Every year on June 12, I turn to my son and say, "Today should have been your birthday." He was 15 days late. They were the longest days of my life. And so far (he's 7), I'm not over it.
I remember his due date. I went to see the latest Batman movie with my husband and some friends from work (none of whom had kids). One of my work buddies made me sit on the aisle "Just in case the baby comes." Yeah, I should have been so lucky that the baby would arrive before the end of the movie. Of course, I didn't really think that would happen. But I did think my son's birth was imminent.
The first couple of days past the due date ticked by. And I tried to act casual. Because everybody knows that only a tiny fraction of babies arrive on their due dates. Usually that's just an approximation.
Or in my son's case, a very, very broad suggestion.
At the one-week-late date, my phone began to ring. Is the baby here yet? No. Sorry. Just me. At this point, my friends and relatives were all happy to just gab with me on the phone about how huge I must be and how uncomfortable in this early summer heat and blah, blah, blah. I tried to keep my sense of humor.
On Day 9, my mother called. Was the baby here yet? Mom, really. Did you think I would have the baby and not tell you?
Nope, the baby was taking his time.
I had already left work on maternity leave. I felt fine, even at this post-due date stage. But I was clearly making my mostly male newsroom workplace nervous by my enormous presence. So when my editor volunteered to sign my medical absence paperwork early, I took pity on him and said yes. So now, I was sitting at home, huge and hot and late and waiting for my son to arrive.
I tried everything. I went for brisk walks. I ate spicy food. I did everything but lie naked out on the lawn in the moonlight -- a suggestion from one of my female coworkers. She swore this worked for her. But I wasn't willing to risk the wrath of my neighborhood association.
And every few days, I went to my ob-gyn's office for the stress test. And every time, the news delivered with a smile: "Baby's just fine!" Well, that's good news. For HIM! I, on the other hand, was going nuts.
On Day 11, I stopped answering the phone. I made my husband get on the line with the clueless friends and relatives who thought it would be NICE if they CHECKED UP ON ME.
On Day 12 I confronted my doctor. How long was this little nightmare supposed to go on? He promised me: two weeks late, and we'll induce.
Great. Day 14 found me in his office, under going the pre-induction prep work. And then he sent me home. See you tomorrow.
It was on the way home that I felt some mild contractions. They increased slowly but steadily that night. I sent my husband down the hall to sleep in the guest room. One of us should get a good night's sleep, I figured. I spent the night watching TV, pacing, and counting.
When we arrived at the hospital the next day the nurses were ready to hook me up to the IV when I said, "I'd like my doctor to see me first. I'm pretty sure I'm in labor."
I was. After making me wait all that time, my son managed to make his arrival without too much trauma. I opted for an epidural at about six hours and six centimeters dilated. (I had decided ahead of time that I wanted one. I'm not into pain.) Early evening arrived, and then, finally, Henry was here. I was so happy, I forgot all about the fact that he was 15 days late.
The next morning, a bouquet of flowers arrived from my coworkers. My editor had inscribed the card "It's not like Ellen to miss a deadline." Indeed. And I remind my son of that fact. Every June 12.
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