You're seven weeks and a few days old, and it's getting to be autumn proper. Tomorrow your daddy and I are going to Village Thrift because, as we realized when the weather finally turned, you own nothing that will properly cover your legs, and besides, you've grown out of most of your newborn clothes. You weigh twelve and a half pounds already, in nice firm fat, with two creases in your right thigh, three in your left. I swear you're heavier every morning when I heft you up onto my belly, where you'll lie on your stomach and let me rest a little longer.
You let us sleep so much, little Mousie, for new parents. Maybe it's payback for your rather exhausting entrance into the world, but you've gone a four-hour stretch most nights, and once in a while five. Then again, I may be feeding you all night. We move in synchrony in our sleep; I wake up sometimes and you've scooched up to my breast and are trying to latch on. For a few nights I let you do it without help, but you like to play with that nipple, really roll it around and stretch it, so now I am battling sore, cracked nipples again. We tried to give you a pacifier, since you love to suck so much, and thus had created a supply sufficient to feed an entire day care, but you would have none of it. We're tired, but not as tired as we could be, and for the last two weeks you've been smiling at us when you wake up. So we forget that our backs are so stiff we can hardly wipe our asses, and joyfully wipe yours, more a pleasure now since you've gone to the twice-a-week pooping plan.
You wear little white kimono shirts we call your Jedi shirts, and when it is colder you wear onesies that snap at the crotch. Everything is unisex, since we didn't know who you would be until we met you. People in stores aren't sure whether you're a girl or a boy until we tell them, but they're always sure to say how beautiful you are, how cute, how peaceful and snuggly. You're usually in the sling when we're out, and most people have nice things to say about that. One woman told me about the sling she'd used with her children, now in high school; one guy, maybe twenty, said wistfully, "I wish I could fit in one of those." Okay, it sounds creepy now, but it was very sweet in person.
You also have one little suit that we like, since it snaps down the front as well as at the crotch so we don't have to pull it over your head. It features bright fish, palm trees, octopi, and then -- alarmingly -- bottles containing an SOS message. Freakier still, it has tiny pictures of miniscule figures on itty-bitty deserted islands, "HELP" spelled out in the sand; as though we needed the cue, "shipwrecked" is written underneath the pictures. I am uncertain as to who determined this was appropriate material for children's wear, or whether your grandma looked closely at it or considered its ramifications before buying, but then your mother would dress you entirely in witty alcohol-themed shirts and exorbitantly priced organic wear if it were up to her. As it is you are a little indie rocker sometimes, a nakey babit other times. We adore you; we cannot leave you alone, and stare at you in your sleep, sometimes to the point of disrupting it. It's like the time your Aunt Gretchen and your Grandma Janet and I drove across the country with the aging chihuahua; every time the chihuahua went to sleep we would exclaim loudly over her cuteness, and she would wake up. She didn't sleep for three days.
You change so much each day, and every day since you were born I want to say stop, stop, stay this way for a while. But you don't, and what comes next is always so sweet I almost forget what came before: the jaundiced elf baby with dark hair tufts at the top of her ears, the preternaturally calm one-week-old with the wide slate-blue eyes and early smile, the two-week-old who held her head steady. One day you grinned at me for a few minutes; the next day you did that same thing twice; and now you do it all day long, cooing and ah-ing at me, your daddy, a mobile. You roll onto your side once in a while; you worm your way out of a swaddle. When you were first born, you looked suspiciously up at me when you nursed, brow furrowed. Now you gaze with the sweetest expression, sometimes breaking off the nipple to smile; you pat my breast with one starfish hand, or cling to my shirt, and with the other you press one finger into my hand, then another, opening and closing your hand one finger at a time.
Your fingers, oh, they are long and tapered and delicate, absolutely unlike mine. Between them I find gummy deposits of lint and I don't know what else, and I love to pick it out, trim your sharp little nails. You knead my doughy belly with your toes in the night, and I realize it's time to cut your toenails. You got my nose, as evidenced by how easy it is to fit the snot-sucker up a nostril. It looks infinitely better on you. Your hair was brown but looks reddish now, with some of it coming in blonde; we can make out eyebrows now, light brown where they were white, and your eyelashes are darker now. You are absolutely captivating. Your face belongs to you alone. You are so much yourself, already.
All day I stay with you, and when you finish nursing I let you fall asleep on my chest; otherwise you prefer to be held to my shoulder, moving around the house. We dance a big jouncing dance to bouncy music, Billy Bragg and Wilco's Mermaid Avenue, or Talking Heads. You like Johnny Cash. You hate the Pixies. You require movement, and will not settle for stillness except at night, and even that's pushing it. Your daddy bounces you on the birth ball, hard; you don't like gentle rocking or swaying. I think you'll be happier when you can get moving yourself.
And that is what will happen, soon and forever; I will spend the rest of my life watching you move away from me. It's okay, that's what I signed up for; it's worth it to get to know you. All that time you were inside me and I had no idea who you were. The price of finding out is this eternal leaving.
Little baby, little Sophia Hazel. My Crazy Smouse, my Milk Elf. You're sleeping, however briefly, in the next room while I write this, and I have to go lie next to you in the dark, I can't stand to be away from you for long. I gather you to me in the night, and we sleep touching, you and me and Daddy and the Speck. This is our life, and as many years as I spent dreaming of it, I could not have imagined such joy.