Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dear Hazel: Month 3

Dear Hazel,

Time is just zipping by, it's moving so ridiculously fast I feel like I've been sucked up by a twister or something. Seriously. I don't remember time disappearing out from under me like this with Cadence...but I wouldn't change anything about it if it meant giving up the progress our family has made over the past few years. Time is moving quickly, but we're also in a position to truly enjoy every busy little moment of it. And you, my dear, are a huge joy.

This month got off to an awesome start with you truly smiling at your sister on the first day. You'd just turn and look at her and break out into this huuuuuuuuuuuuge smile, just pure glee, and it would make me sooooo giddy that I couldn't sit still, squirming with delight or dancing about, which alternately amused and worried you, I think.

You also started smiling those huge big grins at Nana and Papa and Kelly, when we'd talk to them via videochat. I wasn't sure you'd be able to discern what was happening or differentiate it from TV, but you stared SO HARD at that screen, way more interest than you've ever showed any other form of 2d electronically generated image, and as soon as you heard the familiar voices you broke out into HUGE AWESOME BABY SMILES and began bouncing up and down with glee. I'd say it's a hit.

Add it to the list of amazing things that have occurred this month. Like how you've already managed to pull down the porcupine on the gym mat enough times that is bores you, or how you can grab the wooden ball thingy that my grandpa Ed gave kelly when she was a baby, and successfully bite it without any assistance. Many objects meet this fate now, we've begun the phase of needing to be extremely careful about what's within your reach.

You've got some awesome abs, and if I've got you in a reclined position, you will work them hard to get up to sitting, and then standing, in any way that you can...if this is any indication, you're gonna be quite an athlete...seriously, baby, a 2 month old is not expected to be able to sit and stand. If it brings you joy, power to you, but otherwise...give yourself a break!

Not that you seem to want to. You get SO FRUSTRATED if you're trying to do something and it isn't working. I can see in you already a hard working, focused perfectionist, who will work to get it right but may suffer some serious angst in the process if it takes too long. We'll see how this turns out, but I see a fierce determination in you that could be either an asset or a fault depending on how its applied. I have a feeling you're going to be amazing, little one. You already are.

Especially because you are open to new ideas. One day your attempts to stand unaided didn't work, but you noticed the slight movement you got from sticking your feet on the floor anyway. You played with that for a bit...and now you're the most mobile 'non-mobile' baby I've ever encountered. You scoot around everywhere on your back...this is a problem during diaper changes, when you consistently scoot away from the diaper before I can get it fastened, and you also have a tendency to crash into the safety rail at the top...our choices are kind of spend all day relocating the baby into the diaper in a futile effort to get it on, or to let you experience the anger and frustration that you go through when you're trapped with your head against that rail for the few seconds it takes to get the diaper on...

You scoot right off the play gym almost anytime we put you on it. You spin around and around and then shoot off in whatever direction you happen to be facing. This, of course, assuming you aren't in the mood to hang out in your favorite little yoga-pose...You've certainly found your toes, and seem perfectly comfortable to spend your time with your lower half turned to the left so that hand can grab and explore those awesome toes, while your upper body turns to the right with your right arm outstretched, playing with the crinkly ladybug on the mat, or trying to grab something else, or just watching whatever else is going on in the room.

You really discovered toys in earnest the day before your sister's birthday, suddenly realizing that objects could be interesting, and manipulated. You had of course explored things prior to this, but this was the first day where I could see the gears really turning in your head-you'd set your sights on something, and actively try to get it, and you seemed remarkably focused on trying to figure out what each thing was all about.

This was just one day after you'd rolled onto your tummy for the first time. I was so proud of you, my little two month old rolling prodigy, even though I think that first time was cheating slightly, since you were holding my hand and pulling in such a way that your arm was held out so you wouldn't get stuck on it - but I didn't help with the rolling part at all, you did that all on your own. And you did manage to do it completely unassisted...on the 16th, not even two weeks later. We had a green vinyl tablecloth on the coffee table in the living room for your sister's birthday party, and we left it up for a few days afterwards in part because you LOVED that thing. You would wiggle off your mat and over to where it hung almost to the floor, and lay there batting and pulling at it until we separated you from it because it was getting too dangerous. It was during one of your forays into the land of crinkly tablecloth that you rolled all the way over without anyone touching you in any way. You didn't quite manage to get your arm out from underneath you once all was said and done, but you were solidly on your tummy, and had your head up, looking around, with this face that betrayed a giddy mix of excitement, accomplishment, surprise, frustration, bemusement, and uncertainty. After a minute of struggling with that silly stuck arm, you growled at me and rolled right back onto your back and went about your business as if that little adventure had been all in a day's work.

With all of these huge accomplishments, and the amount of work and play you pack into a day, I really shouldn't be surprised that your sleeping habits seem so grown up. You are now sleeping allll night at a stretch...You kinda doze here and there throughout the evening, and then go down around 11:00 for good, and wake up around 6:30am...and at that point my chest is so heavy I'm relieved that you're awake. Plus, those smiles you greet me with...oooo, girl you have no idea how powerful those
ginormous itty bitty baby smiles are. They are magic, and they melt away any shred of annoyance I may have about being up early. You seem to be a morning person...I am not, but you're helping me learn how to be. You're amazing, little lady.

You definitely have a unique personality, my dear. It's amazing how distinct your babyhood is from your sister's, even though you share so very many traits and features. Like Cadie, you are an unbelievably sweet baby with a truly rosy disposition...but unlike her, you are a bit of a homebody.

I joke that it's a side effect of you having been a homebirth, that you're my homebody crunchy granola baby; you are a good traveler but you are clearly much more comfortable at home and get really fussy if we're away from home for too long. You also don't like having visitors in our home past around 8:00pm. You grant a bit of a grace period until around 9, but then you just get really angry and stay pissed until our guests depart, at which point you calm down as if nothing had ever been wrong.

You also DESPISE having anything plastic in your mouth. NO pacifiers for you, thank you very much. Bottle? thank you. You reject these items with your tongue and a look of befuddled disgust. These are all points in stark contrast to your sister at this age...she was a lot more fussy because she battled acid reflux as the result of a soy intolerance we didn't know about right away, but otherwise she was pretty cool with being anywhere at anytime with anyone, as long as she was with me. She was never particularly keen on the bottle, either, and generally refused to take it BUT she was pretty addicted to that pacifier of hers. So much so that we just sort of assumed you'd require one, too...but that is just one obvious example of our folly when it comes to assuming anything. You are your own person already, Hazel, and I am totally in awe and in love with you. Keep teaching us, we are here to learn as much as to teach. So far, you've been a brilliant teacher.

Speaking of your sister, you are totally enamored of her. You want to do everything she does...which is how we got you to take a couple sips from a bottle one day, she was pretending to be a baby and using a bottle-like sippy cup, and you kept trying to get it, so I pumped some milk and put it in a bottle, and baba gave it to were SO excited for a few seconds as you watched Cadence drink and then got that nipple in your mouth...but that excitement quickly turned to disgust and that was that. But you do love to play with her however you can, in your somewhat limited capacity.

Take, for instance, your walks...she'll hold your hand while I support you by the ribs, and you two will walk down the hall together that's remarkably endearing, and you seem to absolutely adore it. I mean, you will walk like that on your own whenever I let you, and to have her involved just seems to totally make your day. And this walking? it's kinda genuine. Like, you support your weight, and put one foot in front of the other and usually don't get your legs tangled or step on yourself. I have been quite impressed.

Cadence hurt her arm last week, and Baba ended up taking her to the ER just to make sure it wasn't serious. It was the first time you had ever had to do bedtime alone, and ho boy did you not like it. You could feel the worried energy in the room and the absence of half the family, and despite your exhaustion you would not let me put you down, not for a moment. You'd sleep in my arms or cuddled into me as I laid beside you, but you would wake up terrified if I tried to put you in your crib or got up myself. I can't really blame you, either, lovely. If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't want to be alone, either. As it was, I think I needed your cuddles as much as you needed mine.

I admit, I was a little worried before you were born, since Cadence and I are such good buddies, and have been through so much together...I was afraid that you wouldn't get to have that experience of being so close on an individual level, and being such a strong team. But I'm happy to report that my worry was unwarranted, and you and I have forged a really awesome relationship that develops new nuances daily. Now that I'm in it I realize that the relationship I have with you and the relationship I have with your sister are like puzzle pieces in a way...separate, unique, but they fit together, compliment and complete each other in a dynamic but solid way, and really I guess that's what all family is - a complex series of intertwined interpersonal relationships that bind everyone together. By extension, that's what a community should be as well, but that doesn't always translate from the theory to practicality these days where anonymous contribution - positive or negative - is a ready option, and it becomes many individual personas operating in a void. I hope that changes before you're old enough to get caught up in it, little one, because it can be a lonely and vicious world sometimes. Which is why I find it so important to have good strong familial relationships now, so you'll always have that to hold on to. I love you SO much, little Hazelnutter.

You and your pretty little silly eyelashes...Your eyelashes are taking the whole "half mom/half dad" thing seriously...the outer half of your lashes curls like mine, but the inner half are very straight, just like your Baba...this what seems to have settled after you had one eye full of curly lashes and one eye full of straight lashes for a while. The nuances I never would have thought to expect!

You seem to have a thing for your Baba's hair, actually. You LOVE to grab it, and I often discover you with itty bitty fists clasped around pieces of his hair even when he's not home. I swear you save them for when he's at work and you miss him. I'll find you with strands of Baba hair at all hours of the day, no matter how long it's been since you've seen him.

Yesterday marked another huge first in your life, little lady, as you took your very first (and then second) airplane flight! I was very nervous beforehand, especially because it wasn't a direct flight, but you did an excellent job, my dear, and I was SO proud of you.

We're in Phoenix, AZ now, here for a four day long wedding extravaganza for our dear friends Danial and Poonam. Its kind of strange to me that you haven't yet met them, they've been living in Spain for the past year and came straight here upon their return. Anyway, it'd been a crazy couple days...we'd decided it was too expensive for all four of us to come, but your sister is their flower girl and so you and I were planning on staying home while Baba took Cadence on this adventure...but we were all somewhat saddened by that decision...and when Cadence told me, tearfully, that it made her very sad that you wouldn't get to see her be a flower girl, well it shook my resolve to the core and I ended up getting a relatively good deal from, which is why your adventure yesterday consisted of multiple flights and was with just Mama.

We had a really good day, all in all. You were a perfect little traveller, happy to play with me through whatever was thrown at us, flight delays, lost baggage (even your carseat...we still don't have it back, hopefully it'll be arriving soon...), extreme temperatures...the only time you got fussy at all was during our first descent, you weren't interested in nursing and I couldn't get you to suck on anything else, and there was a lot of pressure building up in your ears as a result. It'd build up, you'd get upset and start to cry, which would make you open your mouth wide and salivate, so you'd swallow, and then upon feel the pop of equalizing pressure, you'd stop crying abruptly, like, oh, that's better, ok now! but would of course get upset again a few minutes later when pressure would again mount...

Thankfully, you nursed for both takeoff and landing during the second leg of our flight, and you made friends with the folks sitting next to us on both flights. You even lasted for more than half the trip from the airport to the hotel strapped into the dreaded (loaner) car seat before you began screaming your little head off. We're going to be doing a decent amount of driving while we're here, so I hope you'll adjust and get used to's torture for all involved when we have to put you in a seat right makes my heart hurt and you just seem SO betrayed...oh I hate it!

Anyway, this letter has gotten away from me now, and we have plenty to do and lots of smiles and games to were remarkably happy this morning to see your sister and baba here, and I think we're in for a great weekend, delayed luggage or no.

Thank you so much for sharing this adventure with me, Hazelnut, and thank you so much for being you: an awesome, sweet, wonderful little child that I am nothing short of blessed to have in my life, as part of our kick-ass family, and as a wise old teacher with endless heart.

Love Always,