Tuesday, August 01, 2006
I thought the newsworthy highlights of my day yesterday were pretty much covered when I posted " New York Morning" in the early afternoon. I was wrong.
I was awakened from a nap ( I never take them but it's pretty hot here, and Ethan and I had run around all morning, so maybe that was part of it ) to hear my cell ringing. It took a minute or so before I got up from the couch and checked who had called. No voicemail. But it was a call from Chris, my son who is about to become a father for the second time.
The baby's due date was August 10. The plan was that it would be a home birth including Ethan, their firstborn, with a certified nurse midwife attending. Chris and Jennifer chose my younger son,Ben, unmarried, 35, an MTV executive; and Jennnifer's brother, 30ish, salesperson at Tommy Hilfiger as their backup at the birth.
I called him back but got voicemail. I had an uneasy feeling that this might be it--that the baby was on its way.
I called Ben, my younger son.
"What's up?", I said, trying to sound cheerful.
" Chris called, Mom. Jenn's having the baby and he's riding home from work on his bike from Sony ( in the 50s on the East Side to 82nd and Riverside on the West Side )."
"Should I go over do you think--I'm so close?"
" He didn't mention that. Maybe you'd better stay put and wait until he calls."
I shouldn't have listened to him. That was 4:30 pm.
At 4:45, after trying Chris' cell three more times, I tried the land line at their apartment. After 4 rings, Chris answered.
"Is everything alright, Chris?" It seemed like an eternity until his reply. His voice was soft, his speech a little halted.
"Ya, Mom."There was a long silence.
"We're just cutting the cord right now. Jenn delivered the baby herself."
"Do you want me to come over? Is the midwife there? "
"Yeah. She got here a few minutes ago from Brooklyn. I think we're fine for now. I'll call you in a little while."
"OK." I was relieved that he was there--and the midwife.
"Chris--Chris," I shouted into the receiver. Don't hang up. Are you still there?"
"Yup, I'm here, Mom."
"What is it?"
He chuckled under his breath probably at my urgency before he said very proudly:" It's a boy, Mom." I could imagine a smile on his face as he spoke.
At 6, the phone rang again.
"Mom--why don't you come over. And would you bring some Gatorade for Jenn and some shumai from Ethan?"
I hailed a cab, ordered sushi to be delivered to their apartment, and grabbed a treat for Ethan. When I arrived, I walked into Jenn and Chris' room. There was Ethan sitting next to his mom, Jenn grinning, and right next to her hip was the new baby boy, eyes tightly closed and sucking on two long, thin fingers.
I stayed for awhile, talking to the midwife about our mutual backgrounds ( I practiced and taught nursing for 20 years ) and talked about the birth, babies, her practice.I kissed Jenn. A bit later, she put the baby in my arms. He was still wrapped only in a clean towel and startled and trembled a bit. I held him close. "Welcome, little one. Welcome to our world. You are truly loved." Something out of nothing. That's what he is. Something that wasn't here yesterday. Now material, not just an abstraction.
Before I left, I put some receiving blankets around the bassinet. I was coming over next week with the pretty eyelit skirt that goes over the basket and drops to the floor. It is the same bassinet that my sons used thirty five years ago. This is the third generation to use this basket. Pretty amazing.
A couple hours later, after Ben and I had a celebration beer(s) at TJ O'Brian's down the street from my apartment, and shared a turkey burger, I crawled in bed and said a little prayer for the little boy who just arrived. And for all of us--that we will give him all that he needs to be all that he can be. It is, I believe, what legacy is all about.