False alarm

It has been what you might call an eventful weekend.

After a relaxing Saturday, plodding up and down Southbank, and dropping into Madame Tussauds (how the hell DO you pronounce it, anyway?), on Saturday night, L started having regular contractions. By the point that they were three minutes apart, we decided it was time for action. We called a friend to babysit, and called a taxi to take us to the hospital.

It’s a reasonably irrational thing of mine that I generally call Silver Top taxis, and it’s not just because our neighbour, the Ignatius Reilly of Melbourne, drives for Black Cabs. It’s because of Paul Kelly, and his song "To Her Door". But a poor reason is better than none, so that’s who I called.

The taxi arrived. We got in. The taxi driver got out and examined the right headlight. The right headlight was not working. He started fiddling with wires. After a few minutes, he was still fiddling with wires, and not having much success. I decided that since the contractions were still coming, rather than wait to have the baby in his cab and/or have him electrocute himself on a headlight wire, thus making it impractical for him to drive us to the hospital, it seemed like a good idea to get him to call us another cab.

This he did. The backup arrived after just a few minutes, and we reached the hospital without too much further excitement. We zipped through Admissions, up to the Family Birthing Centre. It’s called the Family Birthing Centre because it sounds much nicer than the Labour Ward. It sounds much nicer because it is much nicer. Well, it’s certainly moderately nicer. The carpet is less tacky, the furniture is probably from this decade, and everybody who works up there must have passed a staff smile test.

They also place an emphasis on natural childbirth. A minimum of intervention, just let mother nature and mother human do their respective jobs, and hope for the best. I’ve come to the conclusion that most women hope to give birth this way – at least until it starts hurting.

Of course, they will shunt anybody for whom natural childbirth is not quite making the grade, down to the Labour Ward where they can do all the heavy stuff with forceps, copious amounts of drugs and gas, C-sections and other such man made delights.

So we arrived at the Family Birthing Centre just after midnight, and got on with it. Only problem was, it didn’t happen. It seems that on this occasion, with less than a week til her due date, L was overtaken by contractions probably brought on by a touch of gastro. I know she won’t mind me mentioning this publicly because she said she plans to document the night’s most spectacular visits to chunderland in the Great Vomits Of The Twentieth Century web page.

Of course, the knowledge that the contractions are not caused by, and are not helping at all with, the 39 week old foetus inside her stomach, didn’t come immediately. We only found this out the next morning, after a several hours of painful contractions, a minimum of sleep (okay, so I’m exaggerating a bit), and what seemed like an eternity connected to a drip and a machine that goes "ping!" Oh, and we also got to see a flying visit to the hospital from Cliff Richard (although he didn’t come to our ward) and a debate between a tram and a U-turning car outside. The tram won.

By Sunday afternoon we were back to normal at home, once again waiting for the kid inside to make his next move.

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