When Worry Turns to Waiting

Luke gets home at 4:30pm today, but there’s no knowing when this baby will come. For the last few weeks, I have been holding onto my belly and saying “Stay in there, just stay in there till September” and now it is finally September. I have a lot to do today, now that I’m not on a self-imposed near-bedrest. We’ll need more vegetables so Luke can make morning smoothies. I’ll get the truck cleaned. Since the days of expensive coffees are drawing near, I should probably get myself one last one this morning while it’s cool out and the caffeine will still count. By afternoon, I’ll need a nap, a shower, a snack, I will look down at the baby and it will still be in there even after all these months of worry that today would arrive and I’d already have a baby outside of me and Luke would have to introduce himself like a stranger. I know other people do this, but it doesn’t make the anxiety any easier. A friend of mine was living in France when she had her daughter and her husband couldn’t make it from Ireland until the next day. In France, they had taught her how to touch the baby in utero so it would respond to her hands during delivery. She pushed them down the curve of her core, willing that the baby would come out fast, and she did, but it wasn’t until the next day she met her dad. I want this baby to hear Luke’s voice right away like I did because it was one of the first things I loved about him.

My friend gave birth mostly alone. I asked her if it was really lonely for her, and she paused and said, well yes, as though she hadn’t thought about it in that way before. She is a strong woman, a painter who speaks many languages and used to live in community. You can tell she is comfortable with solitude. I often wish for this gift. This morning, I am here alone, and it is soothing to have the breeze coming through the open windows (and through the hole in the backdoor Quincy tore out one night last week after he’d ransacked the trash and eaten a rotisserie chicken carcass and didn’t want to vomit in the house). The air pulls through here like it might in one of my houses in New Orleans—a straight warm shot from the front through the back.

I like this airy aloneness in the morning, but by afternoon, it will shift, and I will be looking for someone with better ideas. One of the reasons I like having a life partly separated from Luke is the excitement of days like today. It’s like someone says to me, when you wake up, today, you’re going to meet the person you’ll spend the rest of your life with. Good thing I already know who he is and he’s still the person I’d choose to meet with his leather bag and Dansko clogs in front of the airport fountain. All of today is composed of distracting details until Luke’s plane touches down with his five carry-ons and the 200 pounds of fish we will eat over the coming year.

My mom washed all the floors yesterday, put clean sheets in the dryer, helped me haul off trash. I watered the plum trees and the trumpet vine. I guess I have been trying to hold off two harvests for Luke (baby and backyard). The baby has worked out so far; the backyard, not as much. But the morning glories were triumphant this morning, their curls wound round the front porch banister and the back, and a few purple blooms tangled up and competing with the roses. Luke has seen none of this, and when I look at it, I try to remember it with his eyes, before the change of seasons and change of trimesters, before the rocking chairs on the porch and the high chair at the table and all the other baby items strewn through every room in the house, and I wonder if he’ll feel like he’s coming back to his own life this afternoon.

I stayed at my parents’ house last night, and at dawn this morning, I heard the pack of coyotes in the flood plain down the street making moans. Their sound is one of both mourning and annunciation, of change and of staying put. I heard them the morning of my 8-week ultrasound, too, when I was nervous that things wouldn’t make it this far and my belly would not turn moon-shaped under my shirt. I wasn’t sure if they were a good omen that morning, but then on the screen, the baby was already a baby and the blood swishing through its systems flared red and alive and working, so those coyotes must have been a harbinger of health, of this primal perfection that occurs during birth whether we can predict the day or the hour or the circumstances.

It is a full moon—a new moon this month—and it was hanging over the mountains like a single-object mobile this morning as I drove west. I might have missed it if I wasn’t looking carefully. It looks like a disc of shed skin or a pale fish scale that could up and blow away. I hope Luke can see it from the plane.