At 33 weeks, the mind starts shifting inward.
This abstract soul that I've carried all along becomes more real to me as the weeks pass: knobs of knees and elbows sliding along under my skin, the push of a bum up high with the answering pressure of a head that has settled low into my pelvis, the delicate tap dance that moves from under my right ribcage, evolving into a tiny hand's push against my navel, the amazingly hard weight when Braxton-Hicks contractions come to call.
I imagine her marvelling at her siblings' voices raised in song, laughter, and battle. I feel her turning towards the warmth and purr of a cat using her as a pillow. My bellybutton protrudes, my sciatic nerve whispers through the day then yells by evening, and I celebrate a full night's sleep if I manage to get through without getting up to pee.
The days swirl past like leaves from the trees, and I wonder how it is that I've come so far. Four more weeks till my leave begins, with three weeks to rest and prepare my mind for that journey into Labour and Postpartum Land. The time for washing tiny clothes and packing my homebirth labouring kit is nigh. The midwives will visit soon, and we'll start thinking about that December day in earnest.
And always, through all the busyness and planning, wondering and preparing, I feel that tiny little girl's weight shifting and twirling in her watery world, this world within me, and can hardly imagine not feeling her there. I wrap a towel around my tall son after his bath, hold my big girls in my arms while they straddle this saddle of a belly, and marvel that their limbs, organs, minds and spirits once rested within the world of my body.
I know the day is coming soon when this girl will fill my arms and heart as her siblings do, and that miraculously, I'll once again forget this feeling of harbouring another's life in my body as I have before. I am reminded to rejoice in her random shifts and dances even as I grow to an uncomfortable girth.
I am 33 weeks pregnant today, with my fourth child.