Monday, January 24, 2011

Singing the Song of Ila

I planned to write something different, something NOT about sleep...then, Ila decided to wake up at 9:30 PM and stay awake until 1 AM. So, here I am, talking about sleep again. It gets...what? Old, I guess. I feel that I'm becoming quite dull - I just talk about her sleep - how little there is, how broken up it is, how I feel about it, how I feel without sleep... There's so much else going on, so many other things to say, right? Maybe not.

This focus on sleep is not unique. I have decided that when people say that having a baby is difficult, it is mostly because, with an infant around, they are missing one of these:
1. sleep
2. free time
3. the illusion of control
The thing is, I will finally "adjust" to whatever broken up semblance of a good night's sleep I'm getting...then, Ila will do something new and exhausting, like this. I think that is probably what life with an infant is like - always changing. Therefore, having an infant is like having infinite opportunities for Personal Growth. Which is about as fun as it sounds.

This weekend, I was thinking about the fact that I'm very aware of how quickly Ila is changing - how much more big and grown up she is now that she babbles, sits up, holds her head up, grabs I've kind of forgotten what she was like as a tiny baby. This makes me a little sad; not that I want to go back...or that I think having a baby is the best part of having children. I hope to enjoy most of my time with her (I'll see how those teens years go) - ideally, I will love all the periods, at least in some way. No, it's not that I want her to stay a baby forever; it's just that watching her move through her baby life so fast, makes me realize that all of the times - all of life, really - goes so fast.

Okay, here we are again, at another of my favorite topics: the Indianapolis 500: Race to Death. Death, endings, death, endings. I'm sorry if you're sick of hearing about it...all I can say is, I'm sick of it too. Apparently, astrologically, I've got a lot going on with Death. I guess it's a very charged topic for my life. So, it's a fertile soil for me to...blah blah blah. I can't even pretend to finish that sentence. Fertile my foot.

Back to life, for the time being.

Other than throwing the occasional sleep curve ball, Ila's generally pretty happy and calm. She is not particularly interested in getting places too fast. A couple babies her age, from her birth group, are already crawling. Not Ila. She's also not really rolling much. She's pretty content to move at her own, unique pace - which is, for the time being, a slow one.

She is, however, busy with other things. She's really waking up to the world of smiling social interactions. She's started getting very excited when she knows she's going for a walk or getting a bath. In fact, even when Kiyomi just takes off her diaper and clothes to carry her naked to the bathroom, she gets all smiley and happy. Then, she tries to dive into the water as soon as she sees it. It's pretty adorable, especially with all her crazy, different-stages-of-growth little teeth. She looks a little hill-billyish when she really grins.

She's been a very pensive and intensely observant little being so far in her life - a little stingy with the smiles and laughs, to be honest. However, she's really coming out of her shell. She used to always do this thing where, if you weren't looking at her, she'd stare and stare at you. Then, when you looked at her, she'd look away. She's looking away a little less and even smiling. I'm so fascinated by this; it seems so different than either Kiyomi or me. I wonder if she will be shy or reserved...or just a little quiet? Or, totally the opposite. Who knows what any of this means?

Speaking of predicting her future, my lovely yoga teacher did an astrological reading for Ila today. Among other things, she has a lot of female energy, focus on women, etc. in her chart. And, kind of a lack of manly energy. That's amusing. Maybe, at some point we should have a male friend be her "big brother." I'm not sure what we would ask of him - to take her fishing? Is fishing something men do more than women? Will it offer the manly energy she needs? Could we just have a mannish woman show her how to fish?

I guess Ila's also supposed to be a career powerhouse. That's also fascinating. I haven't really thought a lot about this in relation to Ila. I guess I have thought that I hope she finds something she loves to do...but, very generally. It is kind of exciting - in a really sort of icky, egocentric way - to imagine her being powerful and successful in her chosen profession. Hmmm, I should probably not get too caught up in that. If I do something ridiculous, like become a crazy stage mom taking my kid to all kinds of gross talent searches or commercial auditions, please kick me in the shin. Really hard. Then maybe slap me, just for good measure.

I suppose on the most basic level, I hope that Ila is happy. I mean, lately - after reading several books on happiness - I am not sure that's necessarily the point of life. What is the point of life? I'm not sure. I guess, "be happy" has been a fairly standard answer of mine. But, when I think about it, I guess I really want to be fulfilled more than simply happy. Those two things overlap...but not always, not at 2 AM when Ila wants to nurse for the fifth time. Then, I think, I am working toward being fulfilled - that is, I am doing the work of having a child, which is something that make me feel connected, competent, engaged, human in a really embodied, powerful way - but I'm not necessarily happy about it at that moment.

In keeping with this, I've been reminding myself, at frustrating moments, that to be present with her is the best gift I can give her right now. Even if it is taking inordinately long for her to fall asleep and she keeps waking up or she wants to be held all day long regardless of all the things I think I need to get done, just moving through those hours calmly and without resistance is an amazingly powerful and simple - though sometimes challenging - way to nurture my little one.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ila & the Rotten Eggs

So, Ila's Christmas present to us was the worst night of sleep ever. Seriously, compared with the beginning of her life, this was quite extraordinary. Those first few nights of her life were hard, and I felt like a trauma survivor only sort of surviving, but Ila herself wasn't really fussy. On Christmas Eve however, she woke every 45 minutes or so and screamed when she woke up. Teething? Too much excitement? I'm not sure, but it was hideous. It's a good thing she didn't do this earlier - back in June or July, when we were really strung out on new infant insanity - because somebody might have lost it.

Since then, it hasn't been so bad, just her usual waking a few times or being awake a while. However, I just snuggle her and try to go back to sleep. This is so much better than having to get up and walk her around just to keep her from shrieking. I have no idea what I would have done if Ila had been more of a screamer or had had colic. You sort of partially lose your mind in those situations, I think. I imagine you feel like you're doing something wrong, you drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what it could be, but it's really totally out of your control. Ugh, next to "be patient," "admit you don't have control and accept it" is my least favorite life lesson.

After Ila's night of hollering, I think she was a courting a little no-sleep hysteria. She had a crazy laughing fit in the morning when Kiyomi threw an eggshell back down into the egg crate. So, Kiyomi scolded the eggs and violently abused them for ten solid minutes to Ila's utter delight. What a bizarre sense of humor she has.

For the New Year, I would like to try and enjoy the present. I realized last night after watching the very dark new Harry Potter movie (much better than the last!), that I am always thinking about endings. I'm not sure if I'm a "glass half empty" or "glass half full" person; I only know for certain that I'm a person who is obsessing about when my glass will be empty even if it is totally full and what I'm going to do about it and how I'm going to get it filled back up and whether I can even be happy without a full glass.

I realized this about myself right after college. I found that when I was on vacation, I had this panicky feeling about how quickly my lovely trip would go and how sad I would be when it did end. Sort of gets in the way of just enjoying reality, no? Now I'm doing the same thing with Ila. I move through my days with this vaguely panicky feeling that she's going to grow so fast, that I will be old and sad and without my sweet baby, who will be off on her own, walking around on two grown legs, thinking and eating and learning and living her life, in about two heartbeats or something insane like that. Who needs that pressure? So, I say, I'll try to enjoy the present without obsessing about it ending and changing.

To that end, yesterday morning, I was lying in bed waking up with her from our morning nap (I had to join her for this one - holiday exhaustion) just enjoying being close to her. She moves her hands around in front of her when she's lying on her back waking up. She was doing these tiny and totally asymmetrical hand clasps, where her fingers are all interlaced, but unevenly and awkwardly, with extra fingers mashed together, etc. Then she lifted her little hands and spent a minute or two just crossing the first two fingers of her left hand, you know, in the "good luck" or the "I get to lie 'cause I'm crossing my fingers" kind of way. She kept doing it over and over like she was practicing her little finger coordination. It is fascinating and so sweet to watch her little hands and to witness all her new little discoveries.