She landed the plane with ease, guiding it to the ground with the same precise gusto that made her appear to blaze through life with an air of confidence. As the tiny craft taxied to its destination of rest she felt a certain wave of nausea. She patted her stomach knowing her days of carefree climbing in and out of the cockpit were numbered. Abigail Brighton was pregnant.
The reality of that statement had begun to sink in as increasing bouts of nausea had sent her marching more and more often in and out of the bathroom. Her husband had joked that they needed to install a revolving door. He’d said it, of course, as she’d clung to the rim of the porcelain bowl for the third time that morning. Abigail had failed to see the humor in his statement.
The sickness had begun to subside enough that she felt confident to pursue again her greatest love – flying. Taking to the skies had always helped her clear her head. She’d needed this time to concentrate, to figure it all out, to sort through her feelings and come to terms with this tiny being that was growing inside of her. It was a life form so new; yet still it was threatening to change her lifestyle. In many ways, it already had. She no longer felt free to do as she pleased and her confidence in her ability as a mother was severely grounded, not unlike her plane on a bad weather day.
The pregnancy was unexpected. Her husband was thrilled. She was, thus far, unenthusiastic. Of course her husband had not had to make sacrifices. He had not been kept from the things he loved or had to deal with the nausea and fear. She thought of another who had made sacrifices for her; her own mother. She was the very person who had instilled in her the love of flying. And her mother’s love of the air had come from Abigail’s grandmother; one of the few women who had belonged to a quietly heralded group of Soviet women pilots in WWII knows as the Night Witches. These women, a small regiment, flew bombing missions from 1942 to the end of the war. They were the most highly decorated unit in the Soviet Air Force. Amazingly, they flew in obsolete wood and canvas biplanes that could carry only two bombs at a time. The aircraft was extremely slow with a maximum speed lower than the stall speed of the German crafts which made them difficult to shoot down. Abigail’s grandmother, as had the other women pilots, had made daring use of her flying skills and the plane’s exceptional maneuverability. They became known as the Night Witches because of the tactic they used of cutting their engines and coasting over the enemy camps to drop their bombs. They could come in lower that way without detection and possible ground fire. The women, making their runs under the cover of night, soon had the enemy believing them to be witches appearing out of the night. It added to the mystique and heroism of this brave, resourceful regiment of flying women.
Her grandmother had continued to fly after the war; passing that love down to her own daughter and granddaughter in turn. Because of these two women, Abigail was who she was. They’d each made sacrifices for motherhood and now it seemed to be her turn. A smile lifted the corners of her lips. Again she patted her stomach. Her mind filled with dreamy thoughts of sharing with her child this love that had been shared with her. She imagined the times they would climb in and out of the cockpit together. She could feel the soft fingers with the tiny hand in hers; hear the high-pitched, childish voice chattering away excited questions; see the cherubic face upturned to her in awe and admiration. Her face beamed, glowing as only a pregnant woman’s does.
Abigail walked away from her plane with a new confidence in her ability as a mother; not born of knowing what to do, but of the dream of sharing her knowledge and experiences with her child. Secretly she hoped for a daughter to follow in the footsteps of the flying women before her. As another wave of nausea washed over her, she no longer cared about all she might miss and what she must endure to bring her baby into the world. Her spirit soared with giddy delight as she realized she was now happy to sacrifice.