I remember crying the day I found out. I wasn't exactly sure why I was crying – it could've been the fear, the confusion, and maybe even some anger. I had avoided this for so long, but after fifteen years of marriage, I was going to be a mother.
I couldn't tell Peeta right away. He knew something was very wrong, though, and held me closer than usual that night. My dreams were filled with Prim; her sweet, innocent face before the bombs went off. She cried for me, begged me to save her. I woke up screaming, something I hadn't done in years. Peeta fetched me a cold glass of water, and when he had settled back down next to me, I blurted it out. I was pregnant.
It was selfish timing; he couldn't be happy when I was so obviously distraught at my predicament. This was supposed to be a happy time for him. I was having a baby for him, not me. And it was a mistake. All he said was, "You're upset."
And I tried not to notice that his face was wet when he kissed me good night.
When I woke up, his hand was resting gently on my stomach. This sight must've stirred something up inside me, because the next thing I knew, I was in the bathroom being violently ill. Peeta followed me, holding my hair and rubbing my back when it was over. This pattern continued.
For the first couple of months, Peeta said nothing about the baby. I think he was scared what my reaction would be. I'd always wake up to find his gentle hand resting on my lower abdomen, and if he woke up shortly after me, he'd yank it away, looking sheepish. My heart ached.
I couldn't sleep and the bags under my eyes grew and grew, despite Peeta's pleas for me to try and take naps. The guilt was eating me alive. Peeta wanted the child so badly, but I wouldn't let him be happy about it. I was far too miserable. I was bringing a child into the world, something I had sworn never to do. And it was surely going to perish.
But it was Peeta's child, too, not just mine. Why couldn't I be happy? For us?
Once he offered to take me to the doctor. I yelled at him for the first time in years. The defeated look in his eyes nearly killed me afterwards. I was pushing my husband away.
In my dreams, Snow took my baby and killed it, but when I managed to wake, Peeta's hand was protecting it, as always.
I couldn't hunt anymore. I felt bloated, awkward, a stranger in my own body. Everyone was shocked that I allowed myself to get pregnant, and I felt embarrassed when my breasts and ankles began to swell immensely. I didn't like being looked at. I shied away from Peeta's touch and cried a lot.
On a night around seven months in, Peeta took my hand and turned my face to look at him. He looked so aged, so pained, and it scared me.
"Katniss," he whispered. "No one's going to hurt the baby."
I found myself saying "I know" and finally accepting his embrace, tears streaming down my face. I continued. "I'm sorry. I've been unfair. I'm just scared."
The corners of his lips turned up. "I know. It's all going to be okay."
I really had missed his smile. For the longest time, it was the only thing that kept me going – in the arena, on the trains, in District Thirteen. I found myself smiling too. Everything might just turn out okay after all, as long as Peeta was smiling.
My pregnancy was almost over, and we were just starting to be excited. Peeta looked hopeful whenever I rubbed my stomach or talked to it. It encouraged him to be excited for our future son or daughter. I found myself even wondering what it would look like. For the first time, I imagined an actual baby and not some lifeless, inconveniencing blob. I smiled as we picked out paint for the nursery and a new crib. Peeta, delighted, commented that color was returning to my face, and that I was even glowing.
I called my mother and told her about the baby. She was stunned and seemed rather shy over the phone. Our relationship would never be the same, and I knew it, but I found myself promising to come visit when the baby was born.
One day very late in my pregnancy, I found myself watching Peeta in the bakery. I did this a lot, but this day was different. I noticed the way his muscles flexed as he kneaded dough, how his calves tensed as he bent to put it in the oven, and how his brow furrowed when he was concentrating. In a word, it was sexy. I think I scared him when I began to attack his neck and face, but I couldn't help myself; my husband was attractive, and all mine. Let's just say that one thing led to another.
I went into labor a few hours later.
It wasn't the cliché kind of labor, with all the screaming and cursing. It was pain beyond any pain I'd ever felt, but Peeta was right next to me, and I could relax. His baby – our baby – would be there soon. The midwife announced it was a girl, and that's when I cried. Peeta was stroking my hair, whispering words of praise. Our daughter was handed to me. Her eyes - Peeta's eyes - stared up at me from beneath the pink blankets. A little hand freed itself from the cocoon and grabbed the nearest thing, which happened to be her father's finger.
"She's perfect," he said tenderly. I nodded.
"Would you like to name her?" I whispered, running a finger down her soft cheek.
Peeta looked up at me. "Dawn," he said. And he smiled.
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