The baby folded into me, her breath soft against my neck. Little grunts and pink-fleshed fingers, ponderous and strange.
Her mother smiled, "You're a natural."
I raised my eyebrows, "I don't know." I held my breath as I shifted my feet, "I'm not sure I'm a baby person."
"I don't believe that for a second," she said, "When are you going to have one of your own?"
I glanced at Paul, at his long graceful fingers as he sliced the onions for the stuffing. So meticulous. Never rushed, "Well," I sighed, "If I could guarantee that my kids would be just like him, then I would have them tomorrow."
She frowned. "You're pretty great, too."
Images sprouted from the silence. Of crying jags and Zoloft. Heaviness. Yearning to fade into the sheets, soundless and insubstantial.
Her baby nestled against my sweater. "I've had a hard year. I really miss Arizona. I hate my job. I've been---" I used the official terminology, "struggling with depression."
She placed her hand on my knee. "That's hard."
I blinked, fighting the waves that came in such ferocious bursts. "Yup."
"But, Nancy?" I gazed into her eyes. "Aren't you glad that you were born?"
Inhaling the softness of that head, I couldn't help but say the truth, "Oh, yes. Most of the time, yes."
A year later, she held my newborn son in her arms.