Monday, October 26, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #71 – I see security guards and vampires in my future

Not yet!!!
As we pulled into the parking lot at Hadassa Ein Kerem Hospital, Bob yelled frantically at the parking lot attendant, “The Baby! The Baby!” as he pointed at my protruding belly. I guess it was a test run on all fronts. We got as close to the main entrance as a car can get and at that point he let me out and then went to park (we’d heard the parking lot was two miles away – he needed to investigate). So I stepped up onto the sidewalk and entered an outdoor security hut. I got in line, and when it was my turn, showed them my bag, went through the metal detector and only then found myself inside the courtyard of 3 or 4 hospital towers. No one had asked if I was in active labor or if I needed to cut the line. I guess they see pregnant ladies all the time. Maybe they scream, “The Baby! The Baby!” if it’s really getting close.

Slowly and carefully I checked out the Hebrew writing on each building and then my eyes fell on the Mother and Child Building (this one was in English) and so I waddled in and looked around for where to register. I found the admission window and asked a man there if he spoke English (“yes”) and where I could register. He nodded and in a deep voice told me “It is here.”

It is here? Where am I? What is “it”?
I sat down and began answering his questions which seemed pretty normal at first. Name, address, teudat zehut number, which kupat cholim do I belong to? Then he asked if my husband is Robert. Yes. And who is your father-in-law? Huh? I suspected he knew the answer and was quizzing me. Asher. He nodded. What’s his birthday? Confused I asked, “Asher’s or Robert’s?” He laughed and said Robert. I gave the date and he nodded… but I didn’t see him write it down. It reminded me of the mandatory awkward exchange with the customs lady perched behind her tall desk at Ben Gurion airport. Where she asks you questions to which she mysteriously seems to have the answers.

The envelope please…
In any case, we finished up in just a few minutes. He handed me an envelope, which he said I must bring to the birth, and sent me on my way. I called Bob who’d just found a parking spot and told him to come back and get me. I can see now, between security, parking, and fumbling through my bag looking for “the envelope”, I will be giving birth alone. Hopefully inside the hospital and not in the courtyard. I peeked in the envelope and there were 3 sheets of paper. One with, presumably, all my information (in Hebrew) and 2 more which were actually pages of mini barcode stickers – the kind they put on vials of blood. Evidently they want to be prepared to take some 60 vials of my blood when I come to deliver.

I said “Not yet!”
As we made our way to Tel Aviv last night for the wedding, laughing about the day’s events - including breakfast at Wolfson Towers (Israel's answer to Leisure World), a trip to the doctor (more giggles over the 3D sonogram), and a makeshift birthday party for Asher (complete with sprinkle cake) - I started contracting – or doing something that was giving me jolts of pain in response to which there were excited utterances of “ouch!” Bob asked if we should to continue to the wedding or head back to Jerusalem. We were already in Tel Aviv. I wondered aloud if anyone in our family was a doctor. I wondered if a Tel Aviv hospital would honor my bar code stickers for vials of blood. Bob repeated his question. “Should I turn around? We’re an hour away!” I looked at the cityscape and wondered which of those tall, lit up, buildings was a hospital. And then I remembered how smushed the baby looked on the sonogram earlier in the day. I figured something about the way I was sitting in the car was just causing too much smushiness and that all I needed was to get up and walk around. Also, after all this musing about giving birth to my Sabra in Ihr HaKodesh (Jerusalem) I was determined not to give birth in Tel Aviv.

We arrived and made our way to the wedding, in the Harbor, right on the beach. I followed in a woman wearing blue jeans and gained some confidence about my choice of clothing. The outdoor pre-wedding reception was in full swing. As expected, my false labor stopped. The chuppah went off in the midst of the outdoor celebration for a standing audience under the stars and with a background swish of the sea. It was a lovely night and the only drama was as scheduled. A wedding, not a birth.

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