Labor (Pains) Day: ‘We Need To Get This Baby Out Of You!’ Said My Doctor. So I Went For A Pedicure

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“I’m sorry to tell you this, but we need to get this baby out of you today,” my doctor told me one spring afternoon during a routine appointment. I was 38 weeks pregnant, and so it wasn’t the worst news in the world. Still, she looked concerned and there was an urgency in her voice that I hadn’t heard until that day.

With both my pregnancies, I had a “mature placenta.” That’s a fancy way of saying that it was calcified, which really means that my placenta looked “old,” the way most women’s do at 40-plus weeks. And so I went for twice-weekly ultrasounds, beginning at 24 weeks, to ensure that my placenta was still working properly, that the baby was growing.

On this particular day, he was not.

I glanced at my husband, who looked worried, and then back over to the doctor.

“I need a pedicure,” I told her. “And a wax.”

She looked me straight in the eye and told me that she understood. “I would suggest going home, packing your hospital bag and then going for a pedicure,” she said gently. “Then be prepared to head to the hospital after that.”

My husband was dumbfounded. He had no clue how two educated woman – one of them a highly respected ob-gyn – could be discussing pedicures at a time like this. We had just been told that our baby was not growing, that he needed to enter the world prematurely. There was no time to lose!

But there was time for a pedicure – doctor’s orders.

Thank goodness my doctor was a woman because, well, can you imagine any (straight) man encouraging you to paint your toenails prior to being induced?

Had this been a true life-or-death emergency, I can guarantee you that my esthetician would have been the last person on my mind. But there’s something about knowing you’re about to have a human life pass through that makes you want to primp.

Case in point: A close friend had her water break at 36 weeks. She called me from the car to tell me she was en route to the hospital. “Ohmigod, are you okay?” I asked. “What happened exactly? You felt a gush of water and…?”

“I ran to the bathroom and began plucking my eyebrows,” she said in all seriousness. You see, she had booked her hair, wax and nail appointments for week 39 and so, when her water broke at week 36, she knew she wouldn’t be having her eyebrows shaped any time soon. And so she took matter into her own hands.

And just this morning, a different friend, 40 weeks pregnant and planning a home birth, sent me the following email:

It has begun! Mild cramping so far…everyone on standby…am sitting having a pedicure! 🙂 Excited.

I couldn’t tell if she was excited for the baby or for the new fall OPI colors. Just kidding. But there is something that makes a pregnant woman – you know, the ones who look like they’re about to pop at any minute – go totally nuts when it comes to personal grooming.

We all know about a woman’s need to “nest” prior to giving birth – to clean and organize her entire house, including the pantry and storage room and that old box of CDs that’s been sitting there since 1992. Same goes with manis, pedis, waxing and the like. Somewhere between painting an accent wall and going into labor, women feel the need to get beach-ready.

In my case, I opted for the pedicure (I picked a deep purple polish). When the esthetician asked when I was expecting, I responded, “Any minute now.” And I wasn’t kidding.

(Photo: George Doyle)