I wasn't sure I liked babies

When my belly swelled with each of you, it was a burgeoning promise and a sacrifice all at once. Each time it fell slowly in 8 weeks to a soft deflated balloon, like the wrinkled skin of a swimsuit stretched one too many times, a place where you babes laid. And after Caleb, and cancer, it never deflated. It just stayed. Instead of a cave where a baby used to be, it just stayed like a pillow attached to me, even though I ate less and less and tried different diets and even had cancer for four years.

Sometimes I still pass my hand over my stomach and there is a memory there, between palm and belly, of the days you lived inside me. Five babies passed days there, swelling my frame and kicking me with "otherness" from the inside out. I thought it would freak me out. Instead, it blissed me out.

I try to deny it, especially when I am alone with your Papa, but you are always with me, the four of you I got to keep. I see things everywhere that remind me of you, and I wonder constantly what you doing or thinking or needing. I thought I would be able to shake you off like a sweater you left on a chair when you didn't need it, when I leave you with your grandmothers or a babysitter. But I carry you somewhere deep in your soul. This weekend, it was my 10th anniversary, and your Papa and I were like two kids on our honeymoon, but there were these hideous Christmas ribbon wind-catchers blowing in the hippie shop window.

Pulled away from home by my first week of professoring, and our anniversary trip, I asked your Papa if I could have you back sooner. He said yes. And so you came, slam-bam-thank-you-Ma'am, tumbling out of the Suburban, grandparents laughing with you. We all went to the shore of Lake Superior and it was wide-stretched-arm days, and rock-picking, agate-hunting, and cliff-climbing, clambering joy.

I used to wonder how I would get through life without you, back when I thought I wouldn't have kids, back when I thought men weren't made for me and I'd never marry. For I carried you in secret, deep in my belly like magic beans, and I saw you in the faces in my dolls even though I never told anyone my 5-year-old secrets. My grandma always looked into my brown eyes and said "still waters run deep". Mine ran deep with dreams of you. And now you are here, and still I dream of you. Delight in you.

You just never know.

I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns
The stumbles and falls brought me here

And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know that I am
I am the luckiest
~from The Luckiest, Ben Folds Five~

Linked to Fried Okra's synchroblog