The days just before birth are spent pushing minutes around the clock. We busy ourselves with chores, knowing the work of life is never-ending, but hoping anyway that if we finish just these few tasks, something will be made ready. It takes days of cleaning and laundry and throwing things away to prepare for a new beginning. At least, this is how it has always been done by the women in our family.
All the while time stays stubbornly the same: Never speeding up or dragging.
No matter how we coax the clouds of dust away, they only shimmer in the sunbeams before settling down on newly swept ground.
At some point, I catch sight of my sister bending awkwardly over the sink. Does time freeze her there, the cup in her hand hovering over water? Everything is still except for the contraction, an invisible wave of tension. It lasts only seconds and she’s rinsing the suds again.
Time is ticking in the kitchen…
It will take more than that to hurry this child. She should try scrubbing the tiles.
Half past two.
This baby waits. On his time.
He’ll decide when to pass through.
I glance to the window and see the snow, falling too thick and too fast for comfort. This outside tableau seems to threaten the secret realm where my sister’s body does the work of slowly wearing down its own resistance. Here now we have a baby, advancing his hard journey by millimeters, while snow accumulates by the inch.
She is almost done washing dishes. I get up to shovel the driveway.
We are passing time together.
Julia Rose is the mother to two children, a parent coach and educator, and a writer. Her background is in education, specifically working with girls impacted by trauma. She has always been fascinated by the ways lives intersect and influence one another. Becoming a mother deepened her belief that we are all connected; She is fascinated by the science of fetomaternal microchimerism and often write about the ways mothers and children inhabit one another.