Sunday, February 22, 2004

Taufling Pending

I left you guys hanging for a week, there. Sorry about that. I have a really good reason, though. It’s because I suck.

And now, a few words about somebody who does not suck: Taufling. Taufling, who clearly loves me already, is indulging his/her aunt, who is the most impatient person in the whole entire world, by arriving TEN WHOLE DAYS sooner than originally announced.

My sister and brother-in-law accepted the news with the wild joy one might expect from an accountant and a financial negotiator:

OB/GYN: Well, it looks like your due date will be March 27 rather than April 7.


OB/GYN: Um. Usually couples are really happy to hear news like this.


OB/GYN: Are you okay?

JULIE: But—but that’s a whole other month!

BRITTON: This wasn’t in the schedule!

I got to visit with Taufling over the weekend, when I hostessed a baby shower for my sister. By “hostessed” I mean “sat on my ass five states away while two cousins with small children drew up the guest list, sent the invitations, planned the games, prepared the food, and did the decorating while I undertook the vital hostessing task of arriving on the scene an entire half-hour before the guest of honor did.” Man, did I earn that “given by” mention on the invitation.

The baby shower was so well-planned that it featured the ultimate baby shower accessory: actual babies. My five-month-old cousin Tyler put in a cameo appearance, and was sweet and fretful and slept with his arms all splayed out, and then my other baby cousin, Kaitlyn, showed up and reminded me why I set a lifetime’s goal of aunthood over motherhood in the first place.

“Hi, Kaitlyn!” I said as she toddled in the door. “I’m so glad you’re here. I miss you while I’m away in Florida.”

“I’m wet,” she announced.

After the shower my family gathered for our new favorite sport, Staring At Julie’s Stomach Waiting For Taufling To Kick.

Taufling has been extremely unaccommodating with the kicking. He’ll hammer away, and then if you put your hand on Julie’s stomach, there is total womb silence. “Kicking? That wasn’t me. I wasn’t kicking anybody.” Taufling is shy like her mommy. There was no movement at all during the shower, as Julie kept getting up and sitting down and was forced to be the center of attention, which tends to stress her out and probably made Taufling roll up in a ball.

Once home, though, and out of the Chair of Everybody Looking At Her, Julie sat at the kitchen table and shoved at Taufling every now and then, and I rested my chin on my arm and waited. It was not unlike watching a meteor shower—a great deal of sitting around, a great deal of squinting, a great deal of wondering if one had actually caught sight of some heavenly action and not a low-flying 747 bound for Pittsburgh.

And then! I saw a ripple across Julie’s maternity top, a streak of light on the nighttime sky. She grinned and pointed to her stomach. “Did you see that?” she said. “That was a big one.”

I stretched my hand out to touch her stomach. “It’ll stop,” she warned.

I rested my palm over where the ripple had been anyway. The OB/GYN told Julie that Taufling is head-down, in the Launch Position, and my mother tapped Julie on the side. “This feels like a foot,” she said.

I wonder how Taufling fills the day when he isn’t greeting his aunt. What does she do in there, besides swim around and kick? Isn’t that boring? I think fetuses should gestate a copy of Reader’s Digest every month. The double issue.

Julie took me to see the nursery, where there is a little bed and a tiny changing table and a very big sense of expectation. I looked down into the crib and pictured my godchild sleeping there. My sister stood beside me, extremely pregnant, and I thought of her in here, folding teeny clothes, filling drawers with newborn diapers and tubs of Vaseline, sterilizing the world, waiting waiting waiting. I wondered what her dreams for Taufling were. I wondered if she was scared. I wondered why anybody hasn’t shoved Tina Fey off a great big cliff yet. Aunts ponder these things.

When I left I realized that this would be the very last time I saw my sister as a woman without a child. Something very little will cause a very big change in her life. After Taufling arrives, she will be a mother for the rest of her life. I thought of candy bars and My Little Ponies and sleepless Christmas Eves–- the ones we shared and the ones she will now share with Taufling. Julie is once again passing through a gate separating childhood from adulthood, and once she closes it behind her, there will be no going back. And she’ll be going without me.

She will be forever changed.

So that she and Taufling wouldn’t become upset by the tears filling my eyes, I bent down to hug her stomach. “I love you very much,” I said, “and can’t wait to meet you.” Or your mother.

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