The Waiting Game
“Are you still here?”
The voice rang out cheerfully as Sally, who’d been on an early morning stroll, turned up the path towards her front door. Inwardly groaning, she slapped the regulation bright smile on her face as she turned to the speaker – a new neighbour.
“Yes, I’m still here.”
“That baby of yours is taking its time, isn’t it? By the look of you, you’re more than ready to drop! I’ll bet you’re fed up with the whole business by now!”
Little did the speaker know.
Sally’s baby wasn’t even due for another four days, and every day the pregnancy extended was one of joy for her, despite the squeezed bladder, the aching legs, the great hump which seemed to have a life of its own, rising up under her ribs and shifting at the most awkward moments from side to side as the child within her womb shifted position. She was not for one moment fed up with the whole business. She’d waited so very long for this.
This was not Sally’s first pregnancy.
There’d been five others, not one of which had run to term.
The doctors were nonplussed – there seemed no obvious medical reason for the miscarriages, and even less for the most recent one – stillbirth at 8 months. She’d never forget the sight of that tiny, perfectly-formed but utterly dead baby, never forget the psychological and physical pain of induced labour, knowing all the time that there would be no live child at the end of it.
The doctors had advised them to give up trying, to consider adoption – but Sally and Tom, her husband, would have none of it. Painful though their losses had been, nevertheless they continued to hope.
This time… this time, against all the odds, the pregnancy was running to term. Doctors and midwives were keeping a very close eye indeed on the situation, but so far so good. And every day, every hour, every minute, every second of indigestion, bladder-urgency, leg-ache, heaving belly, seemed to both of them to be filled with glory.
This long time of waiting, even though full of anxious moments, spoke to them of life – life, hope, joy, faith fulfilled.
Sally escaped her neighbour, turned her key in the front door and entered.
“Hi, love!” she called out to Tom, who was on a late shift that day so was only now settling down to enjoy his jug of coffee.
As she spoke, she felt a stabbing pain and all of a sudden fluid was gushing down her legs onto the doormat.
Eyes sparkling with joy, she called out again.
“Tom! Quick, come here! It’s coming! I think our baby is coming!”
Tom, normally bleary-eyed for at least an hour after waking up but now wider awake than he’d ever been, was by her side in a moment.
All the hope and desire of the past long years of disappointment, pain and grief were contained in this moment.
His mobile was out of his pocket and he was dialling the hospital.
“Come right away” said the voice on the other end of the phone.
“All babies are precious, but this one – we’re taking no chances!”
Eight hours later, Sally lay back on the pillows in the maternity unit bed, hair lank around her tired sweaty face. Tom, at her side, was seriously wishing he’d taken his wedding ring off – that was the hand Sally’d been squeezing to help her through every contraction and the ring had cut into his finger – but reminded himself that his pain was as nothing compared to the hard work she’d just done!
And in any case – that tiny bundle in her arms made it all worth while. Their child. Their daughter. Perfectly formed, she’d entered the world screaming lustily at the top of her lungs. Tears flowed from every pair of eyes in the room, including the medical staff who were only too well aware of the history. This baby was not only alive, but perfectly healthy. For a moment, the room seemed to shine with a brighter light even than the neons overhead.
Tom and Sally looked at each other, then at their daughter, and smiled as the church bells rang out. This day was Christmas Day – and at last to them also a child was born, a child was given.
It had been worth the wait.