Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ava Baby

So, given that my purpose in starting this blog was to use it as a virtual scrapbook/journal/log to record the many wonderful and priceless moments that happen with the kids I thought it might be a good idea to write one inaugural post for each child - a prose snapshot, if you will. I will begin with Ava, because doesn't everything, really?

Ava was the last to be born, but that was pretty much the last time she was last. A strapping 4.0 lbs at birth, she sailed her way through the NICU and came home after 4 weeks. I remember giving her her first bath in the NICU, in one of those little pink plastic tubs.....we brought a bunch home, and while they are very useful for many things, I don't think any of the kids could even sit in them now. But back then, as we lowered her tiny little body into the tub it felt like we were dropping her into a vast ocean of water. I remember being so surprised at how slippery she was, and trying desperately to grab her hard enough so as not to let her slip from my grasp, but not so hard that I would break her. She just seemed so little and fragile, all arms and legs. Not surprisingly, she did not like the whole bath-moment and let us know in a loud and clear voice.

We brought her home and had that "now what?" moment that I think all new parents experience. We joked that she was the 'test baby' and that if we could keep her alive they might release the rest to us in time. Our first night home was pretty standard; we put Ava in a pack-n-play right next to my side of the bed and I spent most of the night making sure she was breathing, convincing myself she was NOT breathing, poking her until she woke up screaming, and then soothing her back to sleep while cursing myself. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Baby/early toddler hood is such a blur to me now (thank God for digital recorders!) but a few things stand out: her inexplicable fondness for the green ring from the Fisher-Price stacking ring toy; mending Lion's paws for the umpteenth time because she chewed through them AGAIN; constantly being startled by the brightness of her eyes; her gleeful little laugh; her chubby little legs; her bald, bald head; all the spit-up and screaming before we realized she was lactose intolerant (I still feel like the worst mother in the world over that one); finger-walking with her for hours when she was determined to learn how to walk (she was the first one, of course); pushing her on the "big kid" swings and learning that beneath that shy exterior beat the heart of a daredevil.

Fast forward 3 years and 5 months. Some things are still the same: she continues to be lactose-intolerant, her favorite color is still green, and she still has that wonderful smile. Others are different: She now has hair (but don't try to put anything in it - the average life span of a clip is about 10 seconds), her legs are long and lean (as is the rest of her), and although she is still fairly shy and reserved we are seeing the inner daredevil more and more these days. Our darling girl is a budding artist, and can happily draw and paint for hours on end. She knows all her letters and is starting to spell and read simple words. She can write her name (legibly!!) and can spell her brother's and sister's names. She loves Tinkerbell and Dora, but her best friend is still Lion (who is looking very shabby now, but no matter). She amazes me constantly with what she can do - she has incredible, gymnastic agility. Although she is lithe and lean she is powerfully strong - her body is basically muscle covered with skin. Her verbal fluency is impressive, at least to me. She seems to have the ability to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words from the context in which they are used, and then can use them again correctly, even in a different context. Not bad for a three year old, huh?

But what I mostly love about Ava is her gentleness, her tenderness. She actually cares about other people, and cares what they think about her. When her brother cries she rushes to get his blanket because she knows that is what he needs. If Cate is playing with a group of toys, even if some of the toys are Ava's she won't take them away because she knows that Cate needs ALL of them to be happy (more on this in the post about Cate). She is kind and loving with the animals, patting them gently and whispering "hi sweetie - how are you today?". She is love with a capital L.

My challenge with Ava is not to overlook her. How is this possible, you ask? Ava is quiet. Ava is well behaved (mostly). Ava will not run up to me and grab my hand and pull on me and yell "Mommy! Come play with me!". But she wants so badly to be noticed, and scooped up, and asked "Ava, will you play with mommy?" Have you hugged your Ava today?

1 comment:

Lauren said...

"why are you crying, Lolo?" ask the rats