I'll admit it; I was dreading this day. It's just another moment in a long line of milestones marching into the future, pointing to the inevitability of my baby growing up. But not cutting her hair isn't going to keep her tiny. Instead, it keeps her perpetually annoyed. She's always brushing wisps of hair out of her eyes, unless it's pulled up into her signature "hair fountain," which is forever tickling my nose.
So the time has come for a little trim. I almost couldn't bear to part with her little baby curl in the back. But it also made a perfect keepsake. One tiny blond curl.
She was a champ! Not a cry, not a squirm, not a peep. It doesn't hurt that our good friend Kelli did the honors, so Keira was not in an unfamiliar place.
As much as I thought I'd miss that curl, I completely adore the soft, subtle waves she has left.
And this is mine to keep.
And there was even time left over for a little bit of reading.
Next up: the macaroni-and-cheese test. I'm sure Keira has plans to find out how her slightly shorter blond locks will hold up to a rejuvenating cheesy noodles (and/or yogurt) scalp treatment. I'll be sure to return and report.
Today I realized again just how important it is to write. And to write in the moment.
I just stumbled across a post I wrote exactly one year ago today, The End of Infertility? And yes, those words are as true as ever. After 19 months of being in the "honeymoon phase" of being a new mom, I was suddenly, out of the blue, struck with some of that old infertility grief this past weekend.
Yes, my childlessness has certainly been cured. I will not ever be able to adequately express my gratitude for that. And yet, the infertility is still there, an ever present thing. By acknowledging it, and naming it, and putting words around it, I can at least attempt to frame it and understand it. Which does help, a little.
I can't help thinking that there must be some reason I'm dragging this up at this moment, that maybe there's someone who needs to hear these words. Because today I stumbled across yet another blog post, one that I didn't ever publish, for whatever reason, that was just sitting in my drafts folder.
Here's what I wrote in August 2010 and did not publish:
Alone in the Boat
Last week, I opened up to you all about the fact that I am infertile. Wow, it gets a little bit easier every time I say it. I have to remind myself frequently that I'm not ashamed of it. It is a fact, and it is part of my life.
I have to tell you a sad and then sweet story.
When you're infertile, you tend to gather around you a handful of friends who are in the same boat as you, who know what you're going through and can relate to your pain.
This last April, each of my infertile friends became pregnant, one by one.
How could I begrudge my sweet cousin, who has an 8 year-old son and has been trying to get him a sibling ever since, when she became pregnant with a little girl? How could I be upset when another friend, who had been dealing with horrendous medical issues for 2 years and had a very difficult time becoming pregnant the first time (5 years ago), had an unexpected miracle pregnancy? And when another friend, who had been right there with me for 4 of my 6 years of infertility, told us she was pregnant that very same week, how could I not be happy for her?
I had a very hard week that week. And I kept those feelings to myself until I could congratulate each friend with true sincerity. Each responded with such grace and sweet sympathy, knowing exactly how I felt. It wasn't that I wanted them back on the raft with me, of course not. Instead, I wanted to be swimming to motherhood shore with them.
That week, I said to my husband, "Looks like I'm rowing the infertility boat alone now."
"No you're not," he said. "I'm rowing with you."
He said the perfect thing at the perfect time. And I'll never forget it.
But there's also a truly amazing, miraculous, nearly unbelievable thing about this, a side to this story that reminds me again why I believe so strongly that there's a master plan at work for each of us. And here it is:
While my three closest infertile friends all came to be expecting babies at the same time, and I felt so utterly alone and left behind, it turns out that I also had a baby on the way. I just didn't know it yet. (And here's the story of how she arrived.)
Keira Jane Lucas is 2 days older than my infertile cousin's daughter. She's 2.5 weeks older than my infertile friend's son. And she's 2.5 months older than my other infertile friend's daughter. How miraculous is that?
Maybe the person who most needed to hear these words today was me.
Keira Jane's very first residence (and only residence so far) is the red brick house on Diamond Way, where she has spent many blissful hours chasing the dog around the backyard. She said "Dada" long before she said "Mama," and in fact called BOTH of us "Dada" for quite some time. One of my favorite sounds in the world is her shrieking an excited, high-pitched, and almost breathless "Daddy!" when he comes home from work each day. I predict that she will be a little Daddy's Girl for sure.
Grandpa Don (aka "Papa" Don) is one of Keira's favorite people on earth. When she sees his yellow truck in front of the house, she nearly starts shaking with excitement and runs around the room yelling "Papa! Papa!" She spends a couple of hours with grandpa Don and grandma Bev every Monday morning, and ever since she was itty bitty, he'd carry her around the house and yard for hours, patiently giving names to everything they see. "Keira, this is a lamp. It turns on and off like this. Yes, that's a mirror. Can you see the baby in the mirror? Keira, that's a school bus out the window. It's picking up all the kids to take them home."
Also, the two of them dance together. Grandpa walks to the CD closet and allows Keira to pick any CD she wants (which might be Emmylou Harris or George Strait, or someone in between). He puts the music on, and the two of them waltz and/or bounce around the living room. I'll never forget peering around the corner and seeing the two of them, 80 years apart but truly kindred spirits, gliding around the blue carpet to the sounds of classic country.
Even when she's not in the arms of grandpa Don, this girl loves to dance, as demonstrated by this video from when she was 11 months old:
She also has an extra grandpa who lives next door to us, Mr. Dominguez, who gave her a little Santa dress for Christmas and just lights up like a Christmas tree every time he sees her. He also gave her two ceramic ducks that his wife painstakingly painted years ago, just because she so admired a couple of larger ceramic ducks that adorned his coffee table one day during a visit. (She'd point and announce "guck! guck!"). Such kindness.
Keira has a cousin named Derek, who's five years older, but so kind and gentle with her. When we go visit them in Arizona, he is just fascinated by everything she does. He even offers input on how we should style her hair. ("I like it when she has a horn on top of her head!" Horn = single ponytail like Pebbles from the Flintstones.)
Keira with cousin Derek when she was just a few weeks old.
Her uncle Dan was the first of her non-grandparent relatives to pay her a visit when she was brand, brand new. He's a devoted uncle, for sure, and he can always get little "KJ" (his favorite nickname for her) to laugh. His name was also the first of my siblings' names Keira managed to pronounce. Granted, it's not super hard to say "Dan," if you already know how to say "Dad," but Uncle Dan still claims a solid victory over Aunt Alli in this arena.
I can't believe how small she was!
Because her mama fell in love with the scent of Dreft, Keira's clothing is still washed separately to retain that baby-fresh scent as long as possible—19 months and counting.
Before I go, Keira's Aunt Alli (or "Addie" as Keira calls her) told me there's one D word I simply could not leave out of this post, at that word is: dainty. Yes, our Keira has always been a little peanut, weighing in at just 20 pounds at 19 months old. By contrast, she has a baby cousin, one year and 3 days younger than she is, who is now tipping the scales at 22 pounds. While I definitely think she's a tough cookie, she's downright delicate compared to her two closest cousins in age, who are both boys and both large and in charge.
Little Keira Jane sandwiched between Graham (1 year younger) and Townes (8 months older).
But she won't go near a baby bunny. Or a baby lamb. Or a baby duck, turkey, or chick. No way. Not a chance. And the look of terror that crosses her face when she's coaxed to reach out and pet one of these tiny creatures cannot be described.
Hmmm. Big animals = climb aboard! No big deal. Tiny animals = climb the nearest adult's pant leg, whether or not you know the adult to whom the leg belongs.
Other Ways Keira Breaks the Baby Mold She barely tolerates milk, but she loves imported French mineral water. LOVES it.
She never developed stranger anxiety. She has always let almost anyone hold her, at least for a second or two.
She'd rather drink water than juice.
She likes low-fat Mozzarella much better than higher-fat Cheddar. In general, she automatically dislikes anything with calories in it, which is unfortunate since we're doing everything we can to help her bust out of that 5th percentile in height and weight.
She doesn't mind taking naps. You mention "nap" or "bedtime," and she starts humming her favorite lullaby. (If you hum something other than her favorite lullaby while rocking her to sleep, she will interrupt you.)
But there's one way that Keira is a very sterotypical 18-month-old toddler: she was petrified of the Easter Bunny at the mall. She temporarily sprouted kitten claws just so she could cling to my sweater for dear life.
Keira loves fruit of all kinds, but especially cherries, and her mom loves it when Mt. Rainier cherries are in season, because they don't stain clothes and fingers. Dried cranberries are also a favorite.
The first baby sign she used on her own was for cracker (take one fist and knock it on the opposite elbow), and she'd loudly shout "cackoo" when she wanted one. But now she's decided "cackoo" also means cookie, snack, and just food in general, so it's not always easy to produce the item she's actually trying to ask for. She mastered the word cheese fairly early as well (although, oddly, she doesn't care for cheddar, only white cheeses). She pronounces it exactly like one of her other favorite things, namely keys.
Her first favorite song was by a hippie band called Canned Heat. As young as 4 months old, she'd start dancing and bobbing whenever dad played the song "Goin Up the Country" for her. (Her daddy rediscovered this long-forgotten song in the movie The Blind Side.) And it is a sight to watch this girl dance. I think her spine must be made of rubber.
She loves to color and draw, but not on paper, unfortunately. She'll keep the crayon or other drawing implement near the paper for about 30 seconds, and then she wants to draw in 3d. And nothing is safe.
She has a cousin named Carson who is a full generation older than she is.
We dressed her as a cow for her second Halloween, which was somewhat ironic, since milk and other dairy products were problematic for her at the time. She's now outgrown both the costume and the dairy sensitivity.
And while cute hardly seems adequate, that's a word I simply can't leave out. She'll always be my cutie-pie.
Until the last few months, when Keira really started experimenting with sounds and language, I didn't realize how important the letter B is to a baby. And since it's such a simple sound to make, I wonder if that's how babies came to be called babies in the first place.
Our blond and blue-eyed darling now says a handful of words, that all sound the same ("buh-buh" or "bah-bah"), but I can distinguish between them fairly easily by context.
baby (referring to herself, to her Baby Stella doll, and to random babies she sees in pictures) bye-bye bellybutton (sounds a bit more like "bey-buhhh") bottle binkie (sounds like bi-bi) booby*
*Being a bottle-fed baby from the start, Keira never had a real need to be fully acquainted with this word, but one day a bit of mom's cleavage was escaping the confines of her clothing, and Keira poked it and made her signature inquiring "uh?" sound. Since we spend all day pointing at and identifying things, mom (aka me) replied "booby," quite absentmindedly. She plucked out her binkie and repeated "buh-buh." And, unlike the many other words we say all day long, this one has stuck. It's time to be careful what I say around the little sponge. She now also pokes other people's boobies and says "buh-buh" without prompting. I just grin and shrug.
In other B news, Keira's adoring grandma Beverly keeps her dressed beautifully in fashionable duds. Keira has an aunt Becky, who adores her too, and cousins named Breanna and Brock. And she has a favorite bear that she cuddles during naptime. Her birthmom, Anneliese, has a larger bear just like this one, and we took pictures of Keira with her baby bear every month until her first birthday.
A is a very important letter in Keira's little life.
First of all, she was adopted at just 2 days old. The gift of adoption has blessed more lives than she, or her birth parents, may ever know.
Her mother's name is Angie and her birthmom (or "tummy mommy" which might be the term we'll use until she's old enough to understand this in more depth) is Anneliese. She has seven aunts who love her more than words can say.
And of course the word adorable has to make it onto my list. Her perfect little features, so unique to my little girl, strike me daily with wonder. And yes, I even think it's cute when she screeches like a baby pterodactyl all day long. Annoying? Yes, but adorable too.
All in all, I am in awe at the blessings and challenges of motherhood. Perhaps it is because I had to wait for so long, but this journey, though difficult, has been immensely rewarding. And I look forward to what the future brings.
Tiny baby Keira, with her aunt Alli, wearing a little knit hat from her aunt Karste.
About the A illustration A while back, I found a cool old children's book at a thrift store (D.I. for you locals) called Peppermint Fence, which I promptly tore apart to make a notebook. But I had to save this cute alphabet section, "Nonsense Alphabet," in the back of the book for some future project. When I recently stumbled across the torn-out pages, I had the idea to write about Keira's life, one letter at a time.
I'll post a few new letters per month until I complete all 26. Feel free to join me in this journaling project, and post links to your own letter-by-letter ruminations in the comments section!
I have 10 nieces and nephews, ranging in age from 12 years to 2 months, so I knew this before, as everyone does and mentions a million times a day, all over the world.
But now that I have a 14-month-old toddling around my house (who is, at the moment, emptying my purse onto the floor and exploring every compartment, object, and zipper), I know this personally, viscerally, completely.
The truth is, babies grow SO fast.
Yeah, I knew that. Everyone knows that. But then I see a picture like this one, taken just a year ago, and I'm halted in my tracks.
This photo captures my every sense. I'm stunned at the sight of her tiny fist next to my grandpa's thumb—how his massive welder's hands cradle her little pajama-clad body.
I look at this picture, and I am instantly enveloped (as Keira must have been) in that familiar, musky scent that always clings to grandpa's plaid cowboy shirts: a combination of Old Spice, horses, and that sandpaper-like soap he keeps in his downstairs bathroom. He smells like love and comfort and dependability.
At the same time, I'm drinking in the fresh newness of Keira, all slathered in baby lotion, with her whisper-soft cotton clothes carrying traces of Dreft baby detergent. She smells like hope and miracles and the future.
I want to live in this picture, basking in the light from the window that is filtered through the branches of my mom's Christmas tree, newly in love with my new baby daughter, remembering the hours I spent cocooned on grandpa's lap when I was little.
This is nostalgia. This is the power of a photo.
Journaling Prompt Find a photo that causes an emotional response in you and write about what you see or hear or smell as you imagine yourself inside that photo. Describing what something smells like is not an easy thing to do, and almost whatever you write will feel inadequate to you, but it is a wonderful exercise for helping you connect very deeply to a memory. Try it! And share it on your blog, in your journal, or on a scrapbook page.
Note: as you try to describe what something or someone smells like, you are bound to discover the woeful lack of adequate synonyms for the word "smell." After checking my favorite online Thesaurus, I even Googled the phrase "other words for smell" and came across a new-to-me website, the "Super Thesaurus," that clearly does NOT know what a verb is. Here's a screen capture:
Just before Keira's first birthday, I got in gear and finally finished decorating her bedroom. Well, "finished" is not a word you can ever really apply to decorating, just like you can't apply it to organizing, working out, eating, or apologizing. :) But at least it's now much closer to how I imagined it. We like a colorful, homey, lived-in look around here. Decorating professionals we are not.
Vinyl wall decals found on etsy.com. Tissue paper puffs made with help from Wendy Smedley. Polka-dot bumper from Ikea. Lamp and dresser were gifts from Grandma Beverly. Blue standing cupboard (which is really a toy chest) found at local consignment shop, Home Again. Pink rug and crib dust ruffle
One-memory-a-day calendar by SRM Press (I filled in one tiny box every day for a whole year!). Hand-painted lady-bug drawer pulls found in Sweet Petites Boutique on Etsy.com.
Framed pennant art by our friend Elizabeth Dillow. (Hand-painted light-switch cover also by Sweet Petites Boutique.)
Rocking chair borrowed from Aunt Lynsey. Cute as a Button wall sign was a gift from Grandma Beverly, because that's a phrase her mother always used. Baby quilt on the wall handmade by Kelly Jeppson.
Yellow shelf found at Emilie Jayne consignment store in Salt Lake City. Tiny ladybug print from rabbot on etsy.com. Soft pink bunny a gift from Keira's birthdad, Jase. Framed ultrasound handmade by Keira's birthmom, Anneliese. Frog items from a phase in Angie's past when she inadvertently started collective frog-themed merchandise. Vintage Peter Rabbit book won at Beatrix Ptter festival. Quirky cup on the top shelf purchased at The Blue Pear in Ouray, Colorado.
Still left to do: blackout curtains that are still somewhat attractive and a little iron-on-the-wall fabric project that's been on my to-do list for 15 months.