We're home, you guys, thank goodness! The last two days of the conference were much easier than the first two, but mostly because the Educational Symposium was over and that meant I had a more relaxed schedule with lots of breaks for Mary to lie on the floor and screech. It was good timing, really, since she got progressively more exhausted as the conference went on (so did I. Our hotel was a long, freezing walk up a hill and four days of nonstop learning makes me glad I'll never be an undergrad again.).
Here she is in one of the meeting rooms after I learned that she would be quiet for whole minutes at a time if I dangled my name badge over her and let her bat at it like a cat.
Shortly after I took this picture, a department head from another university told me how happy he was to see Mary there, that he and his wife (also a scientist) had to choose which of them got to go to conferences years ago when they had a small child. He continued to be supportive and helpful every time I ran into him. Pretty much everyone was supportive and helpful AND she wasn't the only baby there!
My poster sessions were on Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon and while I had arranged for a sitter to come, Mary had other plans. She screamed when I put her in the stroller and the sitter started to walk away. I assured her that she would settle down and sure enough I got a text that said she was feeling better, but shortly after that, when I was standing by my poster talking about my project, I could hear hysterical screaming from somewhere in the building. It was hard to concentrate, but I managed until the noise started getting louder and louder. I looked around nervously, wondering if it was *my* preshus wittle baby making that ungodly sound. I soon had my answer when the babysitter rolled Mary up to me in the stroller, all red faced and blotchy and howling like going for a stroller ride wrapped in a cozy blanket was some kind of torture. STILL TALKING to some oblivious person, I scooped her out of the stroller. She quieted instantly. I fielded a few more questions with her on my hip before she would allow the sitter to feed her a bottle. Sitting next to my feet. And then she finally consented to fall asleep in the stroller. Right next to me. I was answering questions the whole time. You guys. I nearly sweated through my clothes.
The next day she allowed the perfectly nice and capable babysitter to take her for a short walk while I stood with my poster and after that they were having such a good time that I got to attend a session ALL BY MYSELF (WEIRD AND AWESOME).
Thursday afternoon deserves its own post, but here's a picture from the way home entitled "First babies get new, never-before-seen toys and a car seat. Fourth babies get the seatbelt and a page out of the SkyMall catalog."*
*she did not ride this way during take off and landing