My doula said the day before that there was some astrological thing happening and that if I willed something to happen, it would happen. She said it half seriously, with a smile I could hear over the phone. She is really pretty down to earth. I said I was willing to believe, just this once, because I was so tired of being pregnant. Anyway, I was like, “OK. I will myself to go into labor tomorrow.” And then I changed my mind and wished for a billion dollars and a cure for diabetes. But then I changed my mind again and wished to go into labor. It was two weeks before the due date.
But it worked. I mean, I woke up the next morning, and I was in labor.
I was very cool about the whole thing. I met a friend from birth class for coffee. We were both hugely pregnant.
“How are you?” she asked.
“I think I’m in labor,” I said. It was 10:00 a.m. and already ninety-five degrees out.
“Oh my god!” she said. “Are you okay?” Then she said, “Oh my god, I am not ready to go into labor!”
“Maybe you should get ready today,” I said. “Just in case.”
“I probably should,” she said.
I got a peanut butter breakfast bar and an iced coffee. I figured the contractions would go away soon, the way early labor often does, especially for a first timer. I had read so many books.
Walking out of the coffee shop, my friend stopped me and, looking intensely into my eyes, said, “Hey, I know we’re both cynical New York women, but really, you should just be a goddess.”
“I’ll try,” I said.
Then I went home and ordered a pizza.
I figured I should have a pizza around, in case this was really labor.
I didn’t get to eat the pizza until I was a mother, because my water broke dramatically and the contractions got much more painful and then Bear and I were in the kitchen and I was just holding onto him and we were counting “one, two, three, one, two, three” through the contractions. Someone did that in a video and it seemed good. It really did help. Bear had been on a conference call at home, and he was thinking about going into the office. But I was really in labor, so he stayed and was perfectly calm. Which was very good, because my doula was at another birth and couldn’t come and my midwife wasn’t picking up her emergency phone. I texted Mom.
“What the FUCK?” I said, almost in tears. “Where the fuck is my midwife? We are alone!”
“You’ve got this,” said Bear.
“No,” I said. “I need someone with medical expertise to be here.”
“She’ll be here,” he said. He was filling the purple birth tub from a garden hose attached to the bathroom faucet. He is good at things.
Forty-five minutes later, the midwife called back. Her high, calm voice was like a cool compress, over the phone. She was on her way. She had been catching another baby. Everyone had a baby on the same damn day. Astrological phenomenon?
The baby was facing the wrong way, face up, spine against my spine. She had been facing the right way for ages, and then, a few days before the contractions started, she turned, so that she was face up. The midwife said I should go swimming, because swimming can help the baby turn somehow. She said it like it might be fun, but she said it several times, so I knew it was important. But I never made it to the hotel pool she recommended. Because forty-eight hours later, I was in labor. I felt Eden’s little hands scrabbling at my belly as my uterus contracted. “She’s facing the wrong way,” I told Bear.
“I know,” he said. “It’s okay. She’ll turn.”