The first eight months passed quickly.
And then, in the ninth, her feet began to swell.
And spread to exceed the width of all her slides and flats, heels and sandals.
And she wore flip flops and Crocs, alternately, as the occassion allowed.
And she dreaded the night -- because sweat came readily. And sleep did not.
But it did bring an ounce of amusement to see her large-statured husband bundled snugly in blankets -- head to toe. Slumbering in a sandwich of pillows for warmth, while she deflected every contact with anything heat-producing.
And her curves got...curvier. Round with the promise of new life. And miracles.
And her hair got drier -- so dry, in fact, that she could manage three whole days between washings without the tiniest trace of grease. And she loved that. Because she'd never been one for maintenance.
And she sat and cried and loved with the dear friend who lost her baby the week before last. The ultrasound meant to reveal gender revealed tragedy.
And her anxieties intensified. And she exhaled deep -- with gratitude and relief -- at every kick and tumble and poke she could feel from her almost-ripe and very roudy little tenant.
And she remembered that God is the giver and taker of every good gift.
And she prayed that He wouldn't take hers (any of them) at times that felt premature.
And she relished her numbered, solo days with her super hero side-kick.
And they fought bad guys with the knife sharpening rod. And trapped monsters in laundry baskets. And Saved! The! World! many times daily.
And she caved too willingly to his entreaties for new goggles, more bedtime stories, rice krispy treats and licorice to share with his friends at playgroup. Because she was apprehensive about the change that was lurking on his innocent horizon. And because it's hard to say no to Batman.
And all the while she kept her lips pursed tightly. So the self-pitying thoughts wouldn't find form in murmuring words. Because she had waited and prayed so long and so hard for pregnancy and its sundry symptoms. She didn't feel she had license to complain. But every now and then she would couch a pitiful lament between a few utterances of gratitude.
I'm so thankful to be able to have another baby. And pregnancy truly is a miracle, but this is really, really hard, she would whisper to her shivering, yet sympathetic husband in the privacy of pillow talk.
And in the broadness of day, people would ask if she'd be done after this one, You'll have your boy and your girl, they'd remind her -- implying that additional offspring would be audacious. Excessive. And she'd think about the sorrow and the pain and the trial of conception and pregnancy and birth and new-motherhood. The tedium of nursing and the agony of sleeplessness. And wonder how she'd ever be able to do it again. And all thoughts pointed to, yeah...I think we are done. But she heard herself say:
No, I don't think so.
And her heart, in diametric opposition to her head, as if it were numb to the strain in her back and the ache in her feet, swelled with the illogical hope that she'd be able to enjoy and endure this process at least one more time.