Thursday, January 20, 2011

Never mix Deli with Delivery

When I got the call that my daughter’s contractions were five minutes apart, I was climbing out of my skin. It was her second child, but the pregnancy had been plagued with problems. I hurried to the hospital and found myself a comfy spot in the hospital waiting room, and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited.

Amid a constant pageant of bulging bellies arriving to have their babies, and phone calls by friends and family checking in, I finished my book, and I waited.

The sliding doors opened and my daughter waddled out alongside her husband . . . still pregnant. “False alarm,” she told me. “They’re going to induce me tomorrow morning between 7 – 8 in the morning, but don’t rush over until I tell you.

I kissed her goodbye and went home for a good night's sleep.

I set the clock for 7AM and decided to meet my girlfriend, who happened to be my daughter’s delivery coach, for breakfast. I placed a slew of magazines, a pad of paper and some pens into a grocery bag and then tossed in my fully charged cell phone. It had been on my person every day for months.

“Come around 10,” my daughter told me. “Don’t rush.” My girlfriend and I leisurely munched on bagels, pancakes, eggs and cappuccinos at a nearby deli. We chatted about my daughter’s false alarm and previous delivery. We talked about art, babies . . . . everything.

At 10 o’clock I paid the check, and reached in my purse for my cell phone, but it wasn’t there. I ran back to my car, and there in the grocery bag was my cellphone.

I glanced at a text message that my son-in-law sent me stating:

“Hurry the baby is coming.”

We sped down the street, but were held up by a middle aged WOMAN, obviously in no great hurry, clogged up the entrance to the parking lot with a barrage of stupid time consuming questions. “Which way do I go to park? How long can I park? What if I can’t find a parking spot? Blah blah blah . . . .

“SOME OF US ARE HAVING BABIES!” I yelled out the window.

I rushed into the delivery room and there seated on a petit couch was my son-in-law holding a newborn baby. I looked over at my daughter, who was chuckling, and then back again at the baby. Maybe they borrowed one from the next room just to bug me! But no, I had missed the whole wonderful thing. Camera at the ready, excitement oozing out of every corpuscle I had, and I had missed it. I had failed my daughter and felt soooooo bad. They had counted on me to be there and somehow I had done the stupid thing of leaving my cellphone in the car.

When my first child was born, I was all of 21 and the entire process scared the crap out of me. The doctors arranged the mirror so I could watch her coming into the world, but I removed my glasses, rendering myself blind. I don’t want to see that!

“I want you to be in the room, when I deliver Mom,” my daughter told me when my first grandchild was born four years earlier. I was thrilled. When the moment came for my grandson to come I watched as my daughter writhed with the pain as someone, whose physicality was still a mystery to us, tried to break out of her body. The sight of his silver dollar sized brown hair electrified us when he first crowned. And I watched as one shoulder led the way, followed by another, followed by a torso and two legs spilled out.

He was out, dripping with gloppy, drippy afterbirth and it was beautiful. His cry was a combination of a screech and a scream, but it was a most magical sound.

This time my granddaughter had come and, I had MISSED IT! I was twenty-four minutes late, but I was still late. The baby was clean, swaddled and everything was over. There were no photographs of that special moment when she took her first gulp of air or of my daughter’s face when they laid the tiny body on her chest.

I had let them down, and felt like the worst kind of sh t. But this was not my moment, but my daughter and son-in-law’s moment. It was the new baby girl’s time.

I held the tiny 6 pound 9 ounce bundle in my arms and when my girlfriend hurried into the room, she too couldn’t believe her eyes.

Two days have passed and everyone has met her. She is lovely, quiet and calm. I have taken loads of photos of her and in the course of her lifetime will take many more, but the ones I missed can never be re-done.

The moral of this story is one my mother used to tell me: Don’t try and to two important things at the same time.

TRANSLATION; No delicatessen food when your grandchild is about to make his/her debut.

By Jeannette Katzir

Author of Broken Birds, The Story of My Momila

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