Dexter had a hell of a weekend. Observe:
But let’s start at the beginning.
One year ago today, I posted online a photo of Dexter and me taken at 3:30 a.m. We had a full house – grandparents visiting – and he and I were the only ones up. He’s just finished nursing and was snuggled into me, so warm and tiny. See?
Today, as I’m driving to daycare to visit him, I remember this photo, and get all warm and fuzzy and really, really excited to see Dex. When I get there, I can’t immediately find him, and finally, one of the teachers says, “He’s behind you!”
I turn around and Dexter is lounging in the sunken area (which you might remember as The Furniture Pushin’ Gang’s preferred ledge over which to shove cribs), lazily swinging his legs in the air and grinning that grin he gets when he knows he’s pulled a fast one on mommy. Look:
She dug through the cardboard box, looking for her prize, and out it came: a small plush emoji, a yellow smiling face wearing sunglasses. I’m pretty old but I believe it stands for “cool.” (Also, it had a tag on it that read “cool.”)
Dexter immediately feel madly, deeply in love. He reached toward his teacher, begging her for the object of his affection. She handed it to him and he immediately, for some reason, put it in his mouth and began crawling around the daycare looking disturbingly like a dog with a chew-toy. (Add that to the list of things I didn’t know babies do until I had one. It’s getting to be quite the tome.) When she saw what she was doing, the teacher determined the cool tag was a choking risk and took the emoji from Dex to cut it off.
They call them The Furniture Pushin’ Gang. The members are Dexter, Camden, Jaxon and Mary Lou. (Names slightly changed to shield the not-so-innocent.)
Jaxon: the muscle, with the chunkiest thighs on planet Earth.
Camden: just started walking, so he brings that to the table, plus he grows hair at a rate hereby unseen on a baby – 4 haircuts by the time he was 7 months old and still going strong.
He feeds himself most meals, is going to start walking any minute, and occasionally will give his parents a kiss. Dex loves making people laugh and if a catchy song comes on, he’ll bob his head back and forth in this little Stevie Wonder dance.
Dexter finally added MAMAMAMA to his lexicon, and it’s a good thing because he’s been saying DADADADA for a few months now and I was starting to take it personally.
He’s growing and changing so quickly that we’ve begun to miss things. Saturday, I’m playing with him and making him laugh when I notice his smile looks different. One, two, three, four, FIVE TEETH, oh my gosh Dexter grew a whole new tooth and neither of us noticed.
I’ve been Dexter’s mommy for 12 months, which means for one year, I’ve been his favorite person. That special status is something I didn’t think much about, when I thought about what it would be like to be a parent, and the intensity of Dex’s gaze surprised me. There were a few weeks in the beginning where it really freaked me out. Was I up to the task of being this tiny human’s number one? I really wasn’t sure, and I was terrified I’d let him down.
Now that we’ve been hanging out for a year, though, it’s different. When he reaches for me or calls for me or his eyes light up because I’ve walked into the room I just feel honored. Honored that Dexter is in our family. Honored that he loves me. Honored that I get to be his mom. So, so honored to be Dexter’s most favorite person.
Because guess what? Along with Matt, Dexter is my favorite person, too.
As of yesterday, Dexter Ian is 11 months old. I just want to be sure everyone is aware that 11 months is just one month away from ONE YEAR OLD. Please direct me to the office where I can file a complaint regarding the too-rapid passage of time.
I’m aware that kids like toys and that’s why they exist, but Dexter really loves toys, playing and exploring with impressive energy and creativity. He has four teeth now and plays Level 4 peek-a-boo, where he covers his face with his own hands. Sometimes he mostly misses, which is hilarious. (“Where’s Dexter? Oh. He’s right there.”) His favorite things are being upside down, cracking himself up by sticking his pacifier in mommy’s or daddy’s mouth and crawling up the stairs then taking off in a sprint-crawl, giggling wildly, giddy with freedom.
Our morning routine right now is that I get up and make a bottle while Matt grabs Dex out of his crib and entertains him until milk is ready. Every day, my not-a-snuggler baby practically flings himself out of Matt’s arms when he sees me because for some reason, he not only deigns to hug me for a whole 15 seconds every morning but he seems to really, really crave it. So do I, kid. Thank you for the best 15 seconds of my day.
After about 10 and a half months, my time breastfeeding Dexter is coming to an end. Our weaning story isn’t unusual – he’s been nursing less and less since he started solids, and since I returned to work full time. I’d suspected for a while that he wasn’t getting much out of it. His top two teeth popped last week and that sealed the deal – three hard bites later, I decided I didn’t want to end this beautiful thing we were doing together with pain and frustration so I called it. If I’m honest, he called it a while ago and I was just keeping it going as long as I could.
I’d love this to be a “10 months? WE ROCK!” post but the truth is, I’m blue. I choke up every time I tell someone. Add “weaning depression” to the shockingly voluminous list of things I never knew about until I had a baby (cerclage, breast pump phalanges, wubbanubs… oh, it is such a long list) but I am in it. As I’ve mentioned before, we fought really hard to establish breastfeeding and somehow, that makes it feel worse, like I’m giving up on the tail end, even though that isn’t the case. (I tried EVERYTHING to boost my supply after Dex started daycare. You do not want to know the things I have seen, done and consumed in the name of milk supply.) I never imagined being a mom would involve so much weeping about breastfeeding, making it happen, keeping it going and letting it go.
Dexter Ian is ten months old today. Somehow, he sensed that I wasn’t sure what to write about because he hit THREE milestones today. 1. Dexter achieved Level 2 peek-a-boo (that’s where he hides behind a blanket himself, rather than having me fling the blanket onto his face for him to pull down) 2. He has been laboriously pulling himself to standing for about a week but today, Dex whipped himself upright like it was nothing and 3. He climbed all three steps in our house, oh crap, the world is Dexter’s open-electrical-socket-and-sharp-object-and-poisonous-liquid-filled-oyster. It’s amazing he had time for all of this because he also took a nap on my chest for 2+ hours but as my Dad says, Dexter is BUSY.
This is a hard time for me. Bad stuff has happened, some not my fault and some absolutely my fault. I’m frequently overwhelmed and frustrated and I’m struggling to see the path to make it better. And then I look at Matt and Dexter and feel all this love and you think I’m going to say it makes it all disappear but it doesn’t. It makes it worse, because I worry I’m failing them. But my guys, and how I feel about them, also keep me focused. Dexter smiles at me and suddenly, I know the path will form. And once it does? I got this. Because they are so, so worth it.
Dexter Ian is nine months old today. This age is super interesting, with new skills every day, and a recent and charming one is that Dexter has learned how to wave. He waves his whole arm, from the shoulder, and is very generous with them. Mom back from getting a glass of water? Better wave. Matt walked across the room to get the laundry, now he’s returned? Wave to make sure Dad feels greeted. Miss Maria at daycare running around like a crazy woman taking care of a thousand babies? She deserves a hearty wave every time she passes by.
Dex laughs at fake sneezes (but not real ones), pulls himself to kneeling and still becomes furious when a meal ends. He loves his toys and invents little systems and games that surprise me with their cleverness. Dexter says DADADADADA and YAYAYAYAYA either in a whisper or at bullhorn top volume, rarely in between.
Another recent milestone is Dex will feed himself a teething biscuit, an entertaining spectacle that all four grandparents and two aunts have witnessed via Facetime. Eventually, I’ll have to break it to this kid, that there will come a day when loved ones probably won’t want to watch him eat a cracker with extended focus and utter, rapt delight. For now, though, I think I’ll let him believe that he is the center of the universe, a baby made of magic and adored by all.
Dexter Ian is eight months old, officially as of December 10, but it turns out he already is hiding things from his parents at a 10th grade level. A week and a half ago, when I went to pick him up from daycare, Dex was hanging out in an odd place. The babies crawl all over, but it was an area I’d never seen a baby put down, so I asked his teacher, “Did you guys place him there or did he scoot there?” “Oh,” she replied casually. “He crawled there.” After I picked my jaw up off the floor I explained that his father and I were unaware our child could crawl since, you know, he’d never done it at home. It seems he’d been crawling at daycare for at least a week. We still haven’t been able to replicate the results and to this day, neither Matt nor I have witnessed Dexter crawling. Secret skills!
He still loves to eat, pounding on the table between bites if you aren’t scooping them into his adorable mouth fast enough for his liking. I swear he’s been singing in the backseat when we drive him around. No other time. He hates baths again for no reason at all. We’re ready for that phase to pass. Dexter loves fingering and exploring and smashing his toys. His favorite playthings are pill bottles and plastic packaging because Matt and I are terrible parents.
Ever since he left the newborn phase behind, Dexter hasn’t been the cuddliest kid, preferring to move and explore rather than to sit and snuggle. He’s starting to lean in on that a little, occasionally napping on my chest or relaxing into my lap while he gently touches my face or toys with a lock of my hair. Because I know his next developmental leap could erase these affectionate moments in an instant, I’ve been making a point to stop everything else and meet Dex halfway, breathing deeply, holding his fingers, drinking him in. As soon as he inevitably starts to wiggle, I pull him close and whisper in his ear. “Dexter! I love you. And I love being your mommy.”
And then I hand him the nearest bottle of vitamins so he can shake it like maracas.