I think it was Melanie Wilkes who said it best, in Gone With the Wind. “Oh, I think the days that babies come are just the happiest days!” or something like that.

Melanie could be pretty sugary-sweet sometimes, but she nailed that one all right: it is the best day when a baby comes–especially if it’s a baby you’ve been waiting for, and a baby who fooled everyone into thinking she was going to come weeks early and then, after hours and hours and days and days of false labor, seemingly decided to forego the whole getting-born thing after all. The bulletins from the inside were: “Thanks, but I’ve just decided to remain an inside person. It’s true that it’s getting crowded in here, but I’ll be fine, thank you.”

We were concerned. Okay, at times we were distraught. Had she heard about the BP thing? Had the World Cup vuvuzelas made her rethink life on earth? And what about the wars and the housing market and the fact that Vienna and Ryan broke up when anyone knew he shouldn’t have picked her anyway.  You never know what kind of news a pre-baby can hear about and get frightened by.  We who were waiting for her tried to concentrate on having good conversations, just so she’d have an incentive to push the EXIT button and come out to be with the rest of us.

“It’s not so bad,” I called to Allie’s belly. “Really. The BP thing is far from us, and anyway, Kevin Costner’s on the case. We liked him in Bull Durham and that other movie about ballplayers where he built a ball field, so even though he’s been a bit sappy in everything since then, I think we can be happy that he’s cleaning up the Gulf rather than trying to act young anymore.”

Surprisingly, Allie remained pregnant for days after I delivered my Kevin Costner talk.

I switched over to discussing the World Cup and the fact that no one in the U.S. really cared about soccer until recently, and I admitted that I still don’t and can’t understand the rules at all–but I said it was fun to watch people getting all excited and painting their faces and wrapping themselves in flags while they jumped up and down. I said that watching humans get excited is one of the pleasures of life. (I promised that mostly in life on earth, you don’t hear the vuvuzela being played.)

No birth.

We all took turns thinking up good reasons to get born, reasons we would have signed up again if given the chance. (Every now and then, I think, this is a pretty good exercise to do: renew your contract with life.) I came up with  iced tea, the Beatles, swings at the playground, changing the furniture around, shade on a hot day, ice cream sundaes with strawberries and whipped cream, the first day you can wear flipflops, laughing until you can’t stand it anymore, falling asleep on a soft pillow, ferris wheels, fireflies, rain on the roof, bagels and cream cheese, loving somebody who loves you back, the coming attractions at the movies, hot baths, candlelight. (It was June, so all my reasons had to do with summer, I realize now. I’ll have to redo this in the winter.)

“All that is just big picture stuff,” I told her. “But rest assured that immediately when you come out, there’ll be people there to welcome you: your mother and father, your grandparents, your big brother, your aunts, uncles and bunches of cousins.”

No response, except that we figured she gained another pound.

“Okay, here’s something you haven’t thought about. You’ll have room to stretch. I think you should come for the stretching, if for no other reason.”

So she finally came out, a day after her due date. And then, when I met her, I realized why she hadn’t come out before: it wasn’t that she was scared or doubtful. She hadn’t heard about BP, or the vuvuzelas. She’s just one of those people who seems perfectly happy wherever she is. Put her on a blanket, and she lies there looking around. She doesn’t seem to care about being swaddled or carried around every single minute. She’ll cuddle and sleep in your arms or in her bassinet, or on a blanket on the floor. You don’t have to constantly rock her or make little noises like, “Bobobobobobo” to keep her interested.

I think she’s decided the world is a good place after all.

And, as you can see, she seems pretty happy to see that there’s somebody right there beside her: 3-year-old Miles is showing her the way. Lucky Emma Charlotte.