I can't believe Squirt is 16 days old. I can't believe that's 2 weeks. I can't believe I only have 50 more weeks with her as a "baby". I can't tear myself away from her - I hold her when I don't have to and I stare at her when I should be watching a movie. I ignore my blog and my laundry so I can try to stuff as much of this into my memory as possible.
It's like I'm re-living each older kiddo's infancy through her... I look down at her nursing and see Jack and Addie. When she smiles, I see Jordan. (And yes, I'm considering it a smile - even if it's caused by gas, it's still a smile.) When Jack was 16 days old, I had no idea what I was doing. Nursing was challenging and I didn't know how to burp him properly and we were facing a deployment and each day, though wonderful, was also riddled with mini-crises and a sprinkling of panic. With the twins, at this point, Jordan had only been home from the NICU for a short while and we were just realizing that she had problems with reflux. I spent far less time than I wanted to snuggling each girl and relishing her presence because I was juggling a much younger, much less independent Jack plus the demands of caring for two newborns and coping with Justin's high-demand job. I felt guilty when I lingered too long with one twin or the other and I rarely wore them because wearing two was such a task and I felt like I was robbing one of them of time if I wore her sister. From the outset with them, they were more content to snuggle with one another than with me and in general, I bonded with them in brief spurts over a longer period of time and as a result, much of their early days is a complete blur.
But Peyton? Peyton is all of them. She is at once just like Jack and like her sisters. I am an experienced mom who fluently speaks "crying" and interprets her needs with ease and confidence. I can sling her in as much time as I can ask, "can you pick her up?" and I can cook a 3-course meal 1-handed while singing "Old MacDonald" to the older kids and playing a game of kick-and-catch with our mini soccer ball. I can function on 2.5 hours of sleep a night for a week, as long as I get a few 4-hour chunks every now and then. I am busy but not overwhelmed (thanks, truthfully, in large part to amazing friends who have helped with meals... I can't take ALL the credit!) and I realize more than with the other 3 kids that these days are fleeting. Laundry will always pile up, but she won't always fit in Justin's hand like a handful of candy. The counters will always have mysterious sticky stuff on them, but she won't always murmur contentedly at my breast when she's full of milk. I can always shower and do my hair, but she won't always smell that that ubiquitous combination of powder, rubbing alcohol and love.
I love that I can lift her to my face and put a kiss on her rosebud lips and watch her purse them and then realize it's me and turn her cheek into my hand with her mouth open ready to nurse. I love that we can offer her a finger and she grasps it automatically and unquestioningly the way we love her automatically and unquestioningly. I love that her eyes study us with the innocent fascination of an infant, but there is also a sense of familiarity in her gaze as if she's know us for far longer than 16 days. I love that she's here and I cannot fathom how I'll get through the bittersweet thrill of each milestone over the next 50 weeks. (And, to be sure, every year after that as well...) I love that she makes me love my other 3 even more deeply. And I love that I feel like God placed her within me because He knew that Peyton would bring me closer to Him and intensify my love for our family as well as for Him and make me a better mother, daughter, sister, wife and friend.
And while she will grow quickly, I hope that I do too. I hope I don't miss anything. I hope I can remember to remember.
Because they grow so fast...
Black and White Wednesday hosted by Lisa!