Your first OBGYN visit

“On your first visit to the OBGYN, you will receive information about the facilities, the birth team, and undergo an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and take measurements of the fetus. You’ll also meet with a physician and get the chance to ask lots of questions!” — From a guide to labor and birth

What not to expect:
You stride purposefully up to the front desk, flashing your positive pregnancy test like a backstage pass. “Welcome,” the intake administrator says. “There’s no paperwork. We received all your records electronically because electronic delivery of information simply isn’t that hard.”

The door next to the desk opens and a PA beckons you, saying, “The doctor will see you now because this is the exact time you scheduled with us.”

The ultrasound shows you the clear and unmistakable shape of a baby, not just a gray smudge.

The doctor, who has been with you throughout the visit, gives you some information about pregnancy. “Stay out of hot tubs and Jacuzzis and so forth. They’re too hot for the baby,” the doctor says.

“What about, like, people who are pregnant on the equator? It’s hot there, right? Don’t they give birth just fine?” you say.

The doctor’s mouth falls open in shock. “My God, that’s an excellent question. I never thought about that.” The doctor leans forward conspiratorially and says, “Between you and me, I’m pretty sure the no deli meat rule is also bullshit. Why don’t we finish up this appointment at Jimmy John’s? My treat.”

Later, at Jimmy John’s, while you’re both eating Italian subs, the doctor says, “Here’s my cell phone number. Call me directly for future appointments and questions. You don’t even need to come to the office; we can do the visits here.”

“Here at Jimmy John’s?” you ask.

“Yep. And don’t worry about the subs — they’re covered by your insurance.”

Installing the car seat

“Make sure the seat is tightly secured, allowing no more than one inch of movement from side to side or front to back when grasped at the bottom. Your local fire department performs car seat inspections. Nine out of ten car seats are installed incorrectly!” — From a guide to labor and birth

What not to expect:
You drive to the fire station. Nine other cars are having car seat inspections done. Firefighters are shaking their heads in disgust. Future parents are hanging their heads in shame. Everyone has installed their car seat incorrectly.

A firefighter approaches your vehicle and begins inspection. You wait. The firefighter looks surprised, shocked. “O’Malley, O’Hanlihan, Murphy,” the firefighter calls to several other firefighters nearby. “You gotta come see this.” The other three come over and look. They emerge from your back seat with the same shocked look on their faces. One of them turns to you. “I’m Captain Firefighter Murphy,” the captain says. “That car seat is installed perfectly.”

“Sometimes we let people slide down the pole, Cap,” one of the other firefighters says. “Maybe we could—”

“No,” says Captain Murphy. “I’ve got a different idea.”

Not only do you get to slide down the pole, but you also get to ride in the fire truck! All the firefighters are in the truck, too. They’re leaning out the doorways and windows and banging on the sides in jubilation. The nine failing cars watch while the fire truck drives in circles around the station. The lights are flashing, the siren is on. You’re on the top of the truck. You’re spraying the hose up in the air. You’re wearing a firefighter’s helmet.

You get to keep the helmet as a memento.

Going to the hospital for delivery

“It’s time to go to the hospital when your contractions follow the 5-1-1 rule. Five minutes apart, lasting at least one minute, for at least one hour. Your water breaking is another sign it’s time to go to the hospital but remember this only occurs in one out of ten pregnancies. Make sure to pack your hospital bag with comfy clothes, snacks, your birth plan, and an extra-long phone charging cord before your due date so it’s ready to grab on your way out the door.” — From a guide to labor and birth

What not to expect:
You are in the kitchen making firehouse chili when your water breaks. You turn off the stove and grab your hospital bag that is packed with comfy clothes, your birth plan, an extra-long phone charging cord, and several foot-long Jimmy John’s subs that are covered by insurance.

On the way to the hospital, you exceed the speed limit and are pulled over by a cop.

“My water broke!” you shout out the window as the officer approaches your car.

The cop is on the radio in an instant. “I’m gonna need all units — repeat, all units — to converge for an escort to the hospital. The full parade, folks, double time.” The cop leans down to speak to you through your window. “We’re gonna get you there. You ready?”

“Should I follow you?” you ask.

The cop winks and says, “I think you know how to handle these roads. You lead. Just punch it, and we’ll take care of the rest.”

So you punch it. Your tires squeal and leave streaks on the blacktop. You’re flying down the road. Cop cars pour out of side streets to meet you, lights on and sirens blaring. At every side street you pass, more and more cops join the pack you’re leading. They’re blocking intersections and holding back traffic for you, and you’ve got the pedal all the way to the floor. You didn’t know your Camry could even go this fast, but it’s driving smooth, and that rattling noise you’d been ignoring appears to be gone.

Finally, you make the skidding turn that brings you to the entrance of the labor and delivery section of the hospital. One hundred cop cars come screaming in behind you. The doctor is waiting at the door with a wheelchair and a nurse; the cops called ahead and told them you were coming. You get out of your car, and the nurse takes your bag. “Get those subs in a refrigerator, stat,” the doctor says to the nurse while helping you into the wheelchair. The doctor feels your stomach then addresses you and the police escort waiting behind you. “Thanks to your speed, this baby will be born in about five minutes with no discomfort.” The crowd of police cheer.

The doctor leans down and looks you in the eye. “No need to worry anymore. You did everything exactly right.”