A recent post by Kristen over at Motherese, in which she mentioned the breaking of water, brought a vivid memory spilling back into the cove of working memory…

“There’s water everywhere!” Andy breathlessly shouts into the pay-phone. I’m standing on Pico Boulevard with my finger in one ear, having pulled over after getting a 911 page from my home number.  She’s nine months pregnant and this is it.  This is also 1996 and cell-phones, if you can afford one (and I cannot) are the size of air-conditioners.  “I’ll be right there,” I hollered over the roar of traffic and jumped into my baby-blue Honda Civic, racing through traffic to Sherbourne Drive with images of Dick Van-Dyke rushing pregnant Laura to the hospital like some Clockwork Orange montage in my squirming toad-brain.

“Oh god, oh god, oh god… here it comes.  The baby’s coming.  Are we going to be delivering it on the wood floor because I couldn’t get there fast enough?  Is she going to perish in labor?  How am I going to afford this?  Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” all the way home.

I screech to a halt, race up to our duplex, burst through the door and see a good inch of water covering the bathroom floor and puddling out into the hallway.  “Oh my god,” is all I can say, aghast at the sheer amount of water.

“I managed to shut it off,” Andy says, breathless, as I glance from her belly to the water to her face… confused in my adrenaline-charged readiness to Rob Petrie her to the hospital.  Slowly I come to realize that a hose beneath the sink has burst, and that the water that is everywhere is LA’s finest and not Andy’s.

And while it would be a couple of weeks past her due date, after the salad at Coyote failed to do the magic, and after the chili cook-off at St. Michaels finally sounded the ultimate uterine alarm, before the actual baby would arrive, I always remember that moment as a crystalline emblem of male naiveté and nervous ignorance.  I didn’t know a damn thing about birthing babies and I still don’t—only the confabulated images of film and TV, about boiling water and getting lots of clean sheets and ominous tongs and leaping into pajamas and hats on a winter’s night and cigars and storks and euphemisms.

So, although I’ve noticed that many women (due to unresolved trauma I suspect) tell their birth horror stories to pregnant women, my hope is that today’s boneheaded recollection might serve as a smile of connection to all the men and women who care to join me in confessing some sort of ongoing cluelessness, ever learning more and more about what we as yet do not know as we add a tiny little bit here and there to what we do.

So here’s to our own kind of summer of love, one where we may take the waters and yet know better than to break the waves.

Namaste, BD


8 Responses to “Water”

  1. Mark Brady Says:

    The real scare for me, Bruce, was when my daughter came rolling out looking a LOT like Morey Amsterdam!

  2. Andy Says:

    What I remember most from that episode, is the plumber that I reached by phone. As panicked as I was, she, in her strong Staten Island accent, told me to take a few deep breaths, get a strong wrench, and yank the valve to the side. Then she told me that birthing a baby was easier than fixing a toilet and that everything would be fine. It was so nice to hear such a strong, calm voice, from a stranger, no less.

  3. Pamela Says:

    This made me laugh! What a fabulous story!! I loved all the details and was swept back (pardon the pun) to 1996.

    My own son was born after a bowl of chili so smiled at that as well. I am very lucky that my own sons’ births were peaceful and (relatively) easy. It’s too bad that there is such terror hovering over the event, which is quite marvelous.

    Love to you both and to your lucky, lucky kids!

  4. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Oh – delightful! And what we all owe to those confabulated images on tv! (Thanks for the Rob & Laurie Petrie memories, besides. And my own birthing stories? Better left untold… )


  5. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    I love it. How cute were you?

  6. Wolf Pascoe Says:

    Wonderful, wonderful. I love the image of humanity, so earnest, so ready to do right, so clueless. As I recall, after the birth Rob and Laura took home the wrong baby from the hospital. I trust you and Andy were spared that embarrassment!

  7. Laurie Says:

    Wonderful and honest. Amazing how the hamster wheel inside the brain can spin. Reminded me of my wonderful Chicken Diablo the night before my son finally came to greet us! We all love spicy food to this day. Thanks again Bruce and happy father’s day!

  8. Laura Says:

    Interesting how you intertwined what would have been a novel experience with the tv show that helped prepare you for the experience. Funny and illuminating.

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