“Grandma, are you Daddy’s Mom?”
I looked down at my 6-year-old grandson’s beautiful eyes staring up at me, his little brow slightly furrowed as he tried to get his family tree sorted out in his mind. “Yes,” I smiled, while silently praying “Dear God, please, don’t let this question go any further.” But God was apparently taking another call, because my little guy thought for a moment and said, “If Daddy was in your tummy, how did he get out?” Oh, crap.
Time stood still as my brain replayed my experience of bringing young grasshopper’s daddy into the world, and the movie highlights included a few indelible moments:
– I gained 65 pounds. And I’m 5’3″ tall. My baby hump was so big, I was ultrasounded twice for twins. Doc said there simply had to be two babies in there. Nope. I was just fat. Of course, to be fair, I hoovered frosted brownies like they were life support, obviously thinking I was going to have a 65-pound baby, so it was a 9-month eating free-for-all. (My size-2 sister took one horrified look at my pre-birthing photo and asked, “Were you really that hungry or is this some kind of freaky hormonal thing??” My mother still blames me for Sissy opting not to have children.)
– At my Lamaze class, the instructor was speaking about birth control after the first few months post-birth. I raised my hand and asked, “What about the first three months?” which promptly sent seasoned birthers into peals of group laughter. “Oh, honey,” one woman replied, wiping her eyes, “this must be your first. For six months, birth control is ‘Get off me.'” Good to know.
– At a New Year’s Eve party, when I was 7 months into a what felt like a 2-year pregnancy (elephants give birth in less time…true story), we ran smack into Hubs’ ex-girlfriend, a perky, annoying aerobics instructor with a killer body. She was wearing a skirt almost longer than her woo-hoo, with a midriff baring top, and 4-inch stilettos (seriously, girl, put some clothes on), while I was wearing a pup tent with matching flats. And since my hair wouldn’t take a color from day one of my pregnancy, it had returned to its natural rodent-brown shade, so I was in a pup tent with matching flats and rodent-colored hair. We left early, with me bawling all the way home.
– My due date came and went, and I was getting so depressed, my mom suggested pedicures to help pass the time. Upon arrival, the nail tech announced, “Are you sure? You look like you’re going to have that baby now.” “I’m never going to have this baby,” I replied. “I’m going to be pregnant until I die. Let’s do this.” We happily got soaked, scrubbed, and polished, until I stood up and my water broke. Seriously?? All instructions to my OB/GYN to “mind the wet toes” were blithely ignored.
– Hubs finally showed up with my overnight bag and a copy of my birthing plan. Since I was only going to do this once, I wanted it to be perfect. Part of “perfect” meant no drugs. This was going to be a serene, life-changing, mystical event that bonded mother and child like the biblical Madonna and her baby. Yeah, no. I was in labor 45 hours. Again, not a typo. Forty. Five. Hours. The nurses had four shift changes while I was there, each time coming into the room with “What, girl?? You’re still here??” Well, not by choice, lady. This kid keeps changing his mind and crawling back up the chute. The birthing plan got “accidentally” shredded while I demanded, and got, enough drugs to induce endless hours of enthusiastic, but widely off-key renditions of “I met him on a Sunday and my heart stood still. Da doo run run run, da doo run run.” Yep, I sucked at parenting, and the kid wasn’t even born yet.
– By the 45th hour, Doc was prepping to do a cesarean section, when one of the nurses shouted, “I can see his head!!” You don’t know humble until two doctors, eight nurses, your husband, AND your parents (and some guy I’m pretty sure was the night janitor) are all staring up your skirts, excitedly pointing to something trying to come out of your body, and you don’t care. I was exhausted, I had no dignity left, my throat was hoarse from days of singing, and I was done.
Besides the “no drugs” instruction in my now-defunct 3-page birthing plan, I’d also stipulated “no forceps.” Women have been popping kids out for centuries without help. How hard could it be? But Jake wasn’t budging. Finally, Doc takes my face in his hands and says, “If you don’t push, I’m going to have to use forceps.” I looked at him and mumbled sleepily, “I don’t care if you use an ice cream scooper. I’m done. Get him out yourself.”
Two days later, we proudly took home a beautiful, perfect, bouncing baby boy, and I was besotted for life. But as I looked down at my grandson’s trusting face, I smiled and said, “You know what? Let’s go read a book. Grandma knows a great story called ‘Hansel & Gretel.'” Yeah, it’s about a witch in the forest that kidnaps children, bakes them in an oven, and then eats them. But I figure it’ll require less childhood therapy than the story of how Daddy came to be.