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out of focus

We’re quickly coming up on the end of Junebug’s fourth trimester – those first three months of infancy when child psychologists say it is impossible to spoil a baby; that surreal period of missed sleep when every moment spent snuggling one’s newborn feels like a minor miracle.

Our son, if memory serves, figured out how to roll over right around this age, which meant not only that we bid adieu to the burrito baby days sooner than we had expected, but also that he graduated from sleeping in a rock-n-play next to our bed to a crib in his own room. Junebug, on the other hand, seems to be in no particular hurry to be on the move and thereby lose a bit of her proximity to us. S’s mom swears Junebug had rolled over once a couple of weeks ago, but the claim seems suspect – not only because we have never seen her come even close to replicating the feat since but also because S’s mom did not actually see it happen.

Whereas we exiled Munchkin to his own room early on, Junebug has enjoyed the opposite treatment. Even before she returned to Kigali, S started bringing the baby into bed with her to make nighttime nursing easier, and co-sleeping, once begun, is a habit that is really hard to break. With Munchkin, who had trouble nursing, D got up a fair number of nights to help with the feedings, but there’s not much he can do to help manage Junebug’s needs in the middle of the night since she sleeps right by S’s side. The result is that for the time being D enjoys the benefit – thanks to a pair of ear buds and the fact that Munchkin has resumed sleeping through the night after nana left – of mostly uninterrupted rest while S watches her life slowly lose focus as a result of the compounded effects of continuous sleep deprivation.

Junebug’s life, meanwhile, is slowly coming into focus, though it clearly remains blurry around the edges. Her auditory and tactile senses are manifestly more developed than her vision, which explains why she cocks her head away from us most of the time we speak to her. Still, the instances when we manage to catch her gaze are becoming more frequent, and it has become evident over the last two weeks that the world is beginning to take shape around her. Mirrors have begun to draw her fascination, and sometimes we can make her smile by bringing our faces close to hers and chatting to her in high-pitched baby voices.

The most surefire way of making Junebug beam is by singing nursery rhymes, and it is her smiles that we prize above all of her other developmental leaps to date. An infant’s smile is spontaneous and all encompassing, radiating pure joy to signal not only that the world all of a sudden makes sense for a brief moment, but also that it holds the potential for unbridled happiness.

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