Monthly Archives: June 2010
At ten-and-a-half months old Miss Tori amazes me every day.
She’s all over the place. Since she learned to crawl about a month ago she’s been unstoppable. The baby gates hold her in place, but just barely. She powers through any form of baracade that her daddy and I try to make. Stack of pillows? Ha! She’s through it. Using her Jeep as a baracade? Ha! She crawls under it. Even the two-parent-human-style-baracade fails sometimes. Since this little one got mobile, she’s realizes she has places to go.
She also knows she has plenty to say. Her range of vocalizations and noises is all over the place. This little girl makes me smile more than I ever have simply by discovering a new sound or jarble of words she can make. When she gets wound up she doesn’t stop jabbering! What’s adorable is that we think she might be saying “Mamamamamamamama” at this point, but I think I’m more impressed that yesterday she started rhyming words with “duck”. I’m not sure if she fully intended to say duck, either – it’s hard for me to tell at this stage if she’s just making noises or if she’s starting to try and say something. If she is, “Dada” won’t be far behind.
Her little laugh is incredibly sweet. Her daddy and I love to make her laugh and giggle. Lately she’s been squealing a little higher and quite a bit louder – and we love it. She loves being chased while she’s crawling around – she’ll turn around, see us behind her, giggle and squeak, and then take off again.
She’s started nuzzling us. From our lap or from her arms, she’ll just bow her head toward ours or toward our chests and lean it against us. Each time she does Josh and I melt. I think it’s as close as she can get to hugging us right now. Like Josh said, it’s awesome that she’s got some way to show us affection at this point.
She tries new foods like a champ and we haven’t seen her turn down anything to eat yet! I love it when Tori shares my sandwich with me while I’m home on lunch. It’s fantastic to be able to get that time with her in the middle of the day. Tori is always finding new ways of being too cute for her own good, and spending my lunch with her allows me to recharge my batteries in the middle of my lunch day.
This afternoon when I came home she was napping. By the time I’d made my sandwich she had woken up. I took her from Josh and brought her to my lap. She looked up at me, smiled sweetly, and then laid her head on my chest. Adorable! We gave her a teething biscuit and she started a game she’s picked up in the last week or so. She’ll take a bite, then give it to Daddy. He’ll thank her for it, give it back to her, and then she’ll hold it to my mouth to take a bite – so I pretend to munch on it until she takes it back and takes a bite. She continues to share her biscuit with us until she’s bored with it.
I could already tell as a baby she is going to be a sweet girl – now as the days continue she’s just proving that more and more. I couldn’t be more proud of this sweet, smart, and beautiful wonder!
Every part of breastfeeding has endeared me to my daughter. (Yes, even the torture of sore, cracked, bleeding nipples at the beginning brought me closer to her and enforced my desire to breastfeed.) My favorite nursing memory, however, comes at the end of a very trying 3.5 month-long nursing strike.
I was almost at the end of my rope. Every time I held my sweet six-month-old daughter at my breast, she screamed like I was trying to hold her up-side down by her toenails. It seemed the very thought of getting near the breast upset her. I didn’t know what to do. I was exhausted from working a 40-hour week and keeping up a killer pumping schedule.
One night with a heavy heart and heavy eyelids I brought my beautiful daughter upstairs to call it a night. I put her on the bed and undressed (always sleeping topless so that she had an all-access pass to the breast). When I finished I picked her up and hugged her. I told her “I don’t understand why you don’t want Mama anymore, Puddin'” (it’s near impossible to not take a nursing strike personally), “but I’m right here if you want to cuddle and nurse.” As we laid down together on the bed, something great happened. Before I could even position myself on the mattress, my little girl reached out to my breast with both hands. I laid down beside her and she smiled, took it hungrily, and nursed herself softly to sleep. I thought my heart would burst!
At this point my little girl will only nurse through the night and I’m still pumping like crazy during the day to meet her needs, but that one evening was enough to lift my spirits and let me know that my little girl loves me – she just loves her independence as well.
On May 9th, Mother’s Day, I got the call I’d been dreading. Aunt Judie had let go of her pain, her illness, her cancer – and finally was able to rest. I hated that I wasn’t able to see her one last time before she took her journey, but that’s not the way I wanted to remember her.
Last Labor Day, when Tori was a mere six weeks old, we took the long journey together to Mobile, Alabama. When I was pregnant with Tori I’d learned that Aunt Judie had cancer – that’s when I learned she had anywhere from two months to six dependent on what treatment options she chose. I wanted to go visit her as soon as possible before the cancer took her and made her unable to meet her great-niece. Mama, Tori, and I all piled in the car one afternoon and went to go visit her. Just as soon as she saw my little one, Aunt Judie took her from my arms and held her for the longest time. She surprised Mama and I at how long she held my little baby, just sitting there playing with her little fingers and toes. She told me Tori was absolutely precious. We got to visit for a little while, but not too long – chemo was taking its toll and Aunt Judie was tired. As we left I gave Aunt Judie a long, tight hug. I knew that was the last time I would be able to see her. I knew with a brand new baby and mounting bills that I wouldn’t be able to make that journey again any time soon. I knew that I was saying goodbye and that my sweet girl would never have the chance to remember meeting her Great Aunt Judie.
I had forgotten to bring the camera with us so that we could take a picture of them together. I could kick myself for that now. I would have loved to have shown that to Tori when she got a little older, so that she could know she was held by one of the greatest women I know.
For months my mother faithfully took care of her and everything she needed. Mama accompanied her sister to just about every chemo appointment, white blood-cell count, and doctor’s appointment while Uncle Eddie worked to keep the medical insurance Aunt Judie needed so badly. Mama cleaned her house, cooked her meals, and talked with her on the phone every day. Mama became closer with her sister in those last several months than I believe they’d ever been – and Mama knew as time grew closer that she wouldn’t quite know how to say goodbye.
When I got the call on Mother’s Day, I knew I had to make that long journey again even though I hate funerals.
I hate the way death takes everything you knew about a person away. I hate the shell of a body it leaves. Makeup only emphasizes that the person isn’t there in that shell anymore. I hate the smell of funeral homes – carnations mixed with embalming fluid and burnt coffee. But it’s not about that . . . a funeral is about supporting your family during their loss, even if the only thing you can offer is your presence and a hand to hold.
Aunt Judie didn’t look like Aunt Judie, even though everyone swore how lifelike she looked.
The saving grace? Aunt Judie was herself, right down to the funeral arrangements. She said she wanted a short visitation because, as she said in her own words, “I don’t want a bunch of motherfuckers gawking at me!” Family visitation was for one-half hour, then friends could come for an hour. A few short words were said at the funeral home, then we joined the procession to the grave site. A few short words were spoken graveside by a friendly priest. I stood behind my Mama as she said her goodbyes to the sister she’d gladly cared for in her last months of life.
Now a few weeks have passed . . . the tears have dried. Yahoo has stopped showing her last status update on my news feed. Predictably, our family has turned into an episode of Jerry Springer. Our trip down to Mobile is a memory. Now Aunt Judie is a memory, too . . . a damn fine one.
Rest in peace, Judith Graham. You are loved. You will be missed.