Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Make way for the preggo parade

Sunday, June 11:

Today, JP and I visit the local hospital for a tour of the maternity area.

“Are you going to say it?” JP asks as a pregnant woman walks by ahead of us.

I smile. “There’s one of my kind.” Isn’t it weird when you start quoting yourself? And people actually ask you to do so?

I don’t bother to count, but there are several of my kind waiting in the lobby. Some women have children and significant others with them. I can’t believe it, but the nurse giving the tour leads all of us -- every single one of us -- onto an elevator.

“It can hold 8,000 pounds,” she explains.

We visit an empty labor/delivery room. The hospital Web site touts its “beautifully appointed” rooms, but I just don’t see much beauty here. Oh sure, there are wood cabinets above the bed -- where the mother wouldn’t be able to see them -- and a picture on the wall above the bed -- also where the mother wouldn’t be able to see it -- but the rest of the room looks like a lot of medical equipment and stainless steel. There is a water birth tub in the room, but the nurse leading the tour says it hasn’t been used that much. All state-of-the-art, I’m sure, but it just doesn’t seem that comforting to me.

Next, we visit the neonatal ICU. A doctor comes out and talks to us for a few minutes. He assures us doctors in this unit work for 24 hours at a time, so someone is always there at the hospital if something bad happens to the baby. We are invited to look into the windows of the unit, but I can’t bear to. I have an uneasy feeling.

We all go up in the elevator again to the rooms where we’ll be taken with our babies after they’re born. I guess they’re supposed to be something special, but they look like regular ol’ hospital rooms -- which I try to avoid as much as possible.

And I’m supposed to hole up here for 48 hours with a newborn baby. And a husband sleeping on a fold-out chair living on vending machine and cafeteria food.

My throat tightens. I am starting to feel I can’t do this. What have I done? What was I thinking? How can I have a baby?

On the way back to the elevator, we pass by a woman who exclaims, “Oh my! Look at them all! I have never seen so many at one time!” as though we are exotic creatures on someone’s life list. Nope, just a regular preggo parade.

Afterward, JP initiates going to a store to get me a body pillow because I keep tossing and turning at night, unable to get comfortable. A sign by the body pillow we buy even says, “Excellent for expectant mothers.”

We pick up lunch and take it home. I want to take a nap and try out that body pillow, but my friend who’s giving me the shower -- “Roo” -- calls. She has dozens of little details to discuss about the shower. Roo diligently reads a list of possible shower games and asks what I like and don’t like. She tells me what the invitations look like. She tells me our friend Star is also giving the shower with her. (And later, Roo and I will give Star a shower for her now-late November baby.) There are lots of details. There are more details than I imagined. She knows all the shower etiquette. And she won’t let me do anything. How can she spend her precious weekends working on this?

I never do get my nap, but at night I have the best sleep I’ve had in a couple months.

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