My wife Ruth had a 'Wonder Weeks' book mailed to her by a cousin living in Sweden. When I heard Ruth speak about 'Leaps' I couldn't but remember the 1989 show Quantum Leap with Scott Bakula playing Dr Sam Beckett. Feck me, what a show that was lads and if you haven't watched it, get on it. Unfortunately, the leaps Ruth was describing me were not leaps through spacetime but rather mental development leaps Erin has, is, and, will be going through.
Here's what ye need to know about Leap 2 & Leap 3 fellas. These take place around the 8 week and 11-12 week mark.
As many of you might be aware and for those about to become parents. All that newborn babies do in those first few weeks is happily eat, sleep, poo and repeat. While you rock back and forth in the foetal position due to the combination of sleepless nights and enough caffeine for 10 people.
As I mentioned above leap 2 happens around the 8-week mark. Can be earlier than this, every baby is different. But it's around this time you get some reward for all your efforts.
In this book the Wonder weeks, the 'Leap' refers to a mental development that your baby will go through. In Leap 2, what I witnessed with Erin was, firstly, the physical stuff. But there is way more going on mentally. To start with her eyes would be open for longer periods as she began to recognise simple patterns around her and start to take things in.
She became obsessed with the curtains in our bedroom and the corner of the mirror in our living room. There's me busting an arse dancing in front of her, waving my arms and making faces or smiling for any kind of reaction.
Nah, a corner of a mirror, not the actual mirror just the corner.
On reading more this all made sense as she is now seeing patterns, shadows, light and dark objects versus a white background. The curtains stood out as they were framed almost by the light coming in from behind. And, the corner of the mirror is dark and is hanging on a white wall. Again, easier to see the patterns.
Or I could be completely wrong and our curtains are simply unreal and way more interesting than me. (Cue people wanting to see our curtains)
During this time period, Erin learned a new set of skills, a particular set of skills (be honest, you read than in the Liam Neeson from Taken voice). These particular skills haven't allowed her to track down any obducted teenagers in Paris but rather, they've allowed her to swipe with her arms and kick things with her legs.
Needless to say the changing table items took a bit of battering at first. That poor tub of Sudocrem didn't see it coming. Now though, things are safely out of her reach.
These Leaps and developments all happen in a certain order. Learning these skills allows her to learn new skills in the following leap. And trust me they have to learn it in order regardless of how much encouragement you give or put in.
We're currently going through Leap 3 with Erin. So, in this leap those jerky kicking and swiping actions are far more controlled. Essentially, she's just realised she has hands and they can go in her mouth.
But she's now grabbing clothes, hair and objects and feeling them.
Besides the fact she's my daughter, it's just amazing to watch something so small learn new things and experience stuff for the very first time. You can see them thinking, their mind working and making expressions like;
"Da fuck is this shit? Let me just wiggle these little things at the end of my arm in it. Nah, I tell ya what, I haven't experience that before".
The movements are more than just her kicking the bejaysus out of my nether regions when she's doing tummy time on my chest. Erin is now able to roll unassisted onto her side. Doesn't seem like a big deal to you or me but it's massive for Erin's development.
Also, in this leap, Erin is starting to notice way more things around her and is able to pick up movements from further distances away. She is starting to register shifting in voice tones, the lights changing, Indie walking by or Indie's feet on the tile floor. What's brilliant to see for me personally is watching Erin's eyes follow Indie as she walks past.
In this leap, they say the World is starting to look a little bit more organized as they discover the constant flowing changes around them.
Leaps are anything but plain sailing.
If you've read this far, thanks for one, but you might be under the impression that Erin just seamlessly glided from one leap to another. Hit all these developmental markers on time and without a care in the world. Well, you're wrong.
Erin was very unsettled for a few days. We had difficulty getting her down at night for bed, became very clingy to Ruth, would fall asleep in your arms but as soon as you'd move would cry. Then as she got upset she wouldn't want to feed so we had to wait a while until she was calmer to do so.
The reason for being unsettled is simple, imagine waking up one morning and everything looking completely different. It would unsettle us all. For Erin, the blurry images she was once seeing are now a bit clearer and she's seeing new patterns and isn't quite sure about them and her surroundings. Her hands are bumping off things she's never felt before.
The adult equivalent would be like getting you or me to stick your hand into a box full of stuff but you've no idea what's inside. Like something off 'I'm a Celebrity Get me out of here'. You'd be a bit freaked if something brushed against your hand.
You or I know it as hair say, Erin is 11 weeks old tough. She doesn't know what it is, it could be good or it could be bad.
It's a bit of an emotional roller coaster and stressful time as a Dad, a Mother and as parents collectively. It's so shit and tough at times. Yes, Erin is learning so much, which is amazing. But when you can't settle her and she's crying nonstop, you feel like somehow you're failing as parents. That you can't soothe your baby. That's tough.
It is however normal. I just keep saying we're doing a good job. A few positive affirmations as you may be short with each other at times. Also, I'd have your favourite takeaway on standby, it will help and be needed.
Leaps are like Software Updates.
The best analogy I heard was from another Dad that said these leaps, developments, milestones or whatever you like to call them are like software updates for your phone or laptop.
You usually have to shut down for a few hours, the updates are downloaded (in this case for Erin, new experiences for the day), she saves them, she restarts and knows how to do them.
On Erin rolling for the first time, I said to Ruth only the day before. She'll fall asleep and wake up knowing how to do it. Boom! I was right.
Loving the Leaps.
I'm loving these changes, developments and leaps so much. It's hard not to. You're watching your little one learning, playing, interacting more and growing. It's simply amazing. I really try to get involved as much as I can, dancing with Erin, singing completely made up shite, bouncing her on my knee, making stupid noises & faces and anything to get a reaction or interaction.
I have this feeling I'm going to hear a proper laugh soon. Let's just hope the stars align and Erin laughs at one of my dad jokes.