On January 19th, 2016, Maximus Daniel Hamm took his first breath at 12:50 PM as God, himself, breathed it into his lungs, and we heard, soon thereafter, the sweet sound of his powerful cry.
From my shoulders, the weight of the world has lifted, but in this same instant, I realize that Max now holds it on his. I have to remind myself, this is only the first step, his first breath…but he did it. Dear God, he did it. Tears spring fast, and suddenly, there he is, in the hands of a nurse, raised up high like the king he is, almost as if they all knew that too. The air pulls itself from my chest, by a force no can see, almost as if it doesn’t belong there at all, especially not in a moment such as this. He is here, in all his beautiful, naked glory, he is here. So big, so strong, Maximus indeed. My head swims, but this time, not from the rush of morphine raging through my veins. My being is resonating throughout time and space, every cell that is me is trembling in this moment, and I’m on the edge of existence itself. I may or may not be here at all. Across the room, or maybe the cosmos, the nurses are cleaning me off him, but I’m still with him. In my mind, over and over, “I’m still with him, I’m still with him, he has to know I’m still with him.” We are together, him and I, I hear it in that voice that isn’t really mine, and only then do I realize, we will never truly be apart. This thought, reverberates throughout the room as these numbers ring out, 8, 9, 9. His APGAR score. He’s ours. We can keep him. God has answered our prayers, in fact, I can feel Him in the room right now. Or maybe that’s the morphine again.
Tug, pull, pull, tug. Under the blanket of spinal anesthetic, I faintly register being sewn back together. They said it would be like this, my legs leaden and stomach numb, only the tug and pull of muscle and fascia to be felt. Imagining my insides turned outside, I allow myself one glance, then once more, toward the light fixtures overhead, trying to make out tiny glimpses of the procedure going on past the blue curtain, before I turn back, just in time. His little face, so perfect, is just like it was in black and white. I reach out, and I know I can’t hold him. Too drowsy, too risky, “Once you’re sewn up and in recovery he’s all yours.” I would’ve snapped, if I wasn’t shackled to the table by way of drugs and Velcro. They’re taking him now, so soon? Cody and the nurse, and I will meet them there once I’m together again. Except they don’t understand, I am empty and without. This feeling invades all the spaces where my child once rested. So I lay, and wait, and cry hot tears that sear and stain.
Exhaustion robs me of my consciousness, even though sleep hasn’t taken me yet. I fight, with every drug soaked fiber of my body, I fight. I need to see him. I need him close to me. But I can’t hold him, they say, until I can move my legs. It’s so strange, staring at your legs, willing them to move, watching them lie limp and splayed out before you. Until finally, a twitch here and there turns into haphazardly tossing them side to side in a display of triumph.
He’s mine. My sweet little boy. The first moment having them in your arms you immediately feel the urge to feed them. This is the second step, feeding. The nurse insists I wait, young mom, first baby, you’ll need help from a lactation consultant. Defiantly, and unconvinced of our ineptitude, I pull down my gown anyway. Without missing a beat, Max instinctively searches for me, latches, and starts to nurse, just as the lactation consultant draws back the curtain. Obviously surprised, she nods, shrugs, and says, “Naturals.” I beamed with pride that not only did I get to keep my baby, but he was good at stuff already too.
In our room, it’s complete mayhem, packed full of family, love, and adoration, as Max is passed around. Eventually, the room settles, and so do we. Max has done so well, and we finally feel at peace. We lay down to rest, me in the hospital bed, Cody on the couch, and Max in his hospital bassinet between us both. He is here, he is okay, he is ours.