Throughout my middle school/junior high years, my small group of best friends and I had a tradition that I cherished. Every summer one or more of our mothers would drive us up to Branson, MO, so that we could spend a day in the sunshine and on the slides at White Water, the closest water park to where we live. We loved it. The freedom to roam about as we pleased, the rush of adrenalin from the steep and twisty slides, and the effort to keep all of our rafts together as we floated around the lazy river. It was all so fun.
There was one ride, though, that we would always go on, in spite of the fact that I don't think any of us liked it all that much. After waiting in line for what seemed like an eternity, we'd finally get the head nod from the lifeguard, meaning we could put our big innertube in the water and hop in. What followed was a long series of short, waterfall-like drops that led to small swirling pools and more small drops. The ride was fun during the mini-plunges, especially when we'd get to the biggest one at the end, but the swirling pool part was unpredictable and aggravating. Some people would sail over the edge of one drop-off and cut straight through the whirlpool to the next drop-off; while others would become hopelessly stuck, going around and around in slow circles, somehow unable to ever make it over the edge of the next drop. There was really no way to predict whether you would be one of the lucky, smooth-sailing riders, or if you'd end up flailing and straining your limbs out of the tube, trying desperately to reach something you could push off of so that you could break out of the whirling current.
So, today I am 37 weeks pregnant. The first nine months of pregnancy were sort of like standing in that long line, waiting to get to the top of the ride. Excited, eager, becoming increasingly uncomfortable, perhaps a little nervous. Last week, when I went to my 36 week appointment, it sort of felt like getting the head nod from the lifeguard ... er, I mean, my doctor. Actually, when she said the words, "you're three centimeters dilated," it felt more like she just dropped me into the middle of the ride. The past week has been a series of stops and starts. Mini-plunges and swirling pools. For the most part, I've been kind of hoping to get caught in one of the holding patterns. I'd love for the little one to have a bit more time to grow before he has to deal with the difficulties of life challenges like breathing and eating. I have a banquet for work that I hope to attend Thursday night and the wedding of a dear friend that I really want to be at on Sunday night. Every time one of those little drops comes, though, and I realize it's another indicator that our baby boy is on his way - and soon - I sort of wish that I could just find the magic current that would allow me to bypass the waiting and get to that final thrill, which will result in him being in our arms.
At White Water, if you got stuck in one of those whirling pools for too long, a lifeguard would come and give your raft a little shove so you could keep moving. It's sort of nice to know that if I haven't made it to the end of the ride by May 12, my doctor will be waiting, ready to push me over the edge.