Letter to Bella, month three

Dear Bella,

You are three months old today. Your body has come such a long way from those first few weeks after your birth when we were trying so desperately to breastfeed. Formula has been our best friend as you continue to round out and get the chubby rolls babies are known for.

I suppose my favorite part of this is your cheeks. Growing up, I was terrorized for having large, protruding cheeks that family and strangers alike just had to reach out and pinch. Now, my dear, that legacy is passed on to you. When you smile, you’re all face and it stops people in their tracks. Just today Ashley was about to walk by you, but when she looked down you gave her a dazzling cheeky grin and she couldn’t stop herself from getting engrossed in it. I said simply, “She got you.”

I tell people every day that you’re a hustler and it’s true. Even when you’re asleep, you have the most amazing ability to steal the spotlight. These days, you go to bed routinely between 10 and 11 pm and sleep peacefully until 7 or 8 am. We know you’re awake as much by how much the bassinet moves as by your grunts. That’s because somewhere in the stretch of deep sleep, you turn sideways. Yes, every morning when I go to you, I find your head smooshed against one side of the bassinet, your feet against the other and vast expanses of empty space on either side of you. One morning I saw your feet before I even got the bassinet because you had them slung over the side.

It breaks my heart because I know that you are soon for the crib. That means you’ll be tucked away in your own room, in the bed you’ll sleep in until you buy yourself another one (yes, it’s a convertible) … connected to your daddy and me by only a monitor. But, I know you’ll be okay, that the newborn phase is winding down. I see it passing when you reach out for your Sassy mirror or the Kermit and Big Bird wrist rattles we affectionately call your Friends because you babble and smile at them.

One of your favorite past times these days is staring at your hands. In fact, you’ve earned the name Ricky Bella because they seem to sneak up on you, like you’re not quite sure what to do with them. They flutter near your face until one hand finds the other and then the flutter near your face together. Sometimes fingers from one or the both of them wind up in your mouth, sometimes your hair. You spend increasing amounts of time this way and I know that one day soon, in an instant, you’ll have figured those things out for good.

The problem with those hands? They want to be where the action is. This is really only an issue when it comes to the bottle. Those hands bump, push and grab for the bottle – which only results in keeping you from your food. That, dear one, is not a good thing. You are so in tune with your hunger that when you smell food or see someone eating, you stare, drool and lick your lips. I’ve seen you become entranced with the sight of someone’s chewing face.

In another three months you’ll be a completely different baby but I think you’re just starting on that path. You’re slowly growing out of your 0-3 month clothes, turning away from the Soothie, trying to roll over. You’re on the road to independence, talking and giggling the whole way.

In fact, a nurse told me recently that your “language skills” were really rare. Apparently, few babies try to hold complete conversations with anyone and anything the way you do. You mimic tone, inflection, facial expressions. At 3 months old, I swear you’ve blessed me out. Usually this happens when you want to sit up – as you always do, forget that lying your back thing – or when I turn your channel.

Yes, little Bella, you have a channel. You love to lie on your playmat and watch the Baby Channel. For the most part, it’s colorful pictures set to playful, classical music and you love it. When I need to finish up an article or focus on a really boring case study, I turn on your trusty channel and let you get wrapped up in pictures and sound. We plan to buy you a Bumbo chair this weekend so that you can better sit up, but don’t think I’ll be taking the TV away from you. It’s a wonderful solace for us both.

Despite your fascination with the TV, you like books too. You like to stare and smile at each page. Your favorite is a LeapFrog electronic book that sings nursery rhymes and has a flashing light on the spine. You focus intently on each page, on the light and on me until you “get it” and then you start talking and laughing at the pages, as if there’s some secret you’re in on. Yesterday you fell asleep while studying one of the pages and I had a flash of a teenage you – soft and vulnerable with a book tucked by your side.

I can hear you getting frustrated now. I’ll go to you and when my face floats in front of yours, you’ll break into a smile. You prefer human entertainment to all other forms and your brother, daddy and I are more than happy to give it to you. We smile and coo and kiss your belly. As a reward, you give us the deep cackle that we’ve begun to live for. Whoever gets it first inevitably looks around the room and says, “Yep, she loves me the best.” The rest of us sit in envy until its our turn to earn your shining light.

Love, Mama


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