Before I get back to the chain of events, I must address the strange story of what our doctors look like. This would normally be unimportant, but as there is definitely some weird eugenics experiment going on at Mount Sinai Hospital, I think it is worth mentioning.
Our main doctor is the slim, willowy, long-haired, elegantly dressed and coincidentally perkily pregnant Dr. Reid. Then she brings in this resident, a guy, who really should be on the cover of a movie magazine. He’s in his early 20s, tall and dark, and is so clearly aware of his own beauty that he is almost embarrassed by it: he murmurs so that the nurses must strain to hear him; he pretends diffidence but he knows they are fluttering around him like moths, waiting for his pronouncements. PL doesn’t want to think about him with his head down there between her legs and his gloved hand drilling like a Roto-Rooter. She says she can’t even look at him. (And he has to do the gruesome job of rupturing her membranes, which is done in a very basic fashion, with a long knitting-needle thing with a hook on one end. Very 19th century.)
By the time six o’clock has rolled around, pregnant Dr. Reid’s shift is over, and so her prettiness has given way to the supernatural beauty of Dr. Singwi, who clearly could have pursued a far easier career as a lingerie model. Dr. Singwi is about 17 years old, to my experienced eye, and she lives on vitamin water and lettuce, and yet her hair is the sort of glossy black sweep that you just want to photograph under a huge fan. It is up in a loose bun with cute little tails coming out, as if she has just got out of the shower.
And we haven’t even yet met the absurdly, ludicrously beautiful 27-year-old surgeon who will perform violent acts to PL later on. That would be getting ahead of ourselves. I am just saying… there’s something weird about this hospital. I think they are breeding them in the basement with imported genes or something. And why did these people choose to be doctors when they could have made almost as much money as bartenders on Richmond Street? Or do all young people look like this these days?
Anyway, so back to PL (who is no slouch in the beauty department herself) and her contractions. By nine o’clock, after about 24 hours of labour, about 12 people have fisted the poor thing (sorry to put it so crudely, but there is no other way to describe going in there up to your forearm) and they don’t know why she hasn’t dilated further and they can’t give her any more oxytocin because it appears to be killing the baby. So absurdly beautiful 27-year old obstetrician, a new one – seriously, you could cast her opposite Emmanuelle Beart and Isabelle Adjani and George Clooney and you’d have a movie that would make you cry – calls in Big Boss Doctor, the head of obstetrics, an older lady who clearly has the role of five-star general here: she speaks quickly and sharply and people click their heels together.
Big Boss Doctor reaches up in there and proclaims immediately that everybody has been wrong: the baby is turned in this direction, not that direction, and the cervix is not moving and to attempt a normal delivery here would be extremely dangerous. She wants this baby out.
She makes this decision in three minutes, we are asked to sign a form in one minute, and they are packing up the room. They tell me to clear out out possessions: we are Oscar Mike to the Oscar Romeo. (No, they don’t say that, they say “to the OR”, but it feels awfully military, so I hear it that way.) PL is very upset and scared, as am I. They wheel her out in a blur; she is calling after me; I am packing magazines and flip-flops into a bag, and they are showing me how to put on a gown and a hairnet and a mask and paper booties over my clunky, useless boots.
And then I sit outside the OR in the bright and noisy light of the hallway, waiting while they prep poor PL for surgery by giving her lots of head-spinning drugs.
To calm myself I play Brickbreaker on my BlackBerry. Can you imagine anything more useless-feeling than playing Brickbreaker outside while everyone else is doing something important, in there with your girl, who is scared and in pain? But what else are you going to do?