Tomorrow I will return to work after twelve weeks of maternity leave, and I cannot emphasize enough how fast these last eighty-four days have passed. Few other times in my life have I lived each day with such purpose and fulfillment, existing in each moment instead of looking towards the future and wishing it would come a little more quickly. I don't mean that in some romantic, lights-all-aglow way; there have certainly been times when I've been a bit bored and starved for adult interaction. But I am sincere nonetheless. I love my job, but on Monday morning I always look forward to Friday afternoon. And when I was in school, I always looked forward to the next semester, the next vacation, or the next phase of the life that I wasn't fully living because I was convinced that the next thing had to better than the current thing. Now, while I am certain that what's to come will be amazing, I am equally certain that these last twelve weeks together cannot be overvalued.
Since the last time I wrote, you have absolutely blossomed. In addition to figuring out how to control your fingers and hands, you are now aware of your feet and legs. You will stare at them in baby awe and cautiously feel on them with your hands. You are also incredibly intrigued by faces, most notably your dad's. He will put his face down close to yours and you'll run your hands through his hair, stroke his five o'clock stubble, and put your fingers into his mouth and pull on his lips. Getting you to release whatever you've gotten your hands on, be it my hair or your Sophie giraffe, is more work than you'd think. You also practice standing up all the time and I must say that your legs are surprisingly strong. Most of the time, you stand flat on one foot and on the outside of the other, perfectly bowlegged. What's really cute is when your legs get tired. Instead of just plopping down, your torso begins to come forward, your knees bend, and gravity slowly starts to win the tug-of-war, pulling your cute diapered bottom to the ground.
For the last couple of weeks, you've gotten to where you will only nap on my chest when you are can't-keep-my-eyes-open pooped. Otherwise, you find your surroundings so fascinating that a nap on Mom's chest is dull by comparison. Nursing doesn't always keep your attention, either, as you will jerk around trying to find the source of every noise or light. It can get somewhat frustrating because you need to eat, but then you look me square in the eye and flash that grin, which renders me incapable of doing anything but mirroring your glee. In the last two weeks, you've also begun sleeping through the night, making both Dad and me immensely happy. When I was reading in bed one night after it became apparent that your new habit would be at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, I told your Dad that I was finally beginning to feel like my old self! I must tell you, however, that the first night it happened our excitement was tempered by fear, demonstrated by the fact that your Dad jumped up, quickly walked into your nursery, and made sure you were, in fact, still breathing!
You are such a happy baby, Audrey! Most mornings you greet us with wiggles and a smile; throughout the day you woo us with your bright-eyed, gummy grins; and at night our lively "conversations" delay putting you down for bedtime. When you are really excited, you'll kick out your legs, lift up your arms, open your eyes wide, stick your tongue between your lips and make all sorts of noises. Kiddo, I could probably go on and on for miles, telling you about how much the photographer loved you at the first wedding you attended, describing your face when you figured out how to roll over, or explaining how much joy you bring my grandparents when we visit. But they wouldn't do justice to the eighty-four days of experiences we've shared.
I never anticipated enjoying mothering a newborn so much! I know that the time will come when it will no longer phase me to leave you at daycare, but I also know that tomorrow I am going to miss you every minute.