on call…

by bam

on call

dispatch from 02139 (in which stirrings of the highest order are due to occur….)

as the final hours of the month of november melt into the newborn ones of the month of december, i find myself jumpy.

jumpy and oh-my-goodness-y every time a chirp or a burp or a hiss or a moan rises up from the belly of the flat little phone that follows me everywhere.

i am on call.

on call if not for flat-out midwifery, well then for the auntie approximation thereof.

in which the doting and dying-to-be-there auntie babs gets to make one lifelong dream come barreling true…

in which, once the labor pains come, come hard and deep and unrelenting in that way that they do when they mean business, she will stuff the toothbrush into the bag, the one that’s already packed clear down to the street map. she’ll rumble down the stairs, shove open the door into the brisk cambridge air and hightail it straight to the fine state of maine, a mere 127 minutes away (minus the seconds i’ll certainly shave with my foot emphatically pressed to the gas).

yes, any hour now, up portland way, a baby — the baby — is due to make his global debut. the stars are aligning, the planets are too. did you happen to catch that full-bellied moon? it’s as if the nightsky were a blanket, blinking on for the nursery.

and, for once in my life, i am close enough to the centrifugal force that i can’t be kept from what amounts to a celestial sky dive.

plan is, i’ll be there.

not when the wide-eyed one first flutters opens his eyes, drinks in his mama, his papa and the whole world around. but shortly thereafter.

miracle is, i’m likely to be the one to hold his big sister by the hand, feel her heart pumping straight through her palms, as she slips her wee fingers through mine. i will be there as we pad down the hallway, she and i, as we round the bend, and for the first time in her life, as she steps into the all-over glow of being the one who now leads the way.

i consider this an advent miracle of the first order, the highest rung on the ladder of enchantment and wonder: to be in the room, shortly after the arrival of one strapping bundle of love upon love.

and, indeed, and thank you lord, it is yet another miracle in this year of living most sumptuously. that i just happen to be a short jaunt away, just a hop and a skip down the eastern seaboard, when life stirs again in a portland delivery chamber (this one complete with birthing pool).

last time, back when ellabellabeautiful was born, i was in a bedroom far far away when the phone rang, when word came, that she had arrived. with my whole heart and soul i wanted to shrink down to a dot, squeeze through one of the speaker holes and shimmy my way through the wires to pop out on the other end, where the newborn mewed.

but i hadn’t yet mastered that bit of prestidigitation. so all i could do was stand there, in the dark, weeping and yearning.

not so this time.

this time, watch out.

this time, hallelujah, i can ooze my loving, my cooing and cuddling all over the place. on the big sister. on the mama, and papa, and, yes, quietly, contentedly, all over sweet baby boy.

all week it’s seemed that the baby could come, would come, at any hour.

after all, all was ready, at last.

the farmhouse my brother had gutted down to the studs and rebuilt of his own labors, it was  complete. the little family had moved down the lane, and into the homestead, with garden and beehives and room, come springtime, for hens and their cluckings. he’d driven down to the cape (cape cod, that is) and hauled home a truckload of family heirlooms. tucked them in corners, placed them front and center in the best of the rooms.

and then, as if that babe had his ear pressed to the wall, as if he knew, all’s ready, the little one began his stirrings.

any day now, his mama told me. so i packed the bag, unreeled the street map. started living hour by hour, ready to rocket-launch at the drop of a pin (or amniotic waters).

my boys here on franklin street will be fine, oh so fine, without me.

and i will drink in the best december elixir: the birth of a newborn babe. and the rarest of loves that i’ve ever known. a perfect start to the season of advent, the holy days of awaiting…

(if that baby comes in the next 13 hours and 14 minutes, it’ll be a november delight…but no such word yet this morning. for a girl who’s old enough to wonder if she’ll be around come the day her own boys have babes, this is a rare thrill, one that might not be repeated in my lifetime. so i am drinking in deep. wholly saturating my soul in all of its glories.)

seems apt that, come sunday, advent begins, not the countdown to christmas for me, so much as it’s the season of waiting. the season of settling deep into the quiet corners of the soul, even if it means swimming upstream from all of the madness this world has layered onto the month, and the weeks leading to christmas. how do you plan to quietly wait for that that might take your breath away?