She was so tired. She just put the boy down for a nap after his feeding. As she shuffled her way over to the easy chair, her mind kept going back to the boy. He was a month old, but looked like a toddler. He looked that way when he was born. She half expected him to talk when they first placed him next to her after he was delivered. Easing her tired body into the chair, she reflected on her pregnancy with the boy and how different it was in comparison to the girl. Being pregnant with the girl was a breeze. You would never know they came from the same parents by looking at them. He still looked the way he did after she delivered him.
Her pregnancy wasn’t an easy one. She started showing considerably earlier than the first time around. At five months, they thought she was having twins – big twins. Her belly was so huge, she had to wear a pregnancy harness to keep her back from hurting. Really, it was not pleasant. Never mind the swollen feet (that she could no longer see), or that she literally slept sitting up in the easy chair. This pregnancy was not a happy occasion. She was unwell throughout the entire ordeal. Yes, it was an ordeal. Little to no sleep, no help from the husband in helping her look after the girl, she couldn’t eat, it was hard to breathe, and she couldn’t walk much. It was exhausting just to get up and go to the bathroom…every five minutes (or so it seemed).
At seven months, she looked (and felt) like a beached whale. She was ready to get this baby out. Her day consisted of getting the girl up, fed and out the door to the school bus, tossing back some juice or a cracker or two, and barely making it to the easy chair. That’s where she lived…in the easy chair. The chair that her husband had purchased for him. The chair that was her saving grace through this pregnancy. She couldn’t lay down on the bed. She tried, a few times. The problem with the bed was her inability to get out of it. She couldn’t roll over or swing her legs around to get up. Same thing with the couch. Eventually, she migrated to the easy chair and that’s where she stayed, most of the day and night.
She felt bad for the girl. She couldn’t play with her like she did before she became pregnant. Singing songs with little breathing room was difficult and she couldn’t hold the girl like she wanted. Her lack of sleep made her short-tempered and it made her feel awful. The girl didn’t understand, even though she tried to explain. Her lack of enthusiasm with this pregnancy (brought on by her exhaustion), was starting to rub off on the girl. In the beginning, when they were all excited, the girl would point to her belly and tell her about the “dolly” that she was going to take care of. Now, there really wasn’t much talk about the “dolly.” She hoped that would change when the new baby arrived. She hoped they would all regain their enthusiasm then.
At nine months and two days, she went into labor. After many hours with little change, they “decided” the baby was just too large to be delivered naturally. They decided to take the baby via cesarean section. Too say that was a relief to her (and the husband), was an understatement. Frankly, she was terrified that the baby would get stuck in the birth canal. Then what would they do?
As they prepped her for the delivery (it took quite a few people to move her to the operating table), she couldn’t help but chuckle at how she must have looked to them. There she was, splayed out on the table, with tubes and drapes all around her, and this humongous belly jutting out of her. They couldn’t miss the reason they were there! Oh what a sight that must have been.
She felt them begin the operation. She wasn’t in pain, but she could feel pressure – the waiting was almost over. While they were busy operating, she could hear them talk. While she didn’t know precisely what they were saying, it sounded professional. All of a sudden, the talking stopped. She heard a whack and then a baby cry. That was it. Not a word was spoken. Not “it’s a boy (or girl). Not “it’s healthy.” Nothing, except the loud cries of the baby.
She started to wonder if there was something wrong with the baby, even though she heard it cry. Finally, she could hear the surgical team start to talk – low murmurings actually. She strained to hear what they were saying, but couldn’t make out the words. She could hear “big” “unusual” and other words, but couldn’t string them together to really understand what they were saying. She was getting fearful.
Finally, a nurse peeked around the drape and told her it would be just a minute before they brought the baby to her. “It’s a boy,” the nurse said. “We’re just weighing and cleaning him up. I’ll be right back with him.”
She felt somewhat relieved, but was still worried. What had made them stop talking. What had kept them so long in letting her know the sex of the child?
The nurse came back with this huge swaddled bundle in her arms. Another nurse dragged a chair over so the nurse holding the baby could sit down.
The nurse looked at her with a strange look in her eye. It wasn’t sadness, maybe it was pity. She wasn’t sure. The nurse told her the baby was healthy and had passed the post-natal tests just fine. However, the tone of the nurse’s voice threw her off guard. “Dear, your son is quite large. That was the reason you could not deliver him naturally.” “Remember, he’s a newborn and well, not all newborns look pretty at first.” With that, the nurse placed the baby next to her.
As she moved the blanket away from his face, she almost gasped. The boy’s face was red, as were all newborns. However, his face was squished, like someone had pushed his face together between their hands. The hair on his head was black and quite sparse. As she continued to move the blanket away from him, she took a good long look at her son. He was huge – toddler sized really. He had rolls of fat that made him look like the Sta-Puff Marshmallow from the Ghostbuster’s movie, only not as cute – not even close. There was absolutely nothing cute or pretty about this baby at all. He looked horrid as he cried. He was without a doubt, the ugliest baby she had ever seen, and he was hers.
As her husband leaned over her to take a look, she commented, “heaven’s he’s big, but isn’t he just the cutest thing?” In her mind, the phrase “only a face a mother could love” took on new meaning.
This week’s Indie Ink Challenge came from Summer, who gave me this prompt: “that is the ugliest baby I have ever seen.” I challenged Dili with the prompt: “the “Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles is the inspiration for your prompt.“