The way we roll
Today Alida’s world just got a little bigger. She rolled from her back to her stomach – three times.
She’s been squirming a lot lately, but mostly spinning herself in circles in her bed. Last night, she really started working on the roll. I put her in bed on her stomach because lately she tends to fall asleep easier that way. After she was sound asleep, I went back in and turn her on her back. (I hate doing this because, like I said, she sleeps more soundly on her stomach, but currently we’re told babies have to sleep on their stomachs until they can roll over.) A few minutes later I heard her making noise and went to see what was going on. Still asleep, she had turned on her right side by arching her back and was trying to get the rest of her body rolled over. She was working really hard, grunting and flexing her body. Knees to chest. Shoulder to stomach. She started acting frustrated and upset. I wanted to help her – to give her shoulder a little nudge, but that’s cheating. She has to be able to do it on her own.
Eventually she gave up for the night. This morning we had a talk and I asked if she could wait until Jonathan got home before she did any tricks. She agreed that it was a great idea.
Or so I thought.
Tonight I put her on her back beneath some toys and walked away for a minute. When I came back she was on her stomach with her right arm trapped beneath her body. I watched as she raised her torso just enough and freed it. I didn’t want to be mean and flip her right back over, but I was anxious to see if that’s what really had happened. After a polite pause, I turned her back over, and sure enough, she did it again. And again.
This week, she is three months old. During this time, there have been two particular changes that really stand out in my mind:
When she was born her hands were always clenched in little fists. Even when she was sound asleep, her fists were tight. I read that they were this way because she didn’t even know they were part of her body. How strange! Around the third week, I remember nursing her and feeling a little fluttery tickle on my side. Her fingers were opening. Like ten little creatures – each with a mind of their own – tentatively wandering around a foreign landscape. I don’t even think they were investigating. Just stretching their little legs.
Her hand movements have become much more intentional now. The right one found the left one about two weeks ago. They didn’t seem to know what to do with each other at first, so they just grabbed on. I don’t think either hand knew if it was their job to let go. Now she is actually making contact with toys hanging over her head.
I think this development stands out so much to me because it makes me see that we have literally had to learn everything. Our hands, arguably one of the most important parts of our bodies, were once foreign objects. Things that followed us around and got in the way.
The other development that has been so significant to me is her smile. I think new parents get through much of the beginning on adrenaline. She was never a difficult baby, and since everything was still so new, it didn’t seem tedious or tiresome. When I would wake up in the morning, I’d look over at her, happy to see her beautiful face. She would open her eyes – and look right past me.
Um, hello? I’ve spent the last few weeks keeping you alive. I nurse you. I burp you. I change you. I bathe you. I hold you. I rock you. Can you at least acknowledge my existence? (Now I sound like every mother that has ever walked the planet.)
So you can probably understand why I was so pleased when she started to smile. And as cute as her “my brain just told my face muscles to form a smile” smiles were, nothing is as rewarding as when she opens her eyes in the morning, looks directly at me and smiles.