Today was Essie's six-month birthday, or half-birthday as I like to call it. We didn't do anything to celebrate, of course, since she could care less and we had other things to do. Well, I did, anyhow, having an appointment to keep this afternoon. Andrew goes back to work at the end of the month so it's nice to take advantage of being able to go out by myself!
Anyhow: Essie is six months old and we're completely amazed. Yesterday was also her four-month homecoming anniversary, so we had two notable days in a row to feel great about. It's incredibly strange to remember what it was like to hold her as a brand-new preemie. It's even a bit weird to think what it was like to bring her home! I have pictures to look at of that time, but I have to admit that I find it very difficult to go back and look at the Facebook albums I made when she was in the hospital. This is odd to me, since at the time those pictures were precious and I couldn't stop myself from poring over them whenever I was at home where she wasn't. I loved to gaze at them, inspect her every tiny feature, obsess about how much weight she'd put on and whether it was noticeable yet.
Now, though, I get extremely emotional and upset when I look at them. Back then I was trying to be so strong and for the most part succeeding. I didn't have a lot of choice, really, and so I just did it. It was hard and it felt hard, but Essie herself was more important to me. Now that she's home, she's healthy, she's happy and chubby and thriving ... well, maybe now I'm feeling the backlash of how truly difficult the whole experience was. I've got some distance from it and gained some perspective that tells me just how traumatizing it is to nearly lose your baby, nearly die yourself and then have to deal with your baby being very sick and requiring intervention just to survive each day for two months. It ... kind of sucks.
It makes me overwhelmingly grateful for the baby she is now. She's so alive and every day Andrew and I look at her and marvel at her. She reminds us to stop what we're doing and just enjoy life since that's what she does all day long. Her smile makes us smile back every single time. It's impossible not to smile back at her, so smiles have increased exponentially around here. Watching her discover something new or figure out a new trick is like watching a magic show. Every day she's a little brighter, a little stronger, a little bit more aware and alert.
I didn't expect a baby that looks like me, but the older she gets the more people say she does. I don't mind, certainly, and I see so much of my family in her. Her hair is still indeterminate except for the two stubbornly white-blonde spots on the right side near the front. Her eyebrows seem reddish-blonde, but might be darkening up a bit. Her eyes are definitely not blue, but haven't settled on a positive true brown like mine and might end up being hazel; that particular brown-green that a few of my family members share. Her legs don't look especially long to me, but it's hard to find sleepers with long enough legs for her in her age range and so she might end up tall, something that would surprise me but not shock me totally since there are some taller women in my extended family, and there certainly are on Andrew's side of the family.
It's just exciting to watch her grow. She's only three months adjusted and keeping up well with the milestones for that age, but the changes just pop up every few days and I haven't gotten used to one when suddenly she's on to the next thing, soaking up experience as quick as she can. She saw her feet a while ago and watched them suspiciously, not sure how to get them within tasting reach, but grabbed them for the first time the other day at my mom's place while she was playing with an overhead toy, kicking at Big Bird and Cookie Monster. She still doesn't really understand them and hasn't grabbed them since, but to see her grip her pudgy toes with her fingers was amazing to me.
She's a baby, normal and lovely as can be, and I'm so very, very lucky to have her in my life.