February 7, 2011
No doubt, this photo could probably stand on its own. But since I can't help myself, a brief explanation is required.
This is my partner Kari. She is thirty-two weeks pregnant with our second child. She swims twice a week at the gym, a feat that quietly broadcasts the delicate balance of love and sacrifice in the most unusual of places. This is her outfit, the one she resigns herself to in the locker room and then shows off to the lads flexing their muscles as she walks down the long hallway toward the enormous, echoey swimming pool area. Abandoning her sense of embarrassment, she exhibits black spandex shorts with white trim, a sports bra, a meaningless low cut pregnancy shirt and finally, a full dive mask and snorkel, which may turn as many incredulous heads as her white, prominent belly does.
Her ribs hurt this time around. They feel as if they have been kicked, on repeat, for several months straight. The only nice part about aching ribs is that it steers the pain away from her back, which has methodically worsened with each new pound that adds itself to her chest, legs and belly. When she's not shifting uncomfortably in bed due to muscle soreness and joint pain, she is getting up, on average, six times to pee at night. She is inevitably tired for most of the day, as universal a sensation as there is for a woman with child. Her emotions swell and contract on a weekly basis, depending on the hormonal shifts that tinker and toy with her mood and eating habits and outlook on life, as if she needed something else to push her over the edge. There is also energy inefficient Stella to contend with this time, the little tike that can go from sunrise to sunset without taking a breather, blowing energy on running and talking and getting dirty and always asking us for "two more minutes" to play before nap or bedtime. And all of this while miraculously carrying a little fetus that is developing on auto-pilot just below the surface, whom she shares nutrients and oxygen with through a small, life allowing cord, a feat so primal and beautiful it's hard to even conceive.
I think what I find so breathtaking about this picture is that it completely and utterly embodies who she is in these labor pending days. For in the middle of everything else, my resolute partner climbs aboard her bike and heads to the gym for some laps.