waiting in queues

Pregnant Pause

The wait of expectation falls more heavily on some than others, writes Kate Triglone.

“I hate waiting!” is the phrase of the week in our house. My son yells these three words through gritted teeth several times a day. Usually, it’s because he has to wait until after dinner for dessert, for a toy he wants to have right now, or for his birthday to arrive. Nothing too serious.

The thing is, every time he yells it, I hear myself thinking, ‘Me too, buddy. Me too.’ I’m not great at waiting, either. In my own life, impulsiveness usually wins over waiting if I have any say. Sadly, I don’t have the excuse of being four years old.

I’m okay with waiting in supermarket queues or waiting for the doctor because I see both as a chance to read magazines or to people-watch. It’s the other kind of waiting. I’m not great at waiting to have something delivered that I’ve bought (usually on impulse); waiting to hear about a job; waiting to get somewhere on a long car trip; or waiting for my short haircut (that I’ve had on impulse) to grow out.

Right now, my challenge is waiting for the early weeks of my pregnancy to kick along so that I can have some relief from the all-day-and-night seasickness. I also want to know if it’s a boy or a girl – I’m definitely not one for waiting for that piece of exciting news. And I’m trying not to think about how long I have to wait until I can have a glass of shiraz again.

There’s been a lot of waiting going on around me too. Not the type of waiting involved in getting through a first trimester. More like the scary ‘What will we do if this is bad?’ kind of waiting. The mother of one of my son’s friends told me of the uncertain three weeks she and her husband endured recently in between being told her unborn baby girl had a one in three chance of having Down syndrome and finding out for sure if she did. She didn’t. Another good friend is always waiting to see if the latest round of IVF will work: after nine attempts, it hasn’t. My cousin and his wife, the sleep-deprived new parents of a three-month-old boy, are waiting this week to find out if a “sinister-looking” lump in her breast is cancer.

I don’t know how they have coped with their particular experiences of being forced to wait. I certainly have no answers about how to make waiting any easier. I use distraction to help my son when he is having trouble waiting, and sadly that is also my own fallback strategy when I find myself having to cope with something over which I have no control. I wish I could say I meditate on the situation to reach a place of acceptance and calm. Instead, as my patient husband can tell you, I make long to-do lists and come up with ‘projects’ when I need to occupy my mind. If all else fails, I usually find myself getting a completely different hairstyle as a distraction. Then I spend the next few weeks regretting it – which is also conveniently distracting.

As for pregnancy, I’ve decided that counting the weeks makes time pass even more slowly. Instead, I’m taking the vague long-term approach – telling myself that I’m having a baby sometime in the faraway future – in the hope that I can forget about it in the meantime. I haven’t even googled to work out my due date or to find out which organ is forming this week.

On the days when the tiredness and nausea make it impossible to forget I’m pregnant, I will think of those around me and the many people I don’t even know, who right at this moment are facing an agonising wait of some kind – the outcome of which will determine whether or not their future will be as they’d hoped.

Illustration by Alex Wegner