Sunday, March 30, 2008

To A New-Born Child by William Cosmo Monkhouse

To A New-Born Child

Small traveler from an unseen shore,
By mortal eye ne'er seen before,
To you, good-morrow.
You are as fair a little dame
As ever from a glad world came
To one of sorrow.

We smile above you, but you fret;
We call you gentle names, and yet
Your cries redouble.
'Tis hard for little babes to prize
The tender love that underlies
A life of trouble.

And have you come from Heaven to earth?
That were a road of little mirth,
A doleful travel.
"Why did I come?" you seem to cry,
But that's a riddle you and I
Can scarce unravel.

Perhaps you really wished to come,
But now you are so far from home
Repent the trial.
What! did you leave celestial bliss
To bless us with a daughter's kiss?
What self-denial!

Have patience for a little space,
You might have come to a worse place,
Fair Angel-rover.
No wonder now you would have stayed,
But hush your cries, my little maid,
The journey's over.

For, utter stranger as you are,
There yet are many hearts ajar
For your arriving,
And trusty friends and lovers true
Are waiting, ready-made for you,
Without your striving.

The earth is full of lovely things,
And if at first you miss your wings,
You'll soon forget them;
And others, of a rarer kind
Will grow upon your tender mind -
If you will let them -

Until you find that your exchange
Of Heaven for earth expands your range
E'en as a flier,
And that your mother, you and I,
If we do what we should, may fly
Than Angels higher.
--William Cosmo Monkhouse

Our little angel is learning how to use her new body. It's tough, but she's learning new things all the time. Here are some fun things Elizabeth can do:

She likes to suck on her fingers. She doesn't suck her thumb -- she starts out with sucking on the knuckles of a fist, and eventually one or two fingers get singled out -- often the index finger, sometimes the index and middle, and occasionally a pinky. The problem with this is that she sucks so hard that the finger goes down her throat and she starts gagging on it. It's really very funny to watch.

While we were in Utah, we saw that she was getting really good a hitting the lion that hangs on her carseat. He's very cute and colorful, and has a little jingly chime inside (which is why I bought him). I hung him where her arm would hit if she just flapped it randomly, and she eventually got much better at doing it on purpose to entertain herself while driving or shopping.

I also have a mat with two crossed arches that toys can hang from. When I saw that she was paying attention to the lion, I started putting her on the mat. This week, she moved from just whacking the toys to grabbing them. It's a lot of fun to watch her stare at a toy and take careful aim. Then she jerks her arm up and grabs for the toy. She misses as often as she gets it, but she's getting better, and looks so pleased with herself when she catches the turtle's dangly foot, or a little fish. Now she just needs to learn how to let go (she gets frustrated when her hand gets stuck and she can't play the game again).

I don't know if I've already written about mylar balloons, but they were the first toy she ever liked. I got some for Peter for Valentine's day when she was exactly one month old. A few days later, we noticed that she was staring at it sitting on the ceiling across the room. Her eyes widened, and she got very excited when we brought the balloon closer and then tied the string onto her hand so it would move when she wiggled. We watch her very closely while she's playing with the balloon, but they're so engrossing to her that when the Valentine's ones died, Peter got another for our anniversary.

She still doesn't cry much, and generally makes a funny little coughing noise when she's hungry. She seems to recognize what's going on when I start to adjust my shirt and nursing bra to feed her, and will reach out, grab some cloth, pull and/or throw herself over and glom on as soon as the path is clear. Sometimes she doesn't even want to wait for that and is confused and frustrated when her mouth finds cloth in the way.

Other times she gets overtired and cranky -- especially in the days after our trip to Utah when her schedule (or rather her natural rhythm of eating and sleeping) got thrown out of whack. She'll give every sign of being hungry, but when I offer her the breast, she'll arch her back, toss her head from side to side and cry angrily. I've found that the best thing to do is hold her still and shove it into her open screaming mouth, hoping that when she stops to breathe, instinct will kick in and she'll start to suck. When she does, the change is immediate. She stops fighting me, and her entire body goes limp. Her eyes roll into the back of her head and she gets a look of intense beatific pleasure on her face. It looks for all the world like she's just gotten a hit of some drug she was jonesing for.

One thing I absolutely love is when she's done eating and I give her a burp. Sometimes, if she's tired, she'll hug my shoulder, nuzzle into my chest, and fall asleep. I often have other things I ought to be doing while she sleeps, but she's so snuggly and warm and sweet that I'm overwhelmed by the waves of love and protectiveness washing over me and I can't bring myself to put her down.

I'm so happy we have our sweet Elizabeth.


  1. I'm so happy you have your sweet Elizabeth too

  2. I'm glad you have her too. She's definitely a keeper.

    Love, Kathey

  3. Isn't nursing a little one the best bonding experience ever? I'm so glad to read your posts and see you're happy, Karen. All the best to you and your growing family :) Beachler

  4. Great poem.
    And what cute pictures.
    Where did you find the flower hat and will she actually wear it?
    Love Mom

  5. I got the headband at the dollar store, and she'll wear it for as long as she's laying down (like most hats it falls off when she's up and moving).