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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