As George slumbered peacefully Alanna had never hated him more. It wasn't fair that he could just lie there, oblivious, while she tossed and turned next to him. Alanna sighed. You wish you were still capable of tossing and turning, she thought bitterly, more like sitting and stewing. She rested a hand on her very round belly, feeling her son stir inside of her. Of all the things about pregnancy she found difficult to navigate, it was the new-found hugeness of her once petite body that most stymied her.
The problem with being both pregnant and a runt was that after a certain point the babe had nowhere to grow but out. Alanna was certain that her taller, more willowy friends hadn't gotten so big so quickly. She could not recall Thayet looking like a beached whale. She had no memories of watching Cythera waddle from place to place. And she was pretty certain neither of them were reduced to needing their respective husband's assistance in putting on shoes in the morning. Where she used to be lithe and limber, now she was rotund and lumbering, and she hated it.
She hated being unable to run, or mount a horse, or even easily navigate a staircase. She despised the helplessness she felt at no longer being able to lift heavy objects. Alanna longed for the days when she could fit through narrow doorways with ease. She was excited to have a baby, no question about it, but she desperately wanted her old body back, the little, nimble one that didn't have heavy breasts that leaked milk from time to time.
At this moment what she missed most was being able to tuck herself snugly in at George's side while they slept, her ear pressed against his chest while his hand rested gently on her backside. Now the enormity of her belly separated them, forcing her to sleep with her back to him. When I can sleep, that is. Her little boy seemed to be most awake when she wanted to be resting, kicking and punching at her womb with vigor as soon as she climbed into bed.
"It's not fair you get to be with our little one all the time and I don't. I always miss feeling him kick," George had complained that afternoon.
She had responded by bursting into tears and shouting, "Fair? It's not fair that you get to keep your body and your sanity whilst I have to become fat and useless!" She might have punctuated that sentiment by throwing something at him, but Alanna didn't care to dwell on the details. Later on, once she had calmed some, she had apologized for over-reacting. George had held her on his lap, stroking her hair as he likewise apologized for being insensitive, and all was well.
Now, staring sleeplessly down at him as he drooled into his pillow, Alanna felt the resentment rise again. A strangled sob caught in her throat, and she heaved herself out of bed before she woke George. She stumbled to the balcony, feeling the crisp sea air ruffle her hair. The sound of the waves crashing below was soothing in it's familiarity, but it did nothing to stem the flow of tears that leaked out of her eyes and down her cheeks.
Come on now, you're being ridiculous, Alanna scolded herself. You'll feel better in the morning. But the sob came out louder this time, and she clapped her hand over her mouth to suppress it.
Suddenly she felt a warm hand at the back of her neck, and she wilted, allowing George to tug her into his arms (or, at least as much of her that could still fit in his arms).
"There now lass, what's the matter?" he murmured as she sobbed into his chest.
"I just hate being huge and fat and clumsy and-" a hiccup interrupted her litany, and she cried harder. She felt his embrace tighten around her, and she sagged against him.
"I have an idea about that," George whispered. "Be a good girl and put on some shoes. I think I know how to make you feel better."
Alanna shook her head. "I just want to sleep," she wailed.
"Trust me. Let's get your shoes on."
Alanna thought about continuing her protest, but she didn't have the energy to fight him. Still sniffling she allowed her husband to gently steer her to the wardrobe, waiting while he rummaged for a pair of her boots.
"I feel weightless! I feel wonderful! This is amazing," Alanna cried in delight as she bobbed in the cool water of the cove they used for swimming. The sea cradled her gently, taking the weight of the baby off her back and feet and allowed her to feel light and graceful again.
George grinned, treading water beside her. "I was thinking that it's a pity you couldn't take a break from carrying the babe every now and then, and then suddenly this came to me."
Alanna laughed happily as she felt their son begin to wriggle, and she reached out to grasp George's hand and press it to her belly.
"I think he likes it here too," she whispered.
Alanna appreciated the way the moonlight enhanced every line, every dip and valley of her husband's handsome face, lit up in joy as he felt the movements of their child. His hands were warm on her body, and she sighed contentedly as the waves rocked them. She had never loved him more.