My hands found her easily, and I pulled a baby up and onto my chest. She was pink and perfect.
I kissed her over and over.
"Welcome, Ivy! You got born! You're here!"
Maybe I should have known it would happen when I named her after a climbing plant, but Ivy clings to be for dear life. She protests when I put her down, squawking with a ferocity I don't remember Westley having at this age, but maybe I've just forgotten. Ivy is intense. (And a little high maintenance.) Her favorite place is on my body.
She cries real tears now, and they collect in her tiny eyelashes. It's heartbreaking.
I love having pretend conversations with her. Ivy coos, I coo back. She watches my mouth when I talk to her (and when I eat), so I make huge, stupid, wide-eyes-open-mouth faces at her. I would feel like a idiot doing it, except that it's totally fun. She also seems to like being read to. Night before last, Rob caught me reading to her from Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck.
Ivy is always delighted to see Rob. She makes her, "Oh, wow! It's YOU!" face at him, like the George Carlin dog. But Westley is the one who keeps her most engaged. It's perfect: he loves to explain things about superheroes and fictional robots, and she seems to enjoy being explained to.
Most of the time, things are good. I'm amazed by how far we've come just in the past few weeks. The 3-6 Months clothes are already starting to look too small. Nursing sessions don't go on for hours. There is something resembling a sleep schedule.
It's funny to me that I still can't believe Ivy is real. Yesterday I put her on the changing table and I was just blown away by her actual-baby-ness. All I could do was stare at her, because, Look at you! You're a baby! You're my daughter and you're really REAL!
"Does she ever cry?" Westley's teacher asked me Thursday afternoon. And, like a dope, I said something on the order of, "Oh, she has her fussy times, but she's not much of a crier."
And then last night Ivy cried every couple of hours until I looked at the clock and it was 6:30 AM, and I said, Fine, you win, baby. We'll get up now.
She rolls over from her back to her tummy easily (though she hasn't done it in the past few days) and immediately gets her knees under her and squirms. It's like she understands the theory of crawling even though her body isn't quite there yet. Which, naturally, makes her crazy and the baby-dinosaur noises come out full-force.
She's crazy-delicious, this soft, fluffy baby of mine.
I once scoffed at a picture frame in a baby stuff store that was clearly designed to hold an ultrasound picture. Script along the border read, "Love at First Sight." The whole sentiment seemed incredibly cheesy.
I get it now. I would put that picture frame on my wall now.
Ivy turned six months old on Valentine's Day, and I am more in love with her than ever. Sometimes I still can't believe she's here, that she made it here (we made it), when I dreamed about her for so long.
Ivy is days away from crawling. Rob is sure she'll have it mastered by next Friday. She can get up on her hands and knees no problem. All fours, nothin' to it. Then she takes a crawling "step" and collapses face first into the rug. It's exhausting to watch her, but also kind of inspiring. She never once falls down and goes, "Well, screw that. So not worth it."
Ivy is more wiggly than ever. She refused to lie down for her monthly photo shoot. I think it might be time to throw in the towel on this whole "take a picture of the baby on the Wonder Woman blanket every month" idea. She just doesn't want to be still. She has stuff to do.
Ivy finally has a tooth! On April 7, she woke up from her afternoon nap with a little white point peeking through her gums. I know the date because I wrote it on the calendar. I had a little first-tooth dance party.
For the most part, Ivy continues to be a happy little social butterfly. She comes with me to my physical therapy appointments, where she has the reception staff eating out of her hand. She waves hello and good-bye, claps, and reaches out to give hugs. I can't just hand her off to a friendly adult anymore, though. A switch flipped a couple days ago, and we're starting to see a little bit of stranger anxiety, even around people she knows well.
I would be much happier to just let it be, to just roll with the sleep punches knowing that I'm doing everything I can to help her, except that I'm so tired. By the end of the day, I don't know who I am any more. Parenting two children in two very different stages of development is the most challenging form of multitasking I've ever attempted. (And I was never very good at multitasking.)
She's going to be a year old. I can't believe she's going to be a year old. Except that it was a million years ago that she was born. I remember so vividly when she wasn't here, but still it seems as though she's always been here. She was never not crawling and cruising and pulling up to stand on everything and everyone.
At 4:18 this afternoon, Ivy Mathilda turned one year old.
I don't know what to say other than We did it! We made it through the first year! High-five Ivy—she gives high-fives now—and Rob and Westley and self, and everyone who loved us and supported us along the way.
(Thank you. We love you all.)
Welcome to your second year, Chickadee. I can't wait to see what you do with it.