- Gender Bender Just off the Long Island Expressway
It was only a matter of time. Some say hospital officials should have been prepared for this—and maybe they thought they were—but when it finally happened, no one seemed to have a clue. Hospital spokesperson Veronica Brassy issued a news blackout as reporters bolted forth and back, their bulky satellite trucks blocking crucial driveways, their frantic encounters disturbing even the molecules in the air. "Have you seen the babies?" they shouted. "Can you name the doctor who delivered them? How about the names of the parents? When will you be making a statement?"
Had they been candid, hospital officials might have better controlled the evolving media circus. Simply told: A pregnant Long Island couple, Danny and Amy Goldstein, had arrived just before midnight. Amy's water had broken, and she was admitted onto the delivery floor in mild labor. Her doctor, Chuck Hagen, arrived shortly thereafter, examined the rookie mother-to-be and pronounced her and children-to-be sound. "You'll be having breakfast with your twins," he informed her affably. He patted the expectant father on the shoulder. "You up for this, Dan? Did you pack your snack bag?"
The Goldsteins were indeed ready. And as the night wore on and the labor intensified, they plowed through with courage and resolve. Dan and Amy had been together since they met at a summer camp in the Poconos, as they told the nurse who monitored the labor. They had been married for two and a half years and had recently purchased a three-bedroom colonial with a big back yard. Amy had carried the pregnancy (predicted by ultrasound within 98% accuracy as fraternal twins, a boy and a girl) to 37 weeks and was determined to have a natural delivery. She labored like a trooper, Danny mopping her brow and whispering encouragement through each contraction.
As the hours wore on, Dr. Hagen checked in and kept up a steady banter with the couple. "Textbook case," he reassured them, squeezing Amy's hand and chugging a cup of hospital coffee. She was not his only patient in labor, and he shuttled all night among delivery rooms, checking fetal monitors and making notations. Some time around five a.m., Dan summoned the nurse. "Call Hagen. Something's changed." Dr. Hagen arrived, read the print-out from the fetal monitor and examined his puffing and panting patient. [End Page 209]
"Good news," he told Amy, with a reassuring smile. "You've made excellent progress. If you feel like you need to push now, feel free." Hagen turned to Dan. "Things may speed up now," he said. "You OK, man?"
Dan had the usual "deer in the headlights" pallor of expectant fathers, but he was resilient. He shook the obstetrician's hand with gravitas. "Yeah."
Dan turned back to Amy, kissed the top of her head and whispered, "We're almost there, babe." He had the presence of mind to call his parents' house and ask one of them to take the dog out for a walk. It was clear he wouldn't be home any time soon.
His mother saw his number on the phone and answered the phone screaming, "Oh, my Gawd! She's having the babies, isn't she?!" You could have heard Sue Goldstein in any of Long Island's 14 towns.
"Don't even think about coming in yet. I'll call you when it's time. OK. Mom? OK?—Mom? Mom!!"
Sue Goldstein was a known force of nature. "Take it down a notch, honey," said husband Bob, helplessly, "People do this all the time." But Sue was already out the door. They dashed over to their son's new house, hurried his golden retriever through its morning constitutional, locked the door and got back on the road to—where else?—the hospital. "Twins, Bobby! Two-fers!" She squeezed her husband's hand and beamed. Sue loved a bargain.
When the second pair of Goldsteins arrived at the hospital, there was still no media circus. The first threads of daylight were winding their way around the main building, with just a few people in...