And Kate is back to her breathing.
Until she’s not.
“Do you think the nurses will know we had sex?”
I look pointedly at her stomach. “Unless you plan on claiming an immaculate conception, I think they’ll have a pretty good idea.”
Then I lean on the horn. “The gas is the one on the right, grandma!” I swear to Christ, if your gray poufy hair is the only thing that can see over the dashboard? You’ve got no business driving.
“No—do you think they’ll know we had sex tonight?”
Kate is funny about things like this. Shy. Even with me sometimes. The other day, I happened to catch a passing glimpse of her sitting on the toilet and it was like the end of the world. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous. But I’m not about to argue the point with her now.
“It’s a maternity ward, Kate, not CSI. They’re not gonna to be down there with a black light looking for my swimmers.”
“Yeah, you’re right. They won’t be able to tell.” She seems calmed by the idea. Reassured.
And I’m happy for her. Now if I can just keep myself from going into cardiac arrest, we’ll be in pretty good shape.
An hour later, Kate is settled into a private room at New York Pres-byterian, hooked up to more beeping contraptions then a ninetyyear-old on life support. I sit down in the chair next to the bed.
“Can I get you anything? Back rub? Ice chips? Narcotics?”
I know I could go for a glass of whiskey at the moment. Or a whole bottle.
Kate takes my hand and holds it tight, like we’re on a plane that’s about to take off. “No. Just—talk to me.” Then her voice turns hushed. Small. “I’m scared, Drew.”
My chest tightens painfully. And I’ve never felt so helpless in my life.
But I do my damnedest to hide it. “hey, this whole delivery thing is a piece of cake. I mean, women have babies all the time.
I read this article once that said in the olden days, they’d pop a kid out right in the middle of the fields. Then they’d clean it off, put it in their backpack, and go right back to work. how hard can it be?”
She snorts. “Easy for you to say. Your part was fun. And over.
Females got royally screwed in this deal.”
She’s not wrong. But women are stronger than men. No, really, I’m being serious. Sure, we can outdo them in upper-body strength, but in every other way—psychologically, emotionally, cardiovascu-larly, genetically—women come out on top.
“That’s because God is wise. he knew if we had to go through this shit, the human race would’ve died the f**k out with Adam.”
Then a voice comes from the doorway. “how are we doing this evening?”
Yes—I only use her full name. Post-traumatic stress? Possibly.
All I know is that hearing the name Bob? Pretty much makes me want to slit my wrists open with a box cutter.
Roberta checks the chart at the end of the bed. “Everything looks good. You’re about three centimeters dilated, Kate, so we’ve still got a while to go. Do you have any questions for me?”
Kate looks hopeful. “Epidural?”
here’s some advice—don’t be a masochist. Get the epidural.
I’ll repeat that in case you missed it: GET ThE EPIDURAL.
According to my sister, it’s a miracle drug. She’d gladly jerk off the guy who invented it—and Steven would probably let her. Would you get a tooth pulled without novocaine? Would you get your appendix removed without anesthesia? Of course not.
And don’t give me that bullshit about having the “full experience” of childbirth. Pain is pain—there’s nothing “wondrous” about it.
It just f**king hurts.
Roberta smiles soothingly. “I’ll get it set up right away.” She makes a few notes on the clipboard, then returns it to its hanging place. “I’ll come back in a little while to check on you. have the nurses page me if you need anything.”
“Okay. Thanks, Roberta.”
Once she’s out the door, I stand up and grab my cell phone.
“I’m going to go call your mom—I can’t get any reception in here. Will you be all right till I get back?”
She waves her hand. “Sure. Not going anywhere. We’ll be right here.”
I bend over and kiss Kate’s forehead. Then I lean down and kiss the hump, telling it, “Don’t start without me.”
Then I’m out the door—jogging to catch up with Kate’s doctor down the hall. “hey, Roberta!”
She stops and turns. “hi, Drew. how are you?”
“I’m good—good. I wanted to ask you about the baby’s heart rate. Isn’t one-fifty a little high?”
Roberta’s voice is tolerant, understanding. She’s used to this by now.
“It’s well within the normal range. It’s common to see some minor fluctuations in the fetal heart rate during labor.”
I nod. And go on. “And Kate’s blood pressure? Any sign of preeclampsia?”
Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more control you have over a situation. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the last eight months.