“Hi, honey, it’s me. I just started having contractions. They’re coming about 6 to 8 minutes apart, and they’re taking my breath away. Give me a call as soon as you get this message.” click. The second hand did that time-slowing thing again.
It was December 12th, and I had been waiting for that phone call for weeks. After dealing with several occasions of regular contractions that would stick around for 2 hours in the middle of the night and then completely disappear at first light, I had begun to wonder if the baby was ever planning to come out of there. Hell, the Dr. himself said he didn’t think we’d make it to our due date, and here we were 2 days beyond it. I had offiically decided that the new lil puddin was a lot more like his or her father than mother…in no hurry to do much of anything, pretty content to stay holed up in there until maybe, oh, college, or something. Well, turns out I was wrong. It wasn’t college the baby was waiting for, it was inconvenience.
Yeah, see, the thing is, I was right in the middle of a job interview. That’s right, boys and girls, my second child thought it would be funny to wait until, oh, the one and only time in a span of about 2 weeks that it would be a really, really big pain in my ass to have to drop everything and hurry home. Oh, and did I mention that I was 30 miles away when my phone rang? Then again, I didn’t hear the phone ring, did I?
As I sat in the interview room, waiting for the HR guy, who I had just finished talking to, to wrangle my next interviewer into the conference room, I glanced over at my cell phone out of nervous habit. Boldly emblazoned on the tiny little screen were 3 words that dropped a bowling ball-sized lump of lead into the very pit of my stomach: “New Voice Message”. No one calls my cell phone and leaves a voice message…well, no one but the Puddinette, who, by the way, was given strict orders not to call that phone unless she was doubled over in pain from contractions. So, I called my voice mailbox for the message, expecting to hear her say that the pain was unbearable, it was all my fauilt, and that I needed to get home and take her to the hospital immediately if I expected to continue waking up in the morning with my special parts intact. Silently, as I navigated the labyrinth of byzantine voicemail menus, I hoped to myself that she had found a really good deal at Kohl’s on infant toys and was simply unable to control her urge to tell me about it. Now, is that kind of behavior typical for my wife? No, but a) it would have given me a chance to complete the interview, and b) it would have provided an opportunity to give her some lip about calling when I told her not to. Hey, look, I’m a lazy, pseudo-perpetual screwup who’s only claim to fame is fighting a losing war with Neptune, God of the Deep, and apparently impregnating my wife with a glance (Yes, if I were super hero, that would be my talent…eat your heart out, Aquaman). Bottom line, any chance to put the shoe on the other foot when she goofs up is something of an event to be cherished. Of course, such opportunities are about as rare as days when I wake up to find a horde of paparazzi standing outside my bedroom window. So, you know, I make do with whatever I get.
So, anyway, I get the voicemail, learn of the labor, and confirm that today is not Paparazzi day. I call home to find out how long ago she left the message. The Puddinette tells me again that the contractions are 6-8 minutes apart, and that maybe I should finish the interviews because she wants me to get the job. Uh-huh. Let me see…contractions every 6 mintes, I’m half an hour away, and we’re supposed to be at the hospital when they’re 5 minutes apart. Yeah, I don’t think so. I’m not going to be remembered as that guy.
So I find the HR guy, and tell him about the contractions. Having been already made aware of the possibility of impending labor, he smiled and told me to be very careful getting home. I didn’t look back. I called home again once I got on the expressway, only to find a Puddinette in tears, mumbling incoherently about contractions being 3 minutes apart. Sweet mother of God, 3 minutes! I did a little quick math: 3 minutes apart, 30 miles to drive, cost of replacing all the towels in the house if I didn’t get her to hospital: Ack!
For those you of you wondering, a Dodge Stratus performs very admirably at 100 miles an hour. Very little shaking, no really horrible excess noise, control is still tight and very responsive. I was impressed. Of course, the other drivers that I was shooting past (God Bless the ones that got out of my way, and damn the slow, completely oblivious people in the fast lane) probably thought I was some kid, all hopped up on the junk, but c’est la vi, eh?
I arrived home in only 18 minutes, and I think I might have used some kind of wormhole to get there. Mental note: call Steven Hawking. Thankfully, the Puddinette’s sister just happened to be in town, back from college, and was at the house already caring for the PuddinPop, who was a bit shaken, I must say, to see Mommy in so much pain. Upon my hurried entrance, I found the Puddinette doubled over the bed near tears, attempting to find a way to lasso a sock onto her foot, repeating over and over, “We’re not going to make it, we’re going to have this baby right here”. I personally believe she was gathering the energy to begin issuing instructions for the collection of towels and the boiling of water, but I’ve seen childbirth, mind you, and I’m quite certain that it doesn’t come out of the carpet — ever. No sir, there was going to be no home-birthing for us.
Expecting a baby any moment, I threw the socks aside and helped her step, barefoot, into a pair of athletic sandals. She started to change shirts, but was wracked with another contraction mid go. The twisted machinations of my fevered brain pumped vision after vision of the baby dropping on the floor right there in the bedroom and then standing up and making the bed. We had to get out of there before I lost it completely or the Puddinette decided to share some of pain with me, in whatever ways she could find. I guided her, as best I could, through the seemingly simple act of pulling a shirt over her head and getting her arms through the holes.
I think she would have stopped to put on makeup, but I wasn’t going to let that happen. We kissed the PuddinPop, who was still none to happy about the sudden departure from his normal daily routine. Somehow I managed to put the Puddinette, the video camera, her pillow, her coat, and the infamous Bag Ready for the Hospital When the Baby Comes into the car without making a second trip into the house. We were off!
Now, in movies and on TV, you see some zany hijinks getting women in labor to the hospital. Do you need to run red lights and zig-zag through traffic, passing as many cars as possible? No, of course not. But look at it this way, fellas, how many other times in your life are you going to have carte blanche to drive like an absolutely bat outta hell and be wholly and completely absolved from it? Bingo. I live 5 minutes from the hospital; passing cars on the 2 minutes drive down the two-lane road was really not necessary. Sure was fun though. Hell, I was hoping to attract some police interest. I’ve always wanted an escort…
So, we reached the hospital in a timely fashion, child still somehow miraculously in the womb. I ran in and charged cavalierly past the line of people waiting to speak to the registration staff. I butted my way to desk and exclaimed, “my wife is very in labor and I need help getting her to the delivery floor”. Never before have I garnered so much attention from anyone; you’d have thought I was screaming “Code Blue, Code Blue”.
Long story, well, long, we finally made it to labor and delivery. We then proceeded to wait another 9 hours for our new addition to finally make up his mind that it was time to come out and say hi. We had a cute little baby boy at 6:21 pm on December 12th, 2003, weighing 8 lbs, 1 oz. All is well with mother and child, and the PuddinPop really likes to give him kisses on the forehead. Nickname is still pending. I’m partial to PuddinPotPie myself, but I’m open to suggestions. Have you got one?
Oh, and for anyone interested, yes, I got the job. Turns out a partial interview is the best way to go — fewer chances to screw up and say something stupid, eh?