A Letter to My 3-Month-Old: On the First Season of Your Life
You are 3 months old, and as your mother, there is something I must confess to you: I haven’t yet cracked open your baby book. It sits neatly on my nightstand, undisturbed and unmarked, while a succession of telling objects rotate around it as the nights go by: pacifiers (mainly rejected by you), nipple cream, novels, water glasses, vitamin D drops (barely remembered by me), burp cloths, tiny nail clippers, cards of congratulations, a copy of Goodnight Moon, and a messy pile of kids’ books and scribbled papers left by your older sister. These last three months have been wonderfully full. I marvel at how much you’ve changed in such a short amount of time and know how quickly these present moments will slip into the past. I don’t want to forget them.
You were born in the cold drizzle of the Oregon winter. Trees stood leafless, like skeletons against the gray sky. On the coldest mornings, a lone hummingbird urgently probed the frozen hummingbird feeder for nectar, returning again and again. Inside, our Christmas tree twinkled. Our house was full of good smells as your grandmothers cooked us biscuits for breakfast, soup for dinner, and pie for dessert.
On the morning you were born, a nurse placed you on my chest. Your skin was gray like the sky, but it warmed to pink as your small lungs found their rhythm. You were born with a full head of dark hair, still wet, matted down on your head. You bobbed your head up and down on my chest and pushed your feet into my belly, full of instinct to find my breast. You fed with ease and gazed up at me with bright eyes.
From that first day, I’ve loved your eyes. We still don’t know what color they are, but they are wide, observant, and calm. Your gaze still stops me in my tracks every day. It makes me put down my phone, forget my to-do list, and sit with you a little longer.
Your first days with us were cozy and warm, sleepy and slow. You nursed and then drifted into sleep, your body going limp into mine with certain trust. I watched you sleep and felt full of gratitude.What else can I tell you about newborn you? You sucked on your hands from your first day. You did not like to be swaddled, preferring to have your hands close to your face. You liked to sleep close to me and feed often, around the clock. When you weren’t eating or sleeping, you were alert, and usually calm. You stretched your limbs, and your eyes followed our faces and voices.
You became a part of our family. We waited a long time for you, and once you were here, it seemed like you filled a spot that was always yours. Your sister dotes on you, and she is mostly generous in sharing me with you. One of our biggest challenges has been to convince her to let you sleep, because she really wants to play with you. You also adored her from the start, turning your head towards her voice. Some of your very first smiles were for her.
Already, the season has changed. Now our world is filled with blossoms of spring: daffodils, hyacinths, and forsythia. Three hummingbirds compete for a spot at the feeder, then flit off to cherry blossoms for more nectar. The days lengthen, and the sun shines.Already, you have outgrown a drawerful of tiny outfits. Your cheeks have filled out, and your body has lengthened. Your skin has lost its translucence. You kick with happiness and wave for attention, your movements more confident and strong each day. You watch the world with awareness that you are part of it. You smile easily. You are a steady little person, not easily bothered by our barking dog or the sound of your sister’s steps thundering down the hall. You sleep for long stretches in the night and greet me in the morning with a happy grin. You open your mouth wide as if to let out a big laugh, but all that we hear is a soft coo.
I worry that one day you’ll read this and think I wasn’t being honest – that I composed a history happier than the reality. I guess I should mention that you do cry through most of every car ride and sometimes when you’re tired. And yes, there are lots of days when I feel exhausted or overwhelmed. But these words are all true, and in fact, they feel inadequate to describe how much happiness you’ve brought to our family and how much we enjoy spending time with you. I want you to know that.
I know how quickly the time will pass. The cherry blossoms will dry out, shrivel up, and drop to the ground – or get knocked down with the spring rain. It will happen gradually, but one day we’ll suddenly realize that the blossoms are gone and the trees have fully leafed out. Just like one day you’ll be rolling, then crawling, then walking. The days will pass by like pages in a flip book, each one distinct and full, but together, a blur from one season to the next.
I’m in no hurry for this season of your infancy to pass, but there is no stopping it. In the end, what will we hold of this time? We take photos and videos, and I will write in your baby book, I promise. Still, I know the details will slip away, like petals from a tree. What will remain of your infancy? A feeling, I suppose. A sweetness, I hope, one that we can savor for years to come. And you – because the person you are now is just the beginning of the person you will become.