Dear Connor: Month Seven

Every day, it seems, my little baby boy gets bigger. Learns something new. Outgrows something else from his babyhood, whether it’s the shirt he wore to Thanksgiving or something as basic as breastfeeding.

Mommy’s milk supply had been dropping for a while, ever since we had to start supplementing with formula at four months, but the final straw coincided with a week of training in Ann Arbor. Mommy wasn’t able to take her proper morning and afternoon pump breaks for four days straight, and things were never the same after that. Mommy used to pump about three ounces every time; this month, it dropped down to just one ounce, and then even less.

The final partial bottle of pumped milk in the fridgeA couple of weeks ago, you started crying for a bottle after nursing in the mornings before Mommy went to work, and that (combined with the half-ounce pumping sessions) was when Mommy knew it was time to finish weaning you from the breast. You weaned yourself, really — if nothing comes out, you’re not going to stick around just for the comfort-suck. You want food, and if Mommy’s boob won’t provide it, you know the bottle will.

Mommy had planned to pump in the evenings before bed, to get you a full four-ounce bottle to eat one last time, but I think we’re done. Maybe you can eat the last couple of ounces as a snack, or mixed in with some solid food. The nursing bras are already in a bag to be donated to Goodwill, and there’s something wrong with the AC adapter on the breast pump, anyway. It’s just so sad to bid this part of our relationship goodbye.

Got my boy to eat his peas! Parenting win!But as one phase ends, another begins: you’re getting used to eating purees and mushy foods for dinner. Sometimes Mommy is lazy and doesn’t feed you your solid dinner, but she’s getting better with it. And so are you! You’re learning how to eat the food off of the spoon without Mommy having to cajole you into opening your mouth, then pretty much wiping the food off onto your palate. No, now you open your mouth like a little baby bird, and sometimes you even close your mouth a little too soon, because you’re so excited to get the food in.

This month, you’ve tried green beans, peas, bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocado. You’re never a fan of the veggies right off the bat, but everything is good when it’s mixed with just a little fruit. Mommy’s still making all your food herself, milling it with the food mill (or, with the banana and avocado, mooshing it with a fork).

In Daddy's La-Z-BoyWe’ve got some acorn and butternut squash hanging out at home, so you might get to try those soon. And chicken! Mommy and Daddy rarely cook meat at home anymore, so we bought some frozen chicken tenders especially for you, although you’re supposed to try a few more fruits and vegetables before we introduce meat.

Between the formula and the solid foods, you’re gaining plenty of weight. At seven months, you weigh 18 pounds even! You’re wearing sleepers in size 9 months, and are quickly outgrowing all your six-month clothes. We’re pulling out all the clothes we’ve been saving for when you get bigger, just to be sure we don’t miss out on the narrow window when you can wear them.

Mommy and Daddy bought you a Jumperoo, and you love it. It’s nice to let you occupy yourself for a few minutes — sometimes for up to an hour! — so we can get some grown-up things done, like cleaning the house. Now, when Mommy stands you up on her lap, you like to jump instead of just standing there.

Jumperoo!

You’re also much more likely to just chill out in your Pack-N-Play for more than five minutes before you get fussy. Now that you can grab stuff that’s around you, and now that you can roll around a bit, you can keep yourself busy for a good fifteen or twenty minutes in the playpen if we need to leave you there.

Having Tummy Time

You’re getting to be a mobile little guy! You roll from your back to your tummy every time we put you on the floor (or in your crib), and you’ve only just figured out how to roll from your tummy onto your back. You used to be super upset about waking up on your belly in the middle of the night, but you don’t seem to mind as much now. In fact, Mommy finds you sleeping on your tummy most of the time now — either that, or on your left side, facing your crib mirror.

Your bedtime routine looks a little something like this:

Side Sleeper5:45pm – Daddy leaves for work. Mommy feeds Mei Kitty.
6:00pm – Mommy puts you on the floor and makes herself dinner during the local news.
6:30pm – Mommy puts you in your Bumbo on the floor and feeds you dinner during the national news.
7:00pm – Chill/play time. Jumperoo or floor time.
7:30pm – Mommy will read you a book and give you one last bottle.
8:00pm – Time to rock Connor until he falls asleep. Sometimes Mommy watches a TV show while she rocks you.
9:00pm – Time to put Connor into his crib for the night.

We still don’t bathe you very often — about once a week, usually on Fridays — but when we do, you’ve been tolerating it a lot better than you used to. You’re usually pretty keen on it until the water starts to get chilly, and then you get upset.

Sometimes you’ll wake up in the middle of the night, especially when Daddy comes home early from work. Mommy needs to make sure you’re fed and changed before she leaves for work in the morning, or you’ll wake Daddy bright and early as soon as Mommy shuts the door behind her. As long as you take a nice, long morning nap, Daddy doesn’t mind too much. If you don’t, though, Daddy goes crazy from sleep deprivation, and that’s not good for anybody. Especially Daddy.

You’ve discovered your feet: they’re fun to grab and fun to gnaw on. In fact, you have a tendency to lean all the way forward and grab them when we’re trying to get you to sit up on your own.

Just in the past week or so, you’ve started mimicking Mommy and Daddy’s noises, which is super cute. One of us will cluck our tongue at you, or blow a raspberry, and you’ll try to do it back. You can usually do it pretty well. If we make a letter noise, though, like da-da-da or ba-ba-ba, you stare at our mouth. Sometimes you’ll try to make the sound back at us, but usually you just laugh at the funny sound.

Sadly, you got to go to your second funeral this month. Your Great-Aunt Elaine passed away after several years with dementia. She hadn’t been well enough to come to holidays in Cleveland for some time, and you never got to meet her. I guess the positive side is that you got to be the happy, smiling baby at the funeral, which always helps people to remember that life goes on.

Aunt Dee with ConnorCousin Nate with ConnorConnor asleep on the way home

As always, there’s so much more I could tell you about this month: you laugh when I sing and sign the ABCs to you, and you love being outside in the sunshine and the breeze, and you’re getting better about going to sleep at night, and you still have a big gummy toothless grin.

You’re growing so fast, and learning so much, that I’m afraid all this will slip by before I know it.

Closeup

Dear Connor: Month Six

Dear Connor,

Happy half-birthday! You’re getting so big and developing into your own person; sometimes it’s hard to believe that you’re the same little squigglebug we brought home from the hospital in the fall.

You’re big enough now that you can wear most of the clothes that have been too big for you until recently: Boba Fett from Uncle Phil, Green Lantern and Star Trek from Fake Aunt Sheryl, plus all kinds of other stuff that Mommy and Daddy picked up at sales and clearances before you were born. Your waist is still super skinny, though, so even though you’re in 6-month onesies, you’re still rocking 3-month pants.

(more…)

Dear Connor: Month Five

First, Connor, I want to address something I mentioned in your last update: Mommy and Daddy decided that we’re not moving to Swanton, after all. So, the downside is that you won’t get to live in Uncle Matt’s old room, or Daddy’s childhood home. The upside is that you’ll get to live much closer to interesting restaurants and things to do, and not live way out in the country. Mommy and Daddy are much happier when we have places to go and things to do, and we think you will be, too.

By the time you can read this, we will have moved to another house, anyway — one in a better school district, and with stuff that our current house doesn’t have, like central air and a dishwasher, and your very first home will exist to you only in stories and pictures (and drive-bys, if you really want to see the old neighborhood).

But back to focusing on the present! This time is flying by so fast, I don’t want to even think about wishing it away.

You still don’t seem to have any teeth coming in yet, but you certainly have most of the symptoms: drooling, chewing on your hand(s), tugging on your ear, and being occasionally fussy.

 

Mommy tried feeding you rice cereal a couple of times this past month, but you don’t seem to be interested yet. Maybe February will be the month that you decide that you’d like to try something outside your liquid diet.

 

About that… Mommy hasn’t been pumping often enough to keep up with how hungry little Connor has been, so we’ve had to start supplementing your breastmilk diet with formula. You don’t seem to mind. Sometimes Mommy feels guilty for not trying harder to keep up with your demand, but usually I realize that I’m doing the best I can. I can’t take another pump break at work without my productivity taking an even bigger hit than it already has, and you drain me so much at normal feedings that I can’t usually pump more than an ounce total after you’ve eaten from both sides. The doctor says you’ll continue to get the benefits of breastmilk, though, even if we’re supplementing, so that’s a good thing.

Mommy and Daddy bought you a used Bumbo seat from Once Upon A Child, then got a seat cover for it from Amazon. You hang out in it sometimes, and Mommy puts you in it when she tries to feed you cereal, since we don’t have a high chair for you yet. You like your Bumbo well enough for a little while, but we can’t keep you in it for long, or you get fussy. That’s true of just about anything, though: your floor gym, your Pack-N-Play…

Jealous Kitty

As you can tell from the picture, Mei Kitty is extremely jealous of all the attention you get from Mommy and Daddy. If Mommy is feeding you, Mei will go try to get Daddy to pet her. If Daddy’s home alone feeding you, she’ll rub up against his legs. We try to pay her as much attention as we can whenever we can, but we feel a little guilty for neglecting her sometimes. She’s used to being an only kitty.

You’ve had a few firsts this month, besides your first taste of rice cereal. You’ve also had your first bath where you didn’t cry! Grammy said to try putting a towel in the bathtub, so your back wouldn’t be up against the funny-feeling plastic. You loved it!

You also had your first piggyback ride and slept for your first night unswaddled:

 

Your biggest first, though — and it would technically go in next month’s post, if this one weren’t a couple of days late — is that you rolled over from your back to your tummy last night! While you were swaddled, no less:

You’ve been trying to make this happen all week now. Maybe now that you’ve done it once, you’ll be able to do it again without the swaddle to help you figure out what to do with that bottom arm…

You’re such a sweetie. Mommy and Daddy love you so much.

Smile!

Dear Connor: Month Four

Dear Connor,

This month’s update is a little late because Mommy has had to deal with some other things. Your Fake Aunt Sheryl came over to visit today, though, and she’s watching you as a gift to Mommy, so Mommy can write this note to you.

Your Grandpa — Daddy’s father — died right before Christmas, and that’s been hard. We’ve been very sad about it, but we’ve also been taking care of his funeral and what to do with his belongings.

Right now, it looks like we’ll all be moving out to Swanton eventually, into the house where Daddy grew up. The plan, if we do it, is to move you into Uncle Matt’s old bedroom. You’d have your own bathroom upstairs, too. The schools out there are much nicer than in Toledo, and the neighborhood is friendlier, even though there’s not as much to do.

But let’s talk about what you’re doing!

Connor and his Snugabunny

You’re so interactive now! You love to smile and giggle and babble, and you’ll “talk” with whoever will talk to you. All we have to do is smile at you, and you smile back and squeal. We’re really starting to see some personality in you: happy, mostly, and easy-going. You’re generally either calm or happy, and rarely fussy unless you’re hungry or overtired.

Connor likes to hold his hands together now

You hold your head up really steady now (although you still hate tummy time), and you like to sit upright on Mommy or Daddy’s lap and face out into the room so you can see what’s going on. You’ve discovered your hands, and you like to bring them together in front of you or gnaw on your fingers. That, along with your drooling, makes us think you’re getting ready to cut some teeth, but the doctor can’t see any coming in quite yet.

bathtime!

We don’t bathe you very often — every few weeks, although we should be bathing you at least every few days — but you seem to hate bath time a little less than you used to.

Mommy's little bear

You’re eating like crazy — Mommy’s breastmilk stash is finally gone, and Daddy had to start supplementing with formula today. You didn’t seem to mind, although you could definitely tell that it wasn’t what you were used to. The doctor says we can start feeding you rice cereal as soon as we want to try, then start giving you strained vegetables after that. Mommy’s looking forward to seeing what kinds of food you like!

Connor with Uncle Pete at Christmas

Mommy and Daddy hadn’t realized until Christmas that you definitely recognize our voices. It’s hard to tell when we’re the only voices around. Aunt Dee was holding you, though, and you turned your head when Mommy said something. It was kind of fun to see.

Sith in training

I hope this note doesn’t seem too rushed — Mommy just wants to be sure to get it written and posted, so it’s not much later than it already is. You’ve changed so much this month, I could write so much more about you and your cuteness.

It’s not a lie what I tell people: you do get cuter every day!

Before Connor's Four-Month Doctor Visit

Connor’s First Christmas

Connor's First Christmas

We almost didn’t go.

Our annual family celebration was moved from the usual Christmas Day to Christmas Eve, for various reasons, and we were all fine with that. For us, it only meant that we’d get to open presents at home on Christmas Day rather than Christmas Eve, and that perhaps we’d enjoy some Chinese for lunch, too.

Aaron had been making the plum pudding the day before Christmas Eve when he got the call that his father had died. It was stunning, shocking, totally unexpected, especially since Aaron had just talked to his Dad on the phone the day before. I hurried home from work early and watched Connor while Aaron and his brother dealt with the immediate issues out at their Dad’s house.

The next morning, Aaron managed to get some more administrative-type tasks done (like selecting a funeral home and providing the information for the death certificate) before we headed out to Cleveland. We considered staying home, but all we would have done would be to mourn and be angry and confused; better to do all those things around people who love us, rather than alone. So, we packed up the diaper bag and left, just a little later than we’d originally planned. (Aaron’s brother had thrown his back out a couple days prior, so he did stay home.)

Connor wore his Old Navy guayabera with his new jeans (he’s finally out of newborn pants!). It’s so rare that we take him somewhere that he’ll be out of his car seat and his outfit will be visible — when we do, when I know he’ll be passed around, I make sure to dress him up in his cutest outfit (that won’t fit him for long and should really be seen before we trade it in to the secondhand shop).

And passed around he was! Upon realizing that Connor’s Grandpa had never once held him, and that we didn’t have one photo of them together, I was adamant about photographing everyone as they held Connor.

Everyone loved holding Connor!

Dinner was pretty standard (but delicious) Christmas fare at the Bura household: chicken paprikash with spaetzles, a ham, roasted vegetables, and cheesy potatoes (which hadn’t been on the menu for years — everyone welcomed the triumphant return of Peggy’s potatoes).

My step-brother Philip was in the area, visiting from Oklahoma, so he made a special trip to Uncle Pete’s to see us and to meet Connor. It was great to see him, since we hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years. He managed to show up between dinner and dessert, so he got to try Aaron’s plum pudding, amongst other desserts. Phil didn’t stay long, but it was enough, and it was greatly appreciated.

Andrew loved his book!Aaron’s cousin Nate brought his two kids with him. His youngest, Andrew, is three years old, and it was fun for me to watch Aaron interact with him, especially during the gift-passing game that Aunt Dee organized (and that I so wanted to photograph or video, had I not been in the middle of playing along!). It was also fun to watch both Andrew and his sister Caitlin react to our presents for them; they genuinely liked their gifts, so score two points for Aaron and me! I had no idea that Andrew was into Cars, so the play-along Cars book with the toy tools was an even bigger hit than I’d thought it would be. And with the Muppets having a bit of a resurgence with their new movie, Caitlin was super excited to get a copy of The Great Muppet Caper to watch on her new laptop.

For everyone else, we gifted them framed photos of Connor at one day old. He doesn’t look anything like that anymore, but everyone loved getting a picture of Connor. We also got a lot of positive feedback on the Christmas cards we sent out, with Connor screaming his fool head off and the cat trying her hardest to escape.

Aaron had made sure to load up his iPhone with photos of Connor’s birth, so he could sit down with Dee and show them to her, since he he’d forgotten to load them up for Thanksgiving. It’s the modern equivalent of bringing the photo album, I suppose.

Connor nappingThe actual logistics of bringing Connor to Christmas at Uncle Pete’s wasn’t so bad. We didn’t bring any bottles this time, since our freezer stash is all but gone now, so I nursed Connor in one of the bedrooms three times during our visit. We also brought the bouncy seat, which was awesome for when he decided he wanted to take a nap right after Phil left and before we started the gift-passing game. We used up the last two newborn-size diapers we had stashed in the diaper bag, so he’s officially in Size Ones now. (They claim to go up to 14 pounds, but Connor is a seriously skinny dude, so we’ll probably rock these for quite a while.) Luckily, he didn’t need the extra outfit we brought, and Dee had set aside the burp cloth we accidentally left behind at Thanksgiving, so us forgetting one at Christmas was no big deal.

On Christmas Day proper, the three of us went out to New Empire for Christmas Day dim sum — and so did the entire Chinese population of Toledo. We had to wait about 15 minutes for a table, which is highly unusual on any normal day, but probably not so unusual for Christmas.

Presents!

After lunch, we came home and opened presents. Aaron got me a Nikon D90 DSLR (not a huge surprise, since he’d asked me what camera I wanted); an adapter to use my manual-focus Minolta lenses on my Nikon DSLRs; Civilization: the board game; and the Steve Jobs biography. The big gifts I got Aaron were an iCade (a miniature arcade cabinet for his iPad) and Absolute Sandman Volume 5, although I rounded things out with a couple of books and a couple of blu-rays. I got Connor some wrist rattles and a mini piano rattle that plays short snippets of classical music, and the Abtses got Connor a food mill for making baby food (so, it’s more of a present for us, but Connor will enjoy the results). Dee also got Connor a Baby’s First Christmas ornament, which I unboxed and put on the tree on Christmas Day.

Shortly after the present-opening, Aaron’s brother came over with their Dad’s important papers, including the will. The two of them sorted through all that, while I took Connor upstairs and fed him and got him down for a nap.

It’s so sad that the memories of Connor’s first Christmas are going to be forever associated with his Grandpa’s death. It’s hard to separate the happiness from the sorrow, and hard to reconcile one with the other. Eventually, it may become yet another sad footnote in our family history, but we’re just too close to it right now.

Dear Connor: Month Three

Dear Connor,

Smiley ConnorYou’ve grown and changed so much this month! You’re smiling more often — when we change your diaper, when we pinch your chubby little cheeks, and sometimes just because. You can hold your head steady most of the time, and you like Mommy to sit you on her lap and hold you up under your armpits so you can look around. Your little arms tend to make contact with whatever you’re trying to swat at (usually in your play gym), and you’ve discovered that your little fists are fun to gnaw and drool on.

Mommy went back to work earlier this month, so Daddy takes care of you during the day. You’ll usually wake Mommy up around 5:45am, then you’ll eat and go back to bed. Mommy pumps some breastmilk after that, and puts it in a bottle for the morning feeding with Daddy. Then she gets herself ready and goes to work. After that, you let Daddy sleep for another few hours, then he feeds you and puts you in your swing so you can both sleep a little longer — you in your swing, and him on the couch. During the day, you’ll hang out in your bouncy seat or your play gym, and you’ll take another nap in the afternoon before Mommy gets home from work.

After Daddy leaves for work, Mommy makes herself dinner if you’re still content in your swing. Then Mommy feeds you, and you’ll usually hang out in the bouncy seat for a while — if Mommy had to feed you first, this is when Mommy gets to eat. Connor and Mommy spend the evening chilling out and watching TV (a habit Mommy will have to break once you’re old enough to actually be watching the TV, and not just seeing its pretty light), until you get tired and cranky, usually around 8:30 or 9pm. Then Mommy swaddles you up and rocks or jiggles you to sleep. Mommy needs to come up with a better bedtime routine than all that, like a bath and a book, but sometimes Mommy is just too tired to wrangle little Connor beyond swaddling and shushing until he falls to sleep. Usually, you’re asleep in your crib around 10pm, and you tend to sleep through the night until you get Mommy up the next morning. Sometimes you get up around 3 or 4am, though, when Daddy’s home from work and about to go to bed, and that’s a little challenging for all of us now that Mommy has to go to work in the morning. Luckily, you don’t do that very often anymore.

Since Mommy’s gone back to work, Daddy has been feeding you bottles of Mommy’s milk. That’s made things a lot better for Mommy, since Daddy will give you a bottle late at night on the weekends if you’re still hungry after Mommy’s gone to bed. Mommy’s a little worried about having enough breastmilk stash in the freezer, though, and is going to start pumping more often on the weekends to make up for extra feedings while she’s at work or asleep.

Aunt Dee and Connor at ThanksgivingLast week was your first Thanksgiving, and your first trip out of Toledo. Mommy’s going to write about that at length soon, but the short version is that you were a Very Good Boy the whole time. Everybody loved you, and Aunt Dee especially liked holding you, just like Grammy did back when you were only a few weeks old. The bottle-feeding came in handy at Thanksgiving, too; Mommy nursed you when we first arrived, then Daddy (and Aunt Dee) fed you by bottle while we visited, so Mommy wouldn’t have to whisk you away to Cousin Joey’s room every couple of hours to feed. You’ll get to see everybody again soon, at Christmas, and Mommy’s looking forward to it.

Mommy and Daddy still take you out on weekends, although it’s usually only for lunch, Starbucks, and a few errands. We’re just not energetic or motivated enough to pack you up and take you out for dinner after having already done it once that day. We can keep you out a little longer now, though, since Mommy and Daddy got to try changing you and feeding you away from home with our Thanksgiving visit. Last weekend, Mommy changed you in the bathroom of a Thai restaurant, and nursed you in the car in a Starbucks parking lot. Slowly but surely, Mommy and Daddy are learning how to fit baby Connor into their normal lives — or discovering “the new normal,” anyway.

Mommy and Daddy love you, little guy.

Santa Connor

Shopping Spree

For his first couple of months, Connor could only wear either preemie or newborn-sized clothes. He was born at 5 pounds 15 ounces, and was 21 inches long — average length, but way below average weight.

Aaron and I had naturally assumed that we’d have a big baby, since we’re both tall, and since I was a hefty 9 pounds and change when I was born, so we hadn’t stocked up on newborn sizes as we were hitting the garage sales this summer. We got a few things, but not even enough to get us through a week (depending on the amount of spit-up and number of diaper blowouts). Luckily, my Aunt Connie brought us some hand-me-downs from my cousin Jamie’s son, but they were mostly sleepers. I wanted Connor to have some cute clothes that actually fit, and that might be just a smidge geeky. (Don’t worry: we have plenty of appropriately geeky babywear once he reaches the 6-month sizes.)

So, one Saturday last month, we went out on a baby clothes shopping spree: babyGap and Old Navy. (Yes, when you have an infant in tow, two stores is a spree.) We focused on long-sleeved onesies, since it was getting to be autumn, and we stayed in the clearance section as much as we could, especially at the Gap. Our haul gave us about six onesies and a guayabera, in under-7-lbs and 0-3 months sizes.

I’ve also been hitting online sales and using coupons that I find in the parenting magazines I read now. Gymboree was good for a sale on out-of-season clothes, so I got Connor five pairs of shorts (half of which will likely fit, and half won’t, since I got different sizes to be sure), a Hawaiian-themed jumper, and a bucket hat (which, again, may not fit once spring arrives). The corduroy overalls I got him, even though they’re size 0-3 months, will be way too big for at least another month.

Carter’s has been good for sales and coupons, too, so I got him a newborn-sized hoodie and pants set and a warm fuzzy jacket for the fall and winter. Those were actually some of the first clothes I bought for him online, and the hoodie and pants have gotten a lot of use, especially since he only has about three pairs of pants that fit. (He only really wears pants when we go out on the weekends, though.)

So, here is a sampling of Connor’s newest gear. Some of it was on clearance, so I couldn’t get images, and I bought a few things on eBay that I didn’t include, but this covers the most part.

Oh, and you’d better believe that I’m going to splurge on Baby Vans and Baby Converse as soon as Connor can walk. 😉