- Nursing (3 1/2 weeks): They say that 3 weeks is a really hard time for new parents. Sleep deprivation is at its peak, the novelty of a new baby has worn off, visiting relatives have left, and the parents are left with a cold, stark realization of their new life. It sounds grim, but sometimes it is that bad. By now, nursing patterns have been established. For me, nursing was one of the more painful things I have ever done. I do not want to say that we had trouble nursing. We had a consistent child-driven schedule of nursing every two hours, and he was gaining weight beautifully. His latch was perfect. I was overproducing. He had a voracious appetite: his little limbs were filling out with delicious baby fat. But for me, nursing was excruciatingly painful. At times, I thought it was worse than labor. With the help of our lactation consultants, we worked out a way to let my poor nipples heal. This was a turning point for me, because I could start enjoying nursing and looking forward to my son's eager meals.
- Smiling (6 weeks): Until he learned to smile, our interaction was largely one-sided. I would talk to my son, play with him, sing to him, change him, and nurse him, but he never responded. The days he was learning to smile were indescribably beautiful: he was really trying. Over the course of several days, he learned to master his facial muscles, and each day his small smile would widen until he could produce a huge toothless grin. I would joke that when he saw his dad, my son would smile, but when he saw me, he would open his mouth really wide. In any case, it was a sigh of relief for me when I finally got some feedback for all the hard work I had been putting in.
- Rolling back-to-tummy (5 1/2 months): Suddenly, tummy time became much more enjoyable. When he mastered rolling to his tummy, I could place him on the floor on a blanket surrounded with toys, and he could occupy himself -- without me! -- for several minutes at a time. Just enough time to wash the dishes or compose an e-mail or post to my blog. On the other hand, as he was learning to roll to his tummy, he would wake up every 20 minutes throughout the night in a panic: "Help! I'm on my tummy!" (He grew out of this as his mastery increased.)
- Sitting slightly supported (6 months): Bath time is so fun when you can sit in the tub with the baby, and support him with one hand while eating berries.
I went to the small babies (0-3 months) support group this morning with my six-month-old son. I placed him, belly down, in the middle of a blanket and he amused himself for almost two full hours by slowly turning around in a circle on the blanket and watching all the little babies. I even got to hold his milk-brother for the first time while my son was engaged in cooing at one of the moms. It felt like we were showing off a little... and I suppose we were. We deserve a few minutes of fame after the last six months, right?