Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Buddy Story

Remember last summer when we almost lost the Monkey cat?

The poor thing was at death's door, suffering from a lymphoma that rendered her unable to eat. After the surgery and the feeding tube and the chemo (well, we'll never be done with the chemo), I am thrilled to report that the Monkey is her old frenetic, insanely social self. Not only that, but my fondest hope in that area has been realized -- the Monkey and Gabby are fast becoming buddies.

From the day we brought Gabby home from the hospital, the changing pad has been Monkey's favorite roost. Tonight, we also caught her snuggling in Gabby's folded up play mat, clearly relishing the smell of her little companion.

And Gabby has become aware of the cat as well. Although she has been smiling and laughing for a while now, Gabby let out her very first genuine shriek of delight when the Monkey jumped up onto the bed. Now she looks for her, and giggles like crazy every time she sees her furry little buddy.

Thank you, oh cancer gods, for sparing our Monkey, even for a little while. Every moment we have her with us is precious, and every smile she brings to our baby's face is a blessing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Who's Trippin' Down the Streets of the City

. . . smiling at everybody she sees?

Everyone knows it's Gabby!

I don't whether it's just babies generally or whether it's Gabby's penchant for making eye contact, laughing and smiling at everyone, but everywhere we go people smile at us and strike up pleasant conversations.

We toodle around town with Gabby strapped to me in her carrier, facing outward. She almost never fusses when she's in there -- she's too busy looking around at stuff and charming the pants off the folks at the produce stand, the bus driver, the baristas at Starbucks, and random pedestrians who catch her eye. She can't see me behind her, but she clearly knows I'm there as she confidently greets her public.

The other day an elderly woman approached us on the street. A soft, wistful smile spread across her face. She said a few words in Chinese, and touched Gabby's hand. Then she said a few more words and walked away. I suppose she could have been asking for directions to Fillmore Street, but something in her tone sounded like a blessing.

Later on, we got on a crowded bus during rush hour. A woman immediately jumped up and gave us her seat -- something that never happened during my pregnancy. We started chatting, and then another woman joined in the discussion, all the while cooing and smiling at Gabby. Standing between us and the women was a young gangsta-looking guy, with the baggy pants and the gold grill -- the whole nine. He, too, looked at Gabby and busted out a very ungangsta-like smile. He said, "Oh, they grow up so fast. My little girl is nine now, and it feels like she was just born yesterday. Enjoy this time."

Pretty soon half the passengers on the bus were chatting together and cooing and coochie-cooing Gabby, and she was eating it up, giggling and "talking" the whole while. It was wonderful to see this tiny girl bring people together.

I'm just happy to be a member of her entourage.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Ties That Bind

The Peanut is the spitting image of her father. Same eye shape and color, same complexion, same round head. I joke about how I don't know who her mother is, since she doesn't look a thing like me.

And when I make those jokes, I wince, because a little more than a year ago I didn't know whether I would ever have a child with a genetic connection to me, and that was breaking my heart. I truly believe that it would have made no difference in terms of how much I love my child or how I parent her if she had come to us via adoption or an egg donor. Yet, at the time we were considering these options, the possible loss of that genetic link felt like a pretty brutal narcissistic injury.

Some of my desires and fears in this area stemmed from my mother's experience. When my mother found her five birth siblings after years of searching, we were all amazed at how much she was like them. Despite having grown up in two very different families, on opposite coasts, my mother and her birth relatives shared not just a physical resemblance, but similar tastes, gestures, vocal intonations, even hobbies. (Who knew that mah jongg was genetic?)

In the eleven years since, we have all remarked on and rejoiced over those similarities. We have celebrated the genetic ties that bind us together and make us a family despite our lack of shared history.

And now there's a new kid in the family, one who shares my DNA. Who knows what genetic traits she has inherited from me? I certainly hope not a propensity toward obesity, diabetes, ovarian or breast cancer, and it would be nice if she were spared the nearsightedness as well.

I have no idea whether she will come to resemble me in any way. At any rate, at least right now, she doesn't look like me.

The weird thing is, that is totally ok with me. When I look at my daughter, I don't find myself searching for myself or my husband. I find myself gazing at a unique individual. She is completely and only herself. She looks like Gabby. Which is exactly as it should be.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

And Speaking of Milestones . . .

Guess who did a complete 360 degree roll last night?

Gabby has (knock wood) been a pretty good sleeper since she was born, but the last few nights we've had a really hard time getting her to sleep. I said to Atomic, "I bet she's fussy because she's working on doing something new." Lo and behold, she was.

She flipped back to front, and then front to back, and then looked up at us as if to say, "Hey, check me out!" Huge, toothless grin.

I know, I know, it's not like she suddenly stood up and started reciting the Gettysburg Address, but still. I'm proud. I can't help it.

Does that make me boring/lame/typical? Yeah, probably. But who knew boring/lame/typical would be so much fun?

*** Update as of 4/12/08: since her magnificent initial performance of said roll, Miss Tish has shown absolutely no inclination to repeat the feat. She's content to rest on her laurels (and on her mommy's shoulder) for a while, I suppose.****