9 Months

By Norma Leyva

When I first told your father about you, we sat in a diner.
I recall him kissing me between sips of coffee, the pie tasting a little sweeter that night.
I didn’t know there were so many shades of pink until you came along, and suddenly I spent my hours buying bed sheets and socks.

I woke up each morning to lift up my shirt and watch you grow. When I was home alone, I spoke to you. I anticipated the days in which you would be able to talk back, I imagined you scrunching your nose between sentences just like your father. All three of us danced in the kitchen, and we came to the conclusion that you enjoyed the French horn. Every night since then, we held each other slowly moving to the music that provoked you. Your father rubbed my back while I keeled in front of a toilet, reassuring me that he would wake at night when you were restless. I kept a journal with names for you, I was seven pages in.

Would you have my nose, but scrunch it like his?
Would I be able to make you laugh?
Would I be a good mother?

Everyone told me it wasn’t my fault. My mother cried with me, running her fingers through my hair. All of our friends who waited with balloons in hand kept telling me they were sorry. We went home, the car ride silent. I walked to the bedroom, passing the kitchen holding a record player that you once moved along to with me. I walked by your bedroom, not being able to turn my head, the sunset radiating hues of pink I wasn’t aware of until I met you. I still wrote names in the journal, names I dreamt of yelling through the halls and names I would’ve been able to whisper. Names that had now filled up an entire journal, yet, an empty house. Our nights seemed too silent now, because there was once the possibility of hearing your cries. Rather, they were replaced with your father's. Between knotted breaths and glistening cheeks, he scrunched his nose.

Your mother told me about you at a diner.
My stomach flipped at knowing there’d be three of us now.
I kissed her, cherry pie lingering on her tongue.
I read about taking care of you. I read for hours about how to tuck you in and how to feed you.

I want to be sufficient for you and your mother, for you to feel comfort in my arms. I haven’t held you yet, but I am already in love with you. When we danced in our kitchen, your mother held my hand and led it to her stomach. I could feel you moving to the music, and every day after work I bought a new record for us to dance to. A French horn filled the air, and I hoped that this home of ours would be enough for you. Your mother fell in love with my humor, her giggle the sound I am fortunate to hear every day. I hope you have her laugh, because I cannot possibly imagine the sweet noise being doubled.

Would you have my eyes, but her hair?
Would you like my voice?
Would I be a good father?
It was an anger I couldn’t understand, everyone kept telling me it was okay. What I felt was deemed less because I didn’t carry you. I was envious, envious of your mother who was a little closer. Driving home, my head roamed through thoughts about you. Under bed sheets, I sobbed over the fact that I broke my promise to you and your mother. I told her I’d be strong for you both, that I’d wake when you were restless. Now, it is I who cannot sleep and it is for a reason I don’t want. If I was to ever lose sleep, I wanted it to be because I cradled you in my arms. I haven’t been able to make your mother laugh anymore.

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