No way to know what to expect when you’re expecting

No way to know what to expect when you’re expecting

by Lisa Smith Molinari
The Meat and Potatoes of Life

April is the start of spring, a time of birth, growth and renewal. Fittingly, it’s also the month of my first child’s birth, so it takes me back 28 years ago, when I couldn’t wait to become a mother.

Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the tedious details. Everyone thinks their childbirth story is unique, but most of these narratives are the same standard story with five basic parts: The Labor Starts Part, The Going to the Hospital Part, The Agonizing Pain Part, The Pain Meds Demand or Refusal Part, and The Birth in Excruciating Detail Part.

After listening to many of these chronicles, I’d rather endure another episiotomy than hear another grisly telling.

Back in the day, I surely annoyed my friends with tedious tales of the births of my three children, but I’ve since learned to keep those memories private. When the topic does come up in conversation, I take a discriminating approach, only telling the snippets with sure-fire entertainment value.

Now that the topic has been broached, I’ll relay a few extraordinarily embarrassing moments during my first pregnancy, when I was determined to do everything by the book — literally. I religiously read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” meticulously recording my weight, circumference, mood swings and gas bubbles in the journal.

Around the 35th week, I’d read that my obstetrician would examine me to make sure that I could breastfeed my newborn. But at my scheduled visit with Doc Walker, an old-fashioned obstetrician who’d seen it all before, he didn’t even mention it. After the standard tummy palpitations, he patted me on the knee, and started to leave the room.

“But wait!” I blurted, “What about the nipple check?!”

With a smirk, he turned and said, “Have you been reading that book again?”

Over the next few weeks, my gullibility persisted. We attended childbirth classes to learn how to hee-hee-hoo our way through the perfect Lamaze birth. One night, the topic was circumcision. The crunchy California nurses described a heinous, painful, unnecessary procedure.

At my next appointment, I asked Doc Walker, “Is it barbaric for me to expect our baby to endure circumcision?”

With his characteristic smirk, Doc Walker calmly replied, “Do you realize that the birth canal squeezes newborn babies so hard, they come out with their heads shaped like cones? Circumcision is a cake walk compared to that.”

Was that supposed to make me feel better?

Soon, I was in the throes of labor at the ritzy Pebble Beach hospital near the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif., our second duty station as a married military couple. Francis and I had attended birthing classes together, and he assured me he was ready to be my supportive partner in the birth.

But by the seventh hour of contractions, he was getting bored, and I was getting delirious.

An orderly brought an unexpectedly tasty-looking dinner tray into my room; however, I was forbidden to eat solids in case surgery was needed. Francis graciously “jumped on the grenade” and scarfed the meal himself in the recliner by my bed.

Francis was just finishing the carrot cake when a ginger-haired young nurse walked in to check the monitors. Our forgotten camcorder had been running from a tripod in the corner of the room, and unfortunately, it recorded Francis flirting with the redhead while I labored in my hospital bed.

“So, where do folks like you hang out around here?” Francis was recorded schmoozing on the left side of the screen. The nurse could be seen smiling while describing the local bar scene.

On the right side of the recording, I looked unconscious. The “bum-bum” of the heart monitor began to beat faster, and my eyes blinked open. Grimacing in pain, I huffed and puffed through waves of contractions, my hand maintaining a white-knuckle-death grip on the hand rail.

Simultaneously, on the left of the screen, the redhead threw her head back, laughing at something witty Francis had said.

Despite these unexpected moments of humiliation and delirium 28 years ago, I delivered a beautiful baby boy, which thankfully was exactly what we’d been expecting all along.
Read more at the website and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

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