11 March 2013

There is only one child in the world.

I used to read  Eric Carle's picture and poetry book, Animals Animals to Baby JakeCarl Sandburg's poem, "Names" is in this book:

There is only one horse of the earth
and his name is All Horses.
There is only one bird in the air
and his name is All Wings.
There is only one fish in the sea
and his name is All Fins.
There is only one man in the world
and his name is All Men.
There is only one woman in the world
and her name is All Women.
There is only one child in the world
and the child's name is All Children.
There is only one Maker in the world
and His children cover the earth
and they are named All God's Children.

Baby Jake turns ten today.  I can't even count how many spectators at sporting events have scolded me for calling him Baby Jake.  I don't know what else to call him. 

Born during a very tumultuous period in my life, just two months earlier we moved to New Jersey and back, baby Jake entered the world chaotically. 

The pregnancy was filled with the stress of joblessness, moving, the death of George's mother Emma, and even homelessness.  I was so big I asked the doctor in my seventh month to take the baby out of me and let him live in an incubator.  They wouldn't do it.

At 38 and 39 weeks, even at 40 weeks, I said, I think we should induce; he's big.  The doctor thought we should wait.  Finally on the night of March 10th, I imagined contractions and decided to head to the hospital.  By Monday morning labor really did begin.  I had no desire to achieve this birth without drugs, but the epidural dislodged in my back, so I felt every surge of this 10lb 9oz boy's struggle into this world.

I knew the situation was dire when the doctor slapped me and said, "you have to do this."  My baby wasn't coming out, he was stuck.  His umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, and he was in the birth canal, too late for a caesarian section.  Seven or eight nurses crowded into the room.  They were physically pressing all of their body weight on my stomach pushing with their hands.  I was in shock, not breathing.  The doctor had panic in his voice.  He shouted, "Melissa, you need to do this now."  The pain was so unbearable I felt numb, weak, scared.

Finally, I felt the release, but not relief; the panic in the room intensified.  I saw the blue infant across the room and as the doctor slipped handing him to the nurse, his umbilical cord ripped from his stomach, bleeding profusely.  All the while the doctor was calling orders, words like emergency, revive, sutures.  The doctor and nurses whisked my baby from the room and George followed.  Someone sedated me.  To this day when I take him to the pediatrician, I flip to the first page of his chart, "resuscitated after 2 minutes and 36 seconds."

Jake was born early in the morning, around 5 am.  I remember George calling from the infant intensive care, telling me everything was fine, but I knew he was lying.  I had not yet held my baby Jake. George never left him. I waited, dazed, alone.

When they brought him to me it was after noon.  Bruised and swollen, this toddler I gave birth to was the most beautiful child ever born.  His baby pictures still make me cry.

He's ten now, smart and fast and happy and sweet and strong and maybe even a little crazy.  He likes to dress up in a shirt and khaki's, sometimes a tie, or a costume, a wizard, a superhero, a clown.

He puts his hands in his pants pockets, and he looks just like his dad.  He plays outside, wall ball, football, basketball, soccer, skateboarding, surfing, biking.  He enjoys reading, poetry; he memorized T.S. Eliot's "Jellicle Cats" as a gift for a teacher.

We go for early morning walks together on weekends, holidays, in the summer.  He holds my hand and gives me kisses.  When we hug we have a 10 second rule, making sure we transfer all our good energy.  His eyes, when they look at me, pull me deep inside his tender little heart, and he owns me.

There is only one child in the world.