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A Prolonged Arrival

My daughter and my husband were due a day apart: September 26th and 27th, respectively. He arrived on the 20th in September of 1978.

A Prolonged Arrival

Sally took her time. She was due on a Monday. Tuesday I was out running errands, getting coffee, my shirt no longer able to span the ever-growing gap between my shorts and my belly. When are you due? people asked.

Yesterday, I said.

At 4 p.m. on Friday, the first contraction finally hit. I’m not quite sure how I knew it apart from the months of practice ones, but they say you will, and I did. I called Alex. It’s time, I said.

That night we drank smoothies and ate an entire tomato-ricotta pizza, and every hour or so I’d sit up with a gasp from the bed. The contractions were long and slow, stretching five or even six minutes, but by the next morning they’d quieted down.

We decided to take a walk to get things started again. We walked out on the road to the bay—down the pavement toward Bound Brook, off the road at the Atwood-Higgins house that winds toward the beach through the woods. We made it out to the water, then threaded our way behind the dunes to Duck Harbor, where the next parking lot cuts in. We followed the cars out to the road and then veered off onto another path, the one that cuts through to Pole Dike and High Toss and finally to the road and home again. It was a long walk, two hours, and by the time we got back, the contractions had started up again. They came erratically all day—first two minutes apart, then an hour’s rest, then fast and furious again.

We finally left for the hospital Sunday around 3 a.m. My parents and my sister showed up at 7 a.m. and Alex’s family not far behind, and finally, at 6:42 p.m., we welcomed an eight-pound, 21-inch Sally Elizabeth. I have never been so happy or exhausted.

This year we get to celebrate together at home for the first time. Alex will be 34, Sally will be one—twelve days apart. I’ll be out picking raspberries and tucking away the fruit, making what I always make for late September, early October occasions: homegrown, homemade raspberry pie.

A Prolonged Arrival

Elspeth Hay lives in Wellfleet.

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Elspeth Hay lives in Wellfleet

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