Today you turned four months old. You have become such an integral part of our lives that I cannot remember how Steve and I were an us before we were three of us. I cannot even imagine what it was like to be a me before I was your mother. You are such an awesome little human being and I feel so privileged to be a part of your life.
I can’t quite believe how quickly the past four months have gone. It seems like only a few short weeks ago that you were this tiny (ok, tiny-er) little being, with such big intent eyes and little animal noises. I am desperately afraid that I will forget what it was like to hold you as a newborn, to smell your fuzzy baby head, to feel your weight as you fell asleep against my shoulder — perfectly content and secure.
In order to aid myself in this, I am compiling a list of those things I want — need — to remember. I feel as if forgetting any moment of you would just break my heart.
1. Your smile. You smiled early, we think. Perhaps you had a lot of gas, but by three weeks, your smiles were aimed at us and clearly seemed to be in response to times when you were happy. I loved your early smiles, but your smiles now are just amazing You grin, you dimple, you give big smiles and then you give these full-face smiles that just light up the room! You give them freely and without reservation, and I can tell when you smile because your eyes crinkle up, so even if I can’t see your mouth, I know you’re happy. You smile in your sleep, these flickering grins that pass your mouth in an instant. You also smile on the boob sometimes, looking up at me with those big blue eyes, not willing to let go, but too blissed to not respond. Your face is full of love and trust and you are deliriously happy and want to show the world. I love your smiles.
2. Your tears. Your cries just break my heart, especially when your little lower lip pouts out. When you were new, your whole lower jaw would shake with the passion of your crying; combined with the outstretched fist, we (lovingly) compared you to the overacting of William Shatner (Khan!!). When they did the heel sticks to test your blood sugar levels in the hospital, I cried with you. I can’t understand how any parent could ever just listen. to. their. baby. cry. I resolved the moment I met you to try and limit your crying with whatever means available to me, because I love you too much to let you cry. Not that it has always helped, but I have always tried. Over time, the strength of your cries have increased, but their frequency has decreased. We had one midnight visit from the midwife in your first week when we just couldn’t figure out why you were still losing your nut at 10pm, when you weren’t hungry or dirty — turns out that’s the normal fussy evenings of a newborn. Huh! It makes me wish that I had read more books on parenting, instead of being so focused on the birth.
3. Your hunger. When you were tiny, your hunger cues were easy: you were breathing, therefor you were hungry! Well, not quite so simple, but that first night I lay with you beside me in the hospital bed, I found your “ah ah ah ah” compelling me to open my shirt and offer you nourishment and comfort. Your breathing would quicken and your mouth would open like a little bird’s, and I would feed you. You also came with a cue which is only now starting to diminish: you would bonk your head against the shoulder of whomever was holding you, presumably tenderizing the flesh below for easy suckling. The bird faces were lost within your first few months, sadly, but the “ah ah ah” still makes the occasional appearance, as does the bonking. Lip-licking as a cue came and went, though I still sometimes find you licking my stomach in anticipation. When you’re hungry, your breathing still quickens as I come close, and sometimes that is all you need to ask me to bring you to the breast. You now show the proper ‘rooting’ reflex, where you turn your head to a stroke on your cheek and open your mouth to a hoped-for breast. Even on nights like tonight, when you snacked for two minutes out of every twenty, I am still intensely satisfied with my choice to breastfeed (I say that as if it was a choice rather than surrendering to your right and need for breastmilk). Your cues have changed, but your need and my ability are still dominant factors in our lives.
4. Your hands. Your tiny little fists when you were first born have unfolded slowly into open palms, creeping starfish which cup my breast as you nurse, wander slowing up my shirt front and flow up to cover your face so you can focus more intently on the task at hand. We were so overcome with pride for you that we remarked to the midwives how you were so focused on having your hands in front of your face, as if this were a mark of some infant genius. No, we were informed, all babies do that. It’s how they were in the womb and they’re not yet used to having all this space. Ah, we said. Ok. I remember when you held onto our fingers with your deathgrip, and how you learned to guide our finger to your mouth for drooling and chewing (instead of guiding it carefully into your cheek!). Now you can get a toy right into your mouth, along with a washcloth, your shirt, many fingers, sometimes your thumb, your seatbelt or any other thing that is placed remotely near your mouth. You are very dexterous. Your fingernails are your fathers, as are your long fingers and elegant wrist. Perhaps you will play the guitar. Or the drums, if your father is lucky 🙂
5. Your ears. Your ears were one of the first things I noticed when the doctor held you up to my view, flat on the operating table: they are perfectly formed and pinned close to your head. They are lovely ears, Jack, ears you can be proud of. The other amazing thing about those ears is how much music they have listened to, for all your life. Besides all the music you danced to in my womb, when you were just two weeks old we took you to the Heritage Music Festival in Princeton. You heard sea shanties at top volume not two feet from your head, tuba on the front porch, and banjo all over the place. When you were not quite a month, you realized at the Duttons show on Gibsons pier that the people you saw and the sounds you heard were related: you watched the show from my lap, rapt. You crow with joy and make your bouncy chair rock hard when your daddy plays music to you in your shared early mornings. You were transfixed by the native drumming at Daryl’s birthday party (though the dancers scared you a little). Sometimes your unhappiness in the car seat can be put off a little by Steve and I singing along to loud, upbeat music. Or “Ain’t No More Cane”, which concerns your father a little. You are already an aficionado, and we can’t wait to see and hear how your musical taste develops.
6. Your hair. You have the craziest baby hair I have ever seen! You were born with a full head of fine, dark hair, with a little curl and blond tips. It was surfer hair, or little ‘duck feathers’ as Pixie put it. Everyone said it would fall out and you would be bald, but they were only half right: you have worn the hair off the edges of your head, and that part has grown in silver-blond. However, the top part is still dark, and long, and curly, and has ended up as a little baby faux hawk. It is adorable, and many people comment on it. I have to declare that we did not do anything to your hair to make it look like this, and I’m not sure everyone believes me.
7. Your nose. You were born with a little strawberry nose: pink with little white dots from where the pores were not developed. It disappeared slowly, so slow that I didn’t mark the loss of the little dots. Your eye also cleared up: the goopy eye from an undeveloped or blocked tear duct that they told us would resolve on its own did so, sometime last week. Your eyes, by the way, are still blue. They may yet change, but the clarity and intensity of the blueness make us hopefully that you will be our blue eyed boy for the rest of your life. Your eyelashes are crazy long and dark, though your eyebrows have always been light (I guess to match the blondness of your new hair).
8. Your noises. Right now, living with you is like living with a strange and exotic bird. Most of the time, your laugh is an inhalation that results in a boisterous “eeeeeee”. Sometimes, more recently, your dad can get you laughing so hard that you make all these proper chuckles, but they are less often. You also chat, and tell all kind of stories with perfect sincerity, so much that we wonder what you think you are telling us. It’s quite fantastic, really. Did you know you were born talking? The doctor had only your head out of the incision and you were already chatting away. He told you: “Stop it! You aren’t supposed to be talking yet!”
9. Your demeanor. You were always an engaged baby, with lots of eye contact and a serious expression. You could hold your head up from when you were born, which made life a lot easier for me as I was less worried about breaking you. Your favourite position has always been up looking over the shoulder, preferably the left. Your dad used to burp you folded in half over his shoulder, and you seemed to like it just fine. You hardly ever spit up (yay!) and you hit your nose when you are stuffed up. You have always loved to stand, even from being weeks old, you have stood with all your weight on your legs, relying on us only for balance. You love your shiatsu chair now, though it seemed like a waste of real estate for the first few weeks. You give so much to us, and I’m not just talking drool: you laugh, you smile, you fuss generally only when there is a very good reason, and you are so very present in our lives. You seem so much more person-like than we expected such a new baby to be.
10. Your father. I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention that your father has blossomed in a way that I didn’t know he would. I always knew Steve would be an amazing father — he is caring, dedicated, compassionate, patient, fun and he has some amazing talents to teach you. However, he is so perfectly in love with you, it just breaks my heart. The first days in hospital, he roomed in on a narrow cot, and he slept with you on his chest while I napped. From the beginning, your bond was apparent; you knew his voice and trusted him completely. It kills me that Steve never expected to be a father, because he is the best of fathers. His confidence and humour have increased exponentially from the first days, even though he was never as scared of hurting you as I was. He changes your diapers, rocks you to sleep, entertains you in the morning, and loves you beyond all imagining. His love for you makes me love you both all the more, if that were possible.
I know how fleeting some of your phases and characteristics are, and I am trying to document them as much as possible. To that end, I am going to enjoy the last of your crazy baby hair until you move on to some new ‘do. I love you, Jack.