You always hear about babies being born, or conceived, in the back seat of cars. I believe Tom Waits was both. Babu’s first kick came in the rear of a rental car in a driveway in Warren, Ohio.
It was the night before Brad and Anne-Marie’s wedding and we were locked out of Anne-Marie’s dad’s house, trying desperately to reach him on the cell phone so Anne-Marie could get inside and go to bed, it being the night before her wedding and all. I was equally interested in finding him, because I’d had too much to drink and needed to use his bathroom.
We had just come from their rehearsal dinner, a joyous, rain-soaked pig roast on a farm outside of town. Anne-Marie was cursing into her cell phone; Brad was trying to figure out the car’s navigational system; and I, who had nine glasses of cabernet pushing against his bladder, was holding my crotch like a third-grader. That was when Sarah suddenly jolted up, the seat’s new leather grunting its displeasure. She looked at me, eyes wild. “It just kicked.”
Brad and Anne-Marie turned around and watched me put my hand just below Sarah’s belly button, on the spot to which her rock-hard uterus had risen in the past week. I couldn’t feel anything. “What did it feel like?”
“Like a pressure. Like something was bumping.”
“So how do you know it was Babu?”
“Are you suggesting it was someone else?”
I continued to move my hand around, in search of anything. “I think it’s done kicking,” I said.
Anne-Marie and Brad lost interest and went back to their tasks at hand. As for me, I was bummed. Another milestone, and I missed it.
I ended up peeing in a bush.
* * *
Everyone knows that pregnant women are not supposed to sleep on their backs. But why? According to the books, when she sleeps on her back, the fetus’s weight puts pressure on a large blood vessel called the vena cava, keeping the vein from carrying blood back to the woman’s heart and legs—to say nothing of her lungs and brain. Worse case scenario: the fetus freaks out, its bowels open up, and meconium (its first feces) pours out. It proceeds to inhale the meconium. This can lead to various unpleasant possibilities beyond the fact that it’s gross.
Didn’t give it much thought, really. In the five years I’ve known Sarah, she hasn’t slept on her back once.
We were staying at the Comfort Inn in downtown Warren. (Which, we were told later, was the site of a recent grisly murder. Hey, as long as the continental breakfast is free.) We had the room at the end of the hall next to the ice machine, which was one of those big old-fashioned ones with the long plastic chute that sounded like a two hippos playing hockey on a hardwood. Every time someone paid the ice fairy a visit, it was like a scene from Titanic. Deafening noise. I began to suspect the murder had taken place at the ice machine.
So I was watching TV with the volume way up, Sarah asleep next to me. She looked comfortable, but something didn’t seem right. After a minute, I figured it out: She was on her back.
“Sarah.” I shook her shoulder. “Wake up.”
She jumped. “What happened?”
“What are you doing?”
“On your back?”
She just stared at me.
“You’re not supposed to,” I mumbled. “Your vein . . .
“That big blood vessel . . . your vena cava.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Just roll over.”
She rolled over, and proceeded to sleep in silence for eight hours. I woke up every 15 minutes all night, whenever someone used the ice machine.