It's an iconic snapshot: A new parent, exhausted but deeply blissful, is caught dozing with a baby. Sharing that sleepy tableau has become something of a rite of passage for modern moms and dads, just like the week-by-week belly shots and grainy ultrasound tacked to the fridge. Sometimes it seems as if every person I know has dutifully uploaded a similar postpartum image to Facebook or Flickr, a pic flaunting a warm body nestled contentedly at the nape of Mom's neck, impossibly small limbs draped akimbo on her chest.
But I don't have that photo -- or anything close to it. My 21-month-old daughter, Mia, is many wonderful things: curious, energetic, mischievous, and as healthy as I could hope for. But what she's not, and has never been, is a cuddler.
In those first few months, Mia not only hated tummy time, as so many infants do, but she also loathed being in any position in which she was chest down. Whenever I'd try to hold her while I took a break or collapsed into a chair, she'd bob her little head around, trying to get a better view of the room, or she'd simply cry until I stood up with her in my arms. She never fell asleep on my chest after feeding, dripping blobs of milk across my collarbone; I never answered the door with her curled floppy and catlike over my shoulder. Mia was most content when tightly swaddled, swaying in a swing or sleeping in her crib.