If You Only Knew(4)

By: Kristan Higgins



I turn to her. She looks a bit startled. “It’s probably not true,” I tell her.

“No... I think... It appears my water has broken.”

There is a silence, followed by a collective roar.

I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that, despite there being a dozen women who’ve given birth all jockeying for position, my hand is the one Ana-Sofia clutches. “Oh, Jenny, it’s happening,” she says. “I feel something.” Her beautiful brown eyes are wide and terrified, and then I’m easing her onto the floor and crouched between her still-slim thighs—really, it’s like she’s showing off. I slide off her thong—she’s maintained her bikini wax, FYI—and, holy Mother of God, I can see the head.

I fumble in my purse for the travel-size Purell (if you ride the subways on a daily basis, you carry Purell) and slather some on my hands. “Get some towels and quiet down!” I bark at the other shower guests. I’m kind of good in emergencies. Liza hands me a stack of towels—very soft and about to be ruined by whatever comes out of a woman during childbirth.

“Let me help,” Liza whines. Indeed, this would make a great Facebook post. Just delivered my BFF’s baby, LOL!—with Ana-Sofia Marquez-Takahashi.

“I need to push,” Ana pants, and she does, once, twice, a third time, and a face appears—a baby! There’s a baby coming into my hands! One more push, and I’m holding it, slimy and covered in white gunk and a little blood and incredibly beautiful.

Dark hair, huge eyes. A miracle.

I ease her out all the way and put her on Ana’s chest. “It’s a girl,” I say, covering the baby with a towel.

It seems like just a few seconds later that FDNY clomps in, and I entertain a quick and deeply satisfying fantasy—The head firefighter is filled with admiration for my cleverness, checks me out and asks me to dinner in the cutest Brooklyn accent the world has ever heard. His biceps flex hypnotically, and at the end of the date, yes, he does pick me up to demonstrate just how easy it would be for him to save my life, and a few years later, we have three strong sons, twin daughters on the way. And a Dalmatian.

But no, their attention is quite taken with Ana-Sofia—as it should be, I guess, though it would be nice if just one of them checked me out. Someone cuts the cord, and Ana is weeping beautifully over her daughter, and Liza holds her phone to Ana’s ear so my ex-husband can sob his love and admiration for his wife, who just set the land-speed record for labor and delivery.

From down the hall, I can hear Andreas dry-heaving in the tastefully decorated powder room over the murmurs of admiration from the shower guests and the brawny firefighters as they tell Ana how amazing she is, how beautiful her daughter is.

Seems as if I’m leaving the city in the very nick of time.





Rachel

The last time my husband and I had sex, I fell asleep.

Not after. During.

Just for a second. Adam didn’t even notice; I think he just thought I was having my mind blown and it was all part of the grand finale.

But I did. I fell asleep. And it felt so good. The sex felt good, too...but the sleep! That gentle floating sensation, the skittering thoughts, the warm, comforting smell of my husband, the rocking rhythm, and just for a second there, I was...away.

This has been bothering me. I told Jenny about it, and she laughed till she cried. And I did, too, but I was thinking about how I’d vowed never to be that woman. The kind who’s too tired for sex. The kind who regards making love as just another chore in an endless blur of days.

“Cut yourself some slack,” Jenny had said, patting my hand. “You’re an amazing wife. But tell Adam you need a nap, for the love of God! Or have him give you a massage instead next time.”

Except I don’t want to be one of those wives who’d rather have a back rub instead of sex, though if Adam did give me a back rub, I’d probably cry with gratitude. Fourteen hours a day of lifting kids, buckling car seats, picking up toys, sitting on the floor, lugging diaper bags because Charlotte is still holding out with potty training... Of course my back hurts.

But it’s a small price to pay. Our girls are so lovely, so wonderful and precious and miraculous that I can’t even believe they’re mine.

“Mama!”

My middle daughter, lifted out of me one minute after Grace and one minute before Rose, snaps me out of my reverie. Charlotte’s chubby little torso is smeared with paint—nontoxic, made from organic vegetable dye... Once you learn there are products like that out there, it’s impossible to ignore them, and the Perfect Mommy faction here in Cambry-on-Hudson, New York, makes sure you know exactly what kind of paint their toddlers are using.

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