The bathroom was small and I was pretty sure I was never leaving it.
The woman on the other side of the door knocked.
"Are you okay? Don't have the baby in there!" she chirped.
FUCKING BITCH, I thought to myself, why THE HELL does she KEEP SAYING THAT?
"I'll be right out," I finally managed to say, although I was certain by then that it was a lie. Leaving the bathroom was going to involve pulling up my pants AND washing my hands. I couldn't remember how to do either. I could only lean against the wall, close my eyes, and give myself over to the pain.
Clearly, I was very sick.
Which is why I was at the hospital. I was definitely NOT there to have my baby.
Even if it was February 14th.
My due date.
I had been to the Labor and Delivery floor once before, 3 months earlier, with regular contractions that landed me on bed rest. Months went by and the baby stayed put. At my 38 week appointment, my doctor told me, "You've already done the work of early labor; you can't dilate much further without being in active labor. I'll probably be seeing you within 48 hours."
The next week, she told me the same thing.
At my final appointment, I told her I thought she had my dates wrong and that this boy was probably going to be born sometime in June; he'd be the first baby born at 56 weeks gestation. We scheduled an induction for the following week.
I went home to eat as many Reese's Peanut Butter Cups as possible while I could still blame it on the baby.
So when I found myself waddling up to the woman at the desk outside of the Labor and Delivery floor, I tried to explain my situation to her. No, no, I wasn't there to have my baby. I was there because I had come down with a terrible stomach bug and I was concerned about the baby. I was there to make sure he was okay.
She asked me for my insurance card.
I asked her where the bathroom was.
"Try to breathe through it," was her super-helpful suggestion.
"It's not a contraction," I insisted, breathing deeply and leaning forward in my chair to rest my head on her desk.
"Mmmm-hmmm," she replied, her nails tap-tapping on her keyboard.
"Where is the bathroom?" I asked her again when the pain had eased.
She looked at my husband. "And are you the primary insurance holder?"
BITCHBITCHBITCH, ohmygod, bathroombathroombathroomBITCHISGOINGTOBESOSORRYbathroombathroombathroom.
I stood up. I was an adult. I could find my own damn bathroom. She could keep her PRECIOUS, TOP-SECRET, CLASSIFIED BATHROOM INFORMATION, I didn't need her. If I had to, I would make the 30 minute drive home to use the bathroom. At least there I knew where they were.
"Wait," she called after me as I walked away, "we're not done here!"
And so it was that I found myself in the tiny bathroom, uncertain of how to get myself out and wanting to punch The Bitch in the face as she parked herself outside of the door and waited, pen and form in hand.
She knocked again. "Do you need me to get a nurse?"
FUUUUUCCCCKKKK. I needed her to GO. THE. FUCK. AWAY.
Now, in my memory, what I said was, "No, thank you."
My husband tells me I said no such thing.
In fact, according to him, there were no actual words, just some moaning, groaning, and assorted other noises that I SWORE I was never going to make, back when I naively thought that I would be in a state of mind to control such a thing.
But then, an angel appeared.
She was a nurse. While I had finally found a moment of clarity in which to coordinate the pulling-up of the pants, it didn't last long enough for me figure out the hand washing. My nurse, however, was an EXPERT hand washer.
I decided I loved her.
When I finally emerged from the bathroom, The Bitch shoved a form in my face. I scribbled my name and bit my tongue to keep from telling her what she could do with her form and her bathroom and her insistence that I was in labor when I was so obviously ill.
I was immediately hooked up to a monitor to see if I was contracting.
"No, no, it's a stomach bug," I told anyone who would listen.
The monitors, however, told a different story. The contractions were piggy-backing; two 90-second surges in a row with a minute of relief before the next set of two began.
Next, they examined me.
"Well," said my new BFF, the nurse. "Your stomach bug has you at 8, almost 9 centimeters. Did you WANT an unmedicated birth?"
Holy shit, I thought.
The Bitch was right.
I am totally having a baby.
I asked for an epidural.
And while I waited for that, I asked for a Tylenol.
I pushed for three hours as Saturday night rolled into Sunday morning.
As I held my 8 lb 13 oz newborn, my nurse hugged me.
"Not a bad way to get rid of a stomach bug," she said.