PRESCRIPT: Today is one of the two happiest days of my life. Max wanted a car. His mother gave him a blog instead. I am sure he will be thrilled.
At 11:51am on Wednesday October 11, 2001, my second and last son Max was born. Being the rabid All My Children Fan I was back then, I asked him to please hurry up being born so I don’t miss the episode coming on at noon. It was the last time the boy actually obeyed me unless he wanted to. Max will be 16 going on 36 today. He was born with his own compass, my Max was. He gave me a run for my money since he appeared. After eight miscarriages and the birth of my older son four years earlier, another miracle baby was hard to fathom. The previous year, I had a dermoid cyst wrapped around an ovary removed. I am known for my independence but this type of cyst is an egg that tries to become a person without the help of the male species. Two divorces later and I am thinking it wasn’t such a bad idea. I was 43 years old when I got pregnant with Max and 44 when I gave birth. I never felt my older son would be an only child. I just had no idea how a sibling would be accomplished. I was not about to go the in vitro route. I didn’t think it would help, as conception was not the problem. My miscarriages occurred at about 8 weeks each time. There was very little any doctor could do about habitual miscarriages, a few DNA tests to check our chromosome compatibility and that was about it. Marco, my older son’s life debut was an emotional roller coaster ride and I was not going to buy another ticket on that ride. I thought about adoption first and foremost as I had after so many miscarriages before Marco. I’ll tell his story when he turns 21 next April. This story belongs to Max.
I tried the adoption route again before Max. I went online, as adopting babies overseas was now all the rage in 2001. I found the most beautiful little 2 year old girl named Ana in Guatemala. She looked like me when I was little. She was so darn cute with jet -black hair and a round little face. I carried around her picture that February, fully expecting to make that call to see what adoption would entail. By early March I knew I was pregnant again. By late March I knew I was having another miscarriage. I remember the drive to the sonogram center at the local hospital so it could be done very quickly. I remember thinking on the ride over that it’s ok; don’t let your heart break again over this. Maybe we could all go to Hawaii instead. Yes, a trip to the islands, a sure fire easy trade for a baby. I remember the technician saying, “take a look at your baby, the heart’s beating fine”. I remember saying no, it isn’t. Don’t lie to me. I know what a miscarriage feels like. I am an expert. Well not this time, she said, you’re baby is fine. Fooling me is what Max has always done best. He thrives on pushing my buttons and telling me some outlandish story with the straightest face and I fall for it every time. It’s always something to get a loud rise out of me. When he did it as a six year old, I used to try and tell him the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Max, however, is a natural born lawyer and always had some loophole or other thing the boy could have done to foil the wolf. Finally I gave up on this particular parable.
I had to go every few days as soon as I found out I was pregnant and have some blood work done to test if the necessary pregnancy hormones were duplicating correctly to sustain it. Max managed to even fool the doctors because the numbers stopped multiplying at one point and yet no miscarriage. That was the reason for the sonogram visit. The numbers just didn’t make sense for a viable pregnancy. That’s Max, my march to his own drummer even in vitro.
I remember thinking he was a girl. I even had the name all picked out. Marlena, Marly for short. At 44 years old, I had to have amniocentesis. They told me he was a boy, I said no he is a girl. No they told me, it’s a boy. We know what one looks like. Now I was in shock. I really was. Boy did I luck out though. I am as far from a girl mom as you can get. My boys didn’t appreciate the farting and burping when their friends were over but their friends sure got a kick out of it.
Max has an independent streak a mile wide. Some say he got it from me. I suppose. I never worried about him growing up. The penchant for calling me Maddie and his Dad, Craig, since he’s been about eight was a little hard to take at first. I was horrified but nothing would make him stop. As I often have to with Max, I give up, shake my head and just say the kid is just unparentable. Max always did things way ahead of his time. He took the training wheels off the bike at 4 and half years old. He was my motor kid. As long as it had wheels he was happy. Even in vitro, the minute the car started, he started kicking up a storm rather than being still. I don’t think he ever slept through car rides either much. So it stands to reason, he got his permit to drive at 15 and a half, the exact first second he was allowed. Max would take his friends all over the neighborhoods on those bikes of his. I never really even knew where he was half the time. Just so he came home by dark. The day he called from the mall the first time he went to tell me they are pretty sure some guy stole his friend’s new NIKE socks as they were getting ice cream and they were getting a cop to go find the guy. Max was 10 at the time. Heart stopping, I drove over there. They found the guy, not the socks though. It was the same night that two 13 year olds were stabbed sitting on a bench at the mall. Max didn’t go again for a while.
Max loves people, especially the girls. And woe is me, they like him back. He was in second grade when he announced his first girlfriend. Max is the mayor. He likes taking care of his friends and having them around. His peculiar penchant for having someone always sleep over every possible non-school night has been a bit much over the years but fun as well. Max works those sleep over guest lists like the night manager working the velvet rope at an ‘80s disco. He’s 16 today. It is difficult to see the baby grow up. He doesn’t play football anymore. Nine years of it was enough for him I guess, although I loved watching him play. As a quarterback he commanded that field. I miss my baby as you only can with the baby in the birth order, but I am also excited to see the young man he becomes. He’s got such a big heart and a great sense of humor. Max still does the “boy who cried wolf routine” with me, I still fall for it and always will I think. He keeps me on my toes and keeps me young, that’s for sure. So today I celebrate one of the two best days of my life. Happy Birthday my Max! Love, Maddie