Twenty-five years ago today, it was colder than a penguin's hiney. I remember specifically, because I was doing a lot of walking outside that day. And then my water broke and half froze to my leg.
It was an easy labor. I kept waiting for it "to hurt." I had no sense of perspective, you see, because I'm a French-Canadian-Vermonter-Farm-Girl whose middle name is spelled S-T-O-I-C, and I had had a lifetime of terrible, monumental period cramps, and so, convinced that labor must have to be more painful than periods, I thought, well, apparently I'm not ready to give birth to this baby yet, because it doesn't hurt bad enough. I did, though, really have an idea that I was in labor, and my contractions were regular and two minutes apart. And yet, when I called my doctor's practice and got the person on call to finally return my call (it was New Year's Eve, after all), I was rather ambivalent about it, because we Jarvis girls do not readily admit to pain.
Does it hurt? Well, yeah...no, not really. No, I can take more. Yeah, never mind, sorry to bother you. No, I realize it IS New Year's Eve. No, yeah, I'm probably not really in labor. You're right. I'll just go relax.
That doctor, I sincerely hope, is no longer a practicing ob-gyn. Or if not that, then I hope she has learned some bedside manner since that time. Or maybe even perhaps as a result of the complaint I made about her following the birth of my baby and asked for her name to be removed from the birth certificate because she did absolutely nothing except make me feel like I was ruining her New Year's Eve, she got a fucking clue and started treating people not as imbeciles.
She said to me on the phone, "So, this is your first baby?"
"Mm-hm. And you think you're in labor?"
My ability to suffer fools was even less honed than it is today, and I returned her condescending tone with one even a touch more sarcastic: *huff* *huff* "Yessssssssss. I *huff* knooooooooow I'm in *huff* labor."
"Well. Everybody says that. If this is your first baby, you'll probably be in labor for three days. You can come in if you really want, but we'll just send you back home again. I'd recommend just having some champagne and maybe a warm bath, and relax."
So, because I just knew I shouldn't have called -- stupidme, ohhowembarrassing, I'm noteveninpain, shouldn'thavebotheredher -- I went back outside in the cold and dark, for another walk. I didn't make it 25 feet, and the above-mentioned drizzle was running down my leg and freezing before it hit my foot.
Things got a little bit intense then. And as David drove the little Volkswagen Rabbit down the icy interstate at 90 miles an hour, I was screaming, "I'm hot. I'm HOT. Open the WINDOWS" (with a few expletives). And his fingers, when we arrived at the hospital, had to be chipped away from the steering wheel with an ice pick. I was holding the baby in, so that she did not pop out while we were waiting at the red light at the hospital entrance. I almost opened the door and popped her out right there on Colchester Avenue.
Through force of will, I held her in for another 20 minutes, time enough to get inside, up to a room to meet a lovely LOVELY nurse who I informed, "I've been resisting the urge to push for as long as I can. I can't resist it any MORRRRRRE." The MORRRRRRE was more a labor-pain scream than a word.
She said, "I just told Dr. Bitchy-Witchy (not her real name) that you had arrived. She said, 'I tollllllld her not to come!'"
I said, "Oh, yes. She did. But here I aaaaaammmmmmmmmmm."
She said, "Oh, I would love to birth this baby. It would be my first one on my own. But I can't do that. I'll be RIGHT BACK." And she was.
She opened the door, and a brand new sweet young male Family Practice resident happened to be walking by at that exact moment. She grabbed his arm. He rushed in -- I don't even think he had time to put on gloves, but maybe he did. He put his hands, you know, UP THERE, and raised his eyebrows and looked me in the eye, stunned.
"Why don't you try pushing that baby right out."
And I pushed, twice, and we had our little New Year's Eve miracle. It was 7:57 p.m. It was the resident's first delivery, and the nurse hastened to tell him, "Don't get any ideas. They're not all like this. I only wish they were."
Happy Birthday, Abigail