Her due date came and went. And then another due date, because the first one was incorrect. Still, we waited. Each day contractions grew stronger and more regular, eventually dying down to save for another day. For several days I kept our hospital bag stocked each night with toiletries and last minute essentials, like a flat iron. Because everyone needs to have nice bangs in a hospital.
July 31st began a nightly ritual of putting the girls to bed and planting ourselves in front of the TV, a pile of laundry at our side in order to put hands to use. I’d notice contractions building, taking on wave-like rhythms as we watched teenage girls fly through the air and win neck-worn gold medallions. Michael Phelps made history and I mentally timed contractions. Mom and I laughed at commentary and said good night each night, well past our bedtime. Come morning time, contractions were gone.
Mom predicted a full moon baby. August 2 was the scheduled full moon, and since every other predicted date had already passed, I was hoping Melia would fall into the myth-busting statistics of babies born on a full moon.
JD, having the week off already, suggested we head to the zoo, an hour away in Portland. Mom and I said yes. Just in case, JD loaded our hospital bags into the back of the van. I sipped on a latte in the front seat and wondered if this was one of the dumber decisions we’ve ever made.
The zoo was everything it should be. Animals active, warm air – not stifling, girls happy, and LOTS of trails. My mother and my husband insist every animal must be seen. Without them, I would have missed the warthogs. I personally am a fan of skimming the zoo. I think El is of this disposition as well, but we are in the minority. I wanted to stroll on through the whole “monkey (but we’re not really monkeys)” section, because A) they’re cool, but they were all doing the same thing and B) my back hurt, my pelvis was most assuredly going to break, and the cramping would have made a menstruating high school girl leave school early, no matter how many Midol she took.
By the time we reached the outdoor grassy amphitheater, I was done. JD suggested I sit under a tree while he and the girls stroll through the remaining half of the zoo. Mom joined me. A number of people were enjoying the grass around us. A pair of moms and their babies were to our right, a couple snoozing under a tree were to our left. In front of us was a family of picnickers. I was eying their elephant ears (in case you’re unfamiliar with elephant ears, think giant flat churro), purchased at the stand behind us. The line was much too long and my body way too sore to justify an elephant ear in that moment, and so I cozied into cold, soft ground and fell asleep.
Fifteen minutes or so went by, and I woke up to a very strong contraction and my phone ringing. It was JD. All I could think was, “That was a strong contraction,” and, “I really want an elephant ear.”
Stay tuned for the rest of the story.