always told Papa that having a baby was like squeezing
the Trix Rabbit down a twisty straw, like slam dunking
a basketball through a napkin ring, like a man trying
to pass Uncle Hardy's prize zucchinis. I
laughed, but Papa always grouched up his face and
snorted, "I don't see what's
the big to do." Papa hated Uncle Hardy's
bragging about his prize zucchinis even more than
he hated Uncle Hardy. I thought Mamma's lines
were funny until Roger got me pregnant.
that I didn't want to have a baby--Roger
and me tried every position we could think of.
Cousin Joline gave me a book with pictures that
all but guaranteed a boy or a girl, according
to which way we chose to do it. We didn't
really believe that, but we had fun trying them
all anyways. In fact, we were having so much fun
that I just about forgot I was trying to get pregnant.
But after I saw that pink line on the Do It Yourself
P-G kit, I'd lay awake nights watching
that lump in my stomach get bigger, and I'd
think about trying to squeeze a grand prize overgrown
zucchini into the toilet and I didn't think
it was funny anymore. Especially because I got
guarantee you there's nothing funny about
hemorrhoids or about labor or hospitals or your
water breaking. Especially if it happens at the
gas station. Standing there in my car-tarp dress
with my hand on the nozzle and my legs spread
out, trying to keep my new tenny shoes from getting
soaked, watering the pavement like a broken gas
pump. Gas squirting out the one end and me out
the other like I couldn't hold it anymore
and peed right there at the Texaco pump. No, before
my sweet beautiful little Caddie was born, I didn't
know nothing about funny.
know nothing but two things. I wanted Mamma with
me in the delivery room, and I wanted an epidural.
I knew Roger would be next to useless. Don't
get me wrong-he can field dress a deer or gut
a catfish, fix a carburetor and make the toilet
stop swishing, but he can't even get through
a whole Lamaze video without getting up for an
antacid and a couple of beers to wash it down.
When I was packing my suitcase for the hospital,
he said he's got to pack one too.
real sweet, Roger," I said. Then he started
throwing in Sports Illustrated and the cable guide
and potato chips and earplugs.
are those for?" I said.
I know you're going yell at me,"
he said, "and cuss and say, 'You
done this to me!' and I figure you won't
really mean it 'cause you love me. This
way you won't have to say you're
sorry." He demonstrated by plugging up
his ears. When he's a smart-ass like that
he always winks at me and wraps me in his arms
and kisses me, and then everything's all
right. But I still wanted Mamma in the delivery
knows everything there is to know about birthing
because she's had six of us, not including
two miscarriages and one stillborn. She knows
how to speed things up. When to squat and when
to stand and when to take a stroll around the
mall and, most important, when to go to the nurse
and demand the epidural.
epidural is very important. Some women scream
to hell and back for a shot and do you think it
matters one iota? Those nurses just piddle around
until the poor women have to do it all by themselves.
I don't care what that Lamaze lady said.
I needed Mamma and those drugs.
a good Christian, and she carries her Bible with
her whenever she thinks God might need to lend
a hand. She also carries her Swiss Army knife
whenever she thinks she might need to lend a hand.
So with Mamma in my room, I knew the epidural
would come by Jesus or jackknife. Either was fine
any rate, after I gave the gas station a floor
wax, I got in the pickup and drove to the hospital.
I remembered the Lamaze lady and started breathing
my hee-hee-hee's, although I didn't
see why I needed to. It didn't hurt at
all. Fact is, I was real calm, like you feel when
the wind blows through the laundry on the line
and you're outside sipping iced tea. That
kind of calm. Kind of excited and happy too because
I'd finally get to wear my old jeans and
sexy underwear again.
the first real contraction at the stoplight, and
it was so hard that I fell over in the cab of
the truck. Fell right on the stick shift that
I swear never gets into first gear without sticking
except for that one time. I was nearly in the
middle of the intersection when I remembered to
put my foot back on the brake.
shit!" I said, then I asked God to forgive
me because I knew I'd be callin'
on Him for help later. "Lisa," I said
to myself, "You're not goin'
to have this baby in a pickup truck."
ran into me of course, but I wish they had, because
then I would've gone to the hospital in
an ambulance. Nobody even stopped. People just
honked at me and gave me dirty looks when I tried
to cross over to the other side of the intersection.
That's just like Texas.
got me a cell phone just so when I went into labor
I could call Mamma, but he said we couldn't
afford me to use it except for emergencies. So
I hadn't actually used it except the time
Roger showed me how to turn it on, and that was
a month before. I was at the damn hospital entrance
before I figured out you had to press the Send
button to make a call. The point is I was not
happy anymore. Forget the damn wind and iced tea,
I had a basketball dribbling on my spine, my new
tenny shoes were soaked, and Mamma was not waitin'
for me at the hospital like I planned. I was starting
to get pee-ode. I pulled into the ambulance drive
and laid on the horn.
bounced out of the emergency room and helped me
out of the truck. "Are you in labor?"
she said. She smiled like she was selling Girl
need an epidural," I said back. I was stooping
over with my hand under my belly. I felt like
a rabbit being skinned.
smiled again, which really made me mad because
I was not joking. "Well, we'll have
to check a few things before we can do that,"
she said, and took me to the delivery room.
then I knew my plans were shot because there I
was in the hospital without Mamma, without Roger,
without the epidural, and some candy-striper who
looked about nine years old putting a needle the
size of a ball-point pen in my vein. I wouldn't
let her until she said she'd call Mamma
finally tried to relax and wait for Mamma. I looked
at my room. Hospitals are getting fancy these
days. My cousin Joline told me that hers was decorated
so pretty, baby blue walls with pink flowers and
couches and lampshades that match and a T.V.,
so I didn't have to do any research to
know what hospital I would choose. But my room
was a little disappointing. The walls were green
with pinstripes and no flowers at all. I didn't
have lampshades. I didn't even have lamps.
But when I looked closer, I noticed that the walls
were padded with pillowy cushions. Padded walls,
just like in Good Morning Texas! So I started
to feel that maybe I was luckier than Joline until
I felt another contraction and realized that wallpaper
and cushions don't mean doodley. I was
starting to call on God in a less than respectful
manner when Mamma showed up with Roger.
get me an epidural," I said. No, I yelled
looked at each other and smiled.
the hell is everyone smiling? Is this funny to
stroked my forehead and said, "You just
started labor. You're doing just fine,
but you've got a long ways yet."
I had another contraction and I gritted my teeth
and I hee-hee-heed quick breaths and stared into
Mamma's crow-feet eyes.
want that shot," I said between hees. She
smiled at me like I'd asked for a triple-scoop
my hand, Lisa," Roger said. I'd
almost forgot that he was in the room. But there
he was, on the other side of the bed, acting just
like a real husband does when his wife's
having a baby. I smiled at him through my gritted
teeth until the pain passed.
thirsty," I said. I was. "Can you get
me some water?"
have water," Mamma said. "You'll
get sick." No epidural. No water.
want a rag to suck on?" she said.
Nobody ever said nothing about sucking on a rag,
I thought. "No, Mamma, I want water. I want
water and I want drugs. You're supposed
to help me."
about a piece of ice?" Roger said. He downed
the rest of his cola and picked out a piece of
ice with his fingers. He rubbed it on my lips.
That made me thirstier, and I hated that brand
of cola. I had another contraction, and the baby's
heartbeat fluttered faster on the monitor.
have to push," I said.
push," she said.
have to push," I said.
Mamma lowered her eyebrows and puckered her lips
and gave me a funny look. "When did the nurse
check on you last?"
don't know," I said. "I don't
exactly have a time card." I was hee-heeing
again, and when I looked at Mamma, I could see
more and more white around her blue eyes. She
looked down at my legs, covered with stiff, white
sheets, and looked at my eyes again.
your legs up," she said. I did, and she
walked down, threw the sheets up, bent down and
looked right between my legs.
what are you doing?" I said.
get the nurse now," she said, and Roger
got up and started to look between my legs too
but changed his mind and ran out the door. "I
got to get my camera," Mamma said, and
started digging around in her purse.
what's wrong?" I said.
wrong." Then her voice got real tight and
high. "You're just having a baby, that's
all. Just like you're supposed to."
She found the camera, then came over and patted
my forehead again with a wet rag.
want that epidural," I said through my
teeth. "They promised me an epidural, and
by-God, I want it. Get out your knife and go get
me a nurse," I ordered. But she was taking
pictures of me. "Smile, Lisa. This is for
contractions were coming fast by that time. I
barely had time to relax before another one hit
me. Roger came back in with a cup of coffee and
a nurse behind him.
stopped for coffee?" I said.
honey," he said, looking down as if the
cup in his hand had just appeared there by magic.
"See, I was looking for the nurse..."
the nurse came in. Looked like she stepped right
off a military base. She had a square face, a
square nose, and marched around the room checking
the monitor and the wires.
you ready?" she said. Even her buckteeth
stood at attention. She looked between my legs
and said, "Well, that's a head."
what I thought," said Mamma.
Roger looked, too. "It's a head, all
right," he said. They all three stood there
gawking at my open legs like they were watching
my epidu- "
too late," the nurse said. "You don't
want to hurt the baby. You'll have to do
without one." Just like that. Like I knew
what the hell to do.
down, Darlin'," Mamma said.
I yelled. "Shit shit shit!"
told Mamma I don't usually cuss at home,
and I told him to shut the hell up, goddamn it.
promised me I could have an epidural,"
I shouted. "It's all covered on the
insurance and I want the damned shot! It's
mine! I paid for it--give it!" Mamma smiled,
and Roger started putting the earplugs in his
we just have to be brave," Mamma said.
"1Cter all, that's why I'm here,
right? I never had an epidural, and I know lots
of positions that'll help. You have to
be creative." Like having a baby isn't
helped me to my feet so I could stand on the bed
in a squat position, Mamma behind me with her
arms locked under mine. Roger sat in front of
me saying, "You're beautiful, honey,
still hurts, Mamma."
of course it's goin' to hurt. You're
having a baby, for Pete's sake!"
crying now. "I changed my mind! I don't
want to have a baby." I scrambled out of
the bed, wires and suction cups still attached
to my body. One hand under my belly, the other
stretched out to keep them back. "I don't
want to do this, anymore. It's not any
was grabbing my robe when Roger snuck up behind
me and wrapped me up in his arms and wouldn't
let me go. Another contraction made my legs buckle,
but he kept holding me up, like a big wet rag
doll. I was crying and he was kissing me all over
my wet cheeks and saying, "You're
going to do this, honey, you're going to
get through this just fine. You have to 'cause
I told everyone at work that I was going to be
a daddy, and you got all those baby clothes at
home. And we spend all that money on the crib."
into Roger's eyes and I knew. I knew I
had to have that baby and I knew Roger was trying
to help me. Mamma took a picture of us and said
that'd be a good one.
doctor came in about two seconds before Caddy
was ready to pop out, just in time to catch her,
I guess, Roger said. He looked awful proud of
himself, and I couldn't say why. After
all, I'd done all the work. I breathed
and pushed and Roger held my hand and Mamma walked
around the room taking pictures from every possible
doctor said, "Push. You have to push to
make it happen."
"Tell me something I don't know."
coming! It's coming!" Mamma screamed,
and she started jumping around the room like a
kid at a circus, making the camera zoom in and
zoom out. She got right behind the doctor and
pointed the camera right between my legs. The
flash popped in my eyes and blinded me.
stop that! I can't show anyone that picture."
I've got sixteen pictures left,"
Mamma said, looking down to make sure.
get out of the room," I said, using the
same tone of voice I use when everyone knows I'm
dead serious. So she put the camera away.
came into the world like a blueberry all covered
in cottage cheese. The doctor held her up and
she was screaming and shaking, and she wasn't
a zucchini or a bowling ball or a basketball anymore.
She was my baby. I laughed because she looked
so funny, so beautiful laying there on my breast
and shivering like a wet puppy. I kissed her soft
head and Roger kissed me. He said, "Now
that wasn't so bad, was it?" Roger's
idea of bad is getting stung by a honeybee, which
he sat on last fourth of July, but I wasn't
going to argue with him. For about ten seconds,
we sat and loved on Caddie. Then Roger cut the
cord and fainted. Mama got a nice picture of Roger
lying on the floor. After that, he didn't
tease me no more about epidurals or my water breaking
or my size 22 underwear, but he did ask me when
I want another baby. I said I'd think about
it. "But honey, you just made the most beautiful
baby in the world," Roger said. And I believe
he was speaking the truth. When men aren't
saying every wrong thing in the book, if you listen,
they'll say the very words that made you
want to have a baby in the first place.