Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My Darling Baby

My darling baby girl, you are 10 months old today, and I am absolutely in love with you. I have these moments when I can't stop myself from squeezing you in my lap and repetitively kissing your unbelievably round cheeks. Sometimes you fight my adoration and squirm to get on the floor and begin your madcap crawl to any toy littered across our floor, or off to the gate that separates the living room from the kitchen. You love to pull yourself up to standing with this gate and bounce up and down or literally bang your head like a heavy metal rocker (or rather an inmate trying to shake her way out of the cell).

You are so much fun to watch these days, that I am deeply thankful that I work out of my home, and can be there to see you grow. You are strangely obsessed with dogs, despite the fact that we don't have one, and you don't get much opportunity to be around animals. This was your first word less than one month ago, and you continually shout and point, "Dawh!" at any canine that passes, or any bark you hear outside our brownstone. You occasionally point at a cat or even at your Dad and shout "Dawh!" too, but we choose to ignore these infrequent errors. After all, you love your D sounds, and Dawh and Da sound awfully alike. You have truly amazed us with your adaptation of a few key signs (finally!). You have absolutely mastered the universal milking sign, of squeezing your hands into little fists, and I am under your spell when you look me earnestly in the eyes requesting 'milky'. Despite the fact that you now have some very sharp teeth, and have found it funny on occasion to take a nibble (NOT funny), I love cradling you in my arms as you nurse.

It took some time, but you are also able to sign 'more' and 'all done/finished' at mealtime. Feeding solids... Wow, that is a whole other story. For the most part, you are an incredible eater, and we are trying to instill a passion for food in you, by having you taste a variety of different things. We LOVE good food, and want you to have a healthy appetite for all kinds of vegetables and a variety of spices. You are unbelievably curious about everything we eat, and have become a little beggar. This is actually one of your more annoying habits, as I can't seem to enjoy a meal without you trying to claw at my plate and uh-uh!ing with impatience around my legs. Is this why you like dogs? Were you a dog in a past life, who would circle the legs of a family at the dinner table, begging for scraps? We have to hand feed you pieces of our meal in order to calm the beast, and this has turned you into a snob about your bland baby food. One time I had had enough of your persistent pleading and refused to give you my angel hair pomodoro pasta. You had a meltdown - a true boneless, on-the-floor tantrum. Your father and I stared wide-eyed, thinking "We're screwed". Daddy tried to placate you and asked, "Stella, do you want more?" In your frustration and with a sad little pout, you sign-languaged "more" for the first time, and I HAD to give in. Since then, you can not only let us know when you are enjoying your food and definitely want more, but also when you are "all done", and ready to be released from your high chair. Nothing pleases me more than finally being able to communicate with you, even on this limited level. I want to make you happy, and to feel understood. If only we could figure out a way to make sleep-time easier... At night and sometimes at nap time, I feel like we are playing a game of yo-yo, with putting you in your crib, having you cry woefully, taking you guiltily out of your bed, getting frustrated with your continued cries, assuming once again that you MUST be tired, putting you back in your crib, and listening to you scream some more. This is heartbreaking, exhausting, unfair, and truly the worst part about being a parent. You are NOT one of those babies who sleeps through the night. You are not even one of those wonders who wakes once for a nighttime feeding. Instead, you are a truly bad sleeper, who seems to awake almost every two hours. I can't even begin to remember my last night of full sleep, and have learned to operate in a zombie state of minimum efficiency through your frequent nighttime feedings.

Magically, all my weariness fades with each new day, and your 5-toothed smile and scrunchy nose. Lifting you into my arms in the morning and smelling your lavender scent, I feel your excitement at my presence, different from the dark night. It's a new beginning.

Most of all, I love it when you LET me love you. - When you sweetly sit in my lap and I slowly scratch your back, your neck, your arms and your scalp. Your hair is so silky and baby fine and this is the only time you sit perfectly still, in a trance. I remember my mother doing the same to me, and I would always ask her to brush my hair or rub my back, because it felt so damn good. I tell you I love you a hundred times a day, and I don't think you can begin to comprehend what this means. However, I also know that when you quietly allow yourself to be cuddled and kissed, that this is the best way that you can show your love for me. If I'm lucky, I'll even get a big open mouthed kiss on the cheek, that leaves a slobbery trace of my darling love, my baby Stella.


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