Jensen, 10-11 months

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In just one short month we’ll be celebrating the end of our first year with Jensen.

It’s hard to imagine the newborn we brought home, to remember his smell and his little noises, to remember how his skin felt so soft and new, to be exhausted by nursing and not sleeping alone (because now he’s mobile and doesn’t sit still much). It’s hard to remember those days when I could hold him easily in the crook of my arm, when we’d all just sit and stare at him, when we looked forward to his first smile and laugh.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you already know that I’m sentimental. I might be the most sentimental person on the Internet. You know where I am right now on the cusp of his first birthday. Do I need to say it? I will any way: I am both excited and sad. I miss that squeaky newborn and his fantastic cheeks, that little rollie-pollie baby who began sitting up unassisted on Black Friday, that baby who babbled incessantly, the baby who snuggled against me and napped during church. We have just one month left where my calling him “the baby,” which I do frequently, will be accurate.

Just one.

And I don’t want to forget what’s going on, so I’m making it a point to chronicle all of this pretty comprehensively.

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Babyhood. I can’t believe I’m almost through being a baby mama. I am so enjoying this baby. I make it a pint to enjoy all of it, and he makes it so easy because he’s such a good-natured child, so joyful, so sweet. He’s pretty adaptable and just goes with the flow. I really have been pretty blessed with four easy babies. Jaiden was colicky, I think, in the beginning and Jaylen liked to stay up all night for awhile (he still does, actually, but now it’s because he’s reading), but they’ve all been pretty easy.

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Teeth: The biggest change since the last update

In the two months since I’ve updated, Jensen has decided to go big or go home with teething. He’s not been as giggly and happy these past 3-4 weeks, and I think that’s because the poor dear went from having a double ear infection to knocking out four teeth on top. They’ve erupted now, and I’m not going to count those canines out, either. On Easter Sunday or Monday, I discovered he had all of these teeth coming in and in the last few weeks, since they started erupting, he refuses to be without his pacifier, sometimes alternating between the breast/bottle and pacifier for a second or two.

These four make six teeth, and we went through a period of time where he was biting me while nursing. One day last week he really used both the upper set and lower pair and left a bit of a bruise, but it’d been 2-3 weeks since he bit me.. I figured out that he was doing it after he’d finished nursing, when he was just playing, so I started being more attentive and proactive. I also started encouraging him to nurse before we began, repeating “NURSE?! NURSE! Just NURSE! No biting!” several times before he began, then complimenting him on keeping those teeth in check as he began nursing and every couple of minutes thereafter. I’ve yelped in pain, said a stern “NO!,” and the joker just laughs at me. The laugh is super sweet, so I can’t be mad at him, but still.

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What he’s eating: Breastmilk, mostly, and some solids

We’ve been nursing for 11 months! That brings tears to this mama’s eyes. We had a rough start, and I’ll talk about this last year’s experience at some point, but I really cannot believe we’re actually so close to the one-year mark! He shows no signs of stopping right now, so we’ll continue as long as he wants. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll hang up my flanges in four weeks then or not; I’m currently pumping two or three times a day (depending on my schedule that day) while I’m at work.

In addition to nursing – which he does overnight at various points, in the 6 a.m. hour, and once or twice between dinner and bed – he is taking three 5 oz. bottles of breastmilk at daycare (we supplement when we have to, but it’s rare these days and I don’t even have formula in the house right now) and eating solids at lunch every single day. He will sometimes eat solids at dinner, too, depending upon what the rest of us are eating. I will send him with something like 3-4 mini pancakes and berries (usually halved blueberries), baked sweet potato with pumpkin pie spice and a little butter, avocado, pasta with butter and parmesan, peas, diced carrot, scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese, green beans, oranges, etc. He seems to have a sensitive gag reflex, perhaps, as he chokes and gags quite a bit, so we stick with softer foods. I send water in a 360 cup, too, but he doesn’t drink it; he does drink from open cups and straws, though, and has always preferred those to sippy cups. I finally found Gerber Puffs that don’t contain oats, so he will sometimes have those as a snack while I wash bottles and get things ready in the morning. He’s also tried almond milk; he liked the sweetened version, he tolerates the unsweetened version sometimes. Oh, and Jensen loves throwing and dropping things from his highchair a little too much.

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Mobility and sensory skills: Cruising and crawling

At 11 months, he is not walking or even properly crawling and I am 100 percent okay with that. He can army crawl and drag himself where he wants to go pretty quickly, but rarely does he get up on his knees and do it. I’ve noticed he rarely crawls to me – when I pick him up from daycare, for instance, he will sit and cry when he sees me instead of crawling to me – but the other night he tried crawling over toward my parents’ chihuahua, who was standing next to her food dish watching him, and she barked and nipped at him (she missed; he was scared but was fine, just afraid of her now).

He’s pulling up, cruising, standing for a couple seconds at a time, and over the last few days has been getting brave enough to move from one thing to the next, like from his Zany Zoo toy to Jaiden. He is starting to dance a little bit, and by dance I mean that he will rock his body two or three times and stop. For a few months he has done this head-banging sort of thing where he will lean his head back, then move it forward quickly, in a head-butting sort of fashion. Edited to add: On my third day of trying to write and edit this, the boy took a step at daycare. And, yeah, it was just one, but … I missed it. Enter working mom guilt and sadness.

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Jensen is picking up objects, and promptly shoving anything he can into his mouth. He claps his hands to pat-a-cake and is learning to clap after other people do; he also does this ADORABLE little “roll it” arm movement to both pat-a-cake and “Wheels on the Bus!” When playing, he will pick balls up and drop them into toy baskets or shake noise-making objects. He is noticing things like the deadbolt lock, and has to touch it when we walk in the door, and the button I push to have us buzzed in at daycare. He is also obsessed with cords – pulling them! and pulling hair! – and banging on things. He loves to clap two objects together, like two balls or two different toys, and make noise. He likes to push the doorbell button at daycare, which has just started this week, and loves to touch the deadbolt when we’re going into the door to the house.

Jensen is also very rarely still, except if he’s asleep. He’s blurry in most pictures these days! He’s not really ever paid much attention to music of any sort, but music is always playing at daycare, and I can tell he recognizes songs he hears there if I play them or sing them at home. He loves the two songs I’ve already mentioned plus “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” and seemed to enjoy bits of the “Hamilton” score I played the other day.

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Communication: Babbling and beginning words

Jensen has babbled “dada” since he was six months old and buhbuh, mama, and nana followed. We are working to associate names with people and he will look at his brother, sisters, and me when asked where one of us is. He has started associating “dog” with our dog, Bo, and will say “daw” sometimes. He also says something that sounds like “haaaahhhhh” and he uses that when people who’ve learned language and social skills would use “hi” or “hello.”

Of course, being a baby who is just learning language, we have been reading his cues. When he’s ready to nurse, if he’s near me, he will pull the neckline of my shirt down and shake his head on my chest (or try to crawl into my shirt). And he’ll be a little fussy, which could mean tired and/or hungry.

He has been very, very clingy lately, which I attributed to teething and the sequences leap (7), even crying or becoming a little upset when I leave him at daycare. He has started “giving kisses,” which is basically him putting his open mouth to my face and saying, “BWAH!” when he pulls back.

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Health and wellness: Measurements and new allergies

A month ago, when he was 10 months, Jensen was fighting a double ear infection. I was called to pick him up from daycare on a Friday afternoon because he was running a fever and after he slept all afternoon, was cranky, and kept angrily slapping his ears, I took him to a minor med clinic. He was prescribed Amoxicillin and developed a rash immediately after having his first dose. On Saturday, we visited our regular clinic and he was prescribed Zithromax; he developed a rash after taking that one as well, though it was a couple of hours later. On Monday morning, we were back at the doctor’s office and he was prescribed a third medication, but the pharmacist said if he were going to be allergic to anything, that’d be it, so we had a fourth prescription that took care of it. He ran a fever for about five days and really hasn’t been his jovial, giggly self much since because a gang of teeth decided to move in.

The child has been congested since he was born. I complained about his frequent sneezes before we even left the hospital – and he always sneezes in twos, always has – and the nurse told me it was amniotic fluid being cleared. After a couple of months, it never went away and seemed to get worse. He was on steroids twice and that didn’t clear him up, either. I’ve cut his known allergens out and he seemed to be doing better for a brief period, but then spring hit and a new daycare hit and teeth hit and this poor kid hasn’t had a break.

When we were at the doctor in April, he was 19-19.5 pounds and 30 inches long (at 10 months). For comparison’s sake, at one year, Jaiden was 21 lbs., 10 ounces and 29 inches, Jaylen was 19-19.5 pounds at 11 months (I could pretty much copy and paste those updates, because Jensen is almost the same – God, I love that I have those!) and 18 pounds, 11 ounces and 30 inches at a year, and Jenna was 18 pounds, 8 ounces and 28.5 inches long at a year. Looks like Jensen is the biggest! He certainly started out that way and we had a stressful first few months where he didn’t gain, but things are going just great now. He’s wearing size 3 diapers, size 3 shoes, 9-12M tops and onesies and 12M pants and shorts.

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Sleeping: Not all night every night

We are still co-sleeping. He is becoming more and more independent, preferring to roll around at will all night instead of being snuggled up in the crook of my arm. He doesn’t sleep completely through the night, really, unless he’s not feeling well. Jensen dream feeds whenever he wants, mostly in the early morning hours, and I’ve noticed he’s been getting a little brave in his moving around the bed, so we may be looking at bed rails soon.

During the week, he dream feeds, as I’ve mentioned, and wakes for the day about 7 a.m. or so. He takes a mid-morning and mid-afternoon nap at daycare, and sometimes he’s napping at pickup, which is between 5 and 5:30. Occasionally he’ll take a short nap around dinnertime, and lately he’s been going down for the night between 8:30 and 9:30. During the weekends it seems he’s up for about an hour and a half or two hours between naps.

We don’t have an idyllic bedtime routine that involves taking baths and reading books because our evenings are rarely similar from one to the next. We go to my parents’ house after work and/or meetings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (the older kids’ ride the bus there), which can be any time between 6-9 p.m., depending on the day and week, and sometimes that includes Monday nights when I have meetings. On these days, sometimes we get home by 7:30, sometimes we get home closer to 9, and we all just do whatever we need to do before bedtime.

Our bedtime routine is, quite literally, changing his diaper and nursing him to sleep. I sing him a song every night at bedtime that goes, “I love you! And your [insert body part or personality trait, three or four hurried syllables] too! And your [insert body part or personality trait, three syllables] too! And your [insert body part or personality trait, three syllables] too! I love you! And your [insert body part or personality trait, three syllables] too! And your [insert body part or personality trait, three syllables] too! I love you, yes I do!” I repeat that using tiny toes, eyelashes, squishy butt, scratchy nails, sweet giggles, six teeth, nasty nose, pretty hair, etc. until he’s asleep or interrupting me by sitting up and crawling around or whatever. The kid doesn’t care much for blankets; he sweats a lot in his sleep, too.

I’ve been lucky in that there’s only been ONE TIME since the newborn period where he was up and crying overnight. Just once! I never have problems getting this child to sleep and I really have no idea how I got so lucky, but somehow I did.

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On the go

Before he arrived, I wondered how Jensen would fit into our already busier-than-busy life and, basically, now that we’ve got our breastfeeding problems under control, the kid is super portable and adaptable. He’s happy to be around people. At this point, he’s been to several plays – Annie, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Tom Sawyer and The Addams Family – city council meetings (four per month), baseball and soccer games for the cousins, two funerals, doctor visits, etc. He, truly, just fits right in and is well–mannered.

I got a Tula about a month ago and he is in it pretty frequently when we’re away from home; it keeps him safe and contained, allows me to use my hands (instead of holding him) and makes things more efficient because my attention isn’t on him chewing on the straps in a cart, for instance. I used my Moby wrap for months and months, but as he started moving around more, the less he wanted to be still, including in the Moby. I couldn’t get a nice, tight wrap with him because of how busy he is (he loosens my work, and you know wraps aren’t very quick to do), so in the Tula he goes.

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What’s behind us, what’s ahead of us

This is all going by incredibly fast, just as I knew it would. I’m sad to look at photos and see a toddler where my baby once was, but I have enjoyed every damn second. Every one of them. Those babies whose development I once faithfully tracked using this blog, whose own infancies seemed to take place not that long ago, are now in middle and high school. Knowing how quickly they grew up, how swiftly the years go, how easy it is to forget things like the newborn smell has been a benefit to me in mothering the infant Jensen. It’s made me appreciate this time, no matter its struggles, and although I wish he could be my teeny little man for a little longer, it’s an incredible thing to watch one of God’s miracles grow and develop and become the person he’s supposed to be.

And so, here we are, planning a first birthday already.