Kathy was in the ninth month of her first pregnancy. She was at home on maternity leave as the baby was due in a few weeks. It was pretty boring for her seeing as the nursery was already finished and her husband was at work. Before lunch, Kathy decided to have a shower.
After her shower, Kathy was in her room drying off. While doing this she looked herself over in the mirror. She had never particularly happy with her body. Getting pregnant made her feel worse, despite her husband and friends constantly telling her how beautiful she was. It didn't help that everything on her was bigger, especially her stomach. She only hoped she would be able to lose the weight once the baby was born. In the midst of looking at her belly, Kathy began to think about what her baby would be like and whether she would be a good mother.
Given the fact that she was uncomfortable with her body, what she decided to do next would seem strange. It was a warm day and none of her maternity clothes ever really fit well, not even her underwear. So she figured since no one was around she could go without clothes, at least until her husband got home. After checking and double-checking that all the doors were locked and blinds closed, (they were) Kathy dropped her towel and stood there nude for the first time, in a place that wasn't the bedroom or bathroom.
'This isn't so bad, ' she thought.
All of a sudden, there was a knock at the door.
Flustered, she ran back into the bedroom, grabbed her old, ratty, terry bathrobe and pulled it on. She had had the bathrobe from before she was married so, now, with her belly sticking out to the next county, she could barely hold the edges closed. Making sure that the security chain was latched properly, she cracked open the apartment door.
Standing in the hallway, was an attractive woman in her early thirties with long straight dark hair flowing over her shoulders and down her back, with a well shaped figure with wide shoulders, wide but not overly wide hips and very long legs, dressed in a pale, slightly 'oriental' blouse under an open bodice and straight-legged fashionably tight black slacks. She wore a pair of classical black high-heeled pumps with large two inch heels. Under one arm, she was carrying a large flat purse/portfolio held up by a long strap over her shoulder.
"Hello, my name is Melissa Hendricks. I am the neighborhood 'Natural Childbirth' consultant; a neighbor of yours noticed you were pregnant and thought to contact us to come see you with some information about our organization. My card..."
The card was pale blue with the stylized drawing of a woman breastfeeding a baby. Below the name, was written 'birthing/breastfeeding consultant' and a land-line and cell phone number. In one corner was the address of the local 'Natural childbirth' branch.
"I'm not really dressed to receive visitors. Would you mind just leaving me some brochures and stuff that I may study at my leisure?"
"Certainly; it would be my pleasure." And she brought her purse forward to take out some documentation. As Kathy reached forward to accept the papers, she accidently let go of her bathrobe and the sides opened, revealing her swollen breast and belly to Ms Hendricks.
"If you wouldn't mind my asking; when are you due?"
"In about three weeks. Why?"
"Oh, nothing ... I would invite you to look over the documentation. If you have a computer with an Internet connection, I would recommend that you visit our website, and especially that page dealing with water births; I have a feeling that it would be of particular interest to you. If, after you have consulted the information, you would have more questions or even if you just want to talk, call me on my cell phone. I'm available 24/7, seriously."
"Thank you, I'll do that." And started to close the door...
Ms Hendricks stopped the door with one hand and looked intensely at Kathy. "Mrs. Charles, call me ... please..." and released the door.
Shaken, Kathy walked vaguely back into the living room. She poured herself a glass of water even though it would make her want to pee. She always needed to pee, these days. Still wearing her open bathrobe, she sat down in her easy chair and slowly started to page through the documentation Ms Hendricks left, stopping at a small 50 page booklet on different birthing techniques. Not really aware of what she was doing, she started to read...
Curious, now, she looked at the other brochures and realized all of a sudden that she had read every single word of every brochure the woman had left. Stopping at the bathroom to go pee, again ... she turned on the computer and, almost feverishly, started to research birthing and breastfeeding, starting with the sites mentioned in the brochures. It was as if a whole new world had opened out before her.
Up to now, she had endured her pregnancy a bit like a curse that was the fate of all women. Her mother had died of pneumonia five years previously. As for her husband, as long as he had his beer with his supper and had his way with her whenever he felt like it, he left her alone. The computer was his; whenever she was too tired, he used to spend half the night, surfing the net. She was computer-literate, (what secretary wasn't these days?) but other than for work, she never used it. At her job, the nurse had tried to encourage her to get regular check-ups but money was tight so, after she had been put on maternity leave (thankfully, her union contract still paid her 75% of her salary even though she was off, ) she had spent of her day at home or at the park.
After two hours sitting fixedly in front of the computer screen, she was stiff as a board and, damn it, she had to go pee again ... damn nuisance! On a whim, she went back to the living room, picked up Ms Hendricks' business card and called her cell phone number.
"Ms Hendricks, this is Kathy Charles..."
"You suggested that I call you if I wanted to ask some questions or ... if I wanted to talk..."
"No, I have nothing else scheduled. My husband is at work ... and, these days, he frequently stays late ... Overtime, I guess."
"Sure; I'd like that..."
"Fine, I'll see you in fifteen minutes, then. Bye, for now."
Slowly, she waddled to the bedroom (God! How she hated the way she was at the moment!) and took out some fresh underwear, a tee-shirt and her stretch jogging outfit. She had just managed to pull her pants over her belly when there was another knock at her door. Opining the door a crack, she saw it was Ms Hendricks, and invited her into her living room.
"Hello, again. I'm glad you came back, Ms Hendricks. I had no right to expect it."
"Call me 'Melissa'. Why is that?"
"I don't know ... I've always found myself alone to solve any problems ... I guess I've sort of gotten used to do things by myself. Can I offer you a cup of coffee, or something?"
"Why don't you let me make it for you ... you must be tired carrying all that extra weight. Just tell me where to find everything and I'll take care of it."
Five minutes later, everything was ready and Tia carried a tray with two cups of coffee, milk and sugar. "How do you like your coffee?"
"One sugar and lots of milk."
"I hope that it tastes OK, Mrs. Charles," said Melissa hopefully. "I'm more of a chai person myself."
"It's fine really," said Kathy. "Especially when someone makes it for me. And please call me Kathy."
"So, I'm assuming this is your first child?"
"Yes, it is. My husband and I got married a little over a year ago."
"How has your pregnancy been so far?"
"In a word, it's been horrible, down right horrible. I've just been so uncomfortable and out of sorts these past few months. Even my clothes don't feel right on me."
"I know what you mean," confided Melissa. "I felt the same way during my first pregnancy, the first few months anyways. And I've counseled many women who felt the same way you do."
"Kathy, do you mind if I ask you something?" asked Melissa.
"No go ahead."
"When I first came over here you were wearing a robe," stated Melissa. "It was unfastened and you just said that you didn't feel uncomfortable in clothes, were you naked before I came over?"
"Oh my god... ! You saw me?" embarrassed, Kathy said; she paused for a minute trying to find the words. "Yes, I was. It was the most relaxed I've felt in ages."
"Don't be embarrassed," Melissa said with kindness, "most of the mothers that I work with feel much more comfortable being in the nude, even for extended periods of time. I know I did."
"Thanks. My pregnancy has sort of made me feel like a freak."
"I don't think pregnant women are freaks. They are beautiful. And you are beautiful too."
Kathy paused. Other people had told her that she looked beautiful pregnant, even her husband when he was around, that is, or not into his second six-pack of the night. But coming from Melissa it seemed actually true.
"Well, the first thing that we should do is get you to see a doctor, just to make sure everything's OK."
As Melissa said these words, tears welled in Kathy's eyes. Vainly, she reached for a tissue. Melissa stood up, took the box and offered it to Kathy. Kathy blew her nose and, then dabbed at her eyes.
"I'm sorry ... I don't know what's come over me..."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
.... There is more of this story ...