Back when I was a Chauvinist
by J Pinsent

My wife was a nurse in the Obstetrics section at the JPM Hospital in Gander. One of her pet peeves at work was pregnant women arriving at the hospital hours and hours before their delivery will take place, wasting the staffs time in attending to them when other urgent matters require their attention. When our first son was born, she waited as long as she would dare before she asked me to take her down to the hospital. Even then she was there an hour or so before our first was born. In her second pregnancy, she had all this past pregnancy experience down pat which now made her determined not to go till the very last moment. Gander, being such a small town, made the drive very short. She was due in May so the weather was not a factor.

The big event was about to unfold during the first week in May 1971. Now that you know the date, you will probable remember this was before men were called chauvinists or we even knew what that word really meant. Men didn't go with their wives into the birth rooms and observe the process. At least a lot of us didn't. Most hospitals, at that period in time wouldn't permit it for starters. Which just suited me fine. My wife says she didn't want me there anyway because I might faint and embarrass her with her co-workers. She was probably correct about me fainting.

Finally the day arrived. It was just after we finished supper, my wife tells me this may be the night. We farm out the little guy to his grandmother just in case we had to leave during the night. As the evening progressed she appeared to be getting more uncomfortable but doesn't complain. I ask how she is feeling. Fine she tells me but will let me know when she is ready to leave. She has her little suitcase packed and ready. So if I have to wait this thing out I may as well watch a little TV.

There is this great movie on. 'Fate is the Hunter' staring Glenn Ford and Rod Taylor. The movie is based on a book written by Ernest K. Gann, a well known writer of avaition stories. As the movie progresses, my wife gets more fidgety but keeps telling me she is ok. The plot just keep getting better and better, at about the same rate as my wife's contractions were increasing. Finally she tells me it is time to go to the hospital. She has got to be kidding. I can't leave this movie. It is just too good . Will the Director of Engineering & Maintenance (Glenn Ford) prove that Captain Jack Savage (Rod Taylor), accused of pilot error in a fatal crash, wasn't at fault.

I estimate there is about 30 minutes left in the movie. VCRs are not invented yet so I just can't leave now. I explain to my wife how good this movie is, that I have to see the end and plead with her to hang on for just a little longer. Talk about a respectful wife. She tries to stick it out but I know this is not going to work. She is really getting uncomfortable and I know when she says she has to go, she really has to go

I have a plan. I know the drive to the hospital is about 2-3 minutes away, now if I can time the commercial right, hit the "green" light at the only traffic light in Gander, let the emergency nurse on duty know we are coming in hot, I can make it back without missing too much and catch the end of the movie. Finally she says she can't wait any longer so I ask her just wait another minute or two for the commercial to come on and then we will leave. I call the hospital. They are ready for her. The commercial starts so I grab the suitcase and we head for the car. My wife is really cooperating , walking to the car as fast as she can. I tear out of the driveway and head for the hospital. Dammit the light turns red as I approach the intersection. With my luck if I bust the light I will get pulled over by the cops. I could probably beat a ticket but the delay would be too much so I wait out the light. I turn into the hospital entrance driveway on two wheels and there is a nurse waiting at the emergency entrance with a wheel chair. Great. I stop the car, the wife hops into the wheelchair, give the waiting nurse the suitcase, give my wife a peck on the cheek, ask her to give me a call when she has the baby and head back to see the end of the movie.

I don't know if the trip was longer or the movie was shorter, than I figured but when I walked back into the house the movies credits were rolling up on the TV screen. I missed the climax. Nothing left to do but go to bed a get a good nights sleep. Later during the early morning I get a call from my wife. Everything went fine and we had a healthy baby boy.

It took me awhile to track down the book so I could read exactly what had happened. The book was a little different than the movie which made me all the more interested in seeing the end. Movie rentals and cable didn't exist back then so I was at the mercy of local TV late movies and the Crescent Theater. After a few years I completely forgot about the movie itself but my wife never let me forget the night Stephen, our second son, was born. Especially when a man's sensitivity was now more in demand by women, so my actions labeled me as a chauvinist. Times had changed.

In 1995 our son Stephen was visiting us in Cornwall ON. I was looking through the Tv guide this evening when lo and behold guess what movie was playing. Fate is the Hunter. I called out to my son and advise him we had a movie to watch. After 24 years I finally was going to see the ending. I tell Stephen about the movie and the night he was born. We watched the movie together, had lots of beer and had a great laugh about me being a chauvinist.