My neighbors swore they were going to have to call an ambulance each time they saw me zip past their house almost 20 years ago. An active runner and hiker, I was determined not to let 35 extra pounds and an expanded circumference get in my way. Of course not. Neither would most of you. With the nesting complete – cozy flannel, vintage-style cowboy print sheets and dust ruffle, a pricy pale oak crib and changing table set from Bellini (thanks, Mom and Dad), disability paperwork from my office filed, the Lamaze classes under my loosened belt, I was ready to rumble – and especially determined not to waddle – if that was physically possible.
From 1988 to 1995, we lived in a historic district in Pasadena called Bungalow Heaven, the largest concentration of California Bungalows in the nation. The bungalows built in the ‘teens and 20s were known for their front porches, and indeed, our neighbors sat on them, on oak rockers, wicker chairs, and redwood benches. Community began on the front porch. Passer-bys exchanged hellos, whether they knew each other or not. Most likely they did. The Bungalow Heaven Neighborhood Association really brought us together; we met at the church up the road – with childcare provided, I now noted. House tours. Halloween parties. We often gathered at McDonald Park, a hilly, mostly barren expanse of land owned by a McDonald family from the area, who generously offered a matching fund to build a new climbing structure and build mature shades trees for a real park. We knew our neighbors for several blocks east and west, north and south to the busy East Orange Grove Boulevard where we lived in the semi-Colonial constructed in 1918 when the streets were only dusty roads - and certainly no paved sidewalks.
"It’s time for that baby," Mrs. Cookie insisted one summer morning, remembering that my due date was June 25. Her nome de neighborhood was in honor of the Snickerdoodles she baked religiously and the kids and adults alike devoured. "Here’s a couple cookies," she said. "One for that handsome husband of yours." Both cookies were quickly consumed before I circled back home. I blamed a couple of pounds on those buttery morsels, but that was half the fun of baby fat.
Soon, there’d be a little Waldow-Lutwak who would make a happy mess of his own cookies. We had hoped sooner, but it was already June 30. And I continued to wind around Chester and Hill and all the Pasadena streets with views of the San Gabriels. Depending on the time of day, I walked and saw the construction guys going off to their work sites, professors in Volvos racing to Claremont, downtown city planners hopping on the bus - years before the Goldline, A wonderfully transitional area that was filled with caring families - young and old. New arrivals and some who had called this area home for over 40 years.
My first pregnancy at 38 was so welcomed. We were just about to embark on the rocky road of fertility treatments, but lucked out after we upped the sperm count. That handsome husband of mine was informed that he needed to put the brakes on bike rides. Hot testicles produce lazy-ass spermatozoa. (Old eggs were the other side of the equation, but that is another tale for another time.) Along the 40-week gestation adventure I was in one car accident on the freeway, a couple of slip-and-falls and a broken chair which sent me to Labor and Delivery at Verdugo Hills Hospital in a comical panic. (And that is definitely a story for another time.) Our son - Geraldo Waldow - the working title with a journalism theme since my husband and I met as reporters at KPFK radio – was to be born in Glendale, a far cry from Cedars Sinai where one would expect a nice Jewish boy to make his first appearance - the hospital where my mother, my husband and I were delivered.
So I continued to walk, counting down the past-due days. Some neighbors joked that I was going to walk that 4.26 miles to the hospital….
But sorry to leave you hanging. I need to walk right now on this Mothers’ Day in Beverly Hills. With new set of neighbors and sadly, no front porches, I still say hello to strangers, tourists, and occasionally, friends and the owner of the corner grocery store.
In the midst of this writing, I just received a sweet text from Ben from Chicago So, okay, I will finish.
He was two weeks late, and Dr. Nelson said we’d need to induce, although I went into labor just a little on my own just under the deadline. I’ll spare you the drama, but after 18 hours of labor, the perfect 7 lb. 9 ouncer made his first appearance in Glendale.
"Happy momma’s day" was the text that appeared in the voice bubble on my smartphone. At 8:57 a.m. the message was unexpected and uncharacteristically early for this perpetually late kid. That all I really need for Mother’s Day. Now, I am going to walk.