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Waiting for Marvin

Aug 6, 2015 etc

An overdue baby tests everyone’s nerves.

This article first appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of Metro. Illustration by Angela Keoghan.


No one tells you about the waiting, and let’s be frank — until now, we didn’t really have time for it anyway. Ever since we made the incredibly optimistic decision to renovate our house in time for the baby, we’ve been on a ridiculous schedule to get it liveable, and then we moved back in and got everything unpacked and now we even have a nice new set of wooden  stairs to go with our new front deck so that Hannah doesn’t have to wobble up and down the little wooden ramp we rigged up using some leftover timber. What we don’t have now is a baby.

For the past few weeks, we’ve had weekly appointments with the nice obstetrician and, each week, we make an appointment for the following week, not sure if by then we will, in fact, have a baby and therefore probably not need to see the obstetrician. Each time, the nice obstetrician does a scan and each time, he looks for our son’s heart beating, followed by his balls. “There they are!” he said on one visit, quite triumphantly, despite the fact we had seen our boy’s balls many times and will no doubt be seeing a lot more of them in the next few years. “Flapping around in the breeze!”

Marvin was due last Saturday, which means that he is almost a week overdue, and this leads to a particular sort of frustration and not a little anxiety. Everyone else seems to have a baby. The dozen or so couples from our antenatal group all have babies, including three who came early. Early! Our real estate agent, Glenn, who lives two streets over, has had a baby. Friends up the road in a different antenatal group have a baby. Friends and family keep texting, euphemistically in the way that you do when you don’t want to put any pressure on, but you really want to know.

Hannah, meanwhile, is waddling around the house with a sore hip and a big tight belly and she really would like this to be over now except she kind of doesn’t — a sort of anxious limbo like when you were waiting for that final exam in seventh form when all your mates had finished. Only in this case we will graduate to changing nappies and broken sleep.

More worryingly, this is the point at which obstetricians start talking about interventions, starting with what’s known as a “stretch and sweep”, which sounds both painful and a bit terrifying and statistically has a 50 per cent likelihood of resulting in labour within two days. When the nice obstetrician suggested this, Hannah said okay, and then she went a bit quiet.

I’ve read the books — oh, okay, I read the bits she helpfully marked with Post-its, because at the time I was kind of over­whelmed by a million small building decisions — in which we were implored to just let things happen naturally. In short: the more interventions you have at this point, the more likely further interventions are, since the baby is, in fact, the one who initiates birth through some process I don’t properly understand. The more interventions, the more likely you’re on the path to long, difficult births, epidurals and C-sections. And so on.

At which point, I did my husbandly duty and asked if that was really necessary at this point. The obstetrician looked a trifle put out, but gave in. He scanned Hannah’s belly, took a good look at Marvin’s balls and gave us another week, telling us that everything — heart rate, amniotic fluid, balls — is absolutely fine and we have nothing to worry about. So for now, we wait. We make plans we may or may not be able to keep, and we eat a lot of chilli.

Baby Marvin arrived shortly before Metro went to press. All well. Simon is too busy to say more.



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