Any Day Now

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Here in Missoula, summer is beginning its retreat. The breeze up on Blue Mountain during Sunday’s hike was downright frigid at times, and the last two mornings have seen temperatures in the 40s even down here in the valley. During the day, the sun warms things up into the 80s, and it will be a while yet before we have to put all summertime activities aside, but fall is on its way.

Fall has always been an exciting, energizing time of year for me. I used to think it had something to do with a conditioned response to the beginning of new school years, when, however horribly the year could be expected to turn out in general, at least there were new jeans and other opportunities for self-reinvention to look forward to.

The other day it occurred to me that the explanation might be even simpler. I was born in September, so maybe changing leaves and crisp nights were simply my first experience of the world and still excite in me a primal reaction to the waxing of this season.

If you don’t know why I’m thinking such thoughts, Amy and I are expecting our first child to be born toward the end of the month, just six days before my own birthday.

Due dates are predicted based on averages, of course, and it’s already been two weeks since the doctor allowed as how he’d better brief us a little more thoroughly on the signs that would indicate Amy had gone into labor and should soon see the inside of one of Community Medical Center’s labor and delivery rooms.

“Any day now,” in other words, as various friends and acquaintances have been pointing out relentlessly. Vanetta, who runs the department office where Amy works, says she’ll be watching the clock extra carefully around the time Amy usually gets in every morning, with lateness having a whole new potential implication. Last Saturday, I called my parents around 8:30 p.m. their time, assuming that-if they were watching a movie or something-they’d just let the call go to voice mail. It didn’t occur to me until the phone was actually ringing how they might interpret a call at such an unusual hour.

Any day now.

I know Amy is ready. Although she is not having any acute problems, it seems to be difficult for her to get comfortable, whether standing, sitting, or sleeping. “I can’t wait to be normal again,” she said the other day.

For me, of course, things are normal right now, other than the ever-increasing space limitations in our bed and the slower pace I have to remember to take when Amy and I are walking together. (Not to mention the crib and changing table that now occupy half of the room I used to call my office.)

So I’ll go ahead and admit that I think I can stand to wait right up until the scheduled due date, and maybe even a little beyond.

For one thing, I’m trying to knock out a couple of freelance projects first, to pad the bank account enough that I won’t have to work very much in the aftermath of the Blessed Event.

But mainly, Sept. 22 is when everything changes. Amy’s discomfort aside, I know enough to suspect that I should enjoy these last few days of-for me-normalcy. Though I understand abstractly a great deal of what’s about to happen-apparently, for example, there is no grace period and the baby will start to need its diapers changed right away-I cannot claim to have the slightest true grasp of what’s about to happen.

All of this potential energy seems to be gathering off stage. Waiting for it, I have the distinct sensation of standing somewhere, blindfolded, listening to something large rushing toward me from somewhere off in the distance and beginning to suspect that these might be railroad ties that I feel under my feet.

I’ll take a few more days of normal if I can.