One with the single dimple like Daddy.
Love of my life.
In a week and two days, you will be one.
How did this happen?
In those first few weeks when people told me this would happen, I nodded, but inside I did not quite believe them. My head did, but my heart did not.
You were so tiny. So helpless and so in love with Mommy. So desirous to be close to me and so comforted in my arms. There were those nights you woke up every hour or two throwing up because the antibiotics at birth, necessary to fight off the infection we both got, destroyed your good stomach bacteria and I didn’t know what was wrong or why you were throwing up. I still don’t know for sure. Was I feeding you too much because I didn’t know what else to do? Your poor little frame would shake and your face would scrunch up and you would cry until I held you in my arms. Then one night I just snuggled you on my left shoulder, across my chest, or in the crook of my right arm and you slept peacefully, not throwing up a single time. You nursed when you wanted and Mother and Baby had love-filled peaceful dreams. You were where you needed to be and we both knew it.
How I loved you. But how scared I was. My mind assaulted by images of every bad thing I had ever heard happen to babies. My heart too overwhelmed to take it.
You were so small. With such big blue eyes.
I never had a minute’s peace. You were, and still are, a terrible sleeper. Everything else going down in shambles around me, the business your Father and I ran together teetered on a brink. But oh how I loved you.
Today you are out with Daddy watching him fly the drone because you are interested in stuff like that now. A short time ago this would not have been possible. You needed me every couple of hours, because you had such a tiny tummy, and I ached for a bit of independence. Now you eat pears and squash and peas and oatmeal, too. And the occasional egg. And you can go hours away from me, and that is a big change.
So today you are out with Daddy, away from me. And the house is quiet. And in less time than it took to think about it, I put away 3 loads of laundry and cleaned out the closet. The washing machine is whirring with the next week’s worth of clothes. The house is eerily quiet, as in the wake of a big change. A loss. A new stage of life.
And it is a new stage, and it is a loss. A loss of the baby girl I’ll never see again except in pictures and videos and memories and dreams. A loss of a completely dependent baby-soul. You giggle over so many things nowadays, and you are so observant that the things you try to do and do every day rock my mind. You try to swipe Daddy’s credit card to pay for things, but it’s hard for you to let go of cash. You try to pack boxes full of household items, including my cellphone, which you keep losing for me. You chuckle when we laugh but almost never looking in the right direction, which makes it side-achingly hilarious, and our laughter makes you laugh some more.
You are a tiny fairy of hope or a small angel of goodwill to our lives. Your smile is too big for your face and so are your eyes. Your heart is too big for this world, and you try to cheer up even older children who seem sad to you. Other children’s sadness makes you very sad, and you try to do the silliest thing you can think of when you see them to make them laugh, like shake your head back and forth with a big smile on your face. In this way, you are very much like your Father. He always tries to bring laughter in sad or serious situations.
You wave goodbye, and dance to music, and toddle around the house using anything you can push, and climb and fall and get up and fall again. You wave at strangers, and make them smile, and you love music and singing to the degree that they can almost always cheer you. You are delightfully aware of the world around you but delightfully unaware of your own silliness, cuteness, and enchantment. And last night you slept soundly from 10:30 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. (God, please let this be a new thing).
The house is quiet like I said. And I am doing laundry and cleaning. Carrying the baby bath to the basement to wait for, if ever there will be, another baby. My little girl has changed and now takes baths sitting up and splashing with delight in a grownup-tub. The bouncy seat, long outgrown, joins it. The swing will have to go, too, the use you get out of it too rare to be worth the space it takes up in our bedroom.
How did I get to a place where I could go hours without you? Where you could be happy in the company of someone other than me for so long? The completely dependent mom-and-baby stage is over. In a week and two days, you will be one, and things will never be the same. And every year after that will bring more changes. You will be every year a different, more independent little girl, and one day someone I can’t imagine today. And now, at the edge of this new frontier in parenthood, I am so glad I cuddled you every time you cried and responded to the only language you knew as you were trying to understand the world. You cried, and you were answered. I’m so glad for every time I stood by your crib as 1 and 2 and 3 in the morning and said, “Thank you, God, for our precious baby girl.” Because I’ll never see that tiny, helpless, loving little baby again, the one who had to be nestled against my heart almost all the time, the one who has robbed me of almost 360 nights of sleep, the one who greeted me every morning with a smile. No, I’ll never see her again, except in pictures and videos and memories and dreams.