I’m not sure which is harder for me to believe: that my baby is already eleven months old, or that, at not-quite-a-year, she is so far ahead of my developmental expectations. Her most notable feat is full-on, unassisted walking: Genevieve has gone from almost-walking to faking it to figuring it out to complete mastery of the skill. She still marginally prefers crawling when she cares to cover any distance at speed, but she is now fully comfortable moving around on two feet unsupported. And every day she takes a few more steps — stiff zombie-stagger steps, yes, but actual steps — than she took the day before. “Oh my god, she’s toddling,” I howl to her father. Can this be happening already? Fluent perambulation before eleven months? Apparently yes, yes it can.
She’s up to two identifiable words: “Ka” while indicating Moxie, and “Buh” directed at her bookshelf, from which she loves to pull books and fling them onto the floor. (Actual reading, or even the patience to be read to, has yet to materialize. She’d much rather be reaching, grabbing, and otherwise flexing her tactile perception skills. Where her elder sister was content to sit back and soak up life as it came to her, Genevieve’s interactions with the world around her are much more assertively physical.) She loves to tap people’s noses to see what sound effects they produce. She’ll point at things and repeat after you when you name the item she’s indicating, even though most of the time her attempt at mimicry sounds like “Dut.” (This sound may mean anything from a general indicative to “door,” “dog,” or “DUH, MOM.” If not now, then soon.)
And she’s an old pro at teething. We’ve just concluded a particularly rough week, which resulted in (spoiler alert!) the eruption of two more lower teeth, and reputedly, two upper canines soon to make their debut as well. I was first alerted to the impending dentition by my cell phone, which pinged a missed call just as my predawn flight landed in Detroit on Monday morning. Sure enough, the voicemail reported, Evie had been crying uncontrollably since her father had dropped her off an hour ago, and was now running a fever of nearly 102.
I echo-located, as mothers of any species will do when harm threatens their young, and realized with a painful snap just how far away my baby was at that exact moment. (525 miles, as it happens.)
Fortunately & was able to take off from work, go back to daycare, retrieve Genevieve and take her home, where she spent the day in fussy misery while I hardly fared better in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. I dashed home as quickly as possible, and still arrived too late to nurse her to sleep. Fortunately daddy had a secret weapon: our Strategic Breastmilk Reserve, a half gallon of the stuff in small bags in the back of our freezer. It probably tastes of melodrama, weltschmerz, and general working-mom-pumping angst, but I was delighted to release it for its intended purpose. “Sure!” I texted & from the rental car on I-94, “give her as much as she’ll take!”
Alas, the curative effects of breastmilk were not immediately apparent. Evie woke up the next morning still feverish and miserable. I took a day of sick leave, settled in to the armchair, and let my baby girl latch on and nurse (or nap, or not) to her heart’s content. (An aside: I wish I could be prouder of the fact that we’re still nursing. The kid is eleven months old and still gets fresh boobjuice a minimum of twice daily. But let’s be clear, it’s not like she’s getting much. If she had ever decided to take a binky, we probably would have weaned by now. That we haven’t is due less to my milk supply than to what my mother-in-law has dubbed “the meat pacifier.” Eh. I’m not proud. But I will confess that continuing to nurse Genevieve makes me happy, even if all I am is The Meat Pacifier. And that’s why we’re still going.)
Wednesday morning arrived and the poor kid was STILL sick. We trucked over to Spring Valley Pediatrics, at which point Dr. Warfield identified the forthcoming upper canine teeth and suggested that Evie’s malaise could be due to that, or to some bug she picked up while chewing on her fingers, or probably both. I left her with her Nana and Bubba and returned to the office. & took the Thursday shift and, when she seemed to be doing better, dropped her off at school that afternoon. Optimistically I took her in on Friday morning, but then collected her two hours later when her teachers called my office to admit defeat before the unstoppable avalanche of Genevieve-meltdown.
The one bright spot of Evie’s Hell Week (aside from the walking, a skill she managed to master even while in the throes of The Sick) has been her continuing success at sleeping through the night. Ever since she started on a course of amoxicillin last month, Genevieve has kicked the habit of waking up and requiring solace at ungodly hours of the night. Even when her coughing fits would rouse me at 2 or 3 am, they wouldn’t disturb her; once she went down, she stayed down, thank you Jesus. A decent night’s sleep can make even the worst day okay.
And these haven’t been the worst days. Evie’s teething experience has been plenty rough, and this past week has been a juggling act the likes of which I don’t recall ever having to pull off with Natalie. But on the Richter scale of parental stresses and actual trouble, this is hardly a blip. We have a glorious, gorgeous baby who is nursing long, talking on schedule, walking early, teething prodigiously and charming her entire family. Okay, so she’s not an easy baby like her sister. No matter. She is our Genevieve, and I would not trade a moment of our time with her for the world.