And it has gone from impossible to borderline-unsafe to pose her for these monthly pictures. Forget refusing to sit still. Having perfected the talents of lunging forward and attempting to crawl off the edge of the white chair, Evie has now added the new tricks of tearing down the paper sign and standing up on the seat. She can clap her hands now, too, but that doesn’t involve enough moving around to interest her for long. “Maybe we should pose her on the floor,” her father suggested, as I pushed her back down into the chair again, while he snapped picture after picture despoiled by my blurry hands in the frame. (I did no better when we traded camera and baby-positioning duties. In fact, one of my favorite outtakes from the photo session prominently features the Disembodied Hand of Daddy.)
Plopping Genevieve down on the floor, though, hardly contains her. She’ll take off crawling and pull up on anything within reach, and if the object in question is anything other than the hands of a person willing to walk laps with her around the house, she will raise her voice in protest. NO MOMMY, I HAVE TOTALLY OUTGROWN THIS PUSH TOY. I BEAT THAT GAME. NOW I REQUIRE AN ACTUAL PERSON TO WALK LAPS WITH ME AROUND THE HOUSE. The second you start co-toddling, though, she calms right down, lights up, and may even reward you with a giggle of satisfaction. And if you stop walking, she stays happy so long as she’s still holding on to you, even if she’s only gripping your index finger while she practices standing unsupported.
She is a particular kid, that Genevieve. She knows exactly what she wants.
Food, for one thing. At nine months she gladly eats any bite-size solid food you place in front of her. She’s cut no new teeth since last month, but seems to be doing just fine with the four she’s got. Her feelings on purees are unclear to me at this point, since it’s so much simpler just to dump a handful of cut-up green beans onto her tray and let her go to town than to try to spoon-feed her anything. I did thaw a bunch of the homemade frozen purees I laid in a few months ago and sent them in to daycare, where her teachers reported back that she did eat them. So maybe she’s just hungry in general. (If so, she comes by it honestly.) I’ve effectively retired the fancy baby food making machine, although I’m holding onto some frozen plum puree as a constipation remedy; fortunately that has not yet proven necessary, which is just fine by me.
Evie has made one key step forward in her verbalizations, too: she now says ma-ma. Routinely. Often while meeting my gaze. I’m holding off on pronouncing it her Official First Word, since I’m not sure she’s actually made the semantic connection that “mama” means me and nothing else. But I am nonetheless proud that she’s saying it so much, particularly since “da-da” (or any alveolar consonants, for that matter) remains absent from her repertoire. She’s happy just to keep repeating Mama. And some day soon, it’ll mean me.
She’s sleeping well, too. In the past few weeks she’s had one particularly rough night, which I attributed to some chicken she ate at dinner. I’ve been keeping her off meat since then (she does fine with salmon but otherwise is mostly vegetarian). She’s returned the favor by happily nursing herself to sleep between 9 and 9:30, waking up, if at all, between 9:45 and 10:30, and then nursing herself back to sleep for the long haul. Her consistent refusal to take a binky — and recent disdain for formula in a bottle — means that bedtime, and any midnight disturbances, remain the province of my udders. But eh, that’s fine. She can keep nursing. It makes me feel useful, especially as I’ve been permitting myself gradually to wean off of the pump at work. Botbots are for babies. Evie, meanwhile, slugs water from a sippy cup like a pro.
Unsurprisingly, pump-weaning has caused me an efflorescence of the standard breastfeeding mommy guilt. I’ve been pumping for six months now, during which time she’s been guaranteed a daily bottle of fresh breastmilk and has remained healthy as a horse. I feel so stinking adequate when I deposit Evie’s daily botbot in the daycare fridge. How can I give that up? Particularly when another mom in the babies room, whose daughter is approaching her first birthday, lays in multiple daily bots — and her kid has two and a half months on mine?
“Look,” counseled another mom from the two-year-olds room, “you can’t see this as a competition. There will always be someone who’s still pumping. Even when their kid is two and a half years old.” (She, in fact, knows just such a person.)
She’s right. It’s only the guilt that’s holding me back from shutting off the pump altogether; that’s clear. But what is the rational basis for this guilt? I’ll still be nursing Genevieve whenever we’re home together. She’d rather do that anyway than take a bottle, regardless of what the bottle contains. By now it’s unlikely that my ongoing weight loss will be meaningfully affected by retiring the pump (as of today, I am four pounds over the weight on my driver’s license — take that, nine-months-on-nine-months-off!) And nobody in our daycare is judgy enough to notice whether, let alone to what extent, I’m still providing breastmilk for my baby’s daytime consumption. This is, conclusively, all in my head.
So here’s the plan: today is Wednesday. I’ve pumped today; she’ll drink it tomorrow. I will pump tomorrow and she’ll drink it Friday. But Friday morning I will nurse her and not pump. I will leave the pump at home. If I find myself bursting at the bust during the day, I’ll head over to daycare and nurse her there. But I suspect that I can make it to quittin’ time without causing myself much trouble. I’ve told the daycare folks not to expect any more bots next week. Now all that remains is to hold myself to it.