Friday, September 02, 2016

Peace Out
I got the call from Tina at 8:00 AM on Wedensday. She muttered softly something about not being sure she should wait until her 2:30 PM check up appointment with the doctor. I had to ask her to speak up and repeat a few times and then she told me that her water had broken. When?? The night before at 11:00 PM! So cue to me and F jumping into the car and racing off to Montecatini to bring her to the emergency room. Job was not there. She had convinced him to go to Lucca as he normally does. She took her time getting into the car, where she told us she was having contractions that were two minutes apart. She seemed calm and only lightly uncomfortable. I thought it would be quick and easy. We had no problems moving right through the emergency room where the triage lady was horrified how much time had passed since her water had broken. We went up to obstetrics and everything was going according to plan. Even the first nurse on duty, Marta, was sweet and kind. She earned her bribery cookies, as I like to call them, no problem. F left us to go pick up Job and Tina's hospital bag.

Chiara, the second nurse on shift was also nice. It was weird. The contractions were now slower. Seven minutes a part. F went home at 3:00 PM to pick up T who wanted to be with us when the birth happened. Every five minutes or so Tina would have a quiet contraction where she moaned at a polite decibel level. She was given antibiotics and a heart monitor every few hours. The original white haired doctor grabbed Tina and I when we saw him and hugged us in his arms while he escorted us down the corridor, telling the other ladies waiting their turn in the plastic seats, "oh these ladies are so ugly, I should throw them away! What to do, what to do!" But it was clear his intent ws the opposite. Tina, at least, is a striking beauty. He was in a great mood. I let him kiss me on the cheek. I thought, if the Italian cross between Archie Bunker and Roger Ailes wants to cop a feel, it is fine today. The important thing is that he delivers Tina's baby and is on our side. But really, under his gruff exterior, he is a less racist, sweet candy center. 

By 10 PM at night, we were pretty sure that T was going to be right when she predicted the baby would be born on September first. At around 11 PM T and F had cooked up a plan by which they would sleep in our car in the parking lot because it turned out that they were throwing out visitors and only I could stay because I was officially in the chart as an interpreter, which was key. I thought I would sleep in the fathers' lounge where the fake leather seats are softer and plusher, and I might be able to recline. I convinced T and F that they had to go back to their own beds to sleep by midnight or so. Tina was still having contractions, but now they were more like seven minutes apart. We were going in the wrong direction. She was truly exhausted.

corridor stroll

The night nurse was not so nice. I called her RBV, for Resting Bitch Voice. It is like resting bitch face, but the tone doesn't change. She had two bitchy colleagues who wore pink who, in my head, I called We Wear Pink on Wednesdays (from Mean Girls). It turned out that the fathers' lounge was designed by a cruel maniac so that the arm rests were just high enough so that you could not lie on either your back, front, or side. It was too short to stretch out even my short legs. I tried rearranging the furniture to add in chairs, but I would fall off or hit my head every time. I gave up. Also there is a ceiling high cabinet in that room filled with machinery and wiring that lights up and makes very loud whirring noises that become unbareable after a while. I was having fantasies about the dentist type, reclining chair in the exam room and an orthopedic pillow.


When at 2 AM I checked on Tina she was lying next to Job who had scored a dentist's reclining chair and an orthopedic pillow. I would have been happy for him, but when Tina would moan ever louder and more insistently in a Nigerian verse ayeoh ayeoh ayeoh, abuh abuh abuh, now I finish wit dis shit, etc. etc., he had taken to mimicking her cruely. I was considering doing bad things to him, but then I reasoned with my last bit of strength, that he was frightened and maybe the teasing made Tina feel less afraid, too. He took my place in the lounge a few times, where he actually managed to sleep somehow on a pillow he made out of his overnight bag, hanging his legs over the arm rests. I had to come wake him every so often when Tina called out for him. It went on and on. 

Tina was sharing a room with the cutest family ever. The father was not happy to see us. No one would be happy to share their tiny room. But I tried to curry favor with him by giving cookies to his adorable sons. They were about eight years old and delighted in pushing the wheeled plastic crib containing their new baby sister, lovingly down the hallways. The mother was truly a pro and she was so kind to Tina and generous with her words and the rare and little sleep that we stole from her turning on lights, using her bathroom, moaning, and tripping on things and cursing. That last one was all me. At one point she asked me to hold her baby, but then Tina started a new contraction and the water from the shower had leaked all over the room which made the cleaning lady hate me with a rage previously unknown to man. 

proud new big brothers

The bathroom situation was grim all night because the public bathroom toilet on the corridor had a broken flusher. I didn't want to wake Tina's roommate so I tried not to use her bathroom for most of the night. I found a staff bathroom, but I didn't want to get caught in there and RBV wouldn't give me permission to use it. She did share with me the jewel of information that since the ward doors locked behind us, I could open them in the opposite order so the left one overlapped with the right one and would remain open a crack. This allowed me to sneek out into the other part of the hospital where I faced my fears of being trapped in a bathroom stall, germs, and being in a horror film taking place in a deserted hospital after midnight. I promise that if a one eyed clown had jumped out at me behind one of the bathroom doors just to make me face that fear, too, I would not have been all that surprised or less horrified. 

fathers' lounge
alone in the hospital at night


To be fair there is hardly a drain in the bathroom and no shower curtain. The nurses told me to undress Tina and put warm water on her belly and back to help the baby come out. But when she would have contractions, I would worry she would crack her head or fall to the floor. It never happened but of course lots of other bodily functions happened that has changed the nature of Tina and my intimacy level for all time. So much peeing etc. I finally just peed in front of her to even the score. It was epic. The contractions became Tina hitting herself in the head, grabbing any metal poles around the bed room, nailed down or not, and pulling on loud howls about the injustice in the world in soul wrenching gutteral sounds. Anyway, the bathroom flooded despite the sheets that I used to try and prevent it. They have only sheets and no towels at this hospital, which is a damned shame. Anyway, that whole ordeal happened not once, but twice. The second time the flooding was more extensive and after the cleaning lady yelled at me, Tina started to vomit her contraband African food just everywhere and the lady had to catch it, so we are more than even. That was after all Tina had had for breakfast was some hot tea with lemon. The food is so bad at the hospital that I think they might have even screwed up plain tea.

more waiting

At 6 AM I warned F that decisions would be made by the doctor on call after 7 AM. Around this time, the contractions stopped. Eventually they came back, but they were every ten minutes or so.  Also I was starving and nauseous and my eyes were going wonky. They showed up after 8 AM and nothing had changed. We heard Tina would be seen by a doctor at noon time. At about that time they abruptly transferred her to the delivery room. I had to forewarn Job that a cesarean section was a possibilty, but I told him not to tell Tina as of yet. He became the sweetest most attentive husband you could ever imagine and I saw that his earlier behavior had been an act to lessen the drama of the scene for Tina and himself. They both started crying and she called her pastor and I worried he had not kept his promise to me, but I believe he did. F and T fought valiantly to come with us, but they were not allowed in.

In the delivery room we had a very nice nurse that I call Sally, in my mind, because she had those blond curls like the Peanuts cartoon character. She told me that they would try to avoid having to operate and she seemed to feel confident that they would give Tina pitocin. When Sally's replacement nurse Angelina came on, she looked mad that I was disappointed Sally was leaving. It took a lot of work to win her over. She was very insistent about how I translated her instructions from Italian, but her English was bad enough that I had some wiggle room. I am not big on the advice to tell woman to act like they are pooping when they have to push and I prefer the pull in the belly button method. I was happy that Angelina was a realy fighter and very football coach about getting Tina to push. Anyway, a lot of poop did actually happen. A lot. And one doctor said maybe she needs to not think that pushing is like getting an enema. There were two main doctors now who had a superhero villian look to them ala Suicide Squad. He wore all green and she all white and they had sharp bony faces and bodies. They seemed to hate my voice. The more Angelina screamed in Italian, the more I screamed deliriously in English. A room full of doctors and nurses came in. It had not gone well in the room next to ours and they had to move to an emergency operation. They were all disappointed and out of energy. Now it was our turn. I felt I was being heckled by a room of Italian obstetricians who had paid to see an Italian stand up show and ended up with and Amy Schumer impersonator, and drunk at that. They tried to throw me out of the room, but I argued my case and the head doctor said I could stay.

Everytime the contraction was over and the pushing did not work, the energy in the room got more grim. Finally they all left one by one, shaking their heads. Only Angelina kept trying to get Tina to push. I'll love her for that forever. I had to break the news to Job and TIna.  They wouldn't let me or Job into the operating room. Job wouldn't hold my hand, but I held his arm tight. I tried to comfort him. When we walked out past an extended and extensive Italian family who was waiting for news of a new edition for their ranks from the operating room, they saw our faces and became afraid. F talked to Job man to man and I went back to explain to the family that no one died and that he was only upset because of the shock of the operation news. They lit up with smiles and came to tell him how wonderful this operation is and how beautiful the babies come out. They gave us all their homemade focaccia from enormous trays and made Job drink, pouring him cups of water. They basically hugged us and reassured us, and it really made me feel good about humanity. God bless them. 

Job was called back in twenty minutes later. He dragged me in, but Angelina threw me out. I was too dazed to notice, but the jolly gray haired nurse admonished her and apologized for her and brought me back in five minutes after. In fact I was the first to see baby Peace. Just gorgeous like her mother. Anglina grimaced at me and said something like Now are you happy? She is fabulous, I mean that sincerely. F and T got thrown out trying to come in three more times, but Angelina agreed to let T bring her some cookies and accidentally totally get to see the baby. I love that Anglina; I really do. Gruff little football coach. Job was told to take off his shirt and give the baby skin to skin contact. He would not hold her tight enough because he wanted just to see all of her and play with her hands so they took her into an incubator, but he was so very giddy and happy. He called all the men and boasted and crowed over his cell phone. Later when F took him home to pick up supplies, all the guys were there and they had a talcum powder fight covering F and Job with joyous puffs of celebration. It made them look like they had partied with clouds. 


Tina was wheeled out and was in shock and delirioius from the local anesthesia, among other things. She did not come back to us until they laid baby Peace on her chest and she saw that everything was all alright. Finally, I saw her eyes change. I saw her become a mother. 

Peace out, Brooklyn!

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