Opinion: Labor of love
It’s 3:59 a.m. I’m sitting on the couch in Chicago talking with one of my brothers-in-law while his wife, my youngest sister, is grimacing in pain next to me. She’s in labor with her first baby, and trying to decide whether or not it’s time to go to the hospital. Watching her clutch the Dammit Doll I gave her as she mumbles some choice curse words tells me it probably is.
I’m tired and my head is throbbing. I arrived around seven o’clock last night after a full day of teaching and a long drive through a severe thunderstorm and a solid hour of Windy City rush-hour traffic. I still have several appointments to cancel and reschedule, a carpooling duty to push off on a fellow mom, and oh yes, this column to finish and submit. It was due about six hours ago. I raced out of the house so fast I failed to bring a change of clothing, though I did remember my sound machine and sleep mask. Not that I’ll be getting much sleep.
Despite the hour, despite the headache, and despite the stress of reorganizing my working mom’s end-of-the-week hectic schedule, there’s no place I’d rather be. This is my thing. Of my four sisters, five sisters-in-law, and a handful of good friends, I’ve been able to participate in almost all of their labor experiences. Not the actual births – I don’t need to see those horror shows again – but the hours and hours leading up to the big moment. The time spent soothing and comforting, retrieving ice chips, criticizing mean nurses and stupid doctors, Facebooking dilation status and playing the guessing game of Baby’s ETA.
I was trying to count how many hospital rooms I’d been in as an amateur doula, and I think this will be the eighteenth. Honest to God, if this teacher gig doesn’t pan out, I’ll probably become a labor/delivery nurse. (Or a hair stylist. They both hold great appeal for me.) I love it! Some of the best memories I have revolve around a sister or friend in labor: Another brother-in-law dressed in a gray muumuu bathrobe, a killer round of Charades with a sister doped on narcotics, and a misguided search for the nursery that resulted in the a back stairwell trapping with the dad-to-be for 45 minutes. Good times, good times.
The Dammit Doll just flew across the room and bounced off the flat screen. Guess this means it time to go. I promise to give a full report in my next article should all turn out well. Until then, here’s hoping for a healthy and safe labor and delivery, and maybe an amusing anecdote or two.