Controlling the Arrival
The doctor says my sister-in-law Gloriosa’s due date is April Fool’s Day. She says it can’t be.
“Can you imagine what kind of presents we would get at every birthday party? We’d be up to our necks in whoopee cushions,” she says.
So she told the doctor to induce her early.
He says “bad day for birthday party” is not a medically valid reason to induce childbirth.
Okay, Gloriosa says, she’ll hold off until April 2.
Now, if anybody can do that, Gloriosa can. She is a force of nature. Of course, getting pregnant was an accident, but that was because she and her husband Proteus were woke at 3 a.m. back in August, when both their (and the entire city’s) cell phones went “BLEEPBLEEPBLEEPBLEEP” like the end of the world was here. She panicked and dropped her guard, and a few other things, I guess. Later on, we all found out it was a notice from Mayor Landrieu that a water pump wasn’t working. Too late.
But she got back on track right away. She decided to gain exactly eight pounds. And after the baby is born, she will lose exactly eight pounds. The baby — the test says it’s a boy— will smile and coo and not throw up on company. He will have blonde curls, and he will sleep through the night. Gloriosa’s stomach will be flat; her meals will be healthy, and her mother-in-law will keep her distance.
Of course, April Fool’s Day was on Easter this year. We Gunches got together at my mother-in-law Ms. Larda’s, and smirked while we exchanged Easter baskets.
Anybody who decapitates a hollow chocolate rabbit and stuffs it with broccoli and then melts the head back on and ties a bow around the neck — well, I would have thought that person was sick, if I hadn’t done it myself. To pay back my grandchildren for the Harry Potter earwax-flavored jelly beans I knew they was going to give me.
But afterward, we have a nice dinner, with no funny business. Gunches are very serious about their meals.
Later, we are sitting around digesting Ms. Larda’s cooking and sifting through our baskets in case something decent is in there. I am sucking chocolate off the chocolate-covered cotton balls my son thought was so funny, and wondering what time the real Easter candy at Wal-Mart will go to half price.
Gloriosa lowers herself into Ms. Larda’s rocker-glider, which unfortunately my grandson has rigged with a air horn. It goes BWAAHHHP; we all screech; Ms. Larda drops her ice tea, which lands on her chihuahua, Chopsley, who yelps and zips through a bunch of Easter baskets to get under the coffee table and shake. In the bedlam, I notice Gloriosa is clutching her stomach.
She says, “I am NOT in labor.”
Proteus says, “Let’s run by the hospital just in ca…”
Ms. Larda says, “We’ll all go.” So 15 Gunches pull up to the emergency room at Ochsner-Baptist, troop upstairs, and elbow into the birthing center. A nurse looks around at this mob and politely says, “Everybody out except the daddy.”
Gloriosa grabs my arm. “You stay!” What? I ain’t no medusa or whatever you call them ladies who coach you through having babies. I shake my head no, but the nurse says okay.
Later, when Proteus goes to the restroom, Gloriosa says, “I need you. He has a tendency to faint.” I am thinking about fainting myself. But she says, “Relax. I will not have this baby until after midnight.”
She means it.
It is 11:05 p.m. by the digital bedside clock, and everybody is chanting “Pushpushpushpush!” but Gloriosa is holding back. I know I got to move that clock forward one hour. I reach over and press a button and WHOOPWHOOPWHOOP the alarm goes off. Gloriosa forgets and pushes. And whoosh, we have us a baby. And it’s a girl, with spiky red hair.
Come to find out those prenatal gender tests are accurate 99.4 percent of the time. But that drops to 50 percent if your husband picks up the wrong test at the doctor’s office.