Friday, October 18, 2013

Jena Avogat as in, "Avogat to take my pill" as many of her classmates would call to her across the quad, in the caf, in the hall, everyone in her school knew she was "preggers" as she put it before she was even showing. She was amazed, she explained while preparing to demonstrate the newest "labor induction maneuver" she had heard of, that her parents did not know before she told them. Growing up in Little Armenia CA left little room for secrets. Everyone knew everyone else's secrets either by blood, marriage or religion. Her parents had such high hopes for her. She figured she had pretty much blown her full ride to Stanford. As a Junior at Hollywood High School, yes, that Hollywood, and because she was just brilliant, and she was, she was on the fast track to a Media Studies degree before there was such a thing. Jena would not divulge her FOB. She didn't want to harm his career; he was just graduated and was already picking up small movie parts here and there. His parents were very upset that he did not go directly to university, but he figured there was plenty of time for that when he was old and ugly. I'm not sure if those were his words or hers. Jena just wanted this "thing" out of her. Hand it over, sign off on it and move on. Every so often, I read the credits of movies to see if I can find her name. I just know she went on to pursue her dream of producing and directing. 

So, Jena was preparing to demonstrate the labor induction exercise so we could all try it. We were in the room that she shared with Angel and she was. I have never known anyone since who so perfectly fit her name. How did her parents know? She was the human equivalent of the angel in DaVinci's "Virgin on the Rocks" painting. Literally, her hair just naturally made these tiny curls around her face, which looked as if it had been etched out of milky Quartz.  She was very quiet. I rarely heard her speak and when people say that pregnant women are beautiful, to this day, her image comes to my mind. I never asked about her FOB. I just wanted to believe that she was filled with the Divine. She really wasn't real to me. Unlike Avogat, as we called her, who was the most mischievous elf-like figure I have ever seen. She was a very round version of Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson). She had packed on the pounds once she told her folks. The whole thing had to be run through a family meeting. She explained and then a meeting with the Priest who felt Jena would be forgiven for her poor behavior but he did not want her walking around the neighborhood like anyone approved of it either. So, Jena had arrived at St. Anne's just two weeks before I had.  

Back to the labor induction. Avogat's labor was over due. The deal she made with the kid, she told us, was that she would do everything in her power to provide "it" with a good healthy start in life. Her five foot nothing height and the way she wore her pregnancy was visual confirmation of that promise. She looked like a geodome, one of those round houses that run on solar and use green energy and encircle those who live inside. Her due date was a long week gone by and she figured her end of the deal was complete, so now "it" had to vacate the premises. Jena had slid the two twin beds that every room held, together to provide a wide flat space. She had pushed them up against one wall to provide a backstop and was poised up against the opposite wall. She was standing on her toes and leaning forward inasmuch as a ball can lean forward before it rolls forward. Both hands were bent behind her as both counterbalance and once she extended her fingers as a spring to push herself off of the wall. There was about 6 feet between Jena and the bed and she aimed to build as much momentum as possible in the space afforded her. There were five of us in the room: Jena, poised on the wall; Angel, who was peeking around the doorway of the adjoining bathroom, two girls whose names I have forgotten (apologies), and me. We were watching this action closer than Olympic judges. Jena seemed to bob forward just a bit and then she launched herself off of the wall and in about 15 tiny steps she increased her momentum, somehow got her feet about a quarter of an inch off the floor and did a pounding belly flop on the beds.

Those of us watching cringed in unison, "oohs and aahs " were expressed and we stood frozen in position until Jena, squirming like a turtle on a rock yelled, "Get me up"! We all moved to grab a limb and after a fashion pulled her backwards off of the bed until her round little feet could touch the floor and she pushed herself back up into a standing position. For the next hour we reviewed technique, considered influencing variables, and watched for signs of labor or maybe injury; then we all shuffled back to our own beds to consider our own options for labor induction once the time came. This one was not all that enticing. She said it did not hurt but it sure looked like it hurt.

Jena's labor did not start in that hour or in that evening. She waited almost another whole week before she tried her next theory. To my knowledge there were no witnesses to this event. The last time anyone saw Jena she was waiting for the pizza she had ordered to be delivered. More accurately, she was waiting for the pizza delivery boy. Back in the day, as they say, pizza delivery persons were almost always teenaged boys. We don't know if Jena actually ate the pizza but we do know that she went into labor and delivered her baby within 24 hours of the pizza delivery. What man starts another man finishes. As we gathered to receive the news of Jena's delivery via the "back track" we all weighed the options of this last technique. Seduce the pizza boy. Some of the women who were repeat clients at St Anne's swore by it. The rest of us weren't too sure. After all, that is what got us here in the first place. No telling what kinds of complications a pizza boy could bring to the party. 

The "Back Track" was made up of veterans of the St. Anne's experience, and there were several. They had been here before, and in a couple cases before and even before that before. They knew the full layout of the building, most of the nurses and all of the nuns. They never introduced themselves, they just waited until us frightened newbies gathered in the community room to discuss someone's absence, this usually meant they had been "taken up" in the elevator to the hospital floor of the building to deliver, but we did not know that for sure. "Going up" was both heaven and hell. It meant the end of your stay at St. Anne's but the veterans told horror stories about what happened "up" there. Usually, once a discussion got started in the Community room a veteran sitting off in a corner of the room would clear her throat and say, "well, the last time I was here..." This always derailed the conversation as we all shifted to look at the speaker and then migrate, in our little shuffle slippers, over to where she sat to listen to the tale she had to tell.