Push

7 years
ago

 

Rock Opera

Further proof that we are, in fact, in Australia: This morning, while taking a shower in the bathroom across the hall, I was mesmerized by the water going down the drain clockwise. Took my brain a moment to register that this was abnormal, and once I did, I got a little dizzy. It felt like the whole world was upside-down.

Apparently, the Clockwise In The Southern Hemisphere Thing is not always the case, as we have been taught to believe. But it was certainly true in the icky fourth-floor bathroom in the Footprints Youth Hostel Sydney. I suspect had something to do with all the backpacker fungus…

7 years
ago

 

Didgeridoo-Over

I wish I could say it was a conscious choice to stay at a grungy youth hostel like the one we picked in Sydney (“Yeah, man, we’re keeping it real on this trip"), but the truth was we didn’t have the money for anything better. Australia is ridiculously expensive, and this is a long trip, and I’m a journalist, and Sarah’s a teacher. That’s how we ended up at the Footprints Youth Hostel right downtown.

It honestly hadn’t occurred to me that we were too old for youth hostels until we checked in. Techno music blasted in the lobby, and the heavily pierced girl behind the desk took one look at us with our baby and our masses of Stuff, and tried not to smile…

7 years
ago

 

Flight Test

The only thing worse than a baby on a plane is a sick baby on a plane, and that’s what we had. Hannah wailed and flailed and hacked like a septuagenarian on the first flight, basically all the way from Chicago to San Francisco. We thought maybe she had the croup, which involves a cough that sounds like a dog barking. Not a yippy dog, a Weimaraner or something; a big dog. A German shepherd. The thought of a 7,600-mile fight to Australia with a grumpy German shepherd seemed really stupid.

I tried to convince Sarah we should get a room in San Francisco for the night and start fresh in the morning. Was already thinking room service, maybe mozzarella sticks or Caesar salad, but then I got overruled…

7 years
ago

 

The Idea

The two of us were sitting in Pho Something or Other on Argyle Street when the idea popped into our heads. We’d been invited to Melbourne, Australia for Rhain’s wedding in a few months, and I wanted to go.

“Seems like an awful long way to go for just a wedding,” Sarah said.

“Come on. He’s my oldest friend.”

“Well, if we’re going all the way there, maybe we should turn it into a longer trip.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean you take your paternity leave and we blow it out.” She smiled. “If you could go anywhere in the world…”

7 years
ago

 

Coming Soon …

Push: one couple’s brave attempt to travel abroad for two months with a baby.

When my friends and family heard that I planned to spend my paternity leave traveling 10,000 miles with my wife and 11-month-old, some called me crazy. Some called me stupid. Others just stopped calling. But away we went—and now, you’re coming with us.

Catch up with Sarah, Hannah (aka the kid born on the floor), and me as the three of us fumble our way across…

Advertisement

7 years
ago

 

Epilogue

The hospital floor looked like a crime scene. The sheets and pillows were coated in red, brown, and pretty much every other color. Sarah’s sneakers, which she never took off, were soaked all the way through in blood, and so were my socks. Somewhere, someone has a picture of me holding up my bloody socks, grinning as though I’d landed a 40-pound steelhead trout.

“How about getting in the bed now?” Kim asked Sarah.

The group helped get Sarah onto the pristine white bed, which wasn’t pristine for long. It turns out that the last push, during the ring of fire, was a doozy, and Sarah ripped from one end to the other…

7 years
ago

 

Week 42: Deliverance

So there we were, in a sterile room somewhere near the corner of 59th and Maryland on the South Side of Chicago, my wife leaning against me on the floor. Per her request, I’m supporting her from under her arms, almost like a headlock. We’re surrounded by people, most of whom we don’t know. Our doc and nurse are on their knees in front of us, and my parents, whose flight leaves in two hours, are right behind them, taking pictures of my wife’s vagina.

Then it happened so fast. She started pushing. Huge, grunty pushes that turned her whole body into a steel pillar, thick and immovable. Every time she did, she screamed, and…

7 years
ago

 

Week 42: Water, Loo

The contractions were coming faster and faster on that floor, and every now and then Sarah would mumble something incomprehensible. “Please give me a minute here,” I heard her say at one point.

“Who are you talking to?” I asked.

“I’m making a deal with my body here,” she said. “Shut up.”

I did, no matter how much she pleaded with the contractions. Her natural response was to…

7 years
ago

 

Week 42: Floor Burns

While I sat in the hallway, locked away from the only person on earth I wanted to be with, my wife was apparently giving them hell in triage.

They took her blood pressure, which was fine, but when a resident came in ten minutes later and put the blood pressure cuff on, Sarah asked if it was necessary.

“Well, uh … ”

“Apparently not,” Sarah said, and ripped it off…

7 years
ago

 

Week 42: Fight the Power

Sarah hijacked this entry, which is fine with me. After all, it’s her uterus; maybe it should be her words, too.

At some point after Jeff turned off Napoleon Dynamite—which I never really wanted to watch—I went back to bed and fell asleep. When I woke up around 1 a.m., Jeff was snoring in our bed, his dad was snoring in the guest room, and his mom was snoring on the basement couch because she was sick and didn’t want to keep Jeff’s dad awake. I couldn’t go anywhere. I was still having these terrible constipation pains, so I took a bunch of magazines and pillows into the bathroom and put on some music…

7 years
ago

 

Week 41: Babies ’R Not Us

After waiting in our basement for two weeks, my parents leave tomorrow. They will miss the delivery, assuming it ever happens. This bums me out, and I know they’re frustrated that their whole visit was for naught, though they’re far too diplomatic to say so. It was never clear to me what exactly their role would be during the delivery, though my wife continues to maintain—even after spending 11 days with them—that she wanted them in the room when she delivered. I just don’t see it…

7 years
ago

 

Week 41: Plan 20 From Outer Space

Still nothing. Now we’re just pissed.

My parents leave in two days.

In our Bradley class, which seems like a distant memory now, Denyse encouraged us to write up a “birth plan.” I didn’t get the concept at the time, figuring the plan was: Give birth; go home. How could we possibly develop a plan for the most complex, unpredictable moment of our lives, when the experts should be calling the shots? It seemed ridiculous…

7 years
ago

 

Week 40: The Lion Does Not Sleep Tonight

Just got off the phone with Sarah. Very excited. Still no baby, but here’s a transcript of the call—which I pray no one overheard:

Me: Hello?
Sarah: You sitting down?
Me: Yeah. What’s up?
Sarah: I passed my mucus plug.
Me: (excited) Really? Your mucus plug? What did it feel like?
Sarah: I didn’t notice. I went to sit on the pot, and…

7 years
ago

 

Week 40: Cervix Industry

My parents have been living in the basement for a week now, and Sarah’s womb has been painfully quiet the whole time. Every time I go downstairs, Tom and Lois are sitting on the couch, eating peanuts and watching Law & Order. And every time Sarah goes down there, they jump up with excited anticipation, and when they realize she has come to simply put in a load of laundry, they sigh. Audibly. They don’t mean any harm—they just want to meet the baby, too—but their presence seems to have spooked Sarah’s cervix. The pressure is overwhelming. “I feel like every day I don’t produce a child, I’m letting everyone down,” Sarah said…

7 years
ago

 

Week 39: Department of No Labor

Every time my phone rings at work, I think, Here we go. I look at the calendar: This is the day. I look at my clothes: This is what I’m going to be wearing in all the pictures. Usually, it’s someone calling to ask my least favorite question: “Has the baby come yet?”

No, it hasn’t. Thanks for reminding me.

It’s easy to forget that Sarah’s due date was an estimate—not an appointment. In most cases, post-term pregnancies aren’t really “late”; they stem from miscalculations of the time of conception…