The Cost of Things: Labor & Delivery

A very Brooklyn birth

Hi! I’m back! Or, well, I’m easing in. Having an infant is exhausting, and having a toddler at the same time is like trying to hike up a mountain while carrying a mule on your back. Anyway, here’s a picture of Babyboy, now one month old. He is snugly and warm and mostly worth the effort. (You show me an entirely unambivalent mother, and I’ll show you a faker.)

Doll included for scale, and also additional cuteness

Being that I have lots of fun money-related details to share in regards to this whole process, I figured I’d start at the beginning, with Labor & Delivery. On March 18, several days after my due date, I was less than pleased to find myself still pregnant. One of the midwives checked me and told me I was raring to go. I lacked only encouragement. “Eat some pineapple,” she told me. “Dates and pineapple. And then something spicy.” She also suggested orgasms and perhaps castor oil.

At that point, I would have douched with Tabasco sauce if advised to.

I took a leisurely walk home, purchasing the fruit along the way, and told Ben, who was waiting for me, that with some effort on our part we could make it happen. Then I settled down to eat, and we re-watched Inside Man. By the time Clive Owen and Denzel Washington had finished their game of cat and mouse, the little creature inside me was stirring. Ben and I took the Go Bag and decided to walk to the birthing center, pausing to eat something spicy (Vietnamese sandwiches, it turned out) along the way.

Labor started for real over dinner, and then accelerated further while we checked out books in Barnes & Noble. It was actually kind of fun to have contractions in the Mystery section. I braced myself against the shelves, breathed, and then, when the pain passed, went back to flipping through Walter Mosley. This is the most New York part of the story: nobody around us seemed to notice a thing.

At 10:00 PM, when the store closed, we moved on to the birthing center, where I was checked and admitted into a spacious room with a shower and a bouncy ball. Ben set up the snacks he had brought, as well as the phone and speakers with which to play our carefully curated Labor Mix. The nurses were amused.

At 4:15 AM, after several respectable hours and then a couple of harrowing ones, we were introduced to our son.


Before and during labor

  • A cup of sliced pineapple and dates from the grocery store: $6
  • San Pellegrino Limonata sodas, two: $1.50
  • Hanco’s spicy banh mi, two (one mock chicken, one mock pork): $18
  • Browsing books at Barnes & Noble between contractions: Free
  • Trader Joe’s fig bars, one box: $2. I nibbled at one; Ben had several.
  • Trader Joe’s trail mix: $6. I had none of it, but Ben needed it to keep his energy up, especially as the night went on.
  • Tons of ice water in ugly pink plastic mugs: Free

In the maternity ward

  • Brownies and carrot cake as a thank you for the delivery nurses: $18
  • Bagels and cream cheese and other assorted snacks for me, because, as Woody Allen might say, hospital food is terrible — and such small portions!: $25
  • Custom-built Sahadi’s gift basket as a thank you for the midwives: $65

TOTAL COST: $141.50

The medical expenses are, of course, another story. I still haven’t received a bill, but it was a straightforward delivery, inasmuch as the process of forcibly ejecting another human being from your body via your loins can ever be described as “straightforward.” No drugs, no surgery, no specialists. Can’t wait to see what the charges come to!

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