It’s Vi’s birthday next month.
I looked at her today and suddenly saw a young toddler before my eyes.
Who is this GIRL?
Gone is the newborn, the fetus booting up on the outside. The snuffling squeaks have been replaced with emphatic cries of UB! (“Up!”) EH! (“That!”) JEH! (general happiness) and NEH-NEH-NEH-NEH-NEH!! (“I want to nurse!”).
The hair she was born with is so long it reaches her upper lip, so some days I either tie it in a pineapple or pigtails, but most days I’m constantly pushing it out of her eyes. It’s probably time to trim it, and I will ask my hairdresser friend in London to do the honours. I hope to keep a silky lock.
She is big enough – and I am confident enough – to gently throw her in the air and she squeals in delight. She’s been crawling around like a pro for a few weeks, easily navigates the rubber mat in the bathtub, and has just started pulling herself to a standing position with the help of the sofa.
“Hoo IZ dis??” I playfully ask my little clown as I gently prod her belly. Sometimes she’s the one making a joke: she pressed her nose against the mesh of the travel crib we use as a playpen, and I burst out laughing at the pig-nosed face. She was ecstatic and, shrieking with laughter herself, did it again and again and again.
She has friends – babies her age who she recognises and smiles at when she sees them. She knows where we live – today after getting out the car I walked past our front door to the mailbox. She turned her head towards the sound of our barking dog (he heard the beep! as I locked the car) and a few seconds later said “Da!” and waved. She waved at her dad even though she couldn’t see him.
She’s gaining independence and is a feisty little thing who wants to feed herself. After enough food is in her belly that the hunger is at bay but before she’s finished, she knocks the food off the spoon to let me know that she’s ready to feed herself. It’s only a matter of time before the spoon I press into her little hand no longer tricks her.
And when I put her to bed, it’s because she’s fallen asleep nursing. I rouse her a little so that when she wakes up she’s able to settle herself. I kiss her fat little cheek and tell her I love her. Sometimes I whisper in her ear, “I always wanted a girl… and here you are, my sweet baby,” or “You are my favourite person in the world…” Placing her in her crib is bittersweet. It marks the beginning of Adult Time, but I never want to let her go.
But letting go is the hallmark of motherhood. Almost a year in, this much I know.