I warned you I would contradict myself. It's one of my very favorite things to do. Next to tickling Toddler and nibbling on Baby toes. On this blog, I have pondered the infinitely important life question of whether women should be honest about their labor stories. And, like a seasoned flip-flopper, I have landed all over the place on this one. Do not tell the details! And then a few days later: Tell the details! Honesty should be suspended! Honesty should never be suspended! The point is that I do not have an ironclad position on this one, but rather a malleable, Play-Doh-esque, flexible approach to this quandary. Is this a cop-out? Perhaps. But it's my cop-out. And you can't have it.
So now I am put to the test. There is a labor story to tell. My Sister C welcomed her beautiful boy two days ago and though everything went smoothly, it wasn't exactly like she was on a mission to buy a Goyard tote. It wasn't like she took a short cab ride to Hospital, pointed in the window of the nursery, and said "I'll have one of those." No, there's a story. And I know it. Not all of it of course, but some of it. But it's not my story to tell.
So, I will tell you my Baby Bulldog birth story. Because I am not kidding when I say that there were times over the last week when I literally felt like I was about to pop a baby out. In efforts to induce, I scarfed spicy Vindaloo on Saturday. I had contractions cramps on Sunday. I walked everywhere. I waited impatiently for my water to break. Text messages came every five to seven minutes. I kind of wanted an epidural.
But when the moment came, I missed it. In the depths of my impossibly large computer bag, my BlackBerry buzzed and beckoned. But I was in Toddler's classroom, twirling my pink-cheeked girl around and around, celebrating another successful day of summer camp. And on the sidewalk, I handed Toddler her daily "prize," a bag of Starbucks Madeleine cookies (no doubt on the what-never-to-do page of The Parental Handbook) while I listened to the voicemail.
"Hi, A. It's C. Call me back." Her voice was calm and measured, but I know this creature well and there was giddiness laced in. I dialed and after a few frustrated moments, she answered.
After depositing sweaty and sugar-soaked Toddler at home, I announced to Nanny: "C had her baby. I need to run to... lunch!" Lunch? Well, yes. Because we were not allowed to go to the hospital yet. So Mom, sundry Sisters and I met for a celebratory lunch in the neighborhood. And we had a glass of wine to celebrate the baby we'd soon meet. And maybe it was the midday booze or the fact that after a rough-and-tumble year, we were aching to be happy and laugh, but we were giggling like little girls. Loudly. Unapologetically.
I perused the menu and what did I choose? A creamy spicy tuna roll of course. Because, you know, my vicarious pregnancy had just come to a screeching halt and after nine months of avoiding Mr. Mercury, this sounded delish. We sipped and ate and talked. We talked about silly things. But mostly, we talked about penises.
I'm sorry if you are at work right now and the word "penises" embarrasses you. But it shouldn't. Because you are an adult. Or a child who is mature enough to be here and thus mature enough to see this word. Because you either have a penis or know someone who does. So calm down. Yes, we talked about penises. Because, frankly, this Donnelley family has been a sparkling sea of estrogen for many years now. We haven't welcomed a new penis in almost a decade. (No, people, husbands don't count. This post is about babies!) So we talked about penises and diaper changes and pee pee teepees and circumcision. It only made sense. And it only made us laugh like a pack of hyenas on Red Bull.
And after lunch we hopped into a cab, still hiccuping with happy laughter, clutching burgers and shakes for the new parents and motored East. At the hospital, we did a whole lot of... waiting. In the dimly-lit lobby. And then in the family waiting room. C texted and told us she was en route to the floor on which we waited (gotta love modern technology). So we waited, a lineup of blondish women, behind that glass. Ready to pounce. And every time I heard the ring of the elevator stopping on our floor, I channeled my old school basketball-playing-self and I boxed everyone out. I wanted to be the first to see this little guy. In this family, everything is a competition. Even visiting.
Soon enough, there was C. Buried under a pile of designer duffels, smiling, clutching the tiniest, sweetest little burrito of a baby boy. We got a quick peek of this creature, snug against his mommy, sucking his tiny fingers.� And then C went off to her room to get situated and the sunny nurse took our darling boy to the nursery. And we were told to... wait some more. But this time instead of waiting like good girls behind the designated glass wall, we went rogue. On a purported mission to find the bathroom, we found the nursery. And we surveyed the new life. Scattered throughout the glass-encased room were assorted burritos, pink faces, tiny diapers. Babies screaming. And snoozing. And soaking it all up.
And it wasn't hard but we were able to spot the little man himself. Baby Bulldog. There he was, precious and serene, diaper-less, utterly and unequivocally free. From a distance, I squinted and studied his face and to me, it was plain as day. He looks like both his mom and dad. I watched his little chest go up and down, breathing in his very first moments. And I could have stayed there watching that for hours.
But I didn't. We visited with C and N. Exhausted and elated, they shared bits and pieces about their magical day. And we listened and laughed and stole some of their fries. From time to time, I glanced out the big window at Central Park. At the glistening green. At the tiny specks of color; children playing. And I thought, In no time, that will be us. All of us. We will picnic and frolic, kick soccer balls, slather sunscreen, salve skinned knees, tell stories, maybe even the story of this day.
I looked out, past the present moment at that inscrutable and irresistible future, and thought: this humming hospital might be where life begins and sometimes ends. But out there is where it is lived. And after the slightest bit of waiting, this is exactly what we will do. We will live life. Together. And apart. We will have silly lunches and chaotic picnics. We will tell stories, pink and blue and rainbow, about spicy tunas and sweet burritos and crispy fries. We will talk about everything. About breastfeeding and burping and blogging. About competition and camaraderie and collaboration. About knowledge and ignorance and instinct. About law and love and life and loss. Yes, while the babies bounce and the kids run, we will talk about it all. (Even penises.)