Thursday, May 29, 2008

Baby Steps

Yesterday was one of those days I could not wait to see my baby girl; to pick her up and hug her close to me, to smell her scent, to feel her warmth. I read too many sad stories yesterday . . . about a tornado and a 2 year old who didn't survive, about the shocking new scandal surrounding the Save the Children organization, about a 10-week old SIDS case who also lost a cousin 7 weeks earlier just moments after her birth. I finished the new Jodi Picoult book about a murdered child and pediatric cardiac failure. It seemed everything I read was terrible and sad and I couldn't wait to get home to see the lil' dude.

I had her in my lap, and we were talking about our days. She was particularly animated and busy, and it made me laugh at her.

Then, she began to do more than squirm . . . she arched her back and straightened her limbs, as though she was uncomfortable. I made sure she had dry pants and a full belly, check and check. I sat her back on my lap and she did the same thing. It was like she was trying to get out of my grip. I thought maybe her tummy was full of gas? so I gave her more room and tried to coax a burp out. No, that wasn't it.

I looked around, realizing her "car keys" were on the floor in front of us. Do you want your keys, sweetheart?

So, I set the lil' dude on the floor so I could grab her keys for her, and she immediately calmed down. She reached her arms out for her toys, so I placed them in her lap, and scooped her back up into my lap. This move instantly was met with cries of frustration from the baby, as she began to arch her back against me. I looked at her for minute, realizing what she wanted.

She wanted to be put down. She wanted to sit on the floor amongst her lovies and the dog hair so she could roll around and sit up and play like the little girl she is quickly becoming. I slid onto the floor next to her, but she was already busy. So, I just laid there, on my stomach, with my head propped on my forearms, watching my daughter play with her toys, on her own, away from me. To say it was bittersweet is an understatement.

I thought she would be smaller, for a lot longer. She is nearly too heavy for me to tote around in her carseat. She can pick up banana puffs with her fingers and eat them. She thinks both the remote and my cellphone are the coolest things ever, and will keep looking for them when you move them out of her sight and wet grip. Her outfits are making her look like a toddler instead of an infant. She fought me on her small baby bathtub, she nows takes a bath like grown-ups do. She is on the last size of Pampers Swaddlers, the next stage of diapers are called Cruisers. No! No, please don't do that yet. I am not ready.

I think I am starting to regret the lil' dude and I have only spent one night awake together; quietly whispering in the dark and rocking ourselves to sleep in the big chair, covered with fleece blankets. That night was her first night home from the hospital. Since then, she has been content to sleep by herself in her crib until morning . . . without me.

I have always read bedtime stories to the lil' dude, since she was brand new. I could situate her in the froggy position against my chest and hold the book in front of us. Now, it's all I can do to balance her and Pooh's Complete Storybook Collection in the rocker at the same time. It's like she wants to help tell the story, too. She wants to help me. See Mama? I can point to the pictures, can you see what I am showing you?

The Dad? He can't wait for her to grow and get bigger. He asked me last night when she'll know how to clap. I said, "I don't know . . . soon, probably," knowing it is right around the corner. He is so excited for her to crawl, for her to say words with her sweet voice, for her to sit by him and watch the big games because she wants to. He wants her hair to grow long enough for pigtails, just like Boo in Monsters, Inc. He is ready for all this. But I'm not.

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