Well we never really knew, how much we needed you,
Before you came into our lives, things were pretty nice . . .
Who knew a baby sister,
Could come along and make you realize,
How much you always missed her?
-Justin Roberts, "Cartwheels and Somersaults"
I've been thinking about Baby Girl these days. Not that she isn't always by my side, but I've been really contemplating her, trying to fix her baby-ness in my mind. She is flying past me, this one, racing from the cradle to pre-school without stopping to let me catch my breath. I still feel like she was born a month ago, but here she is waving her pudgy hands in salutation, calling out to her siblings, and trying words on for size. She is both a delight, and a delightful surprise, because, well . . .
Do you want to hear a secret? Come closer . . . closer, let me whisper it to you: I spent a large part of Baby Girl's pregnancy being afraid. Afraid of losing the baby, which morphed into afraid of something being wrong with the baby, which led to afraid of not being able to "handle" the baby, which in turn became being afraid of making the baby depressed because I was so anxious, or because I was swallowing cartons of coffee ice cream whole, or because I had heavy-duty cold medicine before I knew I was pregnant, and so on, ad infinitum. But what it boiled down to was a fear of being too happy.
Aimee, you say, your freak flag is flyin' high tonight. I know, but I'm all about disclosure these days. If I lived in ancient Greece, I'd be the old woman in the corner spitting on the ground and saying, Don't tempt the gods with being too happy. They'll smite you. And then I would have looked around to see if anyone was giving me the evil eye.
Here I was with two lovely children already, so I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. We were at the point in our family where many people stop: one girl, one boy, both healthy, happy parents, done and done. So I was preparing myself for a difficult pregnancy, or a delivery fraught with complications, or a baby that, even if totally healthy, would be fussy or high-strung. Talk about low expectations.
Instead, I had a normal pregnancy, a quick delivery, and the sweetest baby I've ever known. This is a baby who whispers sweet nothings to me and buries her hands in my hair when I pluck her out of her crib in the morning; a baby who laughs just because everyone else is laughing; a baby that drapes herself so cozily on your chest. She is the kind of baby that makes everyone wish they had one. I am blessed and beyond grateful.
If it sounds like I am bragging, I guess I am, although that's not my intention. Believe it or not, my old friend Worry still creeps in from time to time, and I find myself watching Baby Girl and reminding myself of all the good things she has brought to us.
But, Aimee, you say, if your baby is All That, what the hey-ho do you have to worry about?
Good question, and I've thought about the answer for, lo, these seven months now. I've come up with this: It all has to do with The Boy, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Since beginning therapy with him and filling my brain with all things SPD, I have been able to go all the way back to his babyhood and see the earliest warning signs. Hindsight is 20/20, and it is not pretty. All those things that we chalked up to his laid-back attitude, or quirky personality traits were actually little red flags. I am not saying that he could have gotten therapy any earlier than he did, but I do find myself almost inspecting Baby Girl. I find that I more often have the worries and checklists of a nervous first-time mother, instead of the calm assurance that comes with time and practice. I'll ask Rob 3 0r 4 or 1500 times a week if he thinks that she's meeting her milestones appropriately. To his credit, he never rolls his eyes, he just calmly says, "Yes."
And although I am always asking the question, I can see already that her development is different from her brother's. Her learning is organic, natural, almost seamless; it's a feeling that is still unfamiliar to The Boy. She watches, she imitates, she absorbs, she moves on; whereas The Boy watches, tries to imitate, gets the messages wrong in his brain, tries again, makes his own compensatory, adaptive response, and then moves on, only to have to come back and correct his natural inclinations through therapy. Everything is a process, nothing is just a progression.
When I am watching the baby, and I am smiling at how happily she plays, Worry likes to sneak up behind me and put her arm around me and say, Aww, remember when The Boy was a baby? He was so happy, too. Of course, you didn't know then what you know now, so I'll just hang out here for a little while, ok?
I need to trust my instincts more, pray more, relax with both Baby Girl and The Boy, because they are both where they should be right now. And I need to tell Worry to take a hike.