Riley is next to me, in the big bed. I wait to see if she’ll go to sleep. She fights naps now, which probably means she’s ready to give them up, but I hold on to them still. I have my back to her. So she won’t see me crying. And I try to minimise the way my body shakes with it.
Josh comes in. Trying to help. He doesn’t see the tears either. Because I don’t want him to. ‘Do you want puzzles?’ he asks her. I say, No. She won’t go to sleep if she has puzzles to play with. She chants puzzles for awhile after he leaves. She turns towards me for awhile and I roll over. She doesn’t notice that I’m upset. And I’m grateful. ‘Mummy’ she says and gives me a big grin. I feel immeasurably better and immensely worse all at the same time.
I take her clothes off, because she likes being naked to sleep. I rub her belly for awhile and eventually she rolls over and I just stroke her back. My hands width is as wide as her back. And her skin is soft and relaxed. And I know how lucky I am.
As she drifts off. I let myself cry again. I feel the great emptiness of my swollen womb. Which seems so vast. I want to crawl into a hole. I want to not want it. I wonder at how I can be so disappointed when I no longer even see each month as a possibility. But it feels like a broken promise. I lie there for awhile. Swollen and empty and sad.
I lean over and kiss her soft shoulder and soft cheek and for a brief moment I’m not wallowing in self-pity.
And I get up.