rule of thumb
Things are getting better and better here in the House of Gjertsen. Valor is starting to bust out of his 3-6 mo. clothes and weighs 15 pounds these days, at 2.5 mos. old (95th percentile). He’s healthy and hale and full of hearty open-mouthed smiles for almost all comers. We love catching that sunshine! He likes grinning at me during the “intermission” of a feeding; sometimes it’s hard to get him to go back to work, he’s smiling so much.
One of his newest skills is finding his thumb to suck. The whole sucking instinct is a pretty interesting phenomenon. When he gets his pacifier in his mouth, his eyes roll up into his head and he seems to enter a kind of nirvana-state of euphoria, and when he loses it, which happens frequently, he’s plunged into the worst kind of withdrawal. This is why we have christened his paci “the crackpipe.” (I apologize if that’s offensive to anyone, but with our very thirdhand knowledge of drugs it’s just a joke. I’m not even sure I could identify a real crackpipe.)
I have come 180 degrees on my opinion about thumb-sucking vs. pacifier. I used to think thumb sucking was too germy, but after getting up to plug in his paci about 500 times, I’m ready for some self-soothing. The issue may be decided by the child more than the parent anyway. I’d be more concerned about the whole thing if Valor needed either one to sleep at night. But right now his nighttime sleep does not involve anything in his mouth until he wakes up about 5:30; then he either finds his thumb and goes back to sleep, or doesn’t and I get up and feed him.
Valor’s still eating during the day about every 2.5 hours, then we have playtime for about an hour. He does need something in his mouth to help him get to sleep for naps (he sleeps in his crib unless the grandparents are here!). He falls asleep much more quickly for naps these days, probably in about 10 minutes most of the time, and sometimes faster.
The only drawback is that he has been waking up after about 30-40 minutes, which is only long enough for me to eat something, check my email, and go to the bathroom before it’s time to entertain a crankypants who isn’t quite ready to eat. On the whole, his routine is pretty predictable right now. That means it’s about to change, right?
Valor’s playtime is much more fun for me than it used to be. His head control is still wobbly but stronger for longer periods of time. He enjoys looking at his mirror friend (a very polite, cheerful young man and a snazzy dresser to boot, although a little lacking in the hair department). Valor has started looking at AND listening to books like One Fish, Two Fish and The Jesus Storybook Bible. He often smiles during bathtime, loves to watch the medieval characters on his crib mobile go ’round, and—drum roll please—he’s starting to play with toys. He looks at them, bats at them, and can even reach out and grab them, but he doesn’t have coordinated release skills yet.
Valor had a great Halloween weekend. He was fascinated with his godzilla socks (he’s started noticing his feet, more than his hands so far). To greet the trick-or-treaters, it was too warm for his long-sleeved ghost costume, so we had to settle for his jack-o-lantern shirt with his orange diapers, monster socks, and the candy corn hat–sort of a Frankenstein ensemble, you could say!
For all those who liked Valor’s crying pumpkin patch picture, you should know that it is a tradition in our family to torture our children with excruciating photo ops. Here is James’s reaction when our jack-o-lantern fun went a little too long (6 mo. old). Is there a family resemblance, or it is just that the parents haven’t changed??
It’s actually pretty hard for me to see much resemblance between our sons. They may have the same eye and hair color, but their faces are pretty different. Valor’s skin seems tan (where did that come from?) while James’s was fair; their laughs sound different (Valor’s is more of a heh-heh-heh while James’s was a hmmm). They both get the hiccups after laughing, though.
I’m still waiting to feel the intensity of emotion for Valor that I felt for James. I’m starting to think that it just isn’t going to feel the same. That protectiveness and admiration and sadness and defiant interdependence—it felt like it was us against the world, and always would be—isn’t there with Valor. He feels tough and indestructible and well on his way to independence (as long as he finds his thumb when he needs it).