06 February 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it

That's great
It starts with an earthquake

It did, too. The Northridge Earthquake, my first day of maternity leave, and the event that probably hastened your birth.

I didn't actually hold you until February 7th. I was still strapped to the operating table when they took you away 10 minutes before midnight. The nurse tried to make me kiss you before they sent me off to the recovery room, but after 40 hours of labor followed by emergency surgery, I'd lost the ability to make much sense of anything, and all I could do was stare at you. And you stared back.

I do remember two things about your birth. The doctors cut me open and I immediately heard a baby yelling. I looked over the sterile drape to see two surgeons and two nurses staring down in astonishment. My OB later told me she was afraid she'd cut you, but no, you were announcing your arrival even as you were arriving. You were being you.

The other thing I remember is the amazing sense of another person suddenly arriving in the room. I have been with those who are dying, and the sense is one of sudden absence. Your birth was exactly the opposite: the sense of sudden presence. That was when I understood what people meant when they were talking about they spoke of the miracle of birth.

When I woke up the next morning, it was to an odd sense of loneliness. You had been so much a part of me for almost nine months that it seemed strange that only I inhabited my body again. But then the nurse brought you in, this amazingly alert and strong newborn. It was like getting an incredible present, and I'd never felt such possessiveness. You were MINE, and I unwrapped you and looked you over, marvelling how yesterday, all that had been curled up in my belly.

Years now. I've never felt such love. I've never felt such aggravation. I've never felt such fear. I've never felt such hope.

This morning, you were straining to gain that last half-inch that will bring you up to my height. I pooh-poohed your silliness, and your father laughed and said, "Give it a rest; she won't admit you're taller until you're about 6'7"."

"So," I asked, "How have I done my job? Do you know your place in the world?"

"Yeah," you laughed. "I'm the minion, you're the Alpha dog."

"Good man!" I cheered and clapped you on the back. And looking at you, braced knee, amazing sense of humor, kind heart big enough to spend time with a little boy who needs an older kid's attention, I was satisfied.

The day you were born was the end of my world as I knew it.

And I feel fine.

Go listen to some good music: "It's the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)" from the album Document by REM.

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