Price check in aisle nine

Published 7:25 pm Thursday, August 15, 2013

After 39 weeks, our baby girl’s bid for the world outside began about 2:30 p.m. on July 25 in the North Suffolk Harris Teeter supermarket.

Unbeknownst to me, ensconced as I was in our South Saratoga Street newsroom, my wife was shopping with the two soon-to-be first-time grandmothers when the real labor contractions began. Eclipsing the puny ones of the previous two weeks, they got underway in earnest somewhere near the checkout line.

“People were staring at me, they were very nervous,” said my good wife, who won’t mind me quoting her from our telephone-text conversation.


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“One got me a chair and asked if I was OK,” she texted as I was finishing up my last stories. “My mom told them I was in labor, and they were very concerned.”

My mother, having arrived from Australia for the big event three days prior, was forced to abandon her grocery list, leaving her shopping basket bereft of — let me imagine — almond milk and pitted prunes.

“She was running around the store trying to get a few things and decided to cut short the list,” my wife confirmed. “I insisted on getting my own groceries, so I walked all over the store.”

In a place where workers stocked shelves with Cheerios and mid-afternoon shoppers dug into handbags for rewards cards and loose change, the miraculous mingled with the mundane.

At the hospital later that afternoon, and into the night and the next day, things were much the same, with medical staff routinely ushering into the world one new life after another.

I’ll spare all details of the delivery, which was over at 4:16 a.m. on July 26. Betraying a text message is one thing ….

After a protracted “labor,” once everything really started, at Harris Teeter on a Thursday afternoon, I suppose it was over relatively quickly for the birth of child No. 1.

Yes, the fun has begun. Babies are nocturnal and emit substances I’m still coming to terms with.

Charlotte makes a whole range of noises I’m sure are unique, and I believe she’s already figuring things out as she gazes at the world around her.

Poppy — our border collie — has so far been the biggest critic of our parenting skills, and has welcomed the newest member of the pack without jealousy.

When she’s old enough to understand, we’re looking forward to showing Charlotte the place where her bid for freedom began.

She may have been born in Portsmouth, but she was across the line in Suffolk when she decided it was time.

And to whoever got my wife the chair, I offer my sincere thanks.