Newborns are a trip.
Though I absolutely believe they’re conscious little beings who already have thoughts and personalities and opinions on things, I also think they live in tiny little bodies that still need to work out their kinks.
Part of that is because their sensory systems are still developing and they’re much more sensitive to noise. That’s why they startle so easily to semi-loud sounds, with their arms usually flailing out above or beside them.
It goes beyond that, though.
Chloe, for instance, has what my husband has nicknamed “crazy eyes.” In her first days of life, she’d go cross-eyed every now and then. She’d even do a wandering eye thing where one eye would look up while the other looked elsewhere. “All normal,” said our pediatrician. “It’ll go away in a matter of time.”
He was right—it already has. Now her crazy eyes surface only when she’s sleeping. Everybody knows that our eyes dart around when we’re in REM sleep, right? Well, when Chloe is experiencing REM sleep, she flat-out opens her eyes. Thinking she’s woken up, I’ll start talking to her. No sooner do I tell her something super-sweet than her eyes roll up and to the back of her head, dart around, and then go over to the side.
On top of that, she’ll follow her eye-rolling with a sleepy grin. It really makes me feel like I’m getting a preview of what she’ll look like as a teenager when I tell her things and she rolls her eyes and then laughs at me.
Then there’s her bobbly head. “She’s got incredible neck strength, now doesn’t she!” said our pediatrician at her two-week appointment. Truth be told, she’s been lifting her head on her own since the day she was born.
She loves to lift her head and look around. But what she hasn’t mastered yet is controlled movement. Meaning, she’ll lift her head gracefully. She’ll look you in the eye with her dark, frank gaze. Then she’ll turn her head to look at something else.
Unfortunately, you’ve got to be holding on to her with both hands or that simple head turn will launch her sideways and to the floor. There’s a wild amount of power in it, and it keeps catching me off guard. We warn people who want to hold her by telling them she’s a flight risk.
Finally, you’ve got the constantly whirling limbs. Researchers call this the “active alert” stage for newborns. Not only are newborns awake in this stage but they’re also clawing and pawing at everything with both arms and legs. It makes it nearly impossible to keep socks on them or put on a diaper that covers every crack and crevice.
What it does do is make you quick with your hands, swift to laugh, and ready to marvel at the slightest advance in all the bobbly-wobblyness. For now though, I sure am enjoying it.