My Indi Girl,
Sweet thing, you are two months old. Still so tiny and yet time is zooming by me like the landscape outside a car window – sometimes barely discernable but always beautiful.
There are some really groovy things I’m discovering about being a second time mama. Like how it feels I’ve been given a second chance at this parenting gig. I can do things completely different if I choose. I can discover new ways to parent. I can even experiment if I am so inclined. I have been awestruck at the freedom you’ve bestowed on me by being my second child, my second sweet daughter. I am at ease with you. On my good days I’m at least embracing your quirks and cries and demands. On my best days, I’m even getting half way decent at surrendering to your needs and to this blessed journey of motherhood.
But, time seriously warps itself for a second child like you. I’ve practically forgotten to anticipate all the cute little milestones so far, the ones I was waiting for with bated breath when Kaia was young. Suddenly, the new skills and milestones are waved in my face like a bright sparkler firecracker: you gaining more head control, grasping objects, wanting to “play” more independently, cooing and gurgling, munching on your fist, rolling from side to side, blowing teensy spit bubbles, sucking in your bottom lip, supporting your weight, mimicking, and recognizing people. And of course, smiling for reals. I swear, the smiling thing just came on like that and I was in heaven. Now, I know what makes you smile and can pretty much guarantee a grin on a moments notice. And when you smile your eyes scrunch up like your sister’s and your lip curls in glee. Melts me every single time. I am awaiting the giggles next…
Let’s just get it out there: you like being held. By your Mama. You let out a pathetic little whimpering growl when you detect a mere 3% difference in the grade of your body tilt. Seriously, it irritates you to be put down, laid down on your back specifically. I think it’s because you don’t like your head down, my little breech baby. You were use to sitting up in my womb and that’s how you want it here in our world. You are peachy if riding in the Moby or when I’m holding you; even if I’m knee-deep in my blogroll or sitting on the floor reading a book to your sister. Ya just wanna be in the safety net of my arms.
I mean, that’s really probably stupid to write because who wouldn’t want to be held close? By their Mama? I don’t fault you one bit for that. In fact, we often hear of babies “like you” as if they are “one of those”; more “high needs” you’ve been deemed by our culture. Well, our culture can go shove it because being cuddled and nurtured is our birth right. For your Mama it is a primal protective instinct and for you it is one of safety and love. I mean, even Maslow recognized this sort of thing in his hierarchy of needs. I think we should switch our line of thinking and instead assume all babies like to be held and that those who don’t are “one of those” (then again, I don’t like pitting babies against babies or mamas against mamas).
As such, you always crave sleeping next to a warm body; preferably the squishy, milky-aroma of your Mama’s body. Repeat the logic I extolled in above paragraph. I have never understood why we adults expect babies to be happy sleeping alone. In a lonely, quiet room. In a little cage. With their tiny cries echoing around them. Especially when we as the adults are usually enjoying the warm company of another adult body every single night. Why should our children not reap the same benefits?
Indi, I tell you these things because you are different in these ways than your big sister was. Or perhaps we are different parents now, slightly more attuned to our communal needs as a family. Kaia slept on her own. And she played more on her own. She was – and is – an independent little spirit. And I could discuss for days whether this was part of her inherent personality or more part of our parenting style and beliefs; nature vs. nurture. In the end, it doesn’t matter. You are each unique flowers in our family garden. How we are enjoying watching you blossom and grow.
Last week, we happened upon a fabulous discovery together; you adore poetry! Yes, my girl, how pleased I am. As you sat upright on my knees facing me one morning, I opened a book gifted to me by a dear friend and settled into the leather couch. It was a book of poetry by May Sarton. Your sister was napping and the glow from the morning sun was the only light filling the room. And, like I do with any poetry, I cracked open a page at random and began reciting, filling the space with the vibration of words. I heard you cooing and when I looked up you were grinning and watching my eyes and mouth intently. With each new stanza, you talked to me and raised your eyebrows and let the sounds sink into your heart. And so, I read you more, emoting grandly into your gaze and pausing to listen to your replies. And then I turned to Shakespeare and oh how you loved those passionate “Romeo and Juliet” soliloquies. And I read you some Walt Whitman “Leaves of Grass” and still you were enthralled.
I admit you still have access to the binky. Mostly, you like it to fall asleep with it during your cranky periods and you typically spit it out later. If you are napping in a bassinet and the binky falls out, you cry out for some help. If you are sleeping with us and it falls out, you fall right back into your slumber without it. You feel safe.
People ask me all the time how you are sleeping and napping and nursing. And I always respond “I don’t really know. Great, I guess.” I feel silly saying this but I’m just not paying that much attention. It’s kinda like being in labor: I never time the surges. To me, I can intuit my body and its progress without using the confines of “time”. The same with parenting a baby; I’ve just been flowing with it all, giving you what you need when you need it and it seems to work just fine. With co-sleeping, I barely wake up when you need to nurse and thus I just couldn’t specially say how often you awaken. Taking a stab, I’d say you wake up twice during the night to nurse. But, around 5:45 you begin to get restless and spend the next two hours kicking and moving and jostling around. You fall in an out of sleep, but never quite stop moving. It really keeps me and your Daddy awake, but we are dealing. I’m sure you are trying to tell us you’d like to be up and playing and learning the world, but you’ll soon realize that this family is a sleeping kind of family. We don’t like to get up before 8 am, my love. Of course, you tend to fall back into a deep sleep right around the time Kaia decides to wake up.
Can I tell you what an absolutely picture of divinity you are as you lay upon our soft sheets? I sometimes put you to bed with your Daddy (because I want to come write or need to finish some chores) and when I come back in later I will turn on a little flashlight, muffle the light, and then lay next to you and just stare at you. I notice your relaxed eyelids and your soft lips and the way your cheeks puff out just so. I position my nose close to your face and listen to the peaceful breath you emit. I rub my lips on your fuzzy head and inhale the smell of your babyness. I see your rosy legs curled up around your daddy’s body and know you are exactly where you need to be. And then I pull you close to me and we exhale audibly together, that kind of grateful exhale that says “I’m finally home”.
And as far as nursing during the day? I have no clue. You get it when ya want it. And when you do, you gulp it down like a champ and I laugh every time I bring you up and you have the goofiest, happiest, milky face. Your spitting up has definitely decreased and I think it’s because my milk supply has finally stabilized. However, while you’ve managed to wrangle the effects of my intense let-down quite well, it still catches you off guard at times. And then you come off real quick and it sprays everywhere and even though your face and hair gets soaked in mama-milk you never seem to mind. You just close your eyes as I wipe off your face and in no time you are ready for more action. Indi, you really are such a good sport. (TMI note: sometimes, like last night, other innocent victims are caught in the frenzy of the spraying action. Like your poor Daddy). You must be eatin’ well because you’ve gained three pounds since birth.
I’m anxiously awaiting the next month of your life because I was so sick with Pneumonia during this time in Kaia’s babyhood. I feel like I really missed out on so much during that month or so that the terrible illness debilitated me. I could barely even hold her in my arms to nurse her and when I wasn’t nursing her, I was trying to sleep through the hacking and pain and constant fever. So, my point is that the next four weeks are gonna be fun with us, Indi. You are going to teach me and surprise me and knock my socks off with your burgeoning development and personality.
Speaking of personality, I asked your Daddy last night how he would compare your personality to Kaia’s. He said that you are mellow. Indeed you are. Nothing seems to bother you too much (except aforementioned departure from arms), your cries rarely last long nor climb in the same intensity as your sisters, you sleep through anything, and you watch the world with contented pleasure. He also mentioned that you aren’t as intense as Kaia; that you are more balanced, not quite experiencing the high-high’s and low-low’s as your sister does. You are peaceful and simply trusting. You really are my “sweet Pea”.
Thank you for tolerating your sister; sometimes her exuberance for you seems a bit overwhelming, but you keep on smiling while she methodically places bibs and washcloths all over you body or steals your little toys. And you listen as she sings you “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” like the proudest big sister in the whole world. When she hears you cry in the other room, her naked little nutmeg body starts running towards you and she calls out lovingly “Baby, it’s OK. Mama’s coming! Mama’s coming!” And together we arrive to scoop you up.
You still kinda resemble a little boy – or more accurately a little old man – with your male-pattern baldness and hair-on-the-sides-flipping-out-thing going on. It’s insanely, hilariously cute to me but you do bear a striking resemble to Mr. Noodle. I quite like that you are bucking the standard of typical beauty that our culture imposes. Maybe you’ll pass more of that wisdom along to me so that I don’t continue to fret about the stinkin’ 20 lbs I still need to lose to get back to my pre-Indi weight. 🙂
Indi, to say I’m enjoying loving you is such an understatement. But we have this effortlessness together that is refreshing and pure. Your energy balances and calms mine. You unravel me. You slice through my layers, revealing the softest and kindest parts of me. Having an infant again to cradle and stroke and carry close to my body has been like a healing balm for my soul, a way to connect again to all those things that make us perfect. I am on my knees in gratitude for your unparalleled patience. Thank you for joining me in this journey; for choosing me as your mama.
Your gifts continue to manifest themselves and I await the lesson in each of them.
I love you, my Indi baby.