They boys used to have these bouncy balls - I think they got them at the zoo - that were large, about the size of a small child's fist. They were clear and inside them were lights. When you bounced them, these lights would flash all around. Blue, green or red.
What I remember the most about these balls, though, was that I always seemed to accidentally bump them in the middle of the night, while carrying a child back to his bed, or stumbling to the side of a crib. One minute I'd be picking my way across a nightlight-lit room, the next minute one of those balls would be rolling ahead of me, FLASH, FLASH, FLASH, stabbing the dark in every direction with brilliant spears of light. From dark, to a color spangled room, back to dark in just a moment.
Now, in the middle of the night, whenever I roll over, or shift position, this baby under my heart reacts something like those bouncy balls. All is still one minute, and the next she is flailing out in every direction, arms and legs flashing out as far as she can reach.
I lie in the dark and run my hands over the rubbery taut half moon of my belly and feel her energetic response to being disturbed in the night. Clay and I have debated what it means about her personality. I think she's pitching a fit at being woken. He suggests she could be playing, which I suppose is just as possible.
Inevitably, I suppose, I compare this baby to her brothers, and try to remember their days in utero too. Could I tell before Tre was born what a relentless person he is? Could I sense Max's unflinchinguniqueness? I know Raphael must have leapt inside me like a joyous fish, because he's never stopped.
In the middle of the night, all alone with these flashes from my daughter, I wonder who she is. She thumps just above my belly button, and my hand jumps.
Whoever she may be, I suspect she is fierce.