Several mornings ago I was wide awake at 1 a.m. Following a simple surgical procedure, I was spending the night at my hometown hospital, where the conditions in my room were far from conducive to sleep.
First, my IV machine was emitting an obnoxious series of squawks protesting a little unauthorized air in the line. Then, in their noble but relentless effort to prevent blood clots, the cuffs velcroed around my legs imitated boa constrictors attached to an air compressor. If the squeezing sensation wasn't enough to keep me awake, the noise alone could have accomplished the job. So I was wide awake when I heard the charge nurse take a call from labor and delivery, located just around the corner. It didn't take much imagination to launch my mind into a fascinating series of what ifs.
Beenie was due to be delivered at this hospital in exactly two weeks. What if he were to make his appearance a little early and arrive tonight? The nurse came to rid my line of its excess air and make needed adjustments to all the other tubing. I closed my eyes to settle back to sleep, but my mind still wanted to play "What if?"
Somewhere in that nebulous state between sleep and total wakefulness, I imagined Beenie's mama and me sitting in wheelchairs just outside my door. Our ID bracelets showed the same last name, of course, and Beenie was imminent. Suddenly a young nurse grabbed the handles of my chair, and just like that I was being whisked off to labor and delivery. The conversation that ensued went something like this:
Googie: Wait! You've got the wrong person!
Nurse: No, your bracelet has the right name. Just try to stay calm. Take deep breaths.
Googie: No, look! I'm not pregnant! I have boa constrictors on my legs, for heaven's sake!
Nurse: Now, dear, you're hallucinating. That's not unusual with a first birth. Don't worry now.
Googie: No, really! You need my daughter-in-law. She's right back there--
(The wheelchair slams through swinging doors into delivery. The nurse summons help, and in one fell swoop I am flat on the delivery table. They begin to strap down my arms.)
Googie: You guys are making a big mistake here. I tell you, you have the wrong person! Look at me! I'm 59 years old!
Nurse: (to other nurses, knowingly) She's in denial. We'd better call in a psychologist. (looking down in disbelief at my [somewhat] flat tummy) Ma'am, where is your baby? What have you done with your baby? Ma'am, are you aware that you may be charged with a felony?
Googie: Check Room 112! You left Beenie there, I swear!
Nurse: (puzzled) Beenie?
Googie: It's a long story--
My eyes flutter open and drift toward the bulletin board identifying this as Room 112. I am here alone amid the gentle rhythm of the inflating and deflating boas. The IV machine is behaving itself. I will be going home tonight, thank goodness.
I am anxious for Beenie to get here--I won't deny that. But maybe it would be better if he waits until I get out of here first. Some of those "switched at birth" stories are true, and I don't want to take any chances.