For the past few days, we’ve been able to get Ronin to take some steps toward us. Then yesterday while out walking, she purposefully dropped my hand and took five or six wonky little steps on her own before stopping and reaching back up for my hand.
The past couple of days, we’ve gone out for “walks” where I just let her take me where she wants to go. We end up spending a half hour to maybe an hour and we literally go 60 feet tops from the front door. First we go up and down the front steps about 20 times. She goes at the steps by holding only my hands and flailing her foot in the general direction of the step, then I lift her onto it and she flails at the next step. She goes down stairs by simply walking at top speed off the edge; I have to hold her to keep her from falling into the abyss. We have some things to learn about steps still. Then we walk down the sidewalk, stopping to inspect various debris like dirt clods (I hope) or cigarette butts (yay), then we head for the curb. Up and down the curb several times until a squashed plastic bag full of *something* is discovered and before she has a chance to grab it, I swoop her up and carry her screeching to the neighbor’s house. He has wide clean concrete steps (the house is for sale and I don’t think anyone’s there) and she goes happily up and down the steps about 50 times. Eventually, I tire of the game or it starts to rain and I try to herd her back toward the house. Of course any denial or suggestion that she can’t do something is met with spastic rubber baby, arched back and tragic screaming. We go up the steps another million or so times until finally I just carry her, kicking and screaming, back to the house for some more baby torture (like maybe a snack).
Joshua’s dad Jeff finally made it up here to visit; he has been at work (at sea in the Persian Gulf) for the past several months and hadn’t seen Ronin since she was just a little blob.
I wish the weather could have cooperated a little more. We had either bleeding cold with a mean evil wind or rain and dreariness. Every outing we could squeeze in took two tries because we had to retreat back to the house and pile on more clothes.
Jeff took the following photos; this one is of Ronin right after a post-dinner bath.
Ronin usually wakes up from her naps happy and rested. It’s such a stark difference from how it used to be and I love it.
I think I can safely say there has been a major breakthrough on the sleeping front hereabouts. No, she does not sleep through the night (wakes usually twice to be fed) BUT she goes to sleep with minimal work on our part and after she is down, she usually does not need us to go in periodically and get her back to sleep. She just sleeps until she wakes up. To nurse (sigh). But still, this is seriously heaven. She is also going longer on her first sleep cycle and hopefully the trend will continue until she sleeps the entire night. Sounds brilliant right? Of course that means that if things continue at the pace they have gone since birth, she’ll be three years old before that happens.
Still, things are looking up immensely. I haven’t yet recovered from the year of broken sleep; I find myself waking after only four hours and unable to fall back asleep until she starts squawking for milk. Then of course it takes me ages to fall back asleep after I nurse her so unfortunately I have only been getting marginally more sleep than I had been getting. Presumably I’ll be able to sleep eight hours in a row again.
I with I could say there were similar breakthroughs in her eating habits but I will say that tonight I almost was worried because she actually DID eat. We’re talking: four slices of sauteed zucchini (minus the rinds), three slices of cheese more or less (less = what ended up on the floor), around a tablespoonful of leftover Indian food, a jar of baby food approximately (dolled up with ranch dressing of course), and three slices of orange. Seriously, she NEVER eats so much. I was astounded. Her belly actually felt full afterward. I don’t know what got into her.
I have had half a mind to film our little eating sessions because they are so sad and depressing generally but I haven’t gotten around to it. So here’s a little rundown of the typical scenario. It’ll be noon and she’ll have only eaten two spoonfuls of yogurt since she awoke (not counting nursing). I’ll announce in a faux-excited voice that it is Time To Eat Yay Food Oh Boy and pick her up to put her in the highchair. Immediately she’ll begin to cry piteously, struggling and arching her back. It takes me some doing to get her fastened in the chair and the tray attached and by this time she has tears running down her cheeks and is rubbing her head with both hands (she does this when she is upset or very tired) and just completely fallen apart. I always feel awful but feeding her anything but cheerios and dried fruit is not possible when not in any sort of restraining contraption. So I put her in the chair. Now that she’s stuck, I dance around with food options: Cheese?! Nana!? I start to put stuff on her tray and she either smashes it with her hand or swipes it off. Since I totally don’t have a problem picking food up off the floor and feeding it to my child, I replace it and hope for a second (and third, and fourth) try. I make faces and bounce around and act like every single piece of egg or macaroni or banana or cracker is the abso-fucking-lutely BEST thing that EVER existed in the ENTIRE planet. I give her my undivided attention and cheer her on every time she even hints at making a move toward her mouth. I eat my own sympathetic lunch, hoping to inspire, offering her bites of whatever it is I’m eating (rejected, typically, unless it’s the last bite and then she’ll eat it with gusto and cry out for more). I try ignoring her and washing dishes instead, sneaking peeks in hopes that she’ll have finally focused on what is in front of her and taste something already. I fix her a shocking array of different things and put them on her tray one at a time in hopes that she’ll find something that doesn’t offend.
Eventually a shred of food makes it into her mouth and she realizes that maybe it’s not the worst fate there ever was just to eat a a little bit after all. Provided it is not green. Or nutritious. And preferably it has sugar as a primary ingredient. It’s really quite sad; she will happily eat pieces of cookie until the cows come in but treats anything vegetable with outright suspicion. Our latest trick has been to put dollops of ranch dressing on whatever it is we want her to eat. She will lick it off and we can only hope a molecule of the good stuff is ingested. Anyway ranch dressing has wee flecks of green so she’s getting some vegetables at least.
Ronin signifies that the “meal” has ended typically with an abrupt return to her former crabbiness. To be sure I understand that she is finito with all the stuff on her tray, of which she has usually only eaten a small fraction, she systematically swipes the remains onto the floor and begins to rub her (ranch dressing/Toby’s tofu pate/chorizo-covered) hands into her hair while whining and crying. I remove her from the Chair, wash her hands in the sink (dislikes), wipe her face off (dislikes extremely), and turn her loose. In the end, I’m totally frazzled and exhausted; I survey the destruction and begin the clean up.
Ronin is getting close to walking. It’s very exciting. Unfortunately (and ironically), this makes actually going out for a walk incredibly difficult. She wants to “walk” herself and we end up holding her fingers all hunched over at an awkward angle, covering only about 1/10th the ground we might normally cover. In her exuberance to go forth, the number of face-plant related injuries have increased. The other day she let go of our hands at a curb and went down, scratched her chin, and split her lip open with those two protruding bottom teeth. It was really sad—she was crying and slobbering bloody slobber all over herself and me and by the time we got to the grocery store, we had to make straight for the water and napkins lest someone call CPS on us and our bloody child.
She also sort of made it through the night without nursing for the first time ever. She normally nurses 2-3 times per night and I was beginning to fear night weaning would never happen. We gingerly try to push the first feeding back if possible in hopes that she would get used to sleeping longer and longer stretches. Of course, in practice, what this means is when she wakes up to eat, instead of nursing her immediately and then all of us going right back to sleep afterward, Joshua goes in and tries to quiet her back to sleep. Almost never has this worked; usually he bounces and rocks a shrieking child until we give up and I nurse her. The other night he went in when she woke to eat and after two solid hours of fussing (but not hysterics) and laying down, crying and bouncing, shushing, singing, rocking, she finally stayed down for good. And then she slept solid until 6:30am! CRAZY. Of course, we didn’t get to sleep until she did (at 1) so we still only got 5ish hours of sleep. But those five hours were all in a row. That makes a huge difference and I woke up actually feeling sort of refreshed. And also like my boobs had been replaced by a couple of leaky rocks.
Hans and I were eating burgers at The Kennedy School last week and Ronin discovered a delicacy. She would eat bits of my bun and Hans’ fries but refused my tator tots (huh?). Of course, my tater tots were served with ranch dressing but I prefer ketchup. I already know that Ronin doesn’t really like ketchup though so I gave the ranch a try instead. She went nuts and kept jumping up and down screaming “Nana.” After banana, her word for any food she likes. I’m not sure what she calls food which she doesn’t like but she makes herself understood by shaking her head vigorously and trying to smack it out of your hand. She ended up eating the entire ramekin of ranch dressing, minus what she rubbed into her hair of course. Our plan is to trick her into eating veggies by covering them in the stuff. Our first attempt wasn’t entirely successful because she simply licked the dressing off and threw the veggies on the floor.
The other new food breakthrough is soyrizo. She was happily eating applesauce this morning when we started cooking soyrizo and eggs for breakfast burritos. Ronin immediately threw her spoon on the floor and started yelling Nana. I gave her an actual banana but that went on the floor as well. I was ready to give up on breakfast but we decided to try her on the soyrizo anyway. That’s what she wanted! and she ended up eating handfuls of the stuff.