What they didn't, or perehaps couldn't, tell me was that having a baby is quite literally akin to taking a chunk of your soul and placing it in the cutest possible packaging right outside of your body. And, for the first few months at least, that little chunk of soul is so close to you so often that it sort of is easy to pretend you are still one. She sleeps better next to you. Her body folds into yours perfectly. Her smile is a mirror of yours. You are separate, but she has yet to catch on and you sure as HELL aren't going to be the one to point it out to her and start on the road to her hating you and thinking you are the 'meanest mommy ever' before it's her time.
I think the point at which that little chunk of your soul becomes a separate and distinct being is different for everyone. As a mom who breastfeeds, especially, I think for Luca it took awhile to recognize that we are not the same person. The first sign she was starting to realize this came at about 3 months old, when suddenly she realized that while nursing she could unlatch, roll from side to back, look at me, smile with milk leaking down her cheek, and then roll back on her side and carry on. And, she could (and did) do this about 8,765 times per nursing session. I remember when she was first born and my mom (who breastfed 4 kids) told me that baby should be able to breastfeed in 5-10 minutes per session. At the time, this just made me feel like there MUST be something wrong, since Luca only finished in less than 40 minutes if she fell asleep while eating. Anyhow, by 3 months she'd shortened each meal to about...oh...30 minutes. That is, until she discovered that - HELLO! - I was there! Right there! Just a roll away! And so it began, Luca's realization that she and I were not one being any longer, along with the return to the never-ending nursing session.
With a face like that, though...could I really be annoyed?
It took me longer to recognize the separateness of our beings. No, really, though. I mean, on an intellectual level of COURSE I know we are two separate beings. But it wasn't until she made The Move. You moms know the one: The Move to The Crib.
For us, this happened when she was about 4.5 months old. I know, I know....moms everywhere are shaking their heads in disbelief that she slept in our room that long. And, just to get those heads shaking more vigorously, she even slept in our bed sometimes. That's right...right there in our bed. Horror of horrors. Next thing you know, we'll be buying her a pony and teaching her about liberalism and birth control.
Anyhow, I posted once before about how I want Luca to be able to embrace her Orange side for as long as possible. And part of this was letting her 'tell' us when she was ready for things like sleeping in her crib. And, much to the chagrin of the parents out there who would shake their head and wag a stern finger at us for being lax about where she was sleeping, she did indeed let us know when she was ready. And the transition, I'm proud to say, was 97% smooth. We still have our rough nights where she does not want to go to sleep. I still bring her back into bed with me sometimes in the middle of the night. But, by and large, it's been a success.
And yet, here I am, a month and a half into the whole crib experience, and I'm still adjusting. The little sprout is fine. She's happy. She sleeps like...well...a baby. And yet I find myself, night after night, creeping in to watch her breath. And when it's too dark, and I can't be sure she IS breathing, I crouch down and sneak an arm between the bars and lightly rest my palm on her back or belly, just to feel the rise and fall. It may as well be the rise and fall upon which the universe exists, as far as I am concerned. And in those moments, when the house is quiet and dark and my little bird is sleeping, safe and sound and without me to hold her (sob! I can't believe she doesn't NEED ME!), I have to remind myself that a chunk of my soul will forever live outside of my body. So I hold the warmth of her little body in my palm and I whisper "I love you so much." to her sleeping form, warm and pink and smelling of all things sweet and lovely, and I tip-toe out of her room into my bed and, like a kid waiting for Christmas, I anxiously await the morning when I can hold her little body again.