at 10 weeks old). And he’s big enough to be riding in the child seat in the grocery cart and sitting in highchairs at restaurants (and we’ve just recently tried both, as you’ll see below), but he still can’t maintain a sitting position just yet. He’ll get there, but in the meantime, he’s a little bit like an awkward teenager who hasn’t grown into his body just yet. Maybe all that extra juicy fat on his thighs is what helps him take his shots so well, though. He barely squawked for the Pentacel, and although he screwed up his face until it was red and screamed when he got the Prevnar (which apparently burns quite a bit), that lasted about 15 seconds before he was back to his regular smiley self.
The big news this month is that he got his first two teeth. They came in at 4 months and 10 days. Again, for comparison, Hudson didn’t get any teeth until 6 months and 7 days. Jackson is managing them pretty well, though. After a few early biting incidents while nursing, he hasn’t bitten me again, thankfully. It’s amazing how the appearance of teeth go such a long way toward making them look more like little people and less like babies, although he’s definitely still baby-like—I’m not ready to let go of that just yet.
He’s growing so much more interactive every day. He will give a smile to just about anyone, although he has begun to eyeball strangers, and if he doesn’t like what he sees, he’ll stick out his fat lower lip and, if I don’t intervene quickly enough, let out a fearful howl. He’s finally begun to pay attention to books, enjoying both looking at the pictures and flipping the pages of board books. Yesterday, we were out for lunch at Chipotle and I had him in a highchair next to us (for only the second time). He started to fidget and I realized I hadn’t yet attached any toys to the puffy seat cover we use—I’m remembering so many of my Hudson tricks but only in piecemeal fashion. I remembered, though, that I still had my “just in case” book, “Put Me in the Zoo,” in my purse, the book I always kept in there for whenever Hudson and I found ourselves waiting in line or otherwise bored. I never could bring myself to take it out after she died. I handed it to him and he was occupied for the rest of the meal, at times mouthing the corners of a book already well-loved by his big sister, at other times looking as though he were actually reading it. He loves peek-a-boo, music, singing and dancing, and watching cars go by on the street.
We had lots of adventures this month, including two trips home to North Carolina (with Jackson’s first trip to the Old Well in Chapel Hill), his first (and second) trip to the zoo, and a trip to Gravelly Point to watch planes land. We haven’t been to a pumpkin patch. Ed and I both worried that it would just be too hard for us to go, remembering the wonderful time we had with Hudson two years ago and seeing so many other little kids who are the age Hudson should be now doing all the things she should be doing at a pumpkin patch. Our Brookland crew (all of Hudson’s little friends and, now, their little siblings) made a group trip to one last weekend while we were in North Carolina, and the photos just made me ache for the life we once knew. But I haven’t yet ruled out the pumpkin patch altogether. Even though I know Jackson won’t really get anything out of it right now, I wonder if I’ll later regret not having those photos from his first Halloween. So maybe we’ll still make a trip this weekend (when it will no doubt be decidedly more insane, since it’s the weekend right before Halloween, but oh, well).
And while it’s far too early to crow about this, I’ll just note for posterity’s sake that we seem to have had a very successful beginning to our sleep training plan this past weekend. We started at almost the exact same age we did with Hudson, the weekend before the 5-month birthday. We use the pick-up/put-down method from the Baby Whisperer books (when the baby cries, you pick him up and hold him just long enough for him to settle himself—no bouncing or shushing—and then you put him immediately back down, and if he cries again, you pick him back up, and you do this over and over again until he peters out and falls asleep). It worked in two nights with Hudson and seems to have done the same with Jackson (although he has been significantly more work in the meantime!). With Hudson, I was up with her for an hour and forty-five minutes the first night and 45 minutes the next, and then she slept through the third night. But she was only up the one time on both nights. With Jackson, he woke up at all three of his regular waking times, so I had to get up and do the pick-up/put-down multiple times, but the longest I was up any given time was an hour. Sometimes it worked in as few as 20 minutes. But last night (the third night), he slept through the night on his own—he woke up a few times and we heard him fuss for a few moments, once escalating just enough to where I got up and got ready to go in and pick him up, but every time, he settled himself back down and went to sleep on his own. And he’s doing the same for bedtime and naps, at least so far. Again, I know better than to begin boasting about any of this, but for now, it looks like the hard work (which I am really feeling in my back and hips from picking up and putting down an 18+lb baby a few hundred times, let alone just general fatigue from lack of sleep) may be paying off. The trade-off is a 7AM wake-up call (instead of the late snooze and snuggle we used to take in the morning), but I’ll take it if it means that he’s sleeping 12 hours in a row. I might finally be able to stop worrying about him being too sleep deprived. Now I just have to train myself to stop waking up and waiting for him to wake up. And to stop worrying that he’s not waking up because he’s stopped breathing, which is way tougher.
The older he gets, the more and more he looks like his big sister. It’s not constant, but there are times where I look at him and have the breath grabbed right out of me because I see her face there. And often a photo will turn out and the resemblance is just so striking. And the older he gets, the more I miss her, too. At each new stage of his development, I can just see how they would be interacting, how she’d be trying to get him to learn and do things faster than he’s ready to, trying to help us put him to bed or down for a nap, how she’d talk to him and sing to him and make him laugh. And the older he gets, the closer he gets to that age where she started to really take off as a small person, the closer he gets to doing all the silly things she used to do, and, eventually, to doing all the things she never got to do. To say that this time is bittersweet is an understatement of monumental proportions.
I am so in love with this little boy. And although I’ve certainly loved him and been in love with him to a certain degree since he was born, the bonding has changed over this last month. Maybe every parent goes through this with young infants—after all, that initial period is just so intense and the initial rewards so few (including really good snuggling and the intrinsic reward of realizing how amazing it is that you created something so awesome). I’m not sure if it was because I missed Hudson so much or what, but I was feeling intense guilt that I was having trouble enjoying Jackson more. I know better than most how important it is to enjoy every moment, especially when I think of my friends who are still waiting to hold another child in their arms after a devastating loss. And in the hardest moments, when I felt broken on top of broken, I was able to take a step back and see the big picture and remember how fortunate I am to have this precious child, how fortunate I am to have memories of his big sister to share with him. But these last few weeks have ushered in something new, something wonderful between Jackson and me, and I’m so grateful for it. And I felt somewhat better when I was reading my “Portable Pediatrician” last night where she notes that the bonding is very “intense” during this period, to the point that the parents have far greater separation anxiety than do the babies. So maybe I’m just normal and only think I’m not normal because the world in which I now live is not normal. Either way, I’m nuts over this kid, so I guess I don’t really care.
I’ve already posted a lot of photos from this month, but here are a few more in case you need a Jackson fix.
First trip to the Old Well at UNC
“HC”: big sis keeping his toes warm (and I think he looks so like her here)
First time riding in the grocery cart
First time sitting in a highchair
Jackson at One Month
Jackson at Two Months
Jackson at Three Months
Jackson at Four Months