Monday, October 22, 2007

An update for the grandparents

Adriana had her nine-month checkup today. We finally got to meet her new pediatrician (for her six-month visit, the doctor didn't have any appointments available on such short notice after we'd moved), and I really liked her--the way she interacted with Adriana, the manner in which she answered my questions, and also just in terms of the overall vibe I got from her.

Adriana handled the visit well. She weighed in at 20 pounds and half an ounce, and was 28.75 inches long--about the 68th percentile for weight and 83rd for height. She was a little bit clingy as the doctor examined her, and as usual wanted to grab everything tool the doctor was using. The only shot she got today was a flu shot, and that seemed to bother her less than the vaccinations she's gotten at previous visits.

Mostly I was happy because the doctor reassured me about Adriana's eating (or lack thereof), saying that breastmilk was all Adriana really needed for the first year, and that she would eat when she was ready. (Less comforting was the comment, "Well, she's precocious--just exhibiting typical difficult toddler behavior.") These are things that I knew, but it was nice to have the reassurance from the pediatrician. She did offer me a few suggestions for foods to try, so we'll be experimenting a bit with those this week.


Now that Adriana is pulling up all the time, yet another level of our bookshelves are being cleared daily. This morning I picked up the books of poetry she'd pulled off the shelf, glancing idly through the pages of an Adrienne Rich collection before returning it too its place. The next book I picked up was my copy of Backroads, my high school's fine arts magazine, of which I was a co-editor my senior year. While the baby napped, I sat and read, flipping back and forth through the thin book, looking at the crazy collection of fonts, remembering faces and conversations as I saw the names on each page, and smiling at the words of teenagers. I remembered the classroom where I'd sat with my creative writing classmates, sifting through submissions--poems scratched out in pencil on wrinkled notebook paper, carefully typed poems with careful meter and rhyme, drawings tucked carefully into sturdy envelopes, and black-and-white photos printed in the school's darkroom. I remembered designing pages, and having staff hand me little floppy disks with their pages on them. I remembered the sense of accomplishment when the other editor, our advisor, and I took the final pages to the printer, and how afterwards Ms. Logan took Meghan and me for an ice cream and then taught us how to parallel park.

I thought about the creative writing class. That last year (I took it for three years) my cousin sat behind me. We were a little clique--Sky and me, Jaron who I'd known since pre-school, Andy who was a friend of both of them, in a band with Sky. I sat and wondered what became of Jaron and Andy as I read their poems, trying to recall when I'd last seen either one of them, and made a mental note to ask Sky. I stopped again as I came across the name of a tall, thin quiet boy from the class, a couple of years younger than I was, someone who I'd completely forgotten about, and I wondered what happened to him; and then what became of the girl whose poem is on the page before, a girl who was good at math and played one of the lead roles in the school production of Three Sisters for which I was stage manager. I read a poem by the woman who edited the magazine the year before I did; it was a good poem, and I hoped that she was doing something interesting, that she was happy. I passed over a poem by a girl I hadn't liked without reading it, and smiled as I read a funny poem by someone from my journalism class. Then there was one by someone I saw a couple of years ago at a wedding, and one by my best friend, who I have been meaning to call for weeks.

And then there was my name at the bottom of one page. I stopped there, looking at my name for a moment, almost afraid to look up at the words above it, words I couldn't really remember. Then I read over the prose-poem. It was a bit trite, I thought. I tried to remember writing it. Was I sitting on my bed? Did I begin it sitting at that corner desk in the creative writing class? Was it something I'd scribbled while sitting at a table in the school library during a free period when I was meant to be doing my trig homework? I stared at the words, but I couldn't recall. I tried to imagine those words coming from me, the memory wouldn't come. It has been too long, as if the words were written by another person completely.

I flipped through the pages again and found another poem I'd written, this one with a sing-song sort of rhyme to it but a similar theme. Again, I thought it was a little trite, but cute, something written by someone else entirely, it seemed. I thought there was probably one more, and I scanned the contents page until I saw my name again. The title listed by my name didn't mean anything to me. I tried to remember writing something with that title, but couldn't. Finally I turned to page 60, and saw the poem. Now I remembered. I still didn't remember writing it, but I remembered the poem. Reading it now, more than ten years later, was strange. It was the only really personal poem of the three of mine in the magazine. I read it over a few times, wondering what I was thinking. It's kind of a funny poem--as if I was simultaneously trying to write out how I saw myself at 17 and trying to define who I wanted to be at that moment. Perhaps I was trying to reconcile the two. What was I thinking when I wrote it? What did my mother thing when I brought home the copy of the magazine? Did I read this poem out loud when we had our reading when the magazine was published? I doubted it, but I couldn't remember.

Adriana woke up from her nap, and I read through all three of my poems again as I watched her play. Will she write poetry as a teenager? Will she someday read the poems that I wrote as a teenager and laugh at how silly her mother was? What would I have thought at seventeen if someone had told me where I would be today?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Writing these down now to help me remember later

Most of the time Brian can calm Adriana when she's fussing, but sometimes she just cries and cries, and then when I take her she calms right down. Usually I think it's because she knows that if I am holding her, she is going to get some milk. One night recently, Brian went to Adriana when she first woke up (an hour after I put her down--it's the most predictable thing about her sleep), but after awhile I went in because she wasn't calming down. As soon as she was in my arms, the crying stopped, and I sat down to nurse her. Sitting there in the darkened room, I suddenly remembered one evening when she was about a week old. We were eating dinner in shifts because the baby, in spite of a full tummy and a dry diaper, was a bit fussy, and after I finished my soup, I took Adriana from Brian and the crying stopped. She relaxed against me, and I paced the room with her in my arms until she fell asleep. Eventually I sat in the armchair and just held her while she slept. I think it may have been the first time I felt competent as a mother.

Two nights ago, Adriana woke up just as Brian and I were going to bed. That's not unusual, and most nights I simply nurse her and put her back down in her own bed, but on Tuesday night, she was wide-eyed and ready to play. Finally I decided that one of us might as well get some sleep, and that it might as well be Brian since when the baby woke in the morning he would be the one to get up with her. So Adriana and I went into the dark living room, and I settled into the rocker with her on my lap. I recited every one of her books that I knew in a slow monotone, and she eventually leaned her head against me. My mind began to float, and I remembered holding her as she fell asleep when she was a few weeks old. In particular, I remembered holding her with her head on my shoulder as I stood at the bedroom window, rocking from side to side. It was winter, so the trees were bare and I could see the beginning of the morning commute traffic down on Glebe Road--bright headlights winding their way along the streets before the sun came up--and the first flights beginning to take off from National. Adriana was completely asleep and I was exhausted, but I stood there a little longer, trying to burn that moment into my mind.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nine months

For a while I thought I wasn't going to handle Adriana growing older well at all. For most of September, she no longer seemed to be the pleasant baby she had once been. She was always cranky, even when we were both well-rested, and that wasn't very often, as she was waking every hour or two all night long. I missed the easy baby she'd been a couple of months ago--the one who didn't fuss all the time and wasn't always getting into things. And then, after we had spent almost three weeks looking at the tooth just below her gums and begging it to pop through soon, we woke up one morning to discover that she had four teeth instead of three, and that we had our (mostly) happy baby back. She still is getting into everything, but that's easier to cope with when she is clearly so delighted with the world she's exploring.

She is happy, energetic, and curious, and she seems to know what she wants. Long days out and about in a carrier are no longer satisfactory for her, because she would rather get down and play. She wants to explore everything, and it's fun to watch her try to work things out: when she discovered that she couldn't open the kitchen cabinets after I taped them shut, she promptly tried opening them from the other side. Once the real cabinet latches went on and she could open the doors a crack, she spent some time tugging at the doors and staring in through the small opening. She raises her arms when she wants to be picked up, and pushes away when she wants to be put down. The pushing away can be frustrating--she rolls away from me during diaper changes (toward the wall when she's on the changing table, fortunately), but usually giving her a toy (or the tube of rash cream if that's the only thing within my reach) can keep her still long enough to snap on the fresh diaper.

She is a little shy sometimes. When we go to a new place or she sees new people, she clings to me a little bit more. It takes awhile for her to be willing to crawl around and explore, and she is quieter that she is when it is just us at home. Eventually, though, her curiosity wins out and she crawls around, getting into things and babbling to herself. She looks up intermittently to find me and smile, and then goes back to playing--unless I am not looking at her, in which case she fusses until she has my attention, and then continues on with what she was doing.

She pulled up once just after she turned eight months old. Brian was sitting right beside her, but I missed it, as I thought the excited voice he was using to get my attention was part of whatever game the two of them were playing. Then last Tuesday I set her on the floor after nursing her in the armchair and she grabbed the edge of the chair and pulled right back up to let me know she wasn't actually finished eating yet. It took me a moment to register what she was doing, but then I applauded her. She mimicked me and, having let go of the chair to do so, immediately fell. We keep trying to trick her into doing that again (what can I say? It was cute), but now she knows she needs to hold on, and will just clap one hand against whatever she is pulling up on. Now she pulls up at will, using my jeans so she can let me know that she would like to be picked up, or using the bookcases, so that she can clear all shelves within her reach of books and CDs.

She still isn't much for solid foods, but she seems to actually be eating some of the banana I give her (as opposed to just mashing it around), and occasionally lets me spoon feed her a few bites of cereal or pureed pears. Sleeping is going better than it was when we were awaiting the fourth tooth, but she is by no means sleeping through the night. I usually feel reasonably well rested though, since cosleeping means I don't really have to get up with her, and because Brian gets up with her in the morning when she awakes between 6:30 and 7:00 and I get to sleep in until 8.

Her very favorite thing is blowing raspberries. At this point I don't think it's physically possible for her not to blow raspberries if someone near her does it. If she is warming up to cry, sometimes I give her a Bronx cheer and she replies in kind, ending the bout of fussing. If I wake her up taking her out of her car seat she will start blowing raspberries before she has even opened her eyes. When I sing "The Marvelous Toy" to her, she wants to make the noises, too, but lacking the coordination to make the noises "zip," "bop," or "whrrr," she just blows raspberries.

Right now I really enjoy the fact that we can play together now. She loves peekaboo and games of chase. "I'm going to get you," I say, and she crawls away as fast as she can--which isn't all that fast, especially because every few feet she turns to see if I'm still chasing her and has to stop, sit, turn, and then get up and crawl again--shrieking with laughter. Or I crook my index finger and whisper "tickle bug's coming," and she giggles and wiggles as I get closer and closer before I tickle her. She laughs when I sing her the boa constrictor song and help her touch her toes, knees, belly, neck, and head. Best of all is just lying on the floor while she climbs back and forth over me. I sing to her while she clambers about. and she squeals and we are both very happy.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Nature walk: Castle Rock State Park

We spent a good portion of our Sunday wandering the trails at Castle Rock State Park with one of Brian's colleagues and her husband. I don't know where I'd gotten the idea that the park was out in a very dry, hot, flat area, but the park wasn't anything like what I expected, and I was quite happy about that. I do tend to be timid about rocky trails, so there were a couple of spots that challenged me a bit--mostly as I found myself wondering if Adriana was really safe in the backpack or considering the fact that if I went up I would later have to come down. As it turned out, Brian and Adriana were fine and I only had to sit down and slide over some rocks to get myself down twice. The views were well worth it.

The view near Castle Rock Falls.

Brian and Adriana love their new backpack carrier.

Stopping for a snack along the trail.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Not everyone can be a visionary

Last night after dinner, Brian took a banana from the fruit bowl and began to peel it.

"Wouldn't it be awesome," I suggested, "if one day you opened a banana peel and instead of fruit it contained a freshly baked brownie? Just right there waiting for you in its own hermetically sealed package?"

And he looked at me like I was crazy.

I take Harry Potter more seriously than Brian does

When two lanes exit the freeway at the same time, I tend to choose the one furthest to the right, so that I am out of the way of people who realize that they are in the wrong place at the last minute and do something stupid. And maybe also because I drive like an old lady, at least according to my friend Adam.* Yesterday as I was getting ready to merge from 280 to 85, I started to move into the far right lane. But there was something about the big pickup that I would have merged in behind that stopped me. The man behind the wheel wasn't driving erratically or too slowly, but something about the rack on the back of the truck that was loaded with what looked like metal beams made me uncomfortable. I stayed in my lane and passed the truck as we approached the exit. Then I heard a loud clank, and in my rearview mirror I saw one of the metal beams hit the pavement. The car behind the truck, which was following further back than I think I would have been, had to swerve as the beam bounced toward the shoulder.

I related the story to Brian last night and he informed me that Gavin de Becker would have been proud.** I had had a similar thought myself, only I had thought I was going to please Professor Trelawney. I guess our minds just work in different ways.

*Not that that stopped him from always taking a ride home from me after health econ. I guess a ride from an old lady driver is better than taking the Metro.

**Well, what he actually said was much more crass, but as I started to type it, I remembered that my little baby cousin*** reads this website, and I got very self-conscious about my language.

***Hi, Ruthie! Sorry, but I think you're going to be in your thirties before I stop thinking of you as the baby cousin.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Of course

1. As I was sleepily trying to finish Ines of My Soul before going to bed on Saturday, I came to a line that said one of the character's "soul escaped his body, captured among slim, moss-covered tree trunks as soft as velvet." I thought, "He died? And I missed it?" I'd known the story was building towards this death, and I was rather tired, but I didn't think I'd miss such an important event. But the next lines revealed that the character was still alive. I guess I'd forgotten whose work I was reading. This was an Isabel Allende novel: of course souls can go flitting about while their owners still live.

2. I decided it was a sign I'd been reading a lot of Allende over the past week when, as I read the opening pages of My Invented Country yesterday and came to the legend that the Arakis of Easter Island levitated the moais, I merely thought, "Oh, well, I'd never heard that theory before, but of course that's how they managed it."