For the last 33 weeks, I've been reading Wonder Weeks. The theory behind this book is that there are certain weeks in the first year where babies make a big leap in their understanding of the world. For a few weeks before the leap, there is a fussy period, then a few weeks after the leap is a well mannered period and big leaps in understanding and skills. What I've enjoyed the most about this book so far is reading about the new skills around the time the fussy period is supposed to start. It is always so amazing to see all the new things she is going to be able to do. Its also fun to look back at the previous leap and see what she's accomplished. Some of the things I believe are a little off; for example, back at 26 weeks it sounded like crawling would be mastered, but most kids don't crawl at 26 weeks. We read a head to 46 weeks (the fussy period of which could be starting when we take our trip to TX), and it said "sometimes uses the potty." Um, what? Like no kids are potty training before a year. Anyway, I don't really follow this book too closely by the dates, and the authors do make a point of saying that no child does all the skills at each month because it would be too much, but rather focuses on their favorite areas. Its fun to be amazed at some specifics on what she might be doing soon. What to Expect the First Year is very much in the other direction and only lists a few things for each month being very careful to give a wide range of normal. So, that book is very little fun.
The other thing about Wonder Weeks that I like is it lists signs of a fussy period starting. Most of them have the same signs, but sometimes there are additional indictators. Thus far, we've seen a few times an increase in fussiness at the times this book suggests. Right now, Natalie does seem to be entering a fussy period. She has had more time recently when she's needed us to keep her engaged in playing. For instance, she will have her toys in front of her, but loses interest if we don't initiate some play with them. Or, she'll be unhappy sitting, but will cheer up and try to crawl to me if I encourage her or sing to her, where last week she'd just make a trail of toys over to me. She's wanted me more often and in fact has had some minor melt downs it seems when I leave her with Daddy. I'd also say that the last three days or so, when I pick her up, she has been snuggling in closer. She's taken to grabbing my hair with one hand as she reaches around my neck. Often she'll suck her thumb with the other hand and a lot more often she's been resting her head on my shoulder. (These hugs have felt particularly nice for me. They are one of those moments where holding my baby feels so right, and if she didn't weight 18 lbs or need to learn to sleep in her crib, I could just hold her like that forever). More often she's been fussy about having her diaper changed. And, the last two days, she's seemed to be getting less at her two middle nursing sessions. She just is distracted or not interested, even though its time to nurse and she has been upset before handed. (I know its not a milk production issue because I can feel the fullness in my breasts later. That's why I think she isn't eating as much at these sessions, aside from them being shorter). So, all of these things - eating less, wanting Mommy, holding closer, needing help staying engaged in play, not wanting her clothes messed with - are signs of a fussy period and time wise we are right there, too.
I like knowing that there is a probable reason why she is being fussy. Not only does it save me from worrying that something is wrong with her, like being sick or hurt, but it allows me to indulge her a little more. Knowing that she wants me to hold her more often during one of these periods makes me feel more accepting about doing so even when her fussing is driving me mad. It also makes me go to greater lengths to keep her entertained. Today, I went through our kitchen and pulled out some pans and other things for her to play with because I think she is starting to get bored with her toys, and she is far more interested in Mommy and Daddy's things. The new items didn't get quite the reception I would have liked, but there is always tomorrow. I also made a bigger effort to play with Natalie today. Often, I'm watching her; she sits and plays with her toys as she sees fit (mostly chewing, shaking, and banging, though holding two toys at once and banging them together has started this week). I sometimes feel bad about this, but what games are we going to play alone? We can only do peekaboo, tickling, read books, and sing songs so much, you know? But today it did feel good to play with her more. I've been working on showing her how to clap, but she isn't getting it. But, I did bang on something with my hand like her today and she laughed and copied me. Other things we've been doing are me stacking the blocks for her to knock over or pick up, me putting blocks in the bucket for her to take out, me pointing out pictures in books more often, and me describing what she is eating, hearing, or touching more often. Another favorite game recently is echo, where I parrot back her shrieking. Today, I did it for her panting noises and she loved it. I feel like she is branching out from her spot on the floor and that we are exploring the whole room, as well as her getting used to sitting on the floor in more and more areas of the house. When Mike is here, we play chase and hide-and-seek, but until she crawls well or walks, we can't do those alone. We both like going outside together, and I find it much easier to point things out to her outside than inside; probably because everything inside seems so ordinary to me.
I think this fussiness has a lot to do with being upset on her tummy. It isn't so much that she is begging us to walk her around as she is unhappy right now having to entertain herself when she's stuck on her tummy, because she'll often do the same thing when she's sitting, where as a week ago she was scooting on her butt. But, she also is making big gains on crawling. She was moving up on to her knees a lot today. She is going to crawl from a sitting position, not from being on her tummy. I'm sure once she figures it out, she'll crawl from her stomach, but that isn't going to be how she starts. Also, she often has her feet together, kind of like a yoga pose (or what they called in elementary school a butterfly stretch) and is trying to do something there. I'm starting to think that she is trying to stand up versus crawl. This would make sense since we let her pull herself up with our hands and she has been trying to pull herself up on her music table the last several days.