A Cranky 7-Month-Old and Her Cranky Mother

Leone decided to celebrate her seventh luna-versary by waking up every 20 minutes all night long.

I think she’s teething.

She has two little white saws sticking out from her bottom gums. Her top gums look a little raw and red.

She bites everything.

She’s bit my nipple twice now. I scream in pain. She sobs. I sob. Then I’m terrified to nurse her again because I don’t want to be bitten. I actually pumped a bottle of milk for her. I’ve been pumping every day for a baby in Colorado but this bottle was for Leone. I left to do a photo shoot. James tried to give Leone the bottle. She screamed and refused it. She cried for the entire time I was gone.

Things have been a little rough at our house lately.

At seven months old, Leone is still a smiley good-natured sort but she’s been so cranky and impatient lately. She wants things. The water glass you’re holding, her sister’s golden hair (tug tug tug, why won’t it come off?), the glasses on your face (aren’t those my toys? Give them to me!). When she doesn’t get what she wants RIGHT AWAY she acts very peevish about it.

“You used to be such a nice baby,” I told her yesterday.

I worry we didn’t appreciate it enough when Leone was so easygoing. James says we did.

Leone still hates being on her stomach and she still can’t crawl forward but she can go backwards and she’s more mobile, scooting around somehow to get somewhere, even if it isn’t exactly where she wants to go. She’s very social. When we went to school last week to help bind the end-of-the-year books she smiled and cooed at everyone, patting my back with her open hand. She loves the attention as long as it is at a safe distance. If she doesn’t know you and you pick her up, she’ll cry real tears.

She pulls herself up to standing on your lap, and will actually stand holding on to a low table. It seems too early for that. I wonder if she’ll skip crawling and just start to walk. Hesperus, Athena, and Etani all crawled for a long time, learning to walk relatively late. But Leone is the first baby I’ve had who hates to be on her stomach and who only sleeps on her back so maybe she won’t crawl?

She talks all the time. In the last few days to vocalize her crankiness. She says things that almost sound like words: “na na na na,” “da, da, da, da,” and “ah, ah, ah ah.” I know she understands when I ask her if she wants to nurse.

Me: Do you want nummies?

Leone: Na na na!

Me: Na na’s? Do you want na na’s?

Leone: [Wildly flailing arms and legs while smiling with her whole mouth and drooling] Ah ah ah!

She’s also working on her fine motor skills. She loves to pinch things and to pick up small objects in her thumb and forefinger. She uses her fingers like crab pincers and really concentrates at the object she wants, open and closing her fingers as she goes in for the kill. She loves to pinch James’s chest hairs and his nipples. I don’t let her do that to me.

She can almost clap. She puts her two hands together with the intention of clapping, forgets that’s what she wanted to do, and holds hands with herself instead.

She also likes to wave, a little half wave to say hello or goodbye.

Leone’s not the only one who’s cranky.

I’m reading These Happy Golden Years to Etani. In the book Laura teaches school 12 miles away and boards with Mr. and Mrs. Brewster. Mrs. Brewster is a sullen, quarrelsome homesteader who responds with angry silence to Laura’s “Good morning.” Her one redeeming quality is that she makes fried potatoes and salt pork for breakfast. I told the children, whom I woke 20 minutes early this morning so they could do their chores, to call me Mrs. Brewster. Then I banged around the kitchen frying sliced potatoes and complaining about how messy our house is.

“Why are you so angry Mommy?” Poor Athena, long suffering just like Laura, asked me.

“I’m sorry honey,” I said, tears in my eyes. “I’m just so tired. The baby and Etani were both up before dawn. I’m trying to clean the kitchen but everything’s such a mess. I’m scared to nurse the baby because I don’t want her to bite me. I’m not mad at you. I’m just tired.”

Hesperus emptied the dishwasher. Athena took out the compost. Etani sponged off the table. Leone fussed.

The house feels a little less chaotic now. James is watching Leone this morning. And the potatoes were delicious.

Who me? I'm innocent. I've never bitten anyone in my life

Who me? I’m innocent. I’ve never bitten anyone in my life

I admit I do like biting the toys in this basket

I admit I do like biting the toys in this basket

And I'm happy to teethe on this pen

And I’m happy to teethe on this pen

And practice with a carrot

And practice with a carrot


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19 thoughts on “A Cranky 7-Month-Old and Her Cranky Mother”

  1. Leone looks so grown up suddenly! I’ve been enjoying following since just after she was born, when my daughter was born. But since mine is my first, I always appreciate your experienced wisdom, too. We’ve had a few of those awake-every-15-minutes nights, and they’re rough on both of us. Hope you get to nap today :)
    .-= Mama Em´s last blog ..Ask Mama Em =-.

  2. I have days like that, and I just have one child (if you don’t count the dog or my husband). I often think of that Alexander book, the last line in particular. “Some days are like that, even in Australia.” Get some sleep, hon. If you can. If you can’t, forgive yourself. You are a great mom.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..What parenthood looks like =-.

  3. What a cutie! I really enjoyed this post and hope Leone lets you sleep more once her teeth come in. Have you tried rubbing a sugar cube on her gums where the teeth are almost showing?
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Ocean-lovers, Unite! =-.

  4. Wow, can I ever relate to this post! And I can’t wait to start reading Little House to my girls. Hang in there.

  5. The amazing thing about those Little House books is how much work they’re all doing all day long, all the chores, and they’re practically whistling zippidy-doo-dah the whole time. They remind me of an account I read about a visitor to John Brown’s home in Springfield, Mass., where he was a prosperous merchant with like 13 kids (this was years before the eponymous ‘Raid’). The visitor was asked to dinner, and said all 13 kids rushed around doing their tasks–cooking, setting, washing–that the house seemed to whirl into readiness for dinner. Brown was a widower at this point, I believe, and did not himself do the cooking and cleaning; but with 13 collaborating, it all got done fast. That’s what your breakfast collaboration reminded me of.

  6. What a doll Leone is! I can’t believe “those days” are such a very distant memory now-and my oldest are only (already!) 13. It’s so fantastic that you are blogging about Leone, and will always know when she did what. I so regret that my 4th’s milestones got rather lost in the shuffle.

  7. My second child was really bad with that… he bit me all the time and not just the boobs. I carried him all the time (he wouldn’t have it any other way) and my left shoulder was constantly different shades of bruises. Some old yellow ones, some green, some deep blue. He just had to bite. I tried hard to ignore it and not react (not easy). He did it when angry, when excited, when happy, it was just what he did (and I admit I had many days where there was blood in my bra. Initial latch out is a MUTHA but after that you don’t feel it and it heals very fast). As it turns out he was a very early talker and once he really got command of the language stopped biting me. He’s very talkative; even ’til today.

    Still hurt though.
    .-= Claudine´s last blog ..The Time TSA Was More Delightful Than The Southwest Agent =-.

  8. Wow – Leone looks a lot more grownup than when we saw you both in NYC just a few months ago! Glad to hear that it sounds like thing are calming down.

  9. Oh, I so remember those tough days – and that was with just 2 children. It sounds like Leone is anxious to get going with life and sometimes frustrated by her lack of, um, maturity. This too shall pass, and you will feel like a human being once again. I know how hard it is to be sleep deprived. I hope things get easier for you both.
    .-= Sheryl´s last blog ..Essential Facts You Needs to Know About Salt: Before You Pick Up the Shaker, Read This! =-.

  10. I am new to your blog, after discovering it on mothering.com and I am enjoying the posts about your adorable baby so much! I have a 4-month old (my first) and she is definitely becoming a real, squishy baby with no more signs of a newborn at all. I love thinking about things from the baby’s perspective the way you describe them, and your posts make me so excited for this first year and all that’s to come – thanks!!

  11. Thanks so much for stopping by, Bekah, and for commenting. Your kind words are inspiring me to write another post that I’ve been thinking about for awhile from Leone’s point of view. She’ll be 11 months old this coming week. I can’t believe how LITTLE 4-month-old babies (like yours) look in comparison to my grown-up girl!

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