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The crickets outside sounded as trumpets in the night. The dismay lingered in the air like a thick fog, enveloping the entire house. There was a moment of eerie silence as I sat on the sofa, paralyzed. I looked around as if to expect to see myself sitting in peaceful tranquility on the sofa across the room. The smell of spoiled milk and baby powder filled my nostrils in a nauseating way. My eyes continued to move around the room searching for help like a lost child. I picked up the telephone and dialed the hotel number. My finger carried the weight of my sorrows as I pushed each number. The automation system asked for the room number, but it was lost in my scattered and panic stricken thoughts. The front desk clerk eventually answered the phone after what seemed an eternity. I could hear the displeasure in her voice as she searched for my mother’s name; without warning, the call was transferred.
Sobbing uncontrollably at this point, I exclaimed “I can’t do this mom!”
To which my mother replied, “You do not have a choice. She is depending on you. I know it’s hard.”
“But mom, I’m terrified. I can’t do this. I am going to ruin her life. She is going to hate me!”
My mother continued to speak calmly, trying to reassure me that everything would be alright. She volunteered to come and assist me in my hour of need, but I refused. I knew that even the presence of her would bring me no comfort in my current dilemma. After awkward silences, and bursts of sobs, I bid my mother goodnight. The minute I brought myself to push the button to end the call, the terror consumed my entire body once again.
“I’m so sorry. I don’t know what ever made me think I could do this. Please forgive me. Please stop crying.”
At that moment, she belted a cry that sent a jolt down my spine. The cry was to alert me that she and her hunger were oblivious to my heart felt pleas for mercy.
I placed her in the bassinet and I slowly lifted my body from the sofa. I was unsure if my legs, which had already turned limp, would even carry me to the kitchen to retrieve the bottle. I placed the water on the stove and stood in a state of discontent with the empty bottle in my hand. The blood curdling screams aroused me from the trance, and I looked down to see the water had started to boil rapidly.
“Damn!” I exclaimed as I quickly turned the knob to turn off the burner, almost breaking it free entirely from the stove.
I hurried to cool the water with ice and vigorously shook the bottle to mix the formula. I was midway finished when she released a deafening cry. I rushed over to her and she stopped abruptly, as if she were testing my response time. I scooped her up and cradled her into my arms. She wiggled about in my arms as if I were a stranger, a threat, and I had thwarted her escape. I looked at the wrinkles on her forehead as she began suckling on the bottle. She closed her eyes and was momentarily soothed into silence. I am not sure how long I stood there with her in the middle of the room. I had lost track of time and I seemed to be frozen in another dimension, where sleep was non-existent and newborns were the tyrant rulers of the world.
I sat down with her in my arms and gingerly positioned myself to find some means of comfort, careful not to disturb her. I gazed out into the darkness of the room, and I noticed every imperfection in the worn furniture and the ecru walls that had once been bright, but were faded from age. The house itself seemed to cautiously settle, as it tried not to interrupt our moment of silence. I began to tremble, the water welled up in my eyes, and finally the dam broke free. I don’t know if it was the loud sobbing or the violent shaking of my body that startled her, but she stopped feeding. With one violent swoop, she pushed the bottle away and onto the floor. I waited for the cries to come, fearful of the wrath that was about to be bestowed upon me. There was nothing. She looked to me with her blue eyes, puzzled as to what all the fuss was about.
Briefly she and I looked at one another, both comatose, anxious, and indecisive as to our next action. She stretched open her mouth wide and yawned. Fearing this was my only chance for dormancy, I decided to carry her to my room, careful with every step not to disturb her. I slowly lowered myself onto the bed and shifted her from my arms to where she rested face down on my chest. She nestled her head to the side and placed her ear as if to listen to my heart. I began to feel the rapid beating of her tiny heart against my own. For no reason, a certain beloved child hood song crept into my mind. Softly, I sang to her.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know dear how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
I glanced down to see her eyes had closed. She was drifting off to sleep.
“The other night while I lay sleeping, I dreamt I held you in my arms. But when I woke up, I was mistaken. And I hung my head…and cried.”
I closed my eyes. The sweet, soft smell of lavender in her hair sent a calmness throughout my body and soul. Her tiny hand was now grasping my pinky finger. I listened as my heartbeat began to beat in rhythm with hers. My breathing slowed as her breathing slowed. I was now a mother.
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