In general I am a pretty positive person. And I realize that my last few posts over here have been heavier on the negative aspects of parenthood. I'm okay with some of that, because I want to show the honest, unvarnished side of being a new mom, which can be at times very hard. It also has always helped me to write about things that are difficult, to share my challenges with other people, because it makes those challenges feel more manageable and less lonely.
But my life as mom to Ryley, for all of our sleep challenges (and honestly pretty much 99% of our challenges revolved around sleep, the rest is pretty golden right now) is incredible and more wonderful that I could have ever imagined. I love being a mom. I look forward to her waking up in the morning because I miss her (and she sleeps next to me for the second half of the night, talk about being a mom who is creepily obsessed with her child). On the nights she has slept in the crib for several hours, in the midst of the relief and joy and happy dancing, I have also felt this weird loss, knowing she is getting more and more independent in the world, that she doesn't have to be held by or around mama 100% of the time anymore.
It is a beautiful contradiction, being a mom. And even as I look forward to our next stage, even for all of the challenges of the fourth month, there are also so many things about right now that I love deeply and impossibly, that I want to inhale and soak up and remember always. And these aren't even the big, mushy, life altering things that make being a mom so great. Just ten of the countless little details that are so wonderful right now. In no particular order:
1. Watching her try to figure out the world. Ryley has the most amazing startled/puzzled face.
This expression crosses her face about a million times a day, when she hears a new noise, sees a new person or object, or just hears the crinkle of me grabbing a new diaper on the changing table for the 200th time. For a 4 month old baby, life is an ever surprising and magical event. It is lovely to get to experience the world like this as an adult, if only vicariously.
2. Her smiles.
I mean come on. I know she's my child and all, but even an objective person would have to admit this is pretty darn irresistible. Babies smile with their entire faces. And the moment they smile you can watch it travel across their face like a wave, from their gummy mouths to their little noses to their crinkly eyes. Ryley has smiled a few hundred if not thousand times by now. It never gets old. And her dad and I will go to any silly and ridiculous lengths to elicit one of these.
3. Her complete and total lack of short term memory. It's like living with a gently demented person. Or the guy from Memento only with less tattoos. It doesn't matter how many times I've given her a bath, every time I put her in her little bath seat in the kitchen sink, she widens her eyes in horror and shock, clenches her little fists, and starts to work herself into a full blown cry. And then after a beat or two, she remembers that mommy is not trying to drown her and that she in fact enjoys baths. Same goes for putting any type of clothing over her head. It is endlessly entertaining.
4. The fact that right now she can be entertained with a paper towel. My husband discovered this trick on one of the days he was home alone with her and proudly showed it off when I got home. And seriously you would not believe the amount of baby time that can be occupied with a paper towel. These soft, bendable, crinkly things are way cooler than anything bought in a store. Same goes for most objects that are not actually baby toys. If she starts fussing when we're out now I can hand her a diaper and that will keep her busy for a solid 15-20 minutes. I know keeping her entertained will not always be this effortless. But right now it is amazing.
5. Chunky little baby legs. For some reason I can't get enough of her legs. I have become a weird baby leg fetishist. They're just so chubby and short. And bow-legged. When we put her in the jumparoo it's the best because her little legs stick out the bottom and it is just. so. cute. It is everything I can do not to bite them.
6. Baby skin. Who knew that becoming a parent turns you into a creepy Put the Lotion in the Basket level weirdo about human body parts? But it really does. Her skin in general is a very close second to her legs on the list of things I want to munch on. It's so very soft. I could just touch it for days and days. And I am doing so as much as possible now, because when she's a teenager she will probably think it's weird that her mom constantly wants to stroke her skin.
7. The way she stops in the middle of breastfeeding to look around or smile or watch TV. When Ryley was first born there was NOTHING that would distract her from a breastfeeding session. An entire mariachi band could have flooded the living room and she would not have broken that latch. But now she's becoming more of a little person, and little people are distractible y'all. But it's so cute. I will be feeding her and distracted myself and on my phone, and look down and notice that she is staring directly at me with a huge grin on her face, milk dribbling down her chin. Or she'll stop and contort her entire body so that she can see the TV or dad across the room or the dogs fighting. I don't know why I find this so adorable, but maybe it's because it's a sign that there are other things in this world she finds more interesting than mommy's boobs, which is a development I whole heartedly welcome.
8. Her noises. Ryley has been a big fan of making noise for a while, but just in the last few days she has discovered that she has the ability to scream. And crow. And now that she knows she has that ability she is OWNING it. She will be in her jumparoo and let out a crowing/screaming type noise and hold it for like 60 seconds. I had her in the stroller in Nordstrom's the other day and she let out a constant series of interesting feral cat type sounds for the entire store to hear. She has found her voice and she likes to contort it in as many weird sounds a possible. The best is when she makes noises while also making definite eye contact, because it's very obvious she is speaking fluently in baby language and fully expects you to understand her. And then she gets disappointed that her parents are such dumb dumbs that they didn't brush up on baby tongue before having a child.
9. Her little fuzzy baby hair. My daughter has the craziest hair. She was born with a pretty thick head of dark hair but a lot of that has fallen out and new lighter fuzz is growing in. But currently from a distance all you can really see are a bunch of bald patches and then the hair she does have sticking up in every possible direction. She has constant baby bed head and the receding hairline of a middle aged man. It is incredible.
10. When she's snuggly. Infants, for all of their adorabless, are not super snuggly unless they are sleeping. They don't hug. Or kiss. When you hold them they do more squirming than anything else. But Ryley is finally getting to the age where she is showing the first signs of awake snuggliness. She only gives it out in small doses, like when I get her out of the car and she rests her sweaty head on my shoulder on the way into the house, or right before a nap when she is blurry eyed and sleepy and rubs her face into my chest. When she is really happy she will grab my face with her tiny hands and try to eat my cheek (which I interpret as a kiss, in reality she probably is literally trying to eat my cheek). She likes to pull my hair when she is feeling sassy. Interacting with a newborn is mostly a one way street. Newborns are like aloof little divas who want constant attention but refuse to make eye contact with anyone. But Ryley is finally getting to the point where there is actual feedback and response on her part. I crave her baby cuddles the way I imagine a drug addict craves a fix. And I will soak up every last cuddle and snuggle for as long as they last.
I'm a thirty-something mom of two, wife, pediatric RN, and writer with a passion for the all the big and little things in life.