Saturday, February 25, 2012

feedback loop

Dear Pea,
What a week!  You are reacting to us!   I got smiles in response to my action: I was changing your diaper and fluttered my lips at you, making a big dramatic horse noise.  You LOVED it, laughing silently at me. You've never smiled in response to an action like that before.  Thinking maybe it was a timing fluke, I did it again.  Again, the wide, whole face involved grin.  Hooked, I did it again and again and you loved it each time.

I don't know which is more amazing: that you're starting to function in your world and react to certain things with distinct personality or that you didn't do that for your first 7 weeks and I was still so crazy in love with you.  Truly, the first few weeks, all you did was eat, sleep and poop.  We sat on the couch and watched Big Love on HBO; you nursed and napped and I ate on a TV tray above you, often dropping food on your head.  You never noticed.  You fussed occasionally and I'd move to the ball to bounce you, or pace, or dance around the apartment.  But I really watched a lot of TV, there wasn't a whole lot that you needed that I couldn't best address from the couch.

And now, WOW.  We have some black and white images for you: a smiley face, circles, cubes, lines and dots; all sorts of things.  You are totally into them-they hold your attention and I see you concentrate on them.  This is a far cry from your first few weeks where frequently you were cross eyed. You seemed to be looking intently at things, but when we'd follow your gaze, we ended up at a blank wall, or the bookshelf behind our head. And now your big beautiful blue (for now) eyes are wide and seeing.

Just today I've noticed how much you, in your first months, look like my mom in her last ones.  Mom's hair had been lost to radiation and chemo, but was beginning to grow back.  You have a similar 'do, thin soft tresses lightly covering your head.  Mom's eyes stood out dramatically from her face-bright blue and often looking surprised.  She couldn't see that last nine months, but her eyes were so expressive.  Yours, too.  So much of your wonder at the world coming through your eyes, both of you.  But where Mom's cheeks had sunken into her face, yours are fuller than full.  And though her love of life never diminished, her appetite did.  You probably sleep as much as she did, but when you are awake, you are hungry. It's funny, but the nights I spent with Mom I thought of as practice for your arrival.  Mom would get up twice a night or so and need to use the bathroom and I figured it would be the same for you.  Ha! Not quite, though, really, it is similar.   You are up three of four times a night, needing to refill that tiny budha belly. But since I am already snuggled next to you, I just make sure you are latched on and fall back to sleep.  You gain and grow, with rolls of chub on your arms and legs.  You are growing so rapidly, in leaps and bounds.  Mom's health deteriorated even more quickly.  Funny how life works.

Today we were listening to music (as almost always) and Jack Johnson's If I Could came on: "new life makes losing life easier to understand."  Maybe.  You are so connected to my mom in so many ways, not least of all in name.  Even in my mind, I think of you as an extension of her.  Somehow beginning the journey of becoming your mother allows my role as her daughter to continue.  I can't explain it now, and maybe I never will be able to.  It's just a feeling I have.  I wonder if you will feel it, too.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

7 weeks old!

 Dear Pea,
You are now seven weeks old and your newest trick is running commentary.  You coo, grunt, sigh and babble.  Your voice is delicate and soft, friendly and light-hearted.  Well, your speaking voice is.  You still rock our world every night with your powerful screams.

We have been very lucky with the weather this winter-last winter, NYC saw several blizzards that shut the city down.  This year, it's been extremely mild, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s. We've been outside every single day since you were two weeks old.  Some of the trips were quick: dropping off laundry at the corner or running to the Farmer's Market a few blocks away, but most of the time we walk for at least an hour.  I decided at two weeks that I needed to get out of the house every day to feel like a human being and we have stuck to that.  I put you in your sling and then bundle us up in Daddy's fleece-we both stay cozy and warm.  Today was almost 60 degrees-we went out to our meet up with only sweatshirts on over our shirts.  You went barefoot (in your sling) and I wore flip flops.

Anyway, here's a peak at you this week.  Daddy thinks we could name your biography Cheeks and Squeaks

Friday, February 17, 2012

Real Smiles

Dear Pea,
Your quiet alert time has increased significantly in the past week or two.  You are often awake and happy for an hour at a time, two or three times a day sometimes.  You take in your surroundings, without judgement, often without comment.  This week we went to the mama/baby meeting and you were happily awake for the first time, for almost two hours. You enjoyed the din of the 20 or so other mama/baby pairs, the hum of the room.  You shared some glorious smiles with me, making me the envy of the nearby moms whose babies aren't quite as old or aren't quite as cheerful.

You smile at your daddy in the mornings when he holds you while I brush my teeth and arrange a bit of breakfast.  You just figured out that my face is attached to my breasts and that I am always there when you nurse: huge smiles.  You smiled at your Auntie Beth when she came to give me acupuncture; she commented that she has friends who aren't that excited to see her. 

Your eyes are starting to focus more.  You have not noticed your beautiful handmade mobile yet, but you have been checking out its shadow on the wall. 

Our daily routine is fairly consistent: get out of bed around 8am, eat breakfast and play.  You fall asleep around 10am so I get a shower and maybe even a workout.  This nap is usually short and you usually wake up hungry, so I nurse you again.  The early afternoon you are usually awake and alert, we dance around the apartment, listen to music, read stories.  Around 1 or 2 or 3, depending on your mood and what I have scheduled, we go out for a walk. Wednesdays and Fridays at 2pm we hang out with other mamas in the 'hood, other days we go to yoga, or Trader Joes, or both.  Sometimes we do laundry, or drop it off.  Sometimes I walk aimlessly, exploring new streets and sometimes I take us to destinations on purpose.  You most often sleep during this time, a 2 to 3 hour nap is common. We are usually home by 4 or 5 and you are hungry from your long nap.  We nurse until your daddy comes home. 

Often you are fussier in the evenings, but lately you have been happy enough to see your daddy that you bestow some smiles on him before starting in on the screaming.  The days blur together, but are always fun. Some days are harder than others, some days I am tired.  You are a great sleeper and I am grateful for that-I am not nearly as tired as my other mama friends.

Already the time is going so fast and you have grown and changed.  I love that you are thriving and growing into your world, but I want to preserve a memory of it.  I don't want everything to be a blur.  I am trying to be more present in my life and to savor it.  And you are so very delicious, this role in my life is the perfect place to practice savoring.

Monday, February 13, 2012

you are 6 weeks old

Dear Pea,
Six weeks ago exactly, I started having contractions.  You were on your way! You were born 13 hours after those first rhythms began.  Since then, my life has been turned upside down and sideways.  I have never been in love like this before.  At first, I thought I was high on hormones, which may have been true.  But now, six weeks later, I am still high. 

You are glorious.

You nurse enthusiastically, hungrily, with gusto and fervor; I can only hope this is a precursor to the way you approach your life.  A healthy appetite will take you far.  You love constant motion,walking with me, being lifted up and down by Daddy. We dance, swing, pace, bounce and sway and you love it all.  We recently introduced you to music, which stopped you in your tracks.  We have been signing to you since birth with mixed results, but real adore it. It's so fun to watch your facial expression change as the music comes on-you instantly calm down and listen.  You smile in your sleep, which the baby books say is a sign of contentment, and have just begun smiling frequently when awake. You smile with your whole face, your eyes scrunching up, your cheeks filling, your mouth open and wide. Your daddy and I get drunk off your smiles, forgetting the screaming fits.

And, oh, the screaming fits.  Exactly four weeks after your birth, you screamed the whole day, inconsolable and frustrated.  You slept and ate, too, so I knew you weren't sick, but it was a terrible day. Daddy came home to both of us bouncing on the big ball, sobbing.  It got better each day and now you only scream that way at night. Every night, for about an hour.  I lay with you on our bed as you scream and sob, your tiny arms and legs pumping furiously.  I rest my hand on your belly, my hand covers your entire belly; you are that tiny.  I sing to you as you rage, The Beatles, Nat King Cole, The Indigo Girls. I feel at once so big and so small.  I can't stop your cries, I don't know what's wrong.  But eventually you settle down and we leave the bedroom to sit on the couch and nurse.  You fall asleep once your belly is full and I bring you back to bed with me.  You always start out on your back, but I wake up in the night with you curled against my body, sleeping almost exactly as you did in my belly, as the yin to the fetal you's yang. 

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  Of course, we don't have any big plans, no romantic night out, no champagne.  We wouldn't have done those things anyway, but we usually celebrated in some little way.  A special dinner, small gifts, a card.  This year the thought of trying to cook a special dinner just makes me laugh.  I will order in something that your daddy will like.  It's a silly holiday, but it's always nice to celebrate love. And this year, I love you and your daddy more than I can express.  Nothing in my life has prepared me for how intense this experience would be, how fiercely I could love, both you and your daddy. How much I want to give you, how much you amaze and inspire awe.  Just by being.  Just by purely existing in this world.  The raw energy and force of you is all the Valentine I will ever need.