She was there again this week. Saturday afternoon Body Balance class. I've just started going but I could tell right away that she'd been doing it for a while.
I was impressed by her flexibility although I knew her body was producing hormones to make her bendier than usual. But what really amazed me was her balance. She stood in Star Pose without so much as wavering while my leg shook under the weight of my swaying body. My eyes kept returning to her, noting her strength, her poise, and mostly, the enormous curve of her belly whose weight looked like it could topple her forward at any moment.
I am lucky. Three beautiful pregnancies – not without issues but beautiful still. Not morning sickness, exhaustion, aches, broken sleep or even Gestational Diabetes could change that. Stack them all high up in a tower of pregnancy woes and with the feather-light touch of that first baby kick, watch them tumble to the ground.
To be fair, the first trimester had few redeeming qualities bar that initial moment of peeing-on-stick confirmation. But then that tubby tum starts to round into an unmistakable sign of the life within. Like a drum, my skin would stretch taut as I rubbed circle after circle into my growing belly, fascinated by the feeling of my changing body and insane with impatience to know the little person harboured just beneath.
Oh, how I loved my pregnant body. How I loved not holding my stomach in.
And how I loved to feel my baby suspended just below my ribs. The rhythmic beat of their hiccups, the alien shapes their little hands (or was it feet?) would make on the surface of my belly.
How can I be okay with never experiencing that wonder again? The smiles from strangers, the appointments and scans, choosing a name, a carseat, a pram, preparing the nursery, preparing my heart to welcome a tiny, new baby into my arms and into our lives.
At the end of the class, we lay flat on our backs. Except for her, she lay on her side. Breathing in through our noses, out through our mouths, the instructor asked us to think of something that brought a warm smile to our faces. And I thought of her. Of how she must be feeling in these last weeks. The excitement, the anticipation, the nervous exhileration of jumping into the unknown. Head-first, heart-first.
And though tinged with the bittersweet longing for a time I know has now passed for me, I smiled.