It’s been too long since I’ve written an update about J, and since I haven’t been actually writing in her baby book, this has become my record of her babyhood – so I thought I’d finally get to it. I’ve resorted to bullets, but it’s something.
- J is now 18 months old. I feel like we have such a strong sense of who she is, now. She’s watchful and meticulous, gregarious at home but a bit shy in public, very affectionate with her moms but choosy about who else holds or touches her. She likes order, and routine, and loves animals and nature. She loves reading, gymnastics, being in water, being outside, music, and food. She dislikes things being out of place, having sticky things on her hands, having people ruffle her hair, and pureed things. She is way more like me in personality than I thought she would be, though also like D, of course, and sometimes she reminds me of our donor and his daughter.
- Her vocabulary is huge and she’s combining words much more often. My favourite words right now are “walnut”, “octopus” (pronounced aht-puh), “iguana”, and “mine” (though I imagine I’ll find the last one less cute very soon). Her ability to communicate is making this age a lot easier than it might otherwise be. She can name about 15 body parts, and if she hurts herself she will tell us what hurts, which is really great. The connections she makes between words is so interesting – we put a quilt on her new bed that has a few tiny seahorses on it, and without us naming them or drawing her attention to them, she pointed and said “neigh!” Because of course, a seahorse would say “neigh”, right? I can’t even recall talking to her about seahorses, other than at the aquarium a couple of months ago.
- I’m loving the increased independent play that she’s been doing lately – we gave her a kitchen set for Christmas and that gets a lot of use, as she cooks and serves tea and soup all day long. Her other favourite play things are her little Schleich animals and a wooden barn (she ‘feeds’ her animals water from her water bottle and it kills me), and an indoor wooden Ikea slide that we picked up at a consignment shop. She is reasonably active but I think less so than a lot of toddlers – she’ll sit still reading books for up to an hour and her attention span seems uncanny. It seems like she is always running over to one of us with a book, demanding “read, read!” Just recently, she’s started filling in words when we read familiar stories, and identifying objects in the pictures.
- We started taking a gymnastics class about a month ago and she loves it. It’s for 16 month- to 3 year-olds, and the parents attend the class, too. She is the youngest and by far the shortest kid there, and she can’t do all of the activities, but it’s been so awesome to have the big, safe indoor space to run around in. They also do $5 drop in days, which is great. I think that it is helping with her upper body strength, which is not so strong – maybe because she didn’t crawl at all until fairly recently? She practices her gymnastic moves at home, and seems very proud of herself. I think it gives her a lot of confidence. I never imagined doing a structured class with such a young child, but she is getting so much out of it.
- At her doctor’s appointment last week, J was exactly 23 pounds and 30 inches tall. She’s small and solid and baby-faced, and people think she’s way younger than she is. It’s hard because she’s quite advanced for her age, but I think people think she’s so young that they don’t try to engage her as much as they might otherwise.
- J continues to love music, and is dancing more and more. If we ask her to shake her booty, she’ll dance, and if she dances by herself she’ll often make eye contact and say “booty!” She hums but doesn’t sing, though she loves being sung to – in fact, singing to her is getting us through a pretty terrible sleep regression right now.
- As of a few days ago, she is sleeping in a toddler bed, and it seems to be going fine (though her sleep isn’t any better). She understands that she has to stay in the bed at night, though she climbs in and out all day. Often, she climbs in, gathers up all her animals, lies down and says “sleep. sleep.” She also pretends to fall asleep in the bath, which she thinks is hilarious but terrifies her moms. At night she is waking about every two hours lately. She’s been sick for a month with two back to back colds and reactive airway disease (with asthma-like symptoms) , is cutting teeth, and is going through so much developmentally, so who knows what is behind the poor sleep. It is terrifying that we might have a sleepless toddler and newborn at the same time.
- The less pleasant side of this age is that has days where J says ‘no’ to everything, and throws stuff, and when she’s teething, biting joins the list. I feel out of my depth sometimes, trying to figure out what works as a behavioural corrective and what doesn’t. For instance, I think that trying to stop her from throwing things has resulted in her throwing things to get attention, but we can’t just ignore her, right? The weird thing about parenting is that every time you think that you’ve got this, things change. I’ve been reading parenting books and trying to figure out how we want to go forward with managing destructive behaviour, but it is so hard. I kind of hate telling people how to behave, which is… my job, now. I have to tell someone how to behave, so I need to figure out how to best do that, how to respect her autonomy and independence but also keep her from smashing objects, herself, and other people.
- The week after D was away, J had a major potty regression where she refused to sit on the potty and peed in her training pants at least three times every day. We switched back to diapers for a week, and then she started using the potty again. She’s getting better at telling us when she wants to use it, rather than waiting for us to tell her it’s time to sit on the potty, and often will go the whole day (and sometimes night) dry. We’re basically just taking her to the potty frequently and being enthusiastic when she uses it, but it’d be really great if she were potty trained before the next baby. I am cautiously optimistic that that will happen, as we have almost 8 months.
- We are finally getting to the point where we feel okay about leaving J with other people. Until now, she’s only spent the odd half-hour away from both of us, but I think she’s ready and so are we. My mom and step-dad have offered to take her for a couple hours maybe a million times (we’ve declined, but feel a bit better about the option as time goes by), and some friends of ours whom we trust are also willing to babysit. So sometime soon, we’re going to try that out. J really needs to be okay with being taken care of by others before we have another baby, so I think it makes sense to start now. Also, D and I could really use a date. I read somewhere that your marriage takes 18 months to recover from having a child, and that makes sense to me. I feel like we’re finally starting to feel more connected, more capable of conversation, etc. And then we thought we’d have another one? I’m equal parts excited and terrified, which is better than just terrified, but J just got the excitement. Poor second child is getting jilted from the get-g0.