My son, Jeremy, is a New Year’s baby. From the moment I was given Jeremy’s due date – January 10, 1989 – I was admonished by my sister the nurse practitioner to make sure not to go into labor during the holiday season.
Whatever you do, don’t give birth on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day; that’s the worst time to have a baby – the hospital staff who are working either don’t want to be there, are getting drunk or are hung over.
We are living in Paris at the time, and we are invited to a New Year’s Eve party being thrown by other expats in their loft in the 6ieme arrondissement. We don’t own a car, so we take the metro. Obviously, I don’t drink any alcohol at this point, but I still try to dance as much as my 8.5 months pregnant belly will allow me to. You can stop me from drinking, but not from dancing!
Just after midnight and after ringing in the new year, we decide to head home, about 2 miles away in the 12th arrondissement. The metro and the bus have stopped running for the night, and there are no taxis to be had, this being New Year’s Eve. We start walking in the general direction of our apartment, still hopeful of catching a cab after it has dropped off a client. After about a mile, we are walking in front of the hospital where Jeremy is supposed to be born in ten days. There is a park bench and I sit down.
Let’s stop here; I’m too tired to walk and it’s conveniently located in case the baby decides to come early!
Little did I know… Another half hour goes by, still no taxi , so we walk all the way home. We are in bed by 3:00 am. A few hours later I feel what I presume to be the start of labor pains. I call the hospital and describe what I am feeling, and they tell me to come in to the hospital NOW. I wake Daniel up.
We have to go, we are having a baby! I need to get to the hospital!
I make him a cup of expresso, two shots, because he is not a morning person. I take a shower. A woman wants to feel clean and look nice when giving birth (an oxymoron, I know).
When I get out of the shower, Daniel is not getting ready – he is putzing around – putting away clean dishes, straightening the silverware drawer, emptying the garbage, all at a leisurely pace. I am not feeling calm, I yell:
What are you doing??? We have to go to the hospital!
Yeah yeah, relax, The baby is not due for another ten days! Calm down!
We go downstairs to the street to get a taxi. We realize we may have a problem getting one as it is early New Year’s day, about 7:00 am, and because according to movies we have seen, taxi drivers do not want to pick up pregnant ladies about to give birth. They don’t want their cabs messed up. We spy a cab and Daniel flags him down and I hide my discomfort and we tell the cab driver we are going to the hospital to visit a sick aunt. He takes us to the hospital.
Meanwhile, all I can think of is what my sister told me:
Whatever you do don’t have a baby on the New year’s Eve or New Year’s Day!
Sigh. Some things you can’t control. When we get to the hospital, the nurse checks my vital signs and how much I’ve dilated, and she says
Yup, it’s happening today; I’ll tell the midwife you are ready!
Daniel drops the bag he was carrying – the bag that you are told to have packed two weeks before you are due to go to the hospital – and he exclaims,
Oh no, I can’t believe it; I thought this was a dress rehearsal, I was just humoring you!
I could have killed him on the spot if I hadn’t been in so much pain.
Needless to say, Jeremy was born that day despite it not being a good day to be giving birth in hospitals. Everything went well. It was a wonderful start to a New Year, for which I am forever grateful.