I’d seen the movies. I’d heard the labor stories. You know what I’m talking about. The laboring wife calmly trying to get herself together to get to the hospital. Her husband – fumbling around unable to find her bag, tripping out the door, and in some cases leaving without her? Yeah. I always thought that was some kind of fantastic Hollywood comedic story line. Nope. It’s all true.
Men do lose their fucking minds when women give birth. But so does everyone else.
I had a very uneventful pregnancy. No sickness, no problems. I was trying to stall my mother from coming up to stay with us before the baby was born because we wanted the whole thing to be as low-stress as possible. The baby was a week late – and my mother just couldn’t wait any longer. She flew out, hoping her mere presence would make her grandchild emerge.
Since my mom was here, I decided to give my husband a break. We decided that my mom would take his place at the weekly check up. She was anxious to see the center where I would be giving birth anyway, and we wanted to time the cab ride over so we could be as prepared as possible.
The check up is going as usual. My mom is sizing up the birthing center. Everything is fine. My midwife is even joking with me about how easy my pregnancy has been. She pulls out the Doppler to listen to the baby’s heart rate because she always likes to “save the best for last.” All of a sudden, her face changes.
“You have to get to a hospital. Now. I can call an ambulance or we can just call a car service.”
What? I try not to panic, but apparently there has been an alarming drop in his heart rate. Since the hospital is so close to the birthing center, we opt for a car. Ambulances totally freak me out and I’m trying to stay calm.
The car arrives quickly and we get in. My mother is mumbling something about how much she hates my Russian midwife.
“She’s like a drill sergeant! She could be a little warmer, a little sympathetic, don’t you think?”
I snap back, “Mom, calm down. She’s being calm and professional. I like that.”
“Well, she wasn’t giving me any info-”
“Shut up, mom. Please?”
My mother has thus far distracted me from noticing that our driver is as old as God. He’s actually old enough to possibly be God, which should be comforting, I guess – but it’s not. He’s driving about 20 miles an hour. My mother forgets about the midwife she hates, and begins to yell at God. In Greek. A sto dialo! (This basically translates into ‘Go to hell’) My daughter is having a baby! Hurry up! Shit, can you hear me? Why are you driving so fucking slow? This is coming out of my 74-year old mother. God can’t hear us. He’s just driving along slowly and seeming to really be enjoying himself.
I’m trying to go to the “relaxation room” I learned about in my hypnobirthing class. I come to the conclusion that hypnobirthing is a crock of shit and God hates me. I’m also wondering if I can make it to the hospital without throwing my mother out of this cab.
We finally get to the hospital. We walk into the labor and delivery emergency room. As you can imagine, it is filled with people in the same situation as I am – having labor and delivery emergencies. My mother is screaming Somebody help my daughter! She barges into an admitting room, where they are helping another woman in labor. You’d think I was riddled with gunshots. They shoo us out. We wait our turn.
I’m finally in an observation room, and I figure this would be a good time to call my husband. It goes to voicemail. Again. And again. And again. I am becoming irate. I am a week overdue, why the fuck is his phone off? So I call my sister and ask her to please get him on the phone and give him directions to the hospital. Tenth Avenue between 48th and 49th. She gets him on the phone and delivers the message. I see my mother in the hall, praying her ass off. I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my husband.
This would be a good time to tell you that the birthing center where I intended to deliver is in Brooklyn. All of our prenatal appointments, ultrasounds, and even birthing classes have been in Brooklyn. Naturally, the hospital that serves as a backup to the birthing center in case there is an emergency is – you guessed it – in Brooklyn.
My phone rings. It’s my husband.
Husband: Hey! Are you okay? Where is this hospital? I’m here and I don’t see it.
Me: What do you mean you don’t see it? It’s a giant hospital. It takes up like, three city blocks. Kinda hard to miss.
H: I just passed the Javits Center. Is it near there?
M: What the hell are you talking about about? The Javits Center? In Manhattan? You’re in Manhattan? WHY THE HELL ARE YOU IN MANHATTAN?
H: Your sister said Tenth Aven-
M: Tenth Avenue in Brooklyn! Where we live! Where we have been going for ALL of our prenatal care! Why are you in the city?
H: I thought-
M: Stop talking. Just get here.
H: I don’t have any money.
M: What do you mean you don’t have any money?
H: I forgot my wallet. And my Metrocard is empty. I’m going to start walking now.
M: You’re walking. Walking? From Midtown? Into deep Brooklyn? Are you serious?
H: I’ll be there as soon as I can.
Oh my God. My mother is praying and crying in the hall. My midwife isn’t here yet. I’m going to have to do this alone. And I can’t remember any of those stupid hypnobirthing chants. I’m totally screwed.
My phone starts ringing again. I see that it’s my new landlord. He’s just bought the building and is trying to raise our rent by NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS. I had told him a few days prior that I was about to give birth, not working, and definitely couldn’t afford that. I let the call go to voicemail. For some reason, I decide to listen to it.
Maria, it’s your landlord. We are sending another eviction notice, this time certified mail. You can’t ignore this. Please advise.
If there’s a more annoying phrase in the English language than “please advise,” I have yet to hear it. My phone rings again. It’s my landlord again. It rings again, and again. He’s chosen today of all days to be a douchebag from hell.
I call my sister again, because she is very good in high-stress situations.
Me: Hi. Mom is crying and praying. My husband is fucking walking here from Manhattan. And now my landlord won’t stop calling me. Will you please call him and let him know that I am going to stab him in the face, repeatedly, if he doesn’t stop calling me WHILE I’M TRYING TO GIVE BIRTH TO THIS DAMN BABY!
Sister: Yes, I will.
And she does. And threatens him in ways that I can’t even fathom, because he actually never calls me again. I actually think she convinced him we were a mob family. My husband finally arrives and this calms my mother down enough for her to stop crying and praying momentarily. Things take a bad turn with my son’s heart rate and I am rushed into surgery. But less than an hour later I give birth to the most beautiful child ever born.
Yes, men lose their minds when women give birth. But so does everybody else.