As Maddie approaches her first Christmas, she is filling her days with a cavalcade of other firsts as well. We’ve been staying at my in-laws’ house in southern Indiana for the past week, where Maddie has been adored by nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles young and old.1
With Maddie’s new ability to sleep on her stomach, we have been able to get her to nap pretty much anywhere that there’s a flat surface, so that we can hang out at other relatives’ homes playing board games or floor hockey into the night while she rests in peace in the next room. It’s perfect.
In addition to her new sleep routine, there have been some other fun firsts just in time for Christmas. She is now fully able to roll over from her back to her stomach and vice versa, which she doesn’t choose to do often, but can do with surprising speed. After changing her one day, I checked a text message on my phone, looked back at her and saw that she was suddenly on her chest. She’s also holding her head up like a champ and beginning to respond to her name when you call it.2
She’s also becoming adorably ticklish, which is proving to me that baby laughter is one of the most beautiful sounds in the universe. If you tickle her around her neck and shoulders or tickle her feet, she will erupt in a series of deep-throated giggles that are unlike any other sound she makes. It’s seriously heart-melting and kind of addictive to hear. Sorry, Maddie. We also recently discovered that she enjoys rounds of peek-a-boo, which makes her unleash a similar giggle fit every time you uncover your face.
All of these changes have made Maddie seem increasingly like a little girl and less like a baby, which has made this whole parenting thing more fun with each passing day. But child development isn’t all games and laughter.
On our drive southward, we were stopped at a random McDonald’s when I gave Maddie my finger to chew on and excessively drool all over, as she has been wont to do for the last couple weeks. She will really go to town on any finger I offer her, and if I’m holding her with one hand around her chest and don’t offer her a finger, she will inevitably dive bomb my hand and try to find a finger to chomp on like a corn on the cob. Since my hands and fingers have some hair on them, she will also slide her mouth around on my thumb until she finds the hair-free spot that is most finger-lickin’ good.
This time when she chomped down, it actually kind of hurt, and I felt something hard between my finger and her gums—her first tooth! Her bottom right front tooth was already emerging from its gummy packaging and poking up with surprising sharpness. Considering her incredibly friendly temperament the past couple weeks’, we were both shocked that she already had a tooth to show for her seemingly minimal teething efforts. I also didn’t think that babies got their teeth this early…she’s only four months old! Our pediatrician once asked us when we had started teething as babies, since apparently it is somewhat genetic, but I don’t think either one of us started this early. Mom…thoughts?
As the week wore on, Maddie continued to bite3 our fingers with abandon and enjoy a nice cold freezer chew toy whenever possible. A couple days later, I noticed that her bottom left front tooth was also now visible! A little Googling proved that these are the first two teeth to usually emerge and that the upper two front teeth could follow after a month or so. Either way, she is definitely an overachiever, or in this case, an early adopter.
A more unfortunate development this week has been Maddie’s first cold. She was fighting some congestion for the past couple weeks with a random barking cough every once in a while, but now it has escalated significantly into a full-on head cold…and Daddy has it now, too.
A couple days ago, we had a bit of a scare when we noticed that whitish/yellowish mucus was forming in the corner of one of Maddie’s eyes whenever she would fall asleep. The eye was beginning to appear swollen as well, and we began to fear that pink eye would be her next “first.” Fortunately, we called her pediatrician and the nurse alerted us to the condition of a clogged tear duct, which apparently is a rather common malady for babies that causes a swollen eye and the mucus, without the redness associated with pink eye. The nurse instructed us to massage under her eye from her nose to her cheek while feeding her. I also crowdsourced some remedies on Facebook with my vast and growing collection of friends who are also parents, and one unorthodox method got several votes: squirting her in the affected eye with breastmilk. We tried this, which didn’t do much beyond making her mad, and another pediatrician friend told me that the breastmilk method is actually a placebo rather than a magical cure, so we have stuck with the massaging. Her eyes look better today, even though she had mucus around both of them this morning. The nurse said this is a testament to her bad cold and not to anything more severe than that.
In sharing this sickness with her4, I feel so much pity for her. Aside from looking like a poor soul with her swollen eye and her running nose, I can’t imagine being in the kind of discomfort caused by a cold and not being able to express my needs to anyone or fix my situation for myself. Sure, it’s annoying to blow my nose every five minutes, but at least I can do that for myself. Maddie can just yelp and hope that the source of her discomfort is visible enough for us to take it away.
She is so congested that we tried letting her sleep in her swing last night, since the vertical orientation seemed better for drainage than sleeping on her stomach. She is also drooling and dripping so much that her sheet becomes almost instantly soaked with mucus or saliva when she lies facedown, putting her face in a cold puddle that is definitely not doing her cold any favors. We initially tried pulling her around to a new section on her mattress whenever the wet spot formed, but there’s only so much real estate and the drooling is nearly constant. While surely sleeping in the swing is not something we want her to do long term, she was able to sleep for 12 hours last night with one feeding, so at least she got some good rest.
We are hopeful that both daughter and daddy can repeat that restful night tonight and awake bright and healthy with clear eyes and nostrils for Maddie’s first Christmas Eve tomorrow. That said, we are beyond blessed that Maddie is as healthy as she is, and that we’re just dealing with a head cold when so many families are dealing with far worse. At a time of year that celebrates family and togetherness, I am so grateful for the blessing of my little family, and the honor of helping Maddie navigate through all these new experiences and sensations…even when they’re not so easy.
I hope you have the merriest Christmas and a beautiful new year!
- Though one of my younger nieces, whose parents are pregnant with twins, told me in no uncertain terms that no one will care about Maddie once the twins are born because they will be smaller. She then asked for the tenth time if she could hold Maddie. Enjoy it while you can, Maddie.
- Or maybe just to the sound coming from another direction, but it sure seems like she responds to her name…
- When there’s a tooth involved, it’s no longer sucking.
- minus the mucus eyes