Just like I realized one day that I no longer have a baby—holy shit, she is a toddler—I recently realized my linea nigra is gone.
That dark line that snaked from my belly button on down disappeared in an equal but opposite proportion to the growth of my baby. In almost imperceptible ways, Kiwi got bigger day by day. She rolled over. She sat up. She crawled. And now, somehow, she grins and peeks around the kitchen island at me, itching for me to chase her down the hall.
Likewise, my linea nigra faded bit by bit, and I didn’t notice until it was gone. I was busy with other things, I guess—things like, you know, doing my damnedest to keep my new family of four alive. More recently, being a mother of two has felt easier, or at least less heartbreakingly hard. So it makes sense that I only now registered its absence.
“Baby in there!”
From about the time I began to show, Peeper started to talk about how a baby was growing in Mama’s belly. She would point to my bump and sometimes wave to the baby.
One night, when Peeper had eaten a particularly large portion of tuna mac, Eric remarked on how big her belly had gotten.
She looked down at the round drum of her middle. “Maybe baby in there,” she said.
We, of course, were floored.
After that, she got a little confused. “Baby in there!” she’d say of just about everything—Eric’s belly, Finn’s belly and, particularly, my breasts. (That last one was slightly awkward in public.)
Now she makes it a game, naming everywhere the baby isn’t. “Not a baby in there,” she’ll say about everything. “Not a baby teeth. Not a baby mama mole. Not a baby dishes. Not a baby rocking chair.”
So she may not know exactly what’s going on—the details of a growing fetus are a little beyond a 20-month-old’s comprehension—but she well knows where the baby is not growing.
That’s a start.