Getting a head

Laurel has started to do this thing when she’s sitting in my lap, facing the same way I’m facing, where she just … lifts her head forward and holds it upright. She started doing it Wednesday while we were at our new-parents group, and she did it again today — specifically, to lunge at my hand, which she wanted to explore with her mouth.

She’s still pretty bobble-headed, but this is the first week she’s shown an interest in seriously taking command of where her head is going in the to-and-fro direction. She’s been moving it from side to side for a few weeks now, I suppose because she can do that even when she’s lying down, but this forward/back thing is new.

Of course, when she grasped my hand with both of hers and lunged at it with her mouth wide open, I started cracking up laughing, which startled her.

Unfortunately, her curiosity has preceded her head control — when we’re out and about, she’d like to look at everything, but it requires one of us holding her head at all times because she hasn’t got the strength yet to do it all on her own.

We’ve also begun practicing tummy time in earnest to make up for all those weeks we didn’t do it because she’d spend the whole time rooting around on the floor, looking for non-existent breasts to nurse on, and then wailing because she couldn’t find them. After a few days of us starting her propped up on her arms in a little “baby pushup,” she’s been able to manage a few pushups on her own. She also occasionally tries to roll over, but the whole effort frustrates and exhausts her. She’s also pretty content to lay on her tummy and suck on her hand for minutes on end. But then, who wouldn’t be?

— Beth

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Lessons from the Vietnam War

Devin, to Laurel: So remember, if you should ever have to set up a puppet government, choose a charismatic leader who will take orders effectively, and have a backup charismatic leader who also takes orders effectively in case you have to assassinate the first one.

Laurel: *spits up*

— Beth

Grasping at things

Several weeks ago, Laurel’s great-grandmother gave her this soft blanket which happens to have a giraffe’s head mounted in the center of it. (Not in a Godfather way.) I’ve been using it to keep her warm this past week, the same week she’s been developing her ability to grab things. This resulted in her pulling the head up close to her face and then stuffing the nose into her mouth:

You can also see video of her burgeoning grasping skills here.

Laurel’s almost three months old now, and that’s a big milestone for babies (who, I guess, stop being “newborns” around that point). She’s getting better at holding up her head, at grabbing what she meant to grab, etc. I’m also happy to report that breastfeeding is going much more smoothly for us now, despite lots of hiccups and challenges up to this point, and so I wanted to make a small list of public places we’ve nursed during her first 11 weeks of life:

Dolores Park
Natural Resources (lots of times)
Various doctor’s offices
Various cafes
The Powell Street BART Station
Chenery Park
Chow
Thirsty Bear (nursing and tapas go surprisingly well together)
The track in San Francisco State University’s Cox Stadium (during commencement ceremonies)

… all of them without anyone giving us a hard time about it. Where should we go next?

— Beth

Pathos magnet

Something about bringing a very small baby on public transit brings out the tenderest of stories from some of the most unlikely-looking men.

Last weekend, on our way back from a dinner with friends, we got into a conversation with a man on the J-Church line. When he boarded I noticed him instantly for his muscle shirt, blond flat-top haircut and Native American jewelry. When he saw Laurel he smiled and melted a little, showing off his missing teeth.

He told us about his son, now 7, and how much he’s loved raising him so far. He showed us pictures and told us how having a child has helped him heal from his own difficult childhood. This guy, who looked like an aging frat boy, even talked fondly of carrying his son in a wearable carrier (he called it a “papoose”).

The next night, Laurel was restless and we had to wait about 15 minutes for our train, so I started nursing her in the Powell Street BART station. An older guy with a ponytail struck up conversation with us, mainly with Devin, asking how old Laurel is and talking some about his estranged relationship with his wife and son. He advised us to stay together no matter how bad things get; he and his wife had divorced and it was rough on everybody. It sounded like he missed them both a great deal.

Laurel has a softening effect on a lot of people who meet her, in part because she’s so young and cute and bright-eyed, but I don’t think we ever expected that her presence would invite this kind of pouring-out of emotion. It’s sweet, really, and a bit sad — these guys seemed really hungry to share and be open, with whomever might listen.

— Beth