Your Birth Story, Part 1

Your father and I were making a point of ignoring the Super Bowl, watching five back-to-back episodes of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and then a few Larry Sanders shows, the first ones I’d seen, long overdue.

You were three days “late.” You’d been due on Friday, but I wanted to be macho so I drove downtown to a Happy Hour with grad school friends at the Lion’s Nest. I didn’t expect to be back to work on Monday; the doctor would insist on inducing that day if you didn’t show up.

I don’t remember what we ate that Sunday, but we’d been for a long walk at our favorite formal gardens. I knew I’d never be any more ready. I was terrified of labor, of delivery, worried in some small way that I wouldn’t be able to deliver as a mother despite years of yearning and planning and work, and several phases of medical interventions.

Now that I’ve spent dozens of additional days in the hospital, attending Gavin himself, I’m completely burnt out on medical care, insurance coverage, and pharmaceutical advances. I’ve been through advocating for a patient with a rare cancer, navigating treatment mazes, and the rough road up after each hurdle knocks you down. I’ve had care, in the system, as the sole survivor after my patient lost that battle. But on that Sunday night, as far as we knew, we were done with special attention, done with heroic measures, we’d have our reward for our debt and struggle.

Once labor started, of course, pure primal fear was in charge but I knew I couldn’t go back, not to anything.

Your Daddy and I stayed up as late as possible watching stupid TV. It had to happen and I was too excited to sleep, knowing there was a deadline with some muscle behind it. In some ways it was a pretty ordinary evening before a known snow day. I was trying to eat a lot for reservoir, since I knew they wouldn’t give me a bite once things started. I can’t even do homework on an empty stomach, and this big job would, I knew, take me to at least one physical limit before giving us our whole new world, the mystery we wanted so much.

I sat down on the toilet, tired. Was it worth it to go through all the elaborate stages of dental hygiene on this final night? Sleep had to come first. Would I wake up in labor in the wee hours, or would it be up to Dr. K?

I turned around to flush. Holy crap. They said this doesn’t usually happen.

I don’t do anything picture perfect. But my mucus plug, the uterus’ cork, which serves in textbook labor as a pop-up timer indicating when the baby’s “done,” had dropped into the toilet.


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