When I was pregnant with my first son the doctor told me I would deliver no later than February 28th.
“Have all your hospital things packed and ready to go by the 25th of February,” she said. “This one’s gonna be early.”
February 25th came and left me with nothing more than a fully-inflated birthing ball by the front door. February 28th arrived and I spent the day watching ER reruns on TNT while peeing every sixteen minutes. At this point, everyone started to call and ask the dreaded question: “Have you had the baby yet?” Friends from college, relatives, neighbors. Each with their own wives tales on how to induce birth. Chinese food was apparently what key in the birth of my husband and his brother. My godmother suggested buying an eggplant. Not eating the eggplant, mind you, just buying it and putting it on your counter like a vegetable womb.
And despite the sure-fire tricks for bringing this baby into the world, nothing worked. At that point, I felt like Animal Planet would call to include me in a segment on the gestation period of the African elephant. Little contractions came and went and I had dreams that my water broke and flooded the house.
On March 5th, I bought the eggplant. Nothing.
Finally, on March 8th, my husband told me I had to get out of the house, as I was beginning to refer to the 1995 cast of ER as “my friends,” so we went to the Oakland Zoo. The 50 pounds I gained during that pregnancy jiggled through tortoise habitats and lions’ dens until I could not walk any more without fear of collapsing into the otter pool. My husband gathered me into the car and took me to the local Mexican joint where I ate a burrito grande and a Sprite.
The next morning, at exactly 3:34 am, with the dust of the Oakland Zoo on my feet and salsa in my veins, my water broke. And at 10:50 p.m. that night, my gorgeous son was born. Right on time.
Then I did what I didn’t think I would ever do. I added my tale to the old wives’ roster of birth-inducing tips. I told people the secret was the zoo and Mexican food with all the certainty in the world. And people laughed, much as I laughed at the whole eggplant deal, but I remained steadfast in my conviction. And when I was pregnant with my second son, my husband dutifully took me to the San Francisco Zoo (for a change of pace) and the local Mexican joint where I ate a burrito grande and a Sprite. And the next morning, at exactly 4:25 a.m., my water broke. And at 10:54 a.m., my second gorgeous son was born.
Coincidence? Nope. Just tortoises and tortillas doing their magic.