Cordelia (old posts, page 3)

Cordelia is Sixteen Months Old

Cordelia has been talking for a while; her first words were about the same as Delphine's, "up" and "cat" and "Daddy!" In the last couple of weeks her vocabulary has really expanded; "stuck" and "spoon" and "Mimi", "baby", "milk", "'delia", "book", "more".

She's changed in the last few days. We make fun of Blake's parents because they always say the girls have changed, every week: "she's changed so much!" But this week Cordelia really has changed, with her words, with putting ideas together, with wanting to be read to; even her face looks less babyish.

Cordelia is very good at putting things away; she joins in when I'm putting toys in boxes, she puts books back on the shelf. She loves lining up cups on coasters; she loves order. I think she's going to be the neat one.

I've complained before about how tedious and high-maintenance babies are, and I'm not about to stop, at least not until Cordelia is past the tedious and high-maintenance stage. Babies and stairs, particularly, don't mix; if I were smarter I wouldn't have moved from a one-floor condo to a three-floor house until after Cordelia could manage stairs.

Here is what I have to do if I need to go to the bathroom when I am with Delphine:

  1. Say "Hey, Delphine, I am going to go to the bathroom".
  2. Go upstairs, do my business, and come back.

Here is what I have to do if I need to go to the bathroom when I am with Cordelia:

  1. Find Cordelia.
  2. Pick up Cordelia.
  3. Open baby gate, carry Cordelia upstairs.
  4. Go into bathroom, close door, put Cordelia down, do my business while trying to pursuade Cordelia to stay out of the trash, leave the toilet brush alone, and not unravel the entire roll of paper.
  5. Pick up Cordelia.
  6. Carry Cordelia downstairs.
  7. Lock baby gate.

It's just... ugh. It's just that little babies are so physical! So physically demanding. And prone to falling off things. Cordelia falls off things all the time; she has fallen off the step stool, off an upturned Lego container, off the couch... it's a rare day, in fact, when she doesn't fall off something.

On the other hand, there something nice about babies. Cordelia adores us; she is delighted to see us every morning, she comes to us when she is sad or hurt, she loves to cuddle and kiss and play with us endlessly. We are her life, her sun and moon and stars, in a way that we just aren't with the infinitely more complicated Delphine, who tells me I am not her friend at least once a week, who sometimes gives me the silent treatment when I pick her up from daycare, who argues about every damn thing just for the sake of it. Cordelia is still at the stage where she is our little dolly, she can safely be objectified, whereas Delphine is well on her way to being an actual person, and like any person, she on occasion objects to being scooped up and snuggled, she sometimes wants to be left alone, she frequently has desires which conflict with ours.

I'd still rather that than have to carry her everywhere, though, which is why I am still looking forward to Cordelia being a little older and little more physically autonomous. But for now I am enjoying the unadulterated baby love.

Cordelia is Fifteen Months Old

Cordelia is my little monkey. She is fearless and ambitious — this morning she was hauling the cat carrier around the house, dragging it behind her and bashing into every damn thing. She dragged it into the kitchen and before I could turn around she had climbed on it and was messing around on the counter. She does appalling things like that every day; I certainly didn't get any experience with this kind of behaviour from Delphine.

Last time I posted about Cordelia, she had just started walking. Well, she's been walking for four months now and she's pretty darn good at it. Mostly. The other day I put her down in the front yard and she took off like a flash down the path; there's a little step right before the path meets the sidewalk, and she stepped down it. Unfortunately the step is about four inches, and Cordelia's leg is also about four inches, and so after her foot made contact with the ground, her right hand did, then her left, and then... her head. She hardly cried at all, but I had to pick some grit out of her, and now she's walking around with a gnarly big scab on her forehead. She doesn't care; it makes her look fierce.

She says a few words now: cat, up, milk, ball, book, Mimi (which applies to all cats), Daddy, Mummy, duck, and of course, "no", with a little head shake. She always says "no" when you ask her a question; I think she just likes shaking her head. She had her eye on my tea — the child is always thirsty — and asked for it, but then answered her own question by shaking her head sadly: "no".

Fifteen months is the age Delphine was when we started putting her down to sleep alone; Cordelia has been sleeping alone for almost a year. She sleeps from six or six-thirty until six in the morning, and she goes down without a fight. Last night I was nursing her to sleep and she stopped nursing and looked around. I issued my usual ultimatum: "Boobie or bed!" Her typical response is to latch right back on in a hurry, but last night she said "Bed!", and sat up to be put in the crib.

She's down to one nap a day, mostly — she just suddenly stopped needing a morning nap one day. The catch is that when she's sick she still needs two naps some days, and I'm never sure whether any given day will be a one-napper or a two-napper. Makes planning ahead hard.

Being in the house with Cordelia is also really hard; if I want to go upstairs or to the basement, I have to pick her up; I can't work in the basement with her because there are too many hazards: cat litter, stairs, unexpected pointy things. Upstairs we don't have a baby gate for stairs, so I have to pick a room to work in, shut the door, and stay there. So mostly we stay on the main floor, which makes unpacking and doing laundry and any other multifloor pursuit very difficult. I do miss having everything on the same floor, but I have to remind myself that one day Cordelia will be able to handle stairs and being by herself, so I will be able to get stuff done much easier.

And in the meantime, she makes me laugh every single day.

Oh yeah, and...

Today was Cordelia's birthday. She's one! She walks! She's funny and awesome and tomorrow we are taking her to the doctor so I will tell you if she's abnormally tall or whatever.

We had a nice day; Blake took the day off, we went out for pastries this morning, baked a cake, went to the library, went for pastries (again), went to look at a house, came home, iced the cake, had a little tea party with Ursa and her posse and Baba and Zaida, and bought the house. Because isn't that what every little girl wants on her birthday? A new house?

She Walks

Cordelia's walking. Just a few steps at a time, and she would rather crawl if she's in a hurry, but she's definitely walking, in her eleventh month.

Otherwise not much is going on (surely that's enough?). She is cute and funny and if you make kissy noises while you are holding her she will dive bomb your face with mouth wide open for a big sloppy kiss. She still has two naps a day, although they are getting shorter and more fitful and I expect she will move to one nap fairly soon. She sleeps from six fifteen or so in the evening until six in the morning. Except for the other day; the other day she slept until seven and I literally went into her room to make sure she wasn't dead. (She wasn't.)

And in a couple of weeks we will be having a birthday celebration! Mostly I am really excited because it means we can give her egg; her not eating egg makes it seem like every interesting food in the world has egg in it. Pancakes! Muffins! Scrambled... well... egg!

She has an uncanny ability to find any unguarded toilet and play with it. I am almost tempted to thoroughly clean one of the toilets and just assign it to her. And she just spread the contents of one box of toys over three rooms-worth of floor. And I wonder why I have a bad back. She's trouble, this one. But cute.

Cordelia at Ten Months

Cordelia is talking. She says "Cat". Okay, she says "Gah!" But she says it a lot, when she sees a cat. "Gah! Gah gah gah!" And she grins, and claps her hands. She loves the gahs.

She isn't walking yet, but she stands with aplomb, holding things in her hands, picking them up, putting them down again, drinking from her sippy cup while holding something in her other hand and not falling over, all at the same time.

She has an excellent sense of humour, with a particular taste for the absurd; silly hats, funny faces, things where they are not supposed to be give her pleasure and result in infectious throaty chuckles. She also likes it if you run towards her making silly noises and then nibble her on the neck. But then, who doesn't? Try it on your boss sometime.

She is a bit mischievious; the other day I was on the computer while she played and Delphine was napping on the big bed. I suddenly noticed that Cordelia was heading into our bedroom to torment Delphine, so I pushed my chair back and said "uh-uh"; Cordelia immediately squealed with delight and accelerated, her little hands slap-slap-slapping on the hardwood. "Chase me!" Little monster!

She sleeps quite well, provided she is not disturbed. I put her down after a short ritual at about 6:30, and she sleeps until 6:00 the next morning, with maybe one or two breaks to howl a couple of times, then back to sleep. She's fairly easily woken, so we have had to move Delphine's bed into the office/living room. Poor Delphine goes to bed in the big bed and then when we come to bed we move her into the office; she has been squeezed out of her own bedroom altogether. I guess that's the price you pay for being the one who sleeps well. It will be nice when they each have their own room.

Cordelia doesn't like to be spoon-fed, so I feed her finger food as much as I can; toast, crackers, cereal, beans, zucchini, cooked carrot, fruit. She gets a fairly good variety, most of which seems to go on the floor. But she's still nursing three or more times a day, so I am not too worried about it.

It seems weird that she is almost a year old. I am glad; I am looking forward to having two walking, talking, going-to-the-bathroom-all-by-themselves kids. But it still seems kind of soon, somehow. This baby is growing up much faster than the last one did.

The Too-Long Nap

Surely every mother has experience the too-long nap. Or is it just me? You put her down for a nap, you walk away, she sleeps. You hurry to get the things done that you can't do while she's awake. You answer email, you take out the trash, you cut up meat and vegetables for dinner. You still have a few minutes to sit down before she wakes up! You don't brew tea — takes too long. You make instant coffee with plenty of sugar and sit down with a magazine or a book.

You read a few pages, you look up. She is still sleeping. It's been hours. (Really only an hour and forty minutes.) She never sleeps this long. Something is wrong. She is surely dead. You check the clock — yes, it's really been almost two hours. She never sleeps this long!

What do you do? She is almost surely fine, and sleeping this long because she needs to sleep. Do you check on her, thereby ruining her nap and your much-needed quiet time? But what if she isn't fine? What if she's in trouble? Stopped breathing? Choked on a loose button? Caught up in a blanket? Fell out of the crib and knocked herself out? What do you do?

You decide to let her sleep and try and relax, and just as you are getting to the good bit in your book, she cries. Your stomach loosens and you breathe deeper as you go in to lift her up and hold her close, more beautiful than ever.

Nine Month Statistics

We went to the doctor yesterday for Cordelia's nine month checkup. Here are her specs:

Weight: 20 lbs
Height: 29.3 inches
Head Circumference: 18 inches

No shots this time, and I couldn't think of anything to say to the doctor. She has reached all the appropriate milestones and is chugging along nicely. Hooray!

Cordelia: Nine Months

Cordelia is going to be nine months old next Tuesday. She is strong and big, she is charming and funny. She smiles at people; I will be walking along with her in the stroller, and someone coming the other way, someone frowning or lost in thought, will suddenly start to smile like they have seen a long-lost friend. I will start to panic: do I know this person? Should I remember their name? Then I realize they are been sucked into the vortex of joy that is Cordelia's smile; it's like they literally can't resist smiling back. I hope she always uses her powers for good, not evil.

Just a couple of days ago she gave up the commando crawling in favour of the traditional hands-and-knees method, which seems more efficient and doesn't pick up so much dust. But crawling, for Cordelia, is just a method of getting to something she can use to stand up. She loves to stand up, against the couch, against the table, even against the wall. She loves the challenge of standing up against the glider ottoman, because it moves; if you wiggle it back and forth when she's leaning on it she laughs. She likes to stand up and hold on with one hand; she will turn and catch your eye and grin: "look, mum!" This morning I was holding just one hand while she stood up, and I let go and she stayed upright, although it was the momentary uprightness of, say, a two-by-four balanced on its end. I caught her before she toppled, but while she stood there she was grinning like mad. She is fearless and a bit of a show-off.

She is eating almost everything except milk and the usual things which are verboten until one year (eggs, honey, berries). She eats soft table food, like cheese and toast with the crusts cut off and banana, and would really prefer to feed herself than be spoon-fed, which means I have to remember to prepare things which are tidy enough to be finger food. She's patient enough, though, that I can give her a pile of rice on her tray and she will pick it up, kernel by kernel, and stuff it slowly in.

Obviously, her pincer grasp is really good. She still has some trouble with losing bits of food in her fist; if she has some toast or something clutched in her hand she eats the parts that protrude from her grasp, but she doesn't know yet that she has to open her fist to get at what's inside, so she tries to put her whole hand in her mouth. Cute; not too smart though.

She's sleeping fairly well (if you consider going to bed at 6:30 and waking up at 5:00 to be well). She naps twice during the day, alone in her crib just like a TV baby. I think the early wake-up is because we put her to bed so early, but I'm not sure how to shift it later without ballsing up our whole evening; after Cordelia goes to bed we put Delphine to bed, which usually takes between half-an-hour and forty-five minutes, and then we make dinner. That puts us making dinner at seven and usually not eating until eight, which is about as late as I can stand it. If we move the girls' bedtime later, I think we would have to start having dinner with them, but that would make either our dinner too early or their bedtime too late, plus I don't relish the idea of cooking a proper dinner whilst supervising the girls. (I usually cobble together sometime fairly quick (but still healthy!) for the girls and then make something more elaborate for Blake and I.)

So, whatever, I guess we will just leave it as it is for now and try and go to bed earlier ourselves so as to deal better with the five o' clock reveille.

I'm treating Cordelia completely differently than I treated Delphine. This morning after we had breakfast I left her in the living room while I did something in the kitchen (there's a window from the kitchen to the living room, so I wasn't entirely out of sight) and she hung around doing her thing; she stood up, she sat back down, she pulled books off the shelves, she climbed in amongst the toys and sat smugly in the midst of all that plenty like a tiny rajah.

I would never have done that with Delphine; the moment I tried to put her down she would have started crying and I would have picked her up again. She was on my hip constantly until she was about fifteen months old. If she did play in the living room, I would have been hovering behind her, spotting her as she stood up and holding my breath as she sat down.

I'm not sure, and never will be, how much of Cordelia's boldness and independence is because I'm not hovering over her, and how much I am able to not hover because she's so independent. Similarly I will never know how much of Delphine's clinginess as a baby was because I never let her experience what it was to be alone. What I do know is that Delphine is independent and confident now, so whatever insecurity she experienced about being alone, she had the resources to deal with it when the time came.

I think the difference is that Delphine learned to be on her own at twenty months, and Cordelia has learned to be on her own at six months, and I expect that doesn't amount to a hell of a lot of difference in the long run.

Sleeping Like A Baby

Har dee har har.

Inspired variously by the fact that Cordelia isn't growing as fast as she should, the knowledge that she isn't getting nearly as much sleep as she needs, and Dooce's post on the topic, Blake and I decided to gird our loins and start putting Cordelia to sleep in her crib, alone, at appropriate times.

We, too, are using Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Mark Weissbluth; it was what got us through teaching Delphine to sleep. The idea is to put Cordelia to sleep, after a nice little routine, at a good early hour. Then we just walk away and let her work it out by herself. Also, we're supposed to put her down to sleep in her crib for two naps a day, when she seems tired.

(Incidentally, don't take this as advice, because it probably won't apply to your child at whatever age she is now. If you want advice you should really go read the book, because I am far from qualified to give advice on this topic.)

Last night was the first night. Cordelia didn't have a nap in the afternoon because she is so abysmal at getting to sleep; the more tired she gets the more worked up she gets, and she won't be soothed unless I catch her by surprise with a nursing. So after unsuccessfully trying, from two in the afternoon until five, to get her to sleep, I decided I would take advantage of her sleep-deprived state and my own determination born of frustration, and get on with teaching her to sleep in the crib.

I changed her into her pyjamas and then nursed her, at which of course she fell asleep, so I carried her into the bedroom and put her in the crib. She immediately detected the fine layer of hot pins we keep always at the ready in the crib, and started screaming. I tried to soothe her by rubbing her back, patting her bum, giving her a soother, but she was having none of it. Finally I just left her and closed the door (after the cats decided they didn't want to stay in the bedroom listening to that racket, thanks). She cried from 6:20 until around 7:10, and then again from eight until, I don't know, 8:30? I wasn't really paying attention. (New Battlestar Galactica.)

At that point (well, during an ad break) I broke down crying at the idea of leaving her in the crib overnight; I am not ready to give up (for life!) the delicious solid warmth of a baby at my side in bed. Blake figures that Cordelia is smart enough to deal with sleeping in the crib from 6:00 until 10:30 and then coming into bed with us. (I'm still not sure if it will work but I really want to try it. I want to have it both ways -- a baby with a proper bedtime and a baby who co-sleeps.)

She started crying again after ten, and since we were going to bed anyway Blake went and picked her up, and once I was ready for bed tucked her in with me.

Today we screwed up the naps royally; she was tired at 9:00 am, as she should be, but we were in the middle of bathing Delphine and getting ready to go out for croissants. We weren't quite ready enough to put her in the stroller to sleep (she sleeps really well in the stroller, even if it's just sitting in the living room), but if we put her in the crib and waited for her to finish her nap we would have been too late. So Blake held her, and she fought sleep for half-an-hour. She slept on his shoulder for a few minutes, maybe twenty, then woke up and didn't fall asleep again.

For the afternoon nap, she normally gets tired at 2:00, but today we all went out to get cat litter and milk at around 1:00, and she fell asleep in the stroller. We were only gone around a half an hour, and she woke up soon after we got home. (Naps are supposed to be in the crib, and at least an hour, according to Weissbluth.)

So tonight, again, she was good and tired. I changed her into her jammies at around 5:45, gave her a little nurse (she didn't fall asleep this time) and put her down at 6:00. Again she screamed frantically, but at 6:09... silence. Nine minutes! She awoke at 7:50 but didn't cry for more than a couple of minutes. It's almost too easy.

I remember this from Delphine, the weird feeling of emptiness that you get when neither of you is holding baby. You can read, because you don't have to keep the lights down! You can play on the computer! You can cook! It's like... why, it's like having no children at all! Bedtime is awesome.

I have some friends with children Delphine's age whose kids stay up until their parents go to bed, and I think they are INSANE. I would easily trade a few nights of screaming, for whole evenings of adult time. Not to mention how badly you are screwing you kid over by depriving them of the hours and hours of sleep they need, that you don't.

Incidentally, lest you think I am a completely callous bitch, I hate the screaming. It sucks, and like I said to Blake, I wish I could somehow be with Cordelia to comfort her, and simultaneously not be with her so she can learn how to sleep by herself. But the dangers of leaving your baby to cry it out are hypothetical, while the dangers of sleep deprivation are well documented, and this is the best way of getting my children to get the amount of sleep they need -- possibly the only way. Weissbluth actually has a whole section about why he thinks it's okay to let your baby cry it out, which I found quite convincing, if hard to remember when the actual crying is taking place and your blood pressure's up and your boobies are leaking all over the place.

Anyway, so far so good. As you can see, when we did this with Delphine Blake actually thought it would be such a big deal that it would need a whole category to itself. You will also see that the category has only one post; it really turned out to be a non-event, and she has been a fantastic sleeper ever since. Here's hoping the same is true of Cordelia.

Oh, I'm sure Baba would like me to mention that Cordelia said her first word: "Baba". I think Russian grandmothers are the smartest grandmothers, picking baby's very first consonant to form their name.

Six Month Statistics

We took Cordelia for her six month checkup. She had two shots (Pentacel and Prevnar, I think; I wrote it down) and was weighed and measured. She's 17 lbs and one ounce, 27 inches long and has a head circumference of around 17 inches. Her growth curve is levelling out a little too rapidly for our doctor's liking; the same thing happened with Delphine, and it only resolved itself when we started enforcing a proper sleep schedule. Cordelia's sleep is appalling and we are going to have to fix it, but I don't want to think about it. There will be crying.

She still smiles a lot, and has taken to laughing. You can make her laugh by tickling her, but she also laughs if you laugh, or if you make a silly face, or if you put her on your head like a hat. And she makes me laugh, with her silly gummy smile and her noisy babbling.

She says "Ba ba bah", and pushes up onto her hands and knees, and can sit up by herself, although I still like to lurk nearby when she's sitting because she's not adept enough to fall over gracefully, and inevitably smucks her head on the floor. She's pretty mobile, in a limited kind of way -- she gets around on her belly, and I'm never sure how much of the getting around is deliberate and how much is just incidental to her flailing.