Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If I Were Smarter...

...I'd be in bed right now. Instead, I am up writing and blogging and reading and poking around on the Internet. I cannot do this during the day because Piper has decided that I must not be more than four feet from her at any point during the day, that naps are for suckers, and that the key to true happiness is to have someone hold your hands and 'walk' you around the house. She can support her own weight and has the walking motions down pat, but she can't get to a standing position or balance herself, so someone has to hold her up as she walks. I have to admit, it's pretty fun to have her chubby little hands clutch my fingers as she jaunts from room to room, toddling after the cats with delighted squeals and making a complete circuit of the first floor over and over. What's not fun is walking around hunched over for thirty minutes at a stretch, creeping around the house at a snail's pace, "walking" the baby through the maze of holiday-decoration-filled boxes my mom has dragged out in the past three days, trying to make sure she doesn't eat anything glass and every lap around glancing at the basement door and thinking about the 10 loads of laundry piled up down there.

It's hard to keep up with her from day to day, she changes so much. She's always doing something new, and it's difficult to remember it all, let alone write about it. I like to write about her, to try and record everything that's going on with her and put down the tiny moments that make up our life together. A few weeks ago, I read back through some old stuff I wrote when I was pregnant, and it seemed so very far away. Me? Pregnant? I was pregnant? It seems like a lifetime ago.

The truth is I love my baby, and I love being with her every day. I never thought I'd be one of those people. I keep talking about going back to work soon, and eventually I will have to, but right now the thought breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to think about not being with her all day. Even days like the past three, where most of the sounds issuing from her cute little mouth are whines and cries and howls and I drive myself crazy trying to either figure out what's wrong or distract her so that she will be quiet for five minutes before my head explodes. No toy is fun, no activity is amusing, even the once-beloved swing and Exersaucer inspire screaming and full-body thrashing whenever I take her near them. She cries if I put her down, she gags on her rice cereal and peas and sweet potatoes and looks at me as though I am trying to poison her. She fights sleep, throwing herself around in my arms as I try to persuade her to nap or at least go to bed sometime before midnight. My arms and shoulders ache from holding her all day, from picking her up and putting her down so many times. Yesterday I made chicken enchiladas one-handed.

Even on these days, when I am exasperated and tired and realize I haven't had a shower in three days and I just want to work on knitting Christmas presents and maybe finish a damned cup of coffee...even on these days I love her and I would rather be here than answering someone's phone or discussing user-friendly implementation strategies for the latest system upgrade.

I haven't been away from her for more than four hours since she was born. That was only because my mom dragged me out shopping one day when Piper was seven weeks old, and what was supposed to be a one-hour trip out for some birthday cards and Campbell's soup turned into a four-hour odyssey through first the dollar store and then Wal-Mart, with me dragging behind my mother as she perused every single greeting card they had and Max calling every half-hour to tell me that although he'd tried everything three times, the baby was still screaming and if I didn't come home soon he was going to float her down the river in a basket made of bulrushes. After the third call in forty minutes where I could hear Piper screaming in the background, I finally told her that we had to go right now, just buy your brother the card with the shitting monkey and get it over with before the neighbors call Child Services on my husband for stabbing our baby with red-hot pokers.

When we got home, I was out of the car before it had even stopped rolling, and I bolted into the house to find my stressed-out husband holding a red-faced baby who was shrieking so loud the neighbor across the street commented on it the next day. I took her and soothed her and nursed her (ahh, the power of boob) and promised my husband that we would take her with us next time, rather than disappearing into the great wide open and leaving him with a pissed-off infant.

I have been out a few times since then, Max and I have gone out to the movies or dinner once in a while, or I run errands alone. I don't leave her for long periods of time, partly because I don't want a reapeat of that day, and partly because I don't want to be away from her. There are, of course, times when my husband comes downstairs and I say "pleasewatchthebabyI'mtakingashowerrightnowokaybye" because I cannot put up with one more minute of listening to the ceaseless moan-whine and I don't want to dig chunks of soggy, chewed paper out of her mouth for a fourth time in two hours. It usually only takes thirty minutes of hot water and fruity shampoo and fluffy towels before I'm ready to go back downstairs and discover where the cache of oh-so-tasty paper is hidden or make another attempt at convincing her that smushed-up peas are really edible and not something to rub in your hair or grind into your clothes.

I like my little girl, and luckily she likes me right now. I treasure every slobbery kiss, every hug that invovles pulling my hair or poking me in the eye. I know that before too long there will be school and sleepovers and boys and iPods full of music I will call "noise." I'm enjoying this closeness with her for as long as she'll let me.

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