Thursday, April 5, 2012
When your little baby hugs you back
After taking Caleb to work in our one [working] car, Alice and I head back home. Her 7-month checkup is this morning, so we'll need the car. And "we" (meaning "Alice") will need a nap ASAP. She's been ready for her morning nap for the past half hour, and finally fell asleep in her car seat. But it's time to go inside -- as I lift the car seat out, she begins to stir and opens her eyes. I put the car seat back in, unbuckle her, and as I lift her out, I smell what can only be a poopy diaper. Not only is it poopy, it's all over her onesie. We get inside. She's a little fussy, but still patient as I get her out of her clothes and start to change her diaper. I'm talking her through it, cheering her along, and telling her how great she's handling it all, when she pees all over the changing pad. "Oookay," is all you can say in such a situation... so I whip a diaper on her, lay her in the crib, put a new cover on the pad, get out new clothes, change her clothes, and we're ready to nurse. She's distracted while nursing but between the pauses to gaze at the fan or to smile and chat, she finally eats her fill and I lay her down for her long awaited nap. After I leave the room, she won't stop whining. The whining turns to crying, so I go in and hold her upright, thinking she must have a burp that needs to come out. But instead of arching her back, growling, or looking like an uncomfortable trapped burp makes a baby look, she just looks around the room. I take her to the rocker and hold her like a newborn, all swaddled in her yellow blanky.
She's completely calm -- no fussing, just looking at me with a slight smile as I hold her. We rock and I hum some of her favorite lullabies. As I stare back at her while we rock, I realize that she wasn't crying in her crib because she was needy. She didn't need a fresh diaper, dry clothes, or several pats on the back to prompt a burp. I continue humming and watch her sweet eyelids begin to close over her blue eyes. It's easy to get into a blind mode of helping the needy baby, responding to the needs, and doing the mundane (like peeling a poopy onesie off a little human's back). Though my baby might be oblivious to the many things I do to help her, she does know that she's being taken care of and she knows how to want the person who gives that to her. As I continued rocking and watched her breathing change to that sweet, slow and deep rhythm, I just wanted to cover her in kisses. My little baby cried in her crib simply because she wanted more care and the comfort of that care. She wanted mommy. It might seem super subtle and silly, but after the months of caring for a very sweet but very needy bundle, the calm baby who just wants her mommy is a neon sign that says, "I love you, too," and it couldn't make me happier.