I have a 9-month-old.
That sounds so crazy to me! I feel like parents of 9-month-olds have their stuff together. They’re three-quarters of the way to being baby experts—which is the designation I’m assuming you’re bestowed with at the one-year mark. (I hope it includes a trophy. Or a tropical vacation. Or one glorious morning of sleeping in later than 5:30 a.m.)
I guess Andy and I aren’t too shabby in some areas—we’re diaper changing, bottle washing, car seat slinging rock stars—but in other parenting arenas each day is a guessing game.
Is there such thing as an easy-to-put-together sippy cup? Why does Bea hate putting on shirts? Do I have to sanitize her toys every week? Are her poops too hard? Too green? Too round?
This is why I love Bea’s check-ups. Her pediatrician is awesome and reassuring—and brutally honest. It’s the perfect combination for first-time parents like us. At this week’s appointment, she quelled my concerns about ending breastfeeding. She talked us down when we told her Bea has started going up the stairs. And, most importantly, she said Bea is perfectly healthy, happy and normal.
We had no reason to think otherwise, but we found the 9-month appointment particularly intimidating. A few weeks ago, we received a multi-page packet of paperwork to fill out that had us chart whether or not Bea was accomplishing certain milestones. At all of our previous appointments we had just casually discussed what Bea was and wasn’t doing. Now we had these oh-so-official bubbles to fill in and “score” whether or not our baby is where she’s supposed to be.
We filled in all of the obvious ones right away—yes, she can definitely pick up a cracker, clap toys together and pull up on furniture. But there were other questions with less obvious answers that we left blank until the evening before her appointment, thinking that maybe Bea would make a last-minute milestone revelation.
One was a question about whether or not your baby responds to and plays along with nursery games, like “itsy-bitsy spider” or “patty cake,” without your prompting or guiding her hands. I played these so frequently with Bea over the last few weeks that I could see the annoyance building in her eyes (does that count as a “visible response”?!). Unfortunately, unless I was patty-caking her hands for her, she wasn’t budging—except to crawl away. Very quickly. And independently sending her not-so-nimble finger spider up the proverbial waterspout? Forget about it.
I couldn’t even mark “sometimes” with a good conscience. I had to fill in the bubble as a big ol’ “no.”
It’s not like ranking a 9-month-old’s abilities is an exact science. And a few “no’s” here and there won’t determine her future athletic ability and college acceptance rate. And I know that. But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a teensy part of me that wanted to be able to mark “yes” for each and every question. I mean, I know she’s perfect and brilliant and adorable, so shouldn’t her score in this silly packet reflect that?
But, alas, even with her disregard for nursery rhymes, her score was well within the normal range. Her pediatrician kindly drove that point home—and reminded us that we’ll have much more important things to focus our attention on as Bea inches toward her first birthday. I’m just hoping that by then, my notions about parental enlightenment are true, and we’ll be able to expertly handle anything—from a walking, talking, fit-throwing toddler to the next milestone questionnaire—without too much anxiety. Fingers crossed!
I have a 9-month-old.