It wasn’t until I was early pregnant that I first started to hear the voice.
It was less than a whisper. Inaudible, really.
Just a slight hiss when the issue of drinking caffeine or taking prenatal vitamins came into conversation. One of those things I did, and the other I didn’t. And not the right ones.
As my ankles swelled and my belly expanded, I was more aware that it was an actual voice, ringing in my own ears. It was hard to make out what she was saying over the volume of the speaker at the drive-thru window.
By the end of the summer, she was screaming at me. Her words flooded between my ears when an illness landed me in the hospital. The infection was most likely due to consumption of a certain cheese or the mishandling of uncooked chicken. Either way, my fault.
The voice reminded me, always, that if this baby girl turned out okay that it was despite her mother.
But then my baby was okay and so was her mother.
The voice piped down for a few months after that. As the newborn fog lifted, she made a stealthy return. Quietly, again.
While I was watching tv and feeding the baby, she would breeze passed with an admonition to soak in every moment with this child and not waste it on mind-numbing Technicolor. Sitting in the manicure chair she would mutter something about selfishness and priorities. And finally, on Friday afternoon, miserable with a stomach bug and heaving into the sink with the baby screaming in the background, she had the gall to come up behind me and wonder aloud why I was such a weakling.
I did not scream back at her, I did not plead with her. I do not want to silence the voice that is mostly a nuisance but occasionally a perspective check. I accept that upon conception I gained a new way of hearing things.
I am learning to live with the voice.