I was just reading this email from a friend after her due date before her baby was born. The strange limnal state of waiting. The urgency that was there for me for so long--from two weeks before the date when I went to Easter in Connecticut against the advice of some--all the way through to the due date that came and went, that urgency is gone now. A quiet sort of calm has set in. Not for many neighbors, who pounce on us in the halls and elevators hourly, asking for news. These aren't people we know well enough to have otherwise told, but you'd think it was the biggest event since JFK cut the ribbon at the dedication for this housing cooperative. I feel bad that Alex has taken to snapping at them. Me too, a little bit. Though sometimes my version of snapping is simply not to respond gushing with enthusiasm, but in a more matter of fact way. Wally is the most confused. People keep asking him, "Where's the baby?" and acting surprised to see us going about our normal routine. "You're not supposed to be here!" they exclaim, doing a double take when they see us walking outside in the morning. We're not? Since it's routine for babies to be "late", why is it such a surprise to so many people? The midwife gave me the date of around April 26 to induce if nothing's happened yet, so I'm now giving that to people as the official new date. It doesn't stop the questions or comments, but I like to change the frame. Not an assignment for which you missed the deadline. Not an overdue library book hidden under the couch. Not anxiously waiting for someone that's lagging behind to finally arrive.
The birds are chirping outside. It's pretty quiet now, even for Manhattan, though the dogs are starting to bark, traffic starting to pick up. I'm still just waiting. I wish like Anne Tyler I was still just writing. I am doing a little of that. And a good amount of work that I didn't think I would get to which should put me in better shape for the maternity leave I can't really take. I also, for the first time in ten years, filed my taxes on time, a few days early, even. No running out to the post office at a quarter to midnight, no extensions, no irritating post-it note reminders as we near mid-October that the extension is nearing its end. A cartoonish image of the IRS guy standing outside my door tapping his watch. You are already late. You are already behind. Six months was plenty of time, he'd say if he spoke. But he doesn't need to. The finger tapping against the watch is enough. What kind of idiot files for a 6-month extension then waits until the very last second again? Someone who is always running late. Over the 3 years of writing this blog I think I've finally gotten out of that pattern.
It's light outside. Alex and Wally will be waking up soon. Wally will rush into our room looking for the baby, with a bit less enthusiasm than he had yesterday, when he had a little less enthusiasm than he'd had the day before. This pregnancy I've been for ultrasound after ultrasound, fetal monitoring every week for the past 5 weeks, but the mystery of something as routine as having a baby defies science. A baby may be due a certain day, but that's probably not when he or she will arrive. We can induce, schedule c-sections, drink castor oil. But otherwise there's such uncertainty there, the timing of the baby's arrival being one of the few things in life we don't control. I suppose that's what it is that makes people so frantic about it. But go way back, way back to the beginning. Neither creationism nor evolution fully satisfy as an explanation for how things began, for how we got here. The beginning is always a mystery. Maybe the uncertainty around each baby's arrival recapitulates that essential impossibility of any of us being here at all.