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Dr. Santa Claus, OB/Gyn, will not be delivering Bruce

I had to go to the hospital today for bloodwork. It was a surreal hour where I was offered 4 wheelchairs by various volunteers and staff members. I declined every offer, but wished in retrospect I had said yes. To all 4.

I could have sat in one, propped my legs in two other chairs, and the fourth chair could have held my purse. I can’t ask my husband to carry my purse. It doesn’t match his shoes.

But no! I had to be like a 12-month-old new walker, showing off each waddling step with a grin. See, world? I walk! Looky me!

We had to go to outpatient admitting first. Sitting on a little end table next to my husband’s waiting room chair was an issue of Ladies Home Journal from August 2004. It featured George and Laura Bush on the cover. I’m thinking about writing a letter to the president of the hospital, asking that a portion of my $40,000 c-section fee be devoted to starting a new subscription to any number of ladies’ magazines. I hear you can get 12 issues for $12 sometimes.

After giving all the pertinent information to the data entry lady in her cubicle, we were pointed in the direction of the lab. Down a hallway, through the main lobby, up the elevator, to the left, to the left, to the right. This is where I was offered one of the wheelchairs. Oh, no! Me walk like big girl. Very big girl.

The lab was far, far, far from outpatient admitting. So far, it was like another hazy white galaxy because they had the August 2010 issue of O Magazine and I guarantee George Bush isn’t mentioned once inside.

My blood was taken. Then the lab tech strapped a hospital bracelet around my wrist, telling me I have to leave it on until I am discharged from the hospital, whenever that may be. I protested, saying I wasn’t really a patient yet. Didn’t matter. They need the code on the bracelet to match the code on the blood and I had no choice. So as of this moment, I on my bed, at home, with a plastic hospital bracelet around my right wrist. I’m thinking someone should be coming through the doorway any second now to take my blood pressure and ask if I’ve sprouted any hemorrhoids.

We left the hospital. My husband wisely and generously offered to fetch the car while I waited on a bench outside. It was lunchtime.

We drove toward home. I flipped through radio stations. ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” was playing. I screamed. It was a freaky moment. On the way to the hospital, it was on 2 other radio stations. Same old song, 3 times, one morning. My husband said we should name the baby “Bruce” because clearly it’s a sign. The line in the song isn’t really “Don’t bring me down, Bruce!” Everyone thinks it’s Bruce, though, so we might get away with it. Then, someday when Mr. Baby asks why his name is Bruce, we can tell him that he was named because a DJ at 103.5 The Fox had a bright idea at nearly the same time the DJs from 99.5 The Mountain and 105.5 Jack FM felt inspired to do likewise.

My husband stopped at my favorite deli to pick up lunch for us and for my mom and the little ones at home. I decided to go inside, rather than wait in the hot car. We ordered everything to go and sat at a table to wait.

Here comes Santa Claus.

The man in line behind us was cultivating the same look as the Jolly Old Elf himself. He was around 70 years old and had a long white curly beard and round wire rimmed glasses. When I first noticed him, I wasn’t sure whether this was a purposeful impersonation until I scrutinized his clothing.

Santa Man was wearing a shirt covered in Snoopy Santas and Charlie Browns holding Christmas trees. He wore red satin shorts.

He noticed me sitting in a chair. We locked eyes, me and Santa. He approached me, reached out his hand, and touched my belly.

“This is job security!” he boomed.

We giggled.

I told Santa about how our younger kids were recently wondering what he does on vacations. He asked how old they were. I listed the ages. Yes, there are 7 of them. Yep, this one makes number 8, I said, patting my belly.

“Holy Cow! You must be a Mormon family!?” We said no.

“Good Catholics, then?” Nope! I thought the “good” preface before Catholics was interesting.

He was completely baffled after that. If not because of religion, what possible reason could we have for wanting so many kids?

I told him it was for the same reason he did his job. Because we love kids.

He opined that I must stay at home and had to know what my husband does for a living in order to support such a large brood. My husband hardly has a glamorous job. We’ve simply learned how to keep costs lowish and not adopt a lifestyle bigger than we can handle. We didn’t get into all of that with Santa because soon he was eying my belly again. This time, he was prognosticating.

“I predict you have 3 weeks left. You’ll have your baby in September!”

Anyone who knows me, who knows what I’ve recently been through, who has paid attention at all? September was the wrong thing to say, right? I said no, we were expecting the baby in August for sure. FOR SURE. I may have said it with enough grit in my voice to be knocked off the Good List forevermore.

To be fair, he had no idea. He said I looked too small to have the baby this month. Everyone at the hospital seemed convinced I was ready to birth in the various hallways and lobbies and cubicles, so thunderous was my stomping waddle.

He left. Our sandwiches came and we left. I regretted I didn’t insist on taking his photo with my phone, which I got out of my purse with that intent early in our conversation. It doesn’t matter.

I know what Santa looks like and what he does on his vacations.

I won’t tell the kids, though. I’ll make something up about Hawaii.

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