My Dearest Sweet Little Lucy,
This week you will turn three months old, and I wanted to write a little something you can read later. If I’d done it on a piece of paper, or in a computer document, it would definitely get lost, so I’m doing it here on the website where it has a chance of getting to you decades down the road.
Turning three months means the end of your so-called “fourth trimester,” which is commonly thought to be that liminal state when you need to be reminded of the womb at all times lest you begin screaming. Lemme tellya right away: you can sure scream, woman. But alongside this, you gave us your first smile at only six days, your first laugh at two weeks, and four days ago, you gave me your first sustained giggle. I have a feeling you were making fun of me, but whatever – I’m not the one wearing trousers with giraffes on them, ya cheeky bastard.
You have become such a gigglemonster that it’s hard to get you to stop when it’s past your bedtime. Your mother and I are more than happy to stay up with you, but we occasionally worked you into a tired lather, so we’ve learned not to abuse your laughter. It’s awfully addictive.
You’ve made so many developmental leaps in the last week that it seems like you’re a whole new person, or should I say, you’ve actually become a person. Your face, once puffy like the pudding of all babies, is now becoming angled into a visage that is recognizable as only you.
A few days ago, you actually reached for a dangling toy and grabbed it, shoving into your mouth. While this seems a bit rudimentary to those of us who went to prep school, it means you made an active decision to change the world with a part of your body. You just learned that YOU have an effect on your surroundings. It was like watching magic leap from the mundane, and of course, I kissed you about fifty times.
Here’s another sea change: in the last week, you started really listening to us. You no longer had the crack-addled jumpiness of the “I just got here” crowd – you sit and stare deep into our eyes for minutes. You sit on your “tummy time” activity mat and regard the world around you for seemingly vast stretches. There was a time – say, like 14 days ago – when five minutes of nothing would have prompted a scream, but now, you are a willing co-conspirator in our daily deeds. I can’t tell you how wonderful that has become.
Best new thing of all? You took two whole bottles from me yesterday without a hitch. Previously, you screamed so loud during bottle-feeding that it showed up on the local Doppler radars. You were Beholden to the Breast, with naught but Mommy giving sustenance. Yesterday, when you stared up at me and sucked the whole bottle down, it’s as if we knew we had a brand new agreement. You learned the bottle late, but then again, I learned skiing late, and we’re both naturals now.
A few days ago, we took you to see your grandpa and your step-grandma in La Quinta, California, home of the 113-degree afternoons. Mommy and I brought you into the pool, where you splashed, giggled, and filled us with such ecstasy that your mom said it was the most fun she’d ever had. And she went to Carolina in the heady late ’80s!
The folks at R.I.E. have some good ideas, but they also tell you never to help a baby sit up, never force them to do things they wouldn’t naturally, and basically let you be your own explorer. I’d like to tell you know that we – and especially I – have broken those rules practically every minute we’re with you.
I’m sorry, but it seems totally counter-intuitive to me. The look on your face when you roll yourself over, the joy of accomplishment in your eyes when you manage to sit yourself up, is just too fabulous. So I push you a little bit. When we were in the pool, I asked your mom if I could put you underwater for a split second. I’d seen that all human babies are adapted for swimming from the first day, and though she was nervous, you and I went below the surface for about a quarter of a second.
Upon surfacing, you were shocked, stunned – and then erupted into the biggest smile of the day. You are my brave little soul, my little Lucy, my big light. You have a fighting chance at not being as afraid as I was, of everything. You are not a recliner; you lean forward, you want to be involved, your blue eyes illuminate the room. With you and your wonderful mommy, I will never know complacency. You sleep each night like you’ve earned it, and I love you with the pre-cry tremolo of the back of my throat.