(The pictures look all digitized and funky, but you can still see them. If you want them to look clear, all you have to do is click on them.)
I don't know if I've spoken enough about how blessed my life has become lately. And here is where I reach a blank space in my mind. I, the writer, the woman who has words for everything, can find no way to express this -- oh, please Goddess, let me find a better term... no, no I can't right now, oh I can't -- profound love I feel for my daughter. And as I write that I can see/hear/taste every sappy book and Hallmark Card on Motherhood (notice the capital M) that was ever placed in my path. Next I'm going to tell you all what lessons she has taught me. How I'm such a better person now. Well, I'm not. I'm still depressive/depressing, occasionally effervescent, quite often lazy, and very judgmental in my heart toward people with missing teeth. Also, I discovered that one of our dogs had a diarrhea accident on a piece of furniture in our basement and instead of cleaning it up (it was already dried -- it had been there a while) I just slumped and turned out the light and walked back upstairs*. I'll deal with it this weekend. It's not like we go into our basement, anyway. So you can see that I am definitely not a better person. Julia has not been pulling her weight in ridding me of all these personality flaws. Really, I do think she could try a little harder, don't you?
She's just so damn cheerful.
Over the last two weeks she completed her transition from Newborn to Baby. She sits. She plays with her toys. She talks at us. I know I've been blogging about how she's begun to do these things, and she has, but in between her spouts of doing them, she was spending most of her time sleeping and eating and excreting and generally acting like a vague newborn. Now all the vagueness is gone. She reaches for things. She's begun to understand our words. Yesterday she was fussy and Kristin asked her if she would like to go to her momma (me) and Julia stopped fussing at her sentence and I walked over and she held up her hands to me. She reached for me. And she laughed when I picked her up. She's so responsive to the world all the time. Everything fills her with delight. She is a child who is unafraid of anything new. She opens her eyes in the morning, smiles, and laughs "Bring it on!" People keep warning us that soon she will develop object permanence and stranger anxiety, and oh though I do hope she develops some sense of caution, I also hope that she retains her open good-naturedness and her willingness to explore independently.
Several weeks ago I took the What Kind of Freaky Mother Are You test. The test informed me that I was the Punk Rock Momma who delights in her children's independent spirits. I've never had an internet test be so accurate (though I don't really care for punk music itself). As Julia begins asserting her personality she is showing herself to be both cuddly/loving and independent. She knows what she wants and she's not afraid to ask for it. When she was three months old she told us in no uncertain terms that she was ready for solid foods, but we held off until her 4 month birthday (the earliest doctors say you can give a child solids) to begin feeding her cereal. Now we've started her on Sweet Potatoes and she can't get enough of them. When it's meal time she hollers at us if we pause too long in between spoonfuls. But the hollering isn't angry, she's not throwing tantrums, she's just reminding us of her needs. Another example: the other night I brought her to bed with us to try to make her night feedings a little easier. In the middle of the night she began hollering. I tried feeding her and she ate a couple of ounces and then again, she hollered. She got louder and louder, more emphatic until she was crying and we got up from the bed. I took her back into the living room and said her name firmly. She stopped crying when she heard her name and looked around, noticed that we were in the living room and smiled. I put her in her swing and turned it on. She laughed once and fell asleep and slept through the rest of the night. That's pretty clear. No more co-sleeping for Julia.
She's also decided no more breastfeeding. When Kristin's milk supply dropped enough that Julia began getting most of her nutrients from bottles of formula, we had thought that Kristin was done with breastfeeding. But several times a day, even when she wasn't hungry, Julia insisted on nursing. Kristin was happy to oblige and nursed Julia every time she requested it. This last week, however, Julia has decided to wean herself. She is still cuddly, still likes to be held close to the chest and skin to skin, but wants her face out where she can see what's going on. She's a girl who knows what she wants and she's very effective at communicating her needs in ways other than crying. For Julia, crying is a method of last resort. She prefers to talk things out.
I say over and over, to anyone who will listen, that I don't know how we ended up with such a cheerful baby. My first reaction to almost anything is sorrow and anxiety. Hers is laughter. Though I'm not yet becoming a cheerful person in her company, I am learning how to act cheerful. And what's that old saying? Fake it till you make it? Oh, I'm faking it all right, baby. I just might make it, too. Oh look, I did end up writing a Hallmark card. Damn.
*ok, I know that this is very bad, and I shouldn't be telling anyone this, but we're still so tired and we've arranged a babysitter this weekend so we can gut out the basement and make it all shiny-clean, and that's the only piece of disgustingness down there... Oh, there's just no excuse! I am bad, bad, bad!