Tuesday, September 28, 2010

D-Day + 2

'This one's a nice colour' I say, holding it out for mum to see. 'I'll ask if we can buy packs or we have to get them individually.'

There's a queue at the cash desk, but the man in front lets me go first. I smile gratefully and ask my question. The lady says packs are available and goes off to the storeroom to find them. When she returns she has half the quantity I asked for, 'but I can order some more right away'. Seeing my face drop, she adds 'well, it's not like you're going to give birth tomorrow right?'

'Actually, she was due two days ago' I admit. She pulled a drawer open and finds the rest of the birth announcement cards I'm after. 'Perfect' I thank her.

I hope I do give birth tomorrow.

D-Day + 1

We walk in and I'm happy to see there are empty tables between those occupied by Sunday evening drinkers, keen to put off the beginning of the new week as long as possible. Last time we were here we couldn't get a seat.

We take our places towards the middle of the room and I try to ignore the stares. All too soon, they will be gone, my stomach deflated, novelty value worn off, or so I hope.

The beer comes for him; warm milk for me, with a chocolate and indulgent smile from the waitress. We talk about the coming days, weeks, years... speculate, laugh, admit our ignorance.

When it's time to leave, the waitress acknowledges the tip and asks when the baby is due.

'Er, yesterday actually' I smile, and her eyes widen as the girl on the table next to me gasps. She takes a step back to let me pass and I can't help feel it's also to move her into the safety zone, away from the potential explosion that could result from this dangerous character in her bar.

'Well, all my congratulations' she says, enthusiastically. I see relief in her eyes as I make it through the door and into the night, arm in arm with my giggling husband.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

La Rentrée

The timing of my maternity leave seems all wrong. It is misplaced, out of synch with the rest of this city's schedule, where roads have filled up again and shops are stocked to the ceiling with school supplies.

As kids pass through the streets, with loaded backpacks of fresh notebooks and shiny new pencil cases, I plod on. Pulling my cardigan as far around my bump as it will go to protect us against the autumnal wind, I slow down as everyone else gets back into their routine.

My diary thins out as others are filled with meeting times and appointments; my legs carry me increasingly slowly, as others, tanned from summer sun, speed up, jogging to be on time; my thoughts turn to new challenges, the storm that will follow this calm, just as others are plunging into new lessons or next year's priorities.

They have all started, launched themselves head-first into their new cycle. We are still waiting. Waiting to be launched into a new world we can't even imagine but that will change everything.