Deborah Madison's Poppyseed Cake
Our Boy Hugo

The Waiting Game


This is what things have come to over here. I decided that the anemia rendering me a black-eye-shadowed zombie needed to be given a swift kick in the you-know-whats and started adding ground beef to my daily diet of a double dose of iron supplements. The verdict? So far I am feeling slightly less catatonic and out-of-breath, though that could also have to do with the intravenous iron infusion administered to my left arm yesterday by my very tall, kind-eyed doctor. I enjoyed the first hamburger I made at home far more than I thought I would, though, so I've decided that it deserves at least some of the credit.

I'm in the home stretch, folks, the one where every minute of every day ticks by excruciatingly slowly. These last weeks are a kick in the head. I alternate between thinking about which appendage I'd gladly sacrifice to kickstart labor and staring in shock at the teeny-tiny clothes stacked on the bed in the spare, er, baby's room, awaiting their dresser, incapable of comprehending that a baby, our baby, will be inhabiting those very clothes sooner than I can imagine and wondering how to eke out more time in these last days of being just me.

So distracting myself with ground beef and how to structure a hamburger sandwich that will be my son's birthright as a German-American seems sensible, no?


For the hamburger itself, I simply bought ground beef and added a bunch of salt to it before forming it into a single patty. I once read that when you make hamburgers at home, you should make a thumb-sized dip in the middle of each patty so that the burger doesn't swell up annoyingly while it cooks, rendering your sandwich even messier than it would be otherwise. (I know that really good burgers require more seasoning than just salt, but did I mention my zombie state? It keeps me from being able to page through cookbooks without my head hitting the table.)


While the meat cooked in a little bit of melted butter in a pan, because I am grill-less and because I also vaguely remember reading once that if you don't have a grill, the next best thing is to fry your hamburgers in butter (where all these great burger tips came from, I don't know. Forgive me, o unknown food writer! Maybe I'll remember in another nine months.), I gathered the fixings for the rest of the sandwich.

Bun, toasted.

Tomato, sliced.

Baby romaine leaf, washed and halved.

Pickle spear, sliced.

Mayonnaise, for a very thin coating on the bottom bun.

Ketchup, the Holy Spirit of my refrigerator, the anointer of every hamburger ever to pass my lips.

And then I assembled. And ate. And perked up right away, like a bunch of flowers after getting their ends snipped and water replenished. I don't know how long I can keep up the hamburger-a-day routine (two days in a row and I'm feeling all meated out), but who knows. Max caught wind of the project and is now clamoring to be let in on the deal when he finally comes home.


Yesterday I had to go to the hospital to drop off some paperwork and when I rang the bell of labor and delivery, a doctor in blue scrubs came out and asked me if I was the person scheduled for the c-section tomorrow. No, no, I stammered, I'm just here to drop these off and with that, I handed her the papers I'd brought. She smiled at me, took them and I left. Three steps down the hallway, I suddenly wondered what it would be like if I had indeed been that person she took me for. I imagined myself on an operating table the next day. Max next to me. A big sheet, a few tugs and, finally, someone handing me the baby. And suddenly I felt so overcome with longing that my lungs hurt. If I could have, I would have walked right back to the doctor and asked for an operation that instant.

So that's where I am, counting the minutes, the seconds, as they inch by, leading me towards the kid who's waiting for me, for us, just beyond what we can see or fathom. Soon, soon. Not soon enough.