9 months

And it’s self-evident to everyone who meets her how much she’s enjoying life. They love her at daycare. We love her at home. Everyone loves her on the 52 bus. And grinning out from her perch in the Babybjorn, she loves everyone right back.

Her daddy has been waiting for the moment when he can tell people that Noodles has now been “on the outside for longer than she was on the inside.” I’m not sure that’s today, though. Technically she was born at forty weeks, five days (actually forty weeks, four days, and a half hour) of pregnancy, as measured from my LMP date. That’s 285 days on the inside, or nine months, 12 days. But for the first two weeks or so of that pregnancy, she wasn’t actually “on the inside” yet, since half of the ingredients that comprised her had yet to arrive on the scene. So maybe today is the day after all…plus or minus two days. Or thereabouts.

She’s just as happy either way. My mind continues to boggle at the unqualified blessing I’ve been dealt with this child, who has been such a high-spirited and positive person throughout her infancy and continues to be as we approach toddlerhood. She has taken to crawling with the enthusiasm of an extreme athlete. She remains toothless, but will drop her jaw and lunge forward like a hungry koi in pursuit of a spoonful of homemade baby food. (This usually involves steaming and grinding a vegetable or vegetables in our fancy cooker, realizing that Noodles is unimpressed with my choice of veggies, and then stirring in some prunes. She’ll eat anything with prunes in it.) She’s plump and rosy and potbellied, firmly into her size-nine-month clothes, and blowing raspberries on her chubby bits — that tummy, those cheeks, those perfect feet! — will produce giggles that are the stuff of legend.

Because negative behavior of any sort is such a change of pace for her, I’ve become hypersensitized to it, noticing the slightest shifts in her general attitude. Just this month, she’s started fussing more at night: where once she’d take a bottle and contentedly fall asleep midway through it, now she’s realized that botbot means bedtime and prefers to swat the thing away with a grumble or a wail. Just this month, she’s started getting clingy: we can no longer hand her to friends or colleagues to hug without her looking stricken and stretching her arms back out toward Mommy or Daddy. I’m guessing that these things are developmentally normal, so I’m not concerned that our dependable angel is morphing into a Difficult Child quite yet. But I’ll admit that I’m starting to miss our uniformly affectionate cuddlebug who’d go right to sleep when she was supposed to.

Still, I can’t complain. This has been a month of trouble: Hurricane Isabel, a 5.8 earthquake eighty miles from DC, and Natalie’s first disruptive illness, a fever so high that I had to leave the office and haul a dazed and confused Noodles out of daycare and up to the pediatrician. Yet despite the actual disasters befalling us one after another, Natalie continues to sail with an even keel. She slept right through the earthquake, did not appear to notice the hurricane, and after three days of fitful napping in the Baby Ergo, got over the fever as well. (Her streak of sleeping through the night, once disrupted, took a little longer to recover. But now she’s back on track, we hope for good.)

As am I, in a sense. I’ve also heard “nine months on, nine months off” as a rough gauge of how long one can expect it to take when one desires to Lose the Baby Weight. That’s another blog post, and no, I haven’t lost it all yet, but I will say that the estimate isn’t terribly far off. Nine months after having a baby, I can comfortably wear most of the pre-pregnancy clothes in my closet. And I can attest that few things make you feel as though you’ve Returned Among The Living quite like shunting your maternity/nursing wardrobe into storage. God willing, there will be time enough to bust out the babydoll tops and orthopedic sandals again. Right now, I’m back in my good shoes, and delighted to be here.

Just like my daughter.