Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Things I Did While Waiting

My friend Amanda is very, very pregnant. She has a little over a week to go before her due date, and, as anyone who has been pregnant knows, she's ready to be done. She says every twinge, every cramp makes her look at her watch and start waiting for a pattern to emerge.

Gabe and Amanda (and Bert and Ernie)

I think about Amanda every day: while I'm brushing my teeth, driving, soothing Westley to sleep for his nap. How tired is she? Is she getting any sleep? Is today the day?

I think back to that week before Westley was born, and it's sort of blurry. I was due the Thursday after Thanksgiving; my maternity leave started the day before Thanksgiving. I remember packing up the contents of my desk at work and shutting down the computer. We'd had a potluck Thanksgiving lunch at the office, so I rode home on the bus with a casserole dish of roasted root vegetable salad leftovers on my lap.

Rob and I had just moved, but I couldn't bring myself to unpack. I remember having terrible insomnia and sitting up in our dark, bare living room watching "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" and "Ace of Cakes" and "A Baby Story." I hope Amanda isn't watching mediocre Food Network programming. And I really hope she isn't watching babies-getting-born shows. The last thing you need when you're hugely pregnant and insomniac and counting down days to your due date is to watch other women go through labor.

The nights before my due date are all a blur of not sleeping and the light from the TV shining on me. The same programming, over and over. Impossibly huge cakes shaped like cars and office buildings, and that same TLC angle of women in that same hospital bed. The funny thing is: I don't remember what I did during the day. On Thanksgiving Day, I cooked and ate and felt horribly crampy after dinner. But that's all I remember, until my due date a week later.

I hope Amanda isn't cooking. I really hope she's not standing in front of a hot oven, bending down, basting a Tofurkey roast and having giant Braxton-Hicks contractions. (Not that Amanda would be cooking Tofurkey. I'm not sure she's ever even had Tofurkey.) I hope she's ready. Or, rather, I hope she's relaxed into the reality that no one is ever "ready," and is at ease with her level of preparedness. Somewhere, I have a "to do" list I was working on the week before I was due. About a third of it is checked off, and one of the unchecked boxes is "Baby's Room."

The week before it is gone, but I remember my due date really, really well. I forced myself to leave the TV off, not to watch any babies-being-born shows, and to think as little about babies and childbirth and labor as possible. A few hours later, I remember feeling a little rush of fluid when I stood up, and I remember thinking, That was weird. I wonder what that's about.

Two days later, I met Westley.

I hope Amanda doesn't have to wait much longer.

Your turn: Do you remember the week before your baby was born better than I do? What did you do while waiting? What did you not do?