Dan Szczesny find peace in the calm before the parenthood storm.
She’s not here yet.
As of this writing, my daughter is three days overdue. The doctors say everything is as it should be; heart rate, blood pressure, size, all good. The missus is doing fine as well, though a bit short of breath as one would expect from seven pounds of baby pressing on your lungs all day. And let’s not even talk about the trips to the bathroom.
We’ve adopted a few old wives tales natural methods for hurrying along labor – stewed prunes for example. My wife prefers just walking, though, so for the past week, we’ve piled into the car and made the trip to the mall for a walk-about.
We’re not worried. But we are anxious. Her parents, my in-laws, flew in from Chicago today and will be with us for the next two weeks. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not like that. I adore them, and if the mounds of home-made Nepalese food they ply me with whenever I see them is any indication, they think I’ll do as well.
But, in the end they are not here to feed me. They are here to spend time with their new grand-daughter. Thus far, their grand-daughter has had other ideas.
So we all wait.
My wife’s maternity leave began a week ago and she will have the ability – through work and other arrangements – to take a full three months. Incredibly, because I work mainly from home and my classes don’t begin until April, I’ll be able to spend most of that three months on maternity leave as well.
How amazing and thankful we are. And how rare. The two of us will be able to co-care for our little one together, every day, for her first three months. That is, when she decides to join us.
But our little one’s late arrival may have served another purpose, and offered us an unexpected and very fine start to our upcoming parenthood. Let’s call it the calm before the storm.
In the week prior to our due date, and the arrival of my wife’s parents, we literally had nothing to do but wait. The car seat was installed and the hospital bags packed. The nursery was finished. The house was cleaned.
So, every morning, instead of getting up for work, instead of rushing off a hurried breakfast, we’d do nothing. We would get up without an alarm. We would make coffee. We would read the paper in bed. We would talk about the coming baby. We would wait. Every day, for one whole week this was our routine. I may have been the finest week of our marriage, a combination of peace and relaxation, coupled with healthy doses of terror and expectation and joy.
(As an amusing aside, Google “Newspaper and coffee in bed” and peruse the images that come up. As wonderful as the week has been, we have NEVER looked like the people in those pictures!)
Anyway, a couple days into our newspaper and coffee in bed week, my wife woke with terrible contraction cramps. I whipped out my contraction app (oh, yes, you better believe there is such a thing) and began timing. By the time we hit the third one in 15 minutes, I was pulling on my jeans and falling over myself to make sure we got to the hospital on time. But just as quickly they came, they stopped. Our daughter must have had a good laugh over that one.
That’s a week that neither of us will soon forget. Now that my in-laws are here and the baby is several days overdue, we both receive an enormous amount of calls, tweets and messages every day from well wishers and family. They are all playing the waiting game as well. But in reality, less than 15 percent of babies arrive at their due date, so I take consolation that my daughter is scoring in the 85 percentile at this early age.
In the meantime, there is a due date betting pool taped to our fridge. Most of our friends and family who picked dates have already been knocked out. But a couple picked late. One picked really late.
I can’t blame my daughter, I guess. She has food 24 hours a day, a warm bed and all the distractions she needs to keep from getting bored. At some point we’ll just resign ourselves to the whims of our baby-to-be. And when she decides she’s ready, we’ll be ready as well. Until then, perhaps we can convince the in-laws to give us one more morning in bed with a newspaper and coffee.
By Dan Szczesny
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Photo: Flickr/Tony McCann