Monday, February 22, 2010

Four-month letter to Opal

Good morning my dearest sweet peanut.
It is 7:45am and you are asleep on my belly in the sling and today is your four month birthday.
It seems like this last month has been wildly productive for you developmentally—your dad and I continue to watch you in a state of complete awe. We do what we can to support your progress, but it sure seems there is another, bigger force that is doing the majority of the work.

I won’t go into too much detail about how much your sleep has changed in the last week—I actually wrote an entire blog about that with tons of detail. But let’s just say that you have been sleeping in your crib for four nights now, for twelve hours at a time, and only waking twice in that period of time to nurse. (I still can’t believe it.) You are a sleeping fool. And you are getting better and better at putting yourself to sleep at night, and don’t ever cry during the night once you have gone down. A little pip is all I need to hear you and come running, to find you probably uncovered (you kick the blanket off), stretching and ready to eat.

You still take your morning nap in a sling because that is what you are so used to. Except that now it’s on me instead of daddy because you are not tired until later. (Naturally! You just slept for 12 hours!!) We are still working out how to get you down for the rest of your naps during the day without too much hubbub, but we are focused on the fact that you are at least getting good rest at night and in the morning.

(Pause for a sip of green tea for mommy from the miss piggy mug.)

I don’t even know where to begin to report the surplus of amazing changes, so I will just spew them out with no particular order like a handful of marbles.
*Sleep and self-soothing are the head-liners, front and center in bold lights on your four-month marquee.
*Hands. Let’s discuss hands for a moment. They are your favorite item of exploration. When we give you a toy you may enjoy it for a moment but will inevitably drop it to gaze and pull at your own hands. There is a heartbreaking level of intensity and concentration on your face as you knit and un-knit your fingers, suck them individually or shove them all in your mouth at once, rub your fingertips against the fabric of your clothes, your toys, seams and ruffles, snaps and zippers, making a case study of each. It is captivating for me to watch how much these tiny fingers enchant you.
But they don’t even have to be your hands. You also love grown-up hands and are happy to spend long chunks of time grabbing each finger and pulling it to your mouth. You are crazy for hands of all shapes and sizes—you do not discriminate.
In addition to loving to play with your hands, they are becoming so much more dexterous. You can hold on to your toys with no effort now, and fling them back and forth before letting go and watching them fly through the air. You grab on to my sleeve so tightly that I actually have to unwind your fingers for you to let go. You clutch my hair, my face, my neck, and I definitely don’t temp you with dangly jewelry! Lately, you have been grabbing for the phone as I talk and you love reaching for clear glasses full of liquid.
Funny story about this: last week we were visiting the Halperns’ and Carol was holding you in her lap. She went to take a sip of her margarita, fresh with lots of salt on the rim, and you reached for it with both hands, brought it to your little mouth and got an impressive mouthful of salt before any of us could react! You made the most precious sour face, but were fine in moments. We figured your grandma Ama would be proud.

*You are not rolling over yet, but I am seeing it begin to happen. You are very aware of what is happening above your head and look above you when you hear a noise. You also reach above you for a toy or for the dog who loves to lie next to you on the floor while you play. You also turn your body to the side to reach for things on your play mat or to reach for your reflection in the mirror. I bet by next month, you will be very close to rolling over. Very exciting.
*You seem to be more and more embodied, like you don’t have to think so hard to make your legs move a certain way or get your fingers to work. Your movements are becoming more automatic and well-rehearsed. You can move all sorts of body parts at once, consciously: while in the bath you kick and wiggle while grabbing the wash cloth with both hands. While on the floor, you can easily hold one toy with one hand, reach for another with the other hand and look up at me while doing this. You even pooped and smiled at the same time! A milestone in the art of multi-tasking!

*Something huge that I have noticed even in the last couple of weeks is your independence. You recognize family now and are content to go with Nibs, Grandpa and Auntie Alex. (You love Auntie Alex. She has quite a way with you.) This makes them all incredibly happy to feel your comfort with them. Especially Nibs. She spent the entire day with you last Monday. Jesse and I were both here, but at one point I went out and Jesse was in the shower while you were napping. You woke up and Nibs crawled into bed with you and you grinned at her when you saw her. This delighted her for the entire week.

Your smiles and laughs have so much power. Seeing you happy feels to me like lying back into a field of soft lavender. My whole body relaxes. My whole being remembers why I am here.

Your presence brings so much peace and joy to your mom and dad. We miss you at night while you are away for 12 hours in your slumberland. We savor the little coos and noises we hear on the baby monitor and in the morning we can’t help but to snuggle you and slather you with love. We have this lovely king-sized bed and anticipate you climbing back in with us in the mornings or to watch movies when you get a little older!

You have your four month check up tomorrow and I think you will get your first shot. Your dad and I have done some good research on vaccinations and are making decisions about how to vaccinate you while honoring your young immune system at the same time. We haven’t had you immunized for anything yet and aren’t against vaccines, persay. It’s just important to us to space them out so as not to bombard your system and to learn about the possible side effects. I hope the shot doesn’t hurt too bad tomorrow, little one.

As of a week ago, you weighed 13lbs, 5 oz, which means you only gained 5 oz in a month, so you are slowing down. But you are currently wearing your 6-month clothes and are out of most of your 3-month things. (I am saving most of your little outfits just in case you have another little sister some day in the future. ) You are also wearing cloth diapers during the day now, so they take up a little more room in the hiney and require a bigger size of pants. Baby got back!

Well, you have woken up and are squiggling to get out, so I will finish here, though I am sure I am leaving so many things out.
In summary, you blow our minds every single day, little girl.
We love you like crazy and you bring so much joy to the people who surround you.

Happy Birthday, little one.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Disclaimer: I wrote this blog mainly for my own purposes of documentation. It’s lengthy and pretty grueling in terms of detail. But for other parents who have gone through something similar, or for folks who don’t have children and want to be reminded of how blessed a night of unobstructed sleep really is, read on…

All parents have an opinion on sleep. As do doctors and authors and grandparents and babysitters. It’s hard to know what to do, what is best for your baby and your family. How you relate to your own relationship to sleep greatly affects your decision on what to do next, as well as how much sleep you need to feel sane. Also, how willing are you to withstand a little discomfort on the surface for the sake of the larger restful picture?

Here is a sleep history of the last few months with Baby Opal, as it were:
Before Opal was born we discovered and bought a co-sleeper, a mattress-extender that allows your child to sleep along side you without actually being in your bed. We thought all of our sleep questions were answered in that one purchase. (Ahh, the gaiety of the naïve.) We had it set up for our first night home from the hospital but when we put Opal in it, she looked so unbelievably tiny, just floating there and seeming unbearably far from us. So I took her across the hallway into her little room and rocked her for the entire night.

The next day, Jesse went to Target and bought an ingenious little contraption that went into bed with us-- a tiny mattress with foam wedges along the side to hold her in place on her back. We put it between us and for the first three months of her life, she adored this thing. All we had to do was swaddle her and place her in her little holder and she was in nighttime heaven. For those first three months, she slept, especially for a newborn. She typically went to sleep at around 10pm--after a lengthy round-robin routine of techniques to get her to sleep-- and she stayed asleep until 3, sometimes 4am. It was often me who’d have to wake her up to nurse! At this point she'd nurse heavily and take another half hour to get back to sleep. But then she’d often sleep until 6 or 6:30am!
At this point in the morning, Jesse put her in the sling and I’d take my morning nap.
With this set-up I wasn’t feeling the least bit sleep deprived. I definitely felt the exhaustion of being a new mom, but related it more to the feeling of constantly inventing the wheel then to lack of sleep. It would have been a very different experience to have felt the weight of both.

At about 2 months, Opal began to really fuss late in the evening, around 8pm or so. It was as if she were fighting back, opposing sleep. She cried hysterically, pushing and squirming as we tried to hold her and yet when I gave her a boob (the ultimate soother) she was too upset to drink. The messages behind these meltdowns is only clear to me now, but then I had no idea what was going on. Bless her heart-she was so overtired she appeared possessed. She would eventually calm down or cry herself into a ragdoll state of exhaustion, but until then Jesse and I both felt completely helpless. So, at a friend's suggestion, we tried to put her down earlier with the idea that she would sleep through this tantrum--the "witching hour" was how my friend referred to it. But in spite of our best efforts at getting her to fall asleep earlier, she continued to fight sleep until her usual, later, bedtime.

By three months, she no longer suffered from spontaneous nighttime flare-ups but other areas of her nighttime routine were changing. She fervently protested her swaddler, our favorite thing to calm her down and keep her from scratching her face. She was growing out of her little baby-bed, too. This, one month ago, is pretty much when she stopped sleeping restfully, as I remember it. She simply no longer slept soundly for long chunks of time. We were getting up sometimes every hour during the night to nurse, and even still she fussed and hollered, writhing from side to side as if trying to unzip out of her skin. It was agonizing to watch--she seemed entirely unsettled and uncomfortable.
I tried rocking her to sleep in the middle of the night, and thought we could just stay in the chair, but this worked only as long as I kept rocking and patting her butt. The moment I dozed and ceased movement was the moment she would begin to squirm. I tried nursing her in bed and cuddling her next to me, rubbing her back, gently touching her belly and shooshing her, but she seemed totally conflicted-- not wanting to be touched while not wanting to be put down.
The human predicament commenced for our little doodlebug. And as her parents, we are definitely along for the ride.

By last Saturday, it had been a long stretch of time that the little darling had been up constantly during nights as well as requiring impressive efforts during the day to get her to nap. And even still, her naps were measly. The picture of that Saturday was pretty typical. I had spent over an hour in the morning bouncing her on the yoga ball to get her to sleep, and once she did doze off I put her down and she quickly woke up. At a certain point, I had to pee and was incredibly thirsty but didn't want to leave the dark, warm room I had been bouncing her in for fear of waking her up. It was exhausting and annoying and we were both in need of a better option.

So, I began to investigate. I began with Dr. Sear’s Baby Book, a book we consult for everything from a stuffy nose to bathing to development, but didn’t find what he had to say about sleep very helpful. He recommends having your kids sleep in bed with you for as long as possible. He says this is the main way to give children positive experiences of and associations with sleep. He goes on to say that rocking our nursing your child to sleep is no big deal. He didn’t address what happens when a child isn’t sleeping well in your bed and when rocking or nursing gets them to sleep only until you set them down.

I then found an article in Parent's magazine that depicted some different popular methods for sleep training, which led me to a book called Sleeping Through the Night by Jodi Mindell.

I like what she has to say.
1. It is important to train your baby to self-soothe so that she can get to sleep effortlessly and go back to sleep without any assistance from me--thus leading for a more restful night for everyone.

2. Don't miss cues and wait until your baby is overtired before putting her down to sleep. This will make it even harder for her to fall asleep.

3. Having a routine and being consistent is more important than any specific technique. Whether you decide to let your kid cry it out, stay in the room or somewhere in between, as long as you are committed to getting rest for everybody, it will eventually work out.

In the past, every time Opal cried, she was met with immediate consolation. We were both nervous about beginning not to pounce every time she called.

We kicked off this entirely new approach one week ago. I put her down for a morning nap in our bed as usual, but instead of bouncing her for an hour or more, I simply put her down sleepy and walked away. Hearing her cry was excruciating, but it didn’t last long at all. She was so quiet within minutes that I snuck in thinking the baby monitor wasn’t working. After her nap was over, she seemed rested and refreshed, not traumatized as I’d feared. I also felt like I could see her so much more clearly. We were on to something.

Then came bedtime. She slept in our bed and we used to start bedtime at 8:30pm and bounce her until 9pm or later. Then we'd snuggle her longer while watching TV before putting her down next to me in bed. We would then watch another show without sound (for fear of waking her up) and we’d go to sleep within a half hour of putting her down.

Last week we changed the whole bedtime routine (to not include nursing or rocking), a routine that both Jesse and I can do exactly the same, and one that we’d do the same every night. Then we put her down sleepy, kissed her on the forehead and walked away. We chose a gentler version of the “cry it out” technique, checking on her every 7 minutes, shooshing and calming her for a minute or so, and then leaving again. It took a total of 45 minutes for silence that first, but once we got passed that, she was asleep for the entire night. Miraculous.

During that night, and the next few while she was in bed with us, I also tried to let her soothe herself to sleep when she’d wake in the middle of the night. This seemed more confusing than effective for both of us, and I soon relaxed back to trying to comfort her at night. But even with the early bedtimes, she seemed to get more agitated when I reached over with a gentler touch or shooshed her ear during the night.

Then on our fourth night having successfully put her down for a bedtime (in our bed), Jesse and I didn’t come to bed for another 4 hours. During those four hours she did not make a peep. Then when we joined her, and for the hours that followed, she was agitated and unable to rest. I realized in that moment that she needed more space then she was getting. Maybe it was time to move Opal out of our bed and into her crib. It broke my heart to think of sleeping without her next to me, but I couldn't argue with her request.

Opal has been out of our bed and in her crib for three consecutive nights now and she has slept around 12 hours each night, with only one or two times waking to nurse. Each time she nurses, she falls back to sleep easily and peacefully. (What a relief that is!) And she wakes in the morning with shining eyes and a grin. Who can argue the proof in that pudding? A tremendous payoff for a few nights of slight discomfort. She fell asleep in 7 minutes last night; she’s getting good at this. Her mom and dad are amazed. And rested.

Naps we are still working on.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


A few days ago I had a memory:

Long before I entered this realm of motherhood, I went to visit family in Cleveland. My aunt's house was full of young kids playing hide-n-seek while the youngest of the troop, Joey who was probably about one at the time, was too young to join them and watched from the sidelines.
In an effort to make him feel included, I walked up and said something in a too-friendly, too-excited tone. He promptly replied by crying. Loudly.
Embarrassed, I high-tailed it to the other side of the room where the more predictable older kids were, mumbling something about how I must have come on too strong.
Joey's mom witnessed the moment from the same room and said nothing. She may have glanced over to make sure Joey was ok but just as quickly went back to what she was doing with no further acknowledgement.

I didn't think of it again until a few days ago, from the vantage point of being a new mother. And I am pleased to report the wisdom--and relaxation-- that was gleaned from its consideration.

When Opal cries, my tendency is to automatically say something like "she's tired" or "she's hungry" seeing as both of those statements are true most of the time. What I have noticed is that adults tend to take it personally when a baby cries, as if they did something wrong. Sometimes that is the case, but most likely it is just a baby being a baby. Honest, expressive, present in whatever she is feeling.

Recalling this scene where I was on the other side of the equation, and remembering how quickly the whole thing passed, is a reassuring thing. Rachel didn't feel the need to explain to me why Joey may have gotten upset. She assumed I, as the adult, understood that this is just how it goes. It wasn't even a blip on the radar.

What shows up on our radar is certainly lessening as time goes on and concerns that Opal will feel fussy are being replaced with the acceptance (and appreciation) of her spontaneity.
But reminders are still appreciated.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Franny, the smile and the songbird

We went to a brunch last Sunday celebrating the Tibetan New Year and there we encountered a woman named Franny. Franny wore two gray braids tied with hair so thick she needed no rubber bands on the ends. Her skin was creased as unevenly as a pile of silk and she wore clothing that draped over her shoulders and hips, clinging to nothing. She pulled a plastic flask out of her pocket and poured a clear libation into a small juice glass before acknowledging Opal, who was balanced on Jesse's left hip, sleepy-eyed but approachable.

"Well hello!" She said loudly and too close to Opal's face.

I will never understand why adults feel the need to get so close to a baby when they talk, at a volume that is twice the level they would use for a peer, often grabbing the baby's tiny fingers with their dirty hands--tiny fingers that will end up in her tiny mouth within seconds. Don't get me wrong, I am sure I was guilty of this before I became a mother. But that doesn't stop me from cringing and often physically stepping back when it happens, hoping the non-verbal communication will be heeded.

I made a pact with myself on the car-ride over to this brunch to try and chill out a bit while anticipating the people who would loud-talk, touch and kiss my baby without being mindful of space or germs. I tried to imagine this slathering of attention as being a good thing, a Loving thing. (Germs or not. Space-invasion or not.) People simply cannot help themselves--it truly comes from a place of delight. I try to remember that. And short of staying home for the next three or four years or limiting our interactions strictly to 4 people or less, there is not much I can do about it aside from keeping her as close to Jesse and I as possible.

So by the time Franny had arrived front and center, gleeful and curious, perhaps a bit flushed from the liquid in her flask, I felt relaxed and comfortable with our daughter in my husband's arms.
Franny approached Opal with a gaze that was gently analytical. She stood there looking for a few seconds and softly touched Opal's hand.

Opal smiled.

"Ahh, she smiles." Franny said. Taking on the tone of an oracle in disguise. "Once she begins to smile at the world around her, she has begun to forget where she came from."
Jesse and I were both a bit taken aback--we paused to consider the sneaky profundity, and accompanying heartbreak, of this statement as Opal held on to Franny's pointer-finger with both hands like a songbird grasping at a solid branch for perching.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bird on a Wire Between Seven Generations

The scene: We are gathered at Grandma Louise’s house in Denver for lunch. It is Jesse, Zeb, my mother who is visiting from Ohio for the weekend, Louise and baby Opal who is sacked out on the couch having a spontaneous nap.
We are sitting in Louise’s living room, which is a room that not only pampers its inhabitants with comfortable, conversation-inducing seating, but also provides housing for her agglomeration of beautiful things. Trinkets gathered from voyages she took with her late husband Raymond: framed paintings, ink-prints, etchings and drawings, as well as mind-stopping gem and mineral chunks the size of lamp-shades that Raymond accumulated from his work in the mines. Everything has its spot, its proper place, meticulously dusted above and below. This room (and much of the rest of the house) provides asylum to these wonderful calcified bits of memory and it feels as though we humans are merely guests. And that feels rather nice.

We are all in a curious mode on this particular day, asking for the story behind this and the reason behind that, begging for an epithet to accompany each thing.
The shiny monkey, for example, who had stared at us during dozens and dozens of visits (she has had him for as long as she can remember and he always sits next to a ceramic deer who appears to be looking out for him), or the chair that is embroidered with such mastery that we all avoid sitting on it, even when there is nothing left but the floor (her mother spent countless hours making it).

Tell us about them, please. We're hungry for the recollections. Louise generously unveils one story after the next while we sit wide-eyed and word-less, hanging on her every word.

After unwrapping a half dozen or so slow and deliberate explanations, she pauses and gazes forward without settling on one specific object and says, “You know, I sit here in the middle of seven generations." Great opening. She has our attention in the center of her warn little palm and you could've heard a bird sigh outside. "I remember my great grandmother very well and the proper dresses she would wear that seem so formal to me now in hindsight. I remember my grandma, she played a huge part in my life and was often around when I was a girl. And of course, my mother--she would've been your great-grandmother, Jesse."

She takes a long breath, as if taking a drag from a cigarette that isn't there.
And continues, "Now my son has his own son--you, Jesse-- who has just had a beautiful little daughter— the precious one who is asleep in the other room.”
She gives us a thick pause to count along with her on our fingers.
“And here I am, sitting right in the middle.”
She smiles softly as we all sit there together, absorbing this notion, like shiny stones at the bottom of a pond.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Olive knows. She's no dummy. This is the highlight of her day and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't also the highlight of mine. As I strap Opal onto my belly in her beloved lightblue sling, Olive begins to pace. As I put on my tennis shoes, Olive adds whimpers to the pacing. But all question is cast aside when I slide into the over sized grey zip-up sweatshirt (big enough to zip up over Opal while she is on my chest) and it's at this point Olive explodes into a convulsing mess of canine bliss. I strap on her collar and kelly green leash and off we go for our daily walk.

We walk almost every day, Opal, Olive and I, except for the days that are a vicious example of winter showing off, with temperature in the single digits or when it's actively snowing. And it is on those uncommon days that we all feel more than slightly strange and unlaced.

The muscles in my legs begin to peculate even before we reach the end of the driveway and my biggest decision for the moment is whether to go left or right. Different from my approach to many other decisions that arise during the day, I make the choice without breaking my stride. We move forward like a tiny school of fish, one unit. We go left.

The details of our surroundings rise to the surface of what could otherwise easily be a broad, indeterminate landscape; details that greet us like familiar faces in a crowd. The graffiti on the stone wall. The sycamore that litters branches onto the sidewalk below it, as colorless as newspaper. The funky house on the corner painted primary colors and home to the overly friendly dog who is never fenced in.
Then here is the place where the path wanders away from the neighborhood houses for a moment to lead us through a field, like a moment of space between songs on the radio. There are a dozen or so old fence posts and a grown-over well that alludes to what life was like in this very spot before the subdivisions sliced it in half with a sidewalk like a hair part and filled its edges with houses. We think it may have been a farm. We wonder of there is anything buried there.

So much seems to live in this used-to-be farmland and in the air above it and presumably the ground below. The cottonwoods, bare and spindly without their leaves, have branches that reach with warped joints into the sky. A single bird is inevitably perched at the tip of the highest branch, paused, observing, and every so often a swarm of black birds erupts from the viscera of one of the trees like ink spilled upward. Quite a sight.

Olive trots along at my side, I see her ears flopping in the form of the shadow that precedes us. We walk at virtually the same time every day and, at this part of our walk, we almost always have a shadow that precedes us like a tour guide. If Opal was not already asleep when we left the house, she most certainly is at this point. We have never, not once, gotten more than 10 minutes into a walk without her little pumpkin head falling heavily against my chest as her breathing sinks to a deep, slow hum.

I meditate on the sound of my steps against the pavement and how they mix with what is in my ears. If the headphones are in, I either align my walking rhythm to Gnarls Barkley, Jurassic Five, Regina Spector or go into a kind of cadenced auto-pilot in the background of This American Life or Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Without headphones, my steps tap out a long and homogeneous sentence in Morse code.

When we reach the lake, we take a lap or two around it and return home the way we came, unwinding what we so sufficiently wound up, with the sun on the opposite side. The path around the lake is a mine-field of moss-colored goose poop, the offerings of dozens of geese who inhabit it, though it is half frozen. It is a constant source of curiosity why these winged characters did not fly south with their sisters and brothers. They seem pretty uncomfortable as they walk with staccato steps across the ice, resembling sleepy humans crossing a cold linoleum floor with bare feet, and they often reside with their own heads in their armpits to keep warm like a kittens on the sofa.

This is the walk I took when I was pregnant, occasionally at first, but eventually exclusively as my main form of exercise as I grew impressively girthy in the later months. This walk is laden with en-route benches, fences to lean on and even a covered picnic table positioned for perfect lake-viewing, perfect for someone who requires frequent breaks. I spent longer periods of time pausing and dwelling in the shade on those warm autumnal afternoons then I spent actually actively moving. I no longer need to take advantage of those resting spots, but I can't pass by them without thinking of those days, only one season prior to now, when the leaves were still on the trees. Now the trees are naked and the sweet baby gets her ride on the outside.

This is my meditation, my daily experience of traveling through poetry, a time when I feel virtually and deliciously off-duty. By the time we return to the house, we are all sun-soaked and aligned with the same rhythm that pushed those sacred cottonwoods vertically into the clouds and provided the gaggles of geese with squeaky-toy voices as they stretch their cold wings and rupture into flight.

Opal in the sling on my belly

Walking with Olive on the leash and Opal in the sling (when she was just a teeny little thing).

Monday, February 1, 2010


Snapshot 1:
Mid-day in the kitchen and Opal is in the baby-blue sling. She is facing my chest and there is a burgeoning shoot of hair placed right under my chin like a feather under the nose. She has woken from the twenty-minute nap that required an hour and a half of focused effort to induce. I am unloading the dishwasher with my left hand while supporting her little noggin with my right, assuming positions that are an obvious compromise to my body mechanics. I am singing a sort of rhythmic, chant-version of "Low Rider" by the band War, emphasizing the beats that accompany the squatting and the reaching with a slight grunt. It does the trick until I place the very last glass into the cupboard and then she is ready for a new song from the mama-juke box .

Snapshot 2:
Pushing the stroller on a warm, crystalline day and the sun seems to drip from the branches and grass, pooling onto the sidewalk like a mirage. The snow and ice have all but melted so the path is smooth but for the grooves in the pavement that tap under the wheels like the beat of a metronome. The dog is tied to the handle with a kelly green leash. A blanket is arranged and re-arranged meticulously over the carriage that Opal sits in, facing me, to block the sun as we shift and turn while at the same time allowing her to see my face with the sky as the backdrop. She cries for the vast majority of the walk, in varying degrees. She currently spends most of the time in her carriage either protesting and wanting to be out or sleeping. There is no real medium in this case.
I begin to sing the lyrics "Ooh lordy, got troubles so hard. ooh lordy got troubles so hard. Don't nobody know my troubles but god. Don't nobody know my troubles but got" because she took a special liking to this track while we danced to a Moby cd a few days earlier after her bath. I am singing at full volume and getting amused looks from the passersby.
She continues to cry, but it feels much better to participate in the moment with her instead of avoiding it or ignoring her, to be using my voice in my way as she uses hers in her way, harmonizing and aligning the parts as the sidewalk taps out beneath us.

Snapshot 3:
I am about to change Opal's diaper. She glances at herself in the mirror next to the changing table and gazes at the string of faux-butterflies that drape above her. I am perky, chatting with her as I reach for the proper supplies, admittedly a bit on auto-pilot as I go to unsnap her Ducky-jammies. She then grabs my hand with the obvious motivation to get my attention, as if tapping me on the shoulder, and it works. She grips my fingers and looks me straight in the eyes, as if to say, "Hey, I just want you to know that I know you're my mommy. And I love you." and she holds onto my eyes for plenty long enough for this message of recognition to be conveyed and to sink in. Deeply. My mind went completely blank as we stood there staring at one another in awe, until she gently turned away and I reached for a diaper, smiling and regaining my breath.