The Amazing Little Things You Never Forget About The Birth Of Your Child: His Precious Cry, The Thick Snap Of The Sinewy Umbilical Cord, His Tiny Little Fingers Gripping Mom's Chest, The Bizarre Depiction Of Rhinophyma In Domenico Ghirlandaio's "An Old Man And His Grandson" In The Maternity Ward Hallway

Like we mentioned before, in general, the hospital doesn't want to see you until you're having contractions of at least one minute long, four minutes apart and lasting for at least one hour. Jen started feeling some major contractions around 7 p.m. or so, but it wasn't until nearly 11 p.m. that we started to think this might be the day.

I don't know if other people's experiences are different — I imagine they are — but I wouldn't call the contractions "regular," or at least regular in the sense that they were all perfectly four, five, seven or ten minutes apart. Sometimes they were two minutes apart, sometimes six minutes apart. Part of me thought that we shouldn't bother getting the doctor on duty out of bed, but Jen's better sense prevailed and she paged the doctor around midnight. By 12:30 we were getting our stuff ready to go to the hospital.

We called the car service and told the dispatcher the address of where we were going. I worried — just a little bit — that a driver wouldn't want a lady in labor in his car, so I kept it vague. Which is stupid: You think a driver doesn't know what's happening when you emerge from your front door at 1:30 in the morning with a giant lady and a roller bag? "First Avenue and 33rd Street?" you think he wonders, "Gee, I don't remember there being a bus station or airport there"? Though he did sort of — it seemed like at least — have an epiphany of sorts about where he was headed when he turned onto 30th Street from Second Avenue. It was almost as if he signaled "Why didn't you just say you were going to NYU?"

Along the way the driver didn't say much, only asking Jen if she was warm enough. And no water broke in the back seat — it's funny how wrong the movies get it — so often in a movie, even movies that seem supposedly realistic, a woman will be sitting there and all of the sudden "boom" followed by fifteen Steve Guttenbergs or Tom Sellecks rushing around with towels and hot compresses to tend to the suddenly incapacitated hysterical lady-in-labor. Like they painstakingly repeated over and over at birthing class, no one's going to fuck up the leather bucket seats with baby juice. Which is to say, the Town Car was clean, or at least as clean as it was when we were picked up in it. Still, I think I gave the driver a good tip.

So we walk into the main lobby sometime just before 2 a.m. and the lone security guard at the desk hopped up and beamed, "Baby? You're our fourth one tonight." So everyone's clear, while it's exciting to think that several other happy couples are experiencing the same joy as you this evening, it's not really a good thing to have a maternity ward overbooked.

This is actually an interesting thing to consider: How do hospitals know how many beds and rooms to have in a maternity ward? Basically, they just assume that the averages work out and that someone will always have a place to give birth. At one point we asked whether there were busy times and less-busy times and the nurses sort of shrugged no; I was convinced there would be a lot of people on New Year's Eve, looking for a tax break, or an empty hospital on Christmas or something, but apparently it doesn't work like that.

So we take Jen up to the maternity ward, where she waits to get examined, and I return to the intake desk back on the ground floor, where they make sure we can pay for everything. Just kidding. I don't know what the paperwork really entailed because the computers were down just then. They told me that they'd come get me later.

When I returned to the maternity ward I had to ask the nurses what happened to my wife; they pointed down the hallway, where Jen was sitting on a bed behind some bedside screens — literally in the hallway. They had hooked her up to the fetal monitor machine under a print of Domenico Ghirlandaio's An Old Man And His Grandson, which you might remember as a strange picture featuring an old guy with Rhinophyma. Huh?

Domenico Ghirlandaio's An Old Man And His Grandson, NYU Langone Medical Center, 550 First Avenue, Midtown Manhattan, December 29, 2011

The fetal monitor is cool — you can tell when a big contraction is happening by the 0-100 meter, zero being no contraction and 100 being the uterus squeezing itself tighter than a Wall Street stress ball circa September 2008. Jen doesn't think it's funny or soothing or anything other than annoying really when I tell her "Wow, that was a big contraction!" By this point it's clear that Jen's being admitted. We're just waiting for an available room.

"These other women, I don't know what's going on with them," the night nurse said to us at one point, "They should just section them and send them home!" She's of course kidding; hospitals don't do this; or at least I don't think so.

At some point I walked away to get Jen some water and passed by the nurse's station. "We've got to do something about Hallway," one said to another. I like the sound of "Hallway," and make a point of telling Goober about Jen's new nickname. A little after 5:30 the nurse tells us to take a walk around for about 20 minutes while they prepare an available room.

Previously: Bascially A Human Head Is Forcing Its Way Through A Vagina.

Posted: March 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: The Cult Of Domesticity | Tags: , , ,

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