Noe Valley Voice July-August 2000

More Mouths to Feed

By Maire Farrington

Razmig Nishan Makasdjian was scheduled to be a Y2K baby, but he insisted on arriving two days before the turn of the millennium, on Dec. 30, 1999.

"It was fast and furious," says his mother, Roxanne Makasdjian. "I was in labor all night, but I didn't realize it."

Roxanne's doctor had told her that her back pain was probably false labor and to remain at home. Finally, husband Ara Makasdjian insisted on taking her to California Pacific Medical Center. "On the way to the hospital, I said, 'Man, if this is false labor, what is real labor like?!' It was enormous pain," Roxanne relates. "As soon as we got there, I found out I was seven and a half centimeters dilated, so I had gone through a lot at home.

"Everything stopped when we got to the hospital," she continues. "At one point, they lost his heartbeat and they didn't know why. The baby was in distress and they said, 'We have to deliver the baby right now because we don't know what's wrong. We can't take time for niceties.'" Following some intensive pushing and the use of suction cups, baby arrived at 8:41 a.m., weighing exactly 6 pounds.

With all the commotion, it was a few minutes before Roxanne knew whether she had delivered a son or a daughter. "When he came out, the doctor just said, 'It's a beautiful baby,' and I was relieved. They put him in his father's arms, and nobody told me whether it was a boy or a girl. So finally I stuck my head up after ten minutes and asked."

Razmig is an Armenian name meaning warrior or fighter, "in a good sense," says Mom. Nishan, which translates to Mark, is after Roxanne's great uncle. Ara likes to call his son Razmig the Great, but baby is just as happy with Booboo, Coco, Razzmatazz, or Razzle-Dazzle.

He has light brown hair and blue-gray eyes and beautiful long dark eyelashes. "His lips are exactly like Roxanne's," says Ara. Lately she's been saying, 'You're not allowed to kiss him on the lips. Whenever you feel like kissing him on the lips, you can kiss me -- it's the same lips.'"

"He's been easy," Roxanne says. "We've got a running joke going. Whenever we hear a crying baby, my husband and I look at each other and say, 'Well, that can't be Razmig.' He was like that in the hospital, where there were babies crying all around us. Every time a nurse would come in the room, Ara would ask, 'What's all that crying out there?' and the nurse would look at him like, 'You're in a maternity ward! What are you talking about?' It was Ara's way of showing how proud he was that his baby was quiet."

"He's going to be a happy person and content," Ara says. "I do see myself in him, in the way that he doesn't complain much. He does the best with what he has. If he has two ounces of milk, he'll drink and not complain about it."

Like his dad, Razmig is fond of napping, and sometimes father and son will nap together. He smiles easily, and has an easygoing, sociable nature. "If he's fussy, it's for a reason," says Ara. "Either he's hungry or he needs to be changed or he's tired and he wants to sleep. We think he might be teething early because he seems to be biting and gnawing at everything."

"Everyone has been telling us that he seems very alert for his age," Roxanne says. "When he was first born, he couldn't really see, but he was always bright-eyed and looking around, constantly. Even the doctor commented about him being so active. He said, 'That's good, but be aware that you're going to have a bundle of movement on your hands at every moment.'"

Ara is hoping that his son will channel some of that energy into father-son activities. "I would like to take him swimming. I would like him to play soccer, because I've played soccer all my life and I still do. My nephew, who is seven, plays regularly. So hopefully Razmig will follow in our footsteps."

Ara, 42, a lithographer, and Roxanne, 39, a television news producer, first met in 1985 while participating in activities through the Armenian community. It wasn't until 1994 that they became reacquainted and began dating. In 1995, the couple were married and moved into their home on Jersey Street.

The Makasdjians recently hosted 50 adults and 15 children for Razmig's baptism at St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church. His baptismal outfit was fashioned from extra fabric from Roxanne's redesigned wedding dress. "Afterwards we had a restaurant reception, and I never saw Razmig -- he was always in somebody else's lap," she says.

Attending the big event was the Makasdjians' nephew, 13-month-old Aram Parnagian, who flew in from New York City with his parents to meet his baby cousin. "He may be a future Noe Valley resident," Ara says. "We're trying to convince them." The two hit it off like a couple of old pals. "As soon as Aram saw him, he said, 'Baby, baby,'" Roxanne says. "We set them up close to each other on the bed, and Aram took Razmig's feet and started clapping his feet together."

Razmig likes to hang out in his bedroom, where local artist Margaret Daly painted a mural with blue sky, clouds, and a depiction of Mt. Ararat, an Armenian symbol of national importance. On his wall is a lithograph of the letters of the Armenian alphabet, done in the style of illuminated manuscripts. Baby's begun reaching out for his toys and holding them, and he smiles at the baby faces in his picture book. But, says Dad, "you can give him as many toys as you want, he still prefers people."

Family time is "mostly playing on the bed together," says Roxanne, but Saturdays are reserved for weekly jaunts to the Embarcadero. "We sit and have coffee and buy our groceries at the Farmers' Market. Then we go to North Beach and buy some focaccia. After North Beach, we go to the perinatal center at California Pacific and we weigh Razmig, and we're always thrilled with the results. Who would know that it would be such a thrill to see his weight gain? 'Oh, my God, he did another ounce per day!'"

Then it's off to visit Ara's parents, Loucine and Hagop Makasdjian. "We report the results of the weigh-in, and they're just as thrilled as we are," says Roxanne. "They play with him, and sometimes we all go out to Ocean Beach."

Bath time is another favorite routine. "After a bath we stand him in front of the heater vents," says Mom. "We turn up the heat real high so it blows and we dry him off that way. He loves it."

"I consider him a gift for us," says Ara. "I think every family should have a baby like this. Whenever he's awake, I can't do anything else -- I just want to be around him. A movement will make me happy. If he drinks his milk on time, he makes me happy. If he sleeps, he makes me happy. If he wakes up, he makes me happy. It's just overwhelming joy to be around him, period."

"He's just added to the love in our life," Roxanne reflects. "When I look down at him, I feel totally in love all over again. One little smile makes up for twenty diaper changes. I really feel fulfilled."