When her water broke while watching MTV at 3 a.m., E.J. Dickson called an Uber. “I’m in labor,” she told the Uber driver, who then told her “I’m in labor” is an excuse impatient drunks use to make their drivers speed up. All of which raises the question: Is there an etiquette for Ubering while your water is breaking? Or does the miracle of life eliminate any and all social niceties?
Last time E.J. visited the Sex Lives podcast, her pregnancy hormones were raging. Now, after giving birth and writing “Why Did Everyone Act Like I Was Crazy When I Decided to Have a Baby in My 20s?” for the Cut, she returns. With her 2-month-old son in her lap, she told me about that harrowing Uber ride; her C-section; his circumcision; demanding a shot of whiskey after leaving the hospital; and what motherhood has in common with “2 Girls 1 Cup.” (“My life now is watching his butthole pooping, and waiting for it to stop pooping.”)
This is a partial transcript of New York Magazine’s Sex Lives podcast. Call 646-494-3590 to leave a voice message.
How was giving birth?
We were talking about your love of grotesque birth stories earlier, and you told me about one where a lady mooed like a cow? Yeah, it wasn’t anything like that. I had a C-section. He was premature, about a month early. I guess the only dramatic part was that my water broke at three in the morning, while we were watching MTV’s Are You the One. You really need to watch it, it’s so good.
At first we didn’t want to go to the hospital, because me and my husband are idiots and we didn’t really know what was going on, even though I had read, like, every parenting book pretty obsessively. I called my gynecologist and she was like, “You’re in labor, you need to go to the hospital right now.” So we took an Uber there.
Did you tell the Uber that you were giving birth?
I did. He was running late, so I called him. I was really angry and I was like, “I’m in labor right now, you really need to come pick me up!” And he told me that apparently drunk people use that as an excuse all the time for their Uber to come faster, so he didn’t believe me.
The other reason why I felt I had to tell him is because your water doesn’t break all at once. It breaks continuously, which is something else I didn’t know. So I was pretty much just leaving a slug trail.
Did you put down a towel?
I did. But I don’t know how successful it was.
You had planned a C-section, right?
I had, because he was in breech and they couldn’t move him. So I got to the hospital and they were like, we’ll do it a month early. I got to the hospital and it escalated pretty quickly. By the time we got there, the contractions were about a minute apart, whereas they were about 15 minutes apart when I first woke up. And contractions are painful. I don’t feel like I need to say that, but yeah. I got there at 5 a.m., and by 7 a.m., he was born.
I was drugged to the gills, which I was very grateful for. I kept telling the anesthesiologist who gave me my epidural that he was a genius. They gave me a spinal block and I felt nothing, except for one moment that … felt a little bit like somebody was rummaging around my insides. But it wasn’t painful. It was apparently the moment, my gynecologist told me later, where they took my uterus out of my body and put it back in.
What was it like when you saw your baby?
I don’t want to look at him and tell him this, but, he was fugly.
He was fugly, super small, purple, screaming. It’s everything you see in a birth scene in a movie that isn’t, like, a Lifetime movie where they get a 6-month-old baby and try to pass off as a newborn. He looked like a newborn. And honestly, this is just the way my brain works, but I was convinced there was something wrong with him, so I just kept asking over and over again: Is he okay? Is he okay? Is he okay? He was fine.
How is motherhood?
It’s everything they tell you it will be, pretty much. But magnified. When they say that your life changes like in the split second that you have a baby like that’s completely true. That’s the main thing that I would say is, like, completely true.
There are some things that they say that I don’t think are entirely true. Like, it takes a while to bond with a baby. I guess the myth is that, the second you lay eyes on your kid, you feel this Bambi-imprinting on them. Like a deer, or something. I did not feel that way. And I thought there was something wrong with me, because it didn’t. It took about a month until he felt like somebody who wasn’t a baby I was, like, babysitting. I liked him, I thought he was cute, I thought he was cool. But it felt like I was babysitting him, you know? But now he feels like, Oh. This is my baby.
How is that feeling different?
When you first get the baby, you kind of just go through the motions. You’re like, Okay, I have to take care of this thing. And so you diaper him and you feed him. But there isn’t, like, that moment where you lock eyes and you’re like, Oh. I would do anything for this thing. But there is a imperceptible shift where that changes, and it doesn’t feel like it’s rote. I think it’s different for everybody, but that’s kind of how it was for me.