Or 24 weeks, if you prefer. I find there’s some sort of unspoken agreement that just as months turn to years after age 2, weeks turn to months after the first post-birth trimester. I wonder if that’s because my sister was right: the first three months is pretty much an extension of pregnancy with the baby on the outside.
Perhaps it’s also because of this magical thing that seems to happen around the 12-week mark: babies develop a personality. And you fall in love with them all over again. The way I’ve got it worked out is like this (and this is from observation of others as well, although of course every family is different):
Week 1-6: WOAH. Zzzzzzzzzzz. Awake. Not awake. Not quite sure. WHAT THE… Why are they making that noise? (And the version for colic: HOW DO YOU MAKE IT STOP?)
Week 6-12: Okay, we’re cookin’ with gas now! Now achieving expert level at feeding, changing, dressing, bathing… The cogs in this machine are turning beautifully.
Week 12: BANG. Oh. My. God. I love you so much my heart might explode out of my chest and shower everyone with melted chocolate and marshmallows.
They can smile. They can laugh. They can play. They notice things: you moving around the room, the cat pootling by, the cartoon on the television. You hold a book in front of them and they swat at the more vibrant pictures. The playmat turns out to have been an amazing investment. And so on… If the three month mark is a reward for sticking out the adjustment and hard work of the first few weeks, it’s also a much-needed precursor to the next stage.
If there’s one word that dominates the fifth month – at least with Ramona – it’s frustration. She’s bored with milk and wants to eat real food (I’ve started weaning her, actually, but that’s a post for another day). She wants to sit up, but only in the last two days has she shown any signs of being able to do so a little – and of course it’ll take weeks before she can do so reliably. She wants to stand, and can be held in standing position for hours giggling hysterically, but gets terribly upset when her parents’ arms prove fallible. She doesn’t want to lie down, ever, arching and spluttering, until oh, actually she does. She doesn’t want the damned milk already, until you put it in her mouth.
So from the golden moments of the burgeoning personality, there’s now a phase where you have to accept that personality is hers to command. Of course you get to shape it, but frankly she’s going to test you at every moment…
And I love it. Oh, God, do I love it. Every day I am wiped out. Freakin’ exhausted. I spend my day crawling around at floor level, removing my phone from her mouth, feeding, changing, singing, clapping, playing, rocking, trying to keep an eye on naptime and trying to ignore the indignant wailing when I dare to take two minutes out to go to the loo. But every single little milestone – when she twists the ball on the activity centre and looks up expectantly for my clapping and praise, when she managed a full minute sitting only semi-supported – makes me fall in love with her that little bit more. Her eyes. Her smile. The sparkle, that twinkle, that gives her expression such intelligence and baby sweetness.
And now I’d better go; she’s woken up from her nap and does not appreciate the laptop getting more attention than she is.
Quite right too.
This photo, which I think of as the Emo Whiffler, isn’t very flattering and is an overexposed phone shot with zombie red-eye. But it was taken today and I love it.