I tend to smile and laugh too much.
It’s a habit I can’t seem to break even when I’m focusing my “stern teacher glare”on an off-task student. I smile when I’m angry. I laugh when I’m nervous. When passing a stranger on the street, my natural inclination is to greet the person with a smile. When reuniting with a close friend for the first time in months since I’ve lived abroad, I used that same smile.
On the other hand, Sophia’s first smile was hard-earned.
The first month of her life went by in a blur of sleeplessness and hormonal fluctuations for me, so I was surprised when everything suddenly seemed to start to stabilize. Post-partum recovery, paired with adjusting to new parenthood, ended just when Sophia began to sleep longer stretches at night.
In this first month, I encountered unexpected bursts of weepiness, lochia and healing stitches, along with oftentimes frustrating and sometimes comedic oversupply issues. (ie. When supply finally equaled demand, milk issuing from an overactive letdown no longer sprayed all over Sophia and/or across the room like a broken kitchen faucet.)
First Father’s Day: Brunch with craft meats from Salt House
And then her six-week growth spurt hit us.
With little preparation other than pediatricians nonchalantly telling us we could give her an infant massage if she has some additional fussiness due to growing pains, we were a bit alarmed that our usually calm baby began crying longer and with higher frequency and seemed to need much more holding and attention. In addition, she was eating a lot more – consuming almost double the amount of pumped milk and nursing for longer.
In that week, Michal and I felt an intense helplessness as it seemed we tried everything we read in Happiest Baby on the Block (highly suggested by a friend with three kids), constantly wearing her in a wrap and offering a pacifier. I brought her to two different pediatricians, along with an osteopath, in search of more recommendations on how to manage the growth spurts and the resulting seemingly inconsolable crying.
In the midst of her extreme change of behavior and temperament, I felt such a sense of desperation and dejection that I started to think ‘What did we do wrong? How did she stop liking us?’
And then that week ended as abruptly and suddenly as it started.
At the end of six weeks, Sophia was even more calm than before, sleeping easily and soundly. And she then showed one of the first signs of communication human beings express at any age – a smile. We celebrated the end of the growth spurt as she demonstrated her developmental milestone of “the Social Smile.”
Now, as Sophia approaches her third month of life, she has begun to make noises that sound like happy cooing. The week after that six-week growth spurt was definitely the rainbow after the storm.
First Road Trip: Nami Island and Garden of Morning Calm
In a recent email conversation we were having about motherhood, my friend Clare eloquently summed up these difficult first few weeks:
Some days are better than others. It sometimes seems like they push you to the breaking point, and then they do something wonderful and all is forgiven.
Now that we’ve experienced the wrath of the growth spurt, we can go through the next ones at three months, six months and onward with more confidence and less apprehension.
Cheers to your two-months, sweet Sophia, and looking forward to more milestones!