Today was a very special day. After years of work, I received my very first printed proof of my book. There are all kinds of cliché phrases that fit perfectly right here — which goes to show how universal our journeys are. but, to use a few, ‘this has been a long time coming,’ and I feel just so overwhelmed and pleased to be at this milestone.

To be precise, the book actually arrived the day before, but the postman couldn’t be bothered to ring my bell and risk having to run up the 6 flights of stairs to my apartment, so he left a pickup notice for the post office. The next day, a beautiful sunny fall day, I had a whole list of things I needed to go shopping for downtown with my son before he started school the following Tuesday. And annoyingly, the post deliveries are only available for pickup next day after 11am, so I had to head downtown, riding the subway right past the post office, knowing my book was sitting there, unsorted, waiting for me, but just out of reach.

My son and I did all his school shopping, then for a unique little treat, we stopped at Starbucks, which I never do (perhaps once a year?) for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and a chocolate chip cookie for him. Europe isn’t like the US where you can get PSL’s at every coffee shop. Local coffee is in my opinion often much better than Starbucks, but no one does those mixed drinks like Americans love. As we sat outside with our very American style treats, I wrote a text to my husband and told him he should prepare whatever he needed for the hospital, because I was having some pretty ‘productive’ contractions. Yes. This is the beginning of a birth story as well. There was nothing regular, but the contractions were feeling much more real than the usual braxton hicks things one often gets in the third trimester. ‘We’re okay now,’ I texted him, ‘and we’re done with our shopping, but you should be prepared just in case we need to drive to the hospital sooner than later.’

My son and I finished our treats and took the subway home. When we got off we stopped at the post office for my book. I’m not the kind of person to make excuses to cut in line – I can’t think of a time when I’ve done it before, but this day I was feeling so exceptionally tired and the contractions were taking the sap out of me. I walked right to the front and asked the kind woman if she would mind so very much if I just got my package, as I was feeling very unwell but needed the delivery before I could go home. She was very obliging. I got the box and brought it home.

I was so very pleased. It was my first time ordering a printing, and I had no idea what to really expect. But it worked! It really worked! The book looks like a real, professionally printed, well designed book! Something I’d be proud to see in any bookshop or library. I almost cried.

I wrote the first draft of the book from January 2, 2014 to Dec. 28 of that same year. My son was a year and a half old when I started, and it was the project I did because all of a sudden I wasn’t working formally, my son was ‘stable’ and didn’t need constant care, and I somehow had the time to start my next thing.
The project didn’t run full time – there were big chunks of time between finishing the first draft and where we sit today with a printed book, where I wasn’t able to work on it for various reasons, but I’ve always seen it as the project of my life with my first son.

now, hours before my second son was to be born, it had arrived. It is moments like these that the word serendipitous is made for. It felt so symbolic and planned that the book should arrive to close this chapter of time.

Three minutes before midnight my water broke and I woke my husband up to tell him we should rather go to the hospital.