Monday, July 26, 2004
Why we keep our babies
I just finished reading a very interesting book, though perhaps not every new mother's cup of tea. It's Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection, by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (not a typo). Turns out one of the biggest selection pressures on infants through human history (and the history of some other primates) is infanticide, by mothers or other members of the infants' own species. Hrdy talks a lot about this, and about the traits that have evolved in both infants and mothers to keep us from leaving more babies in the bushes.
Well, Petra is showing off some of those traits now, as you can see from the photo of her with her great aunt Cindy. Not that she was in any danger of being left in the bushes, but her frequent smiles do a lot to balance out backaches and sleep deprivation.
Actually, since I am supported by Tim these days and therefore can usually sleep in when I need to, it's more the absence of a life beyond childrearing, not sleep deprivation, most of the time. But we are managing to get out more now. I started going to a mom-and-baby group this week that shows promise for finding friends and babysitting-exchange partners.
But back to the Menschkin! She's also showing signs of recognizing a couple of words like "hungry" and "fresh diaper." When those reflect her current needs, sometimes if we ask her, she'll calm down and smile, giving us the ultimate reward for our correct guess. Get back, new cars and Hawaiian vacations! My daughter is smiling at me! Hey, she's laughing! I won the bonus round!
Books are also getting to be fun. Petra looks at the pages as I read to her, especially The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and often smiles at a pretty picture or a particularly enthusiastic delivery. For some reason, the cocoon is a big hit.
Oh, yeah. Some behaviors are endearing or the last straw, depending on how I'm feeling already. Clinging to my hair would be one of those. A perfectly good little primate adaptation that makes tired, frustrated mommies cry. So, following in the footsteps of my mother and sister, I got a haircut. Tim says it's very mommyish. Picture to come later.
Saturday, July 03, 2004
Life is good
No amount of money could buy the sigh that just came out of our daughter's mouth as she lay sleeping in my arms.
Petra is finally feeding really well. We were confident enough to give her a bottle for the first time yesterday, and she took to it quickly. It will be nice to retire the SNS (the supplemental tube feeding system we used while she was getting up to speed on breastfeeding).
If only lining up babysitters were so easy.
Thursday, July 01, 2004
Some of the joys of new parenthood
I've been having lots of chances to hang out with Petra and fall in love. Here are some of the things I've been struck by in the past several days:
- Her feet. Is there anything in the world more endearing than baby feet? Then again, I love our cats' feet too. I can't keep my hands off them, much to the cats' chagrin. Hopefully Petra will enjoy it more.
- The developing folds of skin on her forearms. I've never seen a parallel to these on an adult. They're halfway between elbow and wrist, and they make it look like her forearms bend. Why is this so cute?
- How silky her hair feels when I'm burping her on my shoulder and I rub my nose/lips/cheek against her head.
- That trusting look in her eyes that I see a little more every day. There's something about this that really brings it home: I am a parent now, and that will never change. Or more exactly: I never want it to.
Petra started giving us social smiles on her one-month birthday, two weeks before I expected them. They get more frequent every day. I am incredibly motivated by this to do exceptionally silly things. Who knew I could scat? I'm actually getting pretty good at it. I think this is fundamentally good for me. If you know me, you probably know that I am way too earnest. Thus, I think, do infants train their parents to be as silly as they need us to be.
Time to go. The Menschkin needs feeding.