How is she sleeping?
I’m not sure why this is the default question but it usually is. In fact, sleep is the primary topic during the pregnancy too. You are warned to catch up on sleep before the baby comes, and once the baby has arrived you are asked how you are dealing with sleep deprivation. At first you might think that this is concentrated on because it is something that everyone can relate to. Everyone has been tired before right? But there are so many more questions that I want people to ask me, because these are things I want to tell people about. Has she started smiling? What colour are her eyes? Has she started making any new sounds?
Irregardless of whether you have asked me these questions or not, I am now going to give you the answers.
A few weeks ago there was nothing more than the occasional and brief curl of the corners of her mouth, but now we are treated to smile festivals each and every day. No one really tells you how it feels to get a smile from your child, or if they do it is not something I absorbed. But what I can say is that it is such a wonderful thing that countless hours drip away as I work harder and harder to catch a glimpse of just one more. They become addictive each one hooking you more than the last. Some are of joy, some amusement. The best one I have had so far was just this morning. She was lying awake in her moses basket ready to start the day, I lent over, looked her in the eye and greeted her with a good morning, this was received by a heart melting smile. The kind of smile that an old friend gives you when you have a surprise meeting, like that, only ten thousand times more.
Her eyes. What started off as two giant, dark, and mysterious pools, have now settled as brilliant, bright blue eyes. Since the day she was born there has been three comments that people make about her. “Isn’t she tiny!?”, ” She looks like her dad!” (either a shame for her, or a compliment for me I guess), and, “She has such big eyes!”. She does. Her eyes have been such a significant feature of hers since the first day. They are big and inquisitive, and now this incredible blue that just shines so much that any grey day is lit up.
She has started to do what can only be described as talking. Not words of course, but her own interpretation of what talking is and what she has taken from us. To have seen a change from cries, shouts, and wails to garbled vowels is nothing short of amazing. Even those cries and wails have taken a new form, with ever intricate intonations appearing as often and sudden as the days that go by. It shows she has listened and learned and wants to mimic our chatter and singing. Looking at the swinging tortoise on her bouncing chair, she lets him, and us, know that she is happy to notice him. It is one of the biggest indicators that she has started to exchange the simple and instinctive newborn existence for something far more advanced and complex.
It’s too easy to focus on sleep, or the lack there of, when there is a new baby around, but I tire of telling people my stock response of “sometimes good and sometimes bad”. Next time you see me, ask me if she can grab things, or if she likes rock music, or if her eyebrows have changed from looking ginger to blonde.
I crept into the bedroom, expertly negotiating my way in the dark. I could hear the heartwarming, gentle breathing of both my daughter and my wife as they deeply slept. I gently lifted my daughter from her moses basket and carried her out of the room.
I lay her down on the changing table and she began to stir. Half way though the nappy change, her eyes opened a crack, followed by a blink. At this point the muscles in her face contracted and she started to redden. Just as a cry was about to bellow from her, the dummy was deployed and her usual colour returned, her eye lids began to droop once again. We left the changing table clean, dry, and calm, and as I walked past the bedroom the soft breathes of my still slumbering wife continued.
We went downstairs and took the pre-warmed bottle from the kitchen. By the time we entered the lounge she had again started to wake and fuss. I sat down with her on my knee and replaced the dummy with the the tip of the bottle. She realised she wanted it, and as she drew the milk her eyes widened at the surprise of receiving a faster flow than she was used to from her more natural feeds throughout the day.
My wife remained asleep upstairs, making the most of a valuable and elongated opportunity for sleep, and I sat staring at my daughters face, making the most of this time I could have with her. Her look of suspicion and surprise settled, and she began studying my face with a calm and casual look.
As the bottle was drained she squirmed a bit and let milk flow from the corners of her mouth. “Finished?”. I slowly pulled the bottle away and her face reddened once more and discomfort filled her eyes, pleading to me. I began lifting her to my shoulder for a winding, and as I did so a trail of vomit cascaded from her mouth and down my jumper. “Mummy’s better at this, isn’t she?” I said as she looked up at me, the look of relief crossing her face.