Mary Virginia graduated. She’s three months old. That means she’s no longer a newborn; she’s officially a baby.
When David was an infant I’d heard so much about the changes babies go through at three months that I was disappointed when he finally got there. The problem was that I set my expectations too high. I expected him to go from a newborn to a fully-functioning adult that sleeps through the night, picks up his clothes off the floor, and wants to kick back on the couch and discuss themes in the final season of Breaking Bad. Instead, the only difference I noticed was that I stopped counting his age in weeks.
But this time I think I’m get it, the chances are more nuanced. This time I can tell that Mary Virginia is shaking off the creaky-curly-ness that comes with being a newborn. Mary Virginia at two months is nothing like Mary Virginia at three months. It’s sort of like she got a software update, and version 3.0 includes cooing.
She doesn’t sleep through the night, she still eats every 2-3 hours, and she still wants to be held all the time, but she’s starting to look and act more like a baby.
In just one month, she got rolls and chubby cheeks. She started sucking on her hands and reaching for toys on her activity mat. She even rolled over once. It was a fake rollover — she was laying in an awkward position with her arm under her in such a way that helped her roll, but still.
Mary Virginia also started moving around in her crib. “Moving” is a generous term, what she does is more like struggling from one place to another. When she’s on her activity mat, she shimmies and stretches from one toy to another. And in her crib, she flexes her arms and legs back and forth so much that she can wiggle from the center of the mattress to the corner, until her head is smashed against the rails. The whole thing is horrifying to watch because this kid owes me at least three more months of complete immobility. At minimum.
Mary Virginia is starting to settle into a sleep-wake rhythm. She likes to wake up early. Normally she starts the morning around 6, but she loves to wake up at 4 a.m., and stay awake for two hours while mommy and daddy alternately rock, walk, nurse, beg, plead, and throw money and jewels at her. Then she falls asleep for her morning nap at 6 a.m., just in time for David to wake up.
Last weekend I woke up with her at 4 a.m., and the rest of my day included a five-mile run, grocery shopping, dealing with a toddler who was very grumpy because he woke up at 5 a.m., and then getting ready for a fancy wedding in the evening. Tom, Mary Virginia and I left the wedding reception early, around 9:30 p.m. By then I’d been up for more than 17 hours. My head was heavy with fatigue, and that was the moment that I decided, “We can’t do this anymore.”
So we’re trying a few new things with sleep. With almost no pomp and very little circumstance, we moved Mary Virginia out of our room. We also bought a Miracle Blanket and promised her a pony on her first birthday. So far none of this has helped, but it is helping chip away at the “David is in charge all day, Mary Virginia is in charge all night” family hierarchy.
Besides the exhaustion, Tom and I had a great time at the wedding. I’d been worrying about having a newborn at a formal event since we received the Save the Date in the mail, which was a few weeks before she was born. All that worrying obviously paid off because Mary Virginia was amazing at the wedding. So amazing that, when people commented that, “OH! So this was the baby I heard cooing during the ceremony!” I had to resist pridefully informing them that the baby they heard cooing wasn’t my baby, it was another baby who, unlike my baby, didn’t have the manners to sit quietly through a wedding.
In fact, Mary Virginia slept through the entire ceremony. She also wore white. Both of those things are only acceptable for the 6-month and under age group.
The wedding was actually a snapshot of how Mary Virginia is most of the time. She’s incredibly calm, sweet, and happy. She doesn’t mind tummy time, usually naps well during the day, and only poops once a week. She doesn’t protest the moment I put her down, demand to be held standing up, or scream for no reason. Even though she doesn’t like her car seat (She almost never falls asleep in the car or on stroller rides. I know, I don’t understand it either.), she lets me know by scowling the whole time. I can handle scowling a lot better than screaming. She definitely has moments of fussing and dissatisfaction with the world, and those moments usually happen in the evening when she’s tired and hungry but would rather fuss than eat or sleep.
But mostly she’s just very, very content.
She’s the kind of baby that makes you think, “Yeah. I could have 10 more of these.”
Dear Mary Virginia,
This month your eyes cleared up a bit, and you’re officially a blue-eyed girl. The change must have happened over night, because Mommy didn’t notice the change. I also thought you rolled over — both ways — when I wasn’t looking. I put you on a blanket in the living room, went in the kitchen to make lunch for your brother, then came back and you were completely on the other side of the blanket. I was shocked and a little incredulous that I missed the milestone. So I put you back in place to see if you could do it again, then watched as you scootched (not rolled) yourself across the blanket.
Don’t go so fast, baby girl, you just got here.
This month I’m just starting to feel a little more settled into our new life as a family of four. As anyone who’s ever been in the 10-mile radius of a child knows, parenting is exhausting, difficult work. This age is especially draining. But it’s also sort of like training for a race. When you start the training program, even short runs feel really really long, but then you get halfway through training and you realize, yes, this is hard, but I’m doing it! And the full distance of the race doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming. It always seems hard, far, and like you’d have to be crazy to spend your Saturday morning this way, but it also feels sort of awesome.
So we’re tired. We’re very, very tired. But when it’s 6 a.m. and I’ve been up for two hours and my toddler bursts in to the room and I look at you and you’re smiling back at me, I can’t help but think, “Wow. This is awesome.”