Memories of Max

I’m well aware that these might only be of interest to me, but I’ve decided that I need to write down what I remember about Max so that I don’t forget it later. Hey, he might be interested in it too.

–We counted 1234 over and over again through Sarah’s contractions. Kat said, “This baby’ll know how to count!” I thought about counting in Russian, but decided against it.

–I ate a cup of yogurt, in three stages, between contractions.

–I remember running around looking for things to do and someone said, “Stop. We’ll take care of this. You need to be with her.”

–Sarah didn’t want to leave the water.

–Sarah didn’t want to be on her side, but they couldn’t get behind her in the tub. They said, “You either need to get out of the tub or get on your side.” She got on her side.

–Sarah kept wanting to know what time it was, how much time had passed, what stage of labor she was in. They never really answered her.

–When he was born, he was red like a rutabaga. He had a conehead.

–I think I was the first person to see that it was a he. Max was screaming. Sarah looked poleaxed. “It’s a boy,” I whispered. “What gender is it?” Sarah said. “I don’t know,” someone else said. “It’s a boy,” I said. “Is it a Max?” I said. And Sarah said, “Yes.”

–The water he was born in was dark and murky with blood.

–I cut the umbilical cord. I was expecting something tough, like jerky, but the scissors cut through it easily. I noticed how purple it was.

–They said I should take my shirt off, to keep him warm. They handed him to me wrapped in a blanket. I remember being worried about dropping him as I tried to sit on the bed. They turned on the heat lamp.

–I remember trying to move the towel so that he was more against my chest. He seemed so fragile. I was worried he would be cold.

–He suckled on my chest. Poor guy, I thought, you’re outta luck there. I imagined him thinking, “What gives? There’s nothing but hair here!”

–They showed me how to let him suck on my pinky finger. I remember worrying that I would accidentally poke him in the eye with one of my other fingers. My hand seemed to cramping up. He seemed to enjoy the finger. I kept waiting for him to realize it was all a trick–no milk–but he never did. This became my surefire trick for calming Max down. Until he grew his teeth, that is.

–Max was wearing a funny little knit cap. Which we may have left at the birth center.

–I was experiencing some serious time dilation, collapsing and expanding at an alarming rate. It felt as though Sarah was in the tub for nearly an hour, while I sat with Max sucking on my finger. I remember looking over and see them help her stand up in the tub, umbilical hanging down. His feet scrabbled against my belly. I could feel his sharp little nails.

–At one point, I said, “He has drag queen nails.” I don’t know if I actually said that to anyone. Or just myself. Or maybe to Max. They were long and sharp.

–Sarah got into bed. There was blood. There seemed to be a lot of it. I tried not to worry. I felt awkward handing Max to Sarah. “He must be hungry,” I thought.

–Max crawled around on Sarah’s belly, giant head wobbling on his tiny body. I was so happy when he started nursing. They left us alone. Time passed.

–Max pooped all over the place. We were dumbfounded, but not really worried. We said, “Should we get a diaper? where’re the diapers?” We didn’t know where they were. I wondered out into the front room. Everyone turned to look at me. I felt incapable of speech. “Where are the diapers?” I said. They laughed. And then they came in to help us clean up.

–One of the midwives’ sons had slept through the whole thing in the front room. She came in and said: “My son wants to see him. Do you mind?” We said no. This boy of six? seven? came into the room. He had a look of wonderment on his face. He was hesitant. He didn’t want to touch Max. It was a special moment.

–Kat drove us home.

–As we walked to the car, some people walking (on their way to work?) passed between us and I felt a brief spasm of fear and then it too passed.

–On the drive home, it was a new day. Max slept in the back seat. I was overly aware of my feet and knees. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember driving past the pink spinning elephant.

–Sarah had trouble getting up the stairs.

–I was so happy to be home. Though it felt like a different place from what I’d left the night before.

–Kat left. We got into bed. I think we slept. Rachel came by with sandwiches and juices and many wonderful things. I remember creeping out of bed to eat, ravenous.

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