Good things come to those who wait. And wait. And wait some more.
Have sex, eat hot curries, get acupuncture, eat hot curries while getting acupuncture and having sex.
If your baby is slow to make a show, everyone from family members to food delivery guys will give advice on how to bring on labour.
When our first kid was a few days past his 40-week due date, Dad suggested that we go for a drive along a bumpy dirt road. That’s not easy in the city, so I settled for hitting speed bumps at 60km an hour. Our baby stayed firmly fixed in the womb, though the engine almost dropped out of my car.
Spicy food failed, too, though my colon almost dropped out of my body. I made a Kerala fish curry that was so hot it glowed. The baby might have kicked a little but that was about it. For my part, the next day I felt like a fire-breathing dragon was bursting from my back end.
The medical profession could learn a thing or two from tradies. A plumber doesn’t say he’ll see you at 10am. He will be there in the morning, between 9-11.30am. And if he gets there at 3pm, it’s no real surprise.
But after focusing so much on the due date we were given, we felt ripped off when nothing happened. Someone probably should have told us only around 5 per cent of babies are born to schedule.
We were prepared months ahead. My wife had spent a weekend away so I could do the home improvements I’d ignored for years, like fitting flyscreens and repainting window frames. She said any fumes would be bad for her and the baby (but I was clearly expendable now).
From 37 weeks, we drove around with a baby capsule in the backseat of our car so we could bring our newborn home from hospital. Wherever we drove, it served as a reminder that our stubborn kid was all too comfortable riding up the front in Mum’s belly.
I took time off work to be on hand for the big event. I ended up hanging around our unit, where my wife watched every period drama that had been made in the decade previous.
When there was nothing left to stream, we went to the movies and lounged in Gold Class – where my increasingly massive wife laid a beach towel on her seat.
We expected her waters would break any moment and didn’t want to leave an usher mopping up after us.
Every day we wondered, “Is this the day?” More than once I woke up to screams at night, thinking it was go time. My wife punched me in the arm, desperate for me to stretch out her cramping calf muscles.
When the baby was eight days overdue, my wife went for another scan. It was estimated the baby would tip the scales at nine pounds, and his head was huge – top one per cent material.
There was nervous laughter, as if we could giggle away the news. There are plenty of measures where you want your kid to rank in the top one per cent – the size of their melon definitely isn’t one of them.
The sonographer told my wife, “You’ll be alright; you’ve got big feet.” I’m not sure what she was intimating, and I’m not sure it was appropriate.
If the baby refused to leave the womb under his own steam, he was facing eviction. The hospital wouldn’t let a birth go beyond 42 weeks and an induction date was booked in.
We started talking to our kid. Not with the wishy-washy, “We can’t wait to meet you, the world is an exciting place,” kind of chatter. We were having serious conversations: “Now look here, you’re only putting off the inevitable. If you come out now, it’ll be a lot easier for everybody”.
By everybody, I meant my wife. As she waddled through those final weeks with swollen ankles and aching hips, it only confirmed my belief that no man should say “we’re pregnant”.
I wasn’t doing any heavy lifting. How could I claim to be “pregnant” when I could jump on the next flight to Rio? My actually pregnant wife would still be having the baby in Sydney, while I sipped cocktails on the beach (for argument’s sake).
We didn’t have any luck convincing our kid to come out before his deadline. In the end we fronted up to hospital for the induction. During the delivery that followed the long wait was quickly forgotten.
Looking back now, it feels like those weeks before the birth were a final holiday for just the two of us, before our lives got so much busier.
Now we’re waiting for child number two, counting down the time to go in weeks rather than months. This baby can come in her own sweet time – as long as she’s healthy we’ll be happy.