Sometimes, I look at Natalie and think, Who is this little stranger? I spend all my day with her, but a lot of the time, she and I are doing our own things. I feel like we are the cusp of a time when we will play more games together, but right now when I sit down next to her, most of the time, she uses my body to pull up, then she is stuck clinging on my shirt (often pulling it down) in a fashion where neither of us can really move or do anything else. Most of our interaction is talking and playing around our daily activities, like her meals, diaper changes, and naps. For example, I usually read to her on the bed after her morning diaper change and before I get her dressed, and we often talk a bit at the end of her day time nursing session. I feel like I should be more involved with her playing, but I don't really know how I can be while still allowing her to explore, practice her crawling and pulling up, and build independence. I want to get down on the floor with her and make her smile and laugh, but I don't know what games she wants me to play, what she wants me to do, other than let her pull at my clothes and hair, and one can only take being a jungle gym for so long.
I so often wonder what she is trying to do. Like when she is arching her back in the high chair and it looks so uncomfortable. What the hell is she doing then? I try asking her, but you know her not being able to talk hinders that approach. I also wonder what she is thinking. Especially when she is watching or looking at something. Does she understand the TV at all? Does she recognize Mike and me in photographs? What is she looking at when I show her books? Sometimes when she grunts when she fusses I find myself thinking for a split second, Why doesn't she open her mouth and say something? She often sounds like she is someone who can talk who's mouth is stuck shut and that if she just wanted to she's be speaking! And her babbling is so like talking now, too, that I wonder if she is just playing or if she really is telling me something. I want to know what she is trying to tell me.
Just in the last two weeks, Natalie has changed so much. It started with the sitting (then the pulling up and crawling). But its more than that. She dropped her second day time nursing. She has increased the amount of solids she eats in a sitting (5 bs of cereal, 4 ounces of jarred food) and eats 15 different flavors of jar foods as well as yogurt. She's gotten very good at handling the finger foods she eats. What I find so cool is that she picks out the stuff she likes from the food on her tray and eats those first. So if she has Cheerios and yogurt melts, she eats the yogurt first. Or if its Cheerios and puffs, she eats the puffs first. Its so cool that Natalie can see they're different, work her hands to get the ones she wants, and remembers that they taste differently and there is one she prefers! So cool! She all the time says "mmm" when eating. She's more aware of the cats, she dances more, and when she cries it sounds more like words. She is starting to learn to look where I am looking. When Natalie accomplishes something, like standing up, she gets this big smile on her face and look so proud. She loves it when we clap for her when she does something after trying so hard. And she can almost clap now, too. She just needs to flip her other hand over and she's have it. The other big thing that crept up on me is that she is staying up longer all the sudden. Today, Natalie went from 915 to 145 before she even started to be cranky and needed a nap.
I'm wondering if things will level out for a little bit and then we'll have another burst later, or if she is going to keep going with these changes for a while. I feel like her progress is going to stop for a little while for us to establish a new routine and for her to work on refining her new skills. I also feel like if things calm down, then we can work more on exploring her finger foods and getting her used to the word no. Its so hard to try new things when she is cranky, as well as trying to establish that she can't do something when she has spent the whole day upset. I'm so happy that we have had this calm period with less fussing this past week or so. Let's just hope the next riled up period isn't right when we go to TX.