Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thank God for Vibrators

The little kind that come in bouncy seats, of course. Well, I'm fond of several other kinds of vibrators too, but those are of no use when it's 3:30 am and your colicky baby is screeching like a banshee. The little bouncy seat with vibration that my mom bought for $2 at a yard sale has turned out to be the single most useful piece of baby equipment we own. I feel sort of bad because I've been putting her in it a lot these days, but it's been so hot she's getting heat rash all over her face from being held, and anything that makes her forget her stomachache long enough to stop screaming can't be all bad.

Taking care of a tiny baby is so time-consuming. You wouldn't think that'd be the case, since they sleep so much, but no. I finished my antibiotics and am breast-feeding again, which takes like 40 minutes every time and sometimes she wants to eat every 45 minutes so I spend entire days sitting around with my boobs getting gnawed on. When she falls asleep I am usually so tired I sack out right along with her or run around frantically trying to get household chores done, take a shower, or do some laundry so the two pairs of pants and three tank tops I have unpacked and accessible right now will be clean at least once a week.

Piper is five weeks old now. I have not taken nearly enough pictures; I have not written nearly enough words. So much information about her slips through my fingers every day. Every morning she wakes up different; every day she changes a little. There is always a new noise, a new facial expression, a new degree of control over her limbs, a wider smile, a deeper cry. The spindly little creature we brought home from the hospital has evolved into a little person with moods and preferences and expressions. She's gained nearly two pounds since she was born, and now weighs in at a robust seven pounds, six ounces. People still talk about how tiny she is but she seems gargantuan to me. She's nearly outgrown some of her clothes; the tiny onesies we made for her before she was born are getting tight. She loves to be outside and even the noise of a chainsaw deconstructing a mulberry tree doesn't bother her. When she is awake at night, she likes the lights on. She loves to snuggle and will happily sleep for hours curled up in someone's arms or resting on their chest.

At five days old, she rolled onto her side and slept, and she perfers to sleep that way most of the time. No amount of putting her on her back or stern talks about what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends has not changed her mind. At eight days old, she put her arm up under her head while she was sleeping, resting her head on it like a pillow. This is exactly the way I sleep. Max and I looked at each other in wonderment. Where did she learn that? She can roll from her back to her side and back again, and from her side to her front. The movement isn't fluid or practiced yet, but she does it enough that we can never set her down alone on the bed or couch. She takes a long time to wake up fully, like Max and I do, but she is at her most smiley and playful around 9:00 am, when she wakes up from what is usually a 5-hour stretch of sleep. She laughs now, too, tiny wheezes and hints of giggles. When she has colic at night, terrible gas pains that turn her stomach rock-hard and leave her red-faced and screaming with pain, she looks up at us with those deep blue eyes and her expression says why aren't you helping me? Why won't you do something? and it breaks our hearts.

We are her parents. We're supposed to fix things like that. She trusts us to take away the hurt. And there's nothing we can do.

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