She wakes up at 11pm and spends the next few hours revolving in her little space. She rolls, thumps, and wiggles. Small bumps push out. A transverse stretch hits the top of my abdomen and under my belly at the same time. If I lean too much on my stomach, she pushes persistently, rhythmically, on the flattened spot where her world meets my mattress, until I move. My shirt quivers where the top-most curve juts from my body. I gasp a little when she hits a vital organ I can’t identify beyond a sharp pain in a remote place it wasn’t a moment before.
The boys can feel her. They press their hands around me waiting for the next shove. They open my mouth for me and shout down my throat to her in a forgivable misunderstanding of my anatomy. When they start yelling at each other in joy or anger, she tosses in recognition.
I can no longer sleep on my back. It feels wonderful at first, but her weight concentrated on my spine makes my future ambulatory intentions impossible. I get out of bed and almost collapse from the pain. I try to straighten and walk while spinal nerves regain their impulses. I hold the corner of the dresser, hand skims the wall. I remember developing a wall-skimming habit with my first baby; I could not trust my equilibrium. It was months, or maybe years, before I walked down a hall without stretching out my right hand and feeling the texture of the surface under my fingertips. Once I forget about her and try to bend down straight and quick. The agony nearly knocks me down. I do not forget to adjust again (legs wider, bend to the side, accommodate where the belly wants to be.)
The relaxin makes every day gripping, pushing, and reaching a question instead of a certainty. It’s a hormone that softens your joints and ligaments to prepare you for birth, and it’s not localized. I grasp a glass and it falls through my hands, spilling milk like a thin waterfall down the counter and puddling opaquely on the floor. I push the car brake and feel the curb stop my car. I toss an object and it does not go where it should. J tosses something at me, and although I feel my arms move and my fingers stretch in anticipation, I can’t close around it to secure. She is the only thing I know I have secured, gripping her and keeping close until I must release her.
I hunch over, compressing her space, and she protests in reaction. She begins to pick directions to test her growing limbs--left she goes, then right, then out out out. It’s too early for her to get stuck in my ribs. There is room to turn where soon there will not be. I feel her and she feels around me.