Yesterday Jojo said her first word. It was a moment that we've been anticipating for months. Most moms track their baby's progress and growth with "What to Expect" or "Baby's First Year" or some other baby book, like I do. Therefore, I knew that the 6-9 month range is the average age for babies to say their first words, and the minute Jojo turned six months old I started waiting.
I also started the prep work. I said "Mama, mama, mama" any chance I got. "Hi, Mama!" when we woke up in the morning. "Breakfast, Mama!" when it was time to eat. "I love you, Mama," "Let's go, Mama," "Want to play, Mama?" I put Mama at the end of every sentence. I even starting calling Jojo Mama. My brother's fiance is a speech therapist and works with children. She told me that the "mmm" sound is bilabial, meaning you need to press your two lips together to make the sound. In order to help her little patients make the connection, she presses her finger to their lips while saying "mmm." So I did that too. Mmmmmm. She also suggested substituting "Mama" in place of the words to our favorite songs. "Twinkle, Twinkle" became Mama, Mama. Same with "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." It was a Mama fest.
Jojo was making all sorts of sounds. Mostly screams (Alex calls her pterodactyl because she sounds like a miniature dinosaur). She loves to yell at the top of her lungs, testing to see how loud she can go. Sometimes she sounds like Tarzan. It's all happy screaming though. When I'm on the phone, people think I'm at a party or a crowded store. But it's only my 14 pound diva in training. For awhile she was stuck on "Ba," repeating it over and over. But no Mama. That's ok. I pressed on. Alex got in on it too and it was Mama Mama Mama all day long.
And then yesterday. It happened. After all those months of waiting. My parents were over and we were all sitting in the living room. Jojo was waving bye-bye, a fun little skill she had picked up only last week, and making her usual Tarzan calls. Then, out of nowhere. "Dada." Silence in the room. Did she just...? Wait, was that...? Then again, "Dada. Dadadadadada." I repeated it, just to make sure: "Jojo, Dada?" She responded, "Dada." Her very first word.
She spent the rest of the day having fun with her new vocabulary. Waving hi and yelling "Dada." I double-checked this morning. Maybe it was just a fluke. "Jojo, Dada?" Yes Mommy, "DADA. DADADADADADA."
I can't complain. "What to Expect" told me that a baby's first word is usually Dada. So did all my friends with kids. I was warned. Which is why I seldom even spoke the word Dada. She couldn't learn it if she didn't hear it, right? Evil Jess. God heard my plan and was not amused.
Oh but it's wonderful to hear her talk, even if it's not what I hoped for. How long was she waiting to say that? To open her perfect little mouth and finally be able to say what she'd been thinking. Months? Days? My brand-new little girl. Saying hi to her Dada.
Mama will come next...right?