Life in the Baby Zone
A Morning in the Life
Like her maternal grandfather and unlike either of her parents, Annamaria is a morning person. As the first rays of sunrise color the burnt umber-orange suburban night, Annamaria arises with a faint burbling fuss. It's a pitiful mew that begins in the pit of her stomach and moves up, a sharp existential whine protesting the cosmic injustices of waking up hungry and cranky with a piss-soaked diaper affixed to your butt.
Sometimes we're lucky and she falls muttering back to sleep for a few precious moments. This isn't one of those mornings. As I attend to her diaper I see she's hungry. More precisely, I hear it. Her whimpers accelerate from fighting cat yowls into something you might hear as the Nazgul king came dropping out of the sky for you. Trying to hold a wriggling Annamaria with one hand while clasping her diaper, I finally manage to get the job done and get her back in her crib. She screams at my back as I run for the bathroom.
Ten minutes later she is in my lap and sucking contentedly on a bottle. Her eyelids are already getting heavy and she's barely a third of the way through. Perhaps she will nod off for a while again: perhaps I will snatch a few sweet moments of shuteye from Morpheus. As she finishes the bottle and releases a healthy belch, I prepare to put her in her favorite chair to sleepily digest 240ml of Gerber GoodStart.
No such luck. She's up and verbalizing. Annamaria has mastered a few of the sounds but has not yet grasped the patterns by which we put those sounds together to signify meaning. That hasn't stopped her from exploring her vocal capabilities to the fullest, punctuating her word salad with squeals and cries that would do Diamanda Galas proud. It's now 7am and she's likely to keep this going for another hour at least, maybe longer. Her sheer joy as she experiences all the various capabilities of language and communication for the first time is admittedly infectious. That being said, a little silence would be nice too.
8am does not bring silence, although it looks as though it brought another wet diaper. I get her up on our bed and get prepared for the change when I discover too late the wet diaper contained a special prize. This was what we in the industry call a stealth poop: not smelly enough to trigger olfactory alarms but of the worst possible consistency, the kind that an ambitious baby can kick around like finger paints. By the time I have my hands on Dr. Boudreaux's Butt Paste, our fitted sheet and quilt have been decorated with great green streaks of poo. (There's an obvious pun in here, but I didn't go there and you shouldn't either...).
Two more items go into our eternally large laundry pile, the doctor's zinc oxide anti-rash concoction is applied liberally and we are back in our crib. As she coos herself softly to a 9am nap, I start work on this entry. It's a 30-90 minute window of opportunity: enough time to dash off a combat report from the field as she drifts into sleep. Outside the sky is clear and bright now. A garbage truck rumbles in the parking lot over the hill: the air conditioner clicks on as a robin eyes me quizzically from a bush, then flies off with a mouthful of food for her young.
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