Every time my phone rings at work, I think, Here we go. I look at the calendar: This is the day. I look at my clothes: This is what I’m going to be wearing in all the pictures. Usually, it’s someone calling to ask my least favorite question: “Has the baby come yet?”
No, it hasn’t. Thanks for reminding me.
It’s easy to forget that Sarah’s due date was an estimate—not an appointment. In most cases, post-term pregnancies aren’t really “late”; they stem from miscalculations of the time of conception. Yet we put that due date on the calendar, and it has been imprinted on our brains for months. When the day came and went, and we still had no baby, we felt betrayed.
This wait is unlike any other. The best way to describe it is you’re standing in a line, but you have no idea how many people are in front of you, and then out of nowhere someone calls you to the front of the line. It’s maddening and I can’t concentrate on anything else right now.
Yes, I’m on edge. My mind is going a zillion miles an hour. Sarah, on the other hand, is more at ease with each passing day, which makes perfect sense: I’ve always choked under pressure, while she rises to the occasion.
But while her brain fires on all cylinders, her body continues to betray her. This morning, she sent me this e-mail:
I just choked on a grape—and then coughed, and then peed all over myself, and had to change my pants! I want to have this baby tonight! Love, me
After I finished laughing, the unfairness of it all hit me. She’s in total control of herself at the moment, and I’m a goddamn 100-percent wreck. I should be the one pissing my pants.
* * *
Friday was my birthday, and Sarah, bless her soul, threw me a party. Not sure how or when she planned it, but that night, a bunch of good friends came over for pizza and beer and we all had a great big Jeff-a-palooza. Some of us drank a little too much, and I was one of them. Kept thinking, for some reason, that it would be my last chance ever.
It was a fantastic evening, and though no one said so, we were all thinking how cool it would be if Sarah went into labor that night, surrounded by friends. One by one, they left, and no fireworks went off. But in my drunken stupor, I slept with my watch on, should I be needed to time contractions. It didn’t happen, of course, but I still woke up the next morning with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Then I realized I was warm because Sarah had kicked all the blankets on me, and fuzzy because she had kicked her big stuffed dog onto my face.
* * *
A few nights later, Sarah and I were in the basement when, out of nowhere, she grabbed my knee.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I think this is it,” she said, her body shuddering.
Granted, she’d said so dozens of times before, but something was different this time. She didn’t say it like, I hope this is it. It was more like, Omigod, this is really awful and why are we doing this again? After some contractions on the basement floor, during which I just sort of stood there helplessly, Sarah told me to call my parents in Albuquerque. “Don’t tell them to get on a plane yet,” she said. “Just tell them to stand by for more information.”
I dialed and it all came rushing out as one long breathless word.
A moment later, the phone rang. It was my mom, who had made flight arrangements to fly to Chicago the next morning. The second that Sarah got wind of this, the contractions promptly disappeared.