to end or arrive

[I am jumping back in the story – alas, I’ve long abandoned hope of a chronological account.]

At 38 weeks it is inevitable. It is pressing on us from all around – at any moment labor could start and then we will have a baby and then we will always always be parents. I have never felt the inevitable like I feel it now, even when other things were just as certain and binding.

Perhaps it is because this inevitability is accompanied by so much unknown. You are a stranger to me. I know your movements and little else. It is enough to establish familiarity, a curiosity, but who will you be? And who will I be, as I am born anew into this?

At 40 weeks it feels improbable. Sure, we have a washer and dryer. We have the car seat installed. We have the crib set up and my belly is enormous. But this is our new normal. I will be pregnant forever and all the rest is a bit of pretending. I stop moving things around in a frenzy of preparation. There is a stack of diapers I haven’t washed yet. But we have time – we have all the time in the world.

At 41 weeks it is once again cerebral. I end where I began. There are twinges – things that say: You are not what you were. You are not yet what you will be. At 41 weeks and waiting it is hard to remember the wonder, to recall how I thought I’d feel at this time: peaceful and abiding in the process. I walk and walk, aggravated that with all my effort there is nothing to show for it. I remind myself that effort does nothing during labor, that this is a time to let my body progress and trust, but then I swear at that other self because she is pretentious and I hate her.

The days between 41 and 42 weeks are blurry, emotional and restless. I rubbed a lot of clary sage onto my ankles. I logged a lot of miles, walking on curbs because I’d heard it could start things up. I walk the graveyard. I walk the path along the lake. I walk the neighborhood and wonder if anyone sees, if a woman stands inside a window and points and says “There she goes again.”

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Several times I’ve found him with his feet pressed against the bars in his sleep, and it reminds me of the way I like to tuck my toes into the space between the mattress and the bed frame. Some nights it’s the only way I can go to sleep.

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I keep thinking that I need to wait until the beginning of a week, the beginning of a new month. I keep thinking that I need to wait until I can revisit how it began.

I’m beginning here, in the middle. There are too many things I want to remember and one of them is this moment – the two of us on the couch in the sunlight, the same place we’ve spent countless hours in the last six months.

Or — how he will chase his shadow, the sunlight streaming through the west window.

It is called plankton net for this, for all the very tiny very crucial diverse collection of memories that need to be scooped up, held, observed.

Here is another – the way he scoots his body into the path of sunlight in his crib. It’s a bit ridiculous, the haphazard cardboard over the windows in an attempt to create an optimal napping environment, and there’s a little patch of sunlight that won’t be deterred. He sees it and smiles and hauls his body toward it, just to be in it, just to move his fingers in it.