A recent post by Kristen over at Motherese, in which she mentioned the breaking of water, brought a vivid memory spilling back into the cove of working memory…
“There’s water everywhere!” Andy breathlessly shouts into the pay-phone. I’m standing on Pico Boulevard with my finger in one ear, having pulled over after getting a 911 page from my home number. She’s nine months pregnant and this is it. This is also 1996 and cell-phones, if you can afford one (and I cannot) are the size of air-conditioners. “I’ll be right there,” I hollered over the roar of traffic and jumped into my baby-blue Honda Civic, racing through traffic to Sherbourne Drive with images of Dick Van-Dyke rushing pregnant Laura to the hospital like some Clockwork Orange montage in my squirming toad-brain.
“Oh god, oh god, oh god… here it comes. The baby’s coming. Are we going to be delivering it on the wood floor because I couldn’t get there fast enough? Is she going to perish in labor? How am I going to afford this? Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” all the way home.
I screech to a halt, race up to our duplex, burst through the door and see a good inch of water covering the bathroom floor and puddling out into the hallway. “Oh my god,” is all I can say, aghast at the sheer amount of water.
“I managed to shut it off,” Andy says, breathless, as I glance from her belly to the water to her face… confused in my adrenaline-charged readiness to Rob Petrie her to the hospital. Slowly I come to realize that a hose beneath the sink has burst, and that the water that is everywhere is LA’s finest and not Andy’s.
And while it would be a couple of weeks past her due date, after the salad at Coyote failed to do the magic, and after the chili cook-off at St. Michaels finally sounded the ultimate uterine alarm, before the actual baby would arrive, I always remember that moment as a crystalline emblem of male naiveté and nervous ignorance. I didn’t know a damn thing about birthing babies and I still don’t—only the confabulated images of film and TV, about boiling water and getting lots of clean sheets and ominous tongs and leaping into pajamas and hats on a winter’s night and cigars and storks and euphemisms.
So, although I’ve noticed that many women (due to unresolved trauma I suspect) tell their birth horror stories to pregnant women, my hope is that today’s boneheaded recollection might serve as a smile of connection to all the men and women who care to join me in confessing some sort of ongoing cluelessness, ever learning more and more about what we as yet do not know as we add a tiny little bit here and there to what we do.
So here’s to our own kind of summer of love, one where we may take the waters and yet know better than to break the waves.