My favorite thing about maternity leave is the simply decadent hour that I get to spend with Harper each morning. In stark contrast to her feedings in the middle of the night, the morning feeding involves sunshine, coffee, and a very smiley little nugget. It starts with this post-swaddle victory pose:
Then, we settle into a pretty delicious routine.
She eats in the blind-slatted sunshine while I peruse the news and some favorite blogs on my IPad and drink the half-caf coffee that Darren has left me next to the bed. I swear, the NYTimes "Daily Briefing" was invented for new moms -- it gives me just the bite-sized nuggets of news that my sleep deprived brain can handle, and I get the one-inch-deep and six-inch-wide view of what is going on in the world that I need to make me feel like I have not completely lost touch with reality. It's a strange feeling for me to sit in the comfort of my own bed at 8 a.m. and read about the crises that would have just a few months ago defined my day -- the attack on the school in Peshawar, the attack on Charlie Hedbo -- or the Iran negotiations, India and Pakistan visits and Ukraine talks that I would have previously known the ins and outs of. I have to say, I thought it would be much harder to detach from it all, but I now find myself silently cheering on my colleagues from what feels like a 10,000-mile away perch and reveling in the stillness, the quiet, and the fact that I have absolutely nothing to do with what is going on in the world.
Next, she literally practices smiling! Each day it seems to get bigger and more reactive. Some days there is a little giggle attached and some days she pairs it with a demonstration of how high she can kick, how quickly she can scan my face, or how fast she can turn her head to follow a toy. Some days a foot or tummy tickle will prompt one, and some days such antics only harden her resolve not to act on command. But not a morning goes by when she doesn't bust out a big, toothless grin in my direction. Here's just a small collection of them:
Invariably, all of that smiling, kicking, face-scanning and head turning wears her out, and we get to end our hour like this:
Absolutely the best.