Week 46

Ava is 46 weeks old

Ava is 46 weeks old

This week, for the first time ever, Ava cried when I left for work. It made it very hard to walk out the door. But, if I’m honest, I was quite pleased, for my own selfish ego-boosting reasons.

She now lunges for me when she’s in someone else’s arms. Her nanny said yesterday, “Now she knows you. She knows, ‘This is my mommy and I love my mommy’.” Of course, I thought she’d always known me and that I was her mom, but I can tell by the way she looks at me now that she really kind of likes me.

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Week 45

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Ava is 45 weeks old

Ava loves pulling herself up on the baby safety gate at the kitchen door. The dogs usually get stuck in the kitchen during the day, and there’s nothing more fun for Ava than crawling at full tilt down the passage from her bedroom, pulling herself up on the gate at the kitchen door, and sticking her hands through the bars for the dogs to lick. When she gets bored, she lowers herself down to her bum and sets off on a crawl to her next adventure.

As you can see from this picture, Ava really needs a haircut – she pulls clips out of her hair, so they don’t stay in very long, and her long wispy curls waft down into her eyes where they just sit and irritate me. Dylan won’t let me even think about cutting her locks, though.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about the sacrifices we make when we have babies. I read a post about giving up your former life and your old self “dying” when you become a mother (you can read it here if you like) – I’m not sure I felt that way exactly, but I’ve definitely had moments this year when I missed the life I used to have.

I’ve missed going out to dinner on a whim, sleeping in after a late night, going to the movies and concerts and the theatre, going for sundowners, planning overseas holidays (long-haul flights now being a no-go for the foreseeable future), and the wide open future that lay ahead of me before I had a baby.

And of course, financially, there have been sacrifices. Although I haven’t lost any income as such because I still work, when it comes to my career, I probably won’t push myself for a promotion that will put me in a more demanding position where I have to spend less time at home – because I couldn’t bear more time away from Ava. We have a nanny we care about dearly, and who adores Ava, and, to keep her and reward her for all her excellent work, we pay her a decent salary and pay her daughter’s school fees – so, even though I’m still at work, our expenses have increased rather a lot.

Emotionally, I’ve sacrificed my freedom. Having a person you love more than any other thing or person ever puts you in a very risky position – I wouldn’t be able to go on with my life if anything happened to Ava. Remarkably, since I fell in love with Ava, I can imagine picking myself up after losing any other person in my life – even Dylan (although OF COURSE that would be completely and unimaginably awful). It’s a powerful and humbling and terrifying thing – loving someone so helplessly, especially someone who is totally oblivious of your love and who isn’t even capable of loving anyone, never mind you, yet.

And yet. Even with the monetary and emotional and social sacrifices I’ve made since April 4 last year, I wouldn’t go back to my life without Ava. Because life with her is a million times more rewarding and fun and heart-explodingly happy than the 27 years I lived without her.

I’m not sure these feelings seem like a suitable pay-off for the sacrifices I’ve made, but I don’t know how to explain it. That’s the thing about love, I suppose – it’s not about balancing a ledger.

Week 44

Ava is 44 weeks old

Ava is 44 weeks old

Me: Ava’s got really strong-willed lately. She knows exactly what she wants.

Angie: But that’s good! I like a strong woman!

Me: So do I! Just not when she’s my 10-month-old who’s stomping her foot in her cot and refusing to go to sleep!

Week 43

Ava is 43 weeks old

Ava is 43 weeks old

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about first words and what the idea of that actually means. What do people count as a first word? Is it the first word a baby says that sounds like a real word, even if she says it constantly and at random – like “mama” or “dada” or “door”? Or the first word that is actually a real word that she repeats when she hears it – like “no”? Or is it the first real word she says and has clearly hooked a meaning to, and which she says only in the right context – like saying “bye-bye” when someone walks out the door?

If you’re going with the first two options, Ava has totally said her first words – four of them, in fact (mama, dada, door and no). If you’re going with the third option – which I suspect is the true definition – then she definitely hasn’t. Unless you count those times when she says “no” just before you put her in her high chair (obviously being strapped into a chair is not nearly as much fun as crawling around at top speed) and when you put her in her playpen (ditto).

At this age, babies understand a whole lot more than they can communicate. Ava really does understand “no” – which comes in really handy when she’s just about to shove one of Dylan’s shoes in her mouth – even though she doesn’t quite know how to say it at the right times.

She is a champion at shaking her head at the appropriate moments, though – when it comes to non-verbal communication, she’s not bad. As soon as she’s full and can’t eat any more, she shakes her head when you offer her the spoon and will absolutely refuse another single bite.