The regular reader(s) of this column might recall that last week, my pregnant wife Kara and I had a scare, wherein our unborn son showed some signs that he might attempt to procure a social security number three months before we’d intended. Everything turned out fine, except that Kara’s doctor sentenced her to three months of soft time on the couch.
But then a few days ago, Kara once again sensed that something wasn’t quite right and dropped in for another doctor’s appointment.
“My doctor said I’m having contractions right now,” she said over the phone. “Can you pick me up at his office and bring me to the hospital?”
Suddenly, what I was going to eat for lunch that day no longer seemed of consequence. Modern cars should really come equipped with “I don’t normally drive like this” indicators, just so other drivers don’t get the wrong idea.
“It’s going to be okay. Really, everything’s fine,” Kara said as she scooched into the passenger’s seat and our car’s tires became reacquainted with the pavement. The assurances really should have been flowing the other way. A pregnant lady having to settle down her husband is a bit like Tom Brady reassuring the water boy.
A hospital greeter met Kara with a wheelchair, and the three of us headed down the long hallway to the elevator, then the maternity ward. In a few more minutes, Kara had a bed in the triage area, and the nurse had hooked her up to a seismometer-type device, complete with scribbling pens and graph paper.
“We’ll just monitor you for a few hours and give you some medication to stop the contractions. You can relax,” the nurse said, though we were not feeling disposed to comply.
“I wonder if they’re going to put me on complete bedrest now,” Kara said, once we were as alone as you can be when your walls are made of sheets.
“If they do, would you mind living on the couch instead of our bedroom, so I don’t have to carry dishes up and down the stairs?” I asked.
“Oh, don’t make me laugh,” she said, holding her side. Just then, the nurse poked her head in and said, “You can go grab lunch down the hall if you’d like.”
I’d almost forgotten why visiting the maternity ward again, almost three years after the birth of our first son, had been such a powerful experience, putting a lump in my throat and bringing back a flood of fond memories: the buffet. Seriously. Modern medicine may have a long way to go in other areas, but it has conquered the maternity ward buffet.
As I walked down the hall to get us some lunch, I passed the room where Evan had been born two months ahead of schedule, so fragile and thin. These days, it’s easy to forget about the time when he was just a tiny wisp, especially when he’s executing a flying knee drop onto your crotch.
After a couple of hours, the pens on the seismometer, which had been tracing the peaks and valleys of Kara’s contractions, flatlined. Her test results came back negative, which was positive. According to the doctor, she now had a 99.2% chance of not having a baby in the next two weeks. They didn’t even put her on bedrest, so she will hopefully just go on thinking that I was kidding about the dishes.
We drove home that afternoon, exhausted and relieved. This pregnancy is keeping Kara off her feet and on her toes. Hopefully, the next time we’re back in the maternity ward will be in about ten weeks, right on schedule. And if we’re extra lucky, perhaps it will be baked ziti day again.
You can nudge ahead of Mike Todd at the buffet line at firstname.lastname@example.org.