Nine Months Old: Nine in, Nine Out
Eric’s true nine month “birthday” was yesterday, but I was at a birth and couldn’t publish my monthly letter to him. I was, however, able to draft a a little bit of this letter in some of my quieter moments in the hospital, in the hours before another woman’s baby was born. I think that’s kind of poetic.
Today you are nine months old, and Mama is at a birth. It is quite possible that I will miss our monthly milestones–weighing you, taking your “onesie picture” on the quilt that Aunt Kate made for you, publishing this post on the nineteenth. This is life, as unpredictable and wonderful as the labor that brought you here.
Nine months in, and now you are nine months out. At any point past today, you’ve been “in the world” longer than you were in your little uterine cocoon. Your life has officially lasted longer than my pregnancy with you. And I don’t simply recognize this as fact. I feel it. I feel the weight of knowing that there are more months of your babyhood behind us than there are ahead of us.
Just look: almost exactly one year ago, I was pregnant with you in an apple orchard. And just last week, you were in an apple orchard, gnawing on a big, freshly-picked apple. The time and memories bow into each other, seeming both impossibly close and impossibly distant at the same time. Nine months in and nine months out, baby.
As babies are wont to do, you have already changed so much since my eight month letter to you. The sleep, of course, hasn’t changed all that much. But I already talk about that enough as it is. It’s the only thing I really seem to document about you, besides these letters, on this blog. And I would argue that what’s more interesting are the things that I don’t always broadcast to the world.
I rarely talk about how adorable you are when you’re perched up on your knees, playing with your brothers’ superhero toys, babbling and giggling away. You love this little perch and even tend to prefer it to sitting on your bottom. (Are you damaging your knees by doing this? I don’t know, but it’s so stinkin’ cute!)
I don’t mention often enough how funny you are when someone pulls out a package of Baby Mum Mums for you. You wave your arms frantically and get a zombie-like look in your eyes whenever you spot your beloved snack. And though you may enjoy sweet potatoes and pumpkin and avocado and yogurt and pears, you adore your Mum Mums. (Am I being a bad parent by giving you a daily snack of nutritionally lacking Mum Mums? I don’t know, but it’s so stinkin’ cute to watch you eat them!)
I don’t write enough about your smile or your wisps of reddish-blond hair or the way that you’re always bouncing up and down whenever you are happy. I don’t say enough about the way you rest your head on my shoulder when you’re feeling tired or shy, or the way you try and sneak out of our little workspace (my desk, your toys) when you think I’m not looking so that you can go and play with the shoes by the front door. I don’t, but I should, because you are just so stinkin’ cute.
Now, I realize that I’ve ended nearly all of my letters with nostalgic, sentimental musings on how sad I am to see this time go by so quickly. (Hello?! I’ve already injected that nostalgia into this letter!) But you must realize this: you are my baby. My last baby. And I don’t get any of this time back. You won’t be bouncing like this on your knees, and you won’t be giggling like this over little rice cakes forever. Not even for another year, I bet. You probably won’t even be this little for another month.
And if you wonder why I’m so attached to this littleness–why I’m trying to catch time in my hands as it’s breezing past me–it’s because these baby months are less like breezes and more like swift, vanishing gusts. Gusts, I might add, blowing away from those moments nine months ago when I first held you in my arms.
I felt this all profoundly as I stared into the eyes of another new baby today. You are the new baby that I held nine months ago, and yet you are radically different from that tiny person who couldn’t wriggle out of my arms to crawl across the room, or shove a handful of banana pieces into his mouth, or plop a slobbery kiss onto my cheek.
Here, where we stand, nine months later, your presence in this world has been more you than it has been you-and-me.
I take this in with mostly pride, mostly excitement. But you can’t fault me for all the sentimental nostalgia either. Because remember: it was once nine months as you-and-me too.