Monday, August 25, 2003

Thoughts on the Art of Waiting

Thoughts on the Art of Waiting
Jara Ahrabi

This is the part of pregnancy and childbirth that no one tells you about: the waiting. Despite the fact that I am still five days from my official due date and twelve days from the day of my own calculation, and despite my knowledge that first babies often come “late,” I am all freaked out. This is the hardest waiting I have ever done.

I wander around the house as though looking for something. When the phone rings my first thought is, maybe this is it. When new email comes in, I pep up ever so slightly, as though it might be coming straight from my baby, telling me he is ready. Of course my child is not sending me email or telephoning, he is just hanging out in his little water bubble, waiting. He is waiting too.

Well-meaning people tell me to do things like sleep, go to the movies, get a pedicure, enjoy this time with my husband; go on dates, they say. But I don’t want to go on dates or get a pedicure. I want to have a baby. I want to have a baby today.

I am completely opposed to almost everything obstetricians do, but I even start to wonder if a wee shot of pitocin might be a good idea. When I say this aloud to my midwife, I know I have completely lost my grip on reality.

My mother has called me everyday this month. I don’t know if she is afraid that otherwise labor will start and the baby will be born and she won’t know it until afterwards (which is probably true) or if she is just as anxious as I am and has little to do but talk on the phone. She asks me everyday, “How is my grandson?” What am I supposed to say to that? He is upside down? He is kicking the dickens out of my lower right rib?

I wish that I could abandon my house, my family, my phone, and my computer and move off to a little beach house by myself (I might bring my husband) until the baby is born. I can barely stand going out in public, or even to family dinner, anymore. People ask how much longer. They say that they know how ready I must be. Somehow they say this in a condescending way. They look at my belly. Even though, I must say, it is a gorgeous belly, and I myself adore it, I wish other people would stop looking at it. In the beginning, I sent proud photos of myself to my friends, but now, towards the end of this pregnancy I feel that my privacy is being threatened. Pregnancy and childbirth seem like private and intimate things to me, and I am tired of sharing them. Some sort of old-fashioned confinement in these final weeks seems like a brilliant idea.

Afterword: My labor lasted 79 hours. My precious baby boy was welcomed into the world by a very patient midwife who has perfected the art of waiting.

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