The door is closed. My feet are bare. I wear a paper gown designed to cover a few corners and welcome drafts of air in all the wrong places. The forest green shades block out any natural light, but I can hear angry taxis honking and large trucks bullying their way down Second Avenue. I’m uncomfortable in this crinkly paper, but I keep waiting.
A nurse with long silver hair pulled back in a clip enters my room. She proceeds to ask the usual personal questions and take my blood pressure. I’m sure my pulse must be racing, but she says, “Fine. The doctor will be in shortly.”
Shortly…after sitting here for twenty minutes reading every issue of People magazine in the rack, the doctor knocks. “Come in,” I say, hoping it really is the doctor and not some wandering patient who’ll get to view me in my paper finery.
She extends a graceful hand. “Hi, I’m Dr. Lin. I have good news…your blood test is positive. You are pregnant.”
“Wow! I mean I thought so, but to hear the words. I’m so excited.” Dr. Lin looks like an angel to me even if her white lab coat is covered with smiling blue whales.
“Well, let’s see how far along you are.”
I assume the humbling position and let her poke around inside and press here and there all while trying to have a typical conversation. “So do you work here in Manhattan?”
“I’m a freelance artist.” And I’d like you to remove your hand, please.
“I’d say you’re about eight weeks along. You have approximately thirty two weeks to go…giving you a due date of August seventeenth.”
I meander home in a fog, weaving in and out of window shoppers and tourists. I can hardly believe a baby is growing within me. I’d like to shout my news to all of New York. Thirty-two weeks to go.
I wrap a little bootie to surprise Gene.
“Really?” I nod with tears. “Wow!” We hug and pray together, thanking God.
I can believe it now. My taste in food has changed. The smell of the famous German steakhouse on the corner of my block makes me want to puke whenever I pass by. I’ll circle the block just to avoid that smell. I want to move back to the suburbs. I’m paranoid the baby is breathing city pollution. I worry all the time.
Twenty eight weeks to go.
We do move into the upstairs of my mother-in-law’s house on Long Island. I’m obsessed with reading Everything You Need to Know When You’re Expecting. I’ve memorized half the book. Some birthing positions look to natural for me. I want to be covered up, not squatting in a bathtub, naked as the newborn I’ll deliver.
Sixteen more weeks.
The baby kicks and hiccups and I stare at the fuzzy sonogram picture of toes. Amazing. But time is passing way too slow.
People give up their seat for me. Now I know why the doctor wore whales on her coat. I sure feel like one. I waddle and can’t see my toes in the shower.
Due date has come and gone.
Forty weeks is too long. Is this baby ever coming? Please, Lord. I hear it might hurt a little.
Ten days past due date.
Timing contractions to the minute like we’re running a marathon. Each minute matters. Back and forth to the hospital for false alarms. Finally admitted only to pace the halls; minutes become hours. Waiting.
Down to the final minutes.
Breathing through pain, pressure, endless counting.
At once with the rush of wind, he slides into the world like slippery butter. Not what I pictured.
A silent pause. A first cry.
Welcome, baby Stephen.
Forty weeks long, but now eighteen years have blinked by in a minute. I can almost comprehend God’s view of time: “...and a thousand years are like a day.” I adjust the gold tassel on Stephen’s cap, step back.
“Say cheese.” I try not to cry, but my eyes well up with memories since I first heard my good news, the first minute hope, anticipation, worry, and joy twisted around my heart.
Scripture verse: 2Peter 3:8 NIV
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