Max is a sweet, sweet baby. He's content and likes to be outdoors. At six weeks (but born a couple weeks on the early side) he was already struggling to hold his head up while the adults around him said things like, Well that's a huuuge noggin. That's a virtual planetoid.
Max is a lucky guy. His parents don't seem like they've never done this before. The whole time I was there, there wasn't any stress at all. I know that they are putting a huge amount of effort into caring for him, but they do it so gracefully and cheerfully that it seems like he's their fifth kid. Even after a night of being up every two hours.
It's been a forever six years ago since I had a baby. Now she has a couple of grown up teeth and mutters damnit under her breath when we run out of mini marshmallows. Max is so teensy; he still spends his awake time stretching his limbs like he's underwater, studying faces, sticking out his tongue.
Part of my intention on this trip was to let my brother and his wife get out for a dinner alone, or a movie or something. The first 24 hours I was there, so was my mom, finishing up the last of her weeklong trip. Even though we live less than a mile apart, I hardly ever get to see my mom without my kids around, so it was nice to have a quiet visit. Mostly we just took turns holding the baby and talking about how cute he is and about how much I barfed when I was tiny. She took us all out to dinner at this swank neighborhood cafe close enough to walk to. We timed our outing around Max's nursing schedule, and as we started down the sidewalk I remembered how much I liked being on that stripped-down newborn schedule: a two hour loop of nursing and rocking, burping, changing, napping, that goes on for weeks.
Max came along the next night to a ten table sushi restaurant, and the next afternoon to a barbecue. Portland was gorgeous, all flowers and sun, and it stays light a little later up there.
My brother asked me what I'd like to be called. When we were little (and still) we didn't ever use the word Auntie. It was always Aunt. We leave out the U sound, though, and say it Ant. So now, when Max is six and his parents are wondering how the time went by so fast when so many of the days felt so long, he'll be calling that lady in California who likes to spoil him Antie Jen.