I feel as if I am wearing someone else's body. The large belly is a tortoise shell, or a watermelon. The ear, a permanent metronome, a constant beat I can synchronize with exercise repetitions or steps when walking. The boobs, eggplants come high summer. The feet, strange unravellings there, at the heel. But the body does not discern which ligaments to loosen and I am unravelling everywhere, as if I am a ball of yarn at a kitten's whim. The lower back, well, same ol' familiar pathways of pain; that is the old body chiming in, the familiar. The hair seems to have benefitted; it grows long, has luster and volume like those heads you see in a Pantene commercial. The stomach is forever a misanthrope, grumbling with whatever I give it. The lungs, slightly restricted. They want to rise up, but someone has tied them to a tree.
I do what I can with this new body. I get it moving in the morning; I stretch it, try to fill it with air, let it leak out slow, bathe the bulk and limbs. Adorn it with clothing and jewelry. But inertia is steadfast; I give in and the beating of my own heart begins to irritate me. Perhaps my sinuses are clogged, or maybe I have an ear infection. Take care of that says the brain, now fully awake at 3 am, but I don't. Relaxation is fleeing. At night I wrestle with myself, kick off my right heel to turn myself on my left side, then, a few moments later, kick off my left heel to turn myself on my right side. I've been warned about sleeping on my back because I've been told the babies could crush an artery to the heart. I told my doctor I always sleep on my back; does this mean I am going to wake up dead? My doctor is a soft talker, has model cheek bones and blue moons for eyes. No you will not wake up dead, he said.
This tell-tale heart ticks away the moments of this pregnancy; I confess, I can't wait until it's over. I look at magazines, of lithe women in gracious yoga poses; I see them running on the street or dancing on stage. I dream of myself dancing, weightless, rising up into the ether. I feel like I should be dreaming of babies (think of the children! Adele said to Edna in The Awakening). Shouldn't the anxiety dreams about leaving them somewhere be kicking in? I feel the quickening inside me- life, theirs. Not mine. There, there, my mind says and then I forget all about it. My love for them is buried, as the quickening is buried under flesh, under all of this immediate discomfort. When I read about unfortunate happenings to other mothers, spina bifida in the first trimester, a heart-wrenching choice, I well up with tears. My love for them throbs.
Not them, I say to myself. Please God, not them.