Noodle has a big gummy smile, and when he smiles, he makes tiny fists, shrugs his shoulders up high, and crosses his arms over his chest. Noodle startles and stares whenever I get the camera out, so it's hard to catch his joy on film in this phase, but it is something very special that I want to remember.
When he eats, Noodle wants so badly to hold the bottle by himself. He grunts and grasps, pushes my hand away. If I comply, the bottle slips, and he wails. Or sometimes he will triumphantly get just the nipple into his mouth but can't tip it properly, so he sucks air. The Nugget likes to help feed him, so I try to hold Noodle's hands so that he doesn't pinch or scratch the Nugget. He has a mighty belch that comes right out the second you turn him right side up.
Noodle falls asleep in quite a remarkable fashion. I haven't seen anything quite like it before. Sometimes during a bottle, other times in the midst of fussing, he will go from awake to totally out in 10 seconds. You can feel him turn from squirmy baby to limp sack of potatoes in the blink of an eye. The car seat is another guaranteed nap for him - even on 5 minute journeys, the motion lulls him to sleep. Quite the contrast from the Nugget, who was like the valedictorian of the Moro reflex.
Noodle loves Doggie. He lights up whenever she's in the room. With baby Nugget, Doggie was always up in his grill, wanting to sniff, lick, rebreathe his air. Older and wiser now, Doggie gives Noodle a wide berth but comes to check on him when he cries, looking at us balefully as if to say, "You're not doing it right."
It's an interesting dance of affection and attachment. We're letting Noodle steal a part of our hearts, but that's ok, because he can take that with him if/when he goes. I wasn't sure I'd be able to do this, but now I feel like I'm right where I'm meant to be. Things might change, but if today they told me that Noodle's home and family was made safe for him, I could hand him over with a hug and a kiss, with his new bear and some onesies to-go. And I'm not sure that it would break my heart the way the failed adoptions did, because if he was able to go home, it would mean that we accomplished our goal, that we kept him safe and loved while he needed it. And on the other hand, if something went wrong and we were asked to become Noodle's forever family, we would say yes in a heartbeat.