This morning as I pulled out of the garage, I noticed it was a lovely fall day. To the east was the leftovers of a snow cloud, icy and gray, but quickly dissipating as the sun started its late morning rise over the horizon.

ZGirl was directly behind me in the van, snug in her carseat and little blue yarn hat with the white flower. She hates getting buckled into the seat, but once picked up, her fury subsides into an almost stunned silence. If I have the carrier’s bonnet adjusted just right, I can watch her in the rear-view mirror via the plastic mirror attached to her seat’s headrest. Her eyes wide with curiosity, maybe even some fear.

Her brother’s seat has been moved to be next to her instead of on the other side of the van’s console. He likes to hold her hands when she gets fussy.

Mr. DD has taken to calling ZGirl “Miss H.”, which I find endearing. My boss refers to ZGirl by her first and middle name, like a traditional southern way of referring to either a young lady of means or the old unmarried, but sweet, spinster down the block.

She coos like a little dove, but drools like a rabid hound. She can hold her head up when sitting on my lap, but as she tires she resembles a major league bobble head doll on the dashboard of a moving car. She sleeps like a proverbial angel on her stomach, usually after the 4:00 a.m. feeding, but to put her down for tummy time is tantamount to placing her on a baby torture rack. Yesterday, she laughed for the first time when I went to the daycare to pick her up.

ZGirl doesn’t like strangers, whether male or female, when Mommy is near. She doesn’t like to be held in the cradle hold as that usually precludes someone sticking a bottle in her face. She wakes from naps crabby even though she snoozes like the dead. She wakes from her nighttime bed happy even though she sleeps what sounds and looks to be very restlessly. She can shimmy from one side of the crib to the other in just a few hours.

Speaking of crib, she moved into hers two weeks ago from the pack-n-play bassinet. The crib is in the room first created on paper in 2004 for Vivienne. I still have not decorated, but just have the crib, a rocker, a dresser/changing table and a twin bed in her room, which I have slept on since she moved to the crib. I can’t seem to find any comfort in the audio monitor combined with a video surveillance camera we set up. The master bedroom feels like it’s in Washington state while ZGirl’s room is in Florida.

While breastfeeding kept me fairly restricted to the house, pumping is now the bane of my daily routine since Mr. DD wishes her to be fed via bottle whenever possible. I now look forward to the 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00 or even 5:00 in the morning feedings. It feels as if we are the only people in the world awake. I snuggle her in, needing little light to get her positioned, and rock softly. Her tiny fists, tight and cold, eventually relax and warm against my skin and all too soon, she is ready to go back to her crib, sated and sleepy.

I remember how I felt about XBoy when he was a baby as I hold her and stare at her face, wondering who she’ll be some day. It’s different, this love. It’s not as desperate as the love I have for XBoy. It’s not as emotional, but it feels more solid – more steady. My love for XBoy started off like a first-time crush, unforgettable and powerful and fueled by fear of the unknown, while my feelings for ZGirl are like someone who has had their heart broken many times over and then found true love.

Today, my baby? She is three months old.