5 days:: due date / by Christina Rosalie

The late winter sun shines through the windows with tangible heat. It makes geometric patterns on the floor, shining through the slats of chairs and the mullions on the windows; it refracts through the glass jar on the table filled with fragrant eucalyptus and tiny purple flowers; it dapples the rumpled sheets where Sprout lies in the buff, his feet curled up behind him the way he was for so long in the womb.

On the couch, three loads of laundry, fresh from the dryer, a snarl of unfolded cotton. On the floor, the riff raff that has fallen off the logs stacked by the woodstove. People’s boots leave wet tracks by the door. This is a life. This is my life, now, these moments like light shining through a jar of amber syrup.

I try to let everything be. I try to let it all be despite the fact that it creates a turbulence in me: a voice whispering your life is out of control. Whose voice is this, yammering softly at the back of my head?

The morning is quiet, even with both boys at home today—a first. Bean goes out to play in the snow. I watch him from the window—lanky, even in his blue snowsuit. He carves a tunnel in a mound of icy snow, then drives a digger through. When he comes in, I foam milk and drizzle molasses over the top. He gulps it, all grins, his bare feet tucked up under him on the stool.

When I look in the mirror my eyes are pale blue. They get this way when I am tired. They are the color of the sky outside: a milky late winter sky awash with sun, snow thick on the ground but melting steadily in a staccato of drips from the eaves. Below the bird feeders this morning I encountered another set of eyes: a doe’s with soft brown fur. She stood, lured by the black sunflower seeds fallen to the ground. For her, the winter is long. For me, the nights are. Sprout nursed for an hour in the early morning, then fussed while the sun rose. Sleep became a fracture in the dawn. A hairline figment of what I'm used to, but here I am.

I watch her swivel her ears, then dart away, startled to see me behind the glass. In the mirror I startle too, getting used to a new silhouette, my stomach returning to its former shape, softness bulging where the firm hard curve of my belly was, swollen with Sprout. I hold him to my chest and already my mind can hardly slip backwards to the hours of his birth. How is it possible that this babe, this bundle of tiny limbs and sweet breath and little hiccuped sighs and porpoise whispers was in my belly just five short days ago.

Every night is still different, sleep sewn together in fragments, but it is peaceful. This baby boy is calmer than Bean, and I am calmer too. We navigate the nighttime softly, and in the morning I awaken feeling like a thousand piece puzzle shaken in a box, but I am somehow still contained. The nights don’t terrify me like they did in the early days with Bean.

It’s the small things that make the days whole. The extra effort to be tender towards each other even when we’re feeling fragmented and sharp. I reach for him in the dark; he pulls me to him at the bottom of the stairs, kisses me full on the mouth hard, and with unexpected passion, the baby between us. I come up behind him when he’s rinsing plates at the sink, press my belly into his back, wrap my arms around his muscles.

Now it is night. The house windows show us ourselves. The firelight is orange. Sprout fusses intermittently as DH walks him around the living room humming. Bean and I sit at the dining room table. He is drawing fireboats, talking as he does so, around him a sea of markers and snippeted papers.

A day. A life. This is us, right now.