House Seats


Fire This Time Festival: Antepartum

In this new work by Deneen Reynolds-Knott, two pregnant women find themselves paired together in the antepartum unit of a hospital. Faced with the broken expectations of their birth plans, the women find respite and understanding as they realize they are not alone in their experience. Filmed at the Fire This Time Festival at The Kraine Theater.

AIRED: July 27, 2020 | 0:12:54


-Come a little bit stage right. -Places, everyone.


My name is Deneen Reynolds-Knott and my play is "Antepartum."

"Antepartum" is about two pregnant women

who are navigating hospital bed rest

and their broken expectations

in the antepartum unit of a hospital.

The inspiration for antepartum was my own experience,

living in the antepartum unit for 10 days

with my oldest son, who is now 10.

And what I remember about it was being terrified, of course.

But I also remember the kindness and generosity

of the other patients in the ward.

And so I wanted to create a play

that was really powered by that generosity and kindness.

[ Heart beating ]

[ Scraping ]

[ Baby cooing ]

[ Smooching ]


[ Whispering ]



[ Whispering ]


[ Heart beating on monitor ]


[ Both gasp ]


[ Whispering ]

[ Gasps ]


[ Whispering ]


[ Heart beating faster ]

[ Both gasping ]


[ Whispering ]



[ Both gasping ]






[ Sighs ]

[ Breathes deeply ]

[ Monitor beeping ]


Thank you.

[ Clears throat ]

[ Sighs ]

[ Breathing deeply ]

[ Beeping continues ]




Uh, I didn't hear them bring anyone in.

How long have you been here?

Um, I -- I don't know.

It was late or -- or maybe really early.

If you want to pull back the curtain, you can.

I now it can get dark over there.

It's a nice view. I have no problem sharing it.

Okay, thanks.

You can open it now or later or --

I don't think I can reach it, though.

Oh. [ Grunts softly ]

Hi. [ Chuckles ]

I'm Mara.

Hi, Autumn.

The park's really in bloom now.

How long have you been here?

Uh, a month on Friday.

She's staying put. [ Chuckles ]

Oh, you didn't get to choose your breakfast.

They always give you the worst stuff when you don't.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, that's what they did.

This muffin isn't bad. Want it?

I'm okay.

Make sure to fill out the menus.

For lunch, the cream of broccoli soup is really good.

For dinner, the chicken Parmigiana

is much better than it should be.

Never get the rice pilaf. It's always undercooked.

How are the Swedish meatballs?


But the chocolate pudding is delicious.

How many weeks are you?

Uh, 33.

So when you got here...

My water broke week 29, just a couple days shy of 30.

How many weeks are you?


That's bad, isn't it?

Just tell the little one

to relax and stay put.

We're making it to term.

Have any of those, uh, NICU doctors talked to you yet?


Then they're coming, all nice with their,

"Hi, we want to tell you about the NICU

to prepare you for what happens after your baby is born.

And to answer any concerns or questions."

Make sure they take your insurance,

because I talked to one of those jokers

for 10 minutes after I was admitted.

They charged me $600, and my insurance won't cover it.

$600 for 10 minutes?!

Mm-hmm! Mm-hmm!

Why didn't I become a doctor?

I'm saying.

Have you been on one of those maternity tours yet?


They don't tell you about the antepartum unit on the tour.

Guess they're not trying to scare

a bunch of expecting people.

We were still trying to decide between a home birth

or a birthing center.

I had the whole plan in my head.

Hm. What was the plan?

It doesn't matter now.

Were you planning on delivering here?

Yeah, I have fibroids,

so something about where they're located.

I don't think I would have been cleared

for a birthing center.

This is your first child?

No, I have a 3-year-old.


[ Chuckling ] She's actually mad at me for being here.

She won't talk to me when my husband brings her.

Well, she misses you.


Your first?


Your daughter came early, too?

No. It's a mystery.

Last night I was eating dinner at home.

It was a hot day, so I had on a linen skirt,

and suddenly, the back of it was drenched.

And now I'm in this bed.

And the best case scenario is that I'm gonna be lying here

for a very long time.

It's so weird.

I was teaching, standing at the whiteboard,

writing, and I could feel the trickle.

It felt so strange and warm,

but I kept on writing and kept talking.

Class ended.

Still took questions from students after class

standing there leaking,

reassuring Charles about his grade.

[ Both chuckle ]

Then I came straight here.

They come by and change our padding.

But if yours gets too wet, there's extra in that table.

Oh, okay.

Some days, it's a really slow leak.

Some days it's a lot, but that's just me.

Good morning.

Oh, so this is the social room.


Good morning.

Hello, Miss Williams.

I'm Dr. Niles from the neonatal intensive care unit

where your baby will be admitted.

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you

about the unit and our process.

Also answer any questions you have.

-What insurance do you take? -Oh!

That's a very smart question.


-What insurance do you have? -Blue Cross.

Oh, I do not accept Blue Cross.

Well, I can't talk to you.

Do any of the other doctors in there take Blue Cross?

I don't think so, but I'll ask around.

For free?

She's refusing the service.

Yes, this is a refusal.

Go away!

Well, that was way more emphatic than I meant it.

-I understand. -You seem like a nice person.

-Thanks? -Mm-hmm.

-Yes. -I'll go.


Have a good day. Have a good day.

Don't charge her!

Wait, so it's possible that none of the NICU doctors

in there take our insurance, but our babies will be in there?

What does that mean?

It means so many bills. I'm never opening.

He never said he wouldn't charge you.

You notice that?

You think he will?

I should have recorded that conversation.

Oh, record me. I'm a witness.

I look a mess, but I can vouch for you.

Come on.

[ Chuckles ] Are you sure?


Oh, okay.


Hi, I'm Mara Price.

It's Tuesday, right?


Tuesday, June 20 --

23rd. 23rd. Yes.

It's Tuesday, June 23rd. You lose track of time in here.

-I'm with Autumn...Williams? -Mm-hmm.

Autumn Williams just refused a conversation

with Dr. Niles from the NICU.

He didn't give her any information

and she should not be billed because no service was rendered.

-Okay. Okay. [ Chuckles ] -Thanks.

I don't think that would be admissible anywhere.

[ Both laugh ]

How many roommates have you had?

You're the fourth.

Did any of them make it to 37 weeks?

They were preterm,

but I hear the babies are okay.

We get to hear their heartbeats every day.

They'll probably take you in before lunch.

Do you know if you're having a girl or boy?

I'm not supposed to, but one of the nurses let it slip.

I'm trying to forget what I heard.

-I'm sorry. -Yeah.

It's just one more thing, right?

I wanted only natural light and candles.

The whole room would have smelled like lavender.

I love lavender.

Mm. I squat on a birthing ball.

I take a deep breath.

My partner massages my legs with peppermint oil

and I sip a smoothie made of honeydew and kiwi...


...and there's soothing music playing.

What music?



[ Chuckles ]

I hold my baby, and I'm welcoming them into our world.


We take a warm bath together

with healing herbs.

I kiss their soft skin,

and we snuggle.

That's really beautiful.

We can close this if you need.

Yeah, could we?

Sure. Just let me know when you want it open again.

It's no problem at all.

Good looking out, Mara.



[ Cheers and applause ]








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