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The weight of the wait

Written by: Rachel Reiff Ellis May 07 2012 Today is my due date. As someone who watched “week 40, day 0” pass by three and a half years ago with no baby to show for anything, and now as someone who is looking at the red-circled square on the calendar with a middle stretched taut...

Written by: Rachel Reiff Ellis

Today is my due date. As someone who watched “week 40, day 0” pass by three and a half years ago with no baby to show for anything, and now as someone who is looking at the red-circled square on the calendar with a middle stretched taut and tight into shiny streaks, I can say that there are more hopes pinned to this day than I want to admit. There are expectations that certain things will have already been set into motion: a birthday, a beginning, the pushing of a first domino that will start the chain of events of a new life. But instead the countdown continues. The supplies remain stocked. The tiny clothes untouched. The weight and the wait still heavy as ever.

But babies will come when they’re ready. Some appear 11 days early with a pop and a gush and a middle of the night race to the hospital with horns blaring through red-lighted intersections. Others wait until five days past their estimated arrival day, while everything prepares and expands in secret until suddenly they rocket into existence, an exclamation point on the end of a long, complex, compound sentence. But still, before all that, doctors will measure and prod and make notes on charts, trying to peer into the future with their gloved hands, ultrasound wands, furrowed brows. But all they can do is guess. All any of us can do is guess.

Waiting is hard for the one who bears the weight, but in some ways it’s even harder for those whose grasp of time doesn’t yet extend beyond “sometime after Easter day.” When is that baby going to come, Mama? Soon, I promise. Tomorrow? I don’t know. But when? I wish I knew, baby girl. I wish I knew.

In the meantime, we cross off another day with purple-tipped pens.

Slowed like my gait, the days feel suspended and sharp. I am a rubber band pulled back to its maximum tension, awaiting release. A pendulum at the apex of its swing. My body aches from the strain, more than ready to roll down the hill, drop the load, let gravity take its course. I pace on puffy feet, hoping to spur on a mystical process, to will it into action. I scrub the tiles and take the stairs. I do not let the bag boy carry my milk. I squat down to get the bowl from the bottom shelf, knees splayed wide and pelvis open. And all the while my head asks the same questions it’s heard before.

When is that baby going to come?
Soon, I promise.
Tomorrow?
I don’t know.
But when?
I wish I knew.

I wish I knew.

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