Panic on the Streets of Alexandria

PANIC

It’s amazing how much power cellular technology holds when you are about to have a baby.

This is it. The end of the road. There is light at the end of the tunnel. The infielders are playing back and the goalie has been taken out. We are approaching the end of Angela’s pregnancy.

Angela is officially reached “term.” Thirty-seven weeks. What does that mean? In layman’s terms, she could essentially have Zelda any day now, even if her due date is not until early next month. I have to say, it’s the most wonderful and terrifying feeling in the world.

Most of our stuff is ready. We have a few things to put together like our birth plan and “go bag,” but others like the nursery, crib, etc. are all taken care of. A few items from the store will complete our rider for the concert of new life. We even managed to take a two-day birthing prep class at the hospital where Zelda will be born. On the surface, it looks like we are ready. I’ve been told by several people that I “look ready” for it. Whatever “it” may be. To me, “It” is a scary monster that eats children in a clown costume. I don’t want to be that.

But I am not ready. I am terrified on many levels. When will the comforting bump I see at night magically turn into a human? Will I be a good father? Will we be able to financially support it? These questions swirl around my head and peck at my emotions daily. I never imaged thought clouds could turn so quickly into thunderheads. In the end, I have to believe that I am ready for it when the time comes.

That is, unless something completely unplanned happens in the meantime. I thought that happened yesterday.

Angela and I have been talking about an acceptable time for me to talk with my boss about arriving late for work. Because she is so pregnant and close to delivery, Angela needs to seriously consider my help in driving her in every day to work and/or picking her up. She works at the USDA, which is only a short drive from the Washington Navy Yard. That of course is just in theory. Although they are only 5.1 miles apart in the city (USDA is in NW and the Navy Yard is the furthest extreme of SE DC). That being said, the average trip takes approximately 18-20 minutes in good traffic. City living, right? The last time I dropped Angela off at work, it took an hour and a half to get into the gate on 11th street. Ooof. But the sacrifice is well worth it. If Angela is working up until her water breaks essentially (we don’t quality for FMLA, she will have to burn all of her leave and THEN SOME just to have the baby). To be honest, FMLA should really stand for “fuck my life, actually.” Whatever.

Moving on.

Yesterday started a busy week for work and for appointments. I have a conference I need to attend in Crystal City, and Angela is working on a Twitter presentation for her coworkers to be conducted before she delivers. On top of that, we have several medical appointments this week, including two after-hours trips to the acupuncturist. Nobody tells you that the last month of your pregnancy is an exercise in Big Brother-style child monitoring.

Although we talked about driving in together yesterday, we both went our separate ways (No Journey was played, either). I left for work at 5:15am, and Angela did her morning routine and left for the Metro around 6:45am.

Work was busy for both of us. We both knew Angela had a quick turnaround from coming home and heading to the acupuncturist near Old Town at 6pm. Around 4:20pm, I get a message. At this point, I expect her home within the next twenty or thirty minutes. She only says a few words, but I can already tell that the day is not going to go smoothly:

“Major Train Delays. Yellow Line Single Tracking.”

She also said one more thing as she waited with the huddled masses at L’Enfant Plaza: Battery at 5%.

Oh shit. Apparently the Yellow line was single tracking due to a broken down car at DCA. GREAT. The original delay was supposed to be twenty minutes. That stretched to forty. By the time five o’clock rolled around, I called the office of the acupuncturist to let them know that we will be a little late. I told her I loved her and to conserve the battery as best as she could.

Fifteen minutes later, I get a message that she got onto a car and is at Braddock Rd. Station. Awesome. Only a few stops away from Huntington, she could be home within the next twenty minutes. That would put us in enough time to make it to the specialist in time. They charge by appointment, so we could not miss it. Unfortunately, she had to use vital battery to give me that communication. It was now at 1%. It could go any minute. It did.

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Given the time of day with traffic, I calculated that she would be home around 5:45pm. That was a liberal estimate. I was hoping for earlier. That time came and went. Honestly, she probably took her time to get to the car and drive home (which was true). In my mind, I was panicking. The facts at that point to me were the following:

  • Very pregnant wife
  • No battery
  • No contact in the last 30+ minutes

In my mind, I am envisioning her going into labor on the Metro car. Or in her car. What if her car crashed? In her haste to get home before six, did something bad happen with the baby? I checked Waze and Google Maps. No accidents reported on that route home. It was only a 6-7 minute drive from the station. Come on!

I ran outside around 5:50pm and started to shake. I ran in place up and down my driveway, praying to God that she was okay. I needed to see the white car coming down Lodestone Court. I didn’t see it. I then began to hate myself. Why did I not pick her up at the Metro Station? Why the hell did she not bring her charger. I tried calling the phone, but it was of course dead.

I stupidly sent her a FB message, thinking she could somehow see it. I was desperate.

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I needed to know. I was beginning to cry and shake. The goalie was pulled and everybody is on defense. What if the puck got through to the net? Where would I be if she was in pain? I seriously considered calling the hospital to make sure an “Angela Harrison Eng” was on the way there. I had to move beyond the confines of the driveway. I got in my car and began to drive in the opposite direction of her route home, hoping that I could at least see her car. I got about halfway out of our neighborhood when I saw Angela’s Civic whiz by. Relief washed over me. I started to cry more.

I circled back home and rushed out of the car. I was so happily devastated that she was okay. I hugged her and immediately said two things:

“Oh my God, everything is okay. You are okay.”

and

“You need to bring your fucking charger to work next time.”

Eventually the tears dried and we made it to the appointment fifteen minutes after six. Moral of the story? Bring your charger to work or sack up and ensure you are there if possible. Avoid an early heart attack. If anybody needs a shoulder to cry on, look to another person. I’ll already be weeping.