The Waiting Game

Sometimes it feels as if Labor Day will never arrive.


As our baby’s due date came and went, my husband and I were half-crazed with boredom and impatience. We had organized the baby’s clothes by color and stockpiled enough canned goods to last for several years. But no matter what we did to keep busy, time pretty much ground to a halt — for the whole last month. Here’s how it went:

2 weeks before due date

Realize, horrified, that you’re not ready for parenthood. Fantasize guiltily about postponing birth. Note that husband is too busy assembling crib, changing table, car seat, bouncy seat and stroller to think about it. Fret obsessively about water breaking in public. Hide relief when OB reports cervix tightly closed.

10 days before due date

“Nesting urge” hits like hormonal tornado. Clean out closets. Drag old magazines and crumpled holiday gift wrap to garbage. Conduct scavenger hunt for bizarre items recommended in childbirth class (what is that tennis ball for?). Pack, unpack, repack hospital suitcase.

9 days before due date Thoughtful friends, relatives call. Tell them, “Any minute now!”

8 days before due date Put vinyl protector on mattress in case water breaks during night.

7 days before due date OB pronounces cervix still closed. Again, hide relief.

6 days before due date Wash all baby clothes. Inspired, expand laundry duty to every fabric item in house, including rugs and soft-sided luggage. Collapse into bed, suffer insomnia due to annoying crackling from mattress protector.

5 days before due date Purchase $90 worth of magazines to pass time in hospital.

4 days before due date Hour-long Braxton Hicks episode inspires applying childbirth-instructor’s test for distinguishing “false labor” from “real labor”: If the former, contractions stop after glass of wine. Thrilled for medical sanction after nine dry months, guzzle glass of Merlot like a teen-ager at a keg party. Lie down. Contractions stop.

3 days before due date Bake banana bread. Scrub toaster. Reupholster dining-room chairs. Read magazines purchased for hospital stay.

24 hours before due date Husband goes on stroller-improvement tear, tinkering with wheels and handlebar to “optimize performance.”

Due date Doctor confirms cervix still closed, pronounces due-date prediction an inexact science. Stock up on water and canned goods. Brood about college tuition in 2018.

1 day late Awaken to bloody show! Call husband; describe mucus in excruciating detail. Call best friend; repeat story. Shower, shave legs, polish toenails. Recline on sofa. Wait for contractions.

2 days late Vacuum under sofa. Realize you could perform open-heart surgery on coffee table. Mopey husband pushes empty stroller around living room.

3 days late Pesky friends, relatives call: “So? …” Begin screening calls.

4 days late Awaken to achy back. Shift positions. Backache retreats, then returns. Consider waking husband. Consider doing final load of laundry. Consider scrubbing bathroom grout. Decide to relax and see what develops. Feel overcome by odd sense of peace. Realize that baby will be born on his schedule, not yours. Drifting back to sleep, lulled by soothing crackle of vinyl mattress protector, realize you just might be ready for parenthood after all.