November 23, 1998

I’m starting late, Nellie – so many details and moments, I guess, that it’s hard to put pen to paper. Wondering, too, about the tone I want – hope for. Writing to you, certainly, but not sure how.

You’ve already changed a lot – grown, become so much more familiar. Things I’ve loved: the feel of your fingers brushing against my skin, feeling like you felt inside me, with odd little, gentle, sweet tickles. Your peaceful, beautiful face when you’re asleep. Translucent lids over large eyes and an exquisitely fine line from your cheek bone to your chin. The funny way you bob for my breast, arching your eyebrows, craning your neck, though you’re already better at it, more self-assured. The pleasure your Dad gets in watching you stretch.

Mostly what you’ve needed has been accessible so far – food, a cuddle and it’s remarkable when you look at me, make contact, since you are so much a physical being now – with the contact you need far more visceral, tactile, than the emotional needs (with a small n, compared to your capital N ones). I worry, though, about what you need. How much you need me – how much you need my presence, how much my directed attention, how much a sense of ease and surety that your parents can manage, are competent, are safe. You have a little lopsided grin which may not yet be a grin and a range of serious faces which are a treat. One is thoughtful: very still, with an attentive gaze and closed mouth, face symmetric. Another is funnier, more quizzical, with pursed lips in a tiny “O.” When you cry, and are really angry, you turn bright red, arch your back and neck and – after holding your breath – cry in gasps which make me pull the car to the side of the road to hold you – do anything to make you happier. I wonder if you remember being unhappy once you’re fed or held or rocked, or whether that all comes later. Sometimes I’m grateful when you go to sleep – for some adult time, a rest, a chance to pick up. But I’d give up everything for when you wake with that serious look on your face and play with me, gazing, following my face or my waving fingers as I move.

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