Close Call

Back in March, Sue asked if I could attend her birth. I suggested the idea to my mom and she thought it was great idea – so great that she offered to pay for the ticket; I could go and be a representative of the family, make Sue lots of myuk gook (mandatory iron-rich seaweed soup for new Korean mothers), and generally help Sue along in having her first baby in another country.

[Of course, after she and my dad visited Sue and Joss in Bangkok, my mom went back on her offer. She said that Sue was living in the lap of modern luxury and there was no need for me to come… Sue and I had to fight pretty hard to get my mother back on the paying-for-the-ticket-track… No joke about the easy come easy go – especially when money is involved.]

So, I went about putting things in order to take the time off: I got permission to take a Leave of Absence Without Pay, I organized folks to take care of Bella and Giselle, I bought a ticket and stuff.

Everything was in order – but of course labor and childbirth are not “in order” kinds of things. Labor and childbirth pay not the least attention to order. So, two days ago I got an email from Sue and she’s staying home; the baby’s head is engaged and she’s having serious Braxton Hicks contractions. She and I become mildly panicked that the baby is going to be born before I get to Bangkok. And worse than missing the baby’s birth, I realize, that if the baby is born before I leave, that I will probably cancel my trip and see the baby in two months when Sue and Joss come to Joshua Tree for the wedding.

I needed to do something. I did what I always do when I need to make a decision. I started reaching out to my informed friends and having long, involved conversations exploring all possibilities, but always moving inexorably to what I wanted to do all along: jump on the next flight to Bangkok. Darlene assured me that all new pregnant mothers feel like they are on the verge of labor FOR THE LAST MONTH. Also that pregnant moms can have Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks. And that the baby’s head can be engaged for a long, long time. But happily, she agreed that Sue’s baby could come any time and I should try to be there. A baby’s birth only comes once. Really, only once.

So, then I started to whip around like dust devil on meth, changing all my plans, so that I could leave THIS weekend, instead of next. I first called Delta and found out that I could switch my flight or $75 plus the difference in fare. The agent found a good flight that would only cost me $150 all told. I stopped short of making the actual change though, because I needed to check with work and Bella’s and Giselle’s accommodations. So then today, I got everything, and I mean EVERYTHING worked out. Then I settled back tonight to call Delta and change my flight.

The agent could no longer find the same fare; it was going to cost me $1500, not $150, to change my flight.

I could feel my tense shoulders creeping up to my ears – and an unpleasant feeling in my stomach thinking about going into work on Monday and having to explain all my canceled meetings.

Then, suddenly the $2500 fare that the agent kept finding (on every date combination possible) dropped to $995. We grabbed it. It only took us an hour, but we found the right flight and the numbers worked. In the end, I only paid $45 for the change (even including the $75 change fee) because the new flight was cheaper than my original flight!

It’s ironic really: the very very first time I thought I was going to finish my thesis, I said I was going to reward myself with a trip to Thailand. I didn’t finish my thesis, but went to Thailand anyway. And now (four years later), I pass my thesis and within a week I am going to Thailand! Somewhere in my miserable, wicked past, there must have been a moment of good.

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