Half-y birthday!

As our wee daughter lies sleeping in her crib, with a peaceful expression on her sweet baby face, my mind goes back to the days when nobody in the house got any sleep.

Sunday marked six months from the day Maddi entered the world as a purple, wrinkled conehead who only slept while eating or being held. It is hard to believe it’s been six whole months, but at the same time, some days it feels so much longer.

A half-year ago, Maddi was swimming in tiny sleepers that now would be hard-pressed to accommodate even one of her chubby legs. She has gained 4 and a half inches in height and weighs nine pounds, three-and-a-half ounces more than she did on her first day here. No slouch in the eating department, Maddi quickly graduated from her first 2-ounce meal and now takes in at least 9 ounces at a sitting and started solids last week. In a mere two seasons, our darling daughter has outgrown all of her newborn clothes, all of her 0 to 3-month clothes, and 90 percent of her 3- to 6-month clothing — and can remove her own socks and shoes in a flash.

When we brought her home, Maddi could hold her head steady for a few seconds and make good eye contact. We thought this was marvelous. But now, her talents are seemingly infinite. She smiles, laughs, coos, squeals, shrieks, babbles and blows raspberries. She sits unsupported, spins on her tummy, rolls over, points, reaches, inserts her own pacifier (although only at bedtime and naptime now!), bangs toys on her high chair, and passes a ball from one hand to the other. A few days ago, while I was feeding her, Maddi even had the dexterity to snatch the spoon from my too-tenuous grip and hungrily shovel her applesauce into her own mouth. (Did I mention it’s impossible to feed the child quickly enough for her liking? And that she routinely eats thrice what one would expect of a normal baby despite having been fed prior? This is what pie-eating championships are made of!)

Not only has Maddi grown physiologically, her little intellect is blossoming as well. As a newborn, she gazed out at the world and had NO idea what was going on. But no longer!

Our young Galileo has discovered the joy of dropping things over the side of her high chair. If I happen to be in the way, she will simply move around me to conduct her experiments with gravity. She has not, as yet, figured out how to grab her slippery rubber duck, and spends countless minutes chasing it about the bathtub. Ditto for the Fisher-Price Roll-Arounds that are constantly gliding out of her chubby hands.

In addition to all her little noises, Maddi has discovered that she can communicate by reaching, pointing, and making sad little baby faces. Not a day goes by when she doesn’t see her beloved pacifier sitting on the ottoman, waiting for her bedtime story. Her eyes grow wide and she points frantically to her sucky, and then looks piteously into my eyes when I give her a toy instead.

But even more than she enjoys communicating with people, Maddi wants to be friends with the housecats. “Kittycat Theatre” in her playpen can entertain the baby for a good 20 minutes, and Maddi loves nothing better than, with extremely careful supervision, to run a hand over the soft fur of our long-haired domestics. Several times, we’ve been playing on the floor in her room when suddenly, the little one’s face lights up. Invariably, I will turn to see a cat lurking in the doorway, eyes fixed on Maddi as the baby smiles and quivers with delight. Of course, the subsequent flapping, banging and shrieking usually result in the alacritous departure of said cat, but I suppose it will be awhile before Maddux completely understands the concept of “cause and effect”.

However, the cats’ reluctance to come snuggle with our flapping, fur-grabbing fiend has not dissuaded her from trying to snuggle up to them. In addition to stretching out her arms for a furry embrace (needless to say, the cats don’t return the sentiment), Maddi has recently started making a “Kkkk” sound when a cat walks by. Earlier today, she spied Deva, then stared over at me wide-eyed, smiling from ear to ear, and jabbered “Kkk … kkk….” and then gleefuly shouted, “Hakkt!” Ridiculous as it may sound, I am thoroughly convinced that she was trying to say “cat.” Need I remind you, she doesn’t yet say “Mama” or “Dada” — even in a nonsensical, babbling context.

Yes, she’s definitely a much older, wiser baby than the one we brought home six months ago. With each day, she improves her skills in so many ways — eats a little more efficiently, sits more steadily, holds onto that troublesome bath duckie a second or two longer.

I saw a little three-month old in the mall last week, and I realized that it really hasn’t been so long at all since little Maddi was that young. And yet, just 13 weeks or so later, she’s a completely different baby.

“They” say to treasure your babies, because the time you are given with them is so short. I’ve been treasuring as hard as I can (quite possibly to an unhealthy degree!), and I still wonder where the time has gone. At night, I’m keenly aware that my sleeping baby is growing right under my nose, and often Chris and I will tiptoe into her room and watch our little one dream away.

There’s never enough time to cram in enough loving and cuddling and playing to last me through the teen-age years when she will doubtless be too cool for her mother to smother in kisses. Even though at times it feels it’s been a year or two or ten — rather than six months — since I had a minute in the day to breathe, it’s clear when I look at our growing girl that the weeks and months are all too fleeting.

In a scant six months — which will probably feel more like three — I will be writing Maddi’s one-year entry, an entry I can’t even imagine today since, as it is, I find it so difficult even to comprehend that she has somehow arrived halfway there.

Sweet dreams, little Maddi. Despite my fervent wishes, you won’t stay little for long!

And here’s our little six-month old:

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