Hennie James: Ten Months

Miss Hennie James is ten months old and her personality is shining through in spades; she can be sassy, silly, clever, and cute – sometimes all in the same moment! Hen seems to know her mind quite a bit already (not sure which parent she may have picked that up from?) and we love watching her daily as she tries to solve problems and develop her new skills. Despite our suspicions that she has been continuously teething for the last month or more, she has been super smiley. Her new teeth are popping through all over rather than in pairs, so she has a bit of a jack-o-lantern smile at the moment (just in time for Halloween, I guess!). She is walking like a pro as long as she can hold onto something with one hand to steady herself, and loves to wave hello, high five, and clap her hands while saying “yayayayayayayayaya!” Hennie is still not saying “mama” or “dada,” not chewing her food very well (though she is very enthusiastic about solids), and has yet to master drinking through a straw; bottles and cups seem to perplex her a little, and her first instinct is to chew on things rather than use them for their intended function.

The last two months we have seen Hen adapt to so many new environments and experiences as we travelled around BC and flew to England, but on her ten month “birthday” we moved into our first (owned) family home, complete with Hennie’s very own bedroom! Though we’ve only slept three nights in our new home, she has been napping and sleeping much better in her own space with less interruptions. Time is flying by and we intend to spend the next few months exploring the parks and river views in our new city.

Travels with Hen: UK Edition

Our recent family trip to Yorkshire was a little stressful, a lot of fun, and a major learning curve for two new parents who will have to troubleshoot Kiddo Jet Lag many times in the future. I spent a lot of time worrying about the 9 hour flight, not knowing that the 8 hour time difference would actually be the bigger problem. It took over a week of sleepless nights and sleeping-all-day for all three of us to successfully transition to the new timezone. We enjoyed a few blissful days on the new schedule before having to fly home. Luckily, Tom didn’t seem to mind playing with his daughter in a nice quiet house in the middle of the night, and Grandma P didn’t seem to mind making us breakfast in the late afternoon when we woke up for the day!

The first week of our trip we lounged around at home with family – all of us were under one roof for the first time since Christmas 2014 so we had a lot of catching up to do! The second week was much busier – a wedding, Tom’s 30th birthday, and visits with friends and extended family.

Highlights of our trip included:

  • getting to see Hennie spend time with her English grandparents
  • country pub dates with siblings
  • surviving our first outing (sort of) without Hen
  • the majestic Bennett wedding
  • Tom’s 30th Birthday BBQ
  • playing tourist in cute little towns like Harrogate and Ilkley

Big thank you to all who hosted and housed us over the course of our trip, it was lovely to see everyone and we’re looking forward to traveling more with a baby now that we know we can survive it!

Hennie James: Nine Months

Hennie’s ninth month on the outside has been one of travel and new experience! There have been a few stressful moments for our little fam but mostly just good days and so much fun watching her navigate new skills, new sights, and new faces.

Nicknames: Bugaloo seems to have stuck. Who would’ve thought!?

Life Lately: the past month has been defined by continued separation anxiety. Hen’s early months were a time when we couldn’t be separated from her for any length of time. Only we could care for her and calm her, and though she no longer screams for long hours of the day she has continued the trend of preferring her parents. We don’t mind at all, but we know our families (especially the grandparents!) would probably appreciate sitting with her for longer than a minute before she spots her daddy and reaches desperately for his embrace. But we have seen the alternative and know that there are worse things than a cute and clingy companion so we sorta love it.

Solids: We’ve been away from home for the better part of the past month so we’ve been using that time to try and expose Hen to new foods and flavours. We give her tastes of whatever soft foods we’re eating, from conventional first foods like bananas, yogurt, and mashed potatoes to some more “daring” baby foods, including chicken shawarma with tzatziki, lamb and beef curries, bacon, sausage, and eggs, feta and watermelon salad… so far Hen has loved it all!

New Favourites: after expressing zero interest in being read to up to this point, she has become infatuated with books – “reading,” turning the pages, chattering away to herself, and looking at the pictures. It certainly warms her bookworm mama’s heart to see her crawl past the noisy, light-up toys on the floor to get to a basket of books. I hope it continues forever and ever! Another new skill is pulling herself up and “walking” along the coffee table or couch. She’s been a more amenable baby since the day she learned to sit up so there’s no doubt in our minds that this girl prefers to be upright. She’s been able to crawl for a while and will do it if there’s adequate incentive (food, electronics, books!), but it looks like she may not be super into crawling and just go straight to walking. Every post I’ve done has said that this is our favourite age yet and nine months is no exception!

Travels with Hen: Road Trip Edition


In July we drove through the Okanagan Valley to stay in Rossland, BC for two weeks. Rossland is a little mountain town where Tom’s company is based and where the company’s annual summer conference is held. Despite my worries about the 37 degree forecast (how do you even keep a baby cool in that weather?) we had such a fantastic time relaxing and enjoying small-town life.

“Mountain Hennie” thrived on the road! She did amazingly well on a 10+ hour road trip, slept through the night multiple times in her (dark, air-conditioned) bedroom, and even napped longer than she normally does at home. It’s almost enough to make her parents wanna move to a big house in a small mountain town! We stayed in a house the first week but a hotel room the second – guess which is easier with a baby? Luckily, the hotel obliged our request for a room close to the conference room, lobby, and hotel bar, so our baby monitor offered me some freedom while she was napping during the day and sleeping during the evening.

Hennie had a lot of first experiences while visiting Rossland!

  • first time at the pool (big hit)
  • first time trying frozen yogurt (even bigger hit!)
  • first time seeing cats (very apprehensive and distrusting)
  • first time having pizza (she grabbed mama’s slice and had a full bite before anyone could stop her)
  • first time clapping her hands
  • first time going to a lake

I think we’ll always have fond memories of this first big trip with Hennie, especially considering we had our offer accepted for our first home purchase while staying in Rossland. It was a relaxing, slow-paced time with an exciting twist!

Hennie James: Eight Months

This is such a fun age! We truly love it. Stroller walks, sunny park hangs, smiles …we are finally having all of the experiences that other parents have been having for a long time, haha. Of course there have been countless memorable moments over the past seven months that we will always cherish, but the current phase we’re in has so many more ups than downs that it’s hard not to gush about it. Y’know how you have a baby and people come out of the woodwork to instruct you to “savour every second ’cause it all goes by so quickly”? In the early days we took that advice as a comfort rather than a warning. But nowadays every milestone mastered and skill successfully learned is a reminder that this silly and determined baby girl of ours is trying to grow up as quickly as she can. Experience has told us that every phase is fleeting, so we are dragging out every cuddle and making the most of these long summer days before she becomes a toddler in just four short months!

Things We Want to Remember About Hennie at 8 Months Old: lately she keeps repeating “ich” like she’s about to say something in German. She is currently obsessed with her dad and needs to be held by him all the time. She gets so excited when she hears him come into the apartment after work and will push mama away quite roughly to get to him! She doesn’t laugh very easily but when she does she just lights up. Her belly and thighs are the most ticklish, but she has to be in the right mood (if not we receive the judgemental, chilling stare that she mastered much too easily). She still loves being in the wraps and carriers strapped to mama or dad and we’re so thankful for that because it’s nice to keep her close while we’re still able. At 20 lbs she may outgrow being carried sometime very soon! She has a cute little stink face that comes out when she is concentrating really hard on something.

New Skills: crawling, having teeth (though she is still working on how to chew properly), sleeping in her crib for all naps and night times (!!), interacting with more complex toys, joyously slapping her open hand against things, standing up, knocking down block towers, closing the fridge door (a game we play on repeat), trying new food flavours, and climbing on everything. If there is something within sight that she is not allowed to play with or is dangerous, she will do everything within her tiny powers to get to it. Her lack of fear is worrisome.

Hennie James: Seven Months

The theme for this past month has been sleep, specifically a lack of it! An onslaught of big changes in such a little body has meant that Hennie’s previously decent sleeping abilities have been hugely waylaid. Excitement at having so many new skills have made for a very agitated baby in the evenings. Even before this regression it took a combo of bouncing, shushing, and ninja moves to get this kid down, but once she was out we usually reaped the benefits of 5 (ish) uninterrupted hours of sleep. We knew that every phase has it’s day with these babes so we tried to accept that one until it passed but the week before May long weekend we were complete zombies and decided something had to be done. We made a plan with some new rules (for her and for us) and used the long weekend to start. Things were going well for a week or two until Hen figured out exactly what we were doing and altered herself accordingly, becoming completely resistant to naptime and bedtime routines and ramping up her screaming tenfold. Last night we felt like our strong-willed daughter had left us no choice but to let her cry it out. Ugh! Fingers crossed that we can get the whole family into a bit of a routine before the traveling we’re doing later this summer!

Nicknames: Hennie Bear and Bugaloo or just “Boogs” 🙂

Things We Want to Remember About Hennie at Seven Months Old: her twisty wrist motion, it’s the best. How she smiles with her tongue out, how much she loves frozen banana, the way she pumps her arms and legs with excitement when she sees us, how she looks to us for encouragement right after she rolls over, how proud she is when she achieves something new, how much she loves being in water and splashes like crazy, the way she laughed like crazy when she finally got up on all fours and started inching across the floor – it’s like she knew she had just done something so awesome.

New Skills: she has mastered her hand motions to the point where she can (clumsily) wave, high-five, and bring a spoon to her mouth; is sitting up without help, feeds herself red pepper, baked sweet potato, cucumber, and carrot, and finally finally fell asleep in our arms a few times. We had been waiting 7 months for those cuddles and we looked at each other with giddy grins every time she laid her little (big) head on our shoulder. This usually lasts less than a minute before she tries to climb up and over our shoulder to see what adventure awaits behind us. Little monkey!

Hennie James: Six Months

Happy half-birthday, Hennie James! We cannot believe the first year is half over, though we also wouldn’t say it has flown by with this kid. Our little girl has never done anything half-heartedly; she cries with intent, she plays with a purpose, she does everything at full speed (or full blast!). When she learned that she could roll both ways this month she immediately started flinging her weight left and right, limbs flailing, to get to whichever toy had caught her eye. She isn’t mobile yet but when she spies something that she wants that is out of her reach, she will get to it. She will find a way. I hope she never loses that determination.

Current Nicknames: the three most common are Bugaloo, Little Bear, and Goblin

Things We Want to Remember about Hennie at Six Months Old: how there is almost always a blurry limb in any given pic of this girl because she’s always on the move, how much she loves being strapped to Tom in the dad carrier for hours on long walks (perhaps with a cheeky pint while she snoozes), her spazzy right arm, the way she rolls all over the rug and onto the hardwood (and under the bookshelf, and into the hall), the grunts she makes when she’s determined to do something and the huge grin that follows when she has succeeded, and that although we have had some pretty low moments lately it’s been her best month so far because she’s interacting a lot more and her personality is really starting to show! It’s definitely a fun age, most days 😉

New Skills: the developmental ‘leap’ that babies go through between 5-6 months is a big one, so there have been lots of changes happening. Hennie is SO active now, sitting up and standing with our help, leaning down to grab toys or up to grab faces, and wanting to crawl so badly. Unfortunately she doesn’t sleep nearly as well as she used to, we suspect as a result of a teething-and-growth-spurt combo that’s requiring extra night nursing and comforting, but we’re doing our best to deal with the current phase with as much patience and coffee as is necessary.We have given her some solid foods to try and it has been fun to see her reactions as she already has such an expressive little face! She seems to love all sweet things and feel rather indifferent towards the other flavours (perhaps she inherited her dad’s sweet tooth). Her favourite snack so far has been frozen banana or frozen mango chunks inside of a mesh teether – soothing on her sore gums, I’m sure! Hen has mastered a lot of new hand movements lately and will enthusiastically reach for whatever is nearby that looks interesting; we are constantly pulling things out of her reach and infuriating her by doing so. Little busybody! We are very much looking forward to seeing Hen learn and grow even more this spring and summer!

What Is A “High Needs Baby”?

IMG_7619Tom and I have thrown around the term “high needs” a lot when talking about Hennie and I just wanted to write a little bit about what that means because it’s a relatively recent term and some friends and family have expressed curiosity about it. High needs is a term coined by the venerable paediatrician Dr. William Sears to describe babies who “need more”. You can read about the 12 features that define these babies’ [here], if you’d like to, but I’ll quickly sum up the main points for you. Through years of paediatric practice and counselling of parents and babies both “normal” and “high needs,” Dr. Sears recognized and recorded the 12 features of the high needs baby and came up with the term to reflect a more positive attitude than the “difficult” or “fussy” labels these babies had previously been given. As Dr. Sears says, “each of these personality traits has its blessings and its trials. These personality traits should not be judged as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ They are just differences between babies, but these differences do make high need babies challenging to parent. Ultimately, what matters is how the child learns to use these special gifts. Our goal is to help parents identify these unique features in their infant and child and channel these traits to work to the child’s advantage.”

I first learned about the term after joining a support group for fussy babies online. In those early days with Hennie we began to suspect that our parent friends were having a completely different experience than we were having, and one night, in an effort to feel less isolated, I sought out other parents on social media whose newborns acted like ours did. Being a parent is hard and we expected it to be a challenge, but our friends could put their babies down sometimes, could anticipate their babies’ needs with some predictability, could enjoy their babies’ without being screamed at constantly. Once Hennie’s reflux problems had been resolved and colic had finally passed (around four months) we found her slightly easier to manage, but it was clear that she was still a loud, clingy, sensitive, draining baby. This is not to discredit any other parent who is having a tough time because all kids are a little high needs and may reflect a few of the 12 characteristics Dr. Sears identified above, but we could see that Hennie possessed most if not all of the features listed, and children who reflect that many traits are, as we quickly learned, especially challenging.

Hennie needs to be held constantly but isn’t quick to cuddle. She is an intense baby with an angry, loud cry. She is extremely sensitive to her environment and does not easily accept a caregiver who is not mum or dad. She is often hypertonic – if she is awake, her little muscles are usually clenched. We weren’t able to put her down for months and we have found that she is at her happiest when she is being held by one of her parents while looking at the other. She cannot self soothe and relies on a multi-faceted strategy to get to sleep, then often won’t transition out of our arms once asleep anyway. At family events she isn’t the baby that is easily passed around for everyone to hold and cuddle; we feel like we’re “hogging” her, but she needs time to warm to new people and situations and easily becomes overstimulated by so many faces.

When we found and read Dr. Sears’ baby book about parenting the high need child we couldn’t believe it – as he described the personality of his baby daughter Hayden in the opening chapter, we could have substituted Hennie’s name and been reading about her. They were exactly alike. I instantly felt relief knowing that other babies like Hen existed and it wasn’t just that I couldn’t hack it as a mama. My penchant for self-doubt had caused me to wonder at times if my expectations for motherhood had been extraordinarily warped, if I was just straight-up bad at parenting, or if I just had a dramatic or negative outlook (I’m sure a handful of our friends have wondered the same). But here was a book not only describing our child perfectly, but also describing our experiences as parents and our feelings of doubt, resentment, and inadequacy.  Dr. Sears described entire nights spent walking with his newborn daughter while she slept, the danger of making comparisons, the tendency the high needs baby has to dominate the home, and the defeated feeling of always having to walk on eggshells and meet her constant demands. I was reminded that we needed to change our expectations rather than trying to change her (an impossible task anyway) and find ways to stay positive on days when we felt exhausted and resentful. Most of all, I felt vindicated knowing that approximately 10% of babies just need more as Dr. Sears puts it; “more touch, more understanding, more sensitivity, more creative parenting.”

While these high-needs aspects of Hennie’s little personality are certainly challenging and draining to us now, we are so excited to see how they become real advantages for her later. And please know that the purpose of writing this isn’t to elicit pity, but understanding. On a good day, I know that we are an ideal match for this little girl – we are flexible, energetic, and open-minded parents, and Tom, at least, has seemingly endless patience. But I am an anxious mama too, and I often feel guilty when friends and family don’t understand why Hennie doesn’t want to be held by them, why she won’t sit still or cuddle them, or why they’ve offered to babysit multiple times and we haven’t taken them up on the offer. When we bring her somewhere new people often comment that she is “playing strange,” but just as adults come with varying degrees of social comfort zones, so too do babies. As my friend Katherine noticed very quickly when Hennie was only a month old, our daughter “really likes her personal space.” That said, we have seen some great (but slow) progress lately and are hopeful that any future Procter babies are a bit more low maintenance 🙂 I hope that learning a bit more about high needs babies helps you – our family and friends – understand a bit more about Hennie and a lot more about how Tom and I are managing during this crazy first year of parenthood! And if you made it this far, thanks for reading!

Hennie James: Five Months

I know I said this about four months, but five months is such a fun age! As the last post mentioned, Hennie seems like a “normal” baby now and we are so relieved (and, as always, still learning)! She has so many smiles and cuddles for her mom and dad these days, doesn’t scream when (most) people hold her, and is now both a frustration and a joy. Unfortunately, around the time when colic ends most babies start hitting some other issues, so we’ve transitioned from the hurricane of colic to the nap strikes, bedtime issues, and general irritability of teething and sleep regressions. The difference now is that there is a reason we can pinpoint for her cranky moments, in the form of two sharp little teeth just under the surface! Poor Hen. Her development is right on track too; she is grabbing, drooling, rolling, reaching, chewing, wiggling, sitting up and standing (with our help) and loving every minute of it. She can have a piercing or a sweet voice depending on what she wants at the time. We are letting her explore some purees once in a while to get used to the textures and smells of new foods, but not a lot is ending up in her mouth, as expected for this age.

Nicknames: Hennie Penny, HenBaby, Happy Hennie, Turd Burglar, Sweet Baby James, Jamesie, Lil Monkey, Goblin Baby, Chunky Monkey, White Chocolate Chunker, Drooler

Things We Want to Remember About Hennie at this Age: how she kicks her feet with excitement when she sees us, how she sleeps with one rogue arm up in the air like a firehose, how soft her big chunky thighs and arms are, how she always keeps one hand on us at all times if she can, that she likes to be held by us the most, her screeches as she’s finding her voice, how light her blue eyes are getting, the tuft of white blonde hair on the top of her head, the way she acts like (as Tom says) “a baby goblin we found in the woods that we have to teach to act human”.

Things That Are Changing: Hen is not taking to tummy time or to her bouncy chair as enthusiastically as she once was, resulting in us having to hold her a lot more – no small feat for a baby this strong and wiggly! She has also grown out of being swaddled, a big change for us and for her sleep-time routine, but we are finding new ways to make it work. She has started to let us sit when we go out to pubs and cafes now, and that’s a nice change ’cause for the first four months we had to bounce her constantly when we dared to go out. She has started to stay in her Bumbo chair and high chair for longer periods of time so it looks like she’s just preferring the upright position in general!

Happy five months, Bugaloo!