Munchkin and friends
Munchkin’s birthday party — last month’s news whose memory has been eclipsed somewhat by more recent events — was as much a celebration for him as it was for us. The birth of one’s first child is a watershed moment: the ultimate of life’s responsibilities suddenly crashes in on one’s complacent, self-centered lifestyle. It’s scary. More than once we caught ourselves doubting whether we were ready, fearing that we might not be.
Well, we’ve survived the first year not much worse for wear and succeeded in shepherding Munchkin from his floppy infant stage into chattering, giggly, exploratory toddlerhood. And last week we toasted both his milestone and the fact that we’ve managed to make it through the first year without any visible damage, his constant attempts to maim himself in increasingly complex ways notwithstanding.
We had anticipated many of the challenges of new parenthood; a few others snuck up on us unexpectedly. Looking back on the last year, we still struggle to wrap our minds around how much Munchkin has changed and how quickly he has grown. And though he now bubbles with self-awareness and a new-found independence, dashing around the house and trying to get into all sorts of trouble, there are some vexations we thought would be behind us by now that still remain from his infant phase.
Chief among these is sleep. Friends had compared the first 6 months to living in the Twilight Zone, which we naively took to mean that it would take half a year for Munchkin to settle into a good sleep routine that let us all rest during the night. When that didn’t happen, we thought for sure he would be sleeping through the night by his first birthday. Not so.
For a while we were trending in the right direction — he would sleep for 7-8 hours at a stretch and only wake up once for a quick feeding before falling back into a deep slumber. He even managed to sleep through the night a handful of times. Knowing how good things could be only makes his recent regression all the more painful.
For a couple of months now, he’s gotten into the habit of waking up around 4am. Whereas before a bottle of warm milk sufficed to ease him back into his dream world, that is no longer the case. At first, he would sit in his crib after finishing the bottle, happily chattering to himself for 30-40 minutes before starting to whine again. We would get up a second time, give him another bottle, and he’d finally consent to falling asleep again. His chatter was loud and unrestrained — and so funny that D would frequently chuckle despite the fact that it kept both of us up in the middle of the night. The last few weeks, however, the chattering has given way to similarly unrestrained screams and crying, and there seems to be no end in sight to this unfortunate new phase.
In addition to sleeping through the night, we thought Munchkin’s first birthday would bring with it his first words. On this score also our expectations proved unfounded. Munchkin has vastly expanded his range since his first unintentional “ma-ma,” but the sounds he makes are still very much devoid of any meaning we can discern. And given that we have maintained a two-fronted linguistic assault, with D speaking to him only in Russian and S using only English, it seems likely that he will continue communicating exclusively in nonsensical sounds for the immediate future.