His name is Michael. Weighed in at an impressive 9 lbs even. And was 25 inches long.
So, I have been calling him Lurch.
This is Harriet's third child by birth and her 5th child. Two of her children belong to her sister, who died awhile back. So, now, she has her sister's children, Dallas and Elizabeth, ages 12 and 10 and Michael joins her children, Peter and Gretel,aged 7 and 6. Harriet just turned 42.
Michael was a surprise, don't you know. I remember the day that Harriet told me she was pregnant. It was a week after I found out that I was really sick, so I told her that if I kicked off before he arrived, she had to name the child after me, boy or girl. If it was a girl, Maria was fine. If it was a boy, Marion.
She'd hooted at that.
"Well, fuck that idea," she said. "I don't even like the name Maria, so you'll just have to avoid kicking the bucket and stick around. Besides, you have to help me. I am ELDERLY now, way too old to be birthing babies. I thought I was done with all that shit."
I reminded her that I was only a year younger than her when Liv was born.
"Yeah, but you had one. I will have freakin' FIVE, Maria..," she had wailed.
She had a point.
The time went by so fast. Harriet pregnant was almost comical, especially as she got bigger and bigger. She is tall and thin, so watching her balloon up was alarming at times. She looked like a fake pregnant woman. She had her long, thin stick legs and long, thin stick arms and then it looked like someone had stuck a basketball in her shirt. And she broke out in acne.
"This is so fucking unfair," she groused. "I look like some big bird teenage girl hauling around my fake baby for my family planning class."
She went into labor yesterday afternoon, a week before her due date. Her husband called me from the delivery room.
"She's in a um...really suck ass mood. I'm afraid that she'll bite me if I get too close," he told me.
"Put the bitch on," I said.
When Harriet greeted me, I told her, "Your husband says you are crabby. Now, c'mon. Knock it off. Do you want the nurses to talk about you in the hall? Give you placebos instead of the real deal drugs and then snicker behind your back?"
Harriet growled. "I just want this...this....this...child to get the hell out of the hotel room. I feel like he's already trashed the place. Probably cracked a few of my ribs already and he's been stomping on my kidneys for months now. Ungrateful little snot..."
I asked her if she needed me to come to the hospital and she laughed. "Not unless you come bearing some really good weed," she said. "Oh, shit. I think a nurse just heard me. Now, I've done it. They will snip off some of the kid's hair and have it checked for meth..."
We hung up and Liv and I went over to Harriet's house and relieved her mother from the kids for awhile, took them out for ice cream.
Michael was born about 11 last night. In true Harriet fashion, she watched The Academy Awards right up until she was dilated ten.
I called Harriet this morning to see how she was doing.
She sounded pretty upbeat. "I didn't have one fucking craving my whole pregnancy and now I am craving Frosted Flakes," she told me.
I told her that I would make a note of that. I asked her how Michael was doing, her husband had called me last night around midnight to tell me about his spectacular apgar score.
"He's really, really peaceful," Harriet told me. "And such a good sport. All the kids came this morning and passed him around like a basketball and he didn't make a peep."
I told her that I would be up to visit today after work. So, I showed up right before dinner with a box of Frosted Flakes, a carton of half and half and two bright red cheerful bowls from my kitchen. No plastic bowls for us. I snagged two spoons from the hospital cafeteria.
I walked in, took one look at my best friend and her new son, laying across her lap and promptly burst into tears.
Harriet smiled, rolled her eyes and shook her head.
"God, you are such a sap," she said.
I wiped my eyes. "Shut up. It's just that I'm jealous. You lucky bitch. He is sooo gorgeous."
I peered into his face. "I think this one might have brown eyes."
I knew that would please her. She has brown eyes and her husband is blue eyed. So much for brown being dominant. Her children are all blue eyed with reddish brown hair, the spit and image of her husband. But, Michael, he might just buck the system.
Harriet held out her hands. "Fix me a bowl of Frosted Flakes and then hold him while I pig out."
She smiled hugely when she saw the half and half.
"Oh, goody. No skim milk for me. Which is good because I'm um...nursing."
I stared at her. "Are you kidding?"
She smiled, sort of sheepishly. She and I have joked about nursing for years, we have a mutual friend who nursed her child until he was three years old and she had no idea that we were all repulsed as we watched the kid standing, leaning up against her and sucking on her boob right in front of us.
"No," she said. "I'm not kidding. It is cheaper. And you know how tight money is now that we have five kids instead of the two that we planned on originally."
I knew. She and her husband always struggled financially, but she was able to stay home with her kids until Gretel started kindergarten. Then, she went and got pregnant just months after she finally went back to work. She had worked straight up until her due date and often when I called to check in on her at 8 in the evening, her husband would tell me that she was in bed already. She and her husband had agreed that she would stay home with Michael too, but their already pinched budget would get even more so.
"Well, just don't let Ken (her husband) make those idiotic husband jokes about how your boobs belong to him and the kid only gets to borrow them," I told her.
"I already told him that he is not to make boob jokes or ask if he can have a drink when I am standing next to him," she said.
I cradled Michael in my arms. He barely stirred. I leaned down and smelled his head. Nothing like the smell of a baby head. I kissed his satiny cheek. Oh, god. Sooo good. Sooo sweet.
"You are my little sugar foot Lurch, aren't you?" I crooned to him.
I looked up at Harriet, who had momentarily stopped stuffing her face to watch us.
"He is really cute, isn't he?" she said, in not really a question.
"He is devastatingly handsome," I told her.
Eventually, I put the baby in his bassinet and showed Harriet the presents I'd brought. Some Boudreaux's Butt Paste. (It really, really works. When Liv was a baby, it worked better than the prescription from the pediatrician.) Booties with turtles on them. A miniature David Bowie tee shirt. And his natal chart.
I have done natal charts since I was in college. It started out as something to do for fun and then I realized that I was good at it and could make some extra dough, so I hired myself out, took out an ad in the newspaper and everything. It helped buy text books. Not that I believe in them. I don't. But, they're fun. Now, I only do them for friends and some family members (my devout Catholic sisters regard them as Satan's handiwork, so none for those party poopers.)
Harriet and I pored over the chart while Michael slept.
"Good," she said, at last. "No sign of a criminal mind. Nothing too reckless. It does say that he might take up unusual hobbies as an adult. I hope that doesn't have anything to do with snakes."
"Naw," I told her. "Maybe he'll collect stamps or women's panties or something."
"Yeah," she agreed. "No snakes, though. Maybe he will be a gourmet cook. Now that I could go for..."
Michael woke up and started crying. Harriet grimaced.
"Ugh," she said. "There I go leaking all over the damn place. This is going to be something to get used to. When they say that your milk will come down, this means that it will feel like you are holding back Niagara Falls."
She hiked him up to her breast and he latched on like he had been doing it for years.
I stood up and stretched. "Well, Bossy, I think I should go pick up Liv," I said.
"Wait," she said. "I have a question for you."
"No, I won't marry you. So just get that sluttiness out of your head."
Harriet smiled. "What I wanted to ask you was...will you be Michael's godmother?"
I choked up. Looked out the window. When I was able to turn around again, Harriet was smiling at me, shaking her head.
"You are such a fucking SAP HEAD, she sighed.
"You know I will be his godmother," I said.
"I knew you would, yes," she agreed. "It's just...I can't think of anyone I would rather have do this than you."
"Actually, I'm just excited about going out and buying some swanky ungodmotherly dress to wear at the baptism," I told her. "I was thinking something backless..."
She reached over and grabbed my hand. Put it to lips and gave it a smacky kiss.
"I love you, Maria," she said. "I'm glad that you are around to be Michael's godmother, you godless heathen."
I leaned down to kiss Michael and then Harriet.
"I'll go bring your kids some McDonald's on my way home," I told her. "I promised them I would. And for your mom, too. She looks a little edgy. Probably a good thing that you are going home tomorrow."
"Yeah," Harriet sighed. "Hey, Maria...?"
"I really miss my sister right now..."
"I know. I know."
I leaned down and put my cheek against hers.
"I'm right here with you," I told her.
"I'm so glad," she said.
One long look of good, dear friendship.
And then she said, "You better get going, Sap head."
I nodded. I gathered up the dirty bowls with dried Frosted Flakes around the edges and put them in a bag to take home to wash.
Another sweet baby in the world.
Lucky, lucky us.