Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fries vs. Baked Potato

If Opal the Nurse were not working for my obstetrican in the suburbs of Dallas, she could easily be cast as a waitress in some tiny, deep-fried diner in Alabama.
“Oh, Honey!” she chortels, shaking a pencil from her blonde cotton candy hairdo, “You want a C-section or a VBAC, hmm?”
The tone is that of an expert who has served up a thousands of really tasty sliders with an array of potato sides that are always considered worthy. Whichever meal you choose will be just fine, don’t you know, but you go ahead and look over the menu just to make yourself feel like you’ve sat atop things for awhile.
I shuffled my paper gown and Opal pats my hand comfortingly without looking up from my chart.
The thing is, I really don’t know what to do about this whole birthing deal.
Last time around, I just wanted the babies out by any means necessary before I exploded. And in the end, my twins were still upside down and backwards at 34 weeks when, low and behold, my body decided it could take no more and went toxic. The resident OB took one look at my elephant-sized ankles, booked an surgery suite then scooped out William and Elizabeth in no time flat.
(My only actual birthing memory is limited to my telling “Sharon”--I couldn’t remember the doctor’s last name who was in the process of unzipping me--that I needed another hit of anesthesia. She must have complied, as I do recall the cold swoosh of a certain numbing medicine as it flowed into my veins.)
Anyhow, the birth sufficed. The babies were out and I was, thankfully, no longer pregnant.
But according to many of my gal pals, it really is a whole lot better to do it the way nature intended. Sure, there is some pain involved, they tell me, but in the end it is pretty quick to dissipate, the mother’s body heals in no time and you’re off to the breastfeeding races.
My girlfriend Anna makes it seem nearly romantic.
“And there I was,” she told me as I listened enraptured, “Emma just slide out as the elevator doors opened!”
Michelle talks about giving birth standing up then cleaning her closets two days later.
Dana reports feeling like a “lioness.”
Most importantly, they all add that their babies were born alert, peaceful.
So, I’ve gone ahead and found a “natural birthing center” that assures pregnant women that they’ll be taught to manage their own pain while in the company of caring professionals--and 22 relatives (or pets,) if they so please.
I don’t tell Opal any of this. My thought is that she’d probably endorse any of the pies in her store, but she’d think I was downright funny if I asked her about the sugar-free, vegan Jell-o.
Opal rounds out our time together with a dozen more questions then shoos me down to the lab for a blood draw.
I confidently sit down, roll up my sleeves and let the technician do her thing.
Only she can’t seem to quite close the deal.
There is much moaning on her part about my teensy veins and their tendancy to “roll.”
She pokes my right arm once.
Then twice.
Then three times.
She sighs and starts over on my left hand.
Suddenly, my vision goes blurry and I start sweating so profusely that I feel rivulets of salt racing down from my neck, my back, my knees. I am nauseated beyond belief.
I realize that I am not about to pass out--I am about to die!
Moreover, none of the five medial professionals in the room are getting out their paddles or oxygen masks.
Why, these uncaring droids! I think. I am having a medical emergency and noone is even paying attention to my plight!
“Huh,” says the nurse who is working my hand. “You’re looking a little pale…”
No, I think, I am walking towards the white light… This is it: The End.
I promptly begin the Lord’s Prayer.
Someone props and orange juice up in my free hand.
“Now, now, Dear, you’re going to be fine,” Nurse Can’t Finda Vein says.
I use every last ounce of strength to crack open one eyeball.
“Call,” I puff, “Opal. Decided on C-section.”
I’m sure she’d even bring me a side of coleslaw if I asked nicely.


Men get to plan engagements but it’s we women that get to tell the greatest news of all.
And knowing this was likely the Last Gigantic Secret I’d ever tell, I decided at 4:21 a.m. on January 12 to carefully keep the news to myself until my husband came home from a prolonged business trip overseas. Like a hen tending her egg (pun intended), I would position myself carefully over my secret, hiding it beneath my feathers no matter if the rooster was gone for two months.
Of course, it was like sitting on a volcano.
Be proud of me, dear reader: In the end, I told my husband first…if you don’t count the many other friends and strangers that sort of knew ahead of time.
You see, I had to call my BFF but I didn’t so much as tell her as ask her to talk me down from the edge of a tall, scary bridge. In a matter of 30 minutes, she managed to find a forklift and eased me back into the river of life unharmed. If it hadn’t have been for Michelle, my twins would have been left with the responsibility of calling 911.
Then, my beloved sister-in-law called to wish me a happy birthday. And since she shares my husband’s DNA, this really means there are no secrets with her.
Next, I went on my morning power walk with my gal pal Anna--who clearly had to know my circumstance just in case I passed out at a crosswalk. (I do think I made it out of the parking lot, knowledge encased.)
That afternoon, I started panicking again and touched based with Dana in Wisconsin, my uber-wise granola-momma mentor who has three children and could explain to me the precise benefits of a larger family. Really, she’s more of a psychologist and we all that doctor-patient relationships are confidential.
Of course, I had to tell Aunt Cindy I had violated #20 on the Bridesmaid Checklist--the very one I had authored the previous week. I never even mentioned the “P” word but she knew darn well that #20 was “Thou shall not get pregnant and ruin the bridesmaid-to-groomsmen ratio.” (See previous blog post: “Cindy’s Wedding.”)
My former sorority sister Angie is a Sherlock-Holmes type who happened to be in the car with Aunt Cindy as they drove through a raging blizzard when I rang with news of the violation. Angie put two and two together on her own but I didn’t actually have a conversation with her, so she can’t be considered in the mix.
Of course, I had to e-mail Laura, another former sorority sister, when she e-mailed me the news of her own twin pregnancy. We all know that e-mail isn’t a real conversation.
I admit I might have let on to Stacey, my college roommate, but information shared with a girlfriend you’ve lived with for more than three years is like telling a sister and thus the rules of DNA apply.
Mind you, all of this non-telling happened over the course of eight day, which is really a pretty good secret-to-day ratio especially when you consider all the people I completely avoided telling when I heard from them.
This list includes:
My own parents, who I see nearly every day.
My lovely mother-in-law, who spent 45 minutes praising my parenting skills about 10 hours after I found out about The Secret.
Three of my fabulous preschool momma friends who chaperoned a roller skating play date, one of whom nearly got the news when we had a conversation about how “happy we are that we no longer have to carry all our baby gear around.”
W. & E.’s godmother Jessica, who is privy to every last one of my other secrets and called from Washington D.C. to catch up.
At least I didn’t have to worry about keeping mum around the passengers of Flight 1345 on Saturday, January 17.
The news was obvious to them: I stood at Terminal D24 at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport clutching in my hand a 3-foot-tall balloon in the shape of a cartoon baby. Dozens of complete strangers walked by me and congratulated me.
Still, it took my own husband and entire escalator ride to get the picture.
He started at the balloon in a fugue of jetlag.
“What the?” he said. “Were they out of ‘Welcome Home’ balloons?”
Only then did I crack the secret of the egg.