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Fake Break

Yeah, I ain’t got no baby.

I am officially the loser who went to the hospital with “false labor.” You know, the loser you swore you’d personally never be. That’s me! On Monday, I went to the hospital full of hope and anticipation but was “sent home” full of despair and self-loathing. I didn’t even get a t-shirt that said, “I went to St. Barnabas to have a baby and all I got was this stinkin’ t-shirt.” (For any entrepreneurs out there, this happens to be a fucking phenomenal business idea I’ve just given you, and I suggest that you get on making these shirts ASAP. I only need to get a 15% cut.)

However, I would like it noted before the court that I was not the one who said those words on Monday afternoon at 4:45 PM, but rather my mother, who is gunning for this baby to come like the other six grandchildren she has are somehow just not cutting it.  (And let’s face it: none of them can play the oboe, spell correctly, or make soufflé, so yeah, I’d say there’s room for a front-runner in the grandkid pool.) Yeah, yeah, I’d been having contractions for four hours straight, three minutes apart, with a duration of one minute and twenty seconds for each one. For those of you yet uninitiated into the glorious world of contractions, imagine someone squeezing your stomach like they’re trying to mash your intestines into a Play-Doh pancake, promptly followed by what feels like the need to take the biggest shit of your life, which may or may not end up actually being A) a huge dump that will impress even you and/or B) your baby. Ah, the miracle of life! Don’t even get me started on the “mucus plug,” which is basically when your vagina sneezes out its integrity. For a good time, do a Google image search on that one. Have a blast, and call me after you’ve had your tubal ligation done.

So when Mom excitedly demanded that I “call the doctor” with the fervor of a junkie waiting for a cocaine fix, well, I did it. The alarmist nurse at the OB-GYN’s office said I had to go to the hospital “immediately,” at which point we promptly dumped my three-year-old daughter at my sister’s house. Admittedly, maudlin, treacle sentimentality bubbled in my throat as I imagined our tearful farewell as we bid adieu to the days of her indulgent only-child lifestyle and bonjour to sibling rivalry and deep-seated resentment. However, when Queen of the Rugrats staunchly refused to enter the car until she was plied with Teddy Grahams, crackers, and stickers, she and I parted unemotionally as she cheerfully shouted behind her, “Can I live here now?” at the door to my sister’s house. Nice.  Good thing we were replacing her soon.

When we got to the hospital, Mom stayed by my side as we went to the “PET unit” on the third floor. I know what you’re thinking: “Ariel, you’re having a baby; a labradoodle is not going to come out of your vagina.” “PET” happens to be the horrid hospital acronym for “Perinatal Evaluation and Treatment unit,” but the name is actually pretty fitting, given that, from my own past experience, the whole birth experience is just about as close as I’ve ever felt to being a feral animal with rabies who needs to be taken down. As The Wendy Williams show blared on the TV overhead, with Wendy herself brazenly dictating which lubricants all women should use to heighten their sexual pleasure, my mom barreled into the admission room demanding service. Quietly, I begged her, “Mom, these people are going to be spending a lot of time with my vagina in the next couple of hours. Let’s try not piss them off.” And by “let’s,” I obviously meant, “Mom, stop pissing them off.”

My words were unheeded, which could only mean one thing: woe to my genitals.

The woman sitting behind the desk didn’t even deign to look up at the sight of yet-another preggo and her hysterical mother. I tried to look really pregnant to solicit her sympathies, which included my best acting skills: rubbing my belly and putting a hand on my back as I wiped imaginary sweat off my brow. Instead, we got the “hold-on-one-second” finger that clearly indicated to me that this woman had much more important and valuable things to do such as 1) check her Facebook account for the fortieth time in the hour; 2) finish ordering that sad-looking teal shirt she had mixed feelings about from Old Navy; and 3) check her phone for imaginary text messages that no one was sending her.

Finally, I was admitted. My husband showed up, doing his part to play the dutiful husband role; the suit with the slightly tousled-looking, loosely-knotted tie added to the drama of the event in a way that I found decidedly pleasing. Those contractions kept coming rapid-fire, and I was sure: this thing was on like Donkey Kong. I admit that I was personally quite delighted by the prospect of a child being born on 7-11, which meant that we would have a pretty awesome birthday tradition of getting free Slurpees from Seven-Eleven every year for the rest of the kid’s life. I mean, with that glimmering nugget of hope in the back of my mind, I had no doubt that a child born on this date had a promising future for sure.

They hooked me up to some fetal monitors in the room and asked me about a million questions. Obviously, I was thrilled to be answering questions about Herpes and STDs with my mom in the room, whom I’m hoping thinks I became pregnant through artificial insemination as opposed to (whisper this) sex.

Then, it was time for the vaginal exam. Unfortunately, this never plays out like an awesome porn fantasy, no matter how many doctors you see. As the resident on call put on her gloves, she wouldn’t even make eye contact with me as she said meekly, “This might hurt.” Understatement of the day. Um, yeah, it’s going to hurt if you shove your whole hand up there, try to make shadow puppets, and then try to touch my tonsils. As she reached for my uvula in the back of my throat, I mustered up enough moxie to say, “You know, you didn’t even buy me dinner.” I may or may not have tried then to fake a sexually satisfied moan. My husband smiled and held back a laugh, but that humorless Vagina Gopher didn’t even look up. Unwilling to settle, I said it again, louder this time. She had to have heard it. But she still didn’t care. Shit. Forget terrorism, global recession, and reality TV: what kind of world was this that I was bringing a baby into where a resident on call couldn’t even enjoy some hearty, old-fashioned vaginal humor?

The worst part was, I think I pissed her off, because then she brought in a surly-looking giantesse of a woman who may very well have been half-ogre. And what’s worse: the half-ogre (who happened to be a doctor—or so I was told) did not look pleased. Apparently, she had to “check” on the work that the resident did, which meant rather aggressively shoving her hand up my crotch to reach inside my face to pick my nose.

At this point, they both looked smugly at one another before Vagina Gopher declared, “You’re going to go home.” They printed up some papers for me that said, “Reason for Discharge: False Labor.” They might as well have given me papers that said in bright red: “BIGGEST LOSER EVER.”

And so it went. I paid the six dollars to park in the lot and then got into my car sans baby, t-shirt, and fanfare. There were still multi-colored goldfish crackers spawning in the back seat of the car by my daughter’s car seat, sitting next to the impotent dustbuster. SCENE.

Suffice it to say, this baby is getting one massive “time-out” the second she gets here. Hell hath no fury like a pregnant woman scorned.

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