Five months. This is it. I remember a friend saying that this is the stage you dream about when you dream about having a baby. The squishy cheeks, the big toothless grins and giggles, the cuddles that envelope you with their trust and sweetness. We’re in it, deep, deep in love with this little one.
In a way, I feel like I’m finally emerging from a long tunnel, one that I knew I would get through if I just kept my eyes toward the light. That may sound a little melodramatic, but that’s the way it feels. I don’t know if other mamas who are younger than me feel this same way. But when you’re 41 and you’ve wanted to be a mom your whole life, as long as you can remember, you have pretty high expectations of yourself. Expectations that are probably impossible to meet.
I have felt this compulsive need to do everything right, to be perfect. To do everything in my power to give Theo every single thing he needs to reach the potential he was born with. I know he feels loved, but does he feel smothered with love? Do I give him enough opportunities to be independent? Am I playful enough? Do I read to him too much? Should I have more toys for him to play with? Does he get enough sleep? Does he get the right quality sleep? Will we permanently damage him if we let him cry to learn to sooth himself to sleep?
And then slowly, it starts to get easier, this compulsive need to do everything right. We haven’t dropped him. He hasn’t stopped breathing. He has chubby little rolls on his legs to prove he’s eating well and healthy. His bright eyes focus on ours, and his smile is gold. He seems to like us and this life. It took a while, but at five-and-a-half months, I feel like I can exhale. I’m completely confident putting him in the car and taking him shopping with me. If he cries in the car (which he often does, still), it’s not the end of the world. I know he’s fine, and he’ll be all smiles as soon as we reach our destination. I now know it won’t hurt him to miss a nap so we can go to our Baby-and-Me class. In fact, it’s the best thing we could do.
It feels good, moving from this place of ‘Am I doing this right? Am I enough?’ to ‘I may not do everything right, but it’s okay.’ Theo will be okay.
And in the meantime, Theo has been joyfully growing into this rosy-cheeked, happy little boy. Five months is magic. He can roll over from back-to-belly, but he still can’t quite figure out what to do with that arm, to get from belly-to-back. While on his tummy, he can push his forearms into the floor to hold his chest up and look around. And when he’s on his back, he’s usually in ‘happy baby’ pose, hands grasping his feet. He hasn’t quite put his toes in his mouth yet, but he’s close. And just in the last few days, he can sit on his own! Within just a few days, he went from not being able to sit unsupported from sitting for a few seconds to sitting for a minute or more. He’s so cute, but he seems very unimpressed by the achievement. We can tell, he just wants to walk. Every time I pull him to sitting, he plants his feet on the ground and pulls himself to standing. Little stinker.
His personality is just blossoming. We can see he has an adventurous streak, because the harder we play, the more he laughs. He knows what he wants. He now has started to cry if I take something away from him (like a power cord) or if the kitties walk away from him. When he sees the kitties, he gets very excited and peddles his feet, trying to go after them. And he shows no signs of stranger anxiety. Taking him shopping is actually quite fun, because he loves to smile and ‘talk’ to everyone he sees. He’s very observant and loves to sit our lap and listen to us talk or stare at visitors, usually with a thumb or three fingers in his mouth. The thumb-sucking is so cute.
And the biggest development yet: Theo sleeps in his crib in his room, for both nighttime and naps! I am going to do a whole separate blog post on the process we went through for this transition and what this shift means in our lives, but for now, I will just say we are so, so proud of our little boy. He took on this big life change with bravery and grace. Now, he goes to sleep between 6:30 and 7:30 pm and sleeps (with two or three wakings to nurse) until 5:30 or 6:30 am. He takes three naps a day in his crib, usually two that are 90 minutes long and one shorter one. This is such a huge change from the insanity that was our sleep schedule, including our ninja-parent tactics to get him to sleep. Despite my joy in knowing he is now getting good, consistent sleep, I already miss cuddling him for his naps. I am very grateful that I really enjoyed and cherished these last weeks of holding him for naps, knowing they wouldn’t last forever.
I know this post is about Theo, but I’m going to talk about my husband for just a moment. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll be saying it for the rest of my life, but I don’t know how I got so lucky in life. Elie is as good a Dad as he is a husband, which means he is just the best. He’s loving and kind, playful and adventurous. He never loses his patience, never gets upset. He’s supportive and nurturing. And boy, does he love his son. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing the two of them together. Life with my boys is so good.
This post was written when Theo was 5 1/2 months old.