By now I was an old friend at the doctor's office, having just given birth to Julie the January before -- it seemed like I lived there for almost two years -- so I hopped up on the examining table, cracking jokes, while the doctor snapped on those dreaded rubber gloves and began his probe. I'll never forget the expression on his face -- a shadow passed over it -- he looked really alarmed, and said, "I'll be right back. Don't move."
Err...both of my feet were in the stirrups and moving wasn't an option. I freaked after seeing his expression and hearing the anxiety in his voice. Oh my god, what was it? Did he not hear a heartbeat? I searched around the room frantically, hoping he'd left his stethoscope behind so I could listen for myself...like I knew how the hell to do that.
But it was moot because he returned seconds later with his partner, who quickly slid into a pair of gloves and did a probe of his own. The two of them exchanged glances and I would have had to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to realize something major was going on.
"What is it?" I gasped, terrified.
"Robin? Are you in any pain right now?" asked doctor #2.
"No!" I said probably a little too vehemently. But it was true. I wasn't. Terrified, yes, in pain, no.
"No pain at all?" My doctor appeared to be in a state of total disbelief.
"What's wrong? Why won't you tell me what's wrong?" I could feel myself getting hysterical. (Who me? Get hysterical? Impossible!)
"Robin. Listen to us. Nothing is wrong. It's just...it's just..." Doctor #2 looked at my doctor, as if it were his call to make.
"You are over seven centimeters dilated, Rob," my doctor said.
"You are in active labor right now. You don't even feel a contraction? No cramping? Nothing?"
"No! Wait...are you telling me I'm giving birth now? In your office?"
I was incredulous but not really scared. Hell, I was in no pain whatsoever. If I could have a Hollywood style, contraction free birth right there in the doctors' office within the next few minutes, how lucky would I be?
Wait. There are reasons babies need to be born in hospitals. Arghhh...within seconds fear set in bigtime...and so did the sudden spasms of pain.
My doctor spoke to me in calm, even tones, knowing that I was about to go off the deep end.
"Robin. Listen to me. I need you to get dressed right now, take a cab to the hospital, and I will meet you there. Go in through the emergency room. Give me your husband's telephone number -- I will have my nurse call him so he can leave work now and meet us there as well. Just stay calm, make sure you take a cab -- I know the hospital is only a six blocks away but I don't want you walking. Okay?"
"Okay," I gasped, in a state of shock.
I got dressed, practically doubling over every time a contraction hit, which was like every two minutes, and headed to the lobby to hail a cab.
Except for one problem.
Except there was a line in the bank. A long line.
I hopped from foot to foot. Finally I couldn't take it any more.
"I'm in labor, I'm in labor," I babbled to the people ahead of me. "I need to cash a check so I can take a cab and go to the hospital." People turned around and stared at me but I was in that desperate mode where I didn't really give a damn...oh dear lord, I did not want to give birth to Eric James Marshall Slick in a bank. Yeah, we'd already picked out his name...my boy is named for both Clapton and James Marshall Hendrix...our favorite guitar players other than Adrian Belew har har...and how insane that he did in fact turn out to be a musician though I guess we should have named him "Keith" or “Ginger.”
Anyway, I made it to the front of the line, managed to cash a check and even made small talk with the teller "Yeah, I'm in labor right now. Ever have a baby born in your bank? Ha ha - isn't this hilarious. Ow...ow...ow..."
This was also before cell phones so I wasn't able to call Gary and even check to see where he was, which I would later learn was running every red light in Philadelphia as he raced to the hospital a good half hour away even if he didn't hit traffic.
Unfortunately, I did. Hit traffic, that is. I hailed a cab and luckily one stopped right away -- a very kind gentleman wearing a turban.
"Jefferson Hospital," I shrieked.
Oh my god. A rookie driver.
"llth and Walnut. Just take Locust Street five blocks to 11th, make a left up 11th and we'll be right there." Oh shit. That's where the emergency room entrance was, wasn't it? Or was that 10th Street? Never mind, we'd find it.
But as I said, no sooner did I get in that cab when we hit gridlock. I mean, we didn't move. We were in the downtown Philly traffic jam from hell.
"Oh god, we have to get off this street," I moaned. "I'm having a baby..."
The driver turned around and stared as if seeing me for the first time and realizing the enormity of both my belly and the situation.
"A baby? Oh no thank you very much, no baby, no baby," the driver stuttered.
"Yeah. I need to get to the hospital."
So he turned up 16th Street, which was the worst move he could have made, because there are no right turns until Market Street, which was two blocks above the hospital and took us right into another jam at City Hall, where the traffic patterns are always skewed and messy.
We inched down the street, hitting every fucking red light.
"Oh my god," I moaned as another contraction hit.
The driver turned around again.
"No thank you very much, no thank you very much, no baby, no baby, no baby in the cab."
And he kept repeating it. No thank you very much, no baby, no baby.
I looked at my watch and almost had a heart attack. It was now thirty minutes since I left the doctor's office with strict instructions to get into a cab to go to a hospital six blocks away.
"I have to get out," I told the driver. "I'll walk the rest of the way. I'll never make it otherwise."
What was I thinking? All I knew was, I was not giving birth in that cab, and that the doctor was going to be mad at me, and poor Gary was probably having a stroke.
I jumped out land literally ran four blocks to the hospital. I arrived at the emergency room dripping sweat (it was a very hot May 15 in 1987) and barely coherent.
Both my husband and doctor were already there.
I remember the doctor freaking out "Where were you?" and me mumbling something back about having to go to the bank and both the doctor and Gary staring at me like I'd completely lost my mind...anyway...they immediately got me prepped and I swear to God, Eric came into the world an hour later, sweetly and with no difficulty whatsoever...I didn't ask for heroin or a gun like I did when I was in labor with Julie...he just popped right out without even a whimper from me...and that's basically how Eric has been his entire life...the sweetest, nicest, most problem free son a mom could ever want.