Nine months

We started the month on St. Patrick’s Day, a ridiculous scene wherein we made the mistake of trying to see the parade from Central Park and ended up fleeing the rowdy scene while trying to keep Hudson asleep in the stroller. That meant frantic side-of-the-street changes (as another group of chanting drunk students would approach) until we ended up walking down First Avenue past the UN with Aron pulling the stroller backwards to keep the high sun off Hudson’s face. I took a picture of the struggle for when I’m tempted to recount glory days and only remember what was awesome about having a baby in the city. I can pull it out and say “Are you sure?”

Actually, I feel like a dominant theme this month has been a changing relationship with the city. We’re starting to feel really ready for a larger space now that it’s within our grasp. And even though there are parks and playgrounds aplenty, so many of the lawns are still off limits from winter. It was 85 degrees on Monday and the blacktops are getting hot–come on! That said, with Hudson being so much more mobile and the temperatures rising, we have been enjoying going around and testing out all the playgrounds. (He really likes the swings now, and thinks he can climb up steps and ladders unassisted; he also seems to find the most disgusting thing in cracks to try and put that into his mouth: if it looks like an owl chewed it up and spit it out, he wants it.) We’ve also been enjoying story time at various libraries (where he mostly loves looking at other kids but also gets “pushed around” by the older ones who want whatever toy he slowly picks up). He stays awake for predictable extents (generally from between 10:30 or 11am-2 or 3pm he’s awake) and so we’re free to roam further between naps again.

We’re also spending more time in restaurants, aided by Hudson’s preference for highchairs (the excitement of having his own seat is notable), as well as his willingness to eat whatever we order for ourselves. He has yet to reject anything (though Olive Tapenade didn’t win him over), and surprises us with his taste for everything from tuna salad (which even I detest) to Aloo Gobi (Indian combo of potatoes and cauliflower). He seems to especially love Mexican food, butternut squash raviolis, and anything involving chicken. He has yogurt a lot and likes to feed himself strawberries and bananas and bits of avocado. And he occasionally drinks water through a straw (motivated by the first time he tried it with mango lassi). I also give him squeeze packs from Happy Baby or Plum fairly often.

At the start of the month, we tried little finger foods for the first time. I brought home yogurt melts but they proved to be too sticky once touched by wet little fingers and we quickly switched to Happy Baby Puffs. They were a huge hit and within two days or so he was picking them up and getting them to the target with a 4 out of 5 success rate! (Since then I’ve learned that puffs are sort of a playdate commodity–you must share the puffs!) Broccoli florets were the first food I really scattered all over in front of him and let him feed himself. He would try to pick them up with his right hand and then hold that hand steady with his left as he tried to get each piece into his mouth. Now we’ve been trying to get him to share some of his things with us and–if he is already working on a bite–he might hold a bit of something in my mouth for two seconds before taking it back to his.

His diet and his mobility have probably been the most monumental changes this month. He went from crawling to cruising and now pulls up on all the furniture. We’ve gotten by so far mostly with “No” and distraction rather than safety locks, and I just try not to open cupboards in front of him lest he see there’s anything there worth exploring. But all that crawling and cruising has led to some bumps and bruises. Fortunately he recovers much more quickly than I do!

We bought and installed a new car seat (the Combi) and whether it’s the seat or the age we’ll never know, but Hudson is so much happier now! We had plenty of opportunities to test it out during a trip to California and he would fall asleep promptly in it (or, if unhappy, calm easily with a little singing). I actually sat in the front seat on all but the ride home from the airport and Aron and I looked at each other like “Oh, THIS is why people take babies on long drives.”

He is bouncing on our laps with renewed vigor ever since getting a new doorway bouncer. The exersaucer is out and the doorway bouncer is in. He thinks it’s funny when you blow puffs of air on his face–seemingly because he realizes it means you’re playing with him. Peekaboo-like games are usually a hit, especially the one where I balance him on my legs and bring him up and down behind my knees–he’ll then rest his face on my knees and rub noses with me. His laugh those times reminds me a bit of the Beavis and Butthead chuckle–only much sweeter.

He likes chasing games and will usually crawl half way between me and an object and then pause to be caught. If he’s playing on his own, he also likes to come back and check in with me for little hug breaks. And if he is on his own, he usually finds his way under or through our furniture, hanging out in tight little spaces. We happened upon a playhouse at a bookstore the other day and he was in heaven!

Perhaps my favorite new “game” is at storytime, when we put him down propped up by our pillows and pull the down comforter up over his legs. He kicks and squeals with delight and I imagine (who knows?) he loves being in a bed like a big boy would be. There we read Hungry Caterpillar for the bazillionth time and I marvel at how differently he engages with it every few weeks. Though it’s now rote, the constancy allows me to really notice how his interest changes. Aron and I could really notice when all of the sudden he wanted to put his fingers through the holes (even if he would cry when he saw them on the other side of the page), and we could see the difference when he started looking forward to the big butterfly reveal at the end.

There have been a fair share of sad, clingy moments this month: He had a persistant cold, with a sad little cough, to start. Two more teeth have broken through (the second, tooth #6, is still working it’s way out in fact). And he seemed to have a short bout of stranger anxiety, mixed with a brief”I only want mom in the middle of the night” phase. He’s also been biting lately–especially on our shoulders and arms–to put pressure on his teeth. We’ve been offering a lot of “mango popsicles”(pieces of frozen mango in a net) to try and curb this.

We’re hearing lots of babbling “a-ba, a-ba” or “ba, ba, ba, ba” but no clear mama or dada yet. He still seems to be studying our mouths when we talk and will carry on entire conversations if the subject is “a-ba.” If I say “wowa, wowa” like a siren, he’ll often start to babble. And then there are still lots of clicking exchanges. His cries sound different with this change, however: so much sadder and whinier with all of the consonants thrown in!

As a Urologist, Aron operates on patients of all ages; he’ll often remark how eerily similar the babies Hudson’s age sound to Hudson. They’re doing many of the same things; they cry the way he cries. So while I’m sure that most of these little things Hudson is doing are the very same things most 8 or 9 month olds are doing, we can’t help but find everything this kiddo does pretty darn special.

[Photos taken on the 17th; see all monthly photos and updates (and try to ignore how I get more and more longwinded) here]

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