There are milestones and marking points along our journeys that tell us we are on the right path. Doctor’s have told us what activities Ellie should be entertained by or engaged in by the time she reaches week six. The following is what has worked for me, for us, for my family, and how Ellie is taking each milestone. It just so happened that I found a different Daily Wellness checklist at a similar time that I was obsessing over Ellie’s Daily Wellness checklist.
I have found Spotify’s Daily Wellness playlist. If you have not discovered this playlist, allow me to recommend it because it is a mix of meditations, re-centering thoughts, and a little music to get working without distraction. I also like that the playlist transitions between talk and music with a 4 second notice they are transitioning. My brain can work during the music and take a moment to during the spoken word to spend a moment with myself and my thoughts.
I have been listening to this during my workday for the past week, and I have yet to get through the entire hour+ of content because I have so many interruptions in my day. These interruptions stretch from trying to parent full-time while working full-time from home, co-workers who need something from me, and the occasional (very occasional) need to pause the recording to concentrate harder and not have music playing.
Each day, these playlists have asked me to make a moment to think about:
- The labels we each give ourselves (for good or bad)
- How our breath is connected to our nervous system
- What happens to our brain when we experience an act of kindness
- There was a great meditation about taking whatever feeling you are currently experiencing and watch it from outside yourself
– For example: if it were sitting in front of you, what would the emotion look like, smell like, how would describe touching this emotion with your hands
– The meditation was designed to separate the feeling from ourselves
- I also got to hear The Slowdown which is the new version of NPR’s Writer’s Almanac now that Garrison Keillor has fallen from grace
Thinking about these things have reminded me of the kinds of thoughts I have been tackling all my life. Bringing Eleanor into my life does not make these thoughts go away, and I don’t want Eleanor to make these thoughts go away. I want Eleanor to always engage in these kinds of thoughts that make her question herself and her sense of personal reality.
I know many, many mothers I have spoken to who have said, “I don’t think about those things anymore because I have Mommy Brain instead.” Some of these mothers have said these things with pride and confidence because they are so happy to have moved on to the motherhood stage in their lives. Other mothers have said it to me with a listless, almost despondent air in their voice.
I have a limited perspective because I have only been Ellie’s mother for six weeks, and I am committed to working hard to keep these thoughts on my mind. I anticipate that these thoughts are increasingly harder to wrestle with due to lack of sleep and more focus on Ellie’s needs and development.
That is partly how I have been using this blog. I can keep track of my “mommy research” all in one place, and I hope to continue to grow in my knowledge of how to be Ellie’s Mama. I have been able to share with you, first hand, my struggles with purple crying, how I need to write down a crying checklist or I’ll miss a possible solution, or how Coda and Ellie are getting along. And all of this is just from Ellie being a newborn up to her sixth week.
The World Health Organization defines Ellie as a newborn until 28 days, which by their standards means… Ellie is already an infant. I can say, “nope, nope, nope” all I want, but I see the difference. I have seen her over the last several weeks not be able to do many of the items on Ellie’s Daily Wellness checklist, and now, by age six weeks, she is starting to show signs of many of the following activities:
1. Move Baby’s Arms and Legs
At the earliest age, watch how Ellie moves and wiggles and dances on her own. She loves to wave her arms and kick her feet. Part of our daily wellness with Ellie is to help her move her arms in a full range, clap her hands together, bicycle kick her legs, and help her to move, move, move. We have found that MoTown has been a huge help to get her moving on her own (video available upon request).
2. Use a Toy to Focus and Follow
Ellie’s eyesight was, of course, not very good at first. Many times, her eyes did not even follow in the same direction. Over the past several weeks, I have been able to hold her Elliefant in front of her face; allow her to focus on Elliefant; and then slowly move Elliefant up, down, side to side while Ellie tracks her favorite toy. At first, she would lose interest or lose focus right away, but now, she is tracking the toy to the point she will move her head or adjust her body to follow Elliefant.
3. Tummy Time
You may have already read about Ellie getting enough Tummy Time and the lengths I almost went to to ensure she was getting enough time on her tummy. Ellie has a love/hate relationship with tummy time because she loves to move and exercise, but gets frustrated quickly. She would already scootch at four weeks or so – to the point I was worried about her getting rugburn on her face (she didn’t). She enjoys moving around on the floor until a certain point, then she gives up, puts her head down, and wails until we pick her up.
4. Make Faces at her
At first, this was just something fun to do. She didn’t respond, and many times would rather look at the wall or the open window than any of my funny faces. Over the past week or so, that has changed. Ellie now watches the funny faces we make, and as of last Sunday, she smiled back at us for the first time. We were sure it wasn’t just gas this time. She actually looked at the funny faces I was making and smiled. We could not get her to do it again on cue for a photo op, but she did it. We’re looking forward to seeing that social smile even more in the coming weeks.
5. Talk and Sing to your baby
If you know anything about us, you know this one is NOT a problem. We talk to the dog on the regular, so talking to our daughter was not and is not going to be a problem. She started recognizing voices early on, within the first month, and turning her head to follow sound. We already know she sleeps better when there’s chatter and noise around her. Eleanor loves music too. She will only sleep if there is music playing. She’s used to listening to Classical KUSC and opera (so far no preferences shown unlike Coda), and Sara and I are working through the 500 greatest albums of all time according to Rolling Stone. Gotta start her education young.
6. Read to your baby
Ellie has been very blessed with many books, but again, does not seem to show a preference yet. Sara has been reading French Kids Eat Everything to Ellie when Sara gets a chance to read it. Sara and I have been invited to a book club, so we’ve been reading Rebecca to her every evening. As far as I can tell, Ellie is not a huge fan of Mrs. Danvers – nobody is, kid. Mostly, I’ve been reading to her during the day due to their checklist. Our favorites include The Day The Crayons Quit, Goodnight Moon, The Family Book, etc. I’m looking forward to Ellie’s interest in the classic board books we have upstairs.
Those six activities are age-appropriate for Ellie’s six weeks of development. We are supposed to work with her on these six as she transitions from a newborn to an infant. Like all labels we give ourselves and others, she is neither in the Newborn checkbox or the Infant checkbox. She slowly transitions between these phases, and we are so blessed to watch her grow and change each day toward a new milestone.