If you happen to ask me how Mary Virginia is doing, I’ll most certainly answer by telling you how she slept the night before. And the answer will be either “horrible” or “amazing” because with a newborn, there is no in between when it comes to sleep. With a newborn, you either wake up celebrating a four-hour stretch of sleep with high-fives and shots of tequila, or you stumble out of bed bleary-eyed and snapping at your husband because he had the nerve, the nerve, to ask what he can do to help when he already knows that the only thing he can do to help is give me more excuses to be grumpy.
More and more, the answer I’ve been giving people is, “Amazing, she’s doing amazingly.” On her horrible nights, Mary Virginia not only gets up several times, but she wakes up and stays up; sometimes as long as two hours. However, Mary Virginia has, on several occasions, woken up only once in the night. She is consistently an early riser, though. I’m used to newborns who to eat in the morning and then go back to sleep, but that’s not my little Mary Berry. She likes to wake up around 6 a.m., stay awake for an hour or two, and then go back to sleep.
Our days usually go like this: Up at 6 or 7 a.m., nurse a few times, watch Elmo with David, and then back down around 9 a.m. She’s up and down depending on the morning, but she always sleeps, without fail, until about 10 minutes after I put David down for his nap. Her timing is uncanny. Usually David starts his afternoon nap at 1 p.m. On those days, she wakes up at 1:10 p.m. If I put him down early, at 12:30, she gets up at 12:40. Same goes for the days he goes down late. He tags out and then she takes over.
At first I was frustrated; I love David’s nap time. It’s my sanity time, my Oreo time, my computer time. On my better days it’s when I clean, get dinner ready, or work in the garden. The only thing I wanted more than sleep at night, was for her sleep to align with David’s. Then, one afternoon David was napping and I was taking pictures of her smiling, and I realized that Mary Virginia’s timing is a gift. It’s a gift that took me a while to notice but this, this is her way of having one-on-one time with me. Eventually, hopefully, they’ll be on a similar schedule. But, for now, her days move at the speed of a toddler, so occasionally it’s nice to slow down and nuzzle her soft head with my cheek, kiss her toes and rub her back, uninterrupted.
As if to perpetuate the rumor that girls don’t poop, Mary Virginia doesn’t…poop. She does every now and then, but not six times a day like most newborns. She makes up for it, though, with burps and farts. And I know that writing about her flatulence on the Internet will probably buy her a few years in therapy, but it’s so much a part of who she is as a two-month old that I couldn’t leave it out. The most remarkable part is the strong, newborn-poop smell of her farts. It’s so pungent that when we check and see that her diaper is clean, we check David’s diaper, and then Tom and I look at each other and say, “Was that you?”
Dear Mary Virginia,
You’re still brand new, but you’re beginning to shake off your newborn-ness. You’re growing and getting chubby, babbling and cooing. You’re starting to suck on your hands, hold on to things and can lift your head and look around. Even though I’m enjoying it much more this time, the newborn phase isn’t my favorite. But thinking about how, next month, you won’t be a newborn anymore; you’ll be three months old. You’ll roll over soon, then start to crawl, then next thing I know you’ll be asking what life was like when everyone talked on cell phones and watched cable TV. We have so much to look forward to, but let’s just slow down and enjoy how wonderfully amazing things are right now.
We spent a week at Smith Mountain Lake with family and everyone kept commenting on how sweet and easy you were. I’d feel the defensive, middle child in me rise up and make an argument for how, despite appearances, you’re just as hard as any newborn, as if I needed to defend your reputation. No, no, she might look easy, but don’t be fooled, things are very hard at the Krieger’s house on Grace St.
But the truth is, they were right. You’re an incredibly easy baby, you’re sort of what I imagined having a baby would like. You love to be held, love to cuddle, take naps in your crib, and rarely cry for no reason. On our three hour drive to the lake, your eyes were open the whole time, but unlike your brother who was screaming for me to reach back from the front seat and hold his hand for three hours you just looked around and enjoyed the ride.
Sure, we’re exhausted, and you do have some screamy moments, and, have I mentioned the gas? But, oh my goodness, one thing is undeniable: you are so, so sweet.