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Becoming a Mom, Becoming a Grandma

The third time around

Perri: The third time around, Larry and I made an elaborate plan. When I went into labor, we'd page the sitter to take the kids, now 11 and 5½ or pick them up from school, as the case might be. We'd call my parents, but after Josephine, we were out of the business of scheduling deliveries.

Well, I got my wish -- I got my mother's labor. I'm going to have this baby really soon, I kept saying to Larry. It was about five p.m. The children were at after school and would need to be picked up, so we paged the babysitter -- she was stuck in rush-hour traffic. I called my parents, now in New York, and told them to start driving. We grabbed our hospital bag and Larry drove madly to the school. I added to the madness by remarking at intervals, "I think I'm going to have this baby really soon!"

We collected the children, who squabbled in the backseat. We drove to the hospital. "Do I have time to park?" Larry asked. "No," I said, "let me out first." So I went in alone and took the elevator up to the maternity floor. I remember leaning against the wall during a contraction, wondering if anyone had ever had a baby in there.

It wasn't quite as quick as that, though it was pretty quick. Larry parked and brought the children up to maternity, where we explained that no, we weren't one of those let-the-children-deliver-the-placenta families, our sitter was stuck in traffic. The nurses set the children up to watch TV and read in the next room.

We also had time to set up our cassette player, and Larry put on an Elvis tape. When one of the nurses came in, he apologized for the loud music and asked if we should shut the door. No, said the nurse, we like it -- it's so much better than those whale songs that people keep playing!

But there was time for only a couple of numbers. Anatol Elvis (it could so easily have been Anatol Elevator) was born quickly and relatively easily. My parents arrived soon after. I was sorry my mother had missed the birth, though greatly relieved to have finally experienced her brand of quick-and-easy labor. And my father, of course, knew exactly what to do -- he'd barely admired the baby before people were handing over their hamburger orders. "Medium-rare," I said, "with mozzarella and mushrooms."

From Every Mother Is a Daughter: The Never-ending Quest for Success, Inner Peace, and a Really Clean Kitchen, by Perri Klass and Sheila Solomon Klass. Copyright ©2006, by Perri Klass and Sheila Solomon Klass. Published by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc.