I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting to go to North York General Hospital and leave with a baby.
That’s what happens when nobody believes you are, um, in labour! And no one did.
Since I had a C-section with my daughter, Rowan, almost nine years ago, I didn’t have to go through labour pains. So when, a week before my second scheduled C-section, I could barely stand up, I didn’t know what was happening.
Here’s what I did know: I was surrounded by a bunch of people who were NOT listening to me, the pregnant one.
This was the scene at my house: There was my father, who got on his iPad trying desperately to search “What does labour feel like?” even though he had four children with my mother. Then there was my fiancé, who was on his iPhone, typing in “What do contractions feel like?” even though he has two children from a previous marriage; my mother, who was asking, of all questions, if I felt like “cleaning the floors?”; and me making my daughter cry, by hugging her too tightly.
No, I didn’t feel like cleaning the floors (I’m still wondering why she asked that question), but I did feel like strangling someone.
I didn’t care about what “labour” felt like or what “contractions” felt like. I only cared about getting to the hospital, and yet no one could hear my sad pleas of “Please, please just take me to the hospital.”
No one was listening to me because they were all acting like pretend doctors searching the Internet for sage advice from blogger gurus as I slumped crying to the floor.
Finally, my fiancé said, “OK, I’ll take you, but they are just going to send you back.”
Now, everyone it seems has a labour story, but no one actually can tell you what contractions feel like.
I know my OB said, “You’ll know when you feel them,” but how could I know if I’ve never felt them?
Even in the midst of squeezing my fiancé’s chest hair and begging for him to drive faster as we were stuck on the Allen, I wasn’t even sure that I was in labour.
It was only when I got to the hospital and cried to the nurse that I was in so much pain, and she responded with “That’s called labour, honey,” that I, and everyone else, finally believed that I was in fact getting ready to give birth to my son.
Now, I’m sorry if you were in the bed next to me, at North York General, on the obstetrics floor, while I was waiting to be seen by the doctor on the night of June 3. I’m also very grateful — and sorry — if you were working that night.
I am, by far, the worst patient when it comes to pain.
I also laugh hysterically when I’m in pain. That’s right. When I’m in pain — or nervous — I laugh like some people do watching the movie Bridesmaids for the first time.
So every few minutes, I’d be yelling and laughing, “It hurts! It hurts! How do women do this for more than 15 minutes?”
I literally grabbed the arms of every staff at North York General that came near me (sorry if you were bruised).
This was the scene in the hospital: My fiancé was screaming, “Stop pulling my chest hair!” I was laughing hysterically, and the doctors and nurses were telling me that I was going to be having my C-section in an hour. Which would have been fine if I was actually prepared to have a baby, which I was most definitely not.
We didn’t have a baby bag packed, nor an overnight bag for me packed. I hadn’t done anything on my list of “Things to do before the baby comes.”
I saw Toronto health care at its best and worst that night and the following day. For example, all the nurses and staff and doctors performing my C-section were extremely nice, caring and efficient.
But then I had the baby, and no formula (yes, yes, I’m formula feeding, deal with it) or diapers, and that poses a little problem when the hospital tells you they’ll give you two diapers and then you have to get your own, especially if your baby is born 10 minutes to midnight and the pharmacy at the hospital is closed.
It turns out nowadays, you have to bring everything to the hospital. Who knew?
Baby Holt Samuel was born at 11:48 p.m. on the night of June 3. His father lost a lot of chest hair in the process. His mother is still traumatized after people heard her hysterical laugh-screaming episode.
And, surprisingly, she STILL doesn’t feel like cleaning the floors.
Post City Magazines’ columnist Rebecca Eckler is the author of Knocked Up, Wiped!, and her latest books, How to Raise a Boyfriend and The Lucky Sperm Club.