I don’t know if it simply because we’ve said she is the last baby, or, because she is such an awesome baby, or what, but Alaina makes me want to never not have a baby. Maybe I have a different perspective this time around because my oldest is now 8, so I can see right in front of me every day how quickly it goes by—or, maybe I am literally able to enjoy her more completely than I was with the older two. The adjustment to motherhood with the first was emotionally complicated. The adjustment to having two was easier, but the juggling of the needs of an infant and an almost-three year old, made some of the days very difficult to cope with. Life isn’t perfect now and I do get maxed out feeling (talk to me on a day when she doesn’t nap as I’ve come to expect!), but I just really, really, really like life with this baby in it! I was trying to explain it to Mark this week, saying that this is the last time anyone is ever going to love me like this. I know that might sound weird and that we think of parents as the ones having unconditional love for their babies, not vice versa, but the depth of the mother-baby attachment is extremely profound and incomparable. It is also simple and uncomplicated. I had the same depth of attachment with my other children, but I also felt more “oppressed” at times by the level of dependence and attachment. Now, I feel more aware of how short-lasting this period of intensity is and I just love how much she loves me. While we’ll always love each other deeply, right now we are a motherbaby—a single psychobiological organism and there just isn’t anything else like it.
Alaina has experienced lots of changes since my 6 month update post. She has four teeth now! (Brushes them herself before naps and at bedtime.) She crawls all over the place, mainly as a means to get to the next place where she can pull to stand. She pulls to stand on just about anything, sometimes letting go and just holding on with one hand. She can transfer between two surfaces, but does not yet “cruise.” We experiment with solid foods—she’s interested in everything, but doesn’t like many of the things she tries. I forgot what it was like to be in this stage of motherhood where I perpetually have weird substances stuck to my clothes and can never stay “clean” (or, keep her clean). Just this month she seems to have figured out how to move food around in her mouth and swallow it, vs. just tasting it and then letting it ooooze back out. She like broccoli (defrosted florets, not mushed up) and those little, too-expensive Gerber baby puffs. Still weighs about 20 pounds and fits most comfortably into size 18m clothes. She is just starting to wave and will—sometimes—say “hi” or “bye” accompanying the wave. She says “mama,” seemingly purposely and has also seemed to say, “brother” and “Baba” purposely as well. She will give high fives. She is working on clapping and on raising her arms in response to, “how big is Alaina?!”
She still does an adorable face-stroking gesture and has also added back/chest patting into her repertoire. When I pick her up or take her from someone, she gives an extra launch kick with her legs that is really cute. She will then pat me on the chest (like I pat her back). Really cute!
I really think she is my most mouthy baby. Everything goes into the mouth. She is always after my computer mouse and my phone, trying to eat them all up. I also feel like she is my quietest baby, spending more time looking and watching than talking about it. She loves to ride along checking out the world from my hip, sometimes with a solemn and contemplative expression, sometimes with leg-kicking enthusiasm. She is still a really happy and content baby—I frequently get comments about her being the, “happiest baby I’ve ever seen,” or, “she just seems to have a really pleasant temperament.” She does get bumped/bonked more often than she used to, primarily by crawling around and getting stuck under tables and things like that, and so she will cry about that. I always find myself a little startled when she cries and not so sure what to do about it (nursing usually works). She remains a night owl—preferring to stay up until around 11:30 and then waking up for the morning at around 11:00. Her hair is looking a little less thin and occasionally I think I catch a hint of curl in it, but that might just be my imagination! It still looks red outside, but then sandy inside (just like the boys). Recently she has started to “dance” when music comes on and sometimes will actually tap her foot in time with music. I think the origin of the tendency to say, “mmm” about tasty food as a lifelong habit that originates in nursing babyhood, as she usually says, “Mmmm! Mmmm! Mmmm!” when she starts nursing 🙂
She is very mama-centric recently, wanting to spend most waking time with me or held by me. I’ve been teaching three college classes this session (two in-seat) and I was offered the opportunity to do so again next session. I opted to turn down the second in-seat class and just teach one. While part of me feels like I’m turning down something that would be good for our future, after a lot of thinking and back-and-forthing, I decided it is too much to expect of Alaina, of my mom (who comes with me to watch Alaina so that she doesn’t have to be separated from me on teaching nights), and of myself. I’m handling it this session, but it has been a challenge and I’ve had several freak out moments about the demands (mainly during grading times—another of which is rapidly approaching). She is becoming more hesitant about the separation—reaching after me, that sort of thing, and above all else, I want to honor her need for me. Regarding the overall workload, I explained to my husband that most of the time everything is going great, but that the balance and my personal emotional equilibrium is very fragile. I rely on everything unfolding “perfectly” in order for me to fit everything into a day that needs to happen. If something disrupts my anticipated schedule (like early naptime wake up, or nap refusal), I go into a tailspin and feel like my life is in a terrible state, etc., etc. I’m looking forward to a break and then to only teaching one in-seat class in the fall. While I feel like I’ve been doing a great job taking care of Alaina and also doing a pretty good job as a professor, I feel like I’m not doing as good of a job as I could be with my boys or with my husband or with my friends.
Now, for a whole row of update pictures! (I do posts like this primarily for my own “memoirs,” rather than to be particularly exciting for anyone else to read!)