From the anthology "The Imperfect Mom", edited by Therese Borchard, published by Broadway Books, April 2006
As if pregnancy weren't uncomfortable enough, Mother Nature and her twisted sense of humor blessed me in my third trimester with a case of bronchitis, complete with violent coughing spasms. This, combined with my ongoing battle with insomnia, deprived me of much needed rest. One late night, while plopped in my favorite chair, I had another hacking fit. As I reached up to cover my mouth, I felt a warm gush between my legs. A sickening feeling washed over me, as I had experienced water rupture with my first child and knew instinctively what had happened. I scrambled for the phone and called my OB/GYN. I was connected to his answering service (not surprising, as it was midnight), which blandly took my message and said they would page the doctor and have him call me. "Make it sooner than later," I muttered while hanging up the phone.
I rushed upstairs, shook my husband awake and explained that my water broke, and I needed to go to the hospital. He barely stirred – the seriousness of my words did not register in his groggy state. He was not in the high alert mode of most fathers-to-be, no clichéd bag packed and waiting by the front door, to be ready at a moments notice. Why was he not immediately springing out of bed? Why was he not already out in the garage, warming up the car? “Because it’s eight weeks early, that’s why,” I reminded myself. Rousing him again, he questioned my diagnosis.
The Imperfect Mom
"I think I would know if I had only wet my pants," I growled, my irritation increasing exponentially.
"Yeah, but I remember reading something about..."
He noticed my hands moving to wrap around his neck.
"I'll get ready to go."
Just then the phone rang. It was my doctor. As I was explaining what happened, he interrupted me and asked to remind him how far along I was.
“Are you sure?”
Oh, gee, now that you ask, ha, ha, silly me, I thought it was December, not February – OF COURSE I’M SURE, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
“Yes, I’m sure,” I said under great restraint.
I was waiting for him to comfort me, perhaps tell me that this happened more often than you would think – we can fill your amniotic sac up with saline, pop a cork in there, and you can go back home! But instead he said the words that I already knew in my heart, but was hoping not to hear.
“Go to the Emergency Room right now. You’re going to deliver this baby.”
I've always been a procrastinator. I'm sure it is a deep-rooted subconscious rebelling against authority – I’ll reluctantly conform and follow The Man’s rigid timetables, but I’ll be damned if He gets it early. Certainly a better explanation than simply being lazy. I only work my best when chasing a deadline. In college, papers and exams were always preceded by a late night fueled by coffee and cigarettes. At the office, I was the one standing by the printer, looking at my watch, waiting for the last pages of the report that I had completed minutes before the big meeting. These words you are reading right now sneaked in just under the wire. Favor-seeking friends that append their request with “whenever you get a chance,” receive my warning that they need to pin down a date, don’t worry about decorum, if they ever want the deed completed. I am the exception to the rule that slow and steady wins the race. I am Indiana Jones, just making it out of the cave before the big stone door crashes down, still managing to grab my hat.
As such, having my timetable shifted and heading to the delivery ward two months early threw me into a panic attack – not only because of the concern for the health of my child, but because I was not emotionally or physically ready to have this baby. Procrastination and premature birth are not two things that go together. I had not even thought about things that some women take care of before the zygote stage. Childcare? Nothing lined up. My mother's promise to come visit when the baby was born? I hadn’t even made the plane ticket reservation yet. I had purchased a total of zero items in preparation of the baby. The unassembled crib was buried deep within our storage unit. Dirty laundry was piled in the basement. A myriad of things at work needed to be wrapped up before even thinking about maternity leave. I had not even made arrangements for someone to stay with my older son while I was giving birth. It looked as if my bad habit was finally biting me in the behind.
So when the doctors told me that the baby and I were stable and that they were delaying the c-section to begin steroid treatment to help my son’s lungs to develop, I was relieved not only that he would have a better chance for survival, but also because I could put off birth for another 24 hours. I felt a wave of relief, and having been given this new deadline, I was able to kick into high gear. I rapidly dictated instructions. Phone calls were made, voicemails left. My husband was able to go home to pack my bag and favorite pillow. My best friend agreed to drop everything to stay at our house through the delivery. It was all coming together.
My son, fully packed with my genes, has picked up my traits. He procrastinated for two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit before being released from the hospital. Bittersweet, as I ached to have him home in my arms, but it did allow me to make a cart stuffing trip to Target for supplies, and get his nursery together – the last screw went into the crib 30 minutes before he was scheduled to come home, of course.
He continues the procrastinating to this day – he’s currently behind with his speech and developmental milestones. But I take it in stride confident that, like his mama, he’s just biding his time, waiting for the clock to strike the eleventh hour before making his move.
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