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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Let us praise Labor Day!

I'm having a what?
I would like to begin with clearly stating that I did not actually experience labor. However since it is Labor Day I have chosen to write about it anyway.  I was one of those whose child was upside down, also known as breech, from the beginning to the end of my pregnancy. This meant that his little head was nestled right next to my heart, which he rubbed against and made burn every chance he got.  My clever child had a planned exit strategy, which was just fine and dandy with his mother. Then again you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

First let me say that every chart, every paper, and official document leading to my son's arrival was inscribed with the following: AMA.  At first I thought it had something to do with the American Medical Association but when I saw a nurse writing it, yet again, in permanent marker at the chart at the foot of my bed as we awaited my son's arrival, I finally spoke up and asked.

"What does AMA stand for and why does everyone keep writing it on my chart?" I queried.

"Oh," she replied taken aback. " It stands for Advanced Maternal Age, just a precaution."

Hmm. Well thanks for that.

It was 8 a.m. on the day of, a week earlier than planned, due to the lack of embryonic fluid being produced, and I was buckled in to the heart monitor and dressed in the latest hospital formal wear at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, as the city was about to be pounded with piles of snow.

Cynthia Covers it
As a fan of Project Runway, I would like to suggest to Heidi and associates, that they challenge their designers to come up with something less drafty and more fashion forward in hospital garb, although the pattern on the gown was actually designed by Cynthia Rowley. That is the one amenity I wish I had held onto since Cynthia has now moved on to the much more profitable disposable diaper business.  Obviously this was before the current health care crisis when there was still money to be spent on such niceties as the patient experience.

My husband was dressed head to toe in traditional surgical blue and at his side, his camera.  We were going to experience all that could be experienced under the circumstances, together. He was going to photograph the event with clear caveats from me. We were scheduled for a 9a.m. Cesarean that did not happen. It was now 11a.m. and the nurse came in to tell us that we had been bumped for emergency triplets.

As we were waiting in the maternity check-in when we first arrived at the hospital , a very very pregnant, as in going-into-labor lady sat next to me and I watched in fascination as her belly was distorted and distended by it's impatient guests, which you could actually see moving under her sweater. It reminded me of Roger Rabbit's Acme Brand products.  She was taken away rather quickly before I even had the chance to ask her name, not that she was in any mood to answer judging by the pained expression on her face.

11 o'clock quickly became 3 o'clock as I was bumped for the emergency triplets and then for emergency twins.  I was getting punchy though, surviving on my glucose drip.  My soon-to-arrive son had a ferocious case of the hiccups, which helped to keep us entertained but my poor husband was clearly wilting in his hospital blues.

Unbeknownst to either of us, the lamenting Medea* also known as my mother, had arrived and was aimlessly wandering the halls of Beth Israel with a large bough of kumquats for the platters at the bris, looking for her daughter and first grandchild.  In the logic of new grandmothers, she was convinced that our fish platters wouldn't be festive enough unless dressed with her kumquats.


Her collection was replaced eight days later at our Upper West Side apartment, with fresh sprigs at the bris hosted by our celebrity moyhel ("I trimmed all the (Dustin) Hoffman kids --you know.") who provided Yamulkes with an 800 number imprinted on the inside and a fancy press kit.  The video is actually a laugh riot but we're still waiting for the right time to share it with our son.

* Refering to Euripides' character, not the very funny Tyler Perry Madea. Medea is a play which somewhat sympathetically explores the disadvantages of being a woman in a patriarchal society -- though killing her own children to get back at her cheating husband seems a tad extreme.

In the meantime, the two and a half of us were being held in the private closed-to-visitors, patient on-deck section of the hospital and it seemed that the staff was unable to locate precisely where or who I was.  At 4 o'clock when I finally told my husband to go get something to eat, Medea and her son-in-law apparently ran into one another in the cafeteria and he told her to just hang in there, we had been rescheduled for a 5 p.m. guaranteed delivery.  Both now refreshed, they resumed their posts.

At 5 o'clock I was wheeled into the delivery room, properly sedated and became a mother.  My husband recorded it all in carefully framed images, my son's little feet emerging first, ready to step out into the world.  My mother had the opportunity to meet her little grandchild, gift him the kumquats, and my world was forever changed.

So no matter what comes to mind for you this Labor Day, be it our struggling work force or the grand forces of nature, celebrate in grand style and don't forget the kumquats.


  1. Always love a good birthing story, and this one's a peach (or maybe a kumquat)!