Monday, April 26, 2010

touching ground

If Juniper were a Balinese baby, on her 6 month birthday there would have been a big ceremony and she would have touched the ground for the very first time.  In her book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert observed:
"The Balinese don't let their children touch the ground for the first six months of life, because newborn babies are considered to be gods sent straight from heaven, and you wouldn't let a god crawl around on the floor with all the toenail clippings and cigarette butts.  So babies are carried for those first six months, revered as minor deities.  If a baby dies before it is six months old, it is given a special cremation ceremony and the ashes are not placed in a human cemetery because this being was never human: it was only ever a god."  

Although Juniper has spent a lot of time playing on our living room floor and outside completely clothed, it just so happens that--mostly due to seasons and timing and the fact that we live in a northerly clime--she had never touched the ground.  So two days after her 6 month birthday (which, in our culture, is marked by weights, measures and vaccinations at the doc's), we came home to a warm, sunny spring day and let Juniper's feet touch the earth, skin-to-skin, for the very first time.

And now that I have a six month old, I can understand the whole purity thinking.  I approached J bug's 6 month birthday with the same sort of anxieties I had when I turned 25, then again when I turned 30 (and could probably anticipate this year, when I turn 35).  I sort of freaked out.  Oh my god!  I haven't taken enough pictures!  I'm behind in the baby book!  I haven't even....blah blah blah.  I felt like I had to document, document, document because the day our j bug turned 6 months old marked the end of pure, innocent babyhood.  So, when I was supposed to be home packing for a much-anticipated vacation,  instead I set up a make-shift studio: 
And my man came home for lunch, took a look around and was all, Huh.  I thought you were packing today?  And I was all bug-eyed, my hair flying every which way, the camera around my neck, But honey!  Juniper's going to be SIX MONTHS OLD TOMORROW!!  
So, here are a fraction of the photos I took that day:  

:: Here's Juniper looking like me:

:: Here's Juniper looking like her dad:

:: And because I'm currently obsessed with this sort of thing, here's J bug at 6 weeks and then again at 6 months: 
:: That week, we spent a few days hanging with Juniper's older cousin Owen and his mom.  When my husband got a whiff of one of Owen's poopy diapers he said, Can't we just breastfeed her until she can use the toilet on her own?  Right now, Juniper's poop (which, I'll admit, mostly ends up in the potty anyway--but so did Owen's until he started his current "potty pause") pretty much smells like a strong, European cheese.  The kind of thing people would pay a lot of money to eat.

In these next six months, my pure, innocent, European-cheese pooping baby will be no more.  In these next six months, Juniper will get teeth, learn to crawl on the ground (toenail clippings, cigarette butts and all), start eating solid human food, and yes, her shit will stink.  She may even learn to walk.  She may refuse the breast.  She will no longer be a baby.    

:: J bug is learning the finer points of using her hands.  Sometimes, she will lightly touch my hair, as though she just wants to feel it with her fingertips.  This is a huge improvement from last month, when she would pull my hair--hard--if it wasn't tied up.
:: And yes, she's still all about the feet.

::  At the doc's J bug weighed in at a healthy 17 1/2 pounds, more than doubling her birthweight.  With the vaccinations, she only cried for the actual shots, then stopped.  We were impressed.  We finished our trip to Missoula with Juniper's first ride on the famous, hand-carved carousel.  She slept through the whole thing.  
Missoula's carousel is extremely fast.  I mean, you really have to hold on and lean to the inside to keep from being flung off (not really, because you're required to strap yourself in with a leather belt, but still).  So my nephew's reaction to the ride was to lean into his mother and put his hands behind his head.  Hmmmm.  Future rodeo star?  (The photo was taken after the ride had stopped--it's too fast to focus!)  
:: Her dad is head-over-heels.

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