There we were, winding our way along circuitous routes through the maternity ward at the hospital, trying our darndest to walk a baby out of My Lovely Wife.
They say walking is good for a thing like that. I think they're liars.
I think the only reason they tell moaning mothers-to-be to get up and walk around is because they're tired of listening to them. They shoo her out the door and head her down the hallway to be somebody else's problem for the next ten minutes. If they're lucky, maybe she'll toss the baby halfway to Ortho. Knees and hips, feh! Let's see if those joint doctors know what to do with a placenta or two.
Anyway, Our Daughter was stubbornly clinging to the womb interior, refusing to answer the call of life's great eviction notice. Contractions were ratcheting down with ever-increasing rapidity and, by the look on My Lovely Wife's face, were no picnic.
The most amazing thing to me was how sincerely apologetic she would get after every contraction. I'm sitting there on a cushioned chair sipping a diet soda and making small talk while she reenacts the John Hurt scene from Alien, but when the pain passes she apologizes to me. Where is that kind of emotional misdirection when I forget to go the bank?
Oh, there's another contraction, and this one looks like a doozy! Eyes are squeezed tight, her fingers are gripping mine, and everything we learned about the therapeutic value of regulated breathing flies straight out the window. She sits in a chair and pushes her head into me until the severe cramping subsides. When she looks up to tell me how sorry she is for being in pain, all I can see is the imprint of my belt buckle across her forehead.
And it was one of the very few of those times in which I actually had enough sense to stifle it. It got slightly more difficult to hold in the laughter the second and third times she sat back with the deep red grooves in her forehead displaying a detailed relief of my buckle, but I managed. Not longer after, following the administration of some very effective pain medications that left her smiling contentedly through contractions that could squeeze coal into diamonds, My Lovely Wife gave birth to Our seven-pound eleven-ounce Daughter.
Three-and-a-half years later, when it was time for twelve pounds of twins to join our family, we had a pretty good idea what we were in for at the hospital that morning. And I made sure to leave the belt at home.
© 2011 Mark Feggeler