(c) Somebody’s Always Hungry, 2011
The baby shocked me out of myself. Laying in the bed with the nurse Patty I had met hours ago now
seated between my legs on a spinny stool, cheering me on like the coach
sister I never had, and all these months of waiting and harboring the inner
seven pound beast and then he snakes out of me silent, like a breath of
frozen air, and there he is, blue, wrapped in the cord loosely, the newly
appeared on-call doctor that I’ve never met, fresh and gay though he has
no idea and has gotten married, he holds the baby up and hands him over
to me, up on my stomach, and I can’t remember this part, this seeing the
baby, the nurses are scurrying around rattling pots and pans like a church
picnic preparation in the 1840’s and the man, the Dad, Barry, is on my
right and he’s breathless and confused, and there’s this baby, this wonder
mint, this tiny dot of skin, of stillness, of wonder, a blank silent cupcake
of love on my left, and I can’t catch my brain or my heart, they’ve gone.
And there’s no words for this part – you think there might be words, or at
least a special noise or a color, but there’s nothing but a tiny little boy
and wasn’t there supposed to be a girl? But here he is and gone I am, and
there is only love.
He’s always in motion, arms going in circles, legs going in circles.
Impossible to believe I grew that in my stomach, that something so perfect came from someone like
me. There must be a God because I would’ve forgotten something important. The bridge of the nose. I
would’ve skimped on that. It would’ve been a drawbridge.
They take the baby to warm him up and they roll me and my dead legs onto another bed to take me to
a room. It’s all surreal because I just spent nine tedious months waiting for the wonder of my life, and
then in ten minutes he’s born, he just slips right out, like he’s been waiting in line at a buffet, and
he’s just paid and then people are using his name and I’m wondering “Is that a good name?” and
they’re weighing him and footprinting him and his screams sound like carnival music and then they
wheel me to the other room and I’m put in a bed and given mesh underwear and my stomach feels like
a bean bag, gentle and soft and I keep putting my hands on it in wonder and kneading it, feeling it
pliable and loving it, my body, the transformation of body.
Everything’s going to my breasts – words, milk, love, humor, family, meals, dogs, fights, all of it turns
into milky liquid and the baby eats. I have no free hands, nothing frivolous to do with my hands like
before, no time for wiping my eyes, a leisurelyscratching of the nose perhaps. The baby brings loss
right to my fingertips, says he has not taken all my time, he has freed my time, he celebrates my
body. He uses me. He cries. He knows exactly what he wants, and it is me, he’s sure of it.
The hospital is safe. It’s always night, because I’m always in my pajamas, and the shades are drawn
and nothing bad ever happens. People come in to tell me various things about my boobs, my bottom
half, my family comes in and out and I can only tell because I hear my mom’s high, lilting laugh and I
am stapled in with its safety. Nathan and I live like bats in the ceiling of a church – hanging upside
down, filled with blood and catching all the faith floating up from below on music.
The nurses surge over us in gentle six hour waves, here’s medicine, here’s food, are you all right, isn’t
he beautiful, and the sunlight comes and goes and Nathan stays, Nathan’s here now, I write his name
on a million forms and I like the shape of his letters, the repetition of the sounds, the way he begins
and ends the same way.
He lays at three a.m. in the plastic hospital bassinet beside the bed – he’s a tiny white mouse and I
feed him all the time, and the light from the bathroom yellows the room into a brown duskness and I
change my pads, and wear the netted underwear, and stare at my son and stare at my son and I can’t
believe the swirling of the earth around my head.
It’s still night and Barry and I stare at the baby we made, sleeping, no bigger than a pile of spent
birthday candles. We look at him because there’s nothing else we can do, we’re helpless, we’re
trapped in his sonar, his love grip, and we stare at his little breathing form and sort of glance at each
other sideways because it’s so packed with emotion it’s hard to make eye contact without exploding
or disintegrating and we can’t believe we’re here. Certainly still in the infancy us, and here we are
with this brand new life in a hospital room in Florida, in steamy hot August.
I get scared of being a mom, of not being able to do it and Barry tells me, at three a.m., in his quiet
way, “You just have a new friend, that’s all,” and then he smiles at me.
With the birth I see that everything Barry’s been telling me for years is true – that you do everything
from your heart. Your brain makes a lot of noise and tries to run things, but you put everything on a
shelf and do it from your heart and you wait and you get things like the birth of a Nathan. Even though
everything outside of the little pale plastic hospital bassinet holding Nathan in is falling apart, there is
hope in the room. Barry keeps coming in and out of my vision, and I can’t understand how we’ve made
it this far, and I can’t look too closely at the enormity of it all. Like when I saw the Grand Canyon. You
can only focus on the first hundred feet, the rest is a painting.