Saturday, January 26, 2008

Three Months - a Quarter Year!

Was I truly thinking that you couldn't possibly be any cuter than you were in the first few weeks of your life...? Here's an example of an inexperienced first-time Mom speaking. Sure, you were cute in your tiny non-responsive puffy-eyed newborn way. But how much cuter are you today??? In fact, you are getting cuter almost by the minute, and your Daddy and I never get tired of marveling over your tremendous beauty and adorable-ness, with which you are holding us captive at your every whim. I was afraid of how quickly you would change and grow, and how I would long back for those very first days of your life - but the opposite is the case: I cannot wait for every new day, to see your big smiles, your wide grins, hear more of your babbling, and see if you have learned something new again. How did I ever get through my days before you started them with a big toothless grin from ear to ear when you wake up beside me each morning???

Well, this month has been a bit rough when it came to night time, with lots of crying and apparently inconsolable screaming - but as one of the books I am now consulting explains: such inexplicable crying fits are usually a sign of a growing spurt, and will climax in you suddenly having gained a new ability, learned a new way of looking at the world. And boy, have you learned a lot this month!

Your baby gym is becoming more and more fascinating to you, you spend up to 20 minutes playing beneath it by yourself now, during which I do not have to cater to you and entertain you, and can just enjoy listening to your squeals of delight and your babbling to yourself, as you hit the animals dangling off it. In the course of this month you have gradually gone from accidentally hitting your toys to grabbing everything that's within your reach with both hands and subsequently pulling it towards your mouth for a more thorough inspection. Your oral phase definitely has begun at full force: your favorite objects of inspection are your hands, which are now constantly in a state of sloppy wetness and bunches of fibers, which get stuck on you when you touch our clothes, your blankets, or even the cats, and collect between your grubby little wet fingers. I am constantly picking something off your fingers, afraid that you might swallow it all down in your attempts to stick both of your fists into your mouth at the same time.

Sometimes you lay on your couch for minutes on end, perfectly content to look at your hands to concentratedly slobber all over them. But it's not just your hands - it's also ours. You like to suck on fingers vigorously, no matter who they belong to, and not even your little plush polar bear on your changing table is safe from your slobber-attacks anymore. All we need to do is to place it onto your belly, and you will grab it with both of your hands and shove it into your face, awaiting its arrival there with your mouth widely open - much like you approach my boob with anticipation, when you see it getting close to your face. Once you got what you wanted, you make these eager munching and growling sounds as you slobber all over everything that found it's way into the origin of your drool.

Interestingly, you have also managed once or twice to apply this shoving technique to your pacifier, when it slipped out of your mouth and just landed on your chest: you have actually put that pacifier back into your mouth a few times!

And speaking of drool: I think you are so hungry lately because of all these liters and liters of drool you are unleashing onto the world now! Talk about dehydration! Sometimes I have to change your shirt several times a day, because it is soaking wet all over your chest. I have started to use bibs now on especially drooly days - and you are not even teething yet!

Your Daddy told me this joke once, that he heard somewhere: "What do you get when you cut open a baby's head - not that you actually would do that! Answer: a big drooling gland!"

How true, how utterly applicable this month...!

Changing your diapers or your clothes has turned into my absolute favorite pastime of the day - that is, if your diaper isn't filled to the rim with poop. As soon as the air hits your little butt you start wiggling and kicking, with a big grin on your face, sometimes to the point of pushing your heels into the cushion of your changing table so forcibly that your butt shoots up into the air! Then you let go of the hold of your feet and your butt plummets back onto the cushion, which makes you grin even wider. You enjoy being wiggled around by me in such situations also, and I have a feeling that soon I will hear your first real hearty laugh.

I have also overcome my self-consciousness when it comes to my horrible singing voice, and tentatively started to sing the lyrics to "Somewhere over the Rainbow" along to your music toy that I always play to changing you. Even though it was just you and me at home, I was singing softly, barely audible, afraid that somebody might hear me through the thin walls of our apartment, and I'd get a complaint for disorderly conduct. I soon discovered though that you liked my out-of-tune croaking - so much so in fact that your grin got even wider, you smiled with your whole face, practically beamed up at me! I was delighted - and started to include "Somewhere over the Rainbow" into our routine of changing and playing time in your room. I have since picked up a couple of other kiddie-songs and lullabies that I sing to you when nobody else can hear it, and you always seem to get a kick out of it. I hope that my singing doesn't completely spoil all hope of you one day learning to appreciate the really good music.

You really seem to be taken with sounds now, especially your own. You coo and babble, you play with your voice, let it swell from a deep hooting to a high squealing, experiment with different combinations of vocals and some consonants - and a few times you startled me when a loud and clear "Mama" came out of your mouth! And no, I am not kidding: your Daddy heard it, Uncle Bern and your Auntie Bee heard it, as well as A., and eventually also your grandparents! I am not as delusional as to think that this was in any way conscious, more a very cute coincidence, a particularly appealing-sounding random combination of sounds you have learned to make - but it is very hard to dismiss it as such when I see you looking at me directly when you want to be picked up, making these "mammammamamm" sounds.

You also like to hold entire conversations with us now. When we lean you against our knees and start to make faces at you, and funny noises, you soon start to respond with noises of your own, and you seem to love it when we repeat your own sounds back at you, maybe vary them slightly. Your eyes become all big, we can almost see your brain working, until you respond to our noises with another one of your own: either a repetition of ours, or a different one altogether. You love playing this game, and so do we. The sound-combinations you come up with are too cute, and I hope I will get to record them soon to keep for eternity.

Overall, your physical development took quite a leap this month. You do not have much in common anymore with that fragile, tiny mostly motionless newborn anymore that you were not very long ago. Not only have you learned to grab for toys that are within easy reach (and mostly manage to hold on to them), but you have also surprised me when I briefly laid you on your tummy to give you an oily massage on your back. You see, I haven't put you on your tummy much, because you immediately started to cry, letting me know on no mistakable terms what you thought of being in this position. Thus you didn't have many opportunities to practice holding your head up in this position. However, when I turned you over that day your head suddenly shot high into the air and stayed there, as you supported yourself on your elbows and forearms. You turned your head left and right, and even though it seemed a bit wobbly you managed to keep it up for a couple of minutes! We also play airplane a lot now, and you soar through the entire apartment, high up above my head. You turn stiff as a board and grin around, and sometimes spit down on me or your Daddy. Your aim is priceless. I have also started to kind of roll you from holding you in my arms up my chest until your tummy reaches my chin and I can blow raspberries onto your tummy. I am not afraid of "breaking you" anymore, and you have become a lot more substantial, enough for me to feel safe to play like this with you. This new game causes you to grin the widest yet, I absolutely love it - I can't wait for your first laugh.

The other day A and I took you and Lee for a walk in your carrying cloths. Usually you fall right asleep as soon as I put you in there. My warmth and closeness and the motion of my walking usually put you right out. Not so anymore! Like a big girl you sat in your cloth, your head held up straight, and with big eyes you were observing the world around you as it passed, for the first time ever. You took everything in with a look of wonder on your face, the cars, the trees, the bushes, and after about half an hour of this you contentedly fell asleep against my chest, maybe dreaming of soon running through these meadows we passed!

Most excitedly, this month has also seen our first ever vacation as a family! Unexpectedly, your grandparents invited us along to Obertauern, where they went to ski with some friends. Your Daddy took two days off of work, and last Saturday we left. I was a bit worried about the four hour drive to get us there, but you knocked out in your car seat and awoke only once for a feeding. We took a break to take care of this and to let you stretch thoroughly, and after that you fell right back asleep again.

The vacation was great. Your grandparents got to spend four days and three nights with you, I got to go skiing with your grandpa for three days, and you and your Daddy could spend some quality time together without me for the first time. This vacation was good and relaxing for everyone, and now you seem much more at ease with your Daddy than you were up until now. Admittedly, on my first day of skiing I was tempted to call your Daddy about once every half hour to check up on you, and I missed you so much! I have never been without you for more than an hour before this - but I also admit that it recharged my batteries big time, to get to do one of the things I love most all by myself, knowing that you were in good hands with your Dad.

In order to get you through my 5 hours on the slopes, I pumped a bottle of my milk for you each day for your Dad to give to you while I was gone. Turned out that you were more hungry than that - so we started to feed you some formula on top of my pumped milk. I was told that you gulped this down - and I was worried if you'd get back to the breast after this anymore. Turns out that my worries were unfounded, you always seemed eager to have me back - however, we also started to feed you a bottle before bedtime, because you were doing your usual crying, and I was afraid to bother your grandparents too much, who were sleeping in the other room. Turned out that this worked like a charm: you slept from 11 PM through 4:30 AM without stirring - and your night-time crying stopped as well. What can I say: we have started to observe these same tactics once we were back home as well, not without considerable bad feelings on my part (- what if this is the beginning of the end of our nursing relationship? What if this makes me lose my milk? What if you stopped taking my breasts after you got used to the bottle?), but so far this looks like a blessing for all of us: we got some hours in the evening to ourselves, you fell asleep in your own bed in your own room for the first time, and you slept there until the wee hours without interruption. When you wake up now in the early hours I always come fetch you for you to spend the rest of the night with us, and for me to see your wide smile with which you greet me each morning. I think the decision to give you a bottle of formula each night has been a good one - the nights are peaceful again, and you still drink vigorously from my breasts during the day.

And speaking of sleeping in your bed: I have also started to put you down there for a noontime nap, when I see you getting sleepy or you fall asleep during a daytime feeding. Sometimes it works and you nap well, but most of the time you wake right back up and stare fixedly at the small camera of our baby monitor. Then I sit outside in the living room and stare at you staring at the camera, and it is most uncanny. I am not sure what fascinates you so much, there are no blinking lights or anything. It is almost as if you are trying to hypnotize me into coming to fetch you, if you'd only stare at me through this digital eye long enough.

And speaking of staring at me: guess who called me a week or so ago? Well, how could you possibly know - it was the photographer who did my pregnancy shooting when I was 8 months pregnant with you! Turns out he wrote an article for a baby magazine about self-awareness and beauty in pregnant women, and he asked me if it was okay with me if he used one of my pictures for it! Out of his entire archive of pregnant women he chose three pictures - and I am going to be one of them, serving as an example for a beautiful pregnant woman! Needless to say: I was floored. He will send me a copy of the magazine when it comes out in February or March - I am so proud of this! Your Mommy is a model now!

Well, my love. It is time to end this letter. Let me finish by saying that I finally made up my mind and wrote a letter to the chief doctor of the hospital where you were born, complaining about the midwife which brought you into this world. One day you will hear the whole story - for now let me just say that I got an official apology, the assurance that he will have a personal talk with said woman, and an invitation for us to come see him for a personal exchange in his office, to talk about what had happened. I needed this for my personal coming to terms with the fact that your birth didn't go as I hoped it would, and I now feel that I can truly put this aside and move on. I may take him on his invitation, if nothing else maybe he can point me to some help for my still raging postpartum depression, and for my aches in my spine, where I got my epidural during your birth. I feel very good about his prompt and nice response, maybe I'll have your sibling in this very same hospital after all.

Love,
Mama

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