Often, however, it's immediately obvious that change truly is for the better, and somehow, it's still a bit of a pain.
Take Mia's sudden transformation, for example. She's like this beautiful little butterfly who suddenly broke free of the cocoon. It didn't exactly happen overnight- this metamorphosis from eating, sleeping, pooping (but ever-so-adorable-while-doing it) blob to bright-eyed, bouncing, pre-mobile baby. She laughs, she giggles; she gnaws and drools; she grabs fingers and squeezes; she sucks on hands and clothing; she tracks faces, recoils from strangers, responds to facial expressions. As of yesterday, she rolls, and as of today, she jumps.
I think that's what really did it for me; finally hammered it home. There she was, in her jumperoo, mainly focused on the amazingness that is her fingers, when she decided to start moving her feet around. At first, it looked like she was trying to run in place. Then, she bent one knee, followed by the other. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce.
As she bounced, she giggled, cooed and smiled, and her eyes were ever-so-bright, looking into mine. Behind them, there was a clearly little person, finally awake to the world, taking it all in with the breathtaking wonder of one who is truly seeing it for the first time. I had to fight back tears, as I realized that she was making some of her broadest steps forward, away from the babyhood that she would soon leave behind, into her waiting future. Those early days were fading fast before my eyes.
Of course, not only do I now have to fight that same old battle of acceptance over my baby growing too much, too fast, I've all kinds of wrenches in routine to contend with as a side-effect of all of Mia's stunning advances.
- There is really nothing quite like baby laughter, but I assure you that it's the last thing I want to hear when it's time to put said baby down to bed.
- It is a beautiful thing to witness your child trying to interact with his or her world, but that desire for interaction tends to overextend into critical nap zones, meaning more struggles to maintain a schedule, and shorter time allotted for required breaks.
- No more do I have mere crying to contend with when the crib seems a most unwelcome sight- Mia pulls out all the stops now. This includes baby "push-ups," pre-crawl wiggles, gnawing of hands, rolling of hips, and thrashing of head.
- Speaking of gnawing of hands: since Mia won't take a pacifier, she's done me a great service in "finding" her hands and chewing on them to self-soothe to her heart's content. However, when it's time to sleep, I spend half of my time trying to move those same hands away from her mouth because I've found that not only does she tend to take longer to fall asleep while sucking on them, she leaves a huge puddle of drool under her head that she then refuses to sleep on (which I can't really blame her for; there are few things more unpleasant than cold dampness under your face).
- I've come to suspect that all of these things will culminate in the "four-month sleep regression/wakeful period" that I've heard so much about. I've yet to fully experience it, since Abby was too good a sleeper to bother with it overnight (though we had some real battles at naptime) and Michael was too poor a sleeper to really get much worse than the status quo. I think we're just dipping our toes in it now, though, a few weeks early, as Mia has followed up her couple of weeks of flirting with sleeping through the night with a couple of weeks of sleeping more fitfully than she has in the whole of her existence.
They're bound to throw me for a new loop, I'm sure, but I'll come to love them all the same.