My employer (and the insurance company that provides my ‘temporary disability’ paycheck) encourages women in my condition, so to speak, to take two weeks off prior to their due dates. I’m getting paid for these two weeks, and if I choose not to take them there is no option to tack them on to my post-baby leave, hence I decided to go ahead and take advantage of some summer vacation pre-baby, so to speak. The only downside, as my mother has pointed out, is that I now have no daily employment to distract me during the last days/weeks of pregnancy, which is indeed troublesome.
Luckily, there are a good number of things I wanted to accomplish pre-baby, and I’ve set about checking them off my list over the past week. Cloth diapers: check. Laundry and house cleaning: check. Food shopping and preparation: check. Resting, meditating, yoga, and general attempts at zen: more or less check. Socializing with some of my favorite people prior to the arrival of an infant: check.
Today I spent the afternoon in the city with a good friend, lunching and shopping (actually, she was shopping and I was following her around and sporadically purchasing things I didn’t really need, like dish towels, chocolate, and superfluous stationary) and generally enjoying a the lovely weather. As I left the city, the heavens opened and a series of summer storms commenced in sporadic succession.
There is something absolutely magical about this sort of violent barometric transformation (especially when one has just consumed a large amount of frozen chocolate, courtesy of L.A. Burdick). I remember a particular 4th of July when the much-anticipated fireworks had been rained out, and my brother and sister and I were beside ourselves with sulky disappointment. As evening fell, mocking with an overcast horizon, a storm rose over the harbor and became visible from the large windows in our living room. I remember us standing there, speechless and awed by the beauty and spectacle of roiling thunderheads and furious lightening, the urgent and maniacal demonstration of nature’s power over our heads.
By the time I made it home the squalls had subsided somewhat, and the dog and I set out in the darkening twilight woods for a final walk of the day. My poor swollen, pregnant feet, sore from trekking the streets of Boston, are somehow always able to rally in the forest: this is a different kind of walking, over soft earth and roots and leaf mold, with the Jurassic frog-song and the soft, tropical weight of the summer night heavy against my shoulders.
So here ends my first week off. I said I wanted this time to get my feet underneath me and complete these final preparations, and so I have. Going forward, everything else is just gravy. Or, in other words: I’m ready now, baby, whenever you are.