(This was originally published ten years ago on my “mommy blog” — remember those? I thought I’d revive it in honor of the child in question’s eighteenth birthday.)
Today is my third son’s eighth birthday. He would have been an April baby if everything had gone according to plan. But, as these things often do, things went awry.
Andrew is the only baby whose labor was completely different than the others. With all my other kids, I went into labor a few days early, had steadily increasing contractions — which increased with walking — and less than seven hours later, I was holding a baby in my arms. Jonathan and Maddie came in less than three hours from the time labor began in earnest.
Andrew, however, was at the mercy of his foolish mother who got excited about a game of Cranium in her enlarged state, and he arrived ten days early.
We were living in southern California at the time, and the men of the church had gone out of town on a retreat for the weekend. The women who were left home alone decided to get together for a game night. Although my husband had stayed home from the retreat for fear that I would have the baby while he was gone, he told me it would be good for me to get out of the house and have some fun.
So I went to my friend Amy’s house, where the night began with some karaoke. We had some snacks and moved on to Cranium. If you haven’t played it, Cranium is a combination of drawing, singing, trivia, and charades. Naturally, the charades would fall to the pregnant lady.
As I remember it, the question was an “all-play,” which means that I was competing at the same time as Amy. We were given the name “Kramer,” as in Cosmo Kramer, as in Jerry Seinfeld’s neighbor.
Here is the problem. We were in a room full of women who were either too young, too holy, or too busy to have watched Seinfeld. It ended up that Amy and I were the only people who knew who Kramer was. So basically we were given the impossible task of getting people to guess something they would never, ever guess. The closest thing we could hope for was that maybe someone had seen a commercial with him in it. Or lightning would strike and someone would just happen to say the right name. Let’s just say the odds were LONG.
But Amy and I were good sports and maybe too competitive for our own good, and so as the timer began, we started our Kramer impersonations enthusiastically. Since we were in Amy’s front room, right by the door, I decided to use the door as a tool, because Kramer is known for his entrances:
This exit/entrance strategy was especially perplexing to a few team members because they thought I was going home.
Onward we forged, for the full minute allotted, with our poor team members shouting out, “You’re coming home! Hair! Door! Oh, it’s that guy…oh, I don’t know his name..Sorry!”
As the time ran out, I made one more spectacular attempt, sliding in the door and up against the wall. I continued my Kramer-esque jerky movements along the wall, hoping someone – anyone – would have a moment of inspiration and shout out the right name. However, whereas Michael Richards (the actor who played Kramer) is a lithe, sprightly man with otherworldly physical comedy skills, I was a thirty-five-pounds-overweight, off-balance, pregnant woman who carried WAAAAYYY out in front.
I slid along the wall and suddenly realized that my weight was causing me to steadily gain momentum. I can see it even now in slow motion…sliding, sliding, jerking, faster…faster…until I was headed in a definite downward direction towards Amy and Uel’s beautiful white ceramic tile floor.
To the women in the living room, I imagine this looked like I was going along with the imitation until I suddenly dropped out of sight behind the couch. They just thought I was really into it. Kramer is REALLY clumsy sometimes! They all roared with laughter!
Meanwhile, I was face down on the floor checking to make sure all my teeth were in place. Miraculously, I hadn’t fallen on my belly, but I remember my face hitting pretty hard, and I was laughing at the time, so I quickly slid my tongue over my front teeth to make sure they were all there. Yes, (phew!) yes, they were. The last thing I wanted was a picture from the hospital with my new baby, smiling away looking like a hockey player. Vanity, thy name is Kelly.
I remember the moment when the girls realized that I hadn’t popped up yet, and they all yelled, “OH! KELLY!” at the same time. They were all sympathy and compassion and I was laughing at myself, feeling humiliated.
After the games were over, I drove home and started having contractions. They were on and off all night, and then finally stopped. We got up for church as normal, put a chicken in the crockpot for lunch, and headed off for Sunday service. As soon as I sat down in Sunday School at 9 AM, contractions started up again.
It was a sluggish labor, and contractions never picked up unless I remained absolutely still. Eventually, at six that night, my doctor gave me Pitocin to help things along. It certainly did that. Andrew was born shortly after seven. In the picture from the hospital — which is in storage, or I’d post it — you can see my top lip is slightly swollen. This change is an improvement for me since I normally have almost no upper lip.
I do have all my teeth in that picture. I haven’t tried impersonating Kramer since.