Someone Called a Cab?
Being carless in Jersey City wasn’t that big of a deal most of the time. The entire time I was there, I either lived on a well-trafficked street which the buses and jitneys traversed (Palisade Avenue) or just a block away from a major street (Kennedy Boulevard).
I think back and laugh out loud, now, at the memory of our first night in Jersey City. I moved in July 1992, and Tony drove out with me from Phoenix, staying one night before he turned around and flew back. (He moved out to Jersey about a year later.) Rather than stay with my sister that night, we got a motel. We hadn’t yet moved up to hotels – and knowing nothing about the area, we went where we saw the signs, to Tonnelle Avenue. Imagine Tony’s surprise when he went in to get a room at one of these local establishments and the clerk asked, in response, “You want it for the whole night?” Yeah, we were in red-light district, flophouse squalor.
Interestingly enough, a couple years later, when I moved out of the apartment I’d shared with Tony and Mike, I wound up just two blocks away – up the literal hill – from those same by-the-hour joints. My street, Liberty Avenue, was right in between Tonnelle and Kennedy. That was where I was living when Eric was born; the whole timeline seemed like coming full circle.
So we could usually catch public transportation either at our front door, or just a block away. Unless it was super cold, snowing, sleeting, or the middle of the night. Those times, you had to call a cab – Uber was not even a gleam in Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp’s eyes. And sometimes the cab actually showed up. To be safe, like in the event you really needed to get somewhere on time, you usually called two different cab companies – slightly increasing your odds of one of them actually arriving to get you to your destination.
These were the things I was thinking about on the cold, snowy, sleety February days before the baby came. How would we get to the hospital? If we had to take a cab, would it actually arrive within the hour after we called it?
Eric was due on Monday, February 20. The day came … and went. No contractions. Just the feeling of my belly being swollen beyond where its skin could stretch – and having to sleep in a reclining position, as there was no other way to be comfortable. At my checkup that week, the doctor decided that if the baby didn’t come on his own, we’d induce the morning of Friday, February 24.
I’ve often wondered if there are any statistics about babies whose moms have made adoption plans being overdue. Would make sense that the mom wants to hang onto that kid for as long as possible – even if it’s just one extra day or two. And, perhaps, the kid wants to hang onto her, too. As it turned out, my son didn’t want anyone to tell him when he would make his entry. I went into labor that Thursday evening, so there was no need to induce.
You know how in every single movie or TV show they make such a big deal about the pregnant woman’s water breaking? I do not remember my water breaking. I’m sure it did – but there was no dramatic puddle on the floor. The contractions just began, became more insistent, and got closer together – so we called the doctor’s service and they said it was time to get to the hospital. The transportation gods were with us that night, the cab showing up within 10 minutes of our calling it.
Labor was longish – 13 or 14 hours, if I remember correctly. Again, Kathy probably has all of this much better recorded than I do. I mentioned in a previous post that the epidural didn’t really work, more than likely because of my scoliosis. So the labor was painful – plenty painful – I shrieked and wailed between every push, the nurses doing their best to calm me down to conserve my energy. But then he came – and he was beautiful. Tony was in the room – and he was a champ. He stayed with me, tended to me, made sure we were both OK.
I’d been in the room when my niece was born, three-and-a-half years earlier. Samantha was just hours old, my sister still in immense pain and slow moving when she needed to get up to go to the bathroom. Her husband was there, and she asked him to help her. He took his time getting out of his chair, and then on his way to the bed dropped the coins he was holding in his hand on the floor. As I write this, it occurs to me for the first time that he might actually have dropped them on purpose. So he stopped, picked up them up one at a time, and eventually made his way to Corina’s side – by which time she’d pretty much gotten to the toilet on her own. As much of a dick as Tony was at times, he never behaved that way in the hospital.
Some birthmoms choose to have one of the adoptive parents in the delivery room. It feels a bit selfish now, but I couldn’t do that. We needed something that was just ours, so we asked Kathy and Bruce to wait to come to the hospital until we called them. They arrived maybe four hours after Eric was born. The sight of Kathy picking him up and so expertly holding him warmed my heart and crushed me at the same time. That was the reason I’d chosen these people, this couple, to be his parents. They’d already been through it – they were good at parenting and I trusted them not to make the mistakes new parents would make. It would be a new experience for them, though, because this was a boy. They’d had girls first, so there would still be a learning curve. But the feeding and washing and tending and caregiving would be the same – and I knew they’d do a fine job.