We’ve seen some big changes this month. For starters, my hair started falling out. It’s happening a lot earlier than it did last time.
Meanwhile, Mary Virginia continues to get even sweeter and more delightful every day. Yesterday I had to take David to the doctor, and Tom stayed home with Mary Virginia. I called to give Tom an update and asked how Mary Virginia was doing. Tom responded, “She’s doing great. She’s an angel baby.”
She really is the happiest, most content baby in the world.
Ok, maybe not the world, but she’s definitely the happiest, most content baby in my house. I’ve been reading my blog archives about David at her age, and the difference is so stark that I think that, if I only had Mary Virginia and read my stories about David, I don’t think I’d believe them. Your 3 month old screams if you don’t hold him facing out? He isn’t entertained by a bouncy chair/jumper/Bumbo/activity mat? No way. And if, when David was her age, I read about how happy Mary Virginia is, I would be angry, jealous, and then I’d think, “No way, that can’t be right. They’re just glazing over all the screaming. No one’s baby is that happy all the time. Impossible. Unfair.”
It’s funny, having another child who’s very different from my first is helping me understand other moms better. For example, I’d hear other moms nonchalantly talk about their baby skipping a nap. I never understood that. When David skipped a nap I would panic, and pace the house in fear and frustration. I could not WAIT to sleep train him because of one reason: a well-rested baby is a happy baby. When David skipped a nap, he would scream for an hour and threaten to burn our house down. But now I get it. If Mary Virginia skips a nap it’s not a big deal. I mean, I don’t get alone time, but her mood doesn’t change that much, so I’m not as motivated to fight for it.
Here’s the takeaway: if you don’t understand why a mom does things differently than you, maybe it’s because her kids are different than your kids. That’s my takeaway, anyway.
While Mary Virginia is 90 percent happy, sweet and cuddly, that last 10 percent is all baby. That means she fusses from 5 p.m. to bedtime, can’t wait for me to sit down for a meal so she can demand to be held, and always needs something at the most inconvenient times. And when she does decide to fuss, her mouth folds into a frown, and she dissolves into the biggest, saddest tears you’ve ever seen. Ever.
Mary Virginia’s world has gotten much bigger this month. She’s discovered her hands and how wonderful it is to stick her fingers in her mouth. She can grab toys and, with the right amount of focus, determination and time, can even bring them to her mouth. And her thighs are getting so chubby, her arms are getting those sweet baby rolls, and there are little fat dimples where her knuckles are supposed to be.
Mary Virginia is amazing at tummy time. She will do tummy time, no joke, for a half hour straight. She can finally smile and look around without smashing her head to the floor, and a few days ago she did her first chest-only baby push-up. Not only is she strengthening her back and neck muscles during tummy time, but I can put her down on the floor, and when I come back she’s organized my recipe box and folded my laundry.
As a sleeper, Mary Virginia gets a B-. I don’t expect my kids to sleep through the night until they’re in middle school, so the fact that she still wakes up every three hours doesn’t factor into that grade. The minus is for her “wake up and stay up” trick at 4 or 5 a.m. These days she only does it every now and then, just to remind us of what she’s capable of. During the day she usually takes a big, mega nap in the morning, a little catnap in the afternoon, and wants to nurse/doze from 5 p.m. until bedtime at 8.
For now she’s sleeping in our guest room/office, and I’m constantly amazed by her ability to sleep through toddler screams and crashes and tractor noises. Once she’s asleep, she’s asleep.
However, she requires ABSOLUTE SILENCE when I’m putting her to sleep. Here are some sounds that have woken her up: the pages of a book being turned, a cabinet opening, a light switch being flicked on. When I put her down for the night, Tom has to sequester himself to the other side of the house until I’m done, and even then I’ll come barging into the room, “WHY WERE YOU BEING SO LOUD!?” and he’ll tell me he wasn’t doing anything, he promises. He was standing in the middle of the room, holding his breath, staring at the ceiling. Must have been the neighbors who blew out that candle so loudly.
I’ve been coughing a lot lately, and if I ever do it while I’m nursing her, her entire body jerks to attention and she looks at me like a tree just crashed through our roof and landed next to her on the couch.
So far, she seems to be my more petite, flexible, delicate, and sensitive, child. But all that can change in a month, I know. That’s the great part of the baby stage, you never know what’s next.
Dear Mary Virginia,
Did you know that you’ve only been alive for four months and you’re already living through your first government shutdown? That’s right, the entire federal government is shutdown. And, I’m going to be honest, I don’t even know when or why or who to blame because between washing diapers and making muffins, I haven’t had time to watch or read the news. The only news I get comes from Elmo, so I’m happy to report that today is brought to you by the letter “H”.
Our days are big and busy and rushed, and I have no idea when you ate last or took a nap or had a diaper change. You, in so many ways, are along for the ride. And the truth is, you’re such a wonderful addition to our whirling dervish days, that I already don’t remember what life was like without you.
Life with two babies is intense and exhausting, even if one of those babies IS the sweetest baby in the world. When I put David down for his nap, sometimes you nap at the same time, and sometimes you don’t. And sometimes it bothers me, sometimes it doesn’t. One day last week, David was asleep and all I wanted was a little bit of time to myself. I just needed to eat lunch and reply to an email and get ready for my afternoon run and, really, what I needed to do was regroup. But you would not nap. I nursed you and rocked you for over an hour, grew more and more impatient as I watched the time pass, knowing David’s nap was coming to a close. You finally drifted off in my arms at 2:30, leaving me very little time. But, for some reason, I didn’t want to put you down. I looked at you in my arms, peaceful and finally, blissfully asleep. Your had pressed yourself into my belly, and were limp in my arms, comfortable and trusting in the special way a baby is in its mother’s arms. And you were completely beautiful. So instead of trying to transfer you to your crib, I just held you for a bit longer.
It’s all I wanted to do.
YES to different babies. With Abby, I couldn’t understand what people meant by “bedtime” for their infants. Abby wouldn’t go to sleep unless I nursed her to sleep, and she wanted to stay up late, so I would just take her to bed with us whenever we went to bed. With JD, he falls asleep around 7-8 every night with minimal fuss. He also naps for a 3-4 hour block around noon. If he had been my first child, I would have been ridiculously spoiled.
She’s so beautiful. Loved your post, as always. 🙂
Just stumbled across your blog and have to say I really enjoyed reading this post. Your daughter sounds very sweet and I love your monthly update style. New follower here!
She is delicious.
What a lovely letter to her! I can imagine it’s tough with two. Some days I’m frustrated with just one! She is so precious and you are so right to hold her just a little longer. They grow so fast!
New reader here…. just had to say that I loved this post. I have one child and she fits into the category of the calm, easy child. We plan to start trying for #2 soon and I am always interested in seeing how it is for others. I love your honesty… 🙂 Also such a sweet baby you have!! SO adorable. God bless!