Leap Six – The Velcro Baby
With my first baby it was hard not to obsess over each little thing he did or didn’t do. How much should he be feeding at X months? How much and how often should he sleep at Y months? What skills should he have learnt by Z months? And of course, the perennial “What’s wrong with him this time?” which was generally answered with one or more of colic, wind, growth spurt, teething, and wonder weeks (wonder months would be far more accurate!). Second time around and these things aren’t entirely new – I know the phases come and go even if I don’t remember the finer details. Then there’s the distraction of the eldest child. With him around, this baby mostly has to just get on with it. Interrupted naps. ALL THE TIME. We’ve a total lack of any consistent routine because our whole family is at an ‘in between stage’ right now. There’s much less one-on-one attention for this little chap. He’s not the only star of the daily show. These early months have crept past with all that’s been going on. Up until recently that is. Leap Six is here, and no one is happy about it.
Sleep has been hit and miss, but generally a vast improvement on our sleep-allergic firstborn. It’s been reasonably consistent with some good nights, some bad nights. The four month sleep regression wasn’t a major issue this time. Then a few weeks ago everything started deteriorating. It’s now down to a maximum of two hours before an inevitable wake-up wail every night, all night. Ironically this would have been a great night’s sleep with the Rascal at this age, but it’s all relative. Until we move and settle in to a new normal there’s no balanced routine for this baby, and thus for me, to rely on. Not only is there the usual endless amount of housework waiting to be done, but there’s an entire house full of belongings to sort out prior to the big move. It takes forever with a baby and four-year-old underfoot. As soon as you turn your back, one of them is digging into something they shouldn’t be touching. There’s so much to be done, and nowhere near enough time for doing it.
Now, just to help things along we’ve hit the worst baby patch yet. My seven month old is great craic. He’s fascinated by everything. He loves exploring. He beams at every passing stranger. But. BUT. The rest of his time is spent wailing and whining. During the umpteenth crying jag one night I reinstalled the Wonder Weeks app on my phone. I loaded it up, and sure enough the calendar displayed a dark cloud of overshadowing the rest of the month. This was not a surprise. Nor was it a surprise to see that the phase was marked as Leap Six. It’s only a little less memorable than Leap Ten with our firstborn. Leap Six is when the little darlings really start to master the art of whinging as separation anxiety becomes a reality (whether it’s the separation of another room, or just a few inches doesn’t really matter to them). And this is one of the leaps that feels like it goes on FOREVER.
The term ‘velcro baby’ is born of this leap. Can’t put him down for a second without an immediate complaint. He loses his shit (often literally) at the sight of me turning my back to him. And that’s before I try to walk to the far side of the room for something. He’s got so much going on, but he wants it happening on his terms. He’s extremely frustrated that despite all attempts, he can still only crawl backwards. And sideways. And backwards zig-zagging. But not forwards. Not the way he desperately wants to go. This enrages him greatly. One minute he’s babbling on the rug poking a toy. The next he’s flat on his belly walloping his limbs off the ground in fury (a precursor to the full-blown toddler tantrums ahead). Every so often he raises his head to fix me with his best “I’ve been abandoned – how could you?!” red face of indignation.
This is when you really start feeling ‘touched out’. There’s always someone demanding something. The baby is constantly pulling and grabbing out of me. If he’s happy on the rug with a toy then his older brother will decide to rob him of his treasure within minutes. Personal time and space is virtually zero. Less than zero on the days when the four and a half year is on a mission to wreak havoc too. Which is most days. (More on the trials and tribulations of having a 4 and a half year old in the house another day). It’s not so easy to go with the flow in a house with four of us here all day every day in the midst of packing up and moving country. Some things can be let slide. Others just can’t. “6 days to end of leap”, promises the app today. We’ll see.