Waiting for Baby
by Sam Binnie
I would question whether any time in the world goes as slowly as the final days of pregnancy. It’s not the dreadful slo-mo of a disaster, which brief moment you replay over and over in your head – it’s an elongated, unmeasurable length of impatience, weight and frustration, spooling out for what seems like an eternity. Relatively housebound (just in case those waters finally break, those aches finally become contractions) you can’t even distract yourself by visiting pals across town (because East London is effectively eastern Asia right now, for your inability to travel). Usual routes to calm are out – no cooking, because ten minutes into standing at the counter your legs are aching and it’s time for another nap; no running, but that’s been for a long time – watching other women running now results in a tearful wistfulness for when you’ll ever be able to join them again; no laughing with friends, because the baby has grown so huge that it’s crushing your sense-of-humour gland and now NOTHING IS FUNNY; not even creating “Imagination Stories” for the other two kids, which usually means putting bits of the Iliad into fairytale form and wondering if they can grasp ‘hamartia’ yet, but currently just involves falling asleep half-way through retelling whichever film from your own childhood you just watched with them before you, yes, fell asleep half-way though that, too.
I’m not a patient person (I know, I know, that will genuinely surprise anyone who knows me and my easy-going ways). Despite the fact that my obsessive punctuality (always arrive fifteen minutes early, then you’ve got time to read before your event begins) has slipped slightly in the last few years (always arrive. The right day is good; the right place is even better. That’s all you can really ask), my blood still boils at others’ tardiness, so the fact that a baby which I grew, which is still technically of a part with me, might just be kicking back watching reruns of some past life or other, rather than coming out and meeting its family and checking out the frankly marvellous babygro which my sister pronto-shipped from her current home in Australia three weeks ago just in case it arrived early… well that, I’m afraid, is a poor show.
My sole consolation (besides the fact that it and I are both well, of course, of course) is that my reading pile is diminishing rapidly, as I read entirely uninterrupted in these final few days. I’ve ploughed through some of the best reading I’ve done for months: The Sisters Brothers, Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, The Song of Achilles, some Jonathan Lethem essays, and they’ve all been an utter pleasure. When all I can do is lie still and occasionally be awake, that bedside pile has turned from Something I Really Need To Do Something About into the most wonderful choice of worlds. I haven’t felt so free to open all these doors, so greedily, one after another, since I was a child. So I suppose that’s one thing for which I can be grateful. OK, kiddo, we’re back on speaking terms. As long as you don’t wait too much longer.
Sam Binnie is the author of The Wedding Diaries and The Baby Diaries, and lives in London with her family. She has mainly only eaten Snickers ice creams and bibimbap for the last four months, and would like very much to name any future child after Tyrion Lannister.