Six Weeks

People are always commenting on how small Ender is. He’s never looked especially small to me, except maybe a few hours after he was born when I slowly came to admit that he was NOT as enormous as he felt like coming out… at 7lb 7 oz, he was almost exactly average.

For most new parents, the biggest clue that their baby is growing is how quickly they outgrow their clothes. In my case, I thought I could feel Ender seeming larger in my arms, taking up more of my chest as we cuddled. The clothes came after.

He was 10 lb 4 oz at his 1 month check up, which is almost a pound a week. He went from just under 50th percentile for weight and length to 75% and 85%.

This probably explains why he does nothing but eat for hours on end.

I guess it’s called cluster feeding, and it’s pretty obnoxious, but it is both rewarding and exciting to watch him grow so rapidly. He outgrew the newborn clothes almost immediately, and now my favorite set of PJs, which looked five sizes too large when we first dressed him in them, are officially too small. I am dressing him entirely in 3-6 month clothes now, before I even got a chance to dress him in all the 0-3 onesies on his shelf.

Many mothers find it hard when their babies outgrow their first set of clothes, but I love seeing the proof that he’s growing and that I’m making enough food for him. Maybe I’ll get the weepy fit when I get the time to actually pack away the baby clothes he only wore for a few weeks.

I think part of the reason everyone sees Ender as small is because of his hair. His hair makes him look so much older than the newborn he is, when he cries it’s easy to picture him as a toddler throwing a tantrum. He has a pretty bad case of baby acne, but the spots across his nose look almost like freckles, and with his sweet cowlick, he looks just like one of the little rascals with a disproportionately large head. He looks just a bit more like a child than a baby.

Ender is a relatively easy baby. At night he sleeps in three hour chunks, and every once in a while graces us with a five hour stretch. I’m told he doesn’t cry as much as most newborns, but he still demands to be held and cuddled for most of the day, usually allowing me one two hour window where I can get set him up with the monitor and get some work done around the house.

Probably the coolest (and the most challenging) part of him getting older is how much more time he spends awake now.

He doesn’t like me to pump milk, because he can smell it and knows it’s not going right into his mouth, where it belongs. I think his baby brain has a very simple equation: “I’m awake” + “I smell milk” = “I must be hungry.” Only recently does he have some waking times during the day where I can hold him without him demanding that I feed him.

I have to admit I sometimes delay feeding him for a minute or two, just because he’s so hilariously cute when he’s hungry.

Much like a cat, Ender seems to be most alert when he wants food. Babies do this thing called rooting, where they move their mouth around trying to get a nipple, but when Ender does it, this means bobbing his whole head back and forth like a bird searching for seed. He pants and makes this “uh! uh!” noise that goes with it, and the first time he did it in the hospital I laughed so hard he shook on my chest.

He’s very easygoing, but I can’t help but think of him as a little cranky.

He never smiles, because he’s not yet old enough to smile, and since I’m used to older babies, emotionally I think this means he’s grumpy. He has been more fussy than usual the last week or so, but since week 6 is supposed to be the peak in endless crying, I’m pretty sure he’s actually showing us a pretty laid back personality. He really only cries when he’s hungry or gassy. Occasionally, when his “I’m awake!” period lines up with Matt and my “time to sleep” period, he’ll start fussing because we’ve tried to put him to bed, and he’s bored. We’re working on getting a mobile set up in our room over the pack’n'play in hopes that it will keep him interested and lull him to sleep.

He really is hungry all the time. When he’s at top appetite, he’ll try to eat anyone and everyone that comes near his path, but when I’m holding him, he zeros in on my nipples immediately, even through a shirt and a padded nursing bra.

I do love the moments, even though it sometimes means I get a little less sleep, where he’s fussing and furious in the crib until I pick him up… and miracle of miracles, he isn’t hungry. Instead he lays his head against my chest and settles immediately.

I know that right now, as far as Ender is concerned, his dad and I are just warm bodies, and pretty much anyone would do just as well for a cuddle buddy, but it’s still heart melting. Matt and I don’t co-sleep because it would take way too much to change our bed to a baby-safe environment. Also we’d like to give Ender a younger sibling sometime in the next few years, which means we’ll need the bed to ourselves at least once. But when Ender snuggles up against you, it’s easy to understand how people who plan not to co-sleep end up with a “family bed.”

Parenting, obviously, is full of adjustments. Depression runs in my family so even before we started trying for a baby Matt and I knew to be on the look out for postpartum depression, but so far, I’ve been just fine. Or as fine as any new parent, staying at home with an infant for the first time, can be expected to be. I have had a few breakdown moments, where I felt completely incapable and horrified at the thought of being stuck with all this new responsibility for a couple decades or longer. Each of these breakdowns though has had much more to do with sleep deprivation than real depression. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine the rest of the time, but my negative feelings are temporary resignation at being so static, pinned under a small tyrant.

It’s helped that we’ve made it a point to not be shut-ins from very early on.

My brother’s wedding was only a few weeks after Ender’s birth and it was an outdoor wedding with the best weather anyone could hope for in a Cleveland June wedding. It was perfect for us as well, slightly overcast evening so we weren’t terribly worried about the temperature or the sun.

I did try to pick up a sunhat for Ender, along with a cute outfit for the wedding, but although he fits 3-6 month clothes, he does NOT fit 3-6 month hats, and for whatever reason, they didn’t have any hats for a younger baby.

Fortunately it was pretty shady at the wedding, which was held in my brother’s (and his wife’s) back yard.

We’ve been back twice since for evening bonfires and potlucks, and since I’m generally a pretty anti-social creature, I’ve actually had more social interaction the last month than I did before having the baby. He’s so small, and his needs are so primitive, that for now he actually allows us quite a lot of freedom, so long as we have the energy to exercise it.

We’ve been out to restaurants with friends a few times. For the most part, Ender is quiet at restaurants, we shove his car seat into the back of a booth and give him a bottle if he gets hungry.

Sometimes he gets fussy, but he’s little enough that the looks people give us are still of the “aww… how sweet!” variety rather than the, “why can’t you control your brat” type.

He had his first real bath only a few weeks ago, in an infant-toddler plastic whale tub (actually a very clever design- much better than the detachable sling/hammock things that most tubs use for infants which just look kind of gross).

He also outgrew the infant insert for his carseat, which shifted him from slowly enormous looking, to suddenly tiny again. It’s been utterly strange to look back at photos from a few weeks ago and be able to see a noticeable difference both in his face and his size.

For me, the weirdest transformations haven’t been in Ender, which I expected, but in myself, and in Matt.

We took a trip out to PA to visit family a couple weekends ago, Ender’s first long trip. We planned on stopping frequently to give Ender breaks from the carseat, and ended up taking two days on the way out rather than our normal 6 hour drive.

We stopped at places like Bob Evans and Perkins, where we knew Matt and I could get a decent meal while giving Ender his bottle. Side note: the booths at Bob Evans are just a little too small to comfortably feed a baby.

It was strange for me, to hear Matt request a table for three. Every hostess or waitress looked down at Ender to evaluate whether he was old enough to need his own menu, and while most were bright enough to realize, no he’s not even old enough to try and eat the crayons much less color with them, just the fact that they had to look at him and judge reminded me that we now have this new real whole person in our lives.

Ender was fairly fussy at the stops, and so I spent much of the time between bites of my food standing and rocking him, trying to keep him from bothering the other customers.

Most people weren’t bothered, they just smiled at me and went on. The way they looked at me surprised me, because I realized they looked at me and saw a mother, they looked at us and saw a family of three. I wanted to tell them all that I’ve only had this beautiful boy for a month and that this is a new role. I don’t yet know that’s me.

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