I am so not prepared for this moment, in any shape or form. Unless you count my body, which has taken on the shape of a watermelon on steroids. And I don’t just mean my belly. Every inch of me has sprouted a foot in various directions. Particularly my backside, which comes in handy when cushioning my fall onto a hard chair but not so much when trying to wiggle into a wheelchair.
My water broke on the way in. And the tears now burst forth just as spontaneously. I’m sure my cheeks now resemble what I imagine the crotch of my pants to look like only maybe not quite as soggy.
A nearby nurse throws me a sympathetic glance and says something that sounds like, “it will be okay.” But that can’t be what she said because she doesn’t look like the type to risk getting punched.
I thought the tears came on suddenly, but the PAIN...now that’s what I call sudden. I clutch my watermelon and double over. Amazingly, I stop crying. But only because I am no longer sad. I’m angry!
Labor is not supposed to be like this!
My husband Dave is there, his sneakers making annoying squeaky sounds on the floor beside me. He touches my shoulder but yanks away his hand when I growl.
“We haven’t come up with a name yet,” Dave says cautiously as he takes a step to his left (and away from the chair). In the last five minutes, he has seen me scream in pain, break out in tears, and bark at three nurses. He obviously isn’t taking any chances.
Probably because he’s out of reach and digging my fingernails into his arm is unlikely, he presses on. “So what do you think?”
The contraction has subsided a bit and I open my mouth to respond but feel another one begin and I focus on breathing.
“We have to come up with a name. You’re the one who’s been putting it off. We can’t just call her ‘the baby.’"
I punch the air beside me. As my insides are wracked with the most agonizing pain I’ve ever felt in my life, I pray I will connect with the part of his anatomy that put me in this condition. I want Dave to feel pain like I feel at this moment.
He looks like Mike Tyson as he dodges my efforts. “The name?”
Somehow, I manage to speak. “Let the nurses...name her if you...want - Puff-Puff-Puff - “ Just...leave...me...alone!”
And that’s that.
The nice me is back. I vaguely remember going in for an emergency C-section and when I open my eyes, Dave is right there, holding our bundle of joy. He smiles.
“I want to name her Joy,” I say over the lump in my throat.
His smile fades. “But you told me to let the nurses name her.”
“After they cleaned her up, I went down to the nursery to bring her back to the room. And the nurses had already put a name tag on her bassinet-thingy.”
“What are you talking about? Nurses don’t name babies, they just take care of them.”
Dave shakes his head. “No, look. Here’s the label.”
Hesitantly, I take it and turn it over. “Female?”
“I thought we could put a spin on it and call her FeMolly. What do you think?”
The urge to punch him is there again. My baby will not be named a gender. I put my hands over my ears and scream. Female? FeMolly? “NO-------------!”
“Sally? Are you okay?”
I sit upright, breathing heavily. I’m sweating profusely and I throw back the covers.
Dave chuckles. “Must have been some dream.”
I clench his arm. “We have to name the baby. NOW.”
He pulls away and rubs his arm. “Hon, I know we’ve been putting it off, but we’ve got a couple weeks. We’ll talk about it in the morning.” He yawns.
“No. We’ll do it now. Our baby will not be named FeMolly.”
“Um, okay...” He looks at me strangely but by 3:00 A.M. he agrees to my suggestion of the perfect girl name: Joy. Good thing, too, because one hour later I’m in labor for real.
I’m still not prepared for the moment. The pain is even worse than I dreamed and – poor Dave – so is my meanness. But as ill-equipped as I was for labor, I am more unprepared for the doctor’s words.
“It’s a boy!”
*based on real-life events
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