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Saturday, December 11, 2010


Z continues to grow larger. We love him for his sturdiness, are reassured by his hale girth, but are forgetful sometimes to treat him as one of the newly existent. At three months, he's eighteen pounds, now almost double his birth weight--the unanimous reaction by strangers and friends alike is that he is "big." We constantly need to remind ourselves that he is still fragile and needs to be treated gently; even more so as his senses continue to sharpen to pick up more cues. He's acting less like a slug and more like a cat these days, startling at sudden sounds and tuning in to people's energies.

Having a child is having a personal laboratory for observing developmental stages. During pregnancy, I had the time and headspace to read ahead of what was happening in utero. Now that he's out and here, it's all I can do to try to track the changes and then to look them up post-haste to learn what the heck is going on.

For example: we left California for Thanksgiving without a single toy packed. We were trying to be minimal, reasoning we could buy anything we really needed. And because when we left, he seemed to have no interest in objects which were quickly let go even if we managed to trick him into gripping one by teasing an open hand into a fist--like a venus flytrap (and as I write this, I came up with: Zenas Toytrap). But halfway into the 10 day trip, we blinked and he was a different baby. All of a sudden he could seemed to look at the pages as we read to him at night, and clutched whatever object (a hand, spoon) that we put in front of him. And serendipitously the next day he received a toy that let him put to use his new found skills. Watching him reach, clutch and turn his toy we wonder how long he had been bored and unable to complain...

And once he starts something, the scary and marvelous thing is that it's forever. I'll never forget his first smile at 4 weeks, but every morning first thing he melts me with another one. I found him in his crib the other days rotated about 180 degrees--I guess he pushed himself around like a spinny top--and immediately reconsidered our decision that a tucked in blanket seems safe enough.* My current obsession is to reproduce the belly laugh he just started to make as often and to as many people as possible. Chris encourages "tummy time" to watch him build up his arm strength and muses that he'll be crawling and talking soon.

We don't mean to rush him. We also hear over and over that babies are more trouble as they get older and especially after they become mobile. It's just hard to resist the curiosity of witnessing the changes in our child, an extension of our flesh and blood who is demonstrating what we do not remember of ourselves. I thought I knew a thing or two about babies--I'm generally good at guessing ages and feel comfortable around them; but it is different to be raising one 24/7, and to try to decipher the signs or multiple simultaneous symptoms as they occur. As an example: at the height of his cold Zenas also began to teethe--but it was hard to know it for what it was because the bad mood could be attributed to being sick, and the same for the the worst diaper explosions yet; the gnawing might have been telltale had it not been just as he started to use his "third hand" -- we thought it was too early. But indeed a week later he is healthy but still drooling and chomping on fingers, toys and shoulders. It could be months before a tooth actually surfaces but it's certain to happen sooner than later and just like that there will not be a time when he's toothless again as long as he learns to floss...

It's part science/biology/voodoo/miracle/magic, how we come to be. Having "made," gestated, birthed him and now watching his progress, I shake my head that evolution has only brought us so far. We are still animal creatures no matter how well we can understand, explain and deal with growth.

*Every parent's nightmare is SIDS though the precautions seem too austere.

1 comment:

  1. Mari, I love your observations of Zenas's development. You are indeed a scientist. I just want to add that the drooling usually preceeds the teething by at least a month or two. The mouthing of everything within reach goes along with diminishing of the newborn oral reflexes, desensitizing his gag and mouth in preparation for solid foods, aaaand also helps those little grains of rice pop through the gums. Oh Zenas, don't try out those new teeth on Mommy as you're nursing.