By Holly Jackson
Look, I am just not one of those people who romanticizes pregnancy. Being pregnant looks about as comfortable as having all of my orifices fused shut after eating mounds of broccoli. And the only thing more horrifying than pregnancy to me? Child birth.
Whose idea was it to have to push something the size of a bowling ball out of your vagina? Imagine if God said to Adam, “Ok, you’re going to have sex with Eve, which will be awesome, this sex thing. And then 9 months later you’re going to force a baby out of your penis.” Adam would’ve killed that bitch Eve before the sun went down.
My ideal way to have a baby would be to be put into a medically induced coma right after the peed-on stick comes back positive. Let me gestate in that coma, and once the baby is out, please give us both a bath and put some makeup on me before bringing me back into consciousness. Is that too much to ask?
So, of all the places in the world you might expect to find me, of my own free will, a delivery room isn’t one.
And yet, that’s just where I was.
I offered to be the driver for my dear pregnant friend Alanna when the magic hour arrived. We’d known each other since grad school, and she, like many single professional women, opted to have kids on her own. This was her second child, another boy, to be named Walter. “Go time” arrived around 3am. I hopped in my car, raced the empty streets to her house, waved to her mother (who would stay with her firstborn), and whisked Alanna to the hospital. With her all checked in, I was ready to wrap up my supportive friend duties. Then, I asked her what time her twin sister was coming.
The sister wasn’t coming. No one was coming. She said it was fine. What? Giving birth alone is at the top of the list of all things not fine. I hate moments when I have to choose between adulting and being the petty, trifling ho I’ve always wanted to be. My head was halfway to the parking lot. Key in ignition. Tires screeching. But my mouth made an executive decision and uttered, “I’ll stay.”
Babies take a long-ass time. I went home, showered, grabbed some magazines and snacks and returned to the hospital to find Alanna still barely dilated. Hours passed. No Walter. By around 4:30pm, I was starving. The cafeteria would soon close, so I grabbed the only gluten-free option available, the last dregs of the day’s chili. I finished the cup and walked back into the room. Alanna was gone. I stopped a nurse and they told me she had been moved to a delivery room down the hall.
Walter was suddenly in a hurry. What had I gotten myself into? I went out to the nurse’s station on the verge of hyperventilation. “What do I do in there?” They smiled, having seen this pre-game panic all before. “You don’t have to do anything. We’ll be in there. Just stay close to her head if you don’t want to see anything, and tell her she’s doing a great job.” I nodded. Cheerleader. I could do that.
The doctor arrived, took a quick look ‘down there’, and it was time for Alanna to push. I stood as close to her head as I could without having my nose against the wall. Knuckles white on the bed rails, Alanna pushed without making a sound. “You’re doing great. You’re doing great,” I said until she leaned back and looked at me with the eyes of a demon. “Shhh!” she snapped, firing me from cheerleading. The doctor looked up and said to me, “We need you to hold her leg.” I heard Kevin Hart say, “What now?”
I looked at the nurse who’d sold me the cheerleader ruse and made a mental note to see her in the parking lot later. She must’ve read my thoughts because she mouthed the word ‘sorry.’ From across the bed she demonstrated, “Hold it like this. And don’t look down. Look at me.”
“Push, Alanna,” the doctor ordered. Holding her leg, not looking down became my life’s mission. However, I couldn’t help but see something happening below in the periphery. Alanna pushed again, and I started sweating profusely as my nerves welled up from the pit of my stomach…and they weren’t coming alone. They were bringing the past-its-prime chili with it.
“I’m going to be sick,” I said. Another nurse rushed in with a small plastic bucket and not a second to spare. She took my place at Alanna’s bedside (where was this chick 5 mins ago?!) while I sat and tried to vomit with dignity.
If you think that’s the funniest part of the story, you’d be wrong. Barely finished battling the chili, the doctor barked at me, “The head is coming out. Get in there and film this.”
That’s right. Film. This.
“Now,” she added. “She’ll never be able to see this if you don’t.” Kneeling down, I came face-to-phone with Alanna’s undercarriage. Walter came out slowly, with black curly hair. The doctor grabbed him and held him up for Alanna to see, then asked if I wanted to cut the cord. I did and decided the doc could go on living. Walter was perfect. They cleaned him up, weighed him, and laid him on Alanna’s chest. It was pretty sweet.
The next day, I was the ride home. I held Walter, mesmerized that I had seen him come into this world, while Alanna packed her things. “Hey, I’m sorry you had to see all my lady parts,” she said. I said, “No worries. Nothing I saw looked even vaguely familiar.” Now that I have seen the miracle of birth, I do recognize that it truly is just that – a nasty-ass miracle. And more than ever, I am certain that my coma plan is the shit.
About the Author
Holly Jackson used to have a blog called Hollzhouse, but she sold out to the man and decided to focus on keeping her FT job. She has an MBA from Columbia, but she has no idea where it is right now. She tells people what to do for a living, and they actually listen. Sometimes her advice is even, like, good. When she’s not doing that, she builds stuff for her house and hangs out with her dog.