This is a true story (except for the fancy driving and the UZI-wielding). The people are real. The conversations actually took place. Importantly, my husband can vouch for it in entirety. And he is relieved beyond belief I have written this because he thinks I need the whole experience out of my system. In composing this post I attempted, with “bracketed” statements, to dissect the story into elements of a screenplay…just for the fun of it. But this is otherwise a work of nonfiction as there’s no way I have the talent to make this stuff up…
[Opening scene: a hospital reception area. It is very early morning.]
At two am on an early spring day my mother walked into Labor and Delivery and announced she was having contractions. The staff looked at her like she was nuts, her pregnancy concealed by a long winter jacket (keep in mind this was spring in Minnesota). But four hours later and as many weeks early, I made my debut, punch-drunk from the cocktail of drugs given at the time to make a laboring mother more comfortable.
Mom showed them.
And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
[Teaser, used to draw the audience in. It can be in the form of a flashback or anecdote, as demonstrated above.]
My daughter’s birth was not beautiful in the made-for-tv-movie way. It was beautiful in that she was delivered healthy, by a highly-experienced obstetrician. Just as we hoped. Getting her here is a whole other story, steeped in absurdity. Parody, even. It was chaos in the delivery room that evening and even though my unborn baby [our Damsel in (Near) Distress] held her own it was a scary experience. Staff converged on the delivery room, ripping apart sterile packaging and draping blue sheets across my stomach for modesty (really? does it matter?) like time was of the essence. Which it was. But it shouldn’t have been. Thankfully I had a no-nonsense, straight-shooting OB [Hero].
[The scene-setting Introduction, which gives the audience a taste of what is to come and hopefully keeps them hooked.]
Until my doctor entered the room, it was a complete surprise my third child was about to be born. That is, it was a deniable fact to everyone but me [Protagonist]. And this is why: 1) my contractions went from seven minutes apart to four in half an hour; and 2) there was The Problem [plot device to give the protagonist depth and incur sympathy and support of the audience]. Just trust me on this one…this tale is not No Country for Old Men or a story by Quentin Tarantino…I want to “keep it real” but without the “R” rating.
So when The Problem started, I called Labor and Delivery and told the nurse [Antagonist] on the other end of the line about it. She replied: “Well, you can come in if you WANT to and we’ll monitor you….” Her tone was dripping with the oh-boy-another-crazy-hormonal-mom-to-be, like I was a tremendous waste of time. Crazy and hormonal, sure…just ask my husband…but I was not stupid. The Problem was not normal and meant no matter what the other facts were, this baby was going to crown. Soon.
Nurse’s attitude ignored, my husband and I hit the highway [Dramatic over-the-curb driving, a la chase scene from The Bourne Identity. Audiences love that kinda stuff, right?]. My contractions were 7 minutes apart and I was terrified. Things were going wrong, and the nurse didn’t seem to get that, and I worried what exactly a monitor would reveal about my unborn daughter. [Tension building]
We arrived in Labor and Delivery 30 minutes after I made my phone call and got the monitor hooked up promptly, no questions asked. I informed the nurse again of The Problem and got no response. None. LIke I hadn’t said a word. Just a passing “I’ll be back in 10 minutes to check the monitor…” as she disappeared out the door. [Let's call her attitude Character Development.] It was like talking to a wall. Nothing could be said to change what this nurse wanted to believe was happening, or what she needed to have happen at that moment, for whatever reasons she had.
And by the way, I was in agony. Contractions were then at every four minutes and intensifying, the proverbial knife getting in a couple twists when my husband [Sidekick/Comedian], says to me: “Huh. I’ve been watching the monitor, and your contractions are four minutes apart. You’re going to have a baby tonight.” Brilliant. Up until that point, even the father of my child thought this was an act.
Twenty (not ten) minutes later my nurse returned, “checked” me, and said with alarm [Weakness in antagonist…audiences love this, too]:
“Um, you are at 6 centimeters, I’m calling the doctor.”
What a wonderful idea.
So. Apparently I was having a baby. With the nursing staff finally on board, things started moving in a frightening blur [climactic point]. Like there was no time to lose. Then, [cue comic relief, a plot device used to diffuse feverish tension] a tech came to place my IV access and said, “I’m going to numb the skin so you won’t feel the needle stick.” I gave the woman a dirty look as I was too busy with an excruciating labor to give her a tongue-lashing. Like I’m going to notice what she was doing. My husband whooshed in and redeemed himself [Sidekick demonstrating he's more than just the cut-up]:
“I don’t think she cares about the IV stick at the moment.”
My nurses clearly needed a reality check. And they got it, in a big way: an hour after admission, I gave birth to my little girl. [Antagonists foiled] Healthy, just a little over six pounds. She was screaming her head off, like all babies on tv do.
[Hero doctor saves the day. Protagonist and Damsel win. In other words, we have the formulaic Happy Ending.]
And I hope when my little apple has her own little apple-let, there is no parody involved. That he or she arrives straight-shootin’, documentary-style.
[Fade to Black]
Wow, you’re still here!!! You know how at the end of some movies, audience members who stick around get treated to bloopers? Boy, do I got one:
It is well after midnight following the birth of my daughter. She and I are cuddling in my darkened hospital room. A member of the nursing staff I do not recognize walks in, asking if I need anything for pain.
Me: “No, thank you.”
Crazy person: “You don’t want PERCOSET? You NEED PERCOSET!!! It is AMAZING!!!!”
Me: “Um, NO. THANK YOU.
Then I, the tired, fed up protagonist, whips out my UZI, deciding after all I need a little Tarantino.
Ok. This is a really important footnote [Disclaimer, perhaps?]: I respect nursing staff. Having had the privilege of working with many of these gifted individuals over the years and in many capacities, I feel it is simply a stroke of bad luck that this was the team present the night my daughter was born.
“Holy crap, what just happened to me?!”~not an hour after greeting the world
Happy (almost) Birthday to my baby girl!