I always imagined my pre-hospital beauty ritual and labor to be thus: Luxurious shower, washed hair dried to cascading curl perfection, expertly applied "I just got out of bed" makeup, fabulous "I'm-about-to-give-birth-yet-I-look-so-amazing-it's-really-not-that-hard" outfit, Loubis (obvi), and simple yet tastefully large diamond studs. I stop to pick up the already perfectly packed hospital bag, which is always ready by the front door, and click-clack down the street to New York Presbyterian Hospital, where I'm already 9 centimeters dilated and don't feel the need for drugs. After a brief session of pushing, with my husband holding my hand and the light perspiration on my brow gleaming attractively, our little Prince/Princess slides out, cooing. Andy and I share this moment of joy with a smile and an "I love you!" before being surrounded by family (of course I have time to reapply my Benetint lip balm first). The baby latches on to my breast and nurses happily, sleeping most of the day. By the time I'm back in the suite, I am able to get up and see my Size 2 figure (that post-partum deflation won't happen to ME!), and hold court by my bedside, in beautiful Natori silk pajamas, receiving well-wishers throughout the stay.
Instead, this is what actually happened:
“I’m never going back to that damned Chinese restaurant…”
I cursed as quietly as possible, as I launched myself off the bed for the tenth time that night, and waddled as fast as I could to the bathroom.
It was 2.00am and Andy was peacefully passed out (as in, sleeping. Not the other kind of passing out he had recently become so adept at). After an entire day of Christmas activity and an apartment full of family, I should have been knocked out too. But instead I had spent the past three hours trying in vain to read my book, re-adjusting my pillows a thousand times, battling the Ninjas of Heartburn, and fighting off the urge to run to the loo every time I got a cramp.
So, every twenty minutes. Damn food poisoning.
Reluctantly, I picked up the phone and dialed Dr.Jin’s messaging service. God, I hated to waste a doctor’s time with this on Christmas night, but I had to talk to someone. Consensus?
“You could be in early labor, but you could also be two weeks away from giving birth.”
Really? How helpful. You could be dealing with imminent, excruciating pain, resulting in the explosion of a human out of something the size of a pinhole (Ta-DAA!) or you could have just eaten some dodgy Lo Mein. Keep calm and poop on.
“B...But…Doctor! " I stammered. "I think I lost my mucus plug!”
They don't care. I know they don’t care. I remember this from birthing class. But I felt compelled to share this bit of news with her. I received an AUDIBLE, FRUSTRATED SIGH. “Just drink some water and try to get some sleep.”
Thanks. Yes, that was stupid to bring up. Besides, Dr.Jin was on vacation and wasn’t due back for another week. Plus, she told me two days ago that I would be exactly on time. You know these doctors are always correct about this stuff. Maybe I should just follow this unknown doctor’s professional’s advice and force sleep upon myself. My parents had just arrived from Dubai and I was looking forward to a few days of using my bump to bulldoze my way to the best post-Xmas deals on all the baby stuff I needed! I had been waiting for this. I had a list. I also had spreadsheets of work printed out to help transition into my maternity leave. I had plenty to do and to organize. Time to go to bed.
Twenty minutes later…
Whoa! What the hell was that?! It felt like someone popped a bottle of champagne open in my uterus! Ohmygod, that was my water! First thought: Shit, I just changed the sheets yesterday!!!
Second Thought: GET UP AND RUN! Save the clean sheets!!!
“ANDY! WAKE UP!” I yelled, as I full-on sprinted to the bathroom. Plopping myself on the toilet, Sheri's (the birthing coach) mantra ran through my head. "Sit down (check), Check the time (okay), Call the doctor."
Andy rose from the bed like Dracula, grabbing the phone and dialing the doctor’s number with lightening speed. We got the thirsty doctor again, who advised us to come to the hospital anytime in the next two hours.
TWO hours? Cool. Shower time. I felt icky.
That vain part of my brain woke up from her beauty sleep (she lives on a chaise longue, framed against French windows and billowing drapes. She used to be called George when I was a kid. This more grown-up Brain2.0 is far superior). Um, anyhow, she woke up to remind me to shave my legs again, so they were extra-smooth, and told me how pleased she was that the doctors would be able to appreciate our new French pedicure and Brazilian wax (Does this help with aerodynamics? Thoughts, anyone?) Then she went back to filing her nails and drinking champagne. I was in pain. I did briefly consider whether to apply some au natural makeup for my post-delivery glam shots (To my FACE. Just had to clear that up.)
No. It's 2.40 A.M! Better just deal with basic hygiene for now. Speaking of hygiene, all this nocturnal activity had obviously frightened my poor little dog, who bounced out of bed and stared right at me, all the while peeing on the brand new white sheepskin rug, which was supposed to go in the nursery.
NOT MY PROBLEM this time! I’ll just side-step that yellow patch and continue with my plan.
Yes! It had been so long since I had a good, hot shower! If you're currently preggo you know hot showers are not allowed and if you're not yet preggo then here's yet another tidbit of information you might want to know. My joy was shortlived. After thirty seconds of steamy goodness, the shower door was yanked open and my panicked mother tried to get in fully-clothed, and pull me out.
“What are you doing?!”
“What are YOU doing?!”
Vaguely embarrassed at my naked, leaking state, and now very much aware that my wavy hand/arm movements weren’t enough to cover me sufficiently, I tried to bat her away while attempting to explain that it was perfectly normal to take a shower. Finally, a disgusted Andy came in. I initially thought it was to check on me, but it was actually to complain about Hudson’s loss of bladder control and the fact that being a germaphobe, he shouldn’t have had to clean it up. So, the shower was bumpin’ and the scene was hot. Like, steaming. I prayed my Dad wouldn’t stumble in next.
I finally got a few minutes to myself, but by the end of my shower, the cramps were coming a little faster, making it remarkably hard to get my clothes on. Hmm…okay, maybe I didn’t have the patience to squish on my cute jeans, considering I couldn’t actually stand up straight anymore…so let’s go with my maternity yoga pants! And forget about the contact lenses. I have some in my bag to put on when we get there. Where the hell is my bag? Where are my shoes? Oh come on, I can't shove my feet into those. Sigh. I need those stupid, comfortable Uggs. I don’t know how Rachel Zoe wore 9-inch heels to the hospital.
Three steps to my hospital bag. Three more to the baby bag. Do NOT start arguing with me right now about why I need to take a bag for the baby’s stuff, Mum! Ah! The Boppy! Retract three steps, forward six steps. While I was busy waltzing in a straight line up and down the hallway, another terrible cramp hit. Oh damn! I collapsed on the toilet for what seemed like the hundredth time that night, (well, at least it was a different bathroom this time. Change of scenery and all...) and tried to ride out the pain.
Unfortunately, Andy chose this moment to pop his head in and ask if we were going to walk to the hospital.
I had no response except to glare at him. Glaring is actually a pretty effective way of communicating with your spouse.
“But, it’s so close.”
“So…should I get a cab? Now?”
“But are you ready? Because they’ll probably start the meter…”
Oh my God, seriously? I looked around for something to throw at him, but he wisely decided to tiptoe away. Or hide downstairs, and wait until he saw the elevator descending before he hailed a cab. I’m not sure. I just know as I waddled through the sleepy lobby, Boppy wedged under my arm, worried parents in tow, he was already in the cab, with a driver who looked slightly concerned that I was going to leak all over his seats.
Shut Up and Drive!
Subscribe, or come visit next Tuesday for “Labor Part Deux: The Return of the Scrunchie.”
P.S. Oh also, I hope we’ve established that it wasn’t actually the Chinese food giving me, ahem, stomach issues. Yes, we went to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas. It's New York.
P.P.S. MucusPlugMucusPlugMucusPlug!!! Ewwwww, I know!!! I usually appreciate when things are named to sound exactly like their purpose, but really, the industry that invents the most esoteric names for diseases and medicines, that are spelled as though my dog just sat on the keyboard, could certainly come up with a more elegant or obtuse sounding name for this, n’est-ce pas?