Having completely neglected Abby's baby book (which fills me with deep regret, but it is what it is), I turn to old photographs for inspiration and guidance on these posts. I feel such a visceral connection to each particular moment captured, as though it happened yesterday. But when I close my eyes to place myself back in that time, I can't grab a hold of anything. I'm reaching for sensations, emotions, experiences, that are wispy and abstract, and feel as though they are no more than echoes from a lifetime ago. How very bittersweet, to realize that for all the memories I've stored away, so many more are lost to me forever. I need a photograph for every second.
I'm struck, first, by the size of her. She's always been a big girl, but she was my first baby, and most days, I had no comparison. Now, I'm shocked to see how well she filled out that same old chair that Michael is now using, and he is nearly six months old (and not a particularly tiny baby, himself).
It kills me that I have no written record of her measurements (that I can find, anyway), but if I had to guess, I'd say that she was about 17 lbs at this point (Michael is currently 16 lbs, 13 oz, but he's turning out to be a bit of a "Skinny-Mickey"). No idea of her length, but it looks to be almost as long as what Michael's is now, which I will get a measurement of in a couple of weeks. Or sooner, if I can ever figure out where my tape measure got to.
This is perhaps the most shocking picture of all, and while I remember taking it, I did not remember it being from January, when she was just two months old. She looks much larger than Michael here, but again, I have no numbers for actual comparison. :(
What can I say, the girl loved to eat.
I jest now, but it was a point of some concern for me for a long time. We had a scare when she was just a few days old- she'd been refusing to latch, (I blame the bottle that we were forced to allow the nurses to give her at birth due to her low blood sugar), which resulted in an 18% loss from her birth weight and a touch of dehydration. What I remember most about those first three weeks was trying to get as much formula into her as possible to get her strength and weight back up, under pressure from her doctors and still reeling in terror from the moment, on her fourth day of life, that I realized she was truly starving and I had to take some kind of action. That was when we made her first bottle of formula, as intent as I was on exclusively breastfeeding, and I cried, overcome by feelings of guilt, failure, and relief, as she gobbled it down in desperation.
I did manage to coax her into breastfeeding over time (at about the three-week mark), but struggled with supply issues and settled into a routine of supplementation in the evenings with formula (rather than fight with her to keep her interested when my supply was lowest). However, it took a long time to get out of the mindset of worrying about her weight- whether she was gaining enough, and it was difficult to gauge how much more she needed beyond what she was already getting from me. Before I knew it, my conversations with her doctor had entirely shifted in focus. I spent the next 10 months worried about her weight percentiles, and how they regularly fell outside of the "normal" growth curve, always exceeding those of her length (which were pretty spectacular, and never fell below the 98th). But it's not as though I could put her on a diet.
In retrospect, I've wished, over and over again, that I fought that much harder to be free of the crutch of supplementation. That I had pumped more, that I had pushed back harder when she fought me, that I had taken steps to increase my supply through diet and herbal supplements. But I've come to accept that as much as my past decisions may be subject to re-examination, I am no longer bound by the limits that I was then: my physical weakness after childbirth, my crippling anxiety, my confusion and fear, my lack of experience. It is simply not fair to compare who I was then to who I am now, though I am often still tempted to do so.
Despite that thread of anxiety, this period did mark the beginning of a time when I was able to really start to enjoy my baby girl. I left the terror of her first days behind me, and soaked up the incredible personality that began to take shape in her.
She also began to learn to sleep independently, which made our lives much easier, but meant less and less moments like these:
Because around this time, she became far too wiggly for cuddles. And once she gave it up, I wasn't able to get a nap in with her like that again until she was about 13 months old, and having a rough time with those cursed one-year molars.
Some good times of note:
We went to a birthday party for her Auntie Lisa, which despite what this photo implies, she quite enjoyed.
She got her first pair of jeans. Though, sadly, the waistband was so tight and she was so chubby that this was the first, and last, time that she wore them. I didn't want to cause her any tummy issues from the pressure.
And a not-so-good time:
Abby's first run-in with the vacuum cleaner. I was nursing her in the living room and Tom was making the rounds with the push unit. The noise, itself, was not bothering her. However, she chose the same moment that Tom turned a corner and started towards us to take a break from nursing and check out her surroundings. She got spooked, and completely lost it; I had to take her into the bedroom to calm her down, the poor thing. We were much more careful not to bring the vacuum right up close to her, after that.
And now, for my favorite shot of the month:
Pretty baby ballerina (complete with pointed toes!)
As of this posting, we are still in Rockville, but we're also still on track to be home by this evening. Our intended arrival was delayed by the unfortunate development that, when our power was restored, it did not restore the internet. And Tom relies on internet to work. As I rely on internet to blog. Which explains my earlier-than-usual posting, today. I'm anticipating a simple, quick, fix to the problem once we get home, but with cable companies, you never do know...