Push

December 2007

7 years
ago

 

Week 32: The Great Big Cosmic Coin Toss

Sarah and I are in Napa Valley, celebrating Thanksgiving with the extended Ruby family.

Heaven.

The annual tradition goes something like this: We stuff ourselves at Carol and Tony’s gorgeous home in the Berkeley hills, then the whole family drives up to Napa where we spend the next 48 hours at a schmancy Yountville resort, digesting the meal. It’s a pretty decadent—if fleeting—ritual, and it all takes place a block from the French Laundry. Thank God someone else foots the bill.

Our room has its own fireplace and whirlpool, and you better believe we’re using every last towel and conditioner and clam-shaped soap and white terrycloth robe. There are winery tours during the day, cheese tastings by the lobby fireplace at night. Yesterday we ate gourmet chocolate chip cookies from Bouchon and saw Dennis Franz scowling throughout a street festival just outside our door…

7 years
ago

 

Week 32: Home Economics

In three weeks, Sarah quits her job to become a future stay-at-home mother. This may not sound terribly earth shattering; there are more than 5.4 million stay-at-home moms in America, according to the 2004 U.S. Census Bureau. (There were about 100,000 stay-at-home dads.) But Sarah is a middle school principal at a public school she built up from nothing. She went door-to-door in the toughest housing project in Chicago to recruit students—undeterred by gunfire, crack addicts, and skeptical parents…

7 years
ago

 

Week 31: Squatter’s Rights

Was a time that doctors thought that any kind of motion in the pregnant woman could hurt the fetus. They prescribed rest and lots of it, which equated with women just sitting around for nine months, waiting. This must have seemed strange to the proverbial Chinese women who worked the fields throughout their pregnancies, pushed the baby out into a soybean plant, then went back to work. And there are 1.3 billion people in China. They’re obviously not having problems giving birth.

Nowadays, Western doctors agree that exercise during pregnancy isn’t dangerous; it’s beneficial. Some say it makes labor shorter, eases back pain, reduces fatigue, and makes the post-natal recovery easier. The only exercise Sarah has done so far is the easiest: kegel exercises…

7 years
ago

 

Week 31: The Seven-Month Itch

The cramps are gone, but now Sarah’s entire body has begun molting. Everywhere she goes, layers of skin fall off, leaving little anthills of white stuff behind. Our couch looks like the Canadian Rockies. And she’s always itchy, scratching until her skin is red and splotchy. She’s got me scratching those impossible-to-reach spots on her back (“HARDER! HARDER!"), and she isn’t satisfied unless I practically break the skin. I’m thinking of keeping a pair of spaghetti tongs on the bedside table…

7 years
ago

 

Week 30: Shot, in the Dark

Epidural.

In the Childbirth Universe, no four syllables have more power as an argument-starter. The word provokes defensiveness in some and smugness in others. There’s hand-wringing. Rationalizing. Pontificating. Innocently ask a new mother, “Did you get an epidural?” and you’re likely to get a complicated answer, like: “I didn’t want to, but I was pushing for 17 hours and the hospital has a policy…” or “My cervix was fully dilated and they were threatening to give me an episiotomy…”

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7 years
ago

 

Week 30: Are You There, Heart Attack? It’s Me, Jeff

Quiet days on the pregnancy front. Not much is happening. Mostly there is just a lot of complaining about leg cramps, which Sarah says are getting worse.

When my mom, Lois, asked me to go to New York for two days, I jumped at the chance. A respected author of young adult fiction including the mega-successful novel Steal Away Home, she had been asked to chair the National Book Awards committee that picked the top young adult book of the year. The awards ceremony, a black-tie event hosted by Garrison Keillor, was in Times Square. My dad isn’t a big New York fan, so Mom asked me.

Most guys would think twice before leaving their pregnant wife to go off gallivanting with their mother in another time zone…