Dear Baby Vita,
You have been a part of our family for three months now and it has only just occurred to me that I have never written to you. It seems a little surreal that the fourth trimester of your little life has already passed us by and gone; you were surely born only yesterday, the slippery solidity of you upon my chest, your howl a strange punctuation between labour and birth. The memory of your arrival tastes of salt: tears and blood. And yet, it feels also like a lifetime ago, a distant mythology – the time before Vita. Because surely, little girl, you have always been with us.
Your brothers and your sisters love you very much and are fiercely protective of you. Whenever we so much as leave a room, they check to make sure that you are coming with us and you can’t even whimper without a team of concerned siblings trying to comfort you. They bring you little offerings of toys and blankets, sing lullabies to you and every morning, Balthazar asks to check inside your mouth to see whether you have grown any ‘peggles’. You light up when you catch sight of them coming toward you.
You were born very late, at forty-two weeks exactly, and it seemed that your newbornhood passed as I held you on my chest that first time. Later that day, after your mama kissed us goodbye and returned home to rescue Grandy from your brothers and sisters, we lay together, staring into each other’s eyes. You seemed so focused, for a newborn, so knowing, as though the day before your birth you were a little old lady, your hands trembling with age as you plaited your granddaughter’s hair. You held my gaze in a way that small babies tend not to, your new-to-the-world eyes such a dark blue that they were almost black; they reminded me of night-time walks through the woods, the trees obscuring stars that we knew were still there. You fed from me graciously, a goddess accepting her libation.
When you were not quite a week old, you smiled with intent. And at six weeks old, I told you what noise a doggy makes – “Woof! Woof woof woof!” – and you laughed.
There is so much that you love: nursing against my skin in our lavender-scented baths, music with your mama whilst she dances with you in the sling, conversations with anyone at all, your siblings (good lord, you love your siblings), the glow of fairy lights in our darkened bedroom, kisses, that moment when I finally walk through the door after a long day in the office, videos of yourself and your own reflection in the camera or mirror.
You hate the cold, having your nappy changed and your face wiped. Unexpected loud noise makes you cry; you have the best pouty lip.
Over the last few days you have begun to grab with intent, to pull objects and toys close to your face to study and to chew. You can roll from back to front and, given enough time, cross the bed entirely (and roll off of the edge – ahem). You ‘speak’ – you will chat to anyone – and have an adorable variety of babbles, coos and cries.
Baby Vee, you are our fifth baby but by no means one of a crowd; it feels as though you have always been here and we would never be without you now. We love you.