Lauren is eight months old today. Where did my baby go? I will be saying that a lot over the next few months, as I recall from her brothers how quickly things start to change from baby- to toddlerhood. And then quite literally, she will be on the move and I will wonder, Where did she go? She's showing signs of getting ready to crawl. She moves in her own way already, rolling, stretching, pivoting to reach toys. Matt and I have been noticing that we will sit her down in one place and then come back just moments later to find her still sitting but a couple feet away from where we left her. Scooter! She is also starting to clap, make faces on command and even does an opening and closing of her fist--the beginnings of a little wave perhaps?
Lauren is our bouncing baby girl. If you hold her on your lap, she will start to bounce. When I load her in the ergobaby carrier each morning and afternoon to walk into Tobin's school, she bounces a bit and squeals. She seems to know our routine and likes seeing all the smiling faces at his school. Better yet, at school pick-up she is so excited about the return of her big-big brother, especially when I put her back in her car seat, which faces his booster seat in the van. They almost always greet each other with squeals and laughter. In the late afternoons, she bounces and squeals when Matt walks in the door from work.
When I arrive home, however, I don't get the same happy greeting. I am starting to get the special mama treatment from Lauren. It goes something like this: "Hi Mama. I'm smiling because I'm happy to see you, but wait now I'm feeling sad because, oh no, you left me!" And then she'll fuss and whine, and if I don't scoop her up quickly enough, she starts crying. She never cries when I leave, but when I get back she has a look of betrayal on her face. It's all so pitiful and adorable and tugs at my mama heart every single time. Lauren even responds in this way on much shorter absences, like if I leave her in the living room with her brothers while I escape to get dressed or prepare lunch. I will deliberately try to stay out of her line of vision as long as she's happy and safe, because if she catches sight of me she'll suddenly start fussing. I know this scenario will repeat itself with increasing intensity over the next few months, and soon she'll be upset if I try to leave.
Fortunately, we are not apart very often or very long. I will leave her with Matt for a couple hours on the weekend while I do our weekly shopping. And she really is very happy with her daddy and brothers. She is an overwhelmingly happy baby and continues to just fit right in to the somewhat chaotic existence of life as a third child. While I can only control the chaos a little, I do make an effort to accommodate her nap schedule which consists of a morning nap at 10am and an afternoon nap at 2pm. Slowly but surely, she's getting more consistent about taking hour-plus naps each time, but she still has a short 30-minute nap every once and a while. But even on days when she doesn't take long naps, I've been impressed by how well she handles life up until her 7ish bedtime. I would guess it's some combination of her personality, the ever-present entertainment around her and me feeling more laid back about all things with this third little one. Her nighttime sleep has been good. She struggles a bit with the first part of the night, and sometimes I have to go back in to nurse her back to sleep. Then she'll wake once or twice and nurse back to sleep, then sleep until 7:30 or 8am. The night wakings are brief, and were she sleeping in another room I might try to see if she could get herself back to sleep more consistently. But since her bed is right at the foot of our bed, I tend to respond quickly and nurse her back down. At her age, Evan was sleeping with me and nursing on a two-hour schedule, so I consider Lauren's sleeping patterns great progress!
Lauren still gets most of her calories from breast milk, nursing about every three to four hours during the day, but she joins us at meal time too. (She won't return to the doctor for a weigh-in until nine months, but I'm certain she's north of twenty pounds!) To make our mornings easier, I don't feed her any solid food for breakfast and just make sure she has plenty of milk. At lunch I've been feeding her oatmeal and fruit puree. At supper, she enjoys vegetables, mostly sweet potatoes. I've also offered her small diced bananas and avocados. She mainly likes to play with them, but occasionally a piece makes it to her mouth. She enjoys being at the table with us, and enjoys talking/squealing across the table with her brothers and even claps for them sometimes.
Having her join us at the table for family meals feels like a metaphor for her emergence in our family life generally. She adds so much joy to our lives and is increasingly aware of it. We look forward to sharing so much more with her!