My regular Starbucks barista cheerfully took my order, but when she reached for the pastry case she froze, then stood very still, holding onto the register with both hands. "I'm sorry," she said, still mild, still pleasant. "I need a second...I'm just having a minor contraction." And you could just about hear everyone's pupils dilate in line behind me, spontaneous High Alert: should someone...call...someone? Were we going to be on the 5:00 news tonight?
"Do you need to be...uh, excused?" I said uncertainly. Because, honestly, I can do without the apple fritter if you are about to birth a child next to the bean-grinder. "Is this just Braxton-Hicks, or is a big day...imminent?"
It was the former, it turns out. She's got a month and a half to go, though her other babies came early; she's trying to stay active and work, but I guess certain strains and indulgences--like stretching for my donut--trigger a response. So we were all amused, and enormously relieved, frankly, and people scuttled away with their coffees and got on with the day, somehow enlivened by the near miss, the possibility of a new person blossoming into the world. I am still thinking about it, somehow, like we we all weathered an exciting, happy accident together.
I'm thinking, too, of Holly, who's been plagued with false labor herself for days on end. Three weeks to go, little Secondo! Turn yourself around, there, get pointed earthward for the journey. Auntie Him is waiting here with the rest of 'em, so eager to meet you.