in the waiting space

The waiting space has always been hard for me.

I’m the kind of person who wants to move from Point A to Point B to Point C in very concise, calculated movements, planned to the very last detail. Part of that comes from being an ICU nurse, part of it is our culture of instant gratification, but most of it is just my personality. I like cookie-cutter. I like the expected. I like to make a plan, and to execute that plan.

And so sitting here on my sister’s couch in Los Angeles, holding vigil over baby-watch feels challenging in a way. I’m ready. She’s ready. I’ve gone through every possible delivery scenario in my head. I have ideas about how to help with pretty much everything that can happen after delivery. This is my jam, this baby thing.

But the baby seems pretty comfortable hanging out in utero, and babies don’t tend to follow plans very well anyway. I know this, and I know it well – none of the babies at work ever follow the plan. They come out early, they come out sick, they come out with all sorts of things that surprise us. And yet, sitting in the quiet midst of the watching and the waiting, as the due date comes and goes, as the contractions start and stop, as we feed my sister pineapple and The Salad and red raspberry tea and Mexican food and Chinese food and, hell, why not In ‘N Out Burger just for good measure, as we walk, and walk, and walk some more – I find myself growing restless. I’ve planned what’s going to happen when the baby comes, after the baby comes. But I really hadn’t planned on what would happen before, because I didn’t think there would be this much before.

I had kind of a breakthrough today, though, after pushing my flight five days later than I’d originally planned to come home. It shouldn’t be a breakthrough at all – it should be so obvious, and I should be so thankful. I am thankful. I get five extra days with my sister and her husband, who live over 2,000 miles away from me. And for a week now, I’ve gotten to do life with them. I get to do life with them for another week. I get to grocery shop with Kelly, to snap beans with her just like we’ve done for years and years, bringing us both for a moment back to our mom’s kitchen in Southeast Tennessee. I get to stay up until the wee hours of the night, just talking to my brother-in-law about a hundred different things. I get to make cupcakes and walk to the donut shop and go out for ice cream at almost 10 o’clock at night. I get to figure out how the heck to use my sister’s record player. I get to laugh while she does squats, complete with giant belly, trying to ease her little one down with the help of some gravity. I get to have foot reflexology massages side-by-side with her, hoping that that might trigger something. I get to sit with her and with Colton, to hang out with their friends, to relish these last days when my sister and her husband are just my sister and her husband, baby-not-included.

And so instead of sitting in the impatience of it all, I’m trying to see this waiting space as a gift. It’s as if God smiled down on me and said, “Here, precious child, I know you’re tired and you’re weary. Take these extra days of rest, take this life-giving time with your family, take these days and cherish them.” And that’s what I’m doing. Of course I’m excited to meet my nephew – I want him to come out so I can see what he looks like, so I can kiss his precious head and hold him so close because newborns are my very, very most favorite, so I can watch Kelly and Colton take the first few steps on the long road of parenthood. But until that happens, I’m going to be content to sit on the couch and cook and laugh and talk (and sleep. I’m definitely trying to relish the sleep, and I know they are too.)

Thanks be to God for gifts of love, of time, and of patience. And of cuddly little babies to love on, who will come out in due time.


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