Gwyneth Paltrow looks happy. Baby Apple, pink lips puckered in sweet dreams, is asleep in her arms. ''Sorry she crashed,'' murmurs Paltrow, palming her 4-month-old daughter's little blond head, ''but her daddy is working today, so it's just us.'' Daddy is Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, and the two married in a secret shotgun wedding last December, five months before Apple's birth. She turns fierce when the ballyhoo over her daughter's name is brought up: ''To me the name Apple is so beautiful and sweet, and people are named Rose, people are named Lily, Ivy, June, May. People are named nouns all the time. How can people say, 'Oh, it's so bizarre'?''
Paltrow hasn't worked in close to a year, and she wears her time off well. When I first met her last fall in London, where she was wrapping up the shoot on the adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Proof, she looked every bit the Oscar-winning actress: Gucci blazer, intense Christian Dior black stiletto boots, that gorgeous drape of yellow hair. Today, tucked away at the Four Seasons in Carlsbad, Calif., where she's in town for a friend's wedding, she's relaxed in a frizzy ponytail and flip-flops.
''It's really funny hanging out this weekend with all my girlfriends from when I was little,'' she says. ''Everyone's like, 'Duuuude...you have a baby.''' After Apple was born, in a hard delivery that stretched on for 70 hours, Paltrow says she broke into spontaneous sobs for about three weeks: ''It's like being the most in love you've ever been,'' she says, smoothing out the skirt of Apple's white dress, ''but mixed with the worst heartbreak because she's so tender, because life is filled with so much difficulty, because one day you're not going to be together anymore.''