Thursday, March 17, 2005

happy happy birthday, baby

Her brown eyes are wise; she watches and learns. She notices. Her hands are made for exploring, feeling, manipulating. (They've been doing that since before she even appeared outside of my belly.) Her little legs don't hold her upright for walking yet, but they propel her across the floor at a pretty fast clip.

Today is March 17, 2005, and Jacqueline Kai The is one year old.

Her most-used syllable is "ah". She points: "ah?" "Button," I tell her. "Ah!" "Button!" "Ah!" "Button!" An onlooker would either be amused or irritated by the repetition ... I never find it unpleasant. She calls me "mamamama" in her hopeful little voice, and I call her "JacquiJacquiJacqui" and give her hugs and kisses and Cheerios.

She wants to know everything. Today we stood at the window and watched a squirrel eating birdseed for about fifteen minutes. I got bored before she did; I pulled her down from the window ledge, but she stayed over there watching, holding herself up to see, for another ten minutes.

She seems to mostly be done with her stranger-anxiety. When we visited with Geoff's relatives this past weekend, she immediately fell in love with her grandfather and grandmother. She sat on the floor playing with Grandpa for hours; she held up her arms for Grandma to pick her up. Grandma even gave her a bath in the kitchen sink, and Jacqui didn't mind at all.

She naps more often lately -- today she slept for almost two hours in the middle of the day. And she's been sleeping six or seven hours in a row, when she's not teething. Currently, she's teething. A fourth top tooth popped through while we were across the border, and so both of her new top teeth are working their way through at once. We've had some sadness during the past couple of days but teething cookies, baby orajel, and baby tylenol are all her friends.

She hasn't got much use for chew toys, unless they belong to the puppies, and those are the toys she can't have.

She's still nursing three or four times a day, more for comfort than nourishment I think, because of those teeth. I try to stretch the time; I try for three, rather than four. But when she's so sad with her hands in her mouth and nothing is helping, and she looks at me with those hurting brown eyes and says "mamamamama?" and holds her arms up to me and clings to my neck and burrows into my chest ... well, what can you do? It's comfort, and that's what I'm here for.

Weaning will be easier once we start her on whole milk. She loves cheese, yogurt, eggs, peas, spinach, pesto, noodles ... in fact, anything on my plate is what she'd love to have on her tray. She's still enthralled with the tiny sweet roundness of her Cheerios, and the teething cookies she loves best are the ones that leave brown goo all over her face and hands. I haven't gotten a good photo of that yet, but she certainly is something to see.

Geoff and I like to play "remember when" games. "Remember when she hated the bathtub?" "Remember when she could only lie on her back and wave her arms at us?" "Remember when she slept all night for those three or four months?" "Remember when we brought her home from the hospital and she seemed so big in my arms, but really she was so tiny, and we just didn't know it?"

That's the one, right there. She was 8 pounds and 10 ounces when she was born. Five days later, she was 8 pounds even. Today she weighs about 23 pounds -- almost three times her coming-home weight -- and she's no longer "long"; now she's "tall." And she IS tall -- almost 30". (These are estimates; her next doctor visit will happen on the 22nd.)

I've been home with her for a year now. I wouldn't trade places with anybody; I wouldn't give this up for the world. I'm so grateful to have her, to be able to spend this time with her, to watch her and help her and love her. And this is where I have to tell you that I *couldn't* do this without Geoff. He works so hard to keep us happy and fed and mostly sane. He's my buddy, who's been through so much with me, and when I look at him and ask if he's still happy with me after all these years, he says yes -- and then he tells me it hasn't been so very long, you know.

I love Geoff, and he will always be my best friend, my confidant, my dancing partner, my love.

And Jacqui holds my heart in her eyes and her hands, and every smile is a heartbeat. She and her daddy have given me the most amazing year of my life.