As a native English speaker, it is easy to feel a sense of superiority when you see terrible menu translations and incorrect spellings around Brno. Unfortunately, language snobbery often comes with a price, particularly when you really need to communicate and you don’t speak the local language well.
My wife and I did not want to know the gender of our soon-to-be-born children. Childbirth is one of the most natural processes anyone will ever experience, and we didn’t want technology to ruin the mystery.
When we went for the last ultrasound for our second child, we, as with our first child, told the doctor to conceal the gender. This time the doctor needed to confirm some data. As she flipped through the screens on the overhead monitor, I saw it – for a split second, but I definitely saw it – right in the middle of a long list of data points:
I flushed. Why would they put the gender of the mother in the ultrasound software? “Gender: Female” had to mean that we were having another girl.
For the next months, I carried this knowledge around with me, annoyed.
Trip to the Hospital (Part 1)
Fast forward to Sept. 13, 2016. It was a late summer Tuesday. The water broke.
We went to the hospital, past the Kometa fans who were congregating around DFRG Arena in anticipation of a game against Mladá Boleslav (during the very early start of Brno’s two consecutive title runs).
At the hospital, the doctor was noncommittal: Enough of the birthing cycle had started that my wife would have to stay overnight, but it probably wouldn’t get serious until the morning.
I was sent home.
Trip to the Hospital (Part 2)
Two hours later, I got the call: “It’s time. Get here as quickly as . . . Aaaaah!” The contractions were much closer together — and clearly more painful.
I jumped in the car. I missed being stopped by traffic lights but not by the hockey fans. Kometa had won, 5-1, and the streets around the arena were jammed. The crosswalk on the final turn to the hospital, Milosrdných bratří, was jammed with inebriated and celebrating fans. After several agonizing minutes, I got through and, luckily, found a quick parking space.
Then the real trouble began.
I rang the bell at the main entrance doors: “My wife is giving birth,” I said in my best Czech. “Please open the doors.”
The woman’s voice was unimpressed. “Weren’t you here already,” it said. “What is the name of your wife?”
Yes, I said, I had been there earlier. I provided my wife’s name and asked her to hurry. I got an immediate response: “Nic. Běž pryč.” Translated, that means: “Nothing. Go away.”
It was not what I was expecting to hear. I rang the bell and tried again, in my halting Czech, to talk my way into the hospital: Yes, she is giving birth. Call the maternity ward. I’m telling the truth. Let me in!
Kometa fans walked behind me. One of them provided a perfect summation for the situation: “You’re screwed, friend.” But, of course, he used the vulgar Czech phrase to describe being inside the anal cavity.
“Go away or I will call the police!” the voice yelled through the intercom.
I called my wife. She answered and went directly into another contraction. “Aaaaaaah!” I rang the bell again and put my phone against the speaker: “Listen! She is giving birth! Let me in!”
(I later found out that, earlier in the evening, a Bulgarian father-to-be had been belligerently unhappy that the mother of his child had not been admitted because she had not actually started the birthing process. The good news: my Czech is good enough to be confused for a European language. The bad news: I got confused for a pissed off Bulgarian and almost missed the birth of my second child.)
I ran up the stairs, changed into scrubs and went into the same room where we had been 21.5 months earlier for the birth of my daughter. It was even the same attending nurse. I arrived in the middle of another contraction.
The nurse suggested moving from the bed to a different birthing style. My wife moved onto a toilet-like seat. I was able to sit behind her and offer support. Ten seconds later, the final contraction came and the baby dropped out.
The doctors took the baby for an initial examination. I leaned back, happy that our second girl had been born. When the baby was returned to the second-time mom, she cried: “Benjamin!”
Suffice it to say, it was not the name I had expected.
Instead of the stereotypical “It’s a boy!” exclamation, mine was more of a “It’s a boy?”
* * *
The birth of my daughter was another Through Brno experience. Click here to read about it.
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