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According to various sources, I have one month left before my baby is officially a toddler. I can’t quite process that, since I am barely over the novelty of having a baby in the first place. Some folks seem to count it from the time the baby starts walking, actually literally toddling around, but unfortunately that isn’t going to help in my case. A few days before he officially hit eleven months, I got a note at daycare pickup letting me know my son took two independent steps. Since then he has taken one here and there, but surely it is only a matter of time before he takes off toddling. He cruises one-handed easily now, and when it is me he’s holding onto I can tell his touch is getting lighter and lighter as he gets better at it and strong enough to do it on his own. He loves to move in general, and has started climbing up on top of things such as the coffee table or the stairs.

He’s a funny little guy, easy going most of the time but with these moments of strong-headedness which make me fear for the terrible twos. Woe betide she who tells my son it is time to come inside, or won’t let him tear important papers in half. Don’t even get me started on the drama that ensues with nearly every diaper change. The tantrums are intense but thankfully short-lived at the moment, and once they pass he is back to being my cheerful, curious, cuddly little man. He is still a mama’s boy, preferring me above all others, but has been warming up to his dad this month (much to our relief). I love how much he loves me, but sometimes it is exhausting to be the only one who will do.

Bath time is more like swim time; he lunge-crawls from one end of the tub to the other, then stops to stand up until I tell him to sit please, at which point he goes back to doing laps. He is completely unfazed by water in his face, and I’m glad we had our baby swim lessons at this point. He is a fish, like I was at his age. I can’t wait to see what he does in the pool this summer.

My son eats everything and then a few more things and also can he please have what is on your plate because it’s better than what is on his, even if they are exactly the same. He is still fascinated by cups, and likes to drink from mine. When I get water from the fridge dispenser, I have two creatures who beg: first, the dog, who wants ice cubes because they are the best treat ever, and second, the baby, who needs to drink some from my glass immediately. Our son makes glorious messes out of pasta with sauce or mashed potatoes, and he loves dipping things in other things. I picked up a snack pack which comes with biscuits/cookies on one side and yogurt dip on the other and he is pretty sure they are the best thing EVER.

This month it has been amazing to watch him learn and explore. He loves to open things and close them, put things in and out, take them apart. He has figured out that door handles open doors and will reach up for them when he wants to go through. (Thankfully he cannot reach them yet.) He has also noticed that the toilet handle makes a very satisfying rushing water noise when pulled. He takes the top off of the squeezey baby food packets.

He is endlessly amused by animals and continues to say his version of “dog” pretty consistently, along with “mama” and up (“bub”). He woke up one Sunday and decided to communicate with us more effectively, first by signing “all done”, then by insisting on being put in his high chair and looking expectant until we brought him a snack. He points and babbles in adorably word-like sounds and tells us all about his world. He’s amazing, basically. (Not biased at all.)

This month we took him to get his first haircut, and my tiny baby suddenly looked like a big toddler. It was harder than I expected it to be. I love him and I love the little person he is becoming, but sometimes I wish this year had gone just a little more slowly. Next month I will officially have a toddler, somehow. Amazing indeed.

He comes home smelling like daycare, a cheerfully sanitary jumble of baby wipes and cleaning products with undertones of sour milk and another baby’s formula, another woman’s perfume. I bury my face in the top of his head, searching for where he is hidden under wispy-fine hair, seeking the scent of my son. It inspires a certain kinship with the working mothers of the wild, rumored to abandon their babies once strangers have handled them. As a child I believed the myth, worried over baby birds marked by human hands, smelling of other-ness as their mothers turned their backs. Now I know better, with a mother’s heart I know that like me they have the opposite impulse: to pull him in close and wrap him in arms or feathers or fur, resetting the olfactory signposts, and reclaim him nightly as my own.

When the baby was first born, my parents came and immediately exclaimed about the cleft in his chin. Just like his grandfather (my dad), and his great-grandfather! Our family chin! Finally, after several rounds of excited discussion of the remarkable chin, my husband (who had been very patient) pointed out in a slightly injured tone, “I have a cleft chin.” OH. Of course! A cleft chin just like his father! Ahem. Cough.

It’s funny though, one of the first things that happens when people meet or hear about a baby is often to inquire who he looks like. It usually comes right after, “Is he a good baby?”, one of my all-time least favorite baby questions, and somewhere before a question designed to determine his developmental status, ie if he is rolling over yet, or if we have introduced solids. (No, and no.) I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about why it is so important to determine if he looks like one parent or another, especially to uninvolved parties. I can completely understand why my mother sees so much of me in him, and why BWB’s mother swears she has a picture of him at three months which is indistinguishable from our son’s, but why does it really matter to someone I just met? My theories range from it being just one of the standard conversational topics about a new baby to something more along the lines of ensuring the baby’s status as a member of the tribe. One way or another, it is one of those things which almost always comes up.

I wonder too sometimes if we read into it, as if his face is an array of tarot cards or tea leaves. Hmmm, he looks like his mother, clearly he will have a penchant for salty things and enjoy knitting. Aaah, he has his father’s chin, obviously he will put entirely too much sugar in his tea and excel in the martial arts at a young age. Of course it doesn’t work that way, but maybe that is what we are trying to see when we study our babies’ faces?

So, after all that, who does our baby look like? Sometimes I look at him and I see his daddy’s cheeks, or an expression that is totally BWB. I tell him, Baby, you have your BWB face on this morning! Other times, he screws up his little nose and I have to laugh, since I know how that expression feels from the inside of it. I think he has his father’s nose, and frankly the cleft chin could have come from either of us but we’ll call it BWB’s for the sake of paternal pride. Most people seem to think that overall he looks more like me, at least so far. My mother-in-law is, of course, a notable exception. I have not yet seen this photographic evidence that she says she has, but my husband insists our son looks nothing like he did as an infant. Among other things, BWB says he was an ugly baby. (No, I don’t believe him, either.) We do have a couple photos of the baby where he looks a great deal like the photos of me at his age. (Well, actually slightly older than his age, since I was a tiny baby and he is not. But you get the idea.) He has such an expressive little face that he can look quite different from one moment to the next — my mother calls him the little face-dancer because of it.

Sometimes I look into his eyes and it is disconcerting, because it is like looking into a mirror. I would say if nothing else, he definitely has my eyes. How very strange, to see so much of myself in someone else’s face. It takes my breath away.

In the end, though, I think the answer as to the question of who he looks like is pretty simple: He looks like himself. That’s all he ever needs to be.

I haven’t posted in a long time.

It’s not because I didn’t have things to write about. Oh boy, do I have things to write about.

It’s not because I didn’t have time, although that does play a huge role.

It’s because I didn’t post about something very big that happened in September, and posting about anything else before I posted about that thing seemed very strange. Except when I went to write about the thing that happened in September, it seemed awkward to have not written about it yet, so then I didn’t.

It occurred to me recently that if I was going to be able to use this blog again, ever, I was going to have to just write and be done with it. So here I am, writing.

This thing that happened in September, it happened right after my last post. It happened just about 30 weeks ago. It happened when a chemical reaction occurred on a small piece of paper and popped up with two little lines.

BWB and I are expecting our son to make his debut at the end of May.

I wish I had been able to make that post in September that I tried to write, to explain the rush of emotions. I wish that I had managed to get that one out so that I could have told you about my fear of losing the pregnancy, of knowing too much because of my medical degree, of going to the first and second (and third, and fourth…) ultrasounds having steeled myself for hearing that there was no heartbeat. I wish I had gotten my act together to write a first trimester “stuff I learned” back when I remembered all of the stuff I learned and before I forgot all of it. I really wish I had been coherent enough to express my utter shock when I found out that I was not, in fact, having the girl I just knew I was expecting.

Some of these things, I can try to write retrospectively, and I will. However, I think the important thing here is that I made this post and I can start writing again without quite so much consternation. We’re three quarters of the way through the pregnancy, but barely just beginning the journey.

Of course, he likes to chime in when I’m at the computer, kicking me to convey his opinion of what I’m working on. My tiny editor will probably enforce brevity to some extent, but then I’m pretty sure that’s what a good editor does. He’s so clever. Already.

I’m so smitten. Already.

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