Maisie and I are at home in South Carolina, at my parents' house, and having a big time. We've been here for a week already and will be here for the rest of this week, too. Jake flew down to spend the weekend with us because he certainly couldn't go two weeks without seeing his baby. We will drive back on Saturday, stopping about halfway to spend the night with Jake's parents in North Carolina. This works out perfectly, because not only do I get to stop halfway (thus saving me from ten or twelve straight hours in the car with an infant and Little Sammy), but Maisie gets to see her grandparents and get some extra loving.
All of her grandparents have been glad to see her. We stopped in NC on our way here, too, so she had paternal grandparent time then, and my parents have been spoiling her since we've arrived here. My dad left for a business trip yesterday and oh, he was so sad. He will come home before we leave, thankfully. He has always had a special talent for spoiling little girls (well, Betsy and me) and Maisie is no exception. He sings to her and rocks her just like he did for me. On Friday night she sat on his lap, facing out, while he rocked her and rubbed her little tummy. She was in heaven -- she must have sat there like that, looking all around, wide awake, for more than an hour. It was especially sweet because she looks JUST LIKE HIM. The way she was sitting, with her back to his chest -- the resemblance was unmistakable. It was like one large male face looking at us and then a tiny little female version just below it. My dad tried to claim that he did not see the likeness, but he has had to reconsider because almost everyone who sees her who knows him immediately exclaims, "Oh, doesn't she look like Jim!" Friday night we were out at dinner and the lady at the next booth stopped my dad as he was carrying Maisie out in her car seat. She said, "Is that your grandbaby?" He said yes and she said, "Yeah, I can tell!" I am pretty sure when strangers notice and comment, that means you really do look alike.
In addition to hanging with her grandparents, Maisie has gotten to meet great-grandparents (I have three grandparents who all live in Abbeville, too), some of my aunts and uncles, three of my cousins, three of my cousins' children, and a bunch of family friends. We still have lots of people left for her to meet, too -- that's why I have to come home for more than a week every time I come!
Through all of the excitement of traveling and a new place and lots of visitors and lots of visiting, Maisie has been just a dream. She loves to be held and she smiles so often now -- pretty much every time I try, I can get a big grin from her. I really enjoyed the first few weeks of motherhood (more than I ever anticipated, considering that's supposed to be the hardest part), but as wonderful as those first few weeks were (and really, they were pretty wonderful, especially after she came home from the hospital), the last week or two have been unbelievable. She changes every day -- her hair gets lighter, her eyes get bluer, her lashes grow longer, her fingers grow more and more like mine, she holds her head steadier, she smiles wider, she babbles louder. It's pretty much sheer joy watching her personality unfold. She is content and calm -- already entertaining herself by kicking and cooing in her bassinet for long stretches -- and alert and engaged -- really staring at us and babbling and grinning for as long as we are willing. We think she's pretty much the ideal tiny* companion, right down to how good she smells and how good she feels in our arms. Is there anything better than cuddling a warm fat sweet-smelling smiling cooing baby? I don't think so.
She also now reliably sleeps for at least a six-hour stretch at night, then wakes and goes back to sleep for another few hours. She's been a good sleeper from the get-go but I now feel like I can get an almost-normal night's rest. Waking up once is pretty great at eight weeks, right? I don't have any comparisons, but I'll take it. (Apparently I was sleeping ten hours or so at eight weeks, but I had also been eating rice cereal and other real food since I was about three weeks old, so... times have changed.)
I don't really think there's a downside to having such a sweet and even-tempered baby, but if there is one, it's that on those rare occasions when she is fussy -- and on the even rarer occasions when she actually cries and screams -- I know that something is wrong and I feel terrible. It is, without fail, something that I did (or did not do) and I get all flustered trying to fix it. Luckily this has not happened too often. Mostly she fusses because she's wet or hungry, and those are easy to remedy.
Mainly, she is the most fun little* person we can imagine. Today is my thirty-first birthday and it was wonderful for all the obvious reasons. I have always been a lucky person but this kind of good fortune is just unreal.
*"Tiny" and "little" are relative, of course. At eight weeks, Maisie pretty much looks like a four-month-old.