I did not finish this letter last night as Uncle Cliff called. We chatted for a while, and then you woke up. After I left your room again, once you were back to sleep, it was time for me to go to sleep as well.
You are very observant, as you have always been. Every mother tends to think her baby is unique in all things, so I have to catch myself before assuming that no other babies are as observant as you. The reality is, most babies are likely as observant. After all, it’s how babies learn. And since 99% of babies (I’m making up that “statistic”) learn to talk and walk, it seems their powers of observation were on point. You are no different, there. A baby eager to absorb her surroundings.
You love looking at babies! The first time I showed you a picture [of a baby], you giggled! It was so adorable and unexpected (you were only 2 or 3 months old and had not done much of any giggling yet). You have shown great interest in other live babies (you’re not exposed to many, particularly now that the world is under quarantine, either self- or government-directed), and seem to get a great kick out of watching videos of yourself. I love it!
You don’t like to be left alone, particularly by me. If you wake up by yourself in the morning, you are game to play on your own, happily, for a while. However, if you are playing happily while I’m in the room, and then I walk out, you immediately begin to cry. This generally happens whether somebody else (usually Papa) is in the room or not.
You have an attachment to me that is quite understandable. I am, after all, your source of both food and comfort. I am the one that feeds you from my breast or my hand (baby food, from my plate, etc.). Papa feeds you, too, baby food or from his plate, but I definitely feed you way more often. I am the one that changes all your diapers (Papa has changed maybe one or two). I am the one that dresses you (though Papa does this occasionally) and is more likely to bathe you (in the bathtub…when you bathed in the sink Papa and I would bathe you as a team). I am the one who lays next to you at night until you fall asleep (Papa has begun to do this, too, after I feed you at night. He’ll take you to your room and lay with you until you fall asleep). I am the one who goes to you in the middle of the night when you wake up, and I hold you next to me until you fall asleep again. I am the one who picks you up when you are distressed, to comfort you (Papa doesn’t like to pick you up when you cry…he thinks it’s teaching you how to manipulate us into getting what you want. I disagree…you don’t have any concept of manipulation at this age, so when you cry, you are distressed for one reason or another, and it is my honor and pleasure to comfort you in that time of need). I play with you (so does Papa). I read you stories. I have been by your side every single day of your life thus far. You haven’t fully grasped the concept that what is not visible is not necessarily gone, so it is certainly understandable that you get very upset when you no longer see me in the room anymore. I imagine that would scare me, too!
Right now you are super chill on the office floor. I’m typing, and you are playing happily, rolling around, kicking your feet, looking for something to grab.
You also seem to greatly enjoy going for walks, whether in the stroller or in the carrier I bought for you that looks just like a backpacking pack but really only fits you in it. You have fallen asleep in that thing on many occasions! I first bought a Deuter pack on Saturday, March 7, then Papa and I took you out on a trail (don’t recall which one) for two and a half hours. It was a beautiful day! But alas, the pack was just too big for me, so carrying you became uncomfortable. Papa could wear the pack with no problem (it was adjustable, but small was too big for me, though it fit Papa perfectly). We took it back to REI the next day to get a different pack and made out pretty well! We walked away on Sunday, March 8 with an Osprey pack that has a fantastic sun shade (way better than the Deuter!). I put the pack on and walked you around the neighborhood (on the bike trail next to the house) while Papa went for a bike ride (we met up on his way back and walked home together). I loved it! My hips were bruised, but that was to be expected. Even more importantly, you seemed to love it, too!
In fact, there were several times when you were crying and I wanted to get things done around the house, so I put you in your Osprey pack, strapped you to my back, and got to work! You calmed down very quickly and just enjoyed your perch so close to me. You sometimes fell asleep. We have to be careful not to carry you in the Osprey after 4pm, as you are much more likely to fall asleep. Same with driving. We don’t want you to nap after 4pm, so we try not to drive anywhere after that time, as you are likely to be lulled to sleep in the car.
On Wednesday, March 11, I took you to Alejandro Garces Tomohawk Park and walked the trails for 45 minutes with you on my back while I listed to Tony Robbins “The Ultimate Edge.” You didn’t make a single fuss, so I imagine you loved it being in nature!
On Saturday, March 21, Papa and I took you and Holden to Jennings State Park where we walked for two hours. The next day, Sunday, March 22, we went to Mike Ross Gold Head Branch State Park, where we walked for two hours.
The first time you faced forward in your stroller (rather than facing the person pushing the stroller) was on Tuesday, March 24. Your first bike ride (and trip to the beach, though you didn’t touch the sand) was on Saturday, March 14, at St. Simon’s Island, GA. Papa and I took you on a nearly 3 hour bike ride, stopping once to feed you milky treats and take your picture on the beach. You were so adorable in that baby seat behind Papa! Though, admittedly, you were too small. We’re thinking you might be just the right size for that seat when you are nine months old, rather than six months. You were too short, so the helmet on your head rested against the seat and got caught on the edges. I had to stuff your changing pad and my nursing cover behind you to prop up your back since it wasn’t even remotely touching the back of the seat as you slipped forward into your seat belt. You were totally chill during the ride, however, and seemed to enjoy it well enough (you even fell asleep!)
We haven’t gotten to take you out any more to use the backpack because of COVID-19. The one time we tried to go hiking, the parks were closed. So we had to stay home, which we are still doing. For us, it works out that COVID-19 is affecting the world while you are so young and I would be with you anyway. It’s been a lot more difficult for many people who have lost jobs, or are at home with the kids having to suddenly homeschool (while also possibly having lost their job…talk about stressful!).
Well, little dove, you have begun to fuss and scream, so it seems I must end this letter to you. I love you, sweet Ayla! I look forward to telling you more about yourself later this month! Until then…it’s bath time!