My unbelievably grown-up, big-big little babby!
You are nine months old. Today, you’ve been charming and delighting the outside world for (more or less) longer than you charmed and delighted me from the inside (I’m just kidding; you were a body-ruining hurricane and I’m still not recovered! Hilarious!).
I realize I say this every month, but this time I mean it: Your ninth month brought THE MOST and the most dramatic changes we’ve ever seen. I can’t keep up with them anymore. But, in the bastardized words of Monsieur Beckett, I must.
Let’s start with the stuff that will make you want to kill me in my sleep when you turn 13 and Google me. Is it fair for me to be talking so freely about the private, embarrassing subject matter I’m about to discuss, i.e. your widely varied bodily functions? Probably not, young one, but let me ask you this: Is it fair for me to spend three hours a day cleaning copious amounts of baby poop off of every exposed surface in this house, at the expense of eating, and exercising, and working, while you take advantage of your newfound mobility (and corresponding refusal to sit still for two and a half seconds), and flip acrobatically onto your belly and then push up onto your knees, and to a stand, all with your backside plastered in poop? Is it fair that we have to bribe you with the most dangerous and/or expensive “toys” we can find—sharp little figurines; sunglasses; my phone; even, on one questionable occasion, a small box of matches (still in their plastic wrap, but still), just so that you will stay still for long enough to get disabused of your own filth????? I’m not sure it is. Often to get you to stop for a second, we will implore: “But have you thought about THIS?” and then thrust one of said dangerous items into your mitts. “Think about it!” we’ll suggest. “Just think about it for a little.” And now think about THIS:
For about three of the past four weeks you’ve been constipated, and it’s been heartbreaking. For anyone who hasn’t witnessed a plugged-up baby, it goes like this: The baby screws up her poor little baby face, turns beet red, grunts like AAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNGH, is in obvious pain and discomfort, starts emanating a fragrance not unlike the Port Authority in a 105-degree heatwave in 1985, and then when you open up the diapey to change it, all that’s there is a tiny, rock-hard, sticky little rabbit doody. Repeat daily. So we plied you with prune juice, baby probiotics, pears and belly massages, and the occasional Vaseline-covered q-tip up your sun-don’t-shine, and for days upon days upon days all we got was the sad little constipated dookies. Until it stopped about a week ago, and you promptly took us back to the hazy days of newborn-dom by shitting with admirable volume and propulsion everywhere but your diaper. Up your back? Check. Down your leg? Check. Somehow (I don’t know how because I was on the other side of the house) coating your father’s button-down shirt? Checkety check check check. I thought my days of throwing away baby clothes because I couldn’t face the sheer volume of shit were over, but they are not. I’d grown so cocky I’d started forgetting a change of clothes in your diaper bag! No more, little one, no more. The Master Blaster of Disaster is back, motherfuckers.
The reasons for your digestive maladies will remain a mystery until we take you to your 9-month appointment at the pediatrician tomorrow, but we are fairly certain that the constipation came thanks to a whole slew of exciting new foods you got to sample in the last month. Some of these came courtesy of your Babcia when we visited San Diego for a very exciting two weeks. “Can I feed her some egg yolk? Can I feed her some of this vegetable biryani? It’s not spicy–except for the ginger, and the garlic, and the red pepper flakes. I’m going to give her some of my vegan cream of spinach soup, OK?” You ate it all with gusto, but it’s possible your little gut didn’t quite yet know how to handle all the new excitement without going busto. I’m also unsupported in this theory, but I also think you came down with some good ol’ traveler’s constipation thanks to the three increasingly unimpressive Airbnbs we stayed in while in California. (Aside: Was I glad to have both me and you covered in flea bites after a particularly ignominious night? No. Was I secretly a LITTLE glad to have my disapproval of Airbnb vindicated? Yes, yes I was.)
At any rate, we all had a fantastic time in San Diego despite an unseasonable and punishing heatwave. You got to see your aunt, uncle and beloved Babcia every day—who, along with your other grandparents, is tied for your very favorite person in the Cosmos, and by the way your father and I are chopped liver—and play in the park!
And you also got to meet your very brand-new cousin, who came into the world toward the end of our visit and was so teeny-tiny he resembled a hot-dog bun with a full head of hair. It’s impossible to believe now, but you were once a little bitty newborn like him, you know!
Enjoying books and some excellent carpeted stairs with your parents and Babcia at the North Park public library.
We left San Diego in a rental car—a tiny little Mazda hatchback in which you were completely un-miserable for the entire six hours we drove to Tucson, to visit yet more of your adoring public. Halfway through the trip, with nary a meltdown and instead a rather delighted little baby, your father remarked: “It’s like we got a completely new child.” We credit the hatchback 100%, since you were able to see the spectacular scenery as we drove.
Desert babby! Also pay no attention to my atrocious hair. It’s been since fixed.
On the other side of that trip, we had the wonderful honor of introducing you to your great-aunt and great-uncle, and their excellent swimming pool…
…and, most importantly of all, to your Prababcia, your great-grandmother. A grandparent is a gift, but a great-grandparent is the greatest gift of all.
When we left for San Diego, you were just learning to crawl. By the time we came back, you were absolutely tearing around, an activity that now consumes the bulk of your day.
Here you are making friends in the Tucson airport on the way home. This is especially curious, because this past month you’ve also started developing stranger anxiety, specifically about men (you still love Women of a Certain Age). But something about these two guys from Japan made you fall in love. They look less than thrilled here, but they were actually pretty amused.
Your crawl is especially amusing, because it’s lopsided: your right leg crawls like a “normal” baby, but then your left leg sort of swings around sideways, foot pressed flat against the floor with a lot of your weight on it, in a sort of half-crawl, half-bear-walk. You look like the world’s chunkiest little Quasimodo, but it gets you around alarmingly quickly. Your general destinations are the bookshelf (your favorite volumes to pull down are Alice Walker and W.B. Yeats, which your grandpa sometimes reads to you), wherever the nearest sharp object or electrocution hazard is, Billy Budd the dog (who recently stole your toy and you up and crawled after him and yanked it back!), and anything (or anybody) you can use to pull yourself up to a stand, which you are doing with staggering ease, often only using one hand to balance yourself.
Every once in awhile, you will deign to let us take you somewhere in a conveyance, most often these days your brand-new and mind-blowingly expensive BOB jogging stroller, which was a birthday present from your grandparents. You especially love it when we stroll you to the park, where now, in addition to the swings, you enjoy the slide (in your own way), and climbing through tunnels and up and down the stairs.
Last week when your papa picked you up to take you home from the park, you were having none of it and pitched a fit.
In theory I still love taking you around in your carrier, but in practice I threw my upper back into spasms one day in San Diego because you’ve gotten so huge, so although you generally find strolling to be a great indignity, I try to take you out for at least a mile of mercifully brisk stroll-walking every day. EVERY ONCE in awhile, you even fall asleep mid-stroll.
This is, however, still a rare occasion, as is every occasion when you can be put to sleep by anyone who isn’t me, in any way that is not nursing. This month has been all the fuck OVER the place with your sleep, largely because we’ve moved around so much. When you’re in a familiar place, however, your nighttime routine has become shockingly reliable. It’s nothing special, just the three B’s: Bathtime, Bookies, Boobs. You’ve even gone so far as to start signaling to us when you’re tired (!) by going to your books—which you are enjoying ever more interactively, now turning the pages yourself on command!—and then signaling when you’d like to stop reading and nurse by gently (I’m kidding, violently) wriggling around and flinging your head in the general direction of my boob.
Usually you’re out by 8. Or 9, if you’ve had 2 naps like you’re supposed to. OR 10, if one of those naps was on the later side. OR 11, if one of those naps started, as they sometimes do, at 6 p.m. At this point I don’t know if you’re in a sleep regression or progression, especially because you’ve got yet more teeth coming in, which has disrupted both your sleep and mine.
It’s not all miserable, however. One of your developments is that when you’re really tired at night but not quite ready to nod off, you start acting like a little drunk person, crawling around clumsily with your head flopping all over the place like you can’t quite be bothered to pick it all the way up. Sometimes you even pull this move in the middle of the night, when you’ve taken to flipping over onto your stomach to sleep (SO deeply, oh holy shit I can’t tell you how happy I am you can put yourself like that and we’re thus allowed to have you sleep that way), and then later you wake up and push yourself up to a crawl and then a seat and your eyes never even open. It’s especially fun when we wake up to find you’ve gone totally horizontal, stuffing your feet into my face and your head into your father’s.
Speaking of which, another wonderful development in your sleep is that sometimes you really want to snuggle with your father. That’s fantastic news both in terms of cuteness and in terms of me getting more than eight inches of space on the side of the bed, where I usually sleep perched with at least one butt cheek dangling off.
During your waking hours, you’ve upped your play game so stratospherically that I don’t even know where to start. You’ve become an adept little mimic, getting the tone (but not quite yet the words) of our speaking down, and often entering into protracted “conversations” with us, where I’m pretty sure you know exactly what you’re saying. DJA DJA DJA DJA DJA DJA DJA DJA? You ask. “Sure!” I say. “Definitely!” I wonder what I just agreed to. Probably another day of explosive shits.
You’ve also become even sillier and funnier, playing peek-a-boo all by yourself (taking a blanket, a book dust cover, anything you can find and holding it in front of your face), thrusting your arms up high for “HOW BIG IS BEANIE? SO BIG!” and playing “give,” where you will take whatever object you’re clutching and shove it into our hands (though not, usually, all the way letting go). Every morning we play awhile in the bed before everyone gets up, and I make your Miś talk to you, which you love—so much so that you thrust him back into my face so that I’ll do it again, and again, and again.
By far the funniest thing to you right now, however, is when your father and I “act like a baby,” i.e. do the things that YOU do. I’ll take one of your stacking cups and start carrying it around in my mouth. HILARIOUS. Papa will eat a Cheerio off your plate. OH MY GOD. Sometimes you will get in on the game and wobble over to me with the cup and shove it in my face, or you’ll feed your father a Cheerio.
You’ve stopped choking on those, by the way, and generally you’re a chewing-and-swallowing champ. However, your favorite “food” continues to be paper, which we are only marginally good at keeping away from you. I am probably the worst offender, because in order to keep you happy in your stroller I will give you a paper cup from Allann Bros., where I’ve gone to get a decaf almond-milk latte in a covered travel mug (which I then put into your BOB’s CUP HOLDER OMG YES YES YES YES YES I am waaaay too excited about that), and then you’ll be really happily quiet in there for like twenty minutes, and only then will I realize that you’re the Bad Quiet, and I’ll listen closer to you, and you’re making your happy eating-and-drinking sound (MMMM, MMMM, MMMM, MMM, usually reserved for the water you can now sip from your straw cup all by yourself!), and I’ll look down and the paper cup will have like three chunks taken out of it. Your father has gone from Googling “my baby just ate paper” to Googling “how much paper can my baby eat.”
For these and other crimes — I’m kidding, for when I have to take a whizz and nobody else is home — we’ve been putting you in your Baby Jail for several minutes at a time, and since you can sit up and crawl around at will, you even like it! However, you’ve also somehow managed to stand up in there and hang off the side (sometimes using your mouth as a third steadying limb), which just breaks my heart because it looks like you’re trying to break out.
For these and various and sundry other reasons, this month you have officially stopped being a fat baby. I realize that this is completely normal (the pediatrician warned us this would happen when you started moving), and that the only time a child can be in the 98th percentile for weight and the 50th for height without causing concern is when that child is an immobile breastfed baby, but I’m still heartbroken that you’re no longer the fattest baby anyone has ever seen. People no longer stop us on the street to comment on how fat you are and grab one of your amazingly delectable gams, because now those gams aren’t that fat anymore, and your midsection is downright svelte. You’re wasting away, kid! WASTING AWAY!
Possibly because most of your solid food doesn’t make it into your maw. I can’t possibly express how delighted Billy Budd the dog is with this turn of events.
One thing you’ve inherited from your mama is a fondness for sleeping when it rains, and you’re in luck, because for our final three weeks in Oregon, it’s going to rain a shit-ton. While I am nursing you to sleep, listening to the rain, you often release your final spurts of crazy energy by kicking me in the gut. Kick, kick, kick. When you were still growing inside me, you kicked so much that I never had to “count kicks” past about forty seconds (usually you’re supposed to count 8-10 kicks every two hours). Especially at night, when your father and I were settling down, I’d feel you pummeling away in there and I’d ask, “You doing your kickies?” I was always so afraid that you wouldn’t make it through the pregnancy, and you answered that fear by being so full of life you never stopped moving.
Now, nine months after your birth, here you are, enormous but no longer fat, mobile, communicative, independent, hilarious, beautiful, rambunctious, and so, so, so full of life that you’ve also spilled over and filled up the lives of everyone you know.
Please never stop doing your kickies. Please always be my baby, even though by the next time I write to you, at the rate you’re going you’ll be a toddler. Please keep changing. Please never change.
I love you,