Dear Nora (Month 1: Long Nights & Baby Cheeks)

Dear Nora,

Yesterday, you turned a month old. I've been trying to write you a letter since I found out I was being induced 32 days ago, but words failed me. It seems so silly to say that-- words failed me-- cliche, and a little unworthy of just how immense the addition of you to our family has been. It seems too small, that everyday excuse. 

baby selfie.jpg

Maybe it's the exhaustion, of which there's plenty. Maybe it's the fact that I, as a woman and a person and a force of nature, am in completely new territory being your mother. Not disagreeable territory-- I really like having you around. Just, unfamiliar. 

 You aren't afraid to let things delight you. 

You aren't afraid to let things delight you. 

 You have a serious crush on this guy. (It's OK. So do I.)

You have a serious crush on this guy. (It's OK. So do I.)

 First month = first bath. No worries, we've worked out the kinks. You're no longer convinced we're trying to peel you skin off with acid during bath time.

First month = first bath. No worries, we've worked out the kinks. You're no longer convinced we're trying to peel you skin off with acid during bath time.

Let me tell you a bit about yourself. You're new here. You feel new here, I think. Your English needs a bit of improving, but we're working on it. You communicate with little coos and crazy arm gestures. You kick, punch, and scratch when you get overwhelmed. What you lack in articulation you make up for with volume, enthusiasm, and longevity if you don't get what you want. We love you, anyway. We've decided to keep you.

 Dimples. Arm rolls. CHEEKS. These are a few of our favorite things.

Dimples. Arm rolls. CHEEKS. These are a few of our favorite things.

Daddy called you The Meatball the first day you were born and the nickname stuck. Sorry, kiddo. That's what happens when you have as many dimples and rolls as you do. You'll just have to tell your therapist all about it when you're 12 and we're the most embarrassing people you've ever met. I'm sure therapists call a nickname like that "low hanging fruit" and it'll be a nice break from the deeper issues you'll have rooted in you after the fairy tales Grammy tells you (like the one I hope you ignored the other day about being a princess and going to the ball to find a prince to marry for his money, feminism be damned). 

What I love most are the more subtle things about you. I love the way you act like we're starving you TO DEATH any time you  have to wait more than a second longer than you think you should to nurse. I love the Angry Gollum Face you make at me when you latch on, a feral little side-eye glare you shoot me as you eat, letting me know you disapprove of the fact that I delayed your meal so I could waste time pulling the roast chicken from the oven or wiping down the dogs or-- GOD FORBID-- eating something myself. 

I love the way the top of your head smells after a bath. I love the way you'll lay and babble to your mobiles and stuffed animals, like you're catching up with dear old friends. You're a little serious sometimes. You'll lay in your cradle or propped up on the Boppy and you'll just watch everything around you. You take it all in, what little you can see, this big new world you've been thrust into. 

I love that you seem a little hesitant about your father and I. You're still getting to know us, and there are times when I'm changing your diaper (which you don't like) or cleaning up spit-up (which you also don't like) or filing down  your raptor-claw baby nails (which you really do not like at all) when you'll look at me like, "Lady... I'm not sure who you think you are but I don't trust you. " I say that I love that about you because I hope it sticks-- I hope you make the people who lay claim to the special places in your heart really work for it. I want you to make your father and I earn our spots there. I want the same for the friends you'll carry with you, and the people you'll love along the way. Your love is the most valuable and precious thing you have to give the world. I love that I already see you being a bit unwilling to squander it.

That said, I've seen you with Grammy and Grampy so I know that once you've decided to let people in, you're going to be generous of spirit with them. You spend your mornings (a leisurely nap from 8:30am - 11am) sleeping on Grammy's chest while she drinks her requisite morning gallon of coffee. We have to keep reminding her that she has to share you, or else she'd hold you all the time. She loves you more than any grandmother has ever loved a grandchild in the history of humanity, ever. 

And your Grampy. I thought I had cornered the market on being charming, until you came along. All you have to do is grab his finger with your little hand and he absolutely melts. Your grandfather is not a man who giggles often, but when you give him a nice, big grin (still a bit rare for you, being so young and all) he trades you back with equally delightful giggles. It's amazing, watching my parents turn into grandparents. It's amazing how you took the capacity for love in this family and blew it wide open, flipped the lid right off and left each of us absolutely overflowing. I didn't just underestimate my own capacity for loving you. I underestimated what a huge, profound change your little presence would have on all our lives and hearts. We are indelibly changed, each of us, for the better. Absolutely for the better.

Your father and I are still figuring it out. We don't have thirty years of parenting experience like Grammy, so we fumbled a little at first. Now we can each change a diaper, wrap a swaddle and get you to burp blindfolded with one hand tied behind our back. What we can't seem to figure out is how to get you to stop screaming at 11pm when you hit your "witching hour" and just want to detail the long list of injustices you faced that day (like, for example, that we don't let you claw your own eyes out, or that sometimes the dog barks and it scares you). 

Any time you hear your father's voice, you stop what you're doing and wiggle around to see if you can figure out where he is. This is adorable if what you're doing it laying on your play gym or snuggling on my chest or hanging out in your pack and play. This is less adorable if what you're doing is nursing, and the result is either a quick head-jerk while you're still latched (Dear God, OW!) or a quick head-jerk right after you un-latch (which means everyone ends up covered in boob juice). I always suspected that your father would make an exceptional father, and the two of you together have absolutely proven that theory correct.

I don't think you'll ever be able to understand just how special you are to us, being our first. Even if we do ruin everything by adding another sibling on here or there, you'll always be the first baby, the one who turned us into parents. The one who just absolutely smashed our naive little hearts into a billion little pieces, then put them back together in a bigger, more spectacular, unexpected fashion. I won't be able to make you understand what that feels like until you have a baby of your own (75 years from now, because according to your father, you're not dating until you're 30, the same year you'll be permitted to dress as something other than a Lillian Vernon Bumble Bee for Halloween). 

What else, what else? You have to forgive me. You still wake up three to four times a night, which makes for a very sleepy, scatterbrained mother. I don't mind it, really, though. I don't even mind nursing you the way I thought I would. I expected it to hurt (it didn't) and be challenging (it wasn't) and frustrating (only when you try to talk with your mouth full). As an added bonus, I love the small moments that only I get to spend with you, even the ones in the middle of the night, because snacking together is our thing. I love that I have a chance to whisper the sorts of promises and comforts that can only be shared between a mother and her baby while you quietly nurse. I love watching your eyelids get heavy, listening to your breathing slow as  you drift from being awake into the dream space in your mind. I love your little fingers, and how you press your hands to my chest and chin. I don't even mind your little kicks, as you work to sort out the world around you and how you fit into it. 

Most of all, I love knowing that my body built you from scratch, and now it's my body helping you grow. You and me, kiddo. It's you and me. 

Oh. Right. You look a hell of a lot like your father. Many people have commented that you are proof that yes, in fact, he would make a very pretty girl. From your long eyelashes to your adorable cheeks to your big feet, you're your father's daughter through and through. Except your eyes. Like Harry Potter, you really do see to have your mother's eyes. I'm annoyed, I'm not going to lie, that you look like a baby he could have had with any woman (I put a lot of sweat equity into you, kiddo) but your blue eyes are my sanity's saving grace. I heard that all babies look like their fathers in the first year so that the men don't abandon them. Apparently it's a survival thing. Apparently you'll start to look more like me the older you get. It's OK. You have my eyes, and you have my take-no-prisoners attitude when it comes to being fed promptly. I feel like even if we only had those two things in common, it would be enough. 

Bogart has adopted you as his own, though he's honestly a bit jealous of all the love, food, and attention we give you. Biscuit on the other hand is still working out how she can hustle you for snacks. I suspect you'll win her over once you can sneak her yummy bites of baby food, until then though she's taking you with a grain of salt. Every time you cry she looks at us like, "Guys, really? Another inconsiderate, loud, smelly roommate? Did we not learn our lesson with Bogart?" Apparently, we did not. Sorry, Biscuit.

Anyway. Enough rambling. Here are your stats. At one month old you...

LIKES

  • Flailing your arms around like a wild child. 
  • Having your feet rubbed. 
  • Head massages.
  • Your mobiles.
  • Having a tinkle as soon as we have your old diaper off you.
  • Looking at everything.
  • Shushing noises.
  • Eating.
  • Warm baths.
  • Toots and burps.
  • Falling asleep on someone's chest.
  • Grabbing fistfulls of Daddy's chest hair.
  • Grammy and Grampy.
  • Waking up slowly.
  • Grabbing Bogart's face hair.

DISLIKES

  • Accidentally punching yourself in the face.
  • Being cold.
  • Waiting for food.
  • Having your diaper changed.
  • When the dogs bark and startle you.
  • Getting big, sloppy Bogart kisses. (I suspect you'll learn to love those.)

I couldn't possibly have guessed at who you would be. I couldn't possibly have guessed at how much I'd love you. I can't possibly imagine what the next month holds for us. I do know this: it's already such a marvelous adventure. I'm glad to be having it with you, my little Meatball. 

Mama loves you.

Nora_M1_01

Always,

Mom