Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Little Elisheva - Now With Pictures

Post Edit - I've added lots of pictures.
Elisheva turned a year old two weeks ago today. I've been in the midst of making a large picture heavy post detailing the first year of her life, but realized that what I really want to do is muse a little on my second daughter, and what she is to me. This post meanders through memories, descriptions and thoughts, but I'd rather have my raw thoughts than a polished narrative.

Once we knew that we were having a girl, Avram and I worked and worked to find a name we could agree on, that also seemed to fit our as yet unseen baby. We both had favorites, but could not agree. Finally, in desperation of finding a name any other way, I wrote down every woman mentioned in the Bible from Genesis 1:1 on. After compiling a whole page, we sat down together and took turns crossing names off the list we knew we could never use. When there were under twenty or so names left, we looked at each one carefully. Elisheva was a name that Avram had suggested early on in the name search, but it did not appeal to me then. As it came up this time again, I agreed to give it more thought. Elisheva means My God is my covenant, and the name Elizabeth is the English version of the name. Elisheva was the wife of Aaron in the Old Testament.

We were also kicking around some other names, most notably Freya, but we agreed to try calling our baby Elisheva for a couple of days, and see how we felt about it. One morning as I sat in my bath, I looked at my baby "bump" (such a Britishism), and asked her how she felt about being named Elisheva. I tried to imagine a baby with that name. And although the name itself had never meant much to me, calling her Elisheva seemed to fit.

That was my first real moment of connection with Elisheva. After her birth the name connected to her immediately, and never have I thought that she doesn't seem to be an Elisheva.

Elisheva Anne entered the world at 9:17 pm on April 28. Immediately after her birth the midwife placed her on my chest and then she and her apprentice left the room while Avram and I spent some alone time with her. As Elisheva was still attached to the umbilical cord, we could not move her around much, so I had no clear visual picture of her. She was this heavy weight on me, and yet such a slight one as well. I will remember forever holding her small, slippery body, a solid red torso, and dark, thick hair. After nine months of pregnancy, and a brief, if intensive, labour, the room in the half dark was so quiet. Avram and I could hardly believe that another soul had joined us, that we had a second daughter.

Lydia as my first child was so...large. Sparkling. Everything she did was a first for us. We did acrobatics over her first smile, over her small amount of blonde hair and her tiny little body that soon filled out into the normal baby dimples. Lydia defined Motherhood for me, and we spent months glorying in each other's company, with few other distractions.

Elisheva, starting with when I held her in the twilight of that April, has been a softer, quieter experience of love and Mothering for me. Oh, I knew I loved her from the moment she came, and from before, when I carried her in my womb. Elisheva was a baby deeply wanted. I knew that there is always enough love for more children. I just never realized how differently I would feel love towards my two girls.

Elisheva's babyhood did not send me into paroxysms of joy every moment, every glance, every feeble arm wave. Six weeks after her birth we moved from England to Virginia, and much of that time was spent in preparing for the impending move. Elisheva was a model baby for times of such change - she immediately took to sleeping well at night and napping. A confirmed thumbsucker from early ultrasounds on, after birth Elisheva could not find her thumb, and so would try and suck on any thing she could find. After spending literal hours having her suck on various fingers of mine and Avram's, I caved on my "no pacifier" stance, and we bought her a guckie (as we call them, from the guck-guck noise they make).
Elisheva loved to suck on her guckie, and was quite happy those first few months wrapped well with her guckie, while lying in a bouncy chair being gently rocked. I certainly spent less time holding Elisheva than I had Lydia, but every night I looked forward to her gentle weight in my arms as we slept. I loved the quiet closeness of co-sleeping. Elisheva felt like mostly a dead weight bundle of swarthy torso in those days. She had red-tinged skin, and a sturdy build that sat like a lump in our arms. In fact, her nickname for her first few months was, in jest, Lump. While in Virginia we lost the guckies, and the small American ones didn't cut it for Elisheva's tastes, so she prematurely ended that love.

While we sojourned in Virginia for a couple of months, Elisheva moved out of the newborn stage. She learned to smile, although not until two months old, and gained weight rapidly. Soon she was a mass of dimpled thighs and three chins, a baby's delight to kiss. Still of a gentle disposition, Elisheva made less of a splash in the family dynamics. Lydia had been a high need baby, one who did not nap well unless held, and who demanded a lot of personal attention. Elisheva was happy to go with the flow, and as long as she was fed and changed when desired had few if any complaints with the world.

Elisheva rolled over for the first time the day we moved to Ohio, when she was barely four months old. At six months, she sat up and could play contentedly with toys around her. At seven and a half months I moved her out of our bed into a crib in Lydia's room. Once she could army crawl (at about seven months), our nightly trysts of sweet and gentle sleep became torture sessions of movement and kickings. At the same time, Elisheva started sleeping through the night, and adapted to being put down awake in her crib instead of being nursed to sleep for nappings and bedtimes.

Meanwhile, at six months, she topped out at 20 plus pounds, and so earned her second two nicknames, Chubbery Bubbery and Chunkers or Chunker Monkers. Elisheva no longer deserved the moniker "Lump" - when she began crawling on Christmas Eve, at almost eight months, she immediately took off all over the house, and shortly was pulling herself up to furniture and cruising along them as well. By Christmas Elisheva had had six teeth come in (which is the number she still maintains), and took off with solid eating at a run. Elisheva will eat anything and everything, and quite decidedly, once she is done with an item, will drop it off the right hand side of her high chair. If you have the impudence to think she dropped it by mistake and return the morsel of food to her, she'll catch your eye, and then deliberately hold the food over the right edge and drop it with emphasis. One of her favorite places is her high chair (although now she has decided she likes Lydia's better), and for a few months most pictures of Elisheva are of her in her high chair.

In the second half of her life thus far Elisheva has changed for me from a quiet, warm lump of love that I first held right after birth to a cheer, chubby little girl, inquisitive and physically adventuresome. Although still in the main undemanding, Elisheva has plenty of personality now, and shows it aplenty! Elisheva loves dolls, and from 10 months onwards would smile and grin when she would see any doll. She received a present of a baby doll for her first birthday, and loves to alternately bite the vinyl arms and legs, hug the soft body, and take turns sucking on the doll bottle and then providing a turn for the doll herself. Elisheva will hug her when sleeping as well. Elisheva also loves climbing, and can climb up onto the couch or onto Lydia's toddler bed (to Lydia's eternal frustration).

Elisheva gives a grin that shows all her six teeth and makes your heart melt. She will emphatically shake her head back and forth, and has for months, for no apparent reason.

Just as I love Lydia because she is my first child, and defined the very act of Mothering to me, Elisheva has broadened the definition. She has shown me how much a second personality, one so unlike my own, has its own captivating charms. Elisheva, during most of her first year, has not been blessed as a traditionally attractive baby. But I love the looks she can give, and the sheer determinism in her face.
Elisheva is on the verge of walking, which I look forward to with great anticipation. Three weeks ago she started standing for upwards of 15-20 seconds, and two and a half weeks ago she took once step. Then yesterday she took two steps (or completed a whole step, depending how you look at it), and she can also stand upwards of a couple of minutes now. Lydia was slow at physical things, so it's fun to see Elisheva forge ahead in what feels like quick time to me.

Elisheva is still easygoing - she will play for long periods of time crawling around, getting into whatever is in her reach. She will sing along to music, and often makes crooning, high pitched noises while engrossed in her play. That's usually when I have the sudden urge to snatch her up and kiss her all over.

Lydia has always loved Elisheva, but has often shown that love through exessive physical contact. Over the months, as Lydia has learned to be softer and Elisheva has been able to interact more, they have spent increasing time playing and entertaining each other. They love to play peek-a-boo together, and no one can make Elisheva laugh as hard as Lydia can.

Elisheva continues to hover at 20 pounds, and her once dark hair has lightened to a honey brown. As her face slims out in toddler-hood, her eyes come more to the fore. They are dark Grayish Blue, with hints of brown and green - Hazel eyes, but not lost in the muddle of different colors, but rather enhanced by the hints of the depth of color.

Happy Birthday Elisheva! I love you, and look forward to discovering new sides of your personality as we grow together.


  1. Pictures, please! (That high chair trick with the eye catching is too funny!)

  2. Her temperament sounds so similar to my Becca's. These second daughters seem so content and peaceable, though fiercely stubborn at times too!

  3. Aww, I'm falling in love with her!

  4. Happy birthday little cutie!

  5. Ah, now that's the way to please an audience — lots and lots of great pictures of your adorable offspring. Can't wait to see them again.

    BTW, Yvonne and I had a firm "no pacifiers" rule in place when we had Amy. It took exactly one sleepless night in the hospital with a cranky newborn for us to recant that policy. To our relief, the inevitable weaning from "Sucky-thing" as we called it, some months later, was thankfully painless.

  6. AHHH! It's so cute. you look gorgeous right after giving birth. she is so big and beautiful.

  7. What a sweet baby. You two are lucky to have each other.