A New Life
“Come on, honey. You know you can do it. This is special. What you have been looking forward to for months...and what a battle by all accounts!”
“This isn’t what I expected, nurse…not this time…not when everything is….
We have a house to move into…in fact James should have phoned me by now. He said he would.”
“Then he will. Would you like me to get the phone from the corridor and bring it to your bedside so you can ring….maybe your mum and dad? Here, sweetie, take her, she needs her mum’s love.”
“If only a phone call could put things right…it goes far deeper than that now. Maybe I will fail. Perhaps I won’t be a good mum for her and they were right all along. If you expect someone to fail, then they go and do just that.”
“Here now, look at all that hair and the most beautiful blue eyes. I don’t believe you will be beaten by what others say about you. If any of us took notice of others opinions we would all be stuck in one hell of a one way street. And if you are depressed!”
“I’m not depressed nurse, just frustrated, and want to go home like the other mums.”
“You will be ready soon but it’s best that don’t go home until you feel just a little more confident. At least when you are here you have someone to listen to you and support you. To get help, though, you must ask though, mustn’t you?
if you don’t have the cour Here darling, let me wipe those tears.
“I’ll get a bowl of water, and a towel, so you can freshen up. That’s right, you plump those pillows up. I’m just drawing these curtains and I’ll fetch you a lovely cuppa. Promise me though, that you will talk to your nurse if you carry on feeling like this. I will make some notes on your files, just in case. What fantastic flowers. Hug that baby of yours. Love her and you won’t go far wrong.”
How could Laura admit that she felt nothing but an awful flatness, a heavy head and an enormous fear for the future? True. She wanted so to be happy, but happiness and relaxation always seemed to precede the fiercest of storms. She couldn’t relax. Was her baby’s breathing normal; might she be too hot. What if she got her fingers trapped in her crocheted dress? Or she choked on her milk? Or what if she didn’t stop crying? Or failed to put on weight? Or she dropped her? Or she missed her feed? If James lost his job or if someone reported them for not caring for her?
Nurse returned with the trolley and phone.
“You’re in luck honey. It’s Mr Nesbitt himself, wanting to talk to you. I will take Esther from you for a while…come here little one…come to Mia…let me sing to you.”
“You’re in a pub now… The William the Conqueror…at the bottom of Red hill Road… the one I went into with you after we looked at the house in The Close. Who’s with you? Don’t tell me. You found your own way. How many steps from number 8 to the pub then? 265 you say. I hope you remember that when you have had a skin-full. Still no bed then, tomorrow you say. How will you sleep on the floor? Can you get to visit us tomorrow? Mrs F visited earlier and she’s arranging with some friend or other to drive a van full of stuff early tomorrow morning as she said she promised she would. You will be awake I hope? I told her what you said, and that they would have to turn off at Generals corner then left into Peters-Field Avenue and then Red Hill Road. I also mentioned what you said about if they went too far then they would end up in South End. I’m frightened as to where…” the telephone in the hospital hallway went dead mid sentence.
Mia sounded lovely, thought Laura, as she concentrated later, on the task in hand.
“Of course you can do it, honey, but take your time…babies are tougher than we think, and that includes this little mite though she definitely doesn’t think much about her first bath does she? Just listen to her squall and her little fists clenched tight. ”Mia, sensing the new mum’s fear, lowered her voice and moved closer to Laura who was perched on a low stool with a coarse woven top.
“That’s just fine. You are doing well with just enough support for her head. Yes, I know she is slippery but don’t worry, you have her firm in your arms. She is gorgeous, and what a pair of lungs. I saw that young fellow of yours soon after she was born, just standing outside the nursery listening. He seemed so proud.”
“We both are, Mia.” She chose not to tell her that Esther was not her first.
“You are doing fine. That’s it, now those fiddly toes and fingers.”
In theory, Mia ought to be someone she could express her fears with, as she seemed to have the knack of making her feel ordinary for after all she was just a young woman, who by a cruel act of nature, happened to be blind. How on earth could she be anywhere near honest and say how dead she felt inside with no room for resentment? Laura thought of her first child; miles away in another county, who she had spent so little time with. It wasn’t the point that she didn’t chose to leave him there was it! He was their child, but miles away and deserted. Surely if she talked to James he would switch off his love for her just as her parents had switched off their love.
The feelings she felt, which had twisted and turned deep inside, merging into an irregular and rapid swirl of unconnected thoughts, compounded with each crazy thought, causing her to feel sicker and sicker. One thing, she thought, was certain, and that was that she was treading the same path as her own mother towards a door marked mental institution where she would be forgotten by most, until she died alone in a cold small room with clean sheets and hospital labels, and stains that she would never see. Her body started to tremor, however hard she tried to control and conceal the shadows that had sunk deep into her dreams and her eagerness to become a loving and active mum. Then tears rolled and dripped from her face, down past her delicate lips, tasting of salt as they fell. There were so many opportunities to grasp, but deep there inside her, the grief of their little boy still back home.