(c) Somebody’s Always Hungry, 2011
Birth of a Nathan as published in LA Parent, 2004, by Juliet Johnson Home The Book & Reviews Buy It Now Stories Who is Juliet Earth Mother Video Blogs & Writing Networking Day in the Life Contact Please click here  to fill out our Contact Form. Letís stay in touch. Somebodyís Always Hungry
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.