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Split Focus

4_to_6_weeks_002.jpgCora’s almost two months now, and for the first time since she was born, Madeleine’s having to compete for my attention.

Sure, I’ve been taking care of Cora and lovingly tending to her needs this whole time. But there’s been a bit of “housekeeper-ness” to the whole thing: play with Maddie while holding a sleeping baby. Feed and talk to Madeleine while keeping Cora’s pacifier in her mouth. Read Maddie a book while nursing Cora. Cora’s been in the potted plant stage thus far – carry it around and water it and it’ll live. Not a lot of interaction needed. Some of it’s been simply the way it is, and some of it’s been deliberate – trying to ease Cora into the household with the minimum of hurt feelings and abandonment issues.

For the past couple of weeks, though, Cora’s become aware of her surroundings and has been trying to interact. It started, of course, with the smiling: right around six weeks she began giving that tentative “is this what I’m supposed to do with my mouth when I’m happy?” smile, which has blossomed into a full-on merry grin. She’s especially happy in the morning, smiling and waving at anyone in her vision as if to say, “Hey! You’re here again! That’s so great I get to see you two days in a row!”

Eye contact, too, has grown significantly. She really tries to focus on you and will follow you as you walk around – or at least, for the five feet in front of you that she can see. She’ll fall asleep somewhat easily in her bouncy seat if I’m standing over her, but if I start to move away while her eyes are open she’ll begin fretting and whining. I think we have the beginnings of separation anxiety planting itself firmly in my little one.

And then she’s also been doing that newborn cooing thing – you say something, she coos, you coo back, she gurgles, you gurgle to her, and so on. She’s genuinely trying to interact with you, and can tell when you’re not engaged. Which means that there’s no more keeping her at my feet like a cute puppy during dinner (in the bouncy seat, don’t worry), but paying all my attention to Maddie. And believe me, Madeleine’s noticed that I turn to Cora and smile and chat with her. Maddie’s not jealous or angry, but I sense a dimming, a wilting, until the wattage of Mommy’s attention is turned back on her like and emotional Grow Lamp and she blossoms again.

So for the first time I’m seeing the girls more as equals, and cherishing the time I have alone with Cora – usually nursing or holding her while Maddie naps. We’re starting our relationship together, and that feels good.

On the other hand, this is also the beginning of the Not Showing Favoritism Tightrope Walk. Not so good.


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