It was the best of times; it was the worst of times… I was nine months pregnant with Julie when my mother and I were visiting a family friend who had just given birth at North Shore Hospital; the same hospital at which I was going to give birth. My mother has always had a tendency to “trip”- not due to anything medical- just a klutz. If you look at all our photos of family milestones, my mother is usually in some sort of ace bandage or sling. She says it is God’s way of reminding us not to take our blessings for granted. Agreed. But she saved the granddaddy of them all for Julie’s birth. So on this day, as my mother and I were walking into the hospital, she trips. She claims it was a pot hole, which would be true if she were an insect. My poor, poor mother broke her shoulder, two ribs and her foot. The whole family rushed to the hospital and we spent the entire day in the emergency room. Finally, late into the evening it was time to go home. My father drove my mother home and I went home with my husband, Bruce. It was then that I told him that I was having contractions- but nothing bad. He wanted to know why we were driving away from the hospital, but I wanted to go home so I could shower and put on make-up to look good for the delivery pictures. I was only one month into my 25th year when I gave birth to Julie. I was a baby having a baby and my mother was injured and in agony. In the middle of the night, Bruce and I finally went back to the hospital. I told my parents to stay home, but I think they got there before Bruce and I did. My mother was bandaged from head to toe, in a wheel chair and writhing in pain. I felt so bad for her. She was in worse pain than I was, but deep down I was thanking God she was there. Once on the maternity floor, I heard all the other women in labor screaming and moaning. I vowed I would not be one of them. After all, I had taken Lamaze. It was very early on I discovered that Lamaze was the biggest piece of bullshit known to mankind. But, I wasn’t in labor too long because when the doctors broke my water there was meconium in my fluid. That meant the baby had a bowel movement. As Julie lovingly puts it, back then she crapped in me, now she craps on me. Either way, after twelve interns and two doctors stared between my spread eagled legs, it was determined I was going to have an emergency C-section. Within minutes I was prepped for surgery and shortly after, my Julie-oodle was brought into the world- eyes wide open, alert and perfect. Our family pediatrician, who hadn’t seen Julie yet but was in the nursery at the time, ran to tell my family the good news. IT’S A BOY!! My family danced with joy and started to make phone calls. They spread the word- it’s a boy!! Till this day, we’re not sure how the confusion began, but I do love looking at the pictures of the blue bouquets I received. And so began the mixed-up, mad hap life of Julie Katz. But Julie’s birth was calm and peaceful next to Gabby’s. I was now eight years older and a “V-Back” which meant I was going to deliver vaginally even though I previously had a C-section. I knew the truth about Lamaze and my rings still fit me in my ninth month. For some reason I thought this all added up to an easy birth. My parents now lived in Florida and I was remarried to Eric. (My marriages are a whole other blog.) My water had semi-broke and I was having contractions so I called my parents and told them to get on a plane, which they did. But I did not give birth till 3 days later. Seems contractions six minutes apart were not good enough for my sadistic, Nazi doctors. They had to be five minutes apart. They kept sending me home to walk, but it was the end of July and 98 degrees outside. So, I walked in the air-conditioned mall. I had contractions in front of the Gap, Lady Foot Locker, Zales Jewelers and JC Penny all the while giving deadly looks to people who were staring. What’s your problem? Never seen a woman in labor before, you a--hole? On top of that, my sister kept yelling at me, Mommy and Daddy have been in my house for two f---king days already and you still haven’t had that baby! On my third trip to the hospital and second night of no sleep, they sent me home again but this time with drugs so I could “relax”. Well, they didn’t relax me, but they did make me high as a kite just in time to go into full blown labor. I was Courtney Love giving birth. I staggered into the hospital screaming like a maniac silenced only when I was vomiting into a bin. The nurses shot me up with some drug which calmed me for the moment and I slept. In the waiting room, mine and Eric’s families (being the Jews they are), assembled with a huge spread of Zorn’s chicken. I woke up to the sight of Eric munching on a chicken leg. Somehow I miraculously gathered the strength to reach out and grab his hair and bellowed, “DO YOU THINK THIS IS A F--KING PICNIC!!?” Thankfully for Eric at this point the doctor arrived and I at long last got an epidural. I hadn’t slept, I am dehydrated, have a fever, can’t feel anything below my chest and NOW they want me to push?? Can’t a girl have a minute’s peace? It’s all kind of a blur from there, but I can tell you that giving birth feels like someone has their entire hand up your ass. I know this because I remember yelling as I was being wheeled into the delivery room “SOMEBODY’S HAND IS UP MY ASS!!!” And just like that, into the world arrived Gabrielle Ilana; the most peaceful baby despite the craziness that had just ensued around her; a characteristic she would display many times again in her future. Thankfully, she was strong and healthy, but I on the other hand, had a week of catheters, Foley bags, and was in the hospital longer than with my C-Section. When I finally went home, my vagina was between my knees and I had to sit on some egg-crate corrugated, foam cushion which Eric referred to as my “French Tickler” And if you were wondering, my mother did not break anything for Gabby’s birth, but she did break her ankle for Gabby’s baby naming a month later. Thank you, Mommy, for always taking one for the team.