Although he can get around reliably by scootching on his back, Robin’s now experimenting with moving around on his tummy—yesterday and today I saw him make some progress that way. He also will push himself up on hands and knees and rock forward and backwards in place, which my mother claims is a reliable indicator that real crawling will soon commence.
Sam took this hilarious picture:
And also this nice one:
You can see that top tooth coming in now!
Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay’s Dance and Books & Islands In Ojibwe Country
My father, knowing that Louise Erdrich is one of my favorite authors, suggested I read her account of motherhood, The Blue Jay’s Dance—and when I told him how much I’d liked it, he sent me the follow-up, Books & Islands in Ojibwe Country. I loved both.
Dad was kind enough to tell me that my blog reminded him of The Blue Jay’s Dance. I think that’s because new motherhood suits itself very well to the style of writing that Erdrich adopts in that book, which is also the essential blog format: short entries, diverse in subject and not necessarily forming any direct chain of thought or experience, but turning and returning to the same themes.
Erdrich’s experiences are of course suffused with the particulars of her own life, but still one of the great pleasures of both books were the moments of recognition, the bits where I said to myself that’s right, that’s right! I did, felt, said, saw the exact same thing!
One of those moments, where she’s describing the power and flexibility of the Ojibwe language:
There are lots of verbs for exactly how people shift position. Miinoshin describes how someone turns this way and that until ready to make a determined move, iskwishin how a person behaves when tired of one position and looking for one more comfortable…Mookegidaazo describes the way a baby looks when outrage is building and coming to the surface where it will result in a thunderous squall.
For at night, as she curls up or sprawls next to me and as I fall asleep, I hold on to her foot. This is as much for my comfort as to make sure that she doesn’t fall off the bed. As I’m drifting away, I feel sorry for anyone else who is not falling asleep this way, holding on to her baby’s foot. The world is calm and clear. I wish for nothing. I am not nervous about the future. Her toes curl around my fingers.
I have written about co-sleeping before, but I skimmed over that part: how very sweet it is to fall asleep with a baby cuddled against you. I don’t hold Robin’s foot; his kicking reflex is too strong for that; but I do fall asleep with one hand around his belly, feeling the rise and fall of his breath. And for anybody who has ever gone to sleep hugging a pillow or a teddy bear, a baby is so much better.
I joke sometimes that a happy baby is my second-favorite kind of baby, but my favorite is a sleeping one. It’s because at these times I am flooded with the same serenity that Erdrich described.
Co-sleeping is nice for the baby too. There’s a whole bit in my baby book that made me feel smug about it:
But be aware of some possible problems ahead: As her separation anxieties intensify in the next few months, she may start to resist going to bed, and she may wake up more often looking for you. During this difficult period, you may need to experiment with several strategies to find those that help your baby sleep. For example, some children go to sleep more easily with the door open (so they can hear you); others develop consoling habits, such as sucking their thumbs or rocking…To repeat, this period can be extremely difficult for parents. After all, it’s emotionally and physically exhausting to listen to your child cry, and you’ll probably respond with a combination of pity, anger, worry, and resentment. But remember, her behavior is not deliberate. Instead, she’s reacting to anxieties and stresses that are natural at her age.
This “difficult period” is not difficult at all if you sleep with your baby! Nor is the baby anxious or stressed. He doesn’t cry, and he doesn’t display his sadness by rocking or thumb-sucking. He wakes up, finds his mommy right there, and instantly, happily, goes back to sleep. Problem solved!
I said before: people have big arguments about this but I don’t see what’s to argue about. Some people do it and some people don’t. Presumably everybody just picks the sleeping arrangements that work best for their family, right? There is nothing here to argue about. And I still believe that. I’m sure co-sleeping isn’t right for every family. But it’s working great for ours.
Anyway! Louise Erdrich! She’s an awfully good writer, and I really like these books.
Robin’s started doing that baby thing where he holds out his arms when he wants to be picked up. I’m pleased as punch. Anything that helps him indicate his needs makes life easier for me.
This excellent photo of Robin’s first tooth was taken by his Nanita:
It has been joined by two additional teeth, one on the top and one more on the bottom. We have been putting them to use testing the new frontiers of taste. Squash received a lukewarm reception at best, but Robin got genuinely enthusiastic about creamed peas.
I have been using a caviar spoon to feed him. Who’s a privileged baby?
It was really great to see my mom and Mark, although their visit was, if you ask me, too brief. Sam and I are especially grateful that they babysat Robin for a night, allowing us to go off and have a great time eating sushi.
Here’s a nice picture Mom took of Robin and Mark:
We’ve started giving Robin a little bit of rice cereal. He’s taken to it really well, opening his mouth for the spoon and taking the food eagerly.
Now I can’t wait to introduce him to the wide world of taste sensations!
Robin’s favorite new toy is an ordinary wooden spoon. It has, he has discovered, so many different uses: he can poke things with it, bang things with it, twirl it around in his hands, and of course he can also put it in his mouth.
Here is a bonus picture of Robin making a funny baby face.
I was re-reading the baby book Dr. Simons gave us, as Robin is about to graduate to a new chapter (babies 7 to 12 months old). It has a whole section on what to look for in child care providers, including this sentence that made me stop and go “Whaaa?”:
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has gotten plenty of attention in recent years, and many parents now know the importance of placing a baby to sleep on her back to minimize the risk of SIDS. Obviously, this same precaution should be followed in child care settings, where 20 percent of all SIDS cases occur.
Twenty percent? SIDS always occurs when a child is asleep; only a fraction (a large fraction, but still a fraction) of children go to daycare at all; and the kids who are in daycare are awake most of that time. So if twenty percent of all SIDS cases occur in child care settings, then isn’t that incredibly suspicious? I mean, yikes. That’s a crazy statistic to be given without any explanation or comment!
I did a little more reading and found that, yes, SIDS is disproportionately associated with daycare. The risk is three times higher for a child in daycare, and the incidence of SIDS deaths peaks around 2-4 months, “which is about the time that working mothers return to work and place their children in child care.”
I don’t have anything against daycare—I went to daycare, and I was fine—but I think this should really be more a part of the conversation about SIDS. I got a lot of information about SIDS from the hospital but I had to tease out for myself this basic fact about the risk. I wonder if it’s something people don’t want to talk about because it suggests an even more unsettling possibility about the prevalence of child abuse in daycare settings?
Of course, SIDS is only one of the many, many things that scare me now. I used to be fearless, really, I lacked even the most rudimentary self-protective instinct. I liked high places, fast cars, big dogs, bad neighborhoods, dangerous substances. I liked fire and storms and things that blow up. This baby has transformed me into an utter craven coward. I’ve had a great time clinging to the back of a motorcycle and careening through traffic, but now I cannot push a stroller across the street without anxiety. Every motorist, and half of the pedestrians, are a potential threat to my baby. Thanks to SIDS, I am even afraid of naps.
The good news on that front, however, is that according to this study I just looked up, 90 percent of SIDS deaths occur before 6 months. So we are mostly out of the woods on that one, at least.
So Twitter? Is this website? Where people, like, post what they happen to be doing right that minute, and so you can, like, virtually follow people around looking over their shoulder all day? If you use Firefox you can get a Twitter plug-in so that new Twitter updates (which are called “tweets,” isn’t that precious?) automatically get displayed in your browser.
Anyway I made Robin a Twitter account, so if you need that level of frequency and granularity in your Robin-reportage, you can get it here. You’ll have to sign into Twitter and become a Robin “follower” before you can see his updates. Let me be the first to assure you that you’re not missing a whole lot if you choose to skip it.