Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Full Body Smile

This morning, you cried at a quarter to seven. I shuffled into your room before my brain had even registered that I was no longer in bed, as I do several times a night. I lifted your squirming body from the crib, settling into the rocking chair as you rooted in the semi-dark, blackout shades drawn against the early morning light, to latch on, searching for more warm milk. Even at almost a year old, we repeat this most nights, many times- too many times.

As you drank, I leaned my head back and closed my eyes- one of my tricks to convey to you that “we are still sleeping around here! It’s not morning!”. At some point I carefully opened my eyes to look down at you and see if you were drifting back to sleep. You weren’t. Curled up around me, your mouth suckling like a starfish, your eyes were wide open. You catch me looking at you and paused in your nursing to give me a smile and then quickly latched back on.

I love when you are curled up like this, your warm soft baby body melting into me. Your arm draped possessively across me, or, less satisfyingly, your sticky fingers exploring my face, scratching me with your nails I am forever cutting at bad angles or trying to fish hook my mouth. When Jack was a baby he would often fall asleep on my chest. I felt like I always had a sleeping baby on top of me and I would say to your father “could you take him?” pointing to the slumbering baby and gesturing towards the swing. Or sometimes if he awoke early, I would steal him back to my bed and he would fall back asleep on top of me, while I went into a semi-sleep, worried he might fall, but too tired to actually get up.

But not you. You twist and turn, always on the move. You’re all smiles, but only a real good cuddler when you are nursing. After you finish, you start squirming around and I fashion my arms like a soft cage to prevent you from falling off my lap. I used to think you wanted to get down, and that if I put you on the floor you would scamper away on some urgent mission. But the two times I tried, you looked up at me with a shocked and hurt expression and started to cry. So I hold you like a bundle of energy performing acrobatics on my lap. Often times, I will tire of this and stick you back in your crib to go back to sleep. And often times, you will cry. But today I thought, “oh well” and I opened my eyes and let you sit up on my lap.

And your entire face formed into a smile as you realized that I was going to interact. “Good morning!!!!” your grin said “I can’t believe you are letting me sit up and look at you! This is so exciting!”. I soaked in your smile, as you happily bounce in place for a few minutes, and rose to open the shades. At this point, you went into your full body smile. Trembling with excitement, you, with amazing strength, bound up and down in my arms, and wiggle every arm and leg with excitement at seeing the morning sun. I have to tighten my grip so you don’t fall to the floor. Because you know. This is it. I won’t put you back in your crib now. You make little noises of happiness, soft shrieks or hiccupy-laughter that are hard to describe. How does a smile sound? That is the noise.

And a new day is born.

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