After moving to the Ottawa Valley with our first child, I became the patient of a very feminist Doctor who was childless, although she did have tropical fish and a parrot.
I was an enigma to her as she was to me. The waiting room was filled with well off, professional women needing gynecological care and women in their late thirties or early forties pregnant with their first child. Then, I would walk through the door, at first pregnant with a toddler on my hip and by my last visit with three or four other children clustered around me. Even though I switched doctors to combine a family doctor/obstetrician, this woman went beyond the call of duty for all four births.
After one visit, my obstetrician said, in a teasing tone, “Would you quit bringing your beautiful children to my office. Someone always wants a reversal (from tubal ligation) after you leave.”
A similar comment about our kids came from a priest who said, “You and Michael are nice looking but you make absolutely beautiful babies!”
Pregnant with my fourth child, I came for a scheduled appointment even though labour had begun. I preferred to see her right away rather than wait for her at the hospital because I wanted to go home after visiting her office and put everything in order and arrange childcare.
Apparently babies are born faster, after a few pregnacies. I was not expecting my doctor’s reaction, “This baby is coming soon. You don’t have time to travel all the way home. Use the phone in the office, get a hold of your husband and get someone to meet him with the kids in the hospital parking lot and you go straight to admitting ahead of him.”
I walked into the waiting room, called my brother-in-law and explained the situation, laughing at my self as I apologised to him. A contraction hit, I breathed through the pain and then gathered all the kids together and left her office for the hospital.
An hour later she bustled into the delivery room and announced, “Well you sure impressed my entire waiting room! Everyone thinks you are super woman.”
Two hours later, standing with assistance and enduring long contractions that were turning my baby completely around, I was anything but super woman. I wailed , “I thought you said this delivery was going to be fast!”
It didn’t help that seven or eight student nurses, obstetrical residents and medical students stood in a half circle around me, watching a woman give birth without drugs or an epidural, to her fourth child. (I was not trying to be super mom, natural birth was better for delivery because I could work with my body and therefore prevented tearing and stitches. I could sit cross-legged on the bed right after and feel wonderful and much lighter
My fifth birth was even faster. On Christmas Eve we gave the kids baths in the afternoon, a tortiere was baking in the oven almost ready for an early dinner and I had just laid out dresses, white tights, ribbons for the girls and outfits for the boys to wear to church when the contractions started coming hard and fast. In fact I barely could get my boots on. Michael drove very quickly to the hospital. When I stepped into admitting, the lights were dim, Christmas lights were shining on the tree and strung along the walls and two relaxed nurses were leaning against the counter.
“So “, one of the nurses calmly asked, “Is this your first?”
“ No”, I gasped, “My fifth.”
“Your Fifth?”, her head jerked up and her eyes popped open. “Sandra, get the elevator right now and then grab a wheelchair. I’ll phone obstetrics so they can get ready for her!!!”
Michael followed the parade carrying David who refused to stay with our baffled neighbour; Dad assumed he had time to take him back home.
The obstetrical nurse told him, You aren’t going anywhere if you want to see this baby’s birth. Give him to the desk clerk and tell her to give him crackers.” By the way, David thoroughly enjoyed his adoring fans out at the nurses’ station. My dress was literally yanked over my head, my tights whipped off, the doctor ran in to the delivery room and Emily was born 45 minutes later.
And my slightly baffled doctor STILL showed up within 20 minutes on Christmas Eve!!