Saturday, December 20, 2008
Beyond the boob
Today is Nora's 6-month birthday. I still can't believe that my tiny little lump of baby has turned into a solid mass of human being. She's sitting on her own (for short periods), playing with toys—and plastic bags—and getting furious when they're taken away from her, showing preferences for certain people, pushing up on her knees and trying to crawl (she even managed some forward motion this evening), and in general finding new ways every day to explore her individuality.
I don't like it.
I do know, however, that I need to accept it—even facilitate it—if I want her to grow into an independent, functional person. (That is what I want, right?) To that end I finally took the cue last night, when she plunged her fist ravenously into my mashed potatoes and tried to stuff them into her mouth, that she's maybe ready for something other than breastmilk.
It's a bittersweet step—and one I was happy to delay as long as possible. Until now, we've basically functioned as one unit: She grew as part of my body, taking her nourishment from me; she was born, and though she was no longer physically a part of me, I felt no less connected to her—she has stayed close, slept nuzzled against me, and flourished on nothing more than what my body has produced for her. Every molecule of her chunky little body has come, so far, from me. So giving her solid foods smacked me with the reality that we're taking the first of many steps in the process of detachment, of her finding sustenance (both literal and figurative) apart from me. It's normal. It's natural. It's necessary. And still it kills me.
Heavy discussion over a baby carrot, no? That was her first food: a roasted baby carrot. We're trying something called baby-led weaning, which means that instead of spoon-feeding purees, we'll present Nora with food and she can eat it or not, as she's interested and ready. (And yes, it probably also means I'll be that woman who's still nursing her 14-year-old. Sorry, but you'll get used to it.) From what I've read, babies will normally explore food with their hands and mouths for a while—maybe even months—before eventually gumming off some bites and swallowing them. Not our little overachiever. She immediately got the carrot to her mouth, bit off a piece, chewed, and swallowed. Repeat. I'd say she swallowed about half the baby carrot, and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Before I start crying (again), I'll stop dissecting this event and just let the photos, and the video at the end, tell the story.