To get my nine-months-pregnant Cindy out of our waterbed took a Herculean effort on my part. The cruel twist was that she had to get up every fifteen minutes all night long to go to the bathroom.
“If I have to suffer, you have to suffer,” she said. She’d prepared a seductive candle light dinner on our anniversary that led to this whole baby thing. I wish she’d pointed out the fine print at that point before I signed on.
After my nightly bathroom workouts I still had to report to my desk early each morning to the employer who provided our insurance. It was the insurance that paid the ob-gyn…
…so that the ob-gyn could earn enough money to schedule his European vacation on our due date. Seemed fair, I didn’t want him to be overworked. There was always Ol’ Doc Martin, the town’s part time vet, to cover things. I met him once. He asked me if Cindy was a heifer or if she’d calved before.
The Bible tells husbands that we’re supposed to love our wives as Christ loves the church. That’s nice. But I don’t remember the church being pregnant and hormonal. I think it might have changed a few things if the church demanded pickles and rocky-road ice-cream at three in the morning.
Then came the night when Cindy’s elbow jabbed me awake a little harder than usual. “I think it’s time,” she’d said.
Time? My mind went blank.
My feet got tangled in the sheets as I hurried to stand. I fell against our bookcase and was buried beneath forty-eight baby name books, seventeen do-it-yourself nursery decorating manuals, and Parenting for Dummies. “Don’t worry,” I said.
She didn’t. “Hurry. I’ve got to go… now!”
I helped her up and she waddled down the hallway toward the door. I grabbed the pre-packed suitcase and my keys, then sprinted to catch up.
We made it to the hospital in record time. I was impressed to find a nurse waiting for us by the door. She waved at me to park beside her.
“Your wife called,” she said. “Says you left her in the bathroom.”
Okay, that was my bad. It didn’t matter anyway. I drove like I was in NASCAR and we finally both arrived at the hospital where we promptly…
“Two centimeters, but we’d better let you stay anyway,” the nurse said, half an eye on me.
So we stared at Cindy’s stomach all night long waiting for it to do something. Wow.
It’s all Eve’s fault, really. She ate the apple and men have been victimized during childbirth ever since. Cindy was torn by two desires. The first was for ice-chips, which were in the freezer down the hall. The second was to see me stand by her bed for every second of labor.
“Could you please get me some ice-chips?” she asked, her voice the image of helplessness.
“Sure thing, honey.” I took her cup and stepped toward the door.
“Just where do you think you re going?” I stopped and turned to her. My innocent wife had been replaced by a drooling, snapping devil-dog complete with blazing eyes and fangs.
I pointed to the cup and tried to smile. “Ice-chips?”
“How dare you leave me in my time of need! Return to your post, you insolent minion!”
I was asked to put on a set of surgical scrubs as delivery neared. They were pale green and ten sizes too large. With the hair cap in place I resembled a six-foot mushroom that had sprouted by the head of the bed. The nurses laughed every time they walked in. Ol’ Doc Martin called me a fichus.
The anesthesiologist asked if we wanted medication for the pain. I did. My feet were killing me. But Cindy was a trooper and chose to scream for the duration. She did an outstanding job.
When our twin daughters were finally born there was a moment when the room was still. The gathered crowds of medical personnel stood and watched, waiting. Cindy held her breath. Ol’ Doc Martin was trying to count udders or something. Me? I was wondering how on earth I could possibly raise and protect two girls.
I prayed during that second.
When I remember the birth of my daughters, I remember that pause, that moment of stillness, that perfect instant.
It was the last quiet I’ve known. Both Cindy and the babies broke into tears. My life’s been dominated by estrogen ever since.
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