My wife and I are in the process of adopting a baby girl, known affectionately as ‘Squish’ here at the Daily Dad until her adoption is finalised.
Here in my weekly column, I am sharing the ins and outs of parenting a newborn and the joys and challenges of adoption.
Enjoy this week’s edition of ‘The Adventures of Squish’.
Not yet three months out of the womb, Squish is surprising us almost every day with her unusual alertness, her cheeky wit and her sassy little personality.
I have previously written of the smart-aleck game she has invented where occasionally and without any evident reason, she avoids looking at the person who has come in close to vie for her attention. Now, with 12 weeks’ worth of neck strength, her head darting left to right at high speed looks more comical than ever.
Squish’s range of sounds grows ever more unpredictable and funny. She is very eager to engage in conversation, and to do so, will use any noise she can muster — whether coughs, sudden shouts, or silly sounds through lips twisted in every direction.
Her emotional development is impressive. Always happiest in the morning or after a nap, Squish’s face lights up the second she catches our gaze. It’s more than a muscle workout now. She is experiencing genuine joy, and it is a delight to see.
Physically, she is strong. With only a small amount of help, her legs can support her whole weight and even propel her up from a squat position. Today, Angie messaged me to say that during tummy time, Squish rolled over onto her back. The developments are now coming thick and fast.
Cleverly, Squish has also learned to differentiate between the two of us — something I never expected at such a young age. She is starting to learn what she likes — and what she can get away with — when she is around just one of us.
Last night, for example, she sat in her rocker while I cooked dinner, staring up at me for at least 30 minutes without making a fuss. I kept looking at her, expecting to see boredom or squirming. Instead, it was bright eyes and even the occasional smile.
My wife kept coming into the room and remarking, “She never stays that long in the rocker for me.” Angie would know — she’s with Squish most days.
On the other hand, in the evenings, I play bad cop when our baby won’t sleep. After returning several times to calm and comfort Squish, last of all, I tell her with my schoolteacher voice, “We love you, but now it’s time to sleep.” More often than not, that’s all she needs — and it’s the last we hear from her.
Squish will talk to me for up to half an hour at a time, but Angie struggles to get more than a few sounds out of her. On the other hand, Squish loves being rocked and comforted by my wife, but rarely by me. She is deeply aware of the differences between us and has very quickly developed very specific preferences.
Speaking of preferences, I could not settle Squish the other day for what felt like an eternity, until I realised one of her socks had fallen off. On returning it to her foot, she was as happy as Larry.
The day before that, she was squirming and crying until she finally kicked her feet free of a cute pair of shoes Angie had put on her feet. What a fussy, funny little girl! But hey, all of us have our preferences too.
When Squish is crying, there is one solution that works almost every time. Stepping outside, where she can feel the breeze and hear the birds, she almost instantly falls silent and calm. As Angie always says, “Distraction is key.”
Observing all of these quirks — many of which will surely shift like sands with the tide over coming months — what I have learned is this: my baby is smarter than I sometimes give her credit for. And she’s getting smarter every day.
It is truly amazing that in this one little life is a personality just bursting to get out, complete with interests and quirks, distastes and dreams, humour and chutzpah, and so much more.
And we have the privilege of helping to shape this little life!
Image via Unsplash.