reflections on Emma's first year

A year ago at this time we were in the throes of new parenthood... in complete awe of this tiny person we'd created, but struggling with nursing, naps and everything in between. Emma was not an easy newborn... she's never been a cuddler, never one to just fall asleep on your shoulder. Getting her to sleep in those early months could have been an Olympic event. Bounce, bounce, bounce... bigger more elaborate bouncing, small quick bouncing, bouncing on the exercise ball, bouncing while walking, bouncing while shooshing, bouncing while singing... bounce, bounce, bounce. We were both seeing a chiropractor by the time she turned 3 months old. Once we figured out that she was milk protein intolerant and I cut out dairy things got almost immediately easier. She wasn't feeling like crap all the time, we regained some of our hearing loss. Everyone was happier...

Months 4-8 were nothing short of awesome... it seemed like every week there was a new "thing" she could do: laughing, rolling, solids, first words, sitting up, crawling. She was on a developmental tear and we were happily along for the ride.

And then we hit 9 months... and everything that could fall apart did. Ear infections, food rebellions, teething, sleep regressions - we were all pretty miserable and the lack of sleep was making everything that much harder. She was waking up every 2 hours, standing at the edge of her crib and screaming... and nothing soothed her - not bouncing, shooshing, singing, or nursing. We knew we were in trouble when nursing stopped soothing her. We desperately sought the advice of our pediatrician, who recommended what we feared was coming - sleep training. We'd been so anti... we never felt like she "needed" to be sleeping through the night at a certain point. Prior to her regression she'd been waking once, maybe twice a night to nurse and immediately went back down. It worked. Until it didn't. CIO, extinction - these are not words I ever wanted to be part of our parenting repertoire. But we were desperate... she was screaming with us trying to soothe her, was it really that much worse to let her scream while she tried to self-soothe? You have to tell yourself no to get through it, so we did, and it worked. She never cried for more than 20 minutes, and after 3 nights we were all sleeping much better. I wish it hadn't needed to come to that, but I have no regrets... we let her tell us when she was ready for a different approach, we didn't try to force a sleep schedule on her. It felt right at the time and I'm glad we did it.

As for the ear infections - our trusty Nose Frida has been helping keep them at bay. And her food rebellion was helped a ton when we discovered that she's okay being fed if she also has something to feed herself at the same time... so now if we give her a puree we make sure there are also steamed veggies or Os, puffs, raisins, etc. on her tray. Otherwise the dog, chair, my jeans, my hair, end up with a whole lot more puree than her tummy. It never ceases to amaze me how such a small person can create such a huge mess.

With the exception of a few weeks of intense separation anxiety, months 10-12 were pretty fantastic... Emma started cruising, then walking, and it's been a blast trying to keep up with her. (Okay, it's also been super tiring.) Once she started walking she was done with crawling. She'd rather walk and fall on her tush 8 times trying to get somewhere than crawl. I just have no idea where she gets this stubbornness from! And after 6 months of working at it, she finally mastered her roll and float in swim survival class, and we were super stoked for her. We had been telling her it was okay that she wasn't the best swimmer in her class, that she could get by on her looks if she needed to, but it was a huge relief when it finally clicked for her. (If you haven't looked into swim survival I highly recommend it. It's a little terrifying and kinda pricey but it's so worth it.)

One year later and we're still so in awe of our little girl... for all the ups and downs of parenthood, it's just so insanely worth it.