The night before

It’s of no fault of my own that I’m sitting in a hospital atrium, surrounded by green office chairs and clearance store couches, bathed in flourescent lighting that creeps into every corner and eliminates darkness from the bland, tan wallpaper, staring deeply into a computer screen.

I can’t sleep.

Whether it’s from fatigue or from excitement, I can’t tell. All I know is that I needed to grab a piece of Internet for a few minutes and allow myself to think. All I know is that I can’t sleep on the faux hide-a-bed that this hospital has lovingly provided me, and it’s of no fault of my own.

Looking around I find myself swimming in pastels, the predominant color – green – floating amongst an Easter-like palate of decorating genius, colors that have been paired in order to provide peace and comfort to those waiting. To those like me. Waiting for a child. Looking around, wondering if their time is next. Waiting, constantly, the only pasttime worth pursuing in a setting like this.

Back in the room, Kerrie attempts to sleep herself, fighting against the lights that continue to illuminate the room, the computer screen, the baby monitor, the numbers, slowly rising and falling, recreating the yet to be born heart, drawing lines to illustrate the heart rate, showing the slight contractions as mountains, as valleys, as what looks like an unreachable path, a trecherous journey from where we are to where we’re attempting to go.

And even once that baby is born – once we’ve left this pastel cave and returned to our own home, a place where we can sleep comfortably and relax – we’ll face the same mountains. The same valleys. We’ll stare trials down at every turn, scrambling to build ourselves into great parents by grasping at every experience we’ve had, picking up the discarded advice and forcing into place now that we’re the ones responsible for a young child, a new mind, a fresh life.

The plastic of the hospital bed creaks every time Kerrie moves. She can’t sleep either. Neither of us can. We focus on the dimmed lights, the table, the shadows that were familiar just a few hours ago, now retreating into the night.

I wonder what people are thinking – knowing we haven’t had a baby yet. I feel bad for not letting our friends know we went in early, yet I feel comfortable knowing that time, for us, is fleeting, that in no time we’ll be back in action, laboring through birth, preparing to introduce a new family member, and our friends will have spent their time not worrying whether we were doing okay, but wondering when it was all going to happen.

Here we are. The biggest thing that’s ever happened in our lives. Watching nurses in blue scrubs float past, ghosts in a fully lit hospital, bringing healing and life to all corners of the multi-building facility. Serving as beacons. As safe havens. As comfortable reminders that, no matter what happens, we’re safe, surrounded by health personified.

It can’t be fatigue. Fatigue doesn’t make me grin, out of nowhere, like I’ve recieved a gift. Fatigue doesn’t keep me awake out of pure anticipation. Fatigue wouldn’t care about where I was sleeping, would keep me thoughtless, worried, excuriciatingly callous and fidgety.

No. This is excitement. At this time tomorrow, I should be looking at a new baby. Our new baby. We’re just here waiting for the opening gun to go off, to begin sprinting down the track, releasing all of our pressures and embracing parenthood the way billions before us have.

I can’t sleep at all. And these tan walls, as bland as they seem, can’t seem to put me at rest.

It’s so quiet. Yet, how could anyone sleep at a time like this, with all of this noise going on in my head?

This was lovingly handwritten on July 31st, 2007