December 29, 2006
I was driving down Flushing Avenue near the Brooklyn Navy Yard tonight when I passed a friend biking down the other side of the street. If you don't know it, the Navy Yard is sort of a semi-abandoned walled off industrial area. It features ruined mansions, the parking lot where police tow cars with too many delinquent tickets, and some sort of sewage treatment plant. Anyway, at night whole area is pretty deserted so I slowed down and shouted over to my friend as he pedaled along at a furious pace. I yelled hello and drove off but he soon caught up to me at a red light. Through the open window I asked after his wife who is pregnant and he said he thought she might give birth tonight or tomorrow... He said he looked at her this morning and was just staggered. We forget what those last days of pregnancy look like. She's due. Overdue probably. He was rushing home and after that brief exchange he zoomed off at full speed not bothering to stop for the lights...
It's a very specific feeling— knowing your wife is on the cusp of giving birth. I used to use the analogy of being in an airport, heading off for a big adventure, but being on hold, waiting for a flight that you know will come, but that keeps being rescheduled or sometimes I would use the analogy of being a kid waiting for Christmas... But these descriptions are thin soup compared to the complexity of the actual emotions. And for the woman the physicality of pregnancy and birth adds dense layers of hard to define feelings to the whole thing. My wife Jenn isn't due until the end of February but already tiny hands, feet, and elbows push out from her belly. That supreme intimacy with another human being can be profound and overwhelming all at once. She's ready to have the baby tomorrow. That's the thing with the second baby. Jenn is ready. Enough already she says.
We dads have it easy. We worry a little. We try to keep things under control. But mainly we ride our bikes in the dark as fast as we can hoping for the best.
related: a post titled circling from before our son was born (note: at that time we thought we were having a girl). It would be another week before he was actually born.