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From Bundle of Trouble
After checking into the hospital and spending several hours in
“observation,” we were finally moved to our own labor and
“When can I get the epidural?” I asked the nurse escorting us.
“I’ll call the anesthesiologist now,” she said, leaving the room.
Jim plopped himself onto the recliner in the corner and picked up
the remote control.
“Hey, I’m having contractions here . . . they’re starting to get
strong. Aren’t you supposed to be breathing with me?”
“Right,” he nodded, flipping through the channels. “He he he, ha ha
ha,” he said in an unconvincing rendition of Lamaze breathing.
“I need your help now.”
His eyebrows furrowed. “No TV?”
“Get me the epi . . . oooh.”
He pressed the mute button. I sighed and gave in to the
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7Another hour passed before the anesthesiologist walked in. I was
horrified to see that he looked all of about seventeen.
“Sorry to make you wait,” he said. “There was an emergency Csection.”
“I’m just glad you’re here now,” Jim said.
The anesthesiologist laughed. “How are we doing?”
“She’s doing great, really great,” Jim said.
I would have told him to shut up, but that would have taken more
energy than I had. Was this teeny bopper qualified to put a fifteeninch needle in my spine? What exactly could go wrong with the
epidural? I was about to chicken out when the nurse rushed in.
“Oh, here you are,” she said to the anesthesiologist. “Let’s go,
before she’s too far along.”
Before I could back out, my torso and legs were blissfully numb.
The nurse placed a metal contraption, resembling a suction cup,
on my belly and studied a monitor. “Do you feel anything?”
“Good, because that was a big contraction.”
I smiled. “I didn’t feel a thing.”
The anesthesiologist nodded as he left the room. The nurse
advised us to get some rest. Jim returned to the recliner and put the
volume back up on the TV. I glanced at the clock: 3 A.M. already.
Where was my mother?
My thoughts drifted back to George. What had his bags been
doing on the pier? An image of a swollen corpse with a John Doe tag
on its foot crept into my mind. I shook my head trying to dissociate
the image from George and willed myself to think sweet, pink, baby
I scratched my thigh to double-check the effectiveness of the
During my pregnancy, I had heard dozens of horror stories about
infants with umbilical cords wrapped around their tiny necks, only to
have the doctor push the infant’s head back into the birth canal and
perform an emergency C-section. In most of the stories the poor
8mother had to go through the C-section without any anesthesia. At
least I’d already had the epidural.
At 7 A.M., the door to the room opened and my mother appeared,
dressed in jeans and sneakers, with binoculars around her neck.
“How you doing?” she asked cheerfully. Without waiting for a
reply, she reached up and put two hands on Jim’s shoulders pulling
him down to her five-foot-two level to kiss his cheeks. After which
she handed him her purse and said, “I’m here now, Jim. You can sleep.”
Jim smiled, clutched the purse, and happily retreated to his cot.
Mom had adopted Jim long ago, even before we were married; it was
a relationship Jim treasured since he had lost his own parents so many
Just seeing Mom relaxed me. She placed her freezing hands on my
face and kissed my cheeks. “Are you running a fever?”
“No. Your hands are cold. Where have you been? You look like a
tourist,” I joked.
“What do you mean?”
I indicated the binoculars.
“Well, I want pictures of my first grandchild!”
From Jim’s corner came a snorted laugh, the kind that comes out
through your nose when you’re trying to suppress it. I laughed freely.
“What?” Mother demanded.
“They’re binoculars,” Jim said.
Mother glanced down at her chest.
“Oh, dear! I meant to grab the camera.”
Jim relaxed, lying back on the cot.
Mom stroked my hair, then leaned over and kissed my forehead.
“You’re frowning,” she said.
“I’m worried about the baby. I’m worried about George.” I looked
over at Jim. His eyes filled with tears.
“George?” Mom turned to look at Jim. Jim covered his face with
Mom clucked. “Let’s start with the baby. Why are you worried?”
I shook my head and took a deep breath. “Don’t know. Nervous,
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