“Even though I’m due in a few weeks, I still enjoy riding the El to work every morning,” Eve said. “In fact, now that spring’s here I get to see the trees beginning to flower on the Midway and the birds are singing when I awake!
“Len, you’ll love to hear what happened as I went to work this morning. As I sat on the El, my stomach was so big that I rested my lunch on my belly! What a wonderful table the baby made! Just as the train was coming to a stop, the baby kicked and my lunch fell to the floor! A man across the aisle picked it up and handed it back to me. We both smiled!
“We are very lucky to have Kathy, our own private student-nurse,” Eve continued. “She says she really enjoys coming to every clinic visit with me. And, look, she gave me her telephone number in her apartment. When I’m ready for the baby to be born, she says I should call her any time of the day or night. She really wants to be there when the baby is born! It’s part of her training, she says!”
“But we really have to get busy, now,” I interrupted, as I rolled more paint on the ceiling. “We’ve bought the baby bed and a changing table, and we have some diapers, but we have to finish painting the apartment. I know it’s unlucky to set up the room before the baby’s actually here, but I hope everything goes according to schedule and I have time to do everything while you’re in the hospital.”
“I’m nervous, too,” Eve assured me, “We just have the painting to finish. We’re in good time!”
The paint can was open, the ladder was up and everything was ready for us to get back to painting as soon as we finished our dinner.
“Len, just sit down now and let me get the roast from the oven,” Eve insisted.
“I know,” I responded as I went to sit at the small table surrounded with the total mess of our apartment waiting for the baby to arrive.
Suddenly, from the kitchen Eve screamed, “No, I am not ready!”
I jumped up and ran. She was bending over the stove with the oven door open.
“Len,” Eve shouted, “My bag of waters has broken! Call Kathy, call the doctor. We have to go to the hospital!”
I grabbed the phone and dialed.
“This is the maternity hot line. How can we help?” the voice on the other end asked.
I shouted into the phone, “My wife’s waters have broken. We’re on our way to the hospital! Kathy is our nurse-in-training.”
“Wait a minute, sir. I need to ask you a few questions,” the man on the line insisted. “First, is your wife having contractions now?”
“How can I know?” I shouted in response. “Her bag of water has broken. We need to come into maternity, now!”
“No sir,” the man continued, “Please calm down and ask your wife about her contractions.”
“Eve, he wants to know if you are having contractions. What shall I tell him?”
“Tell him the contractions have begun, but they aren’t very strong now,” she responded.
“And where are you now?” the man asked.
“We’re in our apartment on the other side of the midway.” “We were just sitting down to dinner and the waters broke. We’re on our way now!”
“Sir, please calm down,” the voice insisted. “There’s plenty of time before the baby comes and you’re very near. Ask your wife to get her hospital bag together and you, please sit down and finish your dinner. Your wife shouldn’t eat anything now, but when you’ve finished dinner, then will be the time to come to the hospital. We’ll call Kathy and she’ll be here to join you. Now, sir, please relax. Everything will be fine. Goodbye.”
It wasn’t easy for me to eat that dinner, but Eve had everything in the place she had put it and wouldn’t let me come with her as she got her bag. In fact, in just a few minutes, Kathy phoned us and repeated the instruction that I eat and that we slow down. “It’s much easier to spend the early part of labor at home,” she assured us. “I’m putting my things together now, too. I’ll be at the hospital when you arrive.” I’m sure it only seemed like forever, but finally we arrived at Lying In Hospital just a block from our student apartment. As promised Kathy was there to greet us. “Len, just sit here in the Father’s room.” she urged me. “I’ll be with Eve through the whole process and when the baby is here, I’ll come out to get you. I’m sorry you can’t come back to the labor room, but I will be there with Eve. Please try to relax.”
I’m sure she knew that relaxing wouldn’t be easy for me. And, in those days Fathers were not welcome in the labor room. As I sat there with other fathers, we turned pages of magazines we never actually looked at. Once or twice, a doctor or nurse opened the door and asked a Father to come out, but those of us who were left never heard the next words. We just turned pages, tried to smile and worried. Finally, Kathy opened the door and invited me into the inner room. She was all smiles. “You have a wonderful baby boy. You can come in now to see Eve and your new son.”
We named him Dan.
* * *
Author Biography: Len
Gottesman grew up in Cleveland, Ohio as the first grandchild from
Grandma and Grandpa’s litter of 13 kids of whom 9 lived. He went on to
be the first to finish high school, the first to go to college, and the
only one of his many cousins to get a PHD. With a heavy load of
expectations on his back, he had no choice but to become a psychologist!
Now retired for many years, he is enjoying reviewing his life’s
experiences. See Len's stories "The Four
Questions" , "Apple Strudel
Day!" , and "A Beautiful Girl in a Flying White Cape!"