Baby a-go-go

As any new parent will tell you, when you exult in the joys of your sweet and wonderful baby, there is always some kind person who is more than willing to utter these encouraging words: “Well, just wait ’til she starts crawling.”

These are usually the same people who, in the third trimester when you are falling asleep on your feet because you were up all night peeing, slapping your tingling legs awake and enjoying the spirited performance of Riverdance inside your midsection, offer up this oh-so-helpful gem: “Better get your sleep while you can!”

Of course, we all finally discover that while colic, projectile vomiting and babies who never sleep are indeed no picnic, it isn’t as bad as the gloom-and-doom set make it out to be, either. Sure, there are lots of things about babies that put a definite cramp in your lifestyle, not least of which is the fact that you may never wear nice clothes or get more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep again. But one wonders why these people never tell you about the joys of having a sleepy baby snuggle in against your chest, or the excitement you’ll experience when they pass those important milestones, the warmth that will fill your heart when your little one laughs, or that wonderful smell that can be found only in baby hair.

Doomsayers’ somber declarations aside, Chris and I have done our waiting and Maddi has started crawling.

She is, as the expression goes, “into everything.” In a week’s time, we’ve gone from having a baby who could theoretically be left unattended in an unbabyproofed room for an hour and come out unscathed (not that we’ve tested this theory!) to tending a tot who is on a mission to devour every hazardous object in the house and create a big mess doing it.

Her arms and legs aren’t quite coordinated yet, so sometimes her arms will be moving at a half-mile per hour and her legs, attempting to break the 1 mph barrier, will propel her directly onto her face. Conversely, her arms may move faster than her little legs and she will do a bellyflop on the floor, with legs flailing desperately for a foothold. But despite her silly-looking crawl, she’s getting more proficient by the day and has developed several new tricks.

In addition to traveling into the hallway from her bedroom while I check on the bathwater, Maddi has begun making a beeline for the one nonbabyproofed part of her room — a heating grate where we used a tiny strip of cardboard wedged into the adjuster to hold the vent open. Her deepest desire is to remove this chunk of cardboard goodness from the grate and sample its fine, woody flavor.

The cats, perhaps, are the ones most affected by Maddi’s crawling. Over the past several days, they’ve learned that sitting two feet away from the baby — just out of lunging range — is no longer a safe option. Maddi isn’t the fastest crawler, but she is fast enough to surprise an unsuspecting cat who is used to a nonmobile baby. Now, if the cats get close enough, they sit poised to run at a moment’s notice and keep a wary green eye trained on the little fur-grabber.

Her other tricks, however, have actually improved our quality of life — much, I am sure, to the chagrin of the “wait ’til she starts crawling” people (who, I am convinced, hate babies but didn’t discover it until they had one of their own that they couldn’t give back when it pooped or began crying). Before we had a mobile baby, Maddi began to cry each morning at the crack of 7 when she awoke. But now, she doesn’t start fussing until 7:30 or perhaps even 8, when she’s hungry. The reason? Our little genius has discovered that if she crawls to the foot of her crib and snakes out a wee arm, she can snag the box with her small toys and pull it toward the crib.

One morning last week, I heard Maddi fussing and went to her room to pick her up. There sat our baby in her crib, surrounded by about five different playthings. Later in the day, I asked Chris, “Honey, did you put toys in the baby’s crib?” Nope. Our daughter had pulled an assortment of her favorite rattles and teething toys into the crib and amused herself for probably an hour, allowing Mommy to get some much-needed extra shuteye. And in fact, every morning since, she has had at least one toy in her crib by the time I’ve been summoned for her morning meal.

Before we had Maddi, while we were planning her nursery, we ran across these crib sheets that fit around the entire mattress, and you just zip the top on. They make for quick, easy sheet changes and there’s no possible way your baby can get tangled up in sheets that have come off the mattress.

Another bonus to these nifty sheets is one that Maddi’s discovered. Twice, we have discovered the sheet partially unzipped at the top. I don’t know about Nana, but the time I zipped it back up, the zipper pull was covered in slobber. Apparently, Maddi is working on her unzipping skills at the same time she’s amusing herself in her crib.

She’s no longer a lap baby, either. Maddi won’t be content until she gets onto the floor and crawls around. If the person holding her doesn’t get the hint when Maddi stares at something on the ground, our wee one will then do her best impersonation of a freshly-caught sturgeon until she tires her holder out or is carried from the room, protesting all the while.

Sure, things are a little more difficult in some ways now that Maddi is mobile. Although we’re no longer on “fetching duty” for toys out of her reach, we’ve got to watch her like a hawk, and plopping her down in one part of a room if there’s anything unbabyproofed somewhere else in the room simply isn’t an option, because babies apparently have a special kind of radar.

But as for regrets, we are sorry to announce to those who make ominous pronouncements regarding how much we’ll enjoy (or rather, not) our lovely baby once she starts crawling, walking or talking, we are still having a great time with our little one! (We just can’t say the same for the poor cats, is all.)

And here’s a shot of our little one with a bunny poached from her toybox:

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